[00:00:08] BS: Hello. You’re listening to Love Your Enthusiasm, a podcast that helps motivate you to follow your greatest passion. I’m your host, Britt Skrabanek, and Bobbi Kahler is our guest today on the show. Bobbi is a personal change chef, and the podcast host of Unyielded, which is a show I will be a guest on soon in mid-February. Please stick around at the end of this show for those details if you are at all interested in hearing my interview with Bobbi.
You know, most people haven’t heard a doctor tell them you shouldn’t be alive, but Bobbi has. In this episode, Bobbi shares her personal story of rebuilding her health and becoming a vibrant athlete. Seriously, she once went cross-country skiing for 96 days. Now Bobbi helps others live more fulfilling and authentic lives and she offers some great techniques for you all to put into action in your own lives.
I instantly connected with Bobbi so much so that I actually asked to be on her podcast, Unyielded. I know you all will learn a lot from Bobbi’s experiences today. Please enjoy.
[00:01:29] BS: Bobbi, welcome to the show.
[00:01:31] BK: Thanks. Thanks for inviting me.
[00:01:34] BS: So you told me a story that I have to hear about first, which is – Because I find this incredible. You went cross-country skiing 96 days and it wasn’t enough.
[00:01:47] BK: It was not enough.
[00:01:49] BS: How long would you have preferred it to have been?
[00:01:53] BK: Oh my goodness! Anything over like – Like 96 was great, okay? I don’t want to be greedy. But I can’t get enough of cross-country skiing. So if I could go every single day, it’d be amazing. I mean, in June of this year, which means we’ve only been two months without snow, I was already dreaming of when I could go out again.
[00:02:14] BS: That’s great. Well, when you live in a place like you do, which is in Colorado, and you have all the beautiful nature and you have snow. I mean, you got to get out there and you have to embrace it.
[00:02:23] BK: It’s so beautiful. This is why we moved – It’s why we moved to where we are. We’re right outside Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s just so stunning. And nature is really my zen place. It’s where I rejuvenate. So the more I’m outside, the happier everybody else is too.
[00:02:38] BS: Oh, definitely. And with all the screen time all of us have, I mean it’s just more important than ever to enjoy nature. And, really, just for me, it’s like it rests my eyes because of looking at the screens all the time. And then I go and look at the sky or I go look at the lake or the trees and I’m like, “Aah!” That’s where it’s at.
[00:03:00] BK: It’s just like peaceful.
[00:03:01] BS: Definitely.
[00:03:03] BK: Yeah, I love it.
[00:03:03] BS: Well, Bobbi, I know that you are on a mission to help people live fulfilling and authentic lives. So we are going to start with why, which his super cliché. But why are you on a mission to help people live fulfilling and authentic lives?
[00:03:20] BK: It’s something that’s really near and dear to my heart, and it goes back to an epiphany I had, if you will, on a very dark New Year’s Eve like more than 30 years ago. And what happened, at the time I was 23, and the year I was 23, it was a rough year for me. I mean I love country music, but I’ve always said that when I was just 23, that was the year I lived out the country music song, right?
[00:03:47] BS: I did that when I was 20.
[00:03:50] BK: We’ve all had those years, right?
[00:03:51] BS: Yeah, that’s great.
[00:03:53] BK: It’s like, “Oh!” And I love country music. Loved listening to it, but didn’t want to live it out. So it was New Year’s Eve and I was working. I was working two jobs and I was barely keeping my head above water. In fact, I was like treading water and a lot of things were not going right. So I worked my two jobs. I went home to my little lonely dark apartment on New Year’s Eve and I started thinking about my life and I’m like, “How in the world did I end up here?”
And I think if I’m being completely honest, I wanted to be able to blame someone, something, some force outside of me. But instead the answer that came back to me is that my life was a reflection of the choices that I had made so far. And first, like that was really disappointing because that’s not what I was going for. But almost instantly, Britt, it was like it was so hopeful, because I thought, “If that’s true that my life is really a reflection of the choices I’ve made so far, all that means is that I have to learn how to make new and better and different choices.”
And so that really set me on this path of becoming a student of things like emotional intelligence and leadership and communication. And one of the things I read, I don’t know who wrote this. It was so many years ago. It just hit me. Was that you want to be the author of your own life, because if you’re not the author of your own life, you’re just merely part of someone else’s story. And I think that since reading that, since having that epiphany and going through that, it’s really become important to me that I help other people do that, because I think that if we’re going to live, if we’re really going to thrive, if we are really going to have fulfilling lives, then we have to tap into who are we really and what’s important to us? That’s the genesis of it. That’s where it started.
[00:05:40] BS: I love that. I think back to my country music song year, when I was 20 years old. I’m going to start calling it that now. Now, I do have a question though before I tell that story or go there, is do you have a name for your country music song from that year?
[00:05:56] BK: Oh, that’s a good question. Actually I don’t. I have to think of that.
