Break free from fear and live a full life – Tim Goodenough

Tim Goodenough – Your high performance coach.

It has taken me forever to write a headline for this episode. I struggled to find the words that could capture the value that Tim brings to the table.

In the episode we do not directly discuss fear. But Tim covers a huge amount of information such as:

  • How your beliefs will show up in your bank statement
  • How Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) works
  • Health, wealth, relationships
  • Modeling yourself on others for success
  • Tim’s definition of success
  • Goal setting
  • and much, much more.

At around [37:20] Tim uses me to demonstrate a very powerful technique to help you uncover why you do what you do. Using this you will feel more motivated than ever and learn more about yourself.

Find Tim here:

  • Website (check out his latest article on rapport building. Excellent work.)
  • Twitter


Tim, thank you very much for joining me on BetterMan. It’s such an awesome pleasure to have you on the show.

Tim: Thanks so much for the opportunity. I’m really intrigued as to where this conversation’s going to go, so I’m looking forward to what questions you’ve got in store.

Erik: Yeah, me too. So you are a high-performance coach.

Tim: Yes.

Erik: Cool. So in your own words just tell us a bit more about exactly what it is you do and how you came about doing it.

Tim: So I work at both the individual and team level in the sports world and the corporate world where the basic idea behind high-performance is… For me the way I think about it it’s like a consistent and steady commitment to growth that will end up with improved performance. So it’s almost the… And a lot of people focus in on the performance first and I think that’s where I get high. I want to get more income, I want to have better numbers, I want to get better performance, but, well, I want to win more as a team or win more as an individual.

But, unfortunately, winning is the outcome of a long and a sometimes complicated process. So if you focus more on the growth and more on the relevant growth to help someone move beyond whatever their limitations are, find new levels, then normally always the result and outcome of that is performance. But it’s important to focus on the thing that counts rather than the thing that’s kind of out of your control. You can control growth to a certain level but performance you only hope to influence, because there’s normally someone else who perhaps is going to through their own process.

So for me the first fundamental is that this is about growth and about becoming a better version of yourself either individually or collectively. And so how I came to be doing that. In 2003 – so what’s that? 12 years ago now – I went to my first course where I learned about a science called neuro-semantics, which is kind of the extension of NLP. NLP is quite famous in certain circles – sometimes notorious – but basically it’s a communication model, and I think the guy who’s most famously using it is Tony Robbins although he wouldn’t call it NLP for legal purposes. But basically it’s the model of how to improve first your communication and then also your performance, and neuro-semantics is like an advanced version of that.

So studying that part-time when I was working at Standard Bank, I decided to focus my kind of finite energy on the thing that I was most passionate about, which was sport. I wanted to focus on working with sportspeople, with teams and individuals. And also around 2003 we had this thing called Kamp Staaldraad in South Africa where our Springbok Rugby Team… The genuine belief was if we get them naked, make them punch each other and boil an egg we’ll go on to win the World Cup.

Erik: I remember.

Tim: And I think to myself, ‘Sure, there must be a gap in the market. If the stuff that I’m learning is so powerful, although it’s business-orientated, and what they’re doing in sports at that level, then I want to contribute to raising the level of quality in sport and also contribute to taking some of these great business models and deliver them to the sports domain.

Erik: That’s awesome. So I think just before we continue just elaborate a bit of the NLP, because I’ve heard of it and I’ve seen it and it’s quite an interesting field, but, like you say, it can be a bit controversial.

Tim: So NLP basically is the model of the human experience. So very simply it says that we map our experiences, arts, primarily by creating pictures or videos or movies in your mind – whatever your terminology is. So, for example, if you think of a scary teacher from school you’d probably get a scary movie where that person is big and looming and booming voice and whatever the case is.

So NLP says once we start to change the movies or even the detail of the movies – what they call some modality – we change the experience. And we map various things from experience to our concept of time, to how we make decisions, our strategies, all in a way that makes sense or intuitive or once you understand it but in the beginning it’s like whoa, I didn’t realise we could work out your strategy for making decisions and map it out, and then start to use it hopefully for good and perhaps for not so good if you’re a salesman and wanting to use that strategy in a manipulative or non-ethical way.

So NLP is basically trying to map out how our brains work. My mentor told me once it’s how we run our own brain.

Erik: Okay.

Tim: And neuro-semantics says that’s all true but what about the meanings we have about our movies? So it’s not just having the movie of that scary teacher that we change to a happy picture, but what if the meaning means I’m being demeaned or I’m being shamed? Or what if the meaning is that person’s going to hurt me or that person’s evil or horrible? We’ve got to work both at the movie and at the meaning level, and when we do both together things really start to happen.

So the heart of neuro-semantics is the intersection between meaning and performance. So if you imagine an XY graph where meaning was along the X – sorry, the Y – axis and performance along the Y, if you’ve got high meaning and low performance you tend to be a dreamer and you’ve got these great ideas, these great philosophies around who you’re going to build a business, get fit, get strong, have a great relationship, but you actually don’t do much about it. You lack performance. You lack doing.

And if you’ve got lots of performance and low meaning you tend to move towards a workaholic quadrant where, you know, you’ve lost that passion, you’ve been promoted out of your passion, or you’ve been promoted out of that area that really kind of lit you up and you do things for the bond, for the commitment, for the pay-cheque and you kind of lose that touch until eventually if you do it for long periods of time you tend to burn out, to have some sort of crisis.

So if you’re a workaholic you can’t work your way out of being a workaholic. You’ve got to find meaning. If you’re a dreamer you can’t dream your way out of being dreamy; you’ve got to find performance. And at the high-level that’s what I do with individuals and teams is I map them out – where are you right now if we use this quadrant to look at your health, your wealth, your relationships, your performance – whatever’s important for you – your spirituality, for example? Or you’ve got some great principles but you actually never get you a book to read, to pray, to connect. Or maybe you’re doing all this great work but you’re just not passionate anymore. Sunday really is a struggle because Monday’s next.

