Episode 3: How to Set Good Goals, Be Happier, and Get Gritty with Caroline Adams Miller

TalentGrow Show episode 3 Caroline Adams Miller MAPP

About Episode 3

In this episode of the TalentGrow Show, Halelly Azulay interviews Caroline Adams Miller, MAPP, a Certified Professional Coach, Best-selling Author, Media Personality, and Keynote Speaker and Teacher. Caroline is an expert in the fields of empowerment, change, well-being and the science of goal accomplishment. Listen as Caroline shares insights about the secret to happiness, how we're doing goal-setting all wrong and what to change about it, and ways to increase our success and daily 'wins' by becoming more gritty. You'll walk away with actionable insights and ideas that you can apply to your own life and work to transform your satisfaction and effectiveness!

What You'll Learn:

After listening to this engaging and lively conversation, you'll find out:

Listen to Stitcher
  • What's the one piece of happiness research that rocked Caroline's world and changed the course of her life and career forever
  • What we have all wrong about goal-setting and what to change about it
  • A magical little exercise that will create a profound impact on your happiness and success in just 20 minutes a day
  • Why the self-esteem movement is a huge failure that has created a bunch of narcissists and sociopaths, and the secret to creating REAL growth
  • Why you should stop trying to be a different person at home and at work
  • What you're going to really remember when you look back on your life and how to make more of those memories
  • Why the concept of 'grit' has been watered-down and how to become truly more gritty, even if you're not that gritty now (and why being successful is not necessarily correlated with being gritty)
  • The one question Caroline loves to ask everyone and which people always answer instantly, without blinking an eye
  • The relationship between risk and regret and the way to make important life decisions to avoid regret
  • What you need to do every day to create daily 'wins', and
  • What is the Top 10 List that Caroline has on her radar as part of her big, scary, gritty personal goals.

About Caroline Adams Miller: Certified Professional Coach, Best-selling Author, Media Personality, and Keynote Speaker & Teacher

Caroline Adams Miller MAPP

Caroline Adams Miller, MAPP is well-known coach, author, speaker and educator in the fields of empowerment, change, well-being and the science of goal accomplishment. Her fifth book, “Creating Your Best Life” (Sterling 2009), was the first book to connect the science of happiness with the science of goal-setting. Martin Seligman, the “father of Positive Psychology,” said in “Flourish,” that her book “added a major missing piece to the world of coaching” because of its ground-breaking and evidence-based connection between Positive Psychology and success.

Her newest book, “Positively Caroline,” (Cogent 2013) is a sequel to her best-selling “My Name is Caroline,” (Doubleday 1988, Cogent 2014) which was the first major autobiography by a bulimia survivor. “Positively Caroline” picks up where the first book ended, and includes a detailed look at how the science of flourishing can assist others with long-term addiction recovery.

Caroline is often in the media and has appeared in many radio, television and magazine stories, and was the first Positive Psychologist on satellite radio with XM’s “Positive Tip of the Day” between 2007 and 2009. She was named the 2012 Good News Ambassador by the Good News Network, and received the Mentoring award from the George Washington University School of Business in 2013 for her decades of helping others to achieve their goals.

[EDIT: It's out! Caroline's latest book titled Getting Grit: the Evidence-Based Approach to Cultivating Passion, Perseverance, and Purpose.] It discusses why this character strength is so important to a flourishing life, how to get it, and who has it. She gave a well-received TEDx talk on grit in September 2014 called “The Moments That Make Champions.” Angela Duckworth, winner of the 2013 MacArthur Genius Grant award for her research and findings about what grit predicts said: “Beautiful talk by a paragon of grit! Bravo, Caroline!”

Resources:

Caroline's website: www.carolinemiller.com

Download the "magical little exercise" Caroline mentions: Best Possible Future Selves Exercise

Go to Caroline Adams Miller's Amazon Author page to see all her books, such as Creating Your Best Life and Positively Caroline

Here's my review of her latest book, Getting Grit

Watch Caroline's TEDx Talk about Authentic Grit

Take Caroline's grit challenge!

Caroline will be the closing keynote speaker about grit at the International Coach Federation Midwest Regional conference in Kansas City on June 20th, and will also lead a breakout session on goal-setting on June 19th.  To learn more about the conference and how to purchase a ticket, click here.

