Robin Sharma: Emerging from the Dark Tunnel of Pursuit & ‘The Everyday Hero Manifesto’

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My guest today is writer and creator of Sharma Leadership International Robin Sharma. Known for books like THE MONK WHO SOLD HIS FERRARI, THE SAINT, THE SURFER, AND THE CEO, THE LEADER WHO HAD NO TITLE and his latest book THE EVERYDAY HERO MANIFESTO.

He shares his tale of not fitting in as a young person: following the dutiful path and becoming a litigator only to realize it was not his true purpose for this life. He bravely self published his first book and was off to a new life.

Robin wants to help all of us live our own personal journey to the fullest and gives great starting points if you feel buried in your world, or if you are on the move, helpful next ideas to move forward towards your goals.

There are never short cuts but having strategies in place or just an inspiration can be a wonderful light in what sometimes feels like a dark tunnel of pursuit. Enjoy

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Robin Sharma: Emerging from the Dark Tunnel of Pursuit & ‘The Everyday Hero Manifesto’

My guest is author Mr. Robin Sharma. You might know him from some of his past books, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, The Saint, The Surfer & The CEO, The Leader Who Had No Title, and now his latest book is called The Everyday Hero Manifesto. I’ll be honest, sometimes when I interview someone like Robin who is high-polished, has it together, talks to a lot of people, works with powerful CEOs and well-known athletes, you’re trying to figure out a way in.

I appreciate it because not only does Robin have so much information, but he genuinely wants all of us to live our best lives. We get into, “If we feel buried, what are some starting points?” I never want to have a conversation that’s like, “It’s easy, these three steps,” things like that. We even joked about how everybody loves “tactics”.

What I enjoyed so much was that Robin has the ability to bring the human elements to the tactics because you do need a strategy but also, it’s having that understanding of where are people right now, today, in this moment. For a lot of us, it’s harder than maybe someone else who we look over and they go, “It looks so easy for them.” The truth is, it’s not easy for anyone. He also shares his personal story about having it pretty tough when he was young, pursuing a career that he didn’t love as a litigator, pulling out of all of that, and self-publishing his first book at 25. I hope you enjoy the conversation.

Robin, thank you for coming to my home. You’re my first guest that has someone with you where Justin and I are going to toe the line. Your latest book is out, The Everyday Hero Manifesto. You have so many books. Maybe you could start with your own journey because it is interesting. Usually, if someone has such a serious occupation like a lawyer, that’s the track and they’re off and running. You jumped the track.

First of all, thanks so much for having me in your home. It’s such a delight. I followed your career for so many years and it’s great to finally meet. I come from very humble beginnings. I wasn’t raised with a silver spoon in my mouth or anything like that. When I was a kid, I was a bit of a misfit. People didn’t think I would amount to very much. I was put down a lot. I was laughed at. One of my mentors is Cora Greenaway. I was encouraged to be a doctor or a lawyer.

One of the greatest recipes for heartbreak is living someone else’s life, whether it’s your mother’s life, society’s life, or your neighbor’s life. Our instinct is more powerful than our intellect. I followed my intellect and I did what people encouraged me to do. I became a litigation lawyer. I had all the shiny toys. I had everything that people said, “If you have these things, you’re going to wake up and you’re going to feel good.”

The only thing is I’d wake up and go to the bathroom mirror, look at myself, and didn’t like the man who was looking back. What’s the point of being successful in the world and losing yourself in the process? That’s why I started on this odyssey, trying to figure out how I could be happier and how I could be more fulfilled. I wrote a book and the book took off, and it led me in a new direction.

You self-published that book, right?

In a Kinko’s copy shop. My mom was my first editor. My father helped me sell it at Rotary Clubs. My first seminar was 23 people, 21 of them were my family members. I started from very humble beginnings.

A lot of people, especially when they’re younger, feel like a misfit for some reason or another. Was yours cultural? What was the opening that people poked at you for?

I’m an artist more than anything.

Kids love that, too. They get that.

I love ideas. I think outside the box. I march to the beat of a different drummer. The teachers thought I’d be a vagrant or drift or not amount to anything. It wasn’t until I started writing where I felt I found my sweet spot. Work didn’t become work anymore. Being a litigation lawyer, I was good at it but it was so aggressive. People would be yelling and screaming. Who wants to live like that?

I always thought it’d be interesting to be married to a litigator. I am curious, as a litigator, where do you find the other side of your personality? When people see your work, there’s structure in order. It’s this combination. Was it a complete compartmentalization of who you were as a person like, “I have to be this guy to do this job.” Were you still able to do it in the way that was still unique to you?

I’ve never been asked that question. I find it interesting. In my work, there is the structure. In The Everyday Hero Manifesto, the frameworks, the languaging, the processes, and then there’s the artistry and the chapters on spirituality and happiness. As a litigation lawyer, I had to pretend that I was someone that I wasn’t. That’s why it drained my soul so much and it was so difficult. I had to put on a social mask, be hard, strong, and all that stuff to survive.

Change is hard at first, messy in the middle, and gorgeous at the end. Every one of us can change. Click To Tweet

Our soul and our spirit know where we’re meant to be. Joy is a wonderful GPS. Instinct is more powerful than intellect. One of the challenges we all face is we run our lives, our businesses, our productivity from our heads. I took my son to see Michelangelo’s David in Florence. That wasn’t made by a man who was in his head. The great works aren’t made by women or men who are in their heads. The great masterpieces, the great progress of civilization, the great inventions, the great symphonies were all by someone that was trusting their innate instinct and not betraying themselves.

One of the challenges people face is there’s so much pressure to be who the world says you must be in order to be successful. People become successful, but they lose themselves in the process. The happiest, richest people might not have a lot of money but they’re rich of spirit, rich of creativity, rich of honor, rich of values. Leo Tolstoy wrote a short story called The Death of Ivan Ilyich. At the end of it, Ivan Ilyich asked himself this question, “What if my whole life was wrong?”

Will Smith did a book. When his dad was dying, it was like, “Did I make a difference? Did it matter at all?” It’s a powerful thing. A lot of us get the yearning inside if you’re doing one thing but your spirit is saying, “There’s more. There’s something different.” Maybe it isn’t about more. It’s about the right thing. What are the steps?