So it gives us a high-level diagnostic on where to start to interrogate to find out what’s going on and therefore create solutions about do we need more meaning or do we need to get rid of destructive meaning like hopelessness or fear or anxiety or worry or concern or lack of belief or am I good enough or all those kinds of questions many of us ask but we seldom talk about?

Or is lack of performance? We don’t have the technique, we don’t have the strategies, or we haven’t stayed long enough to develop both and now we blame ourselves because we’re not there yet or we’ve got an unrealistic belief about how to fast we should progress or how we should be growing in this domain, especially compared to AN Other.

So it gives us a high-level modelling tool. Which I think at the heart neuro-semantics and NLP is all about modelling here an experience and also modelling the best of human experience, because, you know, if we’re a car, for example, and we’re learning about cars going to the scrapyard, it’s not as useful as going to the Marietta factory. So if I want to be a better car I want to look at what Ferrari and Lamborghini and all those awesome cars are doing. I don’t want to look at, you now, the scrapyard where it’s a stoker that’s been, you know, 40 years out of date.

And I think a lot of what we do and what I do is model the best, so we can take those clues that apply to us and fast-track our learning and performance.

Erik: Cool. Jeez, you’ve given me so many things that I want to ask you. So just first off, the NLP thing. One of the things that stick out in my mind when I hear NLP is anchoring and how we’re always, so, for example, if you are someone who you may be a bit scared of, let’s say, doing presentations at work…

Tim: Yes.

Erik: You’ll anchor certain emotions. So you’ll go in your mind through certain experiences where you were confident, where you were very well-prepared and doing well, and you’ll anchor it to, for example, touching your thumb…

Tim: Yeah.

Erik: And then before you go into the presentation you sort of do that again to get into that state of mind. Is that also part of what you do?

Tim: No.

Erik: Okay.

Tim: So anchoring is a useful concept. What we’re talking about there is NLP traditional anchoring, which is using your headspace. So basically it’s the same strategy we use as when we listen to our favourite sing – you know, when we kind of breathe deeply. We’re basically using some sort of link between something positive to overlap to kind of become stronger than the current state that we’re in. And while it does work, for me the stronger way is to anchor. There’s more powerful ways to anchor and that involves using the mindset.

So if you can use your beliefs and line up your beliefs to sit into not just a physical feeling but also a physical feeling that’s the manifestation of a belief system, then that’s much more powerful and robust.

So anchoring, yes it can be useful and can value, but it’s kind of like it’s driving around in second gear when your car can go to fourth or fifth. So for my preferences I’d rather shift the mindset and then have a result and kind of output that you link to the mindset and get the effect of the anchor but also it’s more robust and likely to withstand the rigours of that performance. Because what happens is you feel great about yourself because you’ve pinched the thumb where you’ve got all these good things flushing your system, but then you see your boss and you know he’s going to ask you tough questions and your stomach goes to puddles.

Erik: Yeah.

Tim: So it is very short-term. You can anchor really, really strongly, which means you’re stronger and your boss makes you go to puddles a bit later or not as much. But for me I’d rather let’s get rid of the mindset that makes you go to puddles. Let’s develop the mindset so that makes you feel confident and strong, and that’s so robust we don’t need to think about it and reflect on it, because it’s going to help you operate unconsciously at a level that’s close or related to your actual ability or your performance.

Erik: Okay. Cool. So then coming back to the growth aspect of it all. You mentioned health, wealth, spirituality. So obviously you work on certain key areas of focus. Which are those key areas for you?

Tim: So primarily I’m into performance. And everyone’s performance journey they’ve got some stuff that’s common and some stuff that’s unique. And so every now and then… Like, for example, the golfers. What I’ve learned is… I worked a lot with golfers purely on performance and realising that we got to a certain point and because we hadn’t dealt with wealth enough there was their limiting belief. So we got the performance side right but their wealth was such an anxiety related to… that was what was scuppering their performance.

So golf is one of those few things where after three good days on a Sunday you can become a millionaire. You can literally change your financial status and category or ranking.

So for some of us if we start to jump categories with wealth what happen is we start to have all these fears and anxieties like, you know, will people start to treat me differently; will I have problems with my relationship; will I lose my values; will people suck up; the responsibility of wealth, etc., etc.

So because they had all this baggage linked to wealth… And quite a nice way to look at wealth is that your beliefs might well show up in your bank statement. So if you’ve got middle-class bank statements you’ve probably got middle-class beliefs. If you’ve got a high-class bank statement and low… and so and so forth. So there’s quite a close relationship…

Erik: I love that, yeah.

Tim: Between how your mindset is and how it shows up in your life.

So if you’re kind of a struggling golfer and you’re going to now play for a million or sometimes ten million, if you don’t have your beliefs about jumping category in terms of wealth right, that’s going to be a really good chance to sabotage you going forward. So for golfers it’s a critical thing.

I worked with the NLF. We had the same, where, you know, if he got his contract, you know, then we’re looking at… it’s, you know, millions of dollars – you know, not even Rands – millions of dollars – and how that would change his world and the implications of that that we needed to work through that he could not have that as a factor limiting his performance.

So some people their performance; they’ve lost track of their health with their work-life balance – that illusion that people keep on talking about. It’s got so far out of kilter that they’ve got serious health issues that are knocking on their door or their relationships are in disrepair simply because they’ve focused ineffectively on the outcome of their performance and they’ve linked back with some areas either through lack of time, effort or skill, and we need to look for you to be better as a performer what areas in your life do you need to improve, upgrade, develop? Now, the output of that is going to be improved performance.