Follow Caroline Adams Miller on Twitter:
@PosPsyCarolineM
@AuthenticGrit
@AuthMindfulness

Intro/outro music: "Why-Y" by Esta - a great band of exquisitely talented musicians, and good friends of mine.

TRANSCRIPT

Announcer: Welcome to the TalentGrow Show, where you can get actionable results-oriented insight and advice on how to take your leadership, communication and people skills to the next level and become the kind of leader people want to follow. And now, your host and leadership development strategist, Halelly Azulay.

Halelly: Hey there! Welcome back to the third episode of the TalentGrow Show. I’m Halelly Azulay, your leadership development strategist, and in this episode I talk with my friend Caroline Adams Miller, a certified professional coach, best-selling author, media personality and keynote speaker who is known as an expert in the fields of empowerment, change, well-being and the science of goal accomplishment. Listen to our conversation as Caroline shares the one piece of happiness research that totally rocked her world and changed the course of her life and career forever. We also talk about what we are doing all wrong about goal setting, and how to fix that. And Caroline shares a magical little exercise that will create a profound impact on your happiness and success, and how you can develop more grit and create wins daily. And you might like the big scary, gritty, personal goal that Caroline shares at the end about what Top 10 list she’s trying to get on. I think you’re going to learn a lot and get lots of actionable ideas. So, listen in.

Welcome. Thank you very much for joining me on this podcast, Caroline. This is Caroline Adams Miller, and if you are not familiar with this woman, then you need to get familiar with her. I am so excited that she has agreed to be on the podcast, because Caroline is not only an amazing author, a coach – actually a coach’s coach – people come to her that are coaches to learn more about how to incorporate her specialty into coaching which is positive psychology. She’s a speaker, she’s an educator, and she really has a lot of background in terms of the science of well-being, happiness and goal accomplishment, and an amazing career to match. And she’s a friend of mine too, so I feel really honored and happy to have Caroline on the show. And Caroline, why don’t you tell us a little bit more about your journey and how you got to this place where people are flocking to you to learn more from you through your books, through your speaking and through your coaching. How did you even come here?

Caroline: Wow. Well, first of all, thank you for that unbelievable introduction. I feel lucky that you call me a friend, because I feel the same way about you. So I appreciate it. I’m sitting here going, “Who is she talking about?” But thank you! That was very nice. How did I get here? I think I just put one foot in front of the other and pursued my passion for many, many years. And it all started in 1988 with my first book, My Name is Caroline, which is the first book by anyone who ever overcame bulimia and lived to tell the story, and that changed my life. It was literally like a bomb going off in my living room, because nothing’s been the same since then. That truly is the genesis of how I got here.

So I overcame an eating disorder, spent a lot of years in the nonprofit world. I started in nonprofit, worked in addiction treatment centers, and continue to minister to anyone who reaches out to me who wants hope or help. And particularly with just getting going in recovery. In that process, I became fascinated by goal setting. Because I come from a family of Olympic athletes, a lot of competitiveness, the dark side of competitiveness is where I lived with this eating disorder, and really destructive emotions. But I became fascinated by how do you accomplish big goals? And what are the right goals? And what is happiness anyway? Things I’d really been wrestling with in order to basically save my own life. And it led me to a variety of places and I have a coach – I’ve had the same coach for about 15 years, Judy Feld – and I really do believe that the best advice I got when I started my coaching career, somebody said the best coaches have coaches. And I’ve never forgotten that, because I always want to be learning from the best, and so Judy has been the President of the International Coach Federation, but she and I just along the way worked together to help me set and accomplish goals and she suggested the positive psychology program at MAPP, the MAPP program at the University of Pennsylvania, because she was part of bringing authentic happiness coaching to the world with Marty Seligman (Dr. Martin Seligman), back in 2003. Well, he stopped doing that and basically said, “I want to teach positive psychology, in person, as an applied degree. And I want to invite 35 people from all over the world to come study with me for a year, and all the best thinkers.”

