BIRTHFIT Podcast featuring Logan Gelbrich
BIRTHFIT Podcast: Logan Gelbrich –
Vol 4 of the BIRTHFIT Summit 2017
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Hello, BIRTHFIT community. It is Dr. Lindsey Mathews, your BIRTHFIT founder. Today we have the episode number three from the BIRTHFIT Summit series. So hopefully you’ve caught on and you have now placed yourself or visualized yourself at the BIRTHFIT Summit outside, under the sun, 70 degrees, maybe 72 degrees, sweating just a little bit, but you’re surrounded by all these awesome women. Maybe you’re a guy, maybe you’re a partner, and you’re surrounded by similar type of people as well.
Today, we have Logan Gelbrich. Logan Gelbrich also gave a talk at the BIRTHFIT Summit, and his talk is on maximizing human potential and there was not a dry eye in the house. So if you don’t know Logan, I encourage you to check out Functional Coach on Instagram. He is an excellent writer, author, coach, owner of DEUCE Gym and the most important thing, my fiancé. So have a listen and definitely definitely share what you love about this episode as we post it on Instagram.
Logan: So we’re going to start off with a group activity. We’re actually going to do two things together. All this is on purpose, by the way, and very planned. So I’m not stalling at all for my brother. This is actually a prank on him. When I heard that he was setting up, I said let’s bring out a projector, technology. Let’s just really mix it up. He’s excited, I’m excited, we’re excited. Yeah, round of applause for Taylor. Thank you very much.
What you guys don’t know is if this doesn’t even work, I’m not even worried about it because we have a backup plan. So the first thing we’re going to do together is important, and this is going to be done either individually or the people around you. You know that famous quote, I believe it’s almost always misattributed to Maya Angelou, the “Our deepest fear is not that we’re inadequate,” you follow me? So I’m going to pull it up and read it for you. I need you to get out your phone and look it up as well because we’re going to refer to this together. Okay, listen up. “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate,” and if you’re already rolling your eyes stay with me because this is not going to go the way that you think. “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is written within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
I’m not telling you anything new. You’ve probably seen this on some memes or on the internet. All I want you to do is take a couple of minutes and think about that quote. The quote makes me think of — I think I have little bit of asymmetrical reaction to that but I’ll talk about my opinion later. I want you to think about, for four to six minutes, what comes up for you when you read that. Do you relate to it? Are you thankful for this quote? Do you see this around you maybe? Just take a moment and it’s okay to talk to other people.
The end is interesting with the connection. I really like the end. I think maybe what you’re feeling and what I’m eventually going to get at is I hate it. I don’t like where the quote is thrown around, but the end is really interesting and it talks about access. Your expression at the highest level gives access and permission to other people. I do like that part. Was there one other person? There you go, we’ll take it.
Yeah, that’s good. I feel that too. I feel like every single morning I wake up — how old am I now? I’m 31 now. I have 70 years and I’m killing it and I feel like we got to get moving, we got to get going. So that’s a good little takeaway.
The reason why I don’t like it is some of the reasons that you’re getting to. It feels like, I’ll say this, the intention is great. It’s actually an observation of a truth that I don’t like. So what I’m going to talk to you guys today about which is awesome because Lindsey said, hey, come talk at the BIRTHFIT Summit, I’m like, I’m in. She’s like whatever you want to talk about. All right. We’re not talking about birth. What we’re going to talk about today is what I’m going to call the total human effort. And I get to follow up Carl Paoli so what planet are we on that I get a chance to do that?
So we’re going to talk about the total human effort and everybody has paper out and I want you to use that paper right now. You’re going to draw a big arc at the top of your page, like a big giant arc at the top of your page, and you’re going to label that arc peak potential. The arc represents your best humanly possible self. That’s super esoteric at this point, but that’s just what it’s going to mean. And then I want you to draw another arc below it, maybe it’s like an inch below it, same size, whatever, just an inch below it, and this is reality, this is who you actually are. Notice where it is. It is below the other arc. I’m not projecting this on you. My arc looks the same as your arc. We are all operating below our peak expression. All right, you got that labeled there?
The space between those two arcs is I feel like I’ve been trying to figure out that space since I can remember, since I was eight years old, and I don’t really know what else is important in life. You can layer over whatever you want. There’s some reference to God or religion in the quote that we just read together. I have no interest in making this religious. But if you want to layer over whatever religion you have, chances are it will follow the same model. The top thing would be like Christ-like and Christianity. You are then below that. Your effort is to bridge the gap. Fail a bunch of times in between and learn the lessons thereafter. Pick a religion, put it over that. So what I’m saying is that this is the most important thing that we have to figure out on our time here. We don’t have time. We got to get down to it, bridging the gap, closing the distance between those two spaces.