[00:06:00] BS: All right. So I think that’s the exercise for us. So we’ll have to report back later, but also an exercise for the listeners. But anyways when I was 20, that was my country music song year and I ended up going through a similar revelation as what you’re mentioning. So I was blaming another force. In that situation, I was blaming another person and it was a really toxic relationship that I was in at the time. And I had kind of a series of those when I was younger and it was always like going after the bad boy, of course. And it’s like, “Well, if you go after the bad boy, bad things are probably going to happen to you.” But I was literally seeking that out.
And so it’s very easy to blame this other person, but guess what? Who was choosing to be with that person? It was me. And so when you’re talking about the reflection of your choices and also how empowering that can be once you realize that, it’s really life-changing, because you realize that you can make better choices. You don’t have to make those bad choices anymore. It’s up to you to make those better choices and change your life around.
[00:07:07] BK: Yup. And I think – I don’t know how you felt about it, but I think too, when we’re trying to blame someone else, we’re kind of giving our power away.
[00:07:14] BS: Oh, totally.
[00:07:15] BK: When I really felt like, “This is one me.” It was empowering, because it was like I don’t need to wait for someone to come knock on my door and rescue me from this song and find myself in –
[00:07:24] BS: Yup. No need to wait for the white night to roll up.
[00:07:28] BK: Yeah. And it’s just powerful.
[00:07:32] BS: I would love to switch gears for just a moment and talk about procrastination and as it relates to your productivity. Now, first of all, I have to ask you. Do you procrastinate?
[00:07:44] BK: That is not one of my pitfalls usually. It can happen, right? It can happen a lot. And so it doesn’t happen a lot for me. It does happen a lot to some of the folks that I coach, but it’s not my particular sin, if you will.
[00:07:56] BS: Okay. So it’s funny because I was never a procrastinator until I started running a business fulltime, and I think that procrastination that happens is more of a not being able to do it all. Not necessarily that I’m procrastinating, but I have to prioritize. So I can only be in so many places at once. So I had to prioritize what I’m doing. And so some things are just going to get kicked down the line. So I don’t know if it’s really procrastination as much as just running a business. But I think it would be interesting to hear your perspective especially with what you see with the people you work with maybe. When procrastination strikes, how do you help them get back on track? What are some of your techniques that you share with them?
[00:08:37] BK: Okay. So it’s funny when you were mentioning running the business. I think, for me, maybe procrastination can be situational. When you were talking about that, I think back, because I started my business in 2000. And when you start a business, part of that is making sales. And I was trying my best, but I was awful.
And I remember like saying, “Okay, I need to make these calls, because I need to reach out to people.” And I had so many reasons, other things I needed to do first. Like I couldn’t possibly make a call if my paperclips were not all perfectly aligned. It was like, “Oh my goodness!” So that brought back a memory.
So for me, personally, I think that what I tried to do when I find myself in that moment is I like to create momentum for myself. And I do that by having small wins, and it can be kind of warming up with easy things that get me on a roll. That’s how I do it. I just create momentum and it’s like a snowball. It becomes easier.
Now some people, they attack it more from the do the one thing that you know is holding you back. Do that first. I think that there are a number of ways people can go about it. But I would say like when I’m coaching people, what I want to do is help them break it down into small manageable steps, because sometimes what I see with people is they’re motivated, but they’re thinking about the whole task, the whole picture, and that can be very, very overwhelming. So to break it down into small manageable steps. And then of course when we do that, we can also create momentum for ourselves. And then I think the other thing is making sure that we have enough clarity on what is it that I’m doing. Why is it important? And then also why is it motivating to me? And so those are some of the steps I think when we tap into that it can help us move through the putting off or, the stalling, the procrastination.
[00:10:36] BS: It’s funny that you’re talking about the sales outreach side of business, because if you’re not inclined toward those types of tasks, like more salesy kind of outreach like that, then that’s definitely going to kick down the line even though it is important. And I think that too. It’s really important to think about how you can delegate tasks especially if you’re running a business. That’s something that I’ve learned a lot to you, because especially if you feel like you’re stuck in this vortex of – Situational procrastination is actually a great way to describe it, because it’s not that you don’t want to get to those things. It just means that other things are fighting for your attention. They arguably are more important, which is where delegation can help as well.
[00:11:23] BK: Yep. And you know what? I heard someone said this way once too, and it’s similar to what you’re saying there or along that lines, is if it’s not my passion, it’s not my task. So find someone else who can fill that need, because if it’s something that we could have someone else do and we can afford to have that happen, why not? If it frees us up to do more of the stuff that we’re passionate about and that’s more in line with our strengths.
[00:11:47] BS: Absolutely. In this podcast that you’re on right now is a perfect example of delegation, because guess what? I don’t know how to edit podcasts, nor do I want to because of the amount of time that goes into audio editing. And yes, I could learn it, and it would be interesting to learn, and I could probably do it, but I’m still never going to be able to do it as great as the production team that I have hired and that I work with. It wouldn’t be the same quality level. Not to mention it would be such a time suck for me. So it can be difficult to make those decisions especially when you’re running a business that’s just getting started and may not be making money quite yet. But you’re investing in that business and you’re investing in the quality of the work and all of that’s really important. Not to mention, freeing up your time especially if you’re like me running another business. So I’m a big believer in it. It took me a long time to get here though to be able to delegate and not try to do everything DIY.