I heard about it from her and I looked into it and I thought, “I have to get there.” Because it encapsulated everything that fascinates me – well-being, excellence, it was an evidence-based approach to studying. Something that comes up all the time in coaching, which is how do I become my best self and what is my best self? And how do you, what is happiness anyway? And so I’d been meandering around, studying Albert Ellis and the Corporate Athlete Center in Orlando, Florida, with Jim Loehr and was disenchanted with coach training, because I didn’t find any rigor anywhere in the programs I was involved in. And that was a common accurate complaint about coaching 10 or 15 years ago. Penn offered me a way out. And so I’m about to end this story so we can get back to questions, but as a result of going to Penn in 2005 I was really fortunate, I was admitted to the very first class of people, really, a bunch of pioneers from around the world who were all there, basically saying, “We want to learn the science of positive psychology. We don’t know what we’re going to do with it, but we’re here to learn because we know we need it. And we need it for the work we do.”

So early in that fall, of 2005, I was exposed to some things that rocked my world. And the most important one was a piece of research called the benefits of frequent positive affect. And it was a slam-dunk finding of hundreds of studies showing that all success in life is preceded by being happy first. And that turned my coaching career, my life, the way I thought, the way I looked back at my life, and I realized that I’d had it wrong for all these years. Which was, success is preceded by being flourishing first. We don’t become happy because we succeed. So I found out that no one had ever written an evidenced-based book on goal setting, because I looked around and there was like The Law of Attractions, Zig Ziglar, Ryan Tracy, there’s no research in any of those books. Some of them are just magic. And I said to Marty Seligman, “I’m going to marry the science of happiness with the science of goal setting, and I think the world deserves a better book than is out there.” So that was the book Creating your Best Life, and there are other books since then, but that’s why we’re sitting here on the phone is I think I brought a gift to the world of coaching and goal setting with a book that actually makes sense, Scientifically based. And I continue to build on that knowledge.

Halelly: I love that book too. And I’m happy that I met you. Actually as a result of my attending the first conference that they had for positive psychology – I don’t remember what year it was. It must have been like 2007 or 2008 in D.C. Do you remember?

Caroline: Was it Gallup?

Halelly: At the Gallup building.

Caroline: Is that where we met?

Halelly: Yeah, and that’s where I met you.

Caroline: Lucky us!

Halelly: I am really lucky. So that’s really cool, and I have to say, I’m jealous of you for having studied in that program, that MAPP, Masters of Applied Positive Psychology program, because that’s such a cool program. But you were in the first class, the very first class. Awesome. And that book, of course, is really helpful. It’s not only research-based, but it’s also very practical. And it gives so many practical things that people can actually do – worksheets and tips and steps – that they can use to apply what you’ve learned and what you’ve studied to their life. I really appreciate that about that book.

Caroline: Thank you. I appreciate that. It’s like I had a baby and I want everyone to like my baby, and you like my baby! So thank you.

Halelly: I understand that, totally, and I think that it’s a beneficial book. I think everybody should have that in their library. So, you know, you mentioned the science of goals, and of course we could probably talk about that for three days straight. But if you could encapsulate in a couple of short sentences, from everything that you’ve studied – and I know that you’re constantly studying what’s new and new research that’s coming out and adding to your knowledge base – but based on what you know about goals, what are some of the things that we have wrong about goals and what are maybe one or two things that are most important for people to know about setting the right kind of goals?

Caroline: Okay, so what do we have wrong? I think the first thing we have wrong is smart goals. And I wish I had a dollar for every time someone said they do smart goals. That’s the tip of the iceberg. That’s just barely brushing the science of goal setting, so if that’s the only way you’re setting goals, then you really have to take a look at what do I really know about goal setting? Because it’s somewhat superficial and the thing I most take issue with is the word realistic. Now, there’s different ways that people interpret the S, the M, the A, the R and the T, but most often you hear “realistic.” And one of the points I make in Creating Your Best Life is it’s unrealistic goals, it’s out of your comfort zone goals, it’s the goals being pursued by Google X which is going after completely unreasonable goals. Solving amazing problems. So goal setting theory says that if you set performance goals and you want the highest and best achievement, they have to be what’s called challenging and specific. Meaning outside your comfort zone, unrealistic to a certain extent.