Erik: Alright. And so when you look at someone who’s doing… who’s in a business environment, how’s that different so the sports mindset?

Tim: It’s different in a few ways where sport’s really an arse in that the rules of the game are set. In fact any time sports gets really controversial is when there’s vague rules like the breakdown area or, you know, what is nutrition versus what is doping, etc., etc. So every time rules in sport get vague there’s lots of controversy, lots of people making interpretation of them.

So in sport, because the rules are set, it’s easier to measure performance and you get a kind of performance appraisal every weekend. You know how you do and you know how your progress is.

Unfortunately, if you’re playing in a stadium or you’re playing on television your performance appraisal’s normally done by millions of people who actually don’t know your job and are very, very easy to be very abusive and take it personally and be quite insulting to you, your dog, your mother or whatever the case is.

So sport’s tough in that way that you get a lot of amateur opinion spoken as if it’s truth. And often in the context of South Africa I think we’re generally better being fans than supporters. So we’re very happy with our team when they’re winning, but when they’re closing we can be very harsh…

Erik: Oh yes.

Tim: In quite a unique way. So sport has those ups and downs.

Business it’s very hard to define what the rules of the game are. So what you’ve got to do is you’ve got to define them for yourself personally, which takes a bit of work to say, ‘What does success look like for me?’ So maybe if I’m just going for the bank statement I’ll develop that and now I’ve got a million in the bank or ten million, but my relationship at home has gone to pieces. You know, maybe I want to be the CEO but I realise that I actually also want to see my kids grow up and those two are mutually exclusive in the domain that I’m working in.

So you’ve got to define in every aspect of your life what does success look like for my health and my spirituality, from a wealth, from a performance point of view, and at what level are you going to kind of overextend? So maybe you can overextend now for six months because of a career opportunity, but then you’ve got to pull back because your first child is due. And are you okay with that kind of constant calibration? I’m compromising this knowingly for that. I’m doing this not only for that. And you never get beyond a certain level and you always keep it within distance of what’s right for you and your context and your family.

You’ve also got to figure out your own performance appraisal, because you might only get it once every six months to a year and your boss might know nothing about your life or only measure your performance on what’s relevant to him or her. So you’ve got to figure out for yourself how am I going to check in with how I’m doing, you know? How regularly do I need to see with my fitness, my spirituality, my friendship, my relationship goals or what’s my path; what’s my progress?

So there’s a lot more vagueness in terms of what does success look like and a lot more complexity because of that, where in sport it’s relatively easy to define success. Although if you just look at performance, by many measures Tiger Woods was massively successful until very recently when he wasn’t at all. So even sport is at risk of if you make it all about the sport…

Like Tom Brady. If you read about him his life’s orientated towards eking out every minute that he can as a pro-footballer. But what does success look like for him once he’s finished his career?

So I think also sportspeople fall into that same trap by not creating a life outside of sport, which means the transition is full of depression and negativity as opposed to excitement and possibility, as well as they tend to be quite, you know, non-well-rounded. They tend to be quite rough around the edges because they haven’t developed those other life skills that can be very important, especially when you fall off the spotlight and you’ve got to re-enter the real world.

Erik: Okay. On a personal note, what is your own definition of success?

Tim: So for me I kind of have that sliding scale where ultimately my big purpose, by big vision is that I want to make personal development as easy to get to as the [virgin actor], easy to access as the local gym, and as sexy as driving a flaming red Ferrari.

Erik: Nice.

Tim: So I want to make it cool and I want to make it easy to do.

So there’s multiple kind of performances of that meaning of that… performance or that purpose where from a sports point of view my intention and my goal is to work with the Springboks and to help them be successful for periods of time, specifically to win the World Cup, where I believe when our heroes are successful and they tell their story, as part of that story is their personal development journey, and that can make it aspirational and exciting for the people, the man in the street, to look up to those. To make it cool because those guys are influences. So that’s in a big picture thing.

And on a medium kind of picture thing is the teams that I work with I really want to enjoy the work that I do and feel like I’m helping people grow. And we happen to use the sport as a school. I help people grow in business and both one-on-one and as a group level, helping them find their meaning, their purpose.

So my success for me is to work with dynamic, ambitious people who are willing to do what it takes to be successful and help them find their success whilst at the same time investing in my wife and my to-be-born child and my family and having some level of balance in my life where I feel that I’m also looking after my own needs and our needs and I’m not one-dimensional as I have been in the past where it’s been all about the performance and all about my growth journey and all about becoming definitely better. I want to enjoy my life as I kick ass. That’s success for me.

Erik: Nice. Tell me do you find that the guys who are high-performance…? You know, because you’ve mentioned a few times work-life balance, etc. Is there balance in their lives when they are high-performance? Aren’t they just completely obsessed about performance and pushing the boundaries? Can you have high-performance and have balance? It sounds strange to me.

Tim: I don’t think so.

Erik: Okay.

Tim: So what you do is you get relative levels of balance. So it’s just the understanding that you’ve got to have a primary and a secondary issue. Your primary is your passion, your business, your sport, your performance, your podcast, your website, whatever the case is, and your whole life’s orientated behind maximising that. But if you don’t have a secondary it means that your passion can turn into obsession. It means that if things knock you they can knock you so badly that you struggle to get up because that’s all you have. And it also means you don’t have a switch-off, a place where you get away and recharge away from your passion.

So the idea is your secondary should be something that can be complementary to your passion, that you can pick it up as you go. So if you’re a sportsman having a musical instrument as a passion’s a great one because you can literally do it on your own terms and you can do it whenever you need to. Like fishing can be great except if you’re touring a place where, you know, you can’t fish.

Erik: Yeah.

Tim: You know, surfing can be great for the same reason, but also if you’re going to Bangladesh you’re not going to be surfing a lot.