[00:12:49] BK: Because it’s tempting, right?
[00:12:50] BS: Oh yeah. It’s tempting. It’s tempting for a lot of people who run businesses especially because you are a lot of times just one person that’s trying to do it all or thinks you need to do it all and maybe you’re trying to save money, but usually it costs you time when you’re trying to do it all.
[00:13:07] BK: And there’s a cost to that, but we don’t always think about that. It’s like, “Oh, it’s just my time.” That’s the most precious commodity we have.
[00:13:16] BS: Absolutely, Bobbi. I totally agree. And when I first learned about time is I worked for a marketing agency for a long time and we had to track our time for everything. And now as a marketing consultant, I do it as well. And it’s amazing what you learn when you’re tracking your time and how much time you actually spend on things. And once people get salary jobs and they’re not clocking in and out anymore, they lose sight of that. And then when you really break it down, you keep tracking your time, you’re like, “Oh shit! I’m spending a lot of time here.” You have that data that you can look to.
[00:13:51] BK: Yeah.
[00:13:52] BS: So it’s actually really important.
[00:13:55] BK: It can be very eye-opening. I mean it’s one of the classics in time management, right? Write down what you’re doing in like – What? Minute increments. And most people are stunned like, “Really? Did I really spend an hour looking at cute little kitten YouTube videos?”
[00:14:09] BS: Oh yeah, you did. Hopefully it was worth it.
[00:14:12] BK: Yeah. And I love those.
[00:14:14] BS: Me too. So another thing with time management is saying no, I think. And I’d love to hear your perspective about a time when you said no to something and that resulted in something positive.
[00:14:31] BK: Yeah. Well, first of all, my framing on this, is we’re always saying no to something. And I used to be one of those people that I would just – Because I want to help people. I’m a very helpful person. So I wanted to say yes. But it started to occur to me that, “Okay, if I’m saying yes to this, to this project or this request, there is only so much time in the day.” So that means I’m saying no to something else. So am I being intentional with what I say yes to and what I’m saying no to? Because anything I say yes to, there’s something else that will probably have to be removed from the table. So that’s kind of my framing on it.
And then back in 2003, I got really sick. It was a major illness and every doctor that I have seen since then has said to me like, “I can’t believe you’re still alive.” And it was my adrenals. It was adrenal collapse. So you’ve got fatigue. Then you’ve got adrenal fatigue. Then you have adrenal exhaustion, and then there’s collapse, which is a very dangerous place to be. And we were two years into this journey. I was still trying to run my business and I was still trying to fulfill all the requests that were coming my way. And it was in June of 2005 and my Fiance at the time his name’s, Rick, now my husband, our wedding was going to be in August. And I was meeting with my doctor and I had yet another collapse. And she was like just shaking her head like, “I cannot believe that you’re still trying to run this business with everything. Like your health is at risk.”
And she said, “Bobbi, let me make this really simple for you.” And she said, “You can either start saying no or you won’t be alive for your wedding.” And I was like, “Wow!” That really drove it home for me, just how easy it is for us to slide into that saying yes to every request that comes. We don’t even think about it sometimes. You know what I mean?
[00:16:27] BS: Yeah. Well, I think it’s our society too and just how competitive it can be and it’s this – I always call it this culture of busyness as well where even if you’re not busy, you feel like you need to be busy, because it’s just expected. Unfortunately, this is has gone into all parts of our lives now.
[00:16:47] BK: That’s right. It creates anxiety if we’re not busy enough. Like, “Oh my gosh! I actually have all my work done.”
[00:16:54] BS: Now what do I do?
[00:16:56] BK: That should be a good thing.
[00:16:58] BS: Yeah, exactly. Just sit there, damn it.
[00:17:01] BK: Or just relax. Take it easy. Take a night – Go cross country skiing.
[00:17:06] BS: Yeah. Go cross country skiing with Bobbi for 96 days. That’ll give you something to do.
[00:17:13] BK: That’ll give you something to do. That’s my fun space. But one of the things that I have learned too out of that experience is it doesn’t have to be a hard no, right? It can be, “Hey, this part of the project or this part of the request doesn’t work for me.” Or, “I can do this. I just can’t do it in the time frame that you’ve proposed. Can we discuss it? Can we negotiate it a little bit?” And that was really helpful for me that it doesn’t have to be a hard no. Some things are hard no, right? But if it’s something I want to do and I just don’t have the bandwidth now or it’s going to interfere with other stuff that I have going on, to me it’s open to negotiation. You know what I mean?
[00:17:49] BS: I love that you mentioned timeframe, because that is something that I finally started doing when I was like – You’re right. It’s not a hard no. But what I have started doing is asking when they would like something by. What is the actual deadline? Because what do we all automatically do whenever someone asks us to do something? We feel like we need to drop everything and do it right away. Especially in our line of work where we have clients, it is very easy to feel like, “Oh my God! Like I have to like run and do this like right now.”
But what I’ve started to do is actually ask, “When do you need this by?” And then it’s usually like a week or two later and I’m like, “Oh shit! I was about to do this.” Seriously, just drop everything. Not eat food and just barrel through whatever they needed, and that was totally unnecessary.