Because when you set goals inside your comfort zone, those are called low goals, and those are “realistic” to many people. So you set goals you know you can achieve. Well, there’s no stretch and as a result, the finding is first of all, you never find out what you’re really capable of. You don’t know what highest and best is. You don’t know, there’s no pain no gain research shows that at the end of everyday we scan our days to find out what we feel great about. Well, the things we’re happiest about are the things that we did that were hard and out of our comfort zone. So you won’t know that feeling either. So when you achieve low goals or realistic goals or goals inside your comfort zone, the overwhelming feeling you feel is mediocrity. That’s what we feel. Now, that’s one of the first things I would say we have wrong, is this whole idea of smart goals. But to just even precede that, most people don’t set goals. Most people react. Most people wake up everyday and they just react to what was left undone yesterday, or they adopt other people’s goals or should goals. Whenever you hear “I should,” you know it’s probably a goal you probably shouldn’t be pursing, because it’s not your goal. It’s someone else’s goal. So most people don’t set goals, and when they do, they tend to be somewhat low or mediocre, and/or they just are reacting and they’re not being proactive. Goal setting works if you know how to do it. So that’s what I would say we have wrong.

And what are a few things we should do? There’s a very magical little exercise called best possible future self and I have it available as a download on my website, which is just CarolineMiller.com. And the research on this little elegant writing exercise, which is spin your life 10 years in the future and imagine everything has gone as well as possible. There’s no barrier to achievement, you can live where you want to live, be doing what you want to do, and just let it go. Three days, for 20 minutes a day, three days in a row, what does that life look like? And go into detail. Well, what they find is the outcome of this little tiny writing exercise is so profound that you can’t not do it. People save more money, they become more hopeful, they basically see which goals they have are in conflict. You have a roadmap for success. People are happier for six months after doing this. So that’s one thing you should do. And I’m fascinated by grit too. So one thing I would say, and then I’ll stop talking, if you’re going to do something else, commit to it. Just commit to it. We are full of quitters in this country. Simply because we are coming off the self esteem movement, which has been a horrendous failure, because the misguided thinking was if you praise children, they’ll feel better about themselves, and if they feel better about themselves, they’ll work harder. And the truth is that hasn’t happened. We have narcissists and sociopaths. And we have playgrounds that have little plastic swings on them that have seatbelts and slides that are two-feet high and nobody can get hurt. I mean, it’s just insane! So, my next book is on grit, because this is truly the challenge we face now, which is being not just resilient, gritty. Having big goals that we stick with, that we pursue, that light up our lives with purpose and meaning. Most people are not going to leave it all on the floor when they die. They will have lived safe lives without risk taking, because they don’t want to go out of their comfort zone. And that’s a tragedy and I’m really working hard to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Halelly: I totally get it about the not taking risks. And actually when you were describing that exercise, I was thinking to myself that I can see how some people would sit there and be very visionary and write this dream that they have and then feel a sense of overwhelm or fear of, “What if I can’t do it? Or what if I try and I fail?” And I think so many people are completely paralyzed by this fear of failure and I think that the self, what you described, the self esteem movement was probably a big part of that and all of the studies that we have now about the helicopter parents versus the tiger moms – which is better – that I’m sure it feeds into this whole society of people that are just paralyzed by fear.

Caroline: You know, you bring up a great point, and let me just take a bow, I mean, give you a chance to take a bow, which is you’re starting new endeavors this year and that’s risk taking. And I think even if it’s scary and you don’t know if I’ll succeed or fail, at least you’re living as large as you can. So I’m talking to someone who is actually doing what I’m saying people should do, and I think you know that’s true. But I think that one of the things that we really have to combat is this sense of we’re all winners, and everybody is good enough as they are. And because of that, we have … we’re just not living up to our potential, and as a result, just to go back to well-being, is we never have a chance to live a high quality life. Because the highest quality lives are the ones where you’ve explored and you’ve stared and you’ve taken risks, and that’s in the workplace and that’s in our personal lives. I don’t think you can be one person at work and one person at home. In many ways, you have to be consistent and authentic across all spheres. So I would love to see people marry who they are and not try to be one person one place and one person another place. You know, live life with zest, with curiosity, with a sense of purpose and meaning. Because that’s what you’re going to remember when you’re looking back on your life. You’re going to remember things that you did that were out of your comfort zone where you had a purpose that was greater than you. It wasn’t just about you. There was something else you were living for, and as a result, the goals you pursued kind of unfolded naturally and they weren’t “should” goals, they were about “I can” goals, or even as I said in my Ted X talk, which I just gave, why not? Ask yourself, “Why not?” instead of “Why?” Instead of “Why me,” how about “Why not me?”