I’m going to throw out a quick little qualifier here. I am not qualified to speak on the subject the same way that Carl felt maybe a little bit unqualified to speak at the BIRTHFIT thing, but we’re all trying. I think that’s the only reason why I can be up here talking about is because I am trying the same way that you are trying, some of you. I know people personally in this room, everybody needs to hear what I’m saying, but I know personally people in this room that need to hear what I’m saying. Because what we’re going to talk about is very challenging, it’s the most challenging, it’s the reason why long quotes like the one we just read are meaningful is because a lot of people are blowing it. We are blowing it because closing the distance between that bottom arc and the top arc is scary, and there is something called uncertainty on this planet with these bodies playing the rules of the game that we are all living in. There is one certainty and that is uncertainty. That sounds pretty airy-fairy, but think about it really quick. Nothing is certain. Nobody can figure it out, not even the stock traders. They make movies about it, going back in time. We cannot predict with perfect accuracy the future because there are forces outside of us that are acting on us. This is just the rules of the game. This is how I look at bridging the gap between that bottom arc to the top arc.
So the way I look at it and I’ve learned this through performance. We’re going to watch some things in a second, with or without audio, and it’s not going to matter, about a sports-like expression of moving from that bottom arc as close as humanly possible to the top arc. I would call this the meaning of life, the pursuit of that is the meaning of life. And athletes, Carl knows this, many of you may know this, at the highest levels learn a lesson really quickly, is there are some forces, some things, some variables that are in your control and then there are some that are not in your control. I played a horrible horrible sport called baseball where you just strike out all the time and it is just horrible. You train your whole life and you just fail a bunch. You hear the examples, you’re a legend, literally your face is in bronze and you’re a legend, immortal, you never die, you go on the Hall of Fame if you fall flat on your face 70% of the time. That’s the cliché example, and it’s true.
What you learn in environments like this that turn up the burners on what gets you close to that top arc is this list. We’re going to do a funny exercise together because you remember it if it’s funny. On the left hand side of your page you’re going to list all of the things that are in your control, and on the right hand side of the page you’re going to list all the things that are outside of your control. We’re not going to talk about anything sexy or cool like changing the birth world or winning a gold medal, we’re going to talk about getting a reservation at the fanciest restaurant in town next Thursday. You and one other person are going to try to get a reservation and they got Michelin stars there and you got to find a way to get a reservation. There’s going to be a list now and you can talk to other people, we’ll do this for a couple of minutes together, there’s a list. This is silly but it’s going to be important. On the left, what are the things you can control, I’ll give you a hint. If you show up wearing flip-flops, you’re not sitting down. On the right there are things that you cannot control. I’m going to give you a hint. If the place is booked, you can’t eat there. So let’s make a list and we’ll give a fake prize to whoever has the longest list. So give us some people, on the left hand side are all the things you can control about the situation, on the right are the things that you cannot control in order to accomplish your goal.
Okay, I’m seeing eyeballs. Let’s just wrap it up. What do we got? Things that you can control about this fancy dinner one week from today, next Thursday. Anybody? Okay, cool, yeah, if you can, you can be flexible. If you have the option to be flexible, you can maybe offer up some other times, make your schedule more flexible. That improves your chances. What else? Cool, do a reservation, yeah. Maybe show up in a fancy car and like if they’re like, “I don’t know this person,” but they pull up in like the Uber black plus. Okay, what else? Communication skills. So you go to like ITT Tech for like nine days and just go for it. You’re speaking clearly, enunciation. I like it. That’s aggressive, I like it. Okay, what else? Your demeanor, yeah, on the phone. “Hi, I enjoy fine dining, very experienced actually.” You might know Chef so and so down the road who you Googled, yeah. What else? Ooh, she’s going deep, athlete deal, yeah. Oh, no, we can’t get you until 10:00; okay, I can deal with 10:00. Your reaction to some adversity or whatever information you get. Okay, what else? Yeah, just call every day. Change your voice, do an impersonation every time. This is aggressive, I like it.
Let’s switch over to the other list. I’ll tell you what, the other list is powerful. These are the external forces that you cannot control. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from, you can’t control them. What are some things you cannot control? The weather. Blizzard that they have in some places, not here, will maybe prevent you from going. What else? The prices, you can’t ball that hard, you’re out. Woo! Tasty menu is expensive. What else? Traffic. You leave on time, you allow yourself time, I did my best and you’re late for the show. That’s out of your control. What else? Right, the maître d’, that person, probably a jerk, it’s part of the job. Okay. So real. Will you even be here? We got to hustle because we don’t even know. Okay, I like it, smoked by a bus tomorrow. It’s getting heavy. Okay. So we didn’t mention and it was one of my clues, but you can call this place a thousand times and if they don’t have seats for you you’re not eating at the place. It doesn’t matter what your goals are, how passionate you are about the thing, you’re not eating there.