You get solicited and you work with very successful people, CEOs, wealthy people, famous people, athletes, and all these things. Let’s say that’s a common man who’s maybe trying to pay their bills. A lot of people feel buried under responsibility, obligation, and maybe they’re beat up a little bit. Maybe they’re tired. Life makes you tired. This thing that you’re talking about gives you energy, but it also takes energy to make things happen. How do we invite people into that conversation? What are the first steps? Is it writing down a dream? What does that look like?

It’s an honest question and a very good question. There are a lot of people who are beaten up and a lot of people who say, “I can’t do this.” I did an interview and someone said, “This all sounds like a lot of work.” To me, living a hard, miserable life where you’re betraying your values, you’re not living your healthiest life, there’s no awe and wonder in your heart, you don’t have anything to look forward to is a lot harder than doing the work I talked about in The Everyday Hero Manifesto.

I’m with you. I’m on your team. That’s how we try to live. I get my butt kicked on a regular basis in all facets, parenting and business. It’s just part of life. I understand the other is a death if you don’t try to go for it. I see so many people where I’m like, “Were they born behind the eight ball? Did they ever get a chance? Was there one mentor, one coach, one teacher, one parent?” You talk about when you did your book, your parents, your family are there. A lot of us have had people who reached their hand out. I had coaches. I’m wondering if maybe someone’s in it and they don’t have anyone with this thinking around them.

We can get into the tactics and you can have people around you through their books, through their podcast, through their audiobooks. We live in an amazing world right now. You can commune with the greatest minds on the planet through their podcasts. You can walk into a library and read a book that shows you a whole new sense of possibility.

If I may give a little bit of context, the third chapter in The Everyday Hero Manifesto is called The Gold Miner’s Paradox. Thousands of years ago in ancient Thailand, there was this Golden Buddha and people revered it. It was this priceless national treasure. Then it became clear that invaders were going to enter the country and they were going to possibly steal this Golden Buddha. The citizens hatched a plan and they said, “Let’s cover it with layers of mud so the invaders and the warriors don’t see this Golden Buddha.” The plan worked.

A hundred years later or so, there was a young boy walking by and he saw this glimmer of gold behind this mountain of mud. He and his friends got together and they started moving through layer upon layer of the Golden Buddha. Every time they moved through more and more soil and mud, more and more gold began to shine. Eventually, they worked through all the layers of mud and there was this pure, incredible Golden Buddha.

Human beings are born into genius, but we get resigned to difficulty and stuck in this. I do believe that every beating heart and there are no extra people on the planet. Everyone has talent. Everyone has willpower if they can access it. Everyone has productivity. Everyone has creativity. Everyone has decency. What happens is from the moment we’re born through our parents, the people around us, the media, our teachers, and the messaging, we receive this programming of fear, doubt, and disbelief.

What happens is we receive it so often we forget who we truly are. We create a story and the story is, “I am stuck in success.” Maybe it’s fitness and health, love, productivity, prosperity, or impact on humanity. That’s where the Hedy Lamarrs, the Shakespeares, the Elon Musks, and the Oprah Winfreys are. It’s a story. We can talk about what’s the antidote to the story? The answer is waking up to the simple idea that as human beings, we have the power to change.

Let’s go to neuroscience. We are blessed with a phenomenon called neuroplasticity. As human beings, we are built to change. How do you do it? Lao Tzu said it well, “The 1,000-mile journey begins with a single step.” Anyone reading who’s saying, “I want to start owning my power and expressing more of my genius. I want to live a better life. Where do I start?” You start. If you want to be a marathoner, you take a walk. If you want to eat better, you have the first smoothie.

Robin Sharma Caption 1

Robin Sharma – The nature of innovation means you are going to threaten the status quo, which means you’re doing your job but that’s when the trolls come out to play.

If you want to turn off your phone and let go of Netflix or addiction to entertainment, you read the first page of the book. If you want to build a business, you watch the first YouTube video. If you want to fall in love, you ask for the first date. Every time you do something you are resisting, you take the power you gave to the thing you are resisting back. If you do it every day with practice, you rebuild yourself and over time, you start to change your identity and remember who you truly are.

I was raised in the Virgin Islands. I didn’t have the most stable childhood. When I started working, I was around a lot of successful people. Once I became a professional athlete, I was then around very successful athletes and even business people. Living here in Malibu, I know a lot of successful business people but it did look like their personal life had a lot of collateral damage. There was something in me as a young person that wanted to make it better and easier for myself.

There were certain things that I saw the adults in my life where I thought, “This looks too hard.” It’s like, “I’ll work as hard as I need to have a car that works,” if that makes sense. In there, I put another programming on myself which was, “Reach for it because the opportunity is a gift. Don’t blow the gift.” I knew this very early. “Don’t be too successful because it might destroy your real life.”

There was another side of me that thought that real life, whatever that is for each person, felt more important that somehow too much success didn’t alienate me from my partner, that it didn’t ruin my children because somehow, I had seen that a lot. There’s an interesting thing where I have had to look at myself and say, “Yes, I wanted a certain amount of success, but not too much because that might ruin my life.” I’ve seen that story a lot.

I’m personally always looking at that, like, “Why are you putting limitations?” It’s like, “Some but not too much.” I’m trying to receive that grace, take away those limitations, and have that belief that I can manage my marriage and that my kids will be okay. I’m wondering if there’s anything for you that you’re hung up on that you’re like, “I still got to wrestle that to the ground a little bit.” Is there a belief that’s in there that you’re like, “I’m still working on this.”

I’ve got so many of those beliefs. The thing about being human is the top of one mountain introduces you to so many other mountains to climb. This journey of remembering who you truly are, once you heal one wound or identify one program, you realize they’re linked to so many other programs. There are so many of them. I’ve been working on myself very strongly for over 21 years. I have a lot of work to do but I’ve come far. I like the place I’m at right now. I have a lot of inner peace. I love my craft. I’ve got an incredible family. My parents are healthy.

One of the things I’ve struggled with is core wounds. There’s a chapter in The Everyday Hero Manifesto that talks about how our blessings are often our curses. You know this better than most people. A lot of super achievers have a chip on their shoulder. They were never good enough for mommy or daddy. A lot of the billionaires are mentors. Nothing is enough. They have the jet, they have the yacht, they have the mansion, and they have huge levels of high net worth but their hearts are broken because they never got to know their kids. You know exactly what I’m speaking about.

