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Mini-cast 114: Dan Mickle - Getting Through The Pandemic

Bret Keisling is joined by Performance Psychology Consultant Dan Mickle who shares the importance of modifying expectations and disengaging from ugly discourse to overcome pandemic weariness.


Mini-cast 114 Transcript

Bret Keisling: 00:05 Welcome to the ESOP Mini-cast. Thank you so much for listening. My name is Bret Keisling, and as it says on my business cards, I'm a passionate advocate for employee ownership. I have a great guest today. We're going to talk about an important topic, but first I want to tee up how we got here.

Bret Keisling: 00:23 I have a friend on Facebook. She's a friend in real life. In the past. She has been a mentor of mine. She has been a colleague. She is a very talented administrator, executive. She's a decent, warm, kind, and loving person. And we were talking on Facebook and she happened to mention in terms of today's environment, that she's weary. And it really resonated with me because I know her to be a good person and even the word "weary" struck me to my core. You hear a lot of people say I'm sick of what's going on or that kind of thing, but weary to me was deep and profound. So I reached out to my good friend, Dan Mickle. He's a performance psychology consultant and host of the Mental Cast. Dan, thank you very much for coming on the podcast.

Dan Mickle: 01:12 Thanks for having me, Bret. It's great to be here and good to talk. I wish it was a better topic!

Bret Keisling: 01:18 Well, and there are plenty of topics and you're right. But my goal Dan is not to wallow in difficulty, but to find some faith and optimism. And the reason I reached out to you and we'll have your chat for a moment about what all the various things that you do, but among them with the performance psychology consulting, you're heavily involved in athletics. And the reason I reached out to you, Dan, is this strikes me is the analogy would be a sports team in the middle of a very bad, difficult season. That's where our country's at. We've got to go through some things and it's not going to be easy, but we are going to get through them. So the conversation I'd like you to chat a little bit is if you're one of these teams in the midst of a bad, bad, horrible season, and I'm not talking about the New York Jets [laughter] but if you are, by the way, folks, Dan is laughing with his Eagles hat on. But if you're in the middle of the bad season, Dan, you know what I'm trying to say, how do we keep the faith? How do you get, how do you keep going in the midst of adversity?

Dan Mickle: 02:21 Yeah, there's two really good components to all of this. And whether you're talking in the sports world and you're talking programs and coaches, or you're talking in the corporate world with employees and management, they're both very similar in the aspect of it comes down to process and leadership. And really this is where you're tested on whether or not you have set up the culture and the process in your organization. I coached Division Three volleyball, women's volleyball, as part of what I do beside the performance psychology in the corporate world as well. But one of the things that we take a lot of pride in and look at every year is what the culture is in and what our philosophy is for the program. So when we hit something trying like this we sort of have the guide rails to follow what we're going.

Dan Mickle: 03:11 And I think whether it's a sports team or just a company, whether it's a small business or a Fortune 50 company, I think a lot of times that's where the failure comes. Those, the philosophies there. We have these big handbooks and rule books for everything, but what's the actual philosophy that guides your program or guides your company? And that's where we need that right now. That that's what we're kind of leaning on.

Dan Mickle: 03:32 And then the other aspect of it is really just basic goal setting. We can say, hey, we just want to get through this pandemic, but how are we going to do that? What exactly does that look like? For us in the volleyball world, our season was paused, I guess, is the best word. It hasn't been canceled yet in the fall, but we were still allowed to practice. So I practiced from all of September until November, not knowing what we were practicing for.

Dan Mickle: 03:58 So I'm asking, you know, 18 to 23 year old girls, hey, let's practice, but I can't guarantee that we're going to have any matches. And luckily for us, the big philosophy is, and I know this is cliché it's, it is about the process for us. Our goals in the program are first and foremost are to become better citizens of the world. And we just happened to be doing it through volleyball, but we also want to grow as people individually and grow our community. So we just realized that that's part of what we're going to do. We did a lot more outreach in the fall than we normally did, seeing where we could help. Can we do clothing drives or helping our community, even though we were still practicing and that's what really drove the players coming in.