So this is a silly example, but I hope because it was silly you will remember this thing. If you’ve never operated a really high level, that sounds rude if I say that, but I’ve operated a high level once before and this is something that you learn very quickly or you don’t perform at a high level is that any amount of effort, attention, energy spent on that right hand column, look at that column. We got blizzards, we have traffic, we have other people eating at this restaurant, any effort spent over there is what, that’s one less minute, ounce of energy, one less calorie that you can devote to the things that are in your control. Gold medals are won and worlds are changed, revolutions are led by focusing on the things that you can control.
Now, even though that’s kind of maybe a little emotional and inspiring, a lot of people still choose to give up their best self. Not only is there space between the bottom arc and the top arc, they’re saying “I don’t know about that top arc because now what, I got to be vulnerable, I got to try hard, because of these external forces I might not even get the reservation. I’m going to put on my fanciest outfit, I’m going to walk in the door and maybe get turned away.” So what do we start doing if we’re scared like the quote was trying to tell us about? We start buying insurance. How do you buy insurance for yourself to prevent that poor feeling we have that there is space between the bottom arc and the top arc? You said it, Laura, you change the goal. We are going to go to Outback Steakhouse and it’s good, it’s real good, and I know we can get a table. You start changing the goal. I don’t want my chiropractic practice to go out there and make a claim and look like a fool, I don’t want to try my hardest and then lose because then people know I tried my hardest and that that might mean something about me. So we start buying insurance, we start hedging our bets so that we feel safer. This is a natural human reaction. We’ve evolved to feel safe and comfortable.
But the way I look at it is bridging this gap, it goes back to those two lists. There’s something that we can control and something we cannot control. What I’m telling you right now is that this total human effort is the only chance in hell you have to get to know that top arc.
Does anybody know something called Pascal’s wager? Maybe does that ring a bell from old Philosophy class, do you remember this? So the French philosopher who came up with this idea said hey, we don’t really know if there’s a God or not, we’re not sure, but any logical person would live their life, they would bet that there is a God. Because if I’m right, heaven, I’m in; if I’m wrong, doesn’t matter. You are good to go either way. That, to me, looks like putting all your eggs in that basket on the left, what are the things I can control. The non-religious high-performance version of Pascal’s wager is the total human effort. If you’re going to be vulnerable and send it, go for it. Your best effort regardless of dealing with failure, being vulnerable, dealing with your insecurities, is your only chance to see that top arc. Now, it doesn’t guarantee that you will be there.
So I want to meet two people right now and I’m not even worried if we can’t see this because I’ll just tell you to Google it later. I’ll use my words to describe what’s on here, but we’re going to try video number one. Before you click it, we’re looking at the weightlifter, Matthias Steiner. Maybe you’ve seen this video, it’s famous and it is maybe cliché. But in 2008, this is a German weightlifter, he’s in his 20s, I believe he’s 28 years old. He married his wife two years prior. She was a year younger than him. He’s at the Olympics and so obviously we can assume a couple of things. He’s devoted his entire life, made every decision considering will this make my clean and jerk go higher, my snatch go higher. He’s operating as close as he can to that top arc. And he told his wife when they got married that I will win a gold medal one day. I will win a gold medal one day. Two years prior to this Olympic Games, his wife was killed in a car accident.
So he’s 28 years old now, he’s younger than I am, and his situation is really interesting because he’s actually not the favorite. At the time that you’re watching this video potentially, or maybe I’ll just describe it to you because you might not be able to see it, he is guaranteed a bronze medal. And he has one more lift, he missed his previous lift, still earned himself good enough for bronze.
There’s another lifter from Latvia who’s the favorite, who he must beat for the gold medal. Based on this individual from Latvia, he has to put on exactly 258 kilos on the bar. For the Americans, this is 567.6 pounds. The numbers are all going to be crazy because we’re in the Olympics, but let me tell you the most important bit of information is this is exactly ten kilos greater than his personal best, in training, in competition, anywhere. That’s 22.2 pounds heavier than he’s ever lifted in his whole life. I wrote a blog the other day that was hilarious because it took me three years to put two pounds on my jerk. If you’ve lifted weights at any point you realize that as your training age gets greater your jumps get smaller. A ten kilo PR does not exist for Olympians. It’s not a thing. It’s not on the cards. There’s literally no such thing. So he has to walk out there.