They have everything in the world but they can’t enjoy it because they’ve layered so much complexity into their lives and they’re dealing with so many things. Rather than watching a sunset or having a great meal or even taking a nice trip, they are so addicted to their phones and the complexity of their responsibilities. They’re never in the moment. What is the point of having all the money in the world if you don’t enjoy the beauty of a moment?

One of the core wounds I have, and a lot of elite performers have this, is not feeling enough. It serves as an incredible catalyst to high performance. It’s always about making things better and leaving everything you touch better than you find it. Robert Louis Stevenson said, “Go to the edges of your limits so your limits expand.” I always want to play at the razor’s edge of my craft. I want to see how far I can go. It’s good for the craft but a lot of my life, I never felt I had done enough and achieved enough. At the core I didn’t feel like I was enough.

A lot of the people that I mentor deal with that same core wound. That’s why in my methodology, so many people in this field talk about mindset. There are four interior empires to calibrate if you want to find true mastery as a human being but also be happy. Mindset is your psychology. Your psychology is important because you know as an athlete, your behavior reflects your identity and your belief system. Mindset is only 25% of the personal mastery equation because that’s our psychology, but human beings have a beating heart. We have feelings.

The second element is your heart set. That is your emotional life. Working on upgrading, gratitude, and all those positive emotions, but learning how to work through shame, guilt, disappointment, fear, and sadness. All those things that we pick up through micro trauma and macro trauma of life that the world says, “Don’t work on those.” It’s so important to do that. Then there’s health set, which is your physicality, and soul set, which is your spirituality. You say, “Where does someone start finding their spirituality?” That’s not necessarily religious. It’s just learning to connect with a deeper part of you that knows the answers to your biggest questions, your deeper wisdom.

I believe that and I always find that I reverse engineer into physical practice because it was almost like somehow that was the easiest way for me to get some level of homeostasis. After you exercise, train, and maybe eat pretty good, I felt like that was the cheapest therapy for me. I couldn’t undo so many of the things that I was trying to understand, but I was better equipped to take a look at it in perspective.

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That’s why I’m always encouraging people, “If you can try to find ways to feel pretty good, even in the avatar…” Because that’s a tangible practice. It’s a different lead but sometimes I feel like the body, the vessel, if you can get that feeling pretty good, that makes some of these other things also easier. You can have the fire of the spirit where you get that calling, that yearning, that purpose but a lot of times, people can’t get out of their own way. I’m sure you see people all the time where you go, “Here’s the book. You’ve hired me. I’m telling you step by step practices,” and they won’t do it. They can’t get there.

Maybe we should talk about some actual tactical practices. We live in a world that loves tactics. We live in a world that’s always like, “Show me what to do. How can I get out of this? Give me the five things…” The book has hundreds of tools for productivity, creativity, doing great work, Killing Your Darlings, there’s that chapter, and living a world class life.

Before we get into that, I do want to suggest that methodology without philosophy is an empty victory. You can have great tactics or productivity or feel happy or healthy or more peaceful in this very volatile world but if you haven’t thought through a philosophy of how you want to live, like, “What are the values? What are the beliefs I want to build my life by? Who are the heroes that resonate with me?”

If you haven’t thought about your philosophy, how you want to conduct yourself as a human being on your earth walk in life school, then all the techniques are going to make you more efficient at doing the wrong things. Peter Drucker, the great management guru, said, “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”

I’m big on philosophy and philosophy doesn’t sound sexy. Philosophy is, “What’s the truth? Is it that you want to be the most kind person in the room? Do you want to follow your heart and live here?” I would say some things that have helped me, a great morning routine. I wrote The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari over 25 years ago. I was writing about morning routine then. Anyone who’s reading that says, “How can I have more energy, feel better about myself, and be more productive?” I would say join the 5 AM Club, win the battle of the bed, put mind over mattress.

Then people are going to say, “I don’t want to get up early. I don’t want to get into an ice bath.” University College London says, “If you do something for 66 days in a row, you reach a point of automaticity.” All change is hard at first, it’s messy in the middle, and it’s gorgeous at the end. Every one of us can change. That’s part of the human spirit but it’s also part of the human brain, the neuroplasticity. It’s just that we don’t stay with the program long enough to allow our neurology and our neurobiology to kick in for the new habit to be installed. Number one, get up a little earlier.

Tell me how you feel about this. You get up at 8:00 and now get up at 6:00 or 5:00. It’s like, “Get up fifteen minutes earlier. Do that for a week.” You could say, “I don’t agree with that.” I’d love to get your feeling about that. People think that it’s all at once and then go, “I don’t know if that’s sustainable.” Your worst food habit each day or each week, let’s start there. It’s not like, “Go vegan right now.” People can’t do that. How do you feel? Is it like, “Just at the time and let’s go.”

Depends on the person. I was watching a great documentary on Anthony Bourdain, Roadrunner. Did you see that?

I did.

Someone who was interviewing him in it said, “You quit heroin cold turkey.” He goes, “Yeah, I did.” Do you remember that?

I do.

Some people can do that. I’m not comparing and I’m not being in any way disrespectful. Some people will say, “I’m tired of not having enough energy and living my life right now. Everyone’s talking about this 5 AM Club thing. Tomorrow morning, I’m going to get up at 5:00 and then I’m going to do it the next day.” Probably after a week or two, the neurobiology starts to kick in. A new neural circuit starts to set up.

Maybe this metaphor will be helpful for all your readers from around the world. Let’s say there’s a new habit you want to install. It’s like you’re in a mountain meadow. On the first day you do it, you walk through the mountain meadow but after a week or two, walking through this mountain meadow, the mountain meadow, your practice and your commitment and your dedication becomes a trail. You keep on walking on that trail every day because consistency is the mother of mastery. If you fall off, it’s no problem. Don’t beat yourself up. Keep walking. The trail eventually becomes a road.

The skill, as you keep on practicing, the road becomes a highway. As you keep on walking the highway, it becomes a superhighway. A fatty tissue called myelin starts to circle around it, which allows you to have advanced perception. That creates the superstar athletes. People know where the puck is going versus where it is.

The first thing I would say is a great morning routine. Start off with exercise. Even if you don’t have a lot of energy, a little bit of vigorous exercise will release dopamine which is your inspirational neurotransmitter. It’ll release serotonin which will make you feel better. It’ll reduce cortisol which is the fear hormone. It’ll release norepinephrine which will give you more focus. It’s a great way to start the day. Related to that is a little bit of gratitude and reading something philosophical is powerful no matter what your life looks like. Prayer has been very big for me. If you’re not religious, scientific prayer.