Dan Mickle: 04:44 There was a bigger purpose than whether we were going to play Messiah or another college, you know, it was more about how am I going to grow as a student and then as a citizen of the world. And, luckily, our leadership is so strong with our upperclassmen, that the freshmen that were incoming, you know, imagine being a freshman and going through this, your high school career probably ended early, ended weird, and now you're coming into college and it's weird. But because we had that philosophy and everyone buys in and has commitment to the whole philosophy of what we're doing, they grabbed the freshmen and everyone dealt with it. And I think that's really what we have to start to look at first is what is the philosophy of your program or what you're doing in life, whether it's just you as an individual and set those goals and figure out what you're going to do.

Dan Mickle: 05:30 Probably the biggest problem that we run into is everyone looked at this as like, it's free time. So you hear everyone, you saw all these things on Facebook, hey, I'm going to learn another language and I'm going to take Masterclass and I'm going to do this. No, you're not. Like, you want to, and it seems to make sense. I'm going to be home more, but you're going to be stressing out more about your bills, what the future holds. You're not going to have the time to commit to those side projects. So you're just setting up for another failure, starting another language and not following through with it. And I told, you know, I gave a talk to a bunch of club coaches and they ranged from coaching 12 year-olds up to 18 year-olds. And I said, the best advice I can give you is just stop what you're doing. Stop having all these Zooms stop, having all these meetings, stop trying to have all these kids do stuff and just give them a break. First off in the sport world, especially the youth sport world, we're killing kids to begin with, they're playing three sports, trying to do their school. We can actually give them a break, let their bodies heal, let their minds, heal. It's okay to not do anything.

Dan Mickle: 06:33 We have this culture out there. We have the, and I love Gary V. -- Gary Vaynerchuk. Like, I love what he does, but that's almost superhuman. And people see that. And, you know, he's on the road 23 hours a day and drive, drive, drive...

Bret Keisling: 06:49 And do me a favor, Dan, just for the listeners who may not be familiar, tell me who he is?

Dan Mickle: 06:52 He is an entrepreneur. He started as a, he started I think it's [correction: Empathy Wines] is the site now. But now he's a motivational speaker. He started a sports agency, a marketing agency, you know, he just was really good at every aspect and grew it into a multi-faceted company. But his big shtick is grind now grind now grind now and the rewards will be there at the end. And you know, he's on the road 300 days a year, he's talking, sleeps maybe two hours a night and people see that and they want to do that grind. But I really think there needs to be a balance. And we push so hard, especially in our society now in America. We need to take that break.

Dan Mickle: 07:30 We've lost -- and I'm not just saying this in a political sense, and I don't want to take this down a political road because it certainly hasn't been just the current administration. It's been trending for a while. It's just now polarized, but we have no one that we trust to at least listen to anymore. We want to have discussions just so I can point out where you're wrong. I don't want to actually engage. I don't want to hear your side of the view. I just want to point out where you're wrong and try and bring you to my point of view. And I think that that's kind of, what's, what's losing, and that's what has lost in a lot of the corporate world.

Bret Keisling: 08:08 We don't have a Walter Cronkite to age myself, somebody that was just relied on and trusted, and they could say anything that type of leader is gone.

Dan Mickle: 08:18 Yeah. And it's interesting because my father and I had this exact talk two days ago about Walter Cronkite about this whole thing, the problem that I have with the media and I don't care -- take any of the networks and even take the fringe networks. The problem that I have is everyone there is writing a book, doing a movie, doing something. So do I really trust that they're in it for the news and the truth of the news and the facts, or are they in it because they want to become famous? You know, the point when the people covering the famous people become famous, starts to earn a little bit of distrust.

Bret Keisling: 08:52 And the funny thing, Dan, there would be arguments, which of the networks are fringe networks? Like you said, hey, all of the networks, including some of the fringe ones. And I'm like, I know which ones I think are fringe, but people who disagree with me would point to different ones -- that's how messed up this is that we can't even agree on what we're disagreeing on.