Before we play the video and/or I describe the video, let’s consider what is happening here. If you’ve ever lifted weights, especially at one-rep max, how far does hedging your bets go? How far does even addressing uncertainty or things that you can’t control like how heavy it’s going to feel, who’s on the crowd, who’s watching you, what the outcome is going to be? That does not serve you. It does not serve him. He can spend no time thinking about this. He has only one chance to see what the top of that curve looks like and it is the total human effort. So we’re going to try to play it, and if you cannot see what I’m talking about I’ll just describe it to you, but I cry every time I watch this. The audio is crazy as well. I don’t think there will be audio. Let’s see what happens. See if you can squint. We may be able to see it.
This is Derek Redmond. This is another famous one. This is in Barcelona in 1992. Derek Redmond is the British National Champion in the 400. He has the national record in the 400. Very similar but different story. Sports provide a great environment for you to close the gap between that bottom arc and that top arc. He is searching every single day at the highest level possible to find out his peak expression in this particular event. This is the semifinals in Barcelona and what makes this interesting is his career is riddled with some injuries. He’s had some success, he’s a national champion, but no Olympic gold. The previous Olympics, in 1988, he disqualified himself 90 seconds before his last heat with an Achilles injury. He had eight total surgeries over the course of his career before this event and you know that at the Olympic level you don’t have so many cracks at this thing.
So here’s someone who is coming like Matthias, up to his stage. There are some things he can control and some things he cannot control. He can choose to understand that he has some injuries and some things going on and he can play it safe, but what happens when he plays it safe? One thing is for certain, you may feel good for a minute but you have no chance of seeing that top arc. We’ll see if we can see it and if we can’t I’ll use my words. So let’s take a look at what happens.
These videos, they come up in my life just like they probably come up in your life randomly, and I’m obsessed with these types of individuals. So I watch a bunch of interviews with Derek and what’s interesting is this is the harder part. Same scenario, two individuals trying to see what that top arc looks like. One is like the Disney movie, and the other one is like what some of us, some of you are scared of. Listen to Derek talk about that race and you should watch it again obviously. If you watch it or listen to him talk about it, he actually starts at a pace that would exceed his personal best. He went for it. And the result was not there, but this is the point because the result is that very end is the thing that we can never control, that will never be in your control.
So the way I look at it when we have this problem of the bottom arc and this top arc is it becomes very simple now. I mean there is a choice, but to me there is no choice. The obvious choice is to give yourself a chance, and I just showed you a video of someone who fell flat on their face. This is the last time he’ll run in the Olympics. He’s done. He knows what I’m talking about. Carl has walked a similar journey. And if you start to let your mind use that as justification for not giving this total human effort, let me do some ninja voodoo on you right now because here’s the deal. Imagine who Derek Redmond is. I don’t even know if he has kids. What are the stories that a guy like Derek, the lessons that a guy like Derek tells his children? What are the interviews like that he gives? What are the things that he carries inside of him? They are actually the same exact things that Matthias Steiner, the gold medalist, carries with him. The interesting thing is it’s possible in this messed up world where we can’t control everything for people to be gold medalists and still play it a little bit safe.
There are people that have gold medals at home, maybe not a lot of them, but there are people that have gold medals at home that don’t know what Derek knows. And this has been emotional so far but what else do we have to do? My joke all the time is I can’t keep a calendar. I barely even knew what time I was giving this talk. I got people visiting from the UK that I’m leaving at the gym because I don’t know how to keep a calendar. I cannot care about laundry, I just can’t care about laundry, but every day I’m trying to figure out how to close that gap. And if you’re going to try to convince me that there’s some other point or some other thing, I cannot begin to understand that perspective. And I’m editing this book, this godforsaken book, about this similar topic, and fortunately, aside from the tears and the rah-rah thing, there are some fundamental things that you have in your back pocket when you do what Derek Redmond did that are only accessible when you go for it the same way that Derek Redmond did. I’m just going to go through them quickly, and we’re going to be done so I can stop crying in front of a bunch of people.
I freaked out my whole life about public speaking. So from elementary school, we just have to as a tangent, we’re going for it. In elementary school you’d have to recite poems, just like public speaking projects. I crashed in school, by the way, a million, whatever, F’s all the time on public speaking because I would cry in front of everybody. Elementary school, middle school, high school, college maybe a little bit, I tried to lock it up. So this is hard for me. I’m doing Derek Redmond right now.