Prayer is a form of meditation so if people can’t connect, then just say, “Fine. I’ll meditate.” There’s something about prayer that is so beautiful differently because it makes me feel connected to everyone, and then this idea that something is greater. It doesn’t have to be an entity that’s here to punish me or it’s a guy with a white beard. I don’t mean that. There’s something to be going internally in that meditation state. There’s something where you’re doing a self-inquiry, like, “How am I doing? Do I need to have a conversation with anyone? How’s my relationship?” When you meditate on your kid, you go, “How are they doing?”

Robin Sharma Caption 2

Robin Sharma – Don’t ever lose your hope no matter what the world looks like.

There’s something about meditation. For me, there’s something about prayer as a greater connection where it also gives me a perspective on what helps to be small sometimes. Even with your problems, you’re like, “Come on, it’s going to be okay. These things are going to be okay.” When you were talking about your philosophy, I call it my code. I tell my girls, “You have to develop your code so that wherever you go in your life, you’re living by your code. If someone is doing something, that doesn’t impact your code.”

Usually, it means if they’re having bad behavior that you all of a sudden are like, “Yeah,” and then you’re in the mud with them. You’re like, “My code is, at least at first, I’m going to take the high road. I’m going to avoid hassle,” whatever. I’m perfectly fine to go into confrontation but it has to be well worth it. It’s getting people to understand that your philosophy is your responsibility. You’re being responsible for that. You’re building that and doing that.

I’ve read your Everyday Hero Manifesto and I also read Who Will Cry When You Die? It’s this idea of, there’s still a message of accountability. You’re encouraging people to take the power to get involved in what’s happening. I appreciate what you’re saying. You’re giving them ways to do it, but you’re also in there like, “You have to do it.”

There’s one chapter in The Everyday Hero Manifesto called the Chestnut Cellar Doctrine. I spent a lot of time in Europe. It was late at night and I was in this beautiful square. I was watching the moonbeams bounce off of the cathedrals. The luxury stores were all closed and tourists were ending their long dinner in beautiful restaurants. In one square in particular, there sat a lonely figure. I still remember, he had a blue woolen cap on and he was hunched over a makeshift stove.

I walked over and I noticed he was roasting chestnuts. I said to him, “It’s amazing but it’s so late at night and you’re sitting here roasting chestnuts.” He said, “I’m an immigrant to this country. I fell ill. I was a very successful business person. I lost my fortune, I lost my house, I lost my business. I came to this country. Now I bought this little stove. I buy a few chestnuts, I roast them, I put them in these little paper bags, and I sell them to tourists all day as they walk by. I’ve lost a lot of things but I haven’t lost my ability to make people happy. I haven’t lost my ability to do this work.”

We have a choice every day. We can resign ourselves to victimhood or we can own our own heroism. The code you’re talking about is very powerful. It’s like, “How do I want to live my life?” That book that you mentioned, Who Will Cry When You Die? talks a lot about legacy, but I don’t believe in legacy anymore. The end of this book is, “Forget about legacy.”

Everyone’s talking about legacy. Like Joseph Campbell’s idea, “To live in the hearts of those who leave behind is never to die.” Why does it matter what your legacy is? We’re going to end up as a pile of dust in an urn over someone’s fireplace next to their little league trophies. It doesn’t matter how you’ll be remembered when you’re no longer here. I truly believe what matters is how you live while you’re alive.

Did you use your promise and your potential to materialize your creativity and productivity? Is it easy? No. A life of incredible regret is much harder. Did you use your life to experience the beauty of life even in this plague that we’re in? Did you find a benefit? Did you find the magic that’s still there if you look for it? Did you use your life to find love? Did you turn difficulties into growth? Did you leave the world better than you found it? Those are some of the things that are important.

They are very overwhelming for people. You’re on a different level and you’ve also seen things happen. You’re a messenger. You’re here to help everyone go, “Over here,” kind of thing.  I would say to people who are reading this to start with at least one of those and then go from there. I am always interested in someone like you. Do all your friends come to you to solve their issues? Is there anyone you lean on to and go, “I’m having a hard day for real,” that’s there to help you? Because you’re the guy who helps everybody.

I’ve got a great family. I’ve got a wonderful partner named Elle. She’s so wise, she’s so supportive, and she’s one of the few people who get me. There’s a chapter in the book called The 8 Forms of Wealth and one of them is family. If you can find someone in your life or people in your life who get you, it’s worth all the gold in the world. She would be very helpful. I’ve got two amazing children, Colby and Bianca, who are always supportive.

Your son is very interested in the same field as you are in a different way. That must be interesting.

I didn’t pressure him at all. He was trained as a lawyer, and then wrote his book called The Curveball. He’s off doing his own thing. I never once said, “Follow what I do.” I have family and I’ve got great friends. I’m blessed with an extraordinary team of people around me that I love and respect enormously. I don’t have a lot of friends. I could have a lot of friends. The friends I have are extraordinarily great friends. A lot of them are artists and they love great pastime, great art. We have amazing conversations. Elle has a little Chorkie that she brought into my life. Her name is Holly. She’s part Chihuahua, part Yorkie.

You didn’t know you’re going to love five-pound anything that much.

I thought, “It’s a Hungarian Vizsla if I ever get a dog,” and here she is. She’s five pounds and she’s the wisest, most beautiful, brave-hearted dog I could imagine. Journaling is a place where I pour pain, confusion, or suffering. I know you want to bring so much value to the people who trust you. A great thing to do is to go out, as simple as it sounds, and buy a $10 journal. Each morning when you wake up, write about your hopes. Don’t ever lose your hope no matter what the world looks like.

Methodology without philosophy is an empty victory. Click To Tweet

Write about what you want next month to look like. If you could travel again, where would you go? Write about the woman or man or the person you wish you could become every day until you start doing a seduction job on your lowest self. Journaling has gotten me through heartbreak because I pour the pain onto the written page. Journaling allows me to move from confusion to clarity. Journaling allows me to write about the future I want.

Journaling allows me to install habits. Researchers call it a pre-commitment strategy. You say, “Here’s what I want to do tomorrow. Get up at 5:00,” or, “Be better at work,” or, “Worry less.” Many people are worrying. You identified that. Write about your worries. Get them out of your system onto a page. That’s another tactic. Journaling is phenomenal.