[00:18:39] BK: They’re not expecting it, but we put that pressure on ourselves.
[00:18:42] BS: Oh yeah, especially when you’re in a business like we do, where you do help other people and offer a service. You especially feel that way.
[00:18:51] BK: I’ve always been surprised when I asked that question. And I’m like, “Seriously? Two weeks?”
[00:18:55] BS: I’m always surprised. Sometimes it’s a month and I’m like, “Wow!”
[00:19:00] BK: I’ll just get it done before then because I want it off my radar. But it’s almost addicting getting stuff done all the – Because I love – I am a big – I like to write things on a to-do list and I love to cross them off.
[00:19:14] BS: Me too.
[00:19:16] BK: Like on the weekend if I vacuum the floor, let’s say, and I didn’t have it on my list, I will put it on the list after I vacuum the floor just so I can go back and cross it off. And my husband’s like, “Seriously? This is weird.”
[00:19:31] BS: My husband’s used to this. At this point, we’re on 15 plus years of marriage. And yeah, he calls me the task master for a reason.
[00:19:43] BK: Hey, it works, right?
[00:19:44] BS: It does. Okay. I would love to talk about an impactful life event, and this might relate back to some of the stories you’ve already mentioned, but which impactful life event made you have a deeper appreciation for your enthusiasm?
[00:20:01] BK: I would say it goes back to when I got sick, because that was roughly – It was about a five-year journey to the point where I was no longer sick. And then what I learned at that point, which was really painful, is that there’s a big difference between not being sick and really being well and healthy and strong again. So that was like another four to five year journey to really get back to being an athlete and being strong and truly, truly healthy.
But what I noticed is that even when I was sick, and like at the first two to three years, I spent the vast majority of that time in bed. I would write sitting up in bed for short periods of time, because I just didn’t have – Like I struggled to sit up. I struggled to brush my own teeth when I say I was tired. There were times like I didn’t have the energy to sit up. But one of the things, back at that time, is I was doing a lot of speaking, a lot of keynoting on pursuing your passion and being authentic and that type of thing, and I loved it. And I did not want to let that go.
So on the days when I’d have presentations, a lot of them were like at five o’clock at night. I would spend the whole day basically in bed resting and then my husband would – Well, my fiance and then husband, would drive me to the event because I couldn’t drive myself. I was too weak. And we’d time it. So I got there 10 minutes or so before and we’d worked it out with the coordinator so they knew when I’d be arriving, because I didn’t have enough energy to get there early and mingle and everything.
And then it was so funny because I can remember so clearly being so exhausted. Like I don’t know how I’m going to give this presentation, like I’m so tired. And yet as soon as I stepped on the stage it was like a light switch. And for however long I was speaking, whether it was 15 minutes or 90 minutes, whatever, I had energy and it was like everything – There was a clarity to everything and it was exciting. I mean it was just my passion.
And then as soon as the speech was over, I was like sweating, a mess and I was I just collapsed. I’m like, “Just get me home.” But it really drove home to me that as sick as I was, this was something that it was so meaningful. Something that I cared about and I was enthusiastic about and just I had so much energy. So I think that being sick and having so much taken away during that time, it just made me realize like how much of my personality, how much I like being that type of person? And what a gift it is now looking back that I’m not in that space anymore and I have all the energy that I want.
[00:22:41] BS: Bobbi, I know you’re a very active person based on the 96-day cross-country skiing. Can you talk a little bit about rebuilding your health from that point to where you are today? Because I think a lot of times we hear these stories about how people were in this one place and now they’re not and then we don’t hear about what happened in the middle. Could you talk a little bit about that recovery?
[00:23:08] BK: Oh my goodness! Yes. And it’s really easy to think it’s a light switch, right? “Oh, I’m not sick anymore. I’m well.” No. It’s a big not. There is a big middle ground. So I love cross-country skiing, and I also – Because when I got sick originally we were in Portland, Oregon and then we moved back to Chicago and then we came out here to Colorado. So we came out here to Colorado in 2010 is when we moved out here. I wanted to start biking. And that was a very humbling experience, because living in the rockies, it’s not easy to bike.
[00:23:42] BS: I experienced some of that in Portland and I was like, “Oh dang! I’m moving backwards up this hill.”
[00:23:48] BK: I’m going backwards. And so I’ll never forget the “first ride”, and I’m going to put that in air quotes. I managed to go – It was less than a mile and I told my husband, I’m like, “My legs were burning.” I felt miserable. I went back home and I think I might have been in bed for a day or two, like it really just wiped me out. But what I started doing was really trying to be intentional with what’s an action I can take today? And sometimes that’s walking. Sometimes it was riding a bike. Actually it was in Portland when I started walking. When my doctor said it was safe for me to start trying to be active. I made it to the end of our driveway, and our driveway was short, and I’m like, “That’s as far as I can go.”
And so it was like recognizing what’s the farthest I can go today and not judging myself for that. And then and then it was the consistency. So every day I’m going to go out for a walk. And I’ll never forget, I made it up to six blocks. I was so excited. I could walk six blocks. And just to keep in mind, like before getting sick, I was a runner. I would run eight miles every other day. So to walk six blocks, at first it was really hard to take that as a win. But I thought, “You know what? It doesn’t matter what I used to be able to do. This is about what can I do today and what can I do tomorrow.”