In the book I’ve sort of done a lot of research on this topic and there are some things that we know about people who are closing the gap with this total human effort. One is they understand commitment on a level that is irreplaceable. You cannot compete with the type of understanding of commitment that someone that’s operating on the level that Derek Redmond is who is what I’m calling going right, doesn’t matter, we’ll call it the total human effort today. As we know, there’s a lot of different ways that commitment would benefit in your life, not just track or baseball or whatever the thing is.
The second thing that happens is people that choose to max out their effort in that left hand column have an opportunity to build a large body of deep work, not just any kind of work, not like I’m going to log my 10,000 hours and you give me a check. These people are invested in their work deeper than folks who are faking it could ever enroll in, like if you want to try to open a gym, good luck competing against me. Good luck. That’s my new thing or whatever. In baseball, it was the same thing. You’re going to have to bleed to out deep work me. Some people were better in baseball than me, but it wasn’t because of the deep work thing. We know that folks that accumulate a large body of deep work become masters of their craft. There’s an obvious inherent value to that. An individual who knows commitment on a level that cannot be replaced, you have an individual who is a master of their craft with not just any kind of work but deep work.
The next thing goes back to the way we started this conversation, with uncertainty. Individuals who do what Derek Redmond did are more resilient to adversity than folks who don’t and Derek Redmond can have a tough Tuesday and just mail it in and take a knee. This dude can’t unknow what it took to do that thing. He had to walk through all of the uncertainties that we all walk through, including getting silly reservations on a Thursday at a fancy restaurant. You understand very quickly how to deal with the one thing that is universal for all of us, these external forces that are out of our control. I’m almost there.
The next one is people that go right or people that act like this guy Derek Redmond understand peak human performance. There’s a fancy word for this that I got to study in college extensively called flow. You can go down a rabbit hole with that thing but by definition this is where we are most capable, highest expression of your abilities with the least effort possible. Also, to bring in a little emotional bonus, the peak expression of joy. He knows joy better than you know joy, mathematically.
The last thing, and this is the kicker because you could say, “Hey, Logan, I’m onboard, that was sweet.” Derek Redmond had a cool video and he probably got some sweet interviews and maybe he even got an endorsement deal because he pulled his hamstring but that’s a lot of work to fail. That’s a long way to go in your craft and knock it on the podium. That’s a lot of swings in the backyard to not be a Major League Baseball player right now. And here’s the kicker is that all those skills I just described to you, unmatched commitment and understanding of deep work, a resilience to adversity and the ability to tap in to flow are skills that have nothing to do with their specific application. Whether you’re a chiropractor, you’re pole vaulting, you’re a runner, you’re a weightlifter, you’re a baseball player, you’re a gymnast, it doesn’t matter. Because people who do that, people like me, people like this guy, people who go out and do that stuff, it doesn’t matter anymore, I could do whatever I want. I could open an ice cream store across the street, and guess what, it’s show time because we are going to go for it at a level that I can’t unknow based on my understanding of commitment, deep work. I can work harder than any ice cream guy. Oh, I can’t get the permits? Whatever, I struck out a thousand times two years ago, what do you got? It doesn’t matter what type of adversity it is, the connection to flow is there and these highly transferrable skills are only possible when you give a total human effort. So you have a choice. You can mail it in and play it safe and feel good, sort of. You will never know that top arc and you won’t also have these transferrable skills. Or you can give yourself a chance, and I think we should give ourselves a chance.
The last thing I’m going to say before we go is a quote that inspired this whole thing, this understanding of the total human effort. Phil Knight, founder of Nike, Oregon guy, observing Steve Prefontaine who accomplished in 23 years of life what most of us won’t be able to do in a hundred years of life, upon observing Steve Prefontaine run for the first time, he said this and it stayed with me. “No matter the endeavor, total human effort will win people’s hearts.”
Everyone wants you to go for it. I’ve experienced this over and over in my life. And if you’re scared or insecure or wanting to play it safe, there’s a community of people around you, whether they tell you or not, that want to see you go for it. I don’t know how long I’ve been talking up here, but you have to go for it and this is my message for you. Please give a total human effort in whatever it is that you do. I need you to. Thank you.
Lindsey: Let’s recap. So, I hope you enjoyed that episode with the one and only Logan Gelbrich, my fiancé. If there’s one thing you could take away from that episode, I want to also challenge you like we talked about last time, a little bit of challenge, get outside your comfort zone and maybe take a pause before you make a choice. But make each choice effective. Live in that gray area, that uncomfortable area. Start to maximize your human potential in every level, in every big or small decision. Definitely go check out those videos on YouTube if you have not seen them. Bye.
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