So there’s the primary/secondary concept which I think is quite important, and then after that is to make sure all the people, all your relationships that count, are well aware and buy into that concept; that, listen, for X period of time this is going to be the primary and this is the support that I’m looking for and can you be part of it and I want you to be on my team, and this is how I’m going to ask you to support me and we need to talk about it right upfront to see if you’re up for that and that you can be a support and if not, we need to have a different conversation to say, well, do I either sacrifice the quality of my relationships or sacrifice the quality of my dream? Something’s going to give if the key people in your life aren’t on the same page.

So things that balance is a myth but you can be more balanced. Then when you get too obsessive I think that becomes very, very risky.

So in the research for In The Zone, the first book that me and Mike Cooper, my business partner, wrote, we…  It struck me what Gary Kirsten said. He said, you know, when your job is to make runs and you get a couple of noughts, you know, it can be devastating, especially if you’ve started to link your performance with your worth – which I think is quite a common thing for South African men and men in general to do – I am because of what I do; I am because of my job, my car and my salary and my performance.

Erik: Definitely.

Tim: And he said that what happened for him is when his children were born, specifically his son, all of a sudden, you know, it didn’t matter to his son that he had got nought the day before because he just wanted to connect and have that joy of father-son connection. And that really helped him have perspective.

Shaun Pollock I also interviewed. He had a great saying. He says, ‘You know, I love cricket. It’s the big passion in my life. I give everything to it. But it’s just a game.’

Erik: Yeah.

Tim: And having that paradox where you completely commit and give everything to something but you also have it in context of the bigger picture – of your spirituality, of your family, of your life outside of sport – is really healthy and helps high-performance. So it’s very valuable to explore that if you’re going down the obsession path.

Erik: Yeah, it’s something to keep in mind all the time that you’re not sacrificing everything in pursuit of your goals and in the pursuit of being a high-performer. And you were mentioning that you have to do sort of your own performance appraisal. And what I like about that is that it indicates that you have to take active action in your life. It’s not just… you’re not going to be a high-performance passively just by sort of letting life happen to you.

Tim: Not a chance. Not a chance.

Erik: Yeah. And so with that it also means that you have to set goals and you have to really think of where you want to be and how you’re going to get there.

Tim: Absolutely. So for me it’s meaning and performance. When you think about that graph – the neuro-semantic graph – I mentioned earlier. So the meaning is the higher meaning – that’s your purpose – but if we do nothing with it your life does not come to you while you’re sitting on the couch.

Erik: Yeah.

Tim: You’ve got to go out there and express yourself and mess it up and learn and mess it up again and learn, and hopefully over a period of time you’re messing it up in different ways and that converts into success.

So there’s a great amount of failure to overcome on the way to success, and what happens is if you struggle to fail, if you struggle to put yourself up, if you struggle to commit to a certain thing because you’re worried about the outcome, you end up slowing down your growth and you end up moving sometimes backwards but often not forwards because you stop. You stop trying. Oh, but my business went bankrupt. Oh, but I tried that and it failed. And you have a one-artist approach where you look at one thing and use it to define a journey where, you know, yes you failed, but was anything different? You know, how did you fail? Was it different to last time? Yes. Yes, well, last time you were really nervous and now you’re kind of calm. You still didn’t say the right thing but at least there’s a bit of a change somewhere in the equation.

So it’s the skill of looking for the smallest possible increments. It’s really, really important to celebrate and count those steps and stages and that gives you momentum to carry on through the inevitable failures on the way to success. So that’s really important to understand.

If you’re in the dreamer quadrant, you know, you need more performance. You need to be doing more things. And if it feels too overwhelming it probably is, so what’s half of that? So what’s one thing that I can do today or tomorrow that will move me forward towards my passion and my purpose or my dream? And then to celebrate what’s the growth or the success I can have about that step; that I can feel good about that.

So goal-setting is quite important, although one of the struggles with goals is that the whole SMART goal is quite common – Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic Timeline – or whatever words you use for those, or it sometimes gets changed.

But the challenges now… If I’m choosing to pursue something that’s realistic for me there’s two challenges there. The first is I’m basing it on my mindset about what is realistic. And the chances are I’ve got massively limiting beliefs about things in my life, otherwise I’ll be doing more of them.

So Facebook, iPhone, Twitter, LinkedIn, all nuts, all completely unrealistic until they became commonplace.

So the challenge is we use realism to define what’s possible and our realism is distorted. The second thing is realistic is hardly ever exciting. You know, like I had a great dream. I ran the Comrades in a ten-hour run. That’s realistic, but it’s boring as mud.

Erik: Yeah.

Tim: So for me the distinction is I want to go for dreams that are inspiring, that are awesome, that are goosebump-worthy, that get you excited, that means that you’re not going to sleep. And I want to pile on as much meaning as I can onto those dreams because that’s going to push my energy in pursuit of them to the next level.

But once I’ve got that, once I’m dreaming big, I must act small. So what’s the thing that can inspire me? What’s the small thing I can do towards that? What’s the thing to inspire me? What’s the small step I can make in that direction?

So then if you’re using SMART goals in pursuit of the dream then that makes sense. So SMART is really good for creating stretch but it’s rubbish for creating energy or inspiration, because it just doesn’t fit.

Erik: Yeah. And I think people should be careful of thinking a bit like this: one small step I’m taking is just too small. Because even if you’re taking one small step it’s still better than having done nothing.

Tim: Correct. I mean, there’s so many metaphors about the journey starts with a single step, but for me it’s one of the key one-on-one conversations I have – and even with teams sometimes when it’s relevant – is that you all believe that count your growth multiples your growth.

Erik: Yeah.