And so I used the same thing when we moved out here like with the cycling. I don’t know this might be lunacy, but shortly after that first bike ride where I didn’t even make it a mile, I started adding to it and I thought, “I want to be able to ride my bike up a mountain pass,” because I saw these cyclists doing that and I thought, “That would be a true pinnacle of I’m actually well again.” And it took three years to get to that point, but I have cycled passes and I’ve done it many times since then. But it started with what is that one step I can take today and what’s a consistent step for tomorrow and just – But also, Britt, I think it was giving myself the grace for the days when I was tired to say, “You know what? What my body needs today is rest, and that’s okay.” Does that help?
[00:25:55] BS: Yeah. Giving yourself the grace. I love that. And as somebody who has been an athlete your whole life, and I’ve been a dancer my whole life and always been very active. That can be very difficult whenever our bodies aren’t performing the way that we are expecting them to, that high level of expectation that we have when we’ve been athletes our entire lives. And then I even think about spraining my ankle. I sprained my ankle for my first time in life about five – Well, I guess that was about eight years ago now. How time flies. And it was really stupid. I was wearing stilettos. It was the last time I wore stilettos. I was like, “I’m done with these now. I understand.” When you get to my age, you stop wearing them for a reason.
[00:26:40] BK: They’re my enemies.
[00:26:42] BS: I went off a little curb. Mind you, I had some cocktails. And then just went off this little teeny tiny curb, sprained my ankle, and it was at the beginning of my yoga teaching certification. And that was going to go on for 10 months. So I did my entire yoga teaching certification with a sprained ankle. And I was such a baby, because I had never sprained my ankle. Somehow I went my entire dancing life without doing that, which is just unheard of. But I was so hard on myself, because I was in so much pain and I was so excited about my yoga teaching certification, but I was so limited. And it was amazing. Even those really yummy yoga poses like child’s pose. Child’s pose, I couldn’t even do because of the way that my foot and everything was bent underneath me. It was hell. I just couldn’t even do it. I became like that example student like what to do if you have a student with an injury. Come here, Britt. Let’s all gather around Britt and put some props underneath her and try to help her do this pose. And that was really difficult for me to be this example of if you have a student with an injury versus being this star student, which I was so used to being because of my athleticism.
So even when you get just an injury or something, not to mention, some health problems, that really take you down. It can be very difficult for people like us. So I’d love to give yourself the grace quote that you just said. I’m going to hold on to that one.
[00:28:15] BK: Good. I just think it’s so important, and we don’t do it enough, right?
[00:28:19] BS: No.
[00:28:21] BK: We’re so harsh on ourselves.
[00:28:23] BS: Yeah, exactly. And for me I know a lot of it is patience, and it is for a lot of people especially athletes, because they’re a go-getter type. And so just being kind to yourself, giving yourself the grace and also giving yourself some time.
[00:28:37] BK: Yeah. I mean sometimes our bodies are telling us that we need the rest, and that’s okay. That’s part of healing and of being well. It’s not being lazy.
[00:28:46] BS: Exactly. Not being lazy. It’s not being a loser. You’re doing fine.
[00:28:49] BK: Yeah. Sleep is not necessarily lazy.
[00:28:52] BS: No. It’s imperative.
[00:28:55] BK: Kind of critical.
[00:28:57] BS: Bobbi, I want to go back to something you said, and this relates to the whole topic of our conversation, which is being authentic. I would love for you to give your definition of being authentic. And I know that’s a really tough question, but I feel like this is one of those words, authenticity, that is being worn out and not used authentically. So can you share your definition at least in your own opinion of what being authentic really means?
[00:29:31] BK: Yeah. And I agree, it’s thrown around a lot. To me, it is listening to that voice inside, because I think all of us know who we really are inside. And I think, for me, when I think about it in my 20s, it was if I really live true to who I know myself to be inside, what will my family think? What will the people around me think? Because you’re kind of brought up and I don’t want to say you have a box around you, but sometimes you do have a little box around you, because it’s like, “Oh, Bobbi sis this way or she’s that way.” But just paying attention to that voice inside of you when it’s like this is who I am or I’m not this way. And so to me it’s really tapping into who we know ourselves to be and being true to that voice. And I know that’s probably not very concrete, but when I think of being authentic, that’s what I think about.
[00:30:24] BS: Cool. I love it. Thank you for sharing that. I think it’s worth exploring for any of us when we look at all of these hashtags that are being overused and all of these life coaching type messages that are being thrown in our faces like on social media. It’s like, “Well, what does this really mean?” If I’m going to explore this, I think looking at the meaning of that word for ourselves is equally important.
[00:30:49] BK: Yeah. I was just doing a podcast interview earlier today, and he made the point. He’s a fascinating person. He made the point that living authentically is sometimes dangerous, because sometimes when we’re living authentically we’re kind of challenging the status quo of whether that’s culture or whether it’s our family or whether that’s our co-workers. I think a person knows when they’re out of alignment. And I think we can feel it in our gut. And so to really heed those signals and that voice, I think it’s really important.