Someone said that worrying is something to do. People sometimes are looking for something to do and they go, “Worrying is something to do.” It’s not necessarily working in your favor but it’s at least like, “What are you doing?” “I’m worrying.” We go through different phases. All of a sudden, we’re this age in life and we’re looking back.

I’ve been parenting for over 25 years. I said to someone, “In a few more years, by the time she moves out, I will start to be okay at parenting. It’s going to be amazing when they are gone.” You have two children. Did you come out of parenting going in one way? Did something about that change your philosophy? We’re not objective. It’s our kids. This is important. Was there something that you learned in that process as a parent? As somebody who’s informed, you have a good perspective. Was there anything in there that surprised you? Parenting is a different part of us.

One of the things I love about your podcast is you touch not only health and all the other issues, but you talk about parenting. I don’t talk about it a lot, yet I’ve learned so much about parenting. One of the things I learned was from Joseph Kennedy, JFK’s father. Whenever he would bring someone interesting home for dinner, he insisted the young children sit around the dinner table. I’m not judging. Just reporting.

A lot of parents are like, “Go in the family room,” but Joseph Kennedy said, “This interesting stateswoman,” “This interesting artist,” “This musician is coming to dinner. Sit there and ask questions.” That formed the philosophy of the kids at a very young age. I learnt from Jackie Kennedy. She said, “Don’t just be the kid’s parent. Develop the kids.” She thought it was her responsibility to expose her children to art, great books, and great places. She traveled them. Those would be two of the things that have helped me.

I have an incredible relationship with my children but I am not their friend, I am their parent. A lot of people suffer in life, relationships, business, and society because they don’t have clear boundaries. That comes from being raised without clear boundaries. I adore my kids, but my job is not to be liked by my kids. My job is to set boundaries and share values when they can figure out their own values as they get older. Try to lead by example.

We could go on about parenting, but one thing that’s important in this Digital Age is a lot of people have family meals with devices. I was a fanatic about having family dinners. We love food. I love to cook. There were no devices and there was no TV. There was just music and candles, and we love eating outside. If I could make a humble suggestion, you have a very short window of opportunity with children. Once the window closes, it’s hard to open it up again.

I’ve seen so many people arrive at the mountaintop of success. They have what I call FFA, fame, fortune, and applause but they’ve lost JPF, joy, peace, and freedom because they don’t have any connection with their children. Those moments where your child wants to play and you’re on your phone, it sends a message to the child that they’re not important. People will regret that loss of connection when the kids get older and move on.

If someone does have an older child and let’s say they feel like they’ve blown out a little bit, what I’ve learned is that you can go ahead and talk to them about it. Let’s say you were working intensely and focused on the career because you thought you’re providing for your family. There’s nothing wrong with going to an adult child and saying, “I’m recognizing this now. I’d like to apologize for that.” Maybe we could find a way that is comfortable for them to start that up. You have to ask them what makes them comfortable to do that.

The other side of it is to absolutely do it. You seize those moments. There’s something powerful in, “I wish I had done this differently.” Our children will give us a chance. They appreciate that. They also have to be the architect of it. Not like you come in and go, “Let’s spend Sundays together now.” They’re like, “Back off. This is what feels good to me.” There’s something beautiful in that. What is the hardest job you’ve had?

Before I answer that, I’d love to speak to what you said because it’s so profound and important. If we haven’t been the parents, humans, entrepreneurs, and earthlings we’ve wanted to be, tomorrow’s a new day. It’s important what you said. Maya Angelou said it beautifully, “Once we know better, we can do better.”

Every single human being alive today is doing the best they can do based on where they’re at. We need to forgive other people. You’re getting right to a key point, which is we need to forgive ourselves. One of the early chapters of The Everyday Hero Manifesto is, it’s okay not to be okay. In this world right now, we’ve got the play, we’ve got social unrest, we’ve got economic volatility, we’ve got climate change, and it goes on and on.

If you’re not feeling okay, if you’re struggling, if you feel like a failure and you’ve blown past years of your life, what I want to say with great love and respect is, you’re exactly where you need to be to get to the place where you’re going to become. Call it destiny but I believe there is a set of invisible hands. I’m a very practical litigation lawyer. The book is full of tactics I’ve shared with many most successful people, professional athletes. The book has a lot of spirituality as well.

Robin Sharma Caption 3

Robin Sharma – Everyone has talent. Everyone has willpower if they can access it. Everyone has productivity. Everyone has creativity. Everyone has decency.

I’m sharing my philosophy, which is that there is a set of invisible hands. Call it destiny. Call it karma. There is this majestic, almost magical unfolding of life where we experience the events, the circumstances, and people. It’s perfectly designed to help us get the lessons we need to get to become the people we’re meant to be. If anyone’s reading right now and you don’t feel okay, I’m not going to sit here and tell you every morning I wake up and I’m dancing to music.

You’re an intense guy. I can see it in your face. People who are that intense, you’re battling that intensity all the time. I’m differently like that. I love people who are going to the high polish, they’re going to the peace, but it’s also because deep inside, they’re pretty heavy duty. It’s not like you’re like, “I’m a light-spirited guy. Let’s have peace.” That’s not what’s happening. I can see it in your face. You’re a person who is very focused, serious, and intense. People don’t realize that in that, you’re always battling.

I want to walk around and talk to people all day long, like, “Do it now.” I would love to be that person. I’m so direct but I’ve learned that’s not who I want to be and those aren’t the types of relationships I want. I want to be compassionate. I don’t want to have to clean up big messes. That takes a lot of time for me to be a little more thoughtful about my words.

If I could just be like, “Do it. Be quiet. Get up. Sit up,” I would love to walk around and talk like that. That’s the intense real me inside, but that doesn’t work. I can see you as somebody who’s like, “Seriously? You haven’t figured this out? Let’s go.” Certain things are maybe easier. People would misconstrue. They see this and they go, “Look at him. It’s so easy. It’s so light.” I don’t think it is light at all. I see who you’re hanging around.

First of all, we all have times in the sunshine of life. If you want to live fully, which means leave no stone unturned, if you want to take risks, dare, see what life is about, and see how far you can go, then you’re going to fail along. I’ve had times on the mountaintop in the sunshine and I’ve had times in the valley of real darkness. One of the chapters in The Everyday Hero Manifesto is That Time, ten years of my private journals vanished. That’s one thing I dealt with and it taught me one of the greatest lessons of all time, which is letting go. How powerful is the lesson of letting go?