Halelly: By the way, that is such a great video of you. Congratulations on doing Ted X. It was TedXGramercy, right? Really great, I enjoyed it, and then you have that challenge that you issue at the end where people can go and take that grit assessment and then follow up with the actions. That’s really good. I recommend and I’m going to put the link to that in the show notes when the podcast comes out. So I know you have a lot of examples, because you’re doing so much research for this book which I am so excited and looking forward to reading, Authentic Grit. So can you describe grit? I know that you are very specific about how you want to have us think about grit, because we’re kind of using it, we’re watering it down and diluting the meaning of it, and mixing it with these other terms like perseverance and persistence. It gets kind of confusing. So define grit, just so that we’re talking about the same thing, and then maybe just give an example of what you mean by that. Maybe an example that if I’m a new manager, or I’m potentially moving into a management position in a corporate organization, what might grit look like in my world?

Caroline: Okay. Great question. And thank you for saying the Ted talk was good, because I was scared out of my mind and didn’t know how it would go. But you know, I went out there and did the best I could and that’s all we can do in life. And part of that is grit. Grit is going out and not always knowing that you’ll succeed, but at least knowing that you almost died trying. It has become a watered-down term. You see it in the sports pages. I think it’s used instead of the word heart or resilience, grit is being used. And grit is a very special quality and that’s why I’m interested in it. That’s why one of my mentors, Angela Duckworth just won the McCarthur Genius Grant because of her work on grit. It’s special, it’s different. It’s not something you see every day but it’s something we can all cultivate, which makes it exciting. So her definition is passion and perseverance in pursuit of long-term goals. And so those are goals that light you up. Those are goals that you don’t have any guarantee of success and you start out knowing it will be hard. It’s going to be hard. Just to go back to the whole idea of going out of your comfort zone, grit presupposes that it’s going to be hard. And yet because you’ve set it for yourself, because it feels purposeful or in Japanese the word “ikigai” - that which I wake up for, it’s something that propels you forward. And we all want to have a cause. We all want to have a “ikigai.” We all need to live for something bigger than ourselves. And it does translate into day-to-day work, so I’ll get to that in a moment.

So one of the things she talks about is that this special quality, this passion – so you have to be lit up – and perseverance, not just short-term perseverance and kind of getting up for a couple of months after you fall down, getting up for years after you fall down. And typically what you’ll think about are athletes who have a dream of going to the Olympics who persevere through injuries and coaches leaving them or whatever, and then losing and whatever. So what you see with a lot of these Olympians, and I do believe great character studies are in the sports pages of the newspaper every day, is you see people not giving up, or just think about ice skaters at the Olympics. If they call down, they don’t just sit there and stare at the crowd. They get up. They get up and finish their routine. That is an analogy for grit. So passion and perseverance in pursuit of long-term goals. Not short-term goals.

So if you translate this into the workplace, quite often you see people stepping into bigger shoes than they’re really ready for, and that’s good. I mean, the book The Confidence Code which just came out, talked about how women typically don’t do this. They wait until they satisfy all of the criteria before they raise their hand for a promotion, or going after something different, something bigger. And so if that’s the case, and you’re stepping into bigger shoes than you’re ready to fill but you feel ready to take on that challenge, you’re going to need a certain amount of grit to hang in there, to learn the ropes, to deal with people, to fail, to not get things right, to have to learn new skills. Repeatedly, to transition, to sometimes kind of another company merger and having to figure out a whole new culture. So just hanging in there in a company, because it’s something that you feel so socially worthwhile or it fits some of the needs and desires that you have for yourself, because it serves something bigger – that takes grit. And I’ll also just make it an everyday situation, overcoming any addiction like alcoholism. That’s grit. Because it’s not jus about being sober for a week, it’s about being sober for years. And anyone who watches my Ted talk knows that one of the reasons I am fascinated by grit in my most recent book is about how I overcame my eating disorder and didn’t just overcome it, I stayed in recovery. I am technically one of the rare people, I shouldn’t even exist. But I had grit. I developed grit. I didn’t have it, I cultivated it. We can all cultivate it. And so in day-to-day interactions with people, let’s say it’s a toxic workplace and people need to kind of make it work. Manage teams against all odds, bring them to productivity from the depths of not being productive – that will take grit. You will have to be resilient, not always just give up the minute things don’t go well. So there are a lot of different ways you can become gritty in life, and I hope that answers the questions about day-to-day ways to call upon it. Because I think we all have momentary situations, everyday, where we can cultivate the quality of grit and I can tell you about those if you’d like.