[00:31:22] BS: Totally. And I call this fighting life instead of flowing with it. And it’s another way of saying you’re out of balance or something’s not right. But for me, I feel like I’m actually literally fighting things instead of flowing and then I know that something’s wrong, that I’m not living authentically. That’s always a big clue for me.
[00:31:42] BK: Yup, that’s a good way to put it too.
[00:31:44] BS: Okay. Learn your way forward. This is one of your techniques, and I want to hear about it. So why is learn your way forward a technique you believe in?
[00:31:55] BK: Okay. Well, this goes back. I’ve lived it and I’ve also helped others with it. But for me, it started – Because I guess my premise here is we can learn what we need to learn. Most things that we need to learn, they’re skills or it’s knowledge. Right now I’m not saying that I can learn basketball and play it like Michael Jordan. I want to be really clear. But as a kid, I was five or six years old and the school that I was attending, it was in Rural Illinois. They brought in a speech pathologist, because I could not speak. It was terrible. And after the evaluation he told my parents. He’s like, “I really think that she’s going to have a lifelong disability.” He goes, “I don’t think there’s any hope of her learning to speak correctly.”
And luckily my mom was a contrarian and she was like, “Well, we’re not going to listen to him,” which was great. The second part of her message was never let someone else tell you what you can or cannot do, which kind of became part of my story and just what I believe. So I did have speech problems. I mean they were bad, and my mom worked very, very patiently with me. And I remember there were times when like I couldn’t say a word and I’d say, “I can’t say that.” And she’s like, “No. You can’t say it yet.” And that really showed me the power of that small, tiny little word, because if I keep practicing, if I keep working, I can probably get to the point where I could say the word.
And so that was kind of the first part of it. Then I don’t know what I was thinking, but I hated having to speak up, right? I hated it. I hated when I had to read out loud in class. Giving a presentation in class was terrible. It was a miserable experience I was always so nauseous. It was awful. And so then when I was in the eighth grade I thought, “Okay, when I go to high school, I’m going to take a speech class, because I need to get to the point where at least I’m not uncomfortable.” That was my big goal. Well, I wanted to be comfortable with it. And so I took my first speech class, and Mr. Jordan was our teacher. He was also the speech and debate coach. And I gave my first speech, and when I say it was a train wreck, I’m not being hard on myself. It was truly awful. And I know it was awful. But at the end of class, Mr. Jordan said, “Bobbi, can you stay for a minute?” I’m like, “Oh geez! He’s going to kick me out of this class.” I’m like, “No!”
So I’m like, “Okay.” And so I stayed and he’s like, “Would you consider joining the speech and debate team?” I remember I looked at him and I said, “Were you in the room for that? Because that was awful. Like you must have me confused.” And he just smiled at me and he’s like, “Yeah.” He goes, “It wasn’t good.” But he said, “I think you have potential.” And he said, “I think if you’re willing to work and you’re willing to learn,” and he goes, “and I can help you.” He said, “I think this is something that you could actually become good at.”
And so I think it was those two experiences that really planted the seed for me. And then of course my undergrad and my graduate degree, it’s in that whole field of adult learning and coaching and leadership and that type of stuff. But it really started there, which is what do I need to learn next so I can learn my way forward? So that’s kind of where it started for me.
[00:35:07] BS: I can totally relate, because I was like you as far as not being able to speak in front of people. It was horrifying when I was younger. I always took the opt-out of writing an essay, doing like the essay tests instead of the presentation always without fails like, “Thank God.” Because I was a writer, not a speaker, and that was more of my thing. And that was just more of my introvert side and not feeling comfortable speaking in front of the class. And when I would have to, oh my God! It was almost always like a mini heart attack, like sweaty palms. I mean like sick to my stomach and just the whole thing. So I have also really worked on that side of my life, obviously. Here I am with a podcast. You have a podcast and everything that you’ve done. Teaching dance and then teaching yoga were major for me with helping me get over speaking in front of people. And the difference is, is unlike reading a speech in front of a bunch of bored high school students, which is the worst. When you’re teaching the students, you’re giving them something. You are sharing your wisdom. You’re feeding off of their energy, and all of that was a very different environment for me. Now it isn’t to say that I didn’t get nervous before teaching, because I actually used to get nervous every time as well, which was crazy, because I was teaching four or five dance classes a week at one point.
And obviously the repetition helped by just regularly doing it. I got more used to it. But I had to plan. I had to prep. I mean, like crazy. So yeah, I mean I think it’s important that if you really are struggling with some sort of skill, that you work on it. That’s what you need to work on, because obviously communication in all shapes and sizes is one of the most important things we can do.
[00:37:07] BK: Yeah. And what I hear there too is like when you’re teaching the dance or the yoga, it’s also something that you’re passionate about, which I also think helps. And I’ve always thought about that conversation with Mr. Jordan when he said, “You can work and you can learn your way into being a great speaker.” And so I think that just always stuck with me. Like, “Okay.” When I’m starting something new, like when I started the podcast, I’m like, “What do I know about podcasting? Nothing. But I can learn.” I know how to learn. I can bank on my ability to learn.