That’s a compliment coming from me, by the way, saying, “Let’s be clear.”

Thank you.

You see the guy I’m married to outside?

Yeah. Sort of a famous silver guy.

Forget all that. We joke about when Laird comes on the deck outside when we’re pool training, we call him the shark because he’s scanning all the time. Laird is in all the time.

Here’s what I’ve learned, I used to be like that all the time. Through my meditation, prayer, working with spiritual healers, years of journaling, years of acupuncture, years of hypnotherapy, all these different modalities. I did a sweat lodge which was very powerful. I’m not giving medical advice. If you see intensity, it’s because this is a time for intensity. I want to share. I want to serve. I want to bring value to you and your people.

I live my life in seasons. I spent sixteen months of the pandemic writing The Everyday Hero Manifesto. It was an obsession. It was a love letter of people’s genius. I poured so much on my methodology because I wanted to serve, I wanted to make a beautiful handcrafted, whatever. After that, I had fun. John Lennon says it so well, “Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.”

If you look at the most productive people like great athletes, they have an on-season, they have an off-season. If you’re seeing any intensity or energy, it was because I’m here doing an interview with you and I want to deliver, I want to serve, I want to be helpful, and I want to be good. You might invite me next week where I slow down, I’m going back home, more time with my family, evenings reading, etc.

Each year, I have maybe 4 or 5 months of intensity. It might be a new book, a new online course, whatever the creative project is. I’m up at 4:15 doing all these things. I take time off for maybe 1, 2, 3 months where I’m sunbathing, I’m reading, and I’m having four-hour dinners with my family. I live my life not in a linear way but in a cyclical way.

That’s more true to nature. That’s more natural. I would imagine all of your inspiration comes in the downtime because it gives you a chance to reboot, learn something new, and think about it. People don’t realize you can’t just be out there being productive because you get no input. That’s also such a beautiful thing.

I only bring up the intensity because sometimes when people see you speak and they’ll get your book, there is this beautiful high polish that maybe they’re also not realizing you’re a human being that’s still doing the best that you can and it’s probably not all gravy and easy. You’re managing it. You’re having to live by these rules as well.

It’s important for people to be reminded that you might be further down the journey, but it’s not like you fly out of bed every day and be like, “It’s perfect. I can’t wait to get after it. I’m so excited.” I feel that way sometimes. That hope that you talked about, what gets me up besides my family is sometimes I’m hiding from them, let’s face it, because they’re intense. It’s the hope of the dream, like, “What are we trying to produce today? What’s that thing that is out there?” The telephone, social media, do you have a framework around that? Do you have discipline? Do you have a practice where you put that somewhere? What does that look like?

There is the five-grade hour rule. You don’t need to work for any more than five hours if you’re an entrepreneur or you’re with a company or an organization that will allow you to do this. It’s based on good research. The way we currently work, which is based on a philosophy that has led us to work longer to produce more, is from the Factory Era.

On the assembly line, if we were there another 3 or 4 hours, we would produce more goods and it would be more “productive”. We’re paid to think. We’re paid to create. I don’t subscribe to the hustle and grind culture in any way. We’re paid to think. We’re paid to be fresh. I encourage my clients to work five hours because it takes most people two weeks to get five real hours of world class work done. They’re playing with their phones, they’re chit-chatting, they’re distracted, they’re worried.

If you can work for five hours, 8:00 to 1:00 every single day, how do you do that? You create an ecosystem. I call it the Tight Bubble of Total Focus because addiction to distraction is the death of your creative production. Very few people do real work anymore. They do fake work. Five hours of mono-maniacally focused pristine work every day and you’ve got the rest of the day off. Go mountain bike, go meditate, go read, go pray, go journal, go to a movie, go to an art gallery, go have dinner with your friends. That would be one thing that’s important.

Another ritual that is very valuable is a zero-device day. At least one day a week, take a digital Sabbath where you turn off your phone, not put it on airplane mode. It’s very powerful. The rule that when you have a family meal, no devices whatsoever. I don’t have notifications on. I’m not saying I’m so special. I never suggest it. I’m not a guru.

Even when you said farther along on the path, to me, I don’t think it is. It would be judgmental for me to say, “I am farther along the path than someone else is.” I’m just on my path of where I’m meant to be and other people are where they’re meant to be. To say that I’m farther on the path or better as me, I’m judging them as inferior. We’re all equal.

What’s the point of being successful in the world and losing yourself in the process? Click To Tweet

If we were talking about let’s say volleyball, maybe I’m a little further down the path. If you spend a lot of hours thinking about this, it doesn’t mean you’re better. It just means you’ve been putting a lot of hours in thinking about this and turning it into real practice. That’s what I mean. I get that we’re certainly all of equal value. It’s just that we’re all spending hours doing different things. That’s why we can go to you.

When you deal with somebody who doesn’t agree with you or criticizes you, how do you approach that? Part of these philosophies and these codes is dealing with how we want to deal with that as well. I call it bread basket deciding. If I go to a restaurant and I’m hungry and I say, “I don’t want to eat the bread. I just want to try to get the food but I’m hungry.” If I don’t decide before they put it down, I’ll mindlessly grab it, the impulse. Impulse is everywhere. We have all these human impulses that keep us sometimes slowest down from where we’re trying to go.

If we have a strategy in place, “If they put the basket down, I’m not eating the bread. I’ve already made a decision. It’s done.” It’s the same sometimes with conflict. I get criticized all the time publicly or what have you. Sometimes a lot of it is a misunderstanding or if someone else is frustrated, or whatever. I have to pre-decide, “I’m not going to take it personally. I’m not going to react in anger or out of my ego.” It’s trying to have these things in place to also help me when I’m in the moment. Do you have anything like that where someone comes to you and it’s like, “Come on.” They go for you online, which everyone’s ballsy at that point. Is it compassion? What is it that helps you?

Towards the end of the book, there’s the model that helps me called The Troll Deconstruction. That comes from me trying to figure out, “Why is this person saying this?” Some of the elements of it have served me well. One of them is Bob Dylan. It was a documentary where I heard him say, “Don’t criticize what you don’t understand.”