Halelly: I know that you have a lot to share about that. But maybe if you can give a few tips about what specifically do you suggest for people who feel like maybe they haven’t been as gritty as they could have been? Maybe they’ve shied away from those kind of big and not very realistic goals and they want to change that? They want to turn that around. So you give the examples of the people they didn’t give up, they didn’t give up, but what can a person do to help themselves overcome that fear or whatever it is that’s holding them back from being gritty?

Caroline: Good question, great question actually. The first thing I’d want people to get in touch with is what is your grit score? Just find out. Because some people think out they’re not gritty when in fact they are. I’ve taught positive psychology and coaching for six years at the University of Texas School of Management, and I’ve always assigned taking the grit scale in the fifth week of the course, which I now teach privately by the way, the same course. But people are quite often surprised to have high grit scores. And you can take it on my website if you want to do the authentic grit challenge. But you know, people sometimes take for granted that they've done, and they realize they have cultivated it in one part of their lives and they know how to be that person, they just need to transfer those skills into a new arena. So you may possess grit but you just haven’t applied it to a certain area of life. And that does happen. But for people who are not gritty – and let’s just say, let me just point out one thing, which is being successful does not mean being gritty. Because there are lots of very successful people walking around who have never gone out of their comfort zone. They’re just that talented, they get lucky in some situations, just in the right place at the right time, but they’ve never really taken risks. They’ve just been able to basically just keep doing one thing after the next, and maybe you hit the stock market boom or the real estate boom and you’re just in the right place at the right time. You have money in the bank but you aren’t gritty. Guess what? A lot of those people, they know it, and it bothers them. And some of those people find their way to me, and I’ll say to them, “What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?” And there’s this long silence on the phone and they’ll say, “I’ve never really done anything that hard. But the thing is, I know I’m capable of more and it’s really bothering me.” And at that point they’re so useful to being successful and being praised for being successful that they have to get comfortable with the idea that they might fail at something. And so you have to prepare for that possibility and walk people through what is the worst thing that could happen if you took this risk? Really? What’s the downside? And so the question I love to ask people that solicits some of these answers is what are the risks you haven’t taken that you know you will regret not taking if you’re looking back on your life one day? And everyone has an immediate answer to that. I’ve never had a pause or a long silence, ever. I get pauses and long silences to some questions, but never to this one. Because I think that everyone has something. Can you relate to that?

Halelly: Oh my gosh, totally! I didn’t mean to interrupt you, just agreeing enthusiastically!

Caroline: If you agree to self disclosing, I’d like to know if there’s any risks you’d like to share with your audience that either you’re pursuing right now because you feel like you want to go out of your comfort zone, something that you feel like in 2015 that’s on the agenda to tackle, and you might fail, but you know what? You’re going to try.

Halelly: Oh, totally. Well, actually, even starting my business, I was so scared of it and I wanted to do it for a long time, but I kept feeling like, “I don’t know if I’m going to know how to sell myself, And how can I compete with all of these other really smart and experienced people that are out there already doing similar work? It was a really … it was difficult for me to know how to think about it, but I really like how you help people think about what’s the worst that can happen, and I find that that’s been very helpful to me. And also this idea about the regrets. So what helped me actually back then was my husband said, “You know, what’s the worst that can happen? You can just go and get a job. Start your business and if it doesn’t work out, you just go and get a job.” And I thought, “Oh, well, that makes sense. Okay. Let me try it.” And I’ve been in business now for nine years and I’m so happy that I took that risk. Right now, I am working on something and the whole, this no regret thing, is something that’s been guiding me. Because I think you can learn from a mistake. So for example, if you try something and you fail, you learn from it, you can recover from it. Most mistakes are not dead-end mistakes. But you can’t recover from regret. Regret says with you forever, and you cannot undo it.

Caroline: Yup. And the research on regret is very interesting because what’s been found – and I have a chapter on risk and regret in Creating Your Best Life, because it is really interesting research. I’d never seen it, I’d never heard about it, I never saw a book on it. But I was lucky enough to have unparalleled access to research at Penn, so I just dug up so much stuff. It was stuck in academia and just hadn’t really come into the mass market, but one of the things you find is that between three and seven years after taking a risk that didn’t work out, you don’t regret it anymore. You regret the risks instead that you didn’t take. So over time, even if you fail, that is completely eclipsed by the toxicity of regrets of not being a doer, not being a trier. And whenever you say to somebody, if you start this conversation with them about risk taking, you say, “What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken in your life?” And people usually think for a minute, 10 seconds, 15 seconds, and then they say what it is, and I would say 99 percent of the time they’re talking about the biggest success in their lives, the thing that changed their lives, the things that brought them the most joy. So on some level, we know that risk taking pays off. It’s just look at this research on economics. We don’t want to lose. It hurts more to lose than it feels good to win. And that’s research!

