Remember I told you about Mike Robbins and how I dared to ask him for an interview? Well, the day is finally here. I’m so glad to be able to introduce him to you. I’ve always been struck by the simplicity and profundity of his writing and you will see that for yourself in this interview. So here I am in conversation with Mike Robbins.
It was only recently that I realized that you used to be a professional baseball player, Mike. I believe that every experience teaches us something about life. What did you learn from playing the game that you use in your life now?
Many things – both good and bad. On the light side, baseball taught me a lot about how to deal with failure and pressure…it also taught me the importance of focus, commitment, determination, and teamwork. On the “dark” side, it taught me to worry about my results, compare myself to others, and always feel like I wasn’t quite good enough – very stressful way to live and the “you’re only as good as your last game (and/or your results)” really messed with me…and is something I’m still working on “un-learning” these days.
I did love playing baseball (most of the time) and still love the game (even though it has been 15 years since I played competitively). I work with some professional baseball teams these days – the San Francisco Giants, the Atlanta Braves, and the Arizona Diamondbacks…which is fun and keeps me connected to baseball in a neat way.
Mike, in your book Focus On The Good Stuff, you talk of the power of appreciation. Can you share why you think appreciation is so powerful?
Appreciation is about recognizing the value in something – another person, a situation, an experience, or ourselves. It isn’t about the “inherent value” of something or someone, it is about our ability to appreciate it…which is a powerful skill and ability to have in life. When we expand our capacity to appreciate, our world changes in fundamental ways. As the saying goes, “The more gratitude we have, the more there is to be grateful for.” This is what makes the power of appreciation so important in all aspects of life.
How can we bring appreciation in to our day to day life and in our relationships?
We always find what we look for. The best way for us to bring more appreciation into our lives and relationships is to look for it. Here are a few specific things we can do to enhance our capacity for appreciation:
– Use a gratitude/appreciation journal – write down 5 or more things each day that we’re grateful for/appreciate. I have been doing this for years, and have re-committed to this daily practice over the past few months and it has been life-altering
– Ask people what they are grateful for. We have this on our outgoing voice mail messages – at home, in our office, and on our cell phones – it is wonderful and we get the best voice mail messages when people answer the question
– Pick three things each day that you appreciate about your spouse or significant other and let them know.
We all struggle from time to time to accept some part of ourselves that we feel is flawed. What do you think causes us to think that we’re not good enough?
Feeling “not good enough” is one of the core negative ego beliefs that we carry as human beings…it often runs our life and messes with us in a deep and profound way (as I have learned so many times). We also see, hear, and get lots of messages from outside of ourselves – the media, friends/family, and others – that reinforce the idea that we aren’t smart, beautiful, or successful enough…and we believe that crap, sadly.
In your second book Be Yourself Everyone Else Is Already Taken you focus on authenticity? What made you so passionate about the subject of authenticity?
My passion for authenticity comes from my own desire to be authentic and have others be authentic (with me and in general). It also comes from my own struggle to know myself, be myself, and express myself. I always write about and teach about the things I both struggle with and desire to embody and embrace at a deeper level (i.e. “we teach best what we most need to learn”) Authenticity is about accepting, expressing, and loving all of who we are – both light and dark…it is essential on our personal and spiritual journey and it also can be quite scary at times…much easier to be phony in many ways. But, what I believe most of us what in our lives, relationships, work, and more – is a true sense of authenticity.
As crazy as this sounds, sometimes it’s so difficult to be ourselves. What steps do you suggest a person take to move towards being authentic?
Being ourselves can be difficult for a number of reasons. First of all, we aren’t taught/trained to be ourselves in a real way. Second of all, we don’t have a lot of good/healthy models for authenticity growing up – most of our parents, teachers, and those around us in society don’t really embody authenticity. And third, it can be difficulty or scary to be ourselves – either because we don’t really know who we are or because we’re afraid people won’t love or accept us if we really show them our “true colors.”
There are lots of things people can do to move towards more authenticity – it is a lifelong journey. As the saying goes, “There is no way to peace, peace is the way.” The same could be said about authenticity. The first step in deepening our own personal authenticity is actually confronting the ways in which we aren’t authentic. In other words, as we start to tell the truth about how we really feel and what makes it hard for us to be authentic, we enhance our authenticity right there.
I know that you like to introduce yourself first as a Dad (to your two lovely girls). Has fatherhood changed the way you look at life? Thank you Mike for a fantastic interview.
Being a father has altered my life in a profound way. It has been one of the challenging and rewarding experiences of my life so far – and we are still in the early stages of parenting (our girls are just 6 and 3). I am humbled almost every day by fatherhood. I look at life very differently now – knowing that there are two human beings walking on the planet who look to me for guidance and as a model in a way no other human beings ever have (or probably ever will). As the father of two girls, I also have a special perspective and insight into the importance of loving, supporting, and empowering young girls (and ultimately women). I am in awe of my girls and my wife (especially as I got to experience pregnancy, birth, nursing, and more first hand). Fatherhood has helped me get in touch with a deeper level of compassion, awareness, and connection – both with my family, but also with the human family. And, it has been very hard at times…although it does seem to be getting a bit easier these days, which is nice!