Tim: So what happens is people use a discounting style where they discount what they’ve achieved and they come back with… They say something like ‘well, I want to lose 10 kg. Jeez, I’ve only lost 3.’ And they count backwards from it. They go where this is the opposite. You’re counting forwards to say, ‘I’m on the way to losing 10. I’m so chuffed. I’ve already lost 3. That’s awesome. I’m looking forward to the fourth. Then I’m looking forward to the fifth.’

So you’ve got to count upwards to count and make sure that you value your steps and stages if you want to have more steps and stages, where the other side of coming backwards is a great way to get grumpy and to give up on your goals and to make sure you sabotage yourself.

Erik: And I think what ties in very nicely here is that you shouldn’t be comparing your journey to someone else’s and looking at where they are at at the moment compared to where you are, because at some point they also only had 100 downloads or 50 Rand in the bank or whatever it may be and you’re comparing the start of your journey or the middle of your journey to sort of the later part of their journey.

Tim: And you’ve got no idea of what’s going on inside there. So the problem with the journey is you’ve got a subset of facts and information, which is normally what they’re showing in the public domain, and you don’t know the full story of what it’s actually like. You’re not their brother or sister or partner to actually see what their life’s actually like – you know, the Facebook life versus the real life.

And the second thing is you don’t know the inside journey. You don’t know how long it’s taken them to find their voice, to be more genuine, to risk ridicule, to risk people talking negatively or badly, to be stronger than the haters or whatever the case is. And you don’t know where they started from. So you might have specific things that you’re working on that once you get that right, once you become more able to speak your truth and not worry about people disliking, once you’re able to find your value of your offering and to be strong, to hold up to it, then that might catapult you way beyond their part of the journey. So it’s limiting.

It’s useful to be inspired by parties, say, ‘Well, how can I borrow that success and apply it to me if it’s relevant?’ But to make a one-to-one comparison between you as original and someone else as original means you’re going to be losing out and normally on the negative.

Erik: And it kind of comes back to what you were saying about modelling yourself on someone who’s successful and good and…

Tim: You borrow the best but you don’t borrow it all.

Erik: Not at all.

Tim: And you don’t implement it 100% because your version of that needs to be authentic to you and relevant to you. So, you know, if you learn that Steve Jobs did all these things at Apple to make it through, if you look how he treated people, I don’t want to model that from him.

Erik: Yeah.

Tim: You know, I don’t want to model taking weeks and weeks and weeks to debate getting the right kind of tumble dryer for my home, you know. You can keep that stuff, you know, that’s alright. But I do want to model his sports field distortion where he believed in something so strongly he was able to engage other people around him, but I don’t want to borrow his bullying of how he did that.

Erik: Or his fashion style.

Tim: Correct, correct.

Erik: Yeah.

Tim: Yeah, so we can start to pick and choose, and because the models of modelling are so accurate these days is that we can do that. So, for example, In The Zone we modelled I think it was 20-plus of South Africa’s top elite athletes, you know, men and women, three different generations, nine different supporting curves, and we just asked them: when you’re in the zone what’s going on for you? And we modelled that out – just one moment in their career or sometimes two or three moments in their career.

And that’s what we wanted to model. Not in terms of how they deal with the media. Not in terms of how they deal with all those other things. We want to just zero in on what’s going to give us the most value for [inaudible [29:58]. Retro reverse engineer what Gary Player, Graham Smith, Penny Heyns, [Markus Wapinow], Lucas Radebe did. It appears to be most interested in is when they’re at their very, very best.

Erik: So tell me, in that book did you see a lot of similarities across all the guys that you were interviewing? Were there things that really stood out for you?

Tim: We did actually. We took a leap of faith to say we believe that we’ll find stuff in common, but instead of trying to develop a hypothesis and match it against the interviews and therefore we prove what we want to prove and we miss what we don’t know, we’d rather be quite open and just see what comes up and then only later mine the interviews for themes and similarities.

Erik: Yeah.

Tim: And what we found is that there were 13 unique skills in common playing out amongst all the different athletes that we work with and all at a high level. And what we figured out was that there’s an order to these skills and there’s a progression that if you don’t get the base skills… We actually converted it to a pyramid where the base skills at a high level unlocked more growth of some of the top skills, which were applied skills.

So, for example, one of the base skills was performing from your highest intention, which basically means you not only have developed and understood your purpose in life but you’re able to connect with it on a consistent basis so every time you train or play you are doing it for a purpose that’s bigger than yourself.

So it’s like Penny Heyns being a great example where she believes she’s got a God-given talent in her swimming and that the higher she performs the more opportunity she has to share her faith, to proclaim her faith, where, you know, as you get bigger and bigger on the world stage in swimming people want to know more and more. So in her mind is that the better she performed the more she can live her purpose. And I’m always amazed with swimmers that they go up and down in this pool and it’s like where’s the fun? There’s no chatter. There’s a lot of chlorine. How do you do it? And for her it’s like five or six hours a day for years.

Erik: Yeah.

Tim: Like 15-plus years of her life.

Erik: I was going to say.

Tim: And she says that when she jumps in the pool every stroke she takes is an act of worship. Every stroke an act of worship.

Erik: That’s awesome.

Tim: So she can connect to a purpose to something that for us is quite mundane and perhaps just, you know, kind of just something we do. And so she’ll workout on a spiritual high, where for me five minutes in the pool and I’m bored as anything, and we don’t want to talk about Speedos as a concept. So it’s not for me.

There’s quite a power to understanding your true purpose and then making sure it inculcates, that it links to all the parts of your journey that are relevant to making that come true.

Erik: Cool. And purpose is such a… I think it’s a sticky subject, because we see it all around us. People say that, you know, you have purpose and it opens up the world for you. But how do you find your purpose? How do you know? Because it just seems to come so easy to some people, you know, and they have it so clearly defined, and for some of us, you know, working 8 to 5 and getting home to the kids… Like where do you really find like the deeper meaning, that deeper purpose?

