Written by Marisol Dahl
Today we are so excited to celebrate the official launch of Mike Robbins’s new book, Nothing Changes Until You Do: A Guide to Self-Compassion and Getting Out of Your Own Way.
A keynote speaker on teamwork, emotional intelligence and the importance and impact of authenticity, Mike Robbins is on a mission to help people better connect to each other and to themselves.
Mike's third book, Nothing Changes Until You Do is a collection of 40 stories and reflections from Robbins’s own life and from the lives of those who have most inspired him. Each essay has its own bit of wisdom to impart, everything from why it is important (and courageous!) to embrace powerlessness to the value of owning up to your accomplishments and letting your light shine.
I was fortunate enough to interview Mike and get a peek into his book-writing process, how to battle the inner gremlin (that nagging inner-critic), and his top tip for recent college grads.
Interview with Mike Robbins
As you mention in the introduction, this is the first book you've written in five years. Your other two books were written within three years, with two new babies, and lots of ups and downs. How has writing Nothing Changes Until You Do been different? What's been the best part?
Writing this book was very different. First of all, I’m a few years older now (and hopefully a little wiser). Second of all, we didn’t have a baby associated with this book directly – when I wrote my first one we had a new baby at home and when I wrote my second one, we had a 2-year old and a baby on the way. My girls are now 8 and 5, which is a very different phase of parenting. And, finally, I decided to write this book in a different way (short essay style), which made it even more fun and easy for me to write. I also used speech recognition software to write much of it, which worked really well for me.
Many of our readers are 20-somethings and recent college grads. We're entering the working world, forging new relationships, navigating unchartered territory. What is one thing we can do right now to better embrace our vulnerabilities?
Give yourself permission to feel scared and own it. One of the scariest times in life is when you graduate from college. Of course it can be fun and exciting, but even the most confident, successful, and focused person gets scared when entering a new phase of life. The rules of life in the “real world” are much different than the rules of life in school and it takes some time to figure it out.
A common mistake that most of us make in our early 20s is we spend and waste a lot of time and energy pretending we know what we’re doing, when oftentimes we don’t. This is true throughout life, but especially in our 20s. Embrace your age and exactly where you are. And, remember that it’s okay to feel scared and, at times, completely overwhelmed – everyone else does, they just pretend that they don’t.
What is the first thing you do when you feel your gremlin sneaking up on you?
First of all, it’s important to recognize the gremlin (that negative voice in our head). The most dangerous aspects of the gremlin are the ones we aren’t aware of (i.e. we think it’s the “truth.”) Once we recognize that it is our gremlin, not us, who is talking or leading the way, we can gently take back our power by having compassion for ourselves and reminding ourselves that the critical voice in our head does not have the final say.
When my gremlin shows up in an intense way, it’s often important for me to reach out to people I know and trust and to let them know some of the negative thoughts and judgments I am experiencing about myself. Talking about it often helps loosen the grip and helps me take back my power from my gremlin.
In one of your later chapters you mentioned that "being bold, while scary and challenging at times, is essential to living an authentic and fulfilling life" and that it's important to "swing hard, just in case you hit it." Can you tell us about a time when you may not have swung hard enough? What would you have done differently?
I have many examples of “not swinging hard enough.” Most of the times I’ve failed – back when I was playing baseball all of those years and in my business now – it is a function of not swinging hard enough (as opposed to swinging too hard).
One recent example is related to a speech I gave at a big conference for one of my clients. It was a huge event and I had a relatively short time I was scheduled to speak on stage. Instead of doing what I normally do – trust my gut, speak from my heart, and allow myself to create in the moment, I got scared and didn’t want to mess up, so I over prepared, rehearsed my speech, and it ended up falling flat, one of the worst ones I’ve given in a long time. It felt like I missed the moment, got overwhelmed by the situation, and didn’t allow myself to trust and risk in the way I know how…in other words, I didn’t swing hard enough. It was painful, but a great learning experience.
I loved your chapter on gratitude, and I find this to be so true: "The way gratitude works is that the more we focus on feeling grateful, the more we have to feel grateful for." In this moment, right now, what are you grateful for?
Such a great question – thank you for asking it. I don’t think we can ever ask or answer this question enough. Right in this moment, I’m grateful for my wife Michelle and our two amazing girls Samantha and Rosie. I’m grateful to be doing work that I love and to have people (like you) asking for my perspective and advice.
I’m grateful that I had the courage and commitment to write another book, even though it can be scary to put myself out there. I’m grateful for the enormous amount of support I have in my life and with my business. I’m grateful for the ability to express myself authentically and to learn each and every day. And…so much more!
We’re excited to be giving away two copies of Nothing Changes Until You Doby Mike Robbins. To enter to win, answer the following question in the comments by Friday, May 16. We will pick a winner via random.org and email to let you know!
Comment to be Entered to Win: What is one blessing-in-disguise that you are grateful for?
About Marisol Dahl
Marisol is currently a Sociology and Education Studies major at Yale University. A longtime New Yorker, she is interested in pursuing a career in education and child advocacy. Marisol started her blog in 2011 as a way to document her college years and beyond. When not running around campus and catching up with her school reading, she enjoys spending time with her family, reading dystopian fiction and volunteering in her community. She can be reached on Twitter at @marisoldahl.