Let’s say you’re launching a new business or you’re launching a new product and it’s so revolutionary. You’re going blue ocean versus following what’s been done before. It’s an innovative product. The nature of innovation means you are going to threaten the status quo, which means you’re doing your job but that’s when the trolls come out to play.

Understanding that people criticize what they don’t understand and just because they criticize doesn’t mean you should stop. They criticize Gandhi, they criticize Elon Musk, they criticize Jesus, they criticize Mohammed. Every visionary is ridiculed before they’re revered. If people are criticizing you, you’re probably doing your job. That would be the first thing.

Secondly, critics are degraded dreamers. When we were little kids, we had awe and wonder and we were possibilitarians, but then we get hurt, we get broken, and we contract. We start to protect our once open heart. It’s much easier for me to throw stones at you than to go, “You’re doing amazing things. You’re modeling possibility, innovation, and excellence. Let me own my promise and do the same.” It’s much easier for me to feel better in a moment to try to tear you down.

Our job as entrepreneurs and human beings is to take the stones that critics throw at us and build them into monuments of mastery that honor our promise. The second thing is when you’re doing something innovative, you threaten people and often, you activate their pain that they’ve stuffed down. Third thing is, someone’s opinion is just someone’s opinion. In the book, there’s the example of J.K. Rowling. Even when she wrote Harry Potter and became a billionaire, she used a pen name, Robert Galbraith, and she put out a book. This is J.K. Rowling.

She writes a book under another name, Robert Galbraith, she sends it out, and she gets back these letters, “Maybe you should join a writing group. You need some writing lessons.” What else can I say? People have an opinion. Delete the energy vampires from your life if you can. Try to say goodbye to the dream stealers who don’t get you, who don’t support you, who don’t celebrate you. Please trust the voice of your instinct because it is so powerful and so wise. The world might not understand you but if you understand you, go ahead.

What you said is very important. You’re developing your own instinct and trusting it. It’s always a little uncomfortable and it’s never like, “This is the way,” but it’s so worth it. That’s such an important thing that you brought up. I have a few more questions. People are curious because you do work with such high-level people. I don’t need names. If I’m a CEO and I want you to come in and help me, what does that look like? What do they need help with? What are some of them looking for? How do you get into it with them?

A lot of them are looking to scale their fortunes. The mentoring assignment would be about making sure they have the right team, the right culture, the right products, the right branding, the right impact. There’s the model, The Titan’s Decline. It’s such a powerful model. One of my clients used to be a BlackBerry and they turned out the lights. They will no longer service the software. Right above it was Apple just hit $3 trillion.

All I’m suggesting with great respect is, BlackBerry dominated the domain for years. How many athletes do you know or how many film stars or master craftspeople get to the top of the mountain? Which is incredibly hard. The DNA of legendary is longevity. How many people get to world class and can sustain world class?

Robin Sharma Caption 4

Robin Sharma – Our soul and our spirit knows where we’re meant to be. Joy is a wonderful GPS. I do think that instinct is more powerful than intellect.

What I deconstruct in the book is, if there’s a decline that businesses and people go through and part of it is you stopped doing the very things that got you there, part of it is you fall in love with your own press clippings, you become arrogant, and you forget about the craft. This is a big one. This will resonate with you. Part of it is you’ve achieved more than you or the world ever thought you would so why keep on pushing yourself and keeping on going?

That would be part of the conversation if people wanted me to help them grow their businesses. A lot of them come to me for personal mentoring and it’d be much more about, “I’ve got everything in the world. I’m a multibillionaire but I feel like a fraud. I don’t have any happiness. I’m worried all day and I drink too much,” or, “I have all these addictions,” or whatever. “I’m not connected with my family. Please help me find happiness and some piece, and help me enjoy the fruits of all of my labor.”

Are you always in awe of the repetitive story? Clichés are clichés, but sometimes you see and you go, “Really? You fell for that?” We have a million examples of that. People are lining up to do the same thing over. I always find that fascinating. It’s hard to work hard at something and navigate that path simultaneously, especially when you have your head down. It’s like, “How do you develop these other skills once you get there?” In athletics, it’s train and compete, but then we’re deficient in certain ways. Same with certain business people. Before I wrap up, Justin, do you have any householder question?

Yeah. You said you’re a lawyer. What was that moment where you’re like, “This isn’t fulfilling.” At what point you said, “There’s more that I can take my message and do good with it.”

It wasn’t a moment, it was a process. Some people have that moment where it’s like, “I get it. I’m going to make the change.” For me, it was a growing recognition of, “I’ve listened to the advice. I’ve done what society says, ‘You should get a good education, work hard, become a lawyer, live in the right neighborhood.’” I feel incredibly empty. It’s this great term called existential angst. I felt this angst.

For whatever reason, I started following it and I started learning these methods, and then I self-published this book. I talked about in the book the first editor, saying, “The book is a piece of garbage. I’m sure my letter is disappointing you. You can’t write.” I sat in my car and I went, “Am I a fool?” For whatever reason, I continued. It was a process more than a moment.

That book did well. Maybe this is too simplistic, so you can expand however you feel. If a person, whether it’s in their thinking of being an entrepreneur or changing their craft, which we all know is scary, they’re dealing with something in their personal life, like a relationship and then their health. Do you have an invitation for people or something to think about in those areas if they’re banging a wall to either get started and make a move? In relationships, it could be getting out of a relationship. I don’t always mean entering into a relationship. It’s taking ownership of your whole life. Do you have an invitation to people to prompt them into starting to change?

In each of those specific areas?

Yeah, if you have one.

In relationships, your heart knows what’s wisest. I don’t mean to keep going to the book, but there’s a chapter A Red Flag is A Red Flag.

That’s what we’re here to talk about.

How many times in a relationship have we seen a red flag and we knew it was a red flag but we wanted it to be a green light and it messed up our lives? Does that mean that you’re going to find someone with no issues, or let’s use a better term, with no flaws? We’re all flawed.

We think we’re perfect. It’s our partner that’s flawed. That’s the way it is.

There are certain non-negotiables that we should think about in a love relationship. For me, it’s honesty. If I see someone lying, it’s a total red flag. Maya Angelou said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.” That’s what I’d say about a relationship. Avoid drama. You can work through things, no question, but I don’t do drama. I do peace. That’s important.