Tim: So for me I’ve never met someone who it’s come easy to them.

Erik: Yeah.

Tim: So there’s always been a realisation, a journey. So some of it’s come earlier rather than easy. So it’s come earlier where they’re… What they did is they stumbled across something where they just got lit up.

Erik: Oh.

Tim: And they’re just like this: ‘I feel alive. There’s something to this and I want to stay with this feeling.’ And for whatever reason – circumstances or support – they manage to develop that into something that could be a business or even a really informed passion or hobby.

For other people what happens is they had these lit-up moments where in school or in class or outside they had these peak moments but they weren’t able to capture that and kind of explore it. What about this geography lesson made me lit up? It wasn’t about the igneous rocks; it was about the way that people are able to map something physical to something, you know… cartography. So maybe it’s about the mapping that excites me.

So we tend to look too big picture at those things that light us up. It’s a subject rather than a moment in the subject. It’s an experience rather than an aspect of that experience. And then we don’t use those to kind of put together the dots to say if I had to collectively put all these things that light me up together, does a job emerge, or does the work emerge, or does something that could be created as a job or as a value add emerge?

So I think those people who find out early that… Like for me I was fortunate where, you know, when I started doing this work it just fitted for me. It just made sense and it just lit me up. And I was able to use that passion and energy to convert it from a hobby and a part-time thing into a full-time business and to live my purpose on a more regular basis.

So these days go to a good life coach. You can spend a lot of time to really discover your true values, your true essence, and there’s some fantastic purpose kind of programmes out there where it’s a combination of looking at your values, what really drives you. Not just your values but your core values, who you are deep down inside, and the order and the progression, which is quite important information. As well as what’s the intersection between my skills and my passions and a work opportunity; that I can start to explore that to see if I can convert it into something that’s viable and monetise my passion basically. Or to find something that is monetised that I can experience enough of my passion in that I feel that I’m actually living my purpose.

Erik: Cool. And everything we’ve been speaking about has been about the mind, you know. I think where your mindset is at that’s where your success will be. Like you said earlier, that’s where performance will be. But what I find is that most people spend a lot of time making sure of what they eat and going to the gym to train their body but they don’t actually spend much time on their minds. And I’m quite a big fan of meditation and reflection and journaling and things like that. What do you find works well to prep your mind, to really get you to that next level?

Tim: You raised a great point, is that if you think about how much time we invest in all levels of performance and you convert that to how much time you spend on the mind the ratio’s normally way out. So sometimes I ask athletes like what percentage is sport mental versus physical? And they tend to give me a [50:50], [60:40] or [70:30]. So then I say, ‘Look, you know, even the sceptics in the room. Okay, if you’re spending 30% of your time or even 20% of your time on the mental side and you train for ten hours a week, you must be spending at least two or three hours of your week on the mental side of your performance. So what are you doing?’ And I tend to get these sheepish looks and the answer is ‘no, I’m not spending nearly that amount of time even if my ratio is 50% or more.’ And the second question is what I do. You know, aside from visualisation and goal-setting and maybe a bit of breathing what can I actually do?

So there’s a gap in terms of awareness of what are the power tools that you can use to do what. So that’s something I want to get to in a moment.

But basically if you look at… I call it the net rate of return. I asked a rugby team I was working with this last two weeks where I said, ‘Listen, guys. You know, you’ve been using the system I’ve taught you now for a week. Now, if you work out how many minutes you put in for how much percent improvement or gain you got on Saturday, let’s work it out. You know, is it 40 minutes for 5%? Is it 20 minutes for 10%? You tell me what it is. And I know we’re guessing here but just make an informed guess.’

And one of the guys put up his hand. He said, ‘Listen, I spent 40 minutes getting ready for the game and I think I was at least 10% better if not more.’ And the question I asked the group is: where else in your life can you spend 40 minutes to be 10% better on Saturday?

Erik: Yeah.

Tim: If you go to the gym and you spend 40 minutes, if you practice your passes or you’re rucking or whatever, will you get that same gain? And the answer was no. So how come you’re not investing that amount of time to get that amount of gain if that’s important for you?

So that’s quite an important concept is how much return do I get for investing in what? So meditation, mindfulness. There tends to be a kind of a medium- to low-term gain where I spend half an hour every morning and I just feel 5% more peaceful, but over time that collectively puts me in a better place. That collectively makes me more precise and more aware of myself and more in tune with myself.

So it’s not so much as an active development. It’s more like a passive raising the level of consciousness, raising the level of awareness, raising the level of connection with self. So I think those are useful, but you also want to combine them with the active measures where you’re either preparing for a performance or you’re also maybe kind of recovering from a mistake or an error or a mistake that you made, that you’re mining that for information so that you can create the right learnings and incorporate them so that next time you’ll be better.

So maybe if you’re open we can use you as an example just to demonstrate something practice that that listeners can use as a powerful tool that will help them move forward in terms of performance. So are up for the challenge?

Erik: Awesome. Let’s do it.

Tim: Cool. So, Erik, if you had to think about success for you in the BetterMan project… So if in one, five, ten years’ time, whatever the right amount of time for you is, if you had to describe success in as much detail as possible, what would that success look like for you?

Erik: I think it comes down to two things. The first would be that it has influenced people’s lives. And I know it’s not very specific but it’s been hugely rewarding getting emails from people saying that, you know, it’s inspired them to make certain changes in their lives. 

Tim: So a number? Are you getting 50 emails are day? Are you getting 20 emails a day? Are they talking about changes in their whole life or just parts of their life?

