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Tony Robbins

Feedback: Who You Listen to Is Just as Important as Who You Ignore 640 428 Thayer Fox

Feedback: Who You Listen to Is Just as Important as Who You Ignore

Over the past year, feedback has played a critical role in my growth. Seeking feedback has been a system of mine since I stopped drinking. So why did it take thirteen years for me to see any results? A glitch was sabotaging my feedback system. I was jogging 5 miles a day and eating an extra-large fat-free/high sugar frozen yogurt covered in rainbow sprinkles for dinner wondering why I couldn’t shake the extra few pounds. One blind spot can derail an entire system. Feedback is either a tsunami wiping out miles of beach or rocket fuel that can blast you to the moon, there is no in between.

After thirty years of doing things my way and ending up with a suicide note in my side table drawer, I became open to feedback. This was my first experience taking advice. Without alcohol as anesthesia, I was swallowed by the pain of poor choices and unprocessed emotions. A flesh container filled with impulses and fears, it was amazing that I had survived for thirty years without listening to anyone. Desperation gave me the willingness to try a different way. As the AA old timers say, I took the cotton out of my ears and put it in my mouth.

My life grew exponentially as I followed suggestions from my sponsor and other sober women from AA. I met my husband, we had our daughter, bought an apartment, settled into the American Dream. A year after the birth of my son, my ego started whispering, “we can take it from here.” It’s easy to locate the periods in my life when I allowed this thought to be my driver; dragging myself out of a burning vehicle is always the next scene in the movie. Eight years sober, with every box checked I hit a spiritual bottom.

With pain as my motivator, I returned to AA and started working with Jeff. Yes, is a gift of willingness and I started saying yes again to whatever was suggested. The feedback system was successfully re-instated; I began to feel better.

Widening the feedback circle with my expansion, I noticed how a casual comment could deflate me. Negative or careless feedback can destroy an embryonic idea in a sentence. Yet, I kept bringing dreams to intelligent people with clipped wings and walked away believing that flight was not an option. Unaware of my blind spot in this pattern, I thought I needed to keep working on becoming a better me who would produce better ideas.

Rarely did I strategically select the source of feedback because unbeknownst to me, information wasn’t my objective, I was looking for approval and love. Proximity also made a lot of my decisions. It was easy to be lazy with a ton of well-educated friends who will give me thirty minutes of their day. I would share whatever idea was percolating with whoever was next up on my calendar. A stopped clock is right twice a day, so sometimes I got lucky.

At the two Tony Robbins events, I attended this past year, my blind spot was uncloaked. First, I had to separate love and approval from my feedback loop. Next, I had to get clear on what I wanted to accomplish. If you want useful answers, then you need to carefully construct your questions. Then I had to look at how I selected a feedback source. Tony says that mastery is doing something every day, taking a course or reading a book doesn’t make you a master of anything. The key to feedback is finding someone who is living and breathing the topic, so it is integrated into their bloodstream and not an extraneous subject they study. For example, seeing a shrink who is single to discuss your marriage because she has a degree from Columbia on her wall is the wrong determining factor. Going to a friend who still giggles and holds hands with her husband fifteen years later will always yield superior results.

The other day on a plane, I was able to help someone who was struggling with addiction. I know I have a black belt in this area, so I spoke up confidently when the young man across the aisle asked me if I thought he drank too much. I also know when to keep my mouth shut or recommend another feedback source. If I am giving boardroom advice based on Adam Grant’s brilliant presentation philosophy in The Originals, the only thing you should consider is purchasing the book. I haven’t given a business presentation for over fifteen years. Yesterday’s work doesn’t qualify when considering a feedback source.

If you choose to casually share a new endeavor with a friend or colleague, be prepared for unsolicited feedback. Knowing who to listen to and who to ignore is an essential skill. Always ask yourself before the wind leaves your sails “Is this person qualified to give me feedback in this area? Better yet, be conscious about what you share with whom. Just because someone is a good colleague or mother friend doesn’t mean they will understand your creative vision.

Positive people who always agree with every word you say are great fuel sources, but they aren’t ideal for feedback either. If your heart rate hasn’t picked up when you request feedback, then you are playing it safe. I showed three people preliminary blog posts before starting The Growth Project: one person for quality, another person for content and then my husband who I can count on to say it all. Building a site without this due diligence would have been wasteful if all three of them declared that my articles didn’t align with my mission.