[00:37:39] BS: Yup, same here. I love it. Okay, I will also want to hear you talk about the just wait voice. So talk about a time the just wait voice held you back and how you learned to manage that voice.
[00:37:54] BK: So the just weight voice is what I call – It’s when a person is starting something new or they want to start something new. And for that voice inside of our head that tells us, “You can just wait,” right? And there’re a lot of different reasons, right? It can be the fear of failure, the fear of making mistakes, the fear of rejection. Sometimes it’s that we’ve been labeled by other people like, “Oh, so and so is not a good communicator,” and we believe that label. And sometimes the just wait voice comes from we fear what other people might think. And then also, “Well, I don’t have the whole plan. So how could I possibly get started?” So those are some of the sources of the just wait voice.
And, actually, it annoys me so bad that I’ve written a guide on it. So if you think it would be helpful to your listeners, I can give you a link to that, because it’s how do you recognize it? Because each of those sources, it’s a little bit different what you do. But here’s an example for me. It was 2002. I think it was 2002. I was at a conference and Entrepreneur Press was there and they said, “Hey, we’re putting together a book and we want to have people who have overcome challenges. And so if you think you’ve got a good story, write it, send it to us and maybe you’ll be published in this book.”
So I thought, “Well, at this point I was a professional speaker.” So I thought, “Well, the speech story,” not being able to speak and now being a professional speaker, that’s kind of a good story. So I thought, “Oh, I’m going to write that and I’m going to send it in.” Four months later I still hadn’t done anything with it, because in the back of my head it’s like, “What if they say no?” And so that kept me. It kept me from doing anything.
And then I’ll never forget it, it was like a Monday in February, I think, and I was in my office and I got the little email that said, “Last call for submissions.” Friday’s the deadline. And again, it was like, “But what if they say no?” And then thank goodness I had this like epiphany where I thought, “Okay, they might say no. That is clearly one of the things that could happen. They might say no. But they cannot say yes unless I have the courage to write the story and hit send.” I’m like, “Well, if I don’t send it, I have no chance of them saying yes. So, really, what do I have to lose?”
So I sat down, I wrote this story. I sent it in. Literally, I think three hours later, I got the email saying, “We love this story. It’s going to be included in the book.” But I almost missed it, because I almost listened to the just wait voice. That’s how it shown up for me. So the second part of your question is what can we do? So depending on the source, like I said earlier, and that’s why I’m happy to provide the guide. There are specific things. But in general, I think that we have to realize that just wait voice that we hear, it’s there because it’s trying to keep us safe. And that’s not a bad thing. But to recognize like, “Okay, it’s just there. It’s trying to keep me safe.” And then question it, “Is this really unsafe or is it merely uncomfortable?” And that’s a big distinction, right?
[00:40:52] BS: Yeah.
[00:40:54] BK: I always challenge it. And with this particular one, the fear of rejection, my go-to is I am I going to be the one to say no to my dreams or am I going to make them say not to me? Because if I don’t do it because I’m afraid of rejection, I am saying no to my dreams. And that’s not acceptable to me. Does that give you some insight into what I mean by that?
[00:41:13] BS: Yeah. It’s like there’s going to be two potential responses when we go after things, yes or no. What’s gotten really hard, and I feel like I’m experiencing this more and more, is no response.
[00:41:28] BK: Oh yeah.
[00:41:30] BS: I feel like that is just the worst, because I have – I went through it and I’ve talked about on the podcast, but I ended up sending out my fourth novel, it’s a fiction novel to like over a hundred something agents over the course of two years. And for the most part, you get these automated email messages that mean nothing or you hear nothing. And I have eventually decided that I will self-publish that book like I’ve done with my other three, which is always there. There’s always another avenue if you want to share passion. There are other ways to do it besides these traditional, let’s face it, usually broken models. But I think the silent treatment is something that is really hard for me to deal with as I’m pursuing things. And it’s becoming more and more common, and I think it’s just because of email communication. It’s a lot easier for people to not say no to you and just to kind of like ignore it.
[00:42:26] BK: The silence is hard, you know? And I don’t know how you handle that. I try to just tell myself, “You know what? I’m putting it out there.” And how they respond to it, that’s on them. Has nothing to do with me. Has nothing to do with the validity of what I’m doing. There could be a hundred reasons why they’re not responding. There could be a thousand reasons why they say no, but it doesn’t invalidate what I’m doing. That’s just their response. And it’s still hard, but it’s not going to stop me.
[00:42:56] BS: Yeah. Me neither.
[00:42:57] BK: Just let me do it. It’s not going to stop you.
[00:42:58] BS: Yeah. It’s definitely something that I’ve been learning to manage more so than the just wait voice. It’s the just going after things and then getting crickets. And I guess it’s a lesson for me as well, because I always respond to people. That’s one of my things. And something that I’ve learned from all of these too is that I always try to respond to people. It doesn’t mean I do it every time, but I’m not a fan of the whole like ignore if it’s a no. I actually will tell people if it’s a no. And I usually will try to tell them why in a nice way as well.