Erik: Well, it’s been mostly in fitness and in like their habits – because I like talking about habits and morning routines and things like that. And I’d probably say at this stage you’re looking at like maybe five to ten emails a week. So yeah, I think going forward, when I’ve reached a point where it’s one of the sites to go to in SA for men to be inspired and live a better life, live a high-performance life, then that would be success to me. But also it has to be tied to downloads, because it doesn’t make sense for it not to grow. 

Tim: So how many downloads?

Erik: I think I’d like to get to a point where it’s probably doing… I don’t want to be unrealistic, you know, so I’m thinking… Let’s go with 500,000 downloads a month.

Tim: Cool.

Erik: Yeah.

Tim: And how many letters are you getting on a daily or weekly basis of people saying…?

Erik: I’d say probably about ten at this stage.

Tim: Okay. So how many do you want to have? So when you get the 500,000 downloads how many letters would be linked to that?

Erik: Like popping 50 into my email every day. I’d be happy with that, yeah.

Tim: Cool. Are there any other indicators at a high level of success, or are you kind of…? Are you doing this full-time or you’ve got like your balance right in your life and you can still do this as a passion? How does it work for you in terms of success in that picture?

Erik: So I own a rehab practice – I’m a physiotherapist.

Tim: Cool.

Erik: And then BetterMan has just sort of been I think that purpose for me, that passion for me. And so it’s an awesome outlet just of sort of who I am. And even without… There’s no money tied to this for me in any way. So I just really enjoy the process of it and having the opportunity and – what’s the word I’m looking for? – like being blessed enough to have to speak to someone like yourself and be inspired by the work you do. So that for me is a very big thing and…

Tim: So as you take a moment to think about that and just see it in your own eyes where you might be in your studio and you might be… you’re kind of seeing in your Outlook all these emails and there’s so many that you’ve actually got a bit of a backlog; that you’ve got to go through them again. And you got really awesome speakers lined up and you just see the kind of the download hits kind of coming on your page. So as you kind of picture that as a scene, what’s the best part for you?

Erik: What is the best part for me? You know, it’s kind of hard to define. I think it would just… I would feel extremely gratified. Yeah, I would think… I just get the word ‘content’, you know.

Tim: Cool.

Erik: Yeah.

Tim: And having that, that feeling extremely gratified and content, what would that mean for you?

Erik: That would spill into other areas of my life because obviously also going through this there’s networking and… I guess being a physiotherapist a big part of my personality and who I am is wanting to improve the lives of others.

Tim: Cool.

Erik: And so if I’m sitting there and I’ve seen all the emails and I’ve seen all the downloads it obviously means that people are responding to it and they’re getting value out of what I’m doing.

Tim: Cool. So having all of that, what would that mean for you?

Erik: Push me harder to be better, to do greater things, to make sure that every time I get onto the mic or every time I send out an email that I’m doing the best that I possibly can for the people that trust me to provide them with good content.

Tim: Sure. And when you do that, what does that mean for you?

Erik: You’re pushing it!

Tim: Yeah.

Erik: I think that when I’m at that stage it would just feel… When I think of BetterMan I’ve modelled it on a few guys that I think are truly successful overseas, like Tim Ferriss and James Clear and those kind of guys, and I guess at that stage I would feel like I am in their league.

Tim: Cool. And is there anything even more meaningful than that for you?

Erik: Even more meaningful than that… I just think at the end of the day it ties in so well then again with my rehab practice; that sort of 80% of my day almost is then going towards serving others.

Tim: Oh wow.

Erik: Yeah.

Tim: Okay. So as you think about that vision where it means that you’re in the scene where you’re extremely gratified and you’re content and all that is spilling into other areas of your life where you’re networking, you’re wanting to improve the life of others and that means to you that you’re going to be pushing harder to be better and do greater things and you just feel like that you’re in the league of Tim Ferriss and some of those other guys out there, which means you’re actually actively serving, you’re helping improve people with the BetterMan project… So having all of that, what would that give you?

Erik: Happiness.

Tim: Cool.

Erik: Yeah. And I just think my life is where it needs to be.

Tim: Cool. So that…

Erik: I’m feeling quite vulnerable here, Tim!

Tim: So now we know we’re onto something, because we’ve touched or kind of tapped into that part of you that’s really kind of… it’s important, it’s personal and it’s special, and we’ve linked that energy to that vision.

So now that’s the first part is really converting your vision, your goal into more of a purpose and to have that purpose of energy of it, actually lining them up so that you can perform your meanings, that you can link the journey more closely to your purpose.

So the second stage of this exercise is now as you think about that vision, what are some of the obstacles that you need to kind of really pay attention to to make sure that you plan so that you can actively move towards your vision?

Erik: Well, I think obviously the podcast medium and essay is still picking up. So promoting and making sure that people are aware of it and how to use it. And scheduling issues, making time to do the interviews, making sure everyone is onboard. And I think being more active in terms of promoting the podcast and making sure that when I’m at the rehab practice that I’m not neglecting BetterMan, because I think it can easily happen that you favour what’s making you money for what’s not making you money. But having it tied to purpose and passion it does make it a bit easier, because it’s not just a sort of a flimsy side project that you’re doing.

Tim: And so basically the process… Now, I’ve got some notes here of what you’re saying, so I can send it to you too, but the process is to really look at those obstacles and really flesh them out. What’s the best plan that I can put together so that I know whatever I foresee that might be in the way I’m actively overcoming them, actively moving beyond? And I use the vision that the movie with all the meaning that compels me, that I use that when I need to get up early or need to stay up late or I need to overcome something. That’s my reference point, my go-to point so I can have the inspiration inside of me and then have that sense of purpose again.

Erik: I like that. I like that. Yeah, when I think of BetterMan it’s just… it’s all be so easy the whole way through because people seem to support the idea. And I think because of that it’s just made it so much more interesting to me as well. And it hasn’t been hard to find guests to come on the show because everyone sort of believes in the same thing.

Tim: Yes.