Here is my Feedback hit list as a take away:

  1. Feedback is critical, but who you choose to receive it from more so.
  2. Don’t default to the easily accessible. Your smart and available friend who attended Princeton twenty years ago isn’t qualified to coach you in many areas. Doing extra research and finding the six degrees of separation source is worth the effort.
  3. Ask yourself before approaching any source “Why are you qualified to give me feedback on X.” The answer should be as evident as the color of the sky.
  4. If you find yourself a recipient of unsolicited feedback, don’t mistake certainty for sage wisdom. Knowing what to ignore is just as important as your great idea.
  5. Feedback is only valuable if you implement it. Don’t waste people’s time unless you are ready to go the distance.


The Gift of the Broken Shoelace 1024 684 Thayer Fox

The Gift of the Broken Shoelace

We all experience weeks where everything that could go wrong does. One thing that I know by now is that these weeks will pass, a blip on the radar of my life. It’s how I handle them that counts. Do I act out? Do I make them mean something about my spiritual progress? Will I allow a broken-down week to send me into a nosedive that requires a month-long repair? How quickly can I turn a breakdown into a gift?

I am at the end of such a week; it’s uncomfortable and not where I want to be. I have utilized every tool in my arsenal and relief is temporary at best. Prayer, meditation, sleep, exercise, service work- these practices which usually shift my mental state are not working, and frustration is only planting me more firmly in the space I am trying to escape from.

All the issues I have been dealing with are of the “broken shoelace” variety. I learned that term in AA. The substantial problems in life are not what take us down; it’s the piling up of the broken shoelace issues that slowly chip away at our serenity.

It’s easy to access faith when I feel great, and things are going my way. I also know how to plug into God during a calamity. Disasters spike our adrenaline and promise spiritual lessons that will eventually enrich our lives. Showing up during a traumatic experience is purposeful, spending three days dealing with a broken computer are not.

These off weeks are no cosmic accident either. They usually take place after I go through a high energy phase of productivity and inspiration. I have a tendency to become less vigilant about the maintenance of my spiritual condition when I feel good.

I have a list of the levels of consciousness by David R. Hawkins pinned on the board next to my computer. I have been staring at it a lot the past week during calls with the Apple and Microsoft help desks. How did I revert to a ping pong ball bouncing between anger and pride? Haven’t I put in enough work to earn my permanent slot between love and joy. What will it take to get back there? Do I still have to go through all the levels or could I just skip the line and jump right back in at joy after a great meditation?

David is the author of many brilliant books on the subject of consciousness. I have read two that I recommend: Transcending the Levels of Consciousness and Power vs. Force, The Hidden Determination of Human Behavior. I read them after I received the list below at a year-long course I took called The Evolutionary Collective.

Having this metric to track me has been life-altering. Knowing that courage is the portal to higher altitudes has helped me embrace discomfort and fear in a way that has not historically been my pattern.

It hit me as I was staring at the list and writing this that I can’t move past anger until I give up my judgments about anger. Self-judgment leads to self-loathing. To get to courage, I have to step into vulnerability- become a loving witness instead of a judge. Once I stop making anger wrong, movement becomes possible.

At Date With Destiny with Tony Robbins three months ago, I learned that my emotional home is anger. An emotional home is a primary emotion we default to when we experience setbacks in our life. We all have one. I had an angry father, and I used anger to protect myself. Anger served me for a long time, so I need to acknowledge its purpose every time I return to it. Building a new emotional home takes hard work, just like hammering together an actual structure. Consistent practices that wire me to positivity and gratitude are essential in creating new neural pathways. When I am vigilant, I spend a lot more time in gratitude and love than I do in anger.

Today I am practicing acceptance. I will passionately take on all the practices that open my heart, letting go of any results. Whatever shows up, today will be whole and complete just as it is. I am grateful for the week of broken shoelaces because it gave me the opportunity to recalibrate and recommit.


How You Spend Your Time is How You Spend Your Life 1024 768 Thayer Fox

How You Spend Your Time is How You Spend Your Life

How you spend your time is how you spend your life. When a friend said this to me a few years ago, it changed the way I thought about my time. He said that we are all concerned with how we spend our money and think little about how we spend our time.