[00:43:33] BK: Yeah, I think it’s more compassionate to do that with some honesty and compassion and kindness and then everyone can just move on.
[00:43:40] BS: Absolutely. Bobbi, if you met someone who felt more emptiness rather than fulfillment in their life, what would you say to help them?
[00:43:50] BK: So this is one where there can be a lot of sources for emptiness, right? Some of those are more clinical. So if it’s a clinical type thing like depression, that type of thing, obviously that’s a conversation with someone who’s licensed in that area.
I think the way that people will present it oftentimes is nothing’s really wrong, but nothing’s really right. You know what I mean? It’s that inkling that maybe there’s something more. So that’s how the emptiness, if you will. I think that’s how I hear it a lot.
So in that case, I mean there are so many different things a person can do. But three things that come to mind for me. One is to start journaling, and with pen and paper. Not a computer. There’s a lot of great science out there about why using a pen with paper is far more effective. But some things that a person can journal about could be something like who is the me that I know that nobody else knows? So that could be one question. Another question a person can journal about is when are those times in my life spanning my entire life that I have felt at my absolute best? And then another question could be what are those moments in my life where I’m the most proud of me, of what? And I wouldn’t do all those at once. Like those would be three different sessions. But what’s really effective, there’s an exercise where you write about one of those questions for, let’s say, 15 minutes, whatever, and it’s helpful actually if you put a timer on. And during that time, let’s say it’s 15 minutes. Just focus on writing. Don’t focus on editing or where the comma goes or is that a good – Is how the word is spelled? Just let it go. It’s for your eyes only. And if you need more than 15 minutes, fine. But when you feel like that part of the exercise is done, draw a line across the bottom of the page. Set the timer for 10 minutes and then you journal about, “What was I feeling during that time I was journaling?” And it’s a very powerful way to find new discoveries. So journaling, I’m a huge fan of journaling. It’s not a fit for everybody.
So the second thing a person can do, and these can be used together or separately, is talk to other people. If there’s someone out there and you think, “Wow! They’re always enthusiastic or they seem to be living. Like they seem so fulfilled.” Talk to them. Talk to them about their story. Be curious. Be inquisitive. Most people will grant you that time, because by talking to other people, it’s a way to bring in new information, which I think is one of the ways that we get unstuck when we’re feeling stuck.
And then the third thing that you want to do is really – This might sound stupid, but try something new. It doesn’t even matter what it is, but something that maybe pushes your comfort zone a little bit. So for me this was – Oh my gosh! This was 2011. And I was kind of feeling not empty, but plateaued. Like, “Yeah, whatever.” And so I thought I was kind of new to cross-country skiing. You see how everything comes back to cross-country skiing for me.
[00:46:50] BS: Oh yeah, it does. Obviously, another big passion for you, which is awesome.
[00:46:54] BK: Oh, I love it. I love it so much. I can’t wait to get out. But at the time – Oh my gosh! So we’re living in Vail, Colorado, and I would always only stick to the places where they were flat, like it was stable flat. That was my thing. I avoided the hills like the plague, because I didn’t know how to go up them and i didn’t know how to go down them without crashing.
[00:47:16] BS: Understood.
[00:47:17] BK: I thought, yeah. I’m like, “I just don’t know how to do this.” And so I thought, “Well, I’m just going to take a class.” And it was an intermediate class and I specifically focused on how to go up and down hills. And I was terrified. I was absolutely terrified of this class. And my instructor was fabulous. And what I noticed is, I mean, obviously it helped me with my cross-country skiing. But it had a tendency to open up energy in other areas of my life. And I can’t really explain why, but it did. Like things with my career that had felt kind of stagnated or whatever, plateaued. Those started to open up. And it happened in a number of different ways. So I’m a big believer. And just try something new. Change the scenery, right? I mean if we’re feeling stuck somehow, we have to do something to create a little bit of movement. So those are kind of my three go-to’s if someone’s feeling that kind of like malaise or whatever you want to call it.
[00:48:11] BS: Awesome. Thank you so much, Bobbi. Can you let the listeners know how they can stay connected with you and find more info?
[00:48:18] BK: Sure. So obviously, I have a podcast called Unyielded. It’s on all the usual places for podcasts. The website, if they want to get in touch, there’s a place through their website, and that’s just unyielded.net. And I’m also active on LinkedIn just at Bobby Kahler on LinkedIn. So I would love to stay in touch. And if there’s anything I can do as far as like helping or sharing stories, whatever that might be, I welcome people to reach out.
[00:48:43] BS: Wonderful. Thank you, Bobbi. I loved our conversation today. Don’t want it to end, but we have to do it. So thank you.
[00:48:53] BK: Thank you for having me as a guest. This was great.
[00:48:58] BS: I hope you thoroughly enjoyed the hour with Bobbi. If you are interested in listening to my upcoming interview with Bobbi on her show, Unyielded, it will be releasing on February 17th. This is my first official podcast interview. So it is a new venture for me, but I truly had such a fabulous and insightful time with Bobbi on her show. You can find Unyielded on all of the usual podcast apps. I will link to Unyielded in the show notes and drop links in the episode description for you as well.
As always, thanks for listening. Until next time.