Erik: Yeah, but that’s an awesome exercise to do and it really digs deep into why you do what you do.

Tim: Correct. So very simply to summarise, it’s about turning your goal into some sort of movie that you can actually see and experience. And it’s really important to see it from your own eyes a day in the life of the success; having the indicators of success in your movie, focusing on the best part and then answering the ‘what does it mean to me?’ question five times or more to really create the energy. And the little bit we did off that was again not looking backwards. If I’m going to move towards that goal, what obstacles do I know about that might be in the way that I can start to plan to overcome? And the better, the more rigorous the plan, the more I use my movie to energise me and the more I move in a positive and empowering direction.

Erik: Awesome. Tim, I’m going to definitely have to get you back onto the show because we’re going to run out of time here soon and there’s so much that we haven’t even covered yet of the list of questions I have here. It’s maybe 50% through them. So before we wrap up I want to just quickly talk about your latest book Raising Talent.

Tim: Yes.

Erik: This is geared more towards the development of kids, am I right?

Tim: So I got really annoyed because I’ve got a lot of 15-, 16-year-old kids around my office who were burnt out and they had a great talent for something and actually pretty good parents too.

It wasn’t a parenting problem; it was a knowledge problem; that they didn’t know how to support this kid. They had pushed too hard or they kind of made it too personal. They interpreted what army sergeants do or what Tiger Woods dad might do. And so these kids were getting burnt out and would end up leaving a sport and often fracturing the relationship with their parents.

So I wanted to find what is the process to develop talents and maximise it in the healthiest possible way. So I wanted to focus on that question. And what I found was that it’s a talent and learning process for anyone about anything. When you hear a kid it’s almost a more pure process because they don’t have the baggage and the limitations in the same way adults do.

So what I found is by developing that… I use the same process if you’re 15 as I do if you’re 45 or 50. We’ve just got to add one or two things if you’re 45 or 50 to make sure we address the stuff that you’ve accumulated on top of that.

So yeah, I probably reverse engineer the accelerated healthy growth in any skill or ability. And I feel that I’ve gone quite a long way to doing that and I’ve been using that model in my sports teams recently. So it’s the same model we use for the under-19 cricket team to from winning the World Cup in 2014 last year. It’s the same model I’m using at Marty’s Varsity Cup rugby to help them accelerate their growth. It’s the same model that I used in whatever sports team that I worked with from an Irish hockey team to [inaudible [48:10] team. So it’s the stuff that I’ve been fine-testing and battle-testing, fine-testing and battle-testing for the last probably seven, eight years now, and I feel it’s got to a stage where it really is quite robust and quite transferable.

And so what I’ve done with Raising Talent is I’ve developed something called Raising Talent Academy where those skills – where the three sets of skills – (1) is motivation linked to goal-setting like we just did now but a bit deeper; (2) removing limiting beliefs; how to really get to those core limiting beliefs that stop our performance and limit what we believe is possible; and (3) developing healthier self-esteem.

I brought that into a video module in an online library that I’m actually working with schools to, you know, buy a licence. And I teach them the power of the coaches and teach in the school to learn the skills and then hand over the library to them to drive with the kids so that everyone in that system can learn the same language, the same skillsets, and they can apply it as much for rugby or cricket or for drama or for art or for whatever, because it’s generic to the performance. It doesn’t need a sports performance to make it work.

Erik: Yes, and that’s… I mean, it’s such an awesome opportunity to have your mindset fine-tuned at such a young age and I think you come out in life with such a big advantage, because most of us only sort of start working on our minds when we realise much later how badly we’ve doing. And if you can teach someone…

Tim: Yeah, I’ve never met someone who learned about the stuff just say, ‘Oh, I wish I didn’t learn this earlier.’

Erik: Yeah.

Tim: They only say, ‘If only I’d known this when I was…’ And so now we’re trying to answer that question. So now, guys, you will learn that when you’re 14, 15.

So imagine the kind of healthier, stronger and more robust leaders and athletes, doctors, lawyers, engineers, whatever, that we develop through that system, because really there’s so much going right in education, but if we can actually add this piece to it… I’m very curious to see what’s possible in the next few years as more and more graduates come through the system.

Erik: And it would be huge for sure. Tim, so where can people reach you?

Tim: So my blog  is probably where I… I write articles semi-regularly. I’m normally once a month up on that. I’m on Twitter…

Erik: Okay.

Tim: As well as on Facebook. And I try to do a couple of tweets every now and then about performance stuff or about things that are relevant to maximising, to fulfilling your potential. And then from those areas you can also contact me directly.

So for me I’m big about information being available. So the Raising Talent book has a lot of detail about how to develop your own self-coaching programme. In The Zone there’s a lot of detail about how to do different things. So for me the more people know how to empower their lives the more better lives there is out there. So if you’re a seeker of knowledge and you’re looking for something that’s been battle-tested in high-performance that is two books to go to to help you take your performance to the next level.

Erik: Awesome. And we’ll definitely link it up in the show notes so it’s easy to find.

Tim: Awesome.

Erik: But I’m going to have to get you back at some point to talk about limiting beliefs and to talk about how we can just accelerate in life, you know. So at some point please make a return.

Tim: Yeah, I look forward to that. There’s lots to talk about.

Erik: Plenty. Plenty. But until next time then, thank you for being on the show.

Tim: Thank you so much.

Erik: Thanks, Tim.

[End of audio – [51:52] mins]

Erik Kruger

Erik Kruger

CEO at BetterMan
Founder and CEO of BetterMan. Obsessed with making men unstoppable. Currently completing my Masters in Business and Executive Coaching.
Erik Kruger

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Erik Kruger

Founder and CEO of BetterMan. Obsessed with making men unstoppable. Currently completing my Masters in Business and Executive Coaching.

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