So much of your entrepreneurial life, your creative life, the immunity and inflammation that comes down when there’s no stress with the relationship. That’s one thing I’d say about that. In terms of as an entrepreneur, it’s such a great question. Don’t copy your marketplace. The marketplace pays for originality. One of the snares I see most entrepreneurs doing is they go, “These are the companies that are doing well in my space. Let me brand like them. Let me copy their products. Let me have the same story.” There’s no differentiation.

We are paid as entrepreneurs to bring magic to the marketplace. I was listening to an interview of Steve Jobs, a tribute after he died. He didn’t do focus groups. He said, “Here’s what I know will make people fall to delight, the iPhone, the iMac, Pixar, etc. This is what we’re going to bring to them.” He had that instinct of what people want.

I’d say to entrepreneurs, bring something beautiful and fresh that upgrades people’s lives into the marketplace. Even when people don’t get it, stay with it until they get it. That’s the story of Elon Musk and Apple, and it goes on. As a human being, I can give you a tactic if you want, but it sounds so simple. Many of us have so much doubt. We disbelieve, we suffer from comparison, and we don’t think we’re enough.

Every human being has such wisdom within them. Every human being has such an ability to be honorable. It is the tragedy that teaches us strength. It is the difficult times that introduce us to our wisdom. For all the people who follow you from around the world, you might not know how powerful, good, loving, decent, and brave you can be.

If you do the work, small little steps every day, meditation, maybe it’s prayer, maybe it’s journaling, maybe it’s a nature walk, maybe it’s surfing, maybe it’s leaning into one difficult thing every day, maybe it’s smiling at someone to uplift their day. Small, daily, seemingly insignificant improvements, when done consistently over time, lead to stunning results. It’s amazing how we can make ourselves over a few months. It doesn’t happen in a day, but we have such power to become the people we want to be.

Robin Sharma Book

The Everyday Hero Manifesto

That’s a practice that even when we talk about our self-care or our physical self-care, those small little changes, you do arrive somewhere. I know people feel overwhelmed. There are times that I want to make changes and I’m like, “That’s going to take a lot of energy.” You almost have to be ready to open the box a little. It’s different when it’s certain changes. Maybe for people, it’s a certain nutritional or exercise-adding.

Smiling at someone at a store or offering to take their cart back is a very small thing. You go to the grocery store and someone just finished, you’re going in and you’re like, “You done? Do you want me to take your cart?” How long does that take? That was being a thoughtful human being, like, “I’m going that way. I’ll save you the trip.” Those little things make you feel good.

People are scared to do it because you put yourself out there a little bit if you go, “Good morning.” Because maybe someone’s going to reject you. Sometimes maybe they’re just in their head. They’re doing the best they can. You have a lot of tactics. I love that word. CEOs and athletes love that word. You have a ton of them in The Everyday Hero Manifesto. What are athletes looking for?

You and your family are world class on this. There’s an idea called capitalization. I think of a documentary I watched called The Good Son. It was about a boxer. Tragically, he killed a fighter in the ring.

The Korean fighter. It’s the fighter from Ohio.

Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini.

He’s from Youngstown, Ohio.

I’ll never forget it because it was tragic. It’s an incredible documentary, The Good Son. He said, “My brother was naturally a much better athlete. He was taller, had longer arms, etc., but I had more heart.” What athletes are looking for is a term by the American psychologist James Flynn called capitalization. It’s not how much potential we’re born into or natural talent. It’s through practice, good coaching, how much of it can we capitalize upon. That’s one thing. A lot of athletes want to get to the top of the mountain, and then the ones who are at the top of the mountain want to be able to sustain it. When you look at a Michael Jordan, that hunger, the work ethic, etc. That would be one thing the athletes are looking for.

I’m always fascinated by what athletes are looking for. I always try to encourage athletes to keep looking ahead. I say, “You’re like a loaded gun. What’s your next target? Don’t try to keep hitting the same target over and over by a certain point.” There’s a lot to life. In wrapping up the show, is there anything else that you want to say that maybe I haven’t covered that feels important to you or a call to action for people or anything like that?

There’s a lot going on in the world right now. Having said that, there’s also a lot of good in the world right now. There’s a lot of good people in the world right now. There’s a lot of great opportunities in the world right now. The darkness always turns to light. There is great hope coming. If you’re in a situation where you can’t go out, then go within. If you’re in a situation where you can’t travel, it’s a great time to look within and try to work on yourself.

The world has taught us that heroes are the Mandelas, the Rosa Parks, the Mother Teresas, the Gandhis, the Hedy Lamarrs, and the Albert Einsteins. We all do have heroism within us, whether we own it or not. Using today to make a choice, which is, “I’m going to start this process to remake myself into a braver, stronger, more loving human being,” is an incredible invitation and an opportunity for every single one of us.

Last thing I’d say is when I was growing up, my dad used to say, “Robin, when you were born, you cried while the world rejoiced. Live your life in such a way that when you die, the world cries while you rejoice.” Gabby, you talked about kindness. You’re right, we’re afraid of rejection so we’re not kind. Being decent and kind to people is so easy to do and it makes us feel so good.

If you go to a checkout and you say to someone, “How are you doing today?” They say, “What?” No one asked them. The one benefit of being a 6’3” woman is when you say good morning to people, they go, “Hello. Good morning.” That’s what we’re doing. We’re being nice today. Robin Sharma, The Everyday Hero Manifesto, is it on Audible?

It’s on Audible.

I would say this is a workbook. I have certain books that I’m like, “This is a workbook.” There is something to be said for someone who can read it beautifully that can also bring you into the ideas, that you can feel the ideas, and not just read the idea. I want to encourage people whichever way works for them because you give a lot of information, a lot of tactics.

Full of tactics.

Thank you.

Real pleasure. Thank you.

Thanks so much for being here. If you’d like, rate, subscribe, and leave us a review. All of my music was graciously done by Frank Zummo and Tom Thacker. If you want to see some of the behind-the-scenes action, follow me, @GabbyReece. Remember, don’t miss new episodes every Monday.

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About Robin Sharma

Robin Sharma Headshot

Robin Sharma is widely considered one of the top leadership and personal mastery experts and speakers in the world. His clients include NASA, Microsoft, Nike, Unilever, General Electric, FedEx, HP, Starbucks, Oracle, Yale University, PwC, IBM Watson, and the Young Presidents’ Organization. As a presenter, Robin Sharma possesses the rare ability to electrify an audience while delivering uncommonly original and tactical insights that lead to individuals doing their best work, teams providing superb results and organizations becoming unbeatable.

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