After this conversation, I went home and looked at my desk calendar to analyze how I was spending the bulk of my time. As a stay-at-home mother, most of my time was spent with my children. The other quarter was split between “friends” and self-care. I didn’t have conscious parameters around friendship back then, so my friends were mostly other mothers who lived nearby. Gym visits and nail/hair appointments filled the additional flexible hours. Some of it was necessary to maintain a healthy body, and some of it was filling the void.

As my children grew, I longed to create my corner of the universe. I had an arsenal of excuses about what was holding me back that sounded pretty legit. There is a great saying “you either have results, or you have excuses.”

Six months ago, a friend asked me about my daily schedule after I described my desire to get back into writing. She also shared the steps that she had taken to create a new career for herself as a screenwriter. Revisiting the “how you spend your time is how you spend your life” conversation woke me up. I was saying that I was desperate to create something new, but my schedule did not reflect the passion in my words. Words without actions are concepts; only actions produce results.

I committed to reworking my schedule, with writing as my primary focus. Writing first thing in the morning with a clear mind was more productive and satisfying than trying to write in between lunch and school pick up. Creating new habits takes two months of discipline, on average. Now, two-and-a-half months later, I can’t remember life before my current schedule. I am much happier with my time and desire aligned.

At a Tony Robbins event I recently attended, “Date With Destiny,” Tony repeatedly bellowed “Raise Your Standards! They are way too low! Its why you don’t have results in your life!”

Here is a Tony clip I love:


If you don’t have results in a targeted area, take a good look at your standards. Does your schedule reflect your alleged commitment to this area? Who are you spending your time with? What are the standards in your peer group/closest relationships? When I had more excuses than results in my life, part of the issue was the people with whom I was spending my time. Small talking that occupied hours each day amounted to internal emptiness. The idler I became in my mind, the lower the energy in my body. That’s a state that people label as depression. Productivity is all about personal power. From that old state, I didn’t have access to the drive or confidence required to step up my game.

Motivational speaker Jim Rohn said, “We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.” Our relationships are imperative to our growth. Thriving people have thriving friends.

We always have control over the way we spend our time.

I understand now that the years I spent in advertising jobs complaining about my bosses were all a choice. The paychecks were good enough, and I was too lazy to look for a job with a kinder boss. We can’t choose the families we are born into, and as adults, we can create healthy boundaries if we have unhealthy relatives. When I hear friends say that they “should” do something, I feel their pain. A life of “shoulds” will never soar.

Look at the way you spend your time, and the people surrounding you. How many of them give you support and inspiration? Then look at your dreams and see how much time you allot to pursuing them. Do you have role models and strategies?

Even if you don’t want to make any changes yet, understanding that everything in your life is a choice is an empowering first step.



How to Build a Healthy Ego 1024 779 Thayer Fox

How to Build a Healthy Ego

Ego is a dirty word these days. “Get out of your ego”; “Your ego is the enemy.” I used to believe that when I had evolved enough, my ego would dissolve. Over the past five years, my thoughts on this have changed. There is no such thing as getting rid of ego. It sounds like a lofty goal and is an impossible feat. As my brilliant, old shrink Chris Ford used to say, “the goal is to create a healthy ego, you need a healthy ego to survive.”

So that begs the question, what is a healthy ego?

At my latest course, Tony Robbin’s “Date with Destiny,” I had a breakthrough on how to gauge whether I was living in the healthy part of my ego. Tony talked about The Six Human Needs: Certainty, Uncertainty/ Variety, Significance, Love/Connection, Growth, and Contribution. You do workbook and partner exercises to discover what two needs you inhabit most of the time. I knew as Tony explained that Certainty was the number one need. I like being in control, a lot. Certainty is also a commitment to being comfortable. Much of my planning involves creating optimal contented circumstances for myself. For example, I struggle for months before signing up for the workshops I attend. I know that they are designed to be uncomfortable, and I spend the week before in a state of dread. I know the cancellation policy and locations of all the exit doors.

My need for certainty conflicts with my need for Growth, Connection, and Contribution. True fulfillment is only available when you spend time in those three needs. Tony makes it clear that you can have all six needs met and there is nothing wrong with any of them when they are in the right order. When I allow certainty to be the deciding factor in my life choices, I limit growth and ultimately my happiness.