Dan Mickle: 09:11 Yeah. And we don't like going down this political road, but that bleeds into every society now, right? It used to be when I was growing up and things like politics, religion, all that just was never discussed, especially in the corporate world. You know, I'm 46, so it's not like I've, you know, been around in the corporate carousel as much as some people. But I don't remember ever talking about that when I was working in the corporate world. We just didn't talk about it. And now it's in everyone's face, which isn't a problem, except we stopped learning how to have those discussions. So not only have we started throwing it in everyone's face, we no longer know how to deal with it.

Bret Keisling: 09:59 Dan, getting back to my friend who is weary, I think you hit the nail on the head. And by the way, because we were just talking in examples, she doesn't happen to be in a CEO or the corporate world. She comes from academia and non-profits et cetera. To me the weariness is the lack of dialogue that we're seeing so much ugliness on whatever side, if it's the other side, we think it's ugly. If it's our side, someone else thinks it's ugly. And then there are you and I who are perfectly centrist without a bad opinion. No, I'm kidding. But that's the weariness, it's the lack of being able to have the common dialogue of, okay, what can we agree on? Whether it's masks, whether it's the election, whether it's any thing political, everybody is geared up, as you said, and when you talked about a -- someone will go on Twitter and then other people will go on and rant and flame them trying to change minds. They're not even trying to change minds. It's, I'm going to beat you up with my opinion. And I don't have any intent to change your mind, or I wouldn't be a jerk about it.

Dan Mickle: 11:15 Yeah, yeah. I'm going to go on here and be as big a jerk as I can, because it's going to get me more followers.

Bret Keisling: 11:21 With that we're going to bring today's Mini-cast to a close. This conversation is part of a full length interview I had with Dan Mickle and we're going to bring it to you in total in our primary Tuesday EO/ESOP podcast. But as regular listeners know, we're off for the next couple of weeks on Tuesdays, bringing you back the best of 2020 interviews. So we hope you'll check those out, but it'll also be the end of January or early February, 2021, where we get back to Dan.

Bret Keisling: 11:54 Meanwhile, here are my takeaways. If you're feeling weary, modify your own expectations, to the best you can in this society, catch your breath a little bit. This is not the time to do more, be more accomplished. This is the time to get through it. The other thing, if you're weary, it's a good possibility you're just absorbing or even participating in too much of the ugly conversations about everything going on in this country. Take a step back from that as well.

Bret Keisling: 12:26 Folks, as I say, at the end of every podcast and I have for the last eight months, we are going through an awful lot together right now in our country and that's how we're going to get through it -- together, which is in the best spirit of employee ownership. Thank you so much for joining me today. This is Bret Keisling, take care of yourself.

Bitsy McCann: 12:52 We'd love to hear from you! To contact us, find us on Facebook at KEISOP, LLC and on Twitter @ESOPPodcast. To reach Bret, with one "T", email, on LinkedIn at Bret Keisling, and most actively on Twitter at @EO_Bret. Again, that's one "T". This podcast has been produced by The KEISOP Group, technical assistance provided by Third Circle, Inc. and BitsyPlus Design. Original music composed by Max Keisling, archival podcast material edited and produced by Brian Keisling, and I'm Bitsy McCann.

Standard Disclaimer: The views expressed herein are my own and don't represent those of my own firms or the organizations to which I belong. Nothing in the podcast should be construed as guidance or advice of any kind in any field and the fact that I mentioned an organizational website or an advocate or a company on a podcast does not reflect an endorsement, but if you've heard your name or your group's name mentioned on this podcast, I'd love to have you come on and talk about it yourself.

A note on the transcript: This transcript was produced by Temi, an automated transcription service. While it has been reviewed by The ESOP Podcast, we can not guarantee the accuracy of the transcription. Please refer to the original audio when citing sources.


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