Halelly: That’s amazing. We have to have a whole other conversation just about that. I think I’ll definitely have you back again in the future just to have more about this idea of taking risks. I think that that’s really interesting. So, I know that you’re a very busy lady. I know that you’re preparing for your keynote that’s coming up for the International Coaches Federation which is really awesome, about your research with goals and grit, and writing your book. But what are you most excited about? We’re going to wrap it up, so just tell me what are you most excited about in 2015? Either just in general in the field of study, positive psychology, or the things you’re coming across in your research, and in your own life and journey, and then how can people find out more about you before we wrap up?

Caroline: I’ll give you a personal answer and a professional answer and I’ll just start with find me at CarolineMiller.com. Everything just flows from that website, including my authentic grit challenge, which I think is just really a cool experiment. So professionally, what I’m most excited about is taking a huge risk and narrowing my coaching practice down to 60 slots a month and doing nothing but writing Authentic Grit for the next six months. It’s always a risk to kind of go out of your comfort zone and write a book. You don’t know if it’ll fail, you don’t know if it’ll succeed, but I think other writers will identify with this – the book is writing itself in my head, and I need to get it out. So, I think I have something to add that’s new and different, and I think I can help people and I think I can provide hope. And I think this topic of becoming grittier is important enough that our country needs to hear it. So I’m excited about that, and I hope I succeed at that.

And I lost my swimming career to my eating disorder a long time ago, like 19 or 20. I swam for one year at Harvard and then my eating disorder just took over, and I’ve always had regrets about what could I have done? Not that I ever would have been an Olympian – that’s a whole different level of success – but what could I have done? So I went back to swimming about 10 years ago and I didn’t really have the nerve to compete, really, until last year and found out I was ranked top 20 in the country. And so this year I’m top 15 and my goal is to be top 10! And I feel like I’m training hard. I get up everyday and do something hard. And I think that anybody who wants to get grittier should get up and do hard things. Make your day a win, outside of your comfort zone, and you’ll find if you work with enough leaders, that most of them get up and have a physical win – whether it’s CrossFit or they’re triathletes or they’re lifting weights, swimming, whatever – you don’t find a lot of slackers on rivers at 6 a.m., or in pools. You can relate to that, you know what I’m talking about because you do it too! And I just think if I can crack into the top 10, I will have assuaged some of the regrets that have dogged me since college.

Halelly: That’s amazing. Well, you know, what I love about you is that you are not just a teacher, but a role model. You teach by example, and I have admired you ever since I’ve – well, before I knew you and known of you – because of the kinds of things that you do. You are a person who really does push yourself outside your comfort zone and reach really high at achieving amazing things. So kudos to you! I know you’re going to make it to the top 10. Not number 10, you’re going to be probably number one. I wouldn’t put it past you!

Caroline: I don’t think I’ll get there. But you know what, I’m going to push it! So thank you for that.

Halelly: I’m rooting for you. Caroline, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy day to share some of your knowledge with us. You have so much more to share, so I hope people will check out your website and your books and your videos and all of your media interviews. There’s so much they can learn from you. I’ve learned a lot from you. Thank you. I hope that your 2015 is going to be your best year yet! And maybe we’ll do this again sometime, what do you think?

Caroline: We’ll do it again. Thank you.

Halelly: Well I hope you enjoyed that. Make sure you go to the show notes to get all the links we mentioned in this show, like Caroline’s website, her grit assessment, her Ted X talk video and her books. All of that can be find on TalentGrow.com/podcast/episode3. And don’t forget, subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or Stitcher so that you’ll never miss an episode. And if you liked this episode, please give us a rating or a review on iTunes because then other leaders will be able to discover the show and grow their leadership talent. Thank you so much for tuning in, and make it a great day.

Announcer: Thanks for listening to the TalentGrow Show, where we help you develop your talent to become the kind of leader that people want to follow. For more information, visit TalentGrow.com.


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