Unclear on my second need, I had to dig deeper. I assumed it was Growth or Contribution because spending time in either of these areas lights me up. Attending transformational workshops, doing service work in AA, and mentoring teenage girls in the Bronx are highlights in my life aside from Daniel and our children. So if I am already living a life I love, why am I crammed into a freezing West Palm Beach conference center pondering this question?

To reach a point where I even consider signing up for a workshop like Date With Destiny, my need for Growth has to outweigh my need for Certainty. Pain has always been my greatest motivator. When I stay stagnant for too long, I get depressed which manifests in complaints. I make everyone around me wrong before I go inside. When the low-grade misery morphs into pain, I take action. Even though I loved my life, I was dissatisfied with the level of my contribution. I was capable of doing a lot more in the world, now that my kids were in school full time, I was out of excuses.

Breakthroughs pop up in an instant, no rhyme or reason to them. Suddenly, I understood that my need for Growth and Significance were intertwined. Although I don’t strive to be significant in an overt way, the reason I felt dissatisfied was that my volunteer work didn’t feel like enough. When I sit down at a Manhattan table of significance, I fall short using the metric that most people use here, multiple degrees and titled jobs. Every environment also has a need structure, and on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, significance is king.

When I focus on my need for growth, the path ahead in the work I already do looks different than if I am striving to keep up with the conversation around me. Tony announced at the same time, “Significance is a mountain without a top! If you have this as your top two needs, you must get rid of it! It will make you miserable.” YES.

Every morning before I start writing, I go through a morning ritual which involves meditation and a cold shower. I stay in touch with my WHY as I write, and throughout my day. Spreading and supporting Growth is my happy place. Whenever I leave the world of action (contribution) and step over into results (What do you think of me? Am I doing a good job?), I move into significance.

It’s a great question to ask your self regularly. At work, when you are showing up for a friend, training for a marathon, volunteering at a kid’s school- what need am I in right now? Guarantee if it is Growth, Love, or Contribution you will be satisfied. If you feel that you are not being appropriately acknowledged, then you are probably in significance.

The part of the ego that doesn’t serve us is the part that needs to be in control and acts for the reward of recognition. A healthy ego focuses on putting growth or love or contribution first. Significance naturally moves down to the bottom when one of those three needs is first; the order is imperative. The great news is we can choose to shift our needs any day, any time. Today, I am putting Growth

Bulletproof Coffee 1024 684 Thayer Fox

Bulletproof Coffee

Morning coffee has always been sacred. My alarm goes off at 6:30 and I have to get the kids out the door on their way to school by 7:30. Waking up before the kids to meditate or journal is not my gig. Even with a self-imposed curfew of 10:30 pm, I don’t fall asleep until 11:30 pm. Two cups of coffee with milk in the hour that I am running around brushing hair and making breakfast has always been my routine. Never a breakfast person, I would wolf down a protein bar or banana, just in case “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” wasn’t just a marketing slogan. By 10:30-11, the caffeine wore off, and I was famished.

I first heard about David Asprey last July at a Tony Robbins event called Unleash the Power Within. A separate post will detail this event. The week after UPW, I noticed The Bulletproof Diet Book on my nightstand. I had not made the connection between the coffee and the orange diet book that I had purchased per a buffed friend’s recommendation. After flipping through it, unwilling to take on the fancy coffee and rigid diet plan, I moved it from my bedside table to Daniel’s. When God wants us to know something, it happens repeatedly. We are never at risk of missing what we are meant to know. One morning a few weeks later, I woke up to Daniel handing me a mug of frothy yellow coffee.

The discovery of Bulletproof coffee was a game changer. Aside from being delicious, it is also more satisfying than food. Daniel and I drink it every morning and don’t eat until lunch. My productivity is highest in the morning, due to my bright brain space. It’s the time when I write. I don’t follow the diet plan because I gave up restrictive diets after overcoming eating issues in my early 30s. Without trying, I have lost weight as a result of my new schedule. Hunger is a slower build now; the caffeine doesn’t drop me so abruptly. In the beginning, the French press and blender seemed like a hassle to deal with every morning, and now it’s a delight.

There is a science behind it that I won’t bother explaining since you can read about it here: