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Train Your Own Hero with Dr. Don Greene

Feb 13, 2023

In this episode Dr. Don and I cover all things Shadow, what it is, how to identify it and how to turn it into your biggest ally.  Don is the author of a book that inspired me and helped me win multiple world titles - Performance Success. 

Dr. Don Greene, a peak performance psychologist, has taught his comprehensive approach to peak performance mastery at The Juilliard School, Colburn School, New World Symphony, Los Angeles Opera Young Artists Program, Vail Ski School, Perlman Music Program, and US Olympic Training Center. 

During his thirty-two year career, he has coached more than 1,000 performers to win professional auditions and has guided countless solo performers to successful careers. Some of the performing artists with whom Dr. Greene has worked have won jobs with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, San Francisco Opera, Montreal Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, National Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and the Dance Theatre of Harlem, to name just a few. 

Of the Olympic track and field athletes he worked with up until and through the 2016 Games in Rio, 14 won medals, including 5 gold. Dr. Greene has authored eight books including Audition Success, Fight Your Fear & Win, and Performance Success. 

In 2017, Dr. Greene was named a TED Educator and collaborated with musician Dr. Annie Bosler to produce the TED-Ed How to practice effectively…for just about anything. The video went viral receiving over 31 million views across Facebook and YouTube. Don is definitely someone to pay attention to!


My key take aways from this episode were:

  • We all have a mask that we wear in the world. This is the person we show up as in the world and how we want people to see us. From having this mask, we also develop a shadow self. Everyone has a shadow. It is very important to not ignore the shadow, but to rather listen to it and validate it. When you ignore the shadow, you suppress it. At some point it will have to come up again, and it usually does when you least expect it - like at a big event that you have been preparing for for ages.
  • Your shadow self is a source of creativity and can be your biggest ally. If you listen to it and journal about it, you will end up really getting to know it. You can then turn it into your super-power instead of your weakness.
  •  Leadership is about taking people where they aren’t used to going. Taking them into those areas that are uncomfortable for them, and helping them get used to change and walk them through it.



Full Transcription:


Dr. Don Greene, James Laughlin 


James Laughlin 00:00 

Welcome to lead on purpose. I'm James Laughlin, former seven-time world champion, musician, and night executive coach to global leaders and high performers. In every episode, I bring you an inspiring leader or expert to help you lead your life and business on purpose. Thanks for taking the time to connect today on investing yourself. Enjoy the show 


James Laughlin 00:39 

How much time do you invest in your brain? Well, look, our brain dictates so many things. It's our largest asset. We've got to look after it, right? But often we're putting things on our skin and we're doing all these other things that care for our bodies, but our brain dictates so much. I came across a product a week ago called Flow State and it's made such a difference. And look, they offer functional mushrooms that sharpen cognition, they really boost energy, and definitely strengthen immunity. And they actually use one of the key ingredients, it's lion's mane. Right? So, the lion's mane is popular among real peak-performing athletes and those wanting an edge. It's known as the brain mushroom. And it's currently being studied extensively for its nerve growth factor potential as a means to ease the symptoms of Alzheimer's and for treating inflammation in the body. Look, the thing I love about these products, they don't taste like mushrooms, you can mix them in with your tea. They're a great replacement for coffee, but I actually love the P.M. Mushroom Blend, the evening one. It helps me sleep. And to know that my brain is getting extra nutrients is just the next level. The one thing that's really important for me is what's in there. So, they've tested heavily at Hill laboratories for heavy metals, pesticide residue, and microbial, and also at Massey University for active compounds. So, I urge you, if you love your brain, and want to go the extra mile to nurture it, head on over to flowstate.nz and you can use the coupon code lead on purpose to get 15% off. 



James Laughlin 

I don't know about you, but sometimes I get home. And I think what I am eating tonight is the last thing I want to do. I don't know what to cook, I don't know what's in the cupboard or in the fridge. And it often leads to poor choices like ordering some takeaway. So recently, Carolyn and I started eating green dinner table, and it's absolutely amazing. After a long day, when I'm knackered, I know that when I get home, there's going to be a great recipe and all the ingredients I need right there in the fridge. And look, I absolutely love it. I've been doing it for several months. And it means I don't have to think at the end of the day. And I just know that I'm going to get good, nutritious, wholesome food. And look, it's plant-based, which has so many benefits. So, if you're a meat eater, perhaps you might want to start on maybe just three, a three-day plan. So, you've got three evening meals for you and your partner or you and your family depending on what option you want to go for. But the food is delicious. It's so nutritious, and it means we don't need to think. And as leaders of families, teams, and organizations, what we put in our bodies is just so crucially important, so I urge you to go and check it out and I want to give you 20% off your first order. So, you can go to the green dinner table.co dot N Zed and use the coupon code purpose. 


James Laughlin 03:51 

Dr. Don Greene, a peak performance psychologist has taught his comprehensive approach to peak performance mastery at the Juilliard School, Colburn school New World Symphony, the LA opera young artists program, Vail Ski School permanent music program, and the US Olympic Training Center. Look, I have personally used his work to help me win five of my world championship titles. It was an absolute honor to get the opportunity to sit down and connect with him. And we talked about his new book which I know is going to add massive value to your life. If you are leading a team, if you have to speak in public, if you're a performer of any kind, whether that's a musician or athlete leader in the corporate setting, you're going to love today's show. So sit back and enjoy the show.  


James Laughlin 

Don, a huge welcome to the Lead on Purpose Podcast. 


Dr. Don Greene 05:00 

Thank you, so much real pleasure, to be here. 


James Laughlin 05:03 

I am so excited about this. And the listeners are going to find out why in just a moment why it's just so exciting for me personally to connect with you of all people. So, before we do get started, I'd love to ask you a question. So, what do you believe about leadership? 


Dr. Don Greene 05:19 

That's a great question. My definition or my view of leadership is taking people where they're not used to going, that's unfamiliar to them, that they may need help, encouragement, and support, going into those areas that are unfamiliar, or require change. And change is uncomfortable for most people. So, leadership helps people make changes in a positive direction. 


James Laughlin 05:50 

That's beautiful. And what's so amazing about that, as I look at your work as leadership, and I'm going to just kind of pre-frame that for the listener right now and say that when I was a youngster, I won my first world solo drumming championship at 13, I retained the title, the following year, 14. And then puberty hit, I got very nervous, I got very self-conscious, and my performance deteriorated greatly. I cared a lot about what others thought about me, I put a lot more pressure on myself, I got in my head, and I got out of the flow. But thankfully, I came across a book. And I was in Northern Ireland at the time was 14 or 15. It was the early 2000s. And that book was called Performance Success by Dr. Don Green. And that changed my whole performance life. And I'm really, really thankful to say that after reading that, working on that, implementing that between the age of 18 and about 23, I won another five World Championship titles. So, a massive thank you! 


Dr. Don Greene 06:54 

You're very welcome. I'm so delighted, congratulations. 


James Laughlin 07:00 

Well, your work is incredible. And I think it's important for the listener to know that it works. It's not just worded in a book, it truly works. And it's powerful stuff. So, can we go back a bit? Where did your appetite, your interest, your excitement for performance, and Managing Oneself? Where did that come from? 


Dr. Don Greene 07:19 

Well, it came from my athletic background. I started very early at seven on the trampoline and gymnastics. And I just fell in love with it and had a great coach, a very inspiring coach. And I just love being on the trampoline, or doing gymnastics, and learning control of my body being upside down landing on my feet, that my head and to your greater I started diving, Springboard diving. And because I knew how to control my body and my space, in the air, it came easy to me. So, I started diving at nine by 10, won the New York City championship for my age group, and picked up a great diving coach, who is wonderful, and who took me all the way through high school. And that was my athletic background. And I relate a lot to that. The unfortunate part is I got recruited by a lot of colleges. And I chose to go to this one, which was West Point, which was a military academy, but not as much for the military as for the diving coach. And three months after I got there, he was replaced by another coach that I would not have gotten at that school, I would not have chosen him to be my coach. And I started struggling with my performance and trying to figure out where I could hit sometimes not other guys. And that's when it started my fascination to understand my own performance. Because I was, I went from really good to not so well, sometimes embarrassed. And I tried to figure that out. And after I got out of diving, and after I got out of the army, I had a commitment of five years in the Army. I wanted to come back to that. I went back and got my master's degree and eventually my Ph.D. in performance psychology to figure it out. And that's when I started figuring it out.  


James Laughlin 09:27 

That's incredible. And I love that you say that's when you started for now that you've done all this study. You've got all this success academically, but actually, that was the beginning of the journey. 


Dr. Don Greene 09:36 

Oh yeah, it was the beginning of the journey. And I was fortunate to have as my first major job working with the Olympic diving team with the world's best diving coach and the guy who will become the world's best diver Greg Louganis. So, I got into just an amazing environment right away with some of the best athletes in the world. And that led to working with other athletes, and then eventually with musicians that I really enjoyed working with, and working with them converted what I knew from sports to musicians competing for auditions. And when I found out the musicians were wonderful people. They were very musical, but they didn't know how to compete. So, I started teaching musicians how to compete. And I started winning a lot of auditions. The first four that I worked with, were French horn players, which is a very difficult instrument. I didn't know at the time, I didn't know one instrument from another, but that's a pretty tough instrument. And this one player from Juilliard asked me to work with four students or four students getting ready for the metal audition in the Met orchestra, one of the top orchestras in the world. And 250 people had applied for these positions, okay. Basically, two positions. They accepted 59 people to come to New York, to play the audition. Okay. So, this Juilliard Professor introduced me to these four women, I met with them, and use athletic assessments to test their competitiveness. And I started working with them individually, for two months. And when the audition came, of the 59 people, they came in first, second, fourth, and fifth. Wow. Yeah. And that's when the president of Juilliard wanted to meet with me and see if I could teach this in a classroom setting. I said, yes, that's what I do with athletes like I can do the same with musicians. So that's, that's when I started working with musicians, and, I loved it. I was fumbling my way through the first few semesters, and I couldn't speak the language, but I can adapt mine, and hopefully had them meet me halfway, which they were more than happy to do. And then I got contacted by the New World Symphony. And the New World Symphony is where graduates from the top music schools want to go. It's the next stepping stone where they can really get expert coaching and teaching. And it's in Miami Beach, and they get a paid fellowship for three years in the pay just to rehearse and play and get top coaching. And the dean of the New World Symphony called me, and we had a nice talk. And she said, we just had one of our musicians leave the New World Symphony. He's a percussionist, and everybody loves him. And he's been here for three years. And he failed every audition that is taken for three years. And we couldn't keep mod for fourth years, or the fourth year, that thing ran out. And he's left and he's going to massage school. Ma, he's given up percussion. Would you work with him? I said sure. So, I'm not sure if he came, I think he came to New York. And we spent several days together and gave him the same assessment psyche, as competitive athletes back then. And again, he was a great musician. Well, practice, well experience. He just went to auditions and couldn't compete. So, I taught him how to compete. And he went to Cleveland Orchestra and when the audition for principal, 


James Laughlin 14:06 

Wow, that's amazing.  


Dr. Don Greene 14:09 

Yeah. And that's when Michael Thomas wanted to meet with me in charge of that. And that's when I started teaching the New World Symphony several times a year. 


James Laughlin 14:19 

I love that you're leading from the front, you're always showing results, hey, I'll produce the results. And then we can have a chat. 


Dr. Don Greene 14:27 

Well, yeah, people are interested in results. And I mean, just athletes, and people winning, taking auditions just don't want to go there and flop they want to win. But most of them don't know about winning. It's not just about playing. So that's when I converted my athletes' assessments, to assessments for musicians in musical terms, to ask them about focus and anxiety, recovery from mistakes, and all the things pertinent to musicians. And that's when I really started having success with a lot of musicians. 


James Laughlin 15:06 

Well, your system is very straightforward to follow. It's incredible in terms of the results it's able to produce. And I can say that personally, what I find is that a lot of these skills and frameworks that you have to apply to athletes, apply to musicians, and they apply to people in the corporate world as well. 


Dr. Don Greene 15:28 

Oh, well, that's exactly true. In fact, I just got off the phone with the former head of training at Merrill Lynch. Well, right. Well, so he called me up and said, do you work with businesspeople? And I said, no, but I am willing to talk about it, okay? So, I had this meeting at Merrill Lynch with the president of Maryland, and this guy, head of trading. And the first thing he asked me to say was, can you help me break at and golf? 


James Laughlin 16:08 

Of course, he did. Love it. 


Dr. Don Greene 16:12 

And by that time, I was working with a lot of professional golfers. I was teaching at Golf Digest schools, which is a Top Golf Digest. So top golf schools. So yes, I have worked with a lot of pro golfers. So, I said, What's your handicap? He says, I'm a mid-handicap, which means he's normally shot around 85. I said, have you ever broken 86? He says, No. I said I hope you break 80. 


James Laughlin 16:38 

That's so good. That's great. 


Dr. Don Greene 16:41 

So, they hired me to come in once a week and work with individual traders. competition. Again, it's competition. It's the winning mind. A positive optimistic mindset. Yes, this kind of goes well. So not only did he break 80, like 40 times. Wow, that's his traders, p&l went up 21%. That's magic. That's what they care about, besides golf. To a lot of them golfers, they went up 21%. Okay. And then. And then a disaster hits with the plane crash. And we had to move across to Jersey City. And the tech guys had to set up trading desks, totally in blank rooms, trading desks, with the four screens and computers and all. And after four days, I was with them every day. But after four days, they started hallucinating because of a lack of sleep. But so, I started monitoring their delusional state and trading. So you go to sleep, and you get back to the desk. And we've got the trading desk up on time. And it was a huge success. That was as much fun as the Olympics. 


James Laughlin 18:24 

I love it. I'll really love it. And I'd love to chat about the process. So, since I read the book in the early 2000s, which was a performance success, you've released a number of books, and your most recent book is train your own hero. And it's about reaching peak functioning in one month, or 21 steps. So, what inspired that book, and tell us a little bit more about what's inside that book. 


Dr. Don Greene 18:47 

I'd love to. Well, I wrote performance success, in fact, the fear and win over 20 years ago, okay, and they're both about optimal performance, doing as well as you can, considering the circumstances that there are distractions or other people, whatever. So optimal, but usually optimal, is what wins medals, doing pretty good under pressure when everybody else is choking, like big. Okay, so that's in my experience, what wins auditions and gold medals, and World Championships, okay, optimal performance. And that's what my books are. So, after I wrote that last book, now I'm working with some of the best athletes, and best musicians in the world. And they're still making mistakes. They're doing really well, but they still make an unforced errors. And my question was, why do talented, highly trained, experienced people still make unforced errors when they shouldn't? And that was the question that haunted me for 20 uses. 


Dr. Don Greene 20:03 

Whether it's professional golf, the best golfers in the world miss three-foot putts. The best tennis players Wimbledon in the open, I'm watching these, the world's best tennis players, 


Dr. Don Greene 20:16 

These easy chunk shots that I could hit that they go back, right? What was that? The coach can explain what was going on. 


Dr. Don Greene 20:28 

In Professional Football, the United States paid millions of dollars just to catch the ball that bounces off the shoulder. What was that? That was the question I asked nobody could answer. It's like, well, there were choke artists. They weren't paying attention, or their mind was somebody, but nobody would want an answer or a solution. And that's what I'm what I went looking for. And it took me 20 years to figure it out. Five years ago, I figured it out. 


James Laughlin 21:03 

Tell me, I'm dying to know. 


Dr. Don Greene 21:05 

No doubt. I figured it out. And everybody, everybody I teach it to win that one audition, but back-to-back auditions. I mean, people never want an audition their whole life. They went to back-to-back auditions and figured out I cracked the code. And nobody else has cracked the code in sports or music. Maybe in deep psychology and other things, but never functionally with athletes and musicians and you know, extrapolations of those dancers, actors. 


James Laughlin 

Would it apply to public speaking as well?  


Dr. Don Greene 21:52 

Oh, absolutely. Yeah. Great. Because that's the real reason why I came into this is that from a young age, I was a fearless athlete. But I was afraid of public speaking. I got diagnosed with a speech impediment when I was about five or six. I couldn't sound one of the sounds I couldn't pronounce was G and R no problem except for my last name. So, every time they asked me to say my name, people laughed, 


Dr. Don Greene 22:29 

not in a good way. So, I stopped talking. Afraid to talk, I never raised my hand in class. 


Dr. Don Greene 22:38 

I was afraid to death called on then I just chopped sales. I worked around it all through school and high school. At West Point, went to heaven and hell with classmates, my senior at West Point, I had to give us a short five-minute presentation on my major. I couldn't sleep the week before I got up and blanked out. I was embarrassed. It was terrible. I graduated, nonetheless. A couple of years later, I went to Toastmasters. Where you just go to a room with other people afraid of public speaking with a brown bag lunch around a conference room where you only have said your name and we're from going around saying that they will have faux fur they got to me I left. Now, I'm not a normally scared person. I went through paratrooper training; I've had 12 parachute jumps. I've learned to armor Ranger training. I was a Greenbrae now the thing that scared me was public speaking. So, I went to get my master's degree and split psychology and I learned sport psychology and center. No longer a problem. I love. I love to give speeches I visited during COVID. I didn't get to do any public speaking. The more the merrier. I think Zoom calls have 500 people on them and I can't see him which is kind of a challenge. It's nice to be able to see your face. But all I can see is my face. Anyway, so I love it. If I can do it, anybody can do it. So okay, so let's go back to psychology started in the late 1800s With Sigmund Freud, okay, early 1900s, and people are familiar with him and his theory of personality. His theory of personality is ego and superego. Most people are familiar with this. Our ego is our sense of self, our reputation, and our identity, on a conscious level then we have the ID, which is our somewhat unconscious level of seething urges and impulses and the monster if you will. And it's the superego, which has our moral guidance, and you shouldn't do that don't have those thoughts and all of that stuff. And there, they're kind of all engaged in the same thing, okay. But Freud had, well, Freud had this theory of personality. But along with this, he had a thing called ego, syntonic. And ego syntonic means doing things that are in line with our ego, in sync with our ego, if you will, for a musician, this means practice, you know, you should practice and when you're practicing, that's all fine. Okay. But you don't always feel like fast. 


Dr. Don Greene 26:20 

If you're like doing other things, like the head wants to screw up, okay. So, when you're screwing off, it's ego-dystonic. It's not aligned with your ego. And that brings in your superego and guilt saying you shouldn't be practicing. You shouldn't be doing that stuff. Totally. And this causes conflict. Okay. The conflict between these three parts. But Sigmund Freud thought of this as a complex, not a real thing, like, like a fetish, kind of figment of your imagination that we're part of his personality system, okay. It doesn't work. It does not work. For me time. Well, you shouldn't be practicing with your teacher, you should be practicing. Yeah, that's fine. If you feel like school. Then you feel guilty, and that does no good at all. And then you pick up the drumsticks and you feel guilty. And you'd say you're not at your best, right? 


James Laughlin 27:30 

Yep, I get it. 100%. 


Dr. Don Greene 27:34 

Well, then this other psychiatrist, Dr. Carl Jung came along. He's from Switzerland. And he came up with his own model of personality, which was different than fights. Now, he and fries were contemporaries. He came around the 1900s. And they met several times, and they agreed at first, but then they really disagreed, especially about sex. Because Freud was best with sex. And sex is part of our lives, but it's that important thing? And it's not why people lose auditions. 


James Laughlin 28:12 

Yeah. I'd like to think so. 


Dr. Don Greene 28:17 

So, Carl Jung came along with a very different model, okay. And he says, yes, we have an ego that's kind of like organizing things keeps things about, but that's not the main thing. The main thing is our persona. The persona is the mask that we share with the world. It's our public personality. So, when you go into a band rehearsal with other people, they see your persona. Hey, everybody, how's everybody doing? I'm fine. That's the persona. Okay, now that persona starts forming at an early age as soon as we're kids because what we want to do as early children with our persona is, please our parents, and, later our authority figures like teachers. So, we want to please them. And first, we'll do what they tell us. Even if we don't want to, or not things they tell us not to do we want to, to please. Okay. And so, for most people's childhoods, until a certain age, and this varies from seven to nine to 11, depending upon if they become musicians in that because that has- 


James Laughlin 29:41 

Right. Interesting. 


Dr. Don Greene 29:45 

That's when it really gets interesting. So, most people live a happy childhood. If they go along with it unless it's really bad. If it's really bad, that's when the shadow starts to develop. And let's wait for that one. There's a show in the US Code, Oprah, Oprah Show, and she has interesting guests. And I watch it because it's normally pretty interesting. And I like her take on things and she's got a good heart. So, she has this woman on this one day, a woman's black middle-aged, she's way overweight, and has had a terrible life of tragedy one after another psychological problems divorce, poverty, you name it. And she said all during her childhood when she would go to people, they'd always ask her what she said was the wrong question like, 


Dr. Don Greene 30:51 

What's wrong with you? Never asked the right question What happened? Because what happened to her was sexual abuse, poverty, violence, you name it. That caused her to develop a shadow at an early age. 


Dr. Don Greene 31:19 

The thing with shadow, childhood, is that when children are abused, they don't know how to cope with it. They don't have the skills. So, they swallow us and get really angry and resentful. The beginning of the shadow for most children, unless they're abused, and they have a family fairly normal situation. It doesn't happen until children are in school. When reality hits them and teachers are criticizing them. Tell them they can't do this. Kids are bullying them. Shadow. Unless they take up music. Now if they take out music it starts to develop earlier because music is challenging and positive reinforcement works well but you can't tell a kid that's not Yeah, you're doing great just keep on playing out of tune keep on playing out rhythm they're going to say playing out of rhythm namely they're going to criticize and because they're an authority figure and don't want to piss them off.  


Dr. Don Greene 32:37 

You go along with it even if the teachers are wrong, even if you know the teachers then you get better and get into high school. Now you're really encountering problems and recitals that you can fail. 


Dr. Don Greene 32:53 

Be really embarrassed. Shadow does not like to be embarrassed. Teachers are nasty. Other students put you down and tell you that good enough. 


Dr. Don Greene 33:10 

This is when the shadow starts to develop. And this is what Carl Jung saw that we have a persona we have a shadow we have both parts our personalities real parts of our personalities, not pigments, not fetishes, not complexes. There's real as you are looking in the mirror looking persona. This is shadows right there and it's been in every situation with the sun size we didn't play a good recital. We failed an audition, but I can't complain. So, resentment builds up anger and you don't know what to do with it. So, I want to talk about it and hide it from everybody. If anybody sees this I take them out last part of the shadowism because it's really pissed off. So, Carl Jung figured this out. Carl Jung predicted row War I and World War II because of Mass Shadow. Because you look at collective shadow like Nazi Germany. Wow. You look at the situation today because of COVID And a lot of people develop problems with COVID. A lot of people resent COVID With good reason, the good reason and develop strong shadows in the United States due to the shadow violence being out of control. People are doing nonsensical, violent things just for no reason at all. It's never been like this since I've been alive. And I think it's just pent-up anger, frustration, resentment, and Shadow stuff. 


James Laughlin 35:05 

Huge. And that was Carl Jung that really brought that to the fourth. 


Dr. Don Greene 35:10 

He's the only one and four, I just I was looking finally I was working with one of my students at Julliard he was a junior, but even as a Juilliard Junior, he won the orchestra principal position for his instrument. Wow, really good. All his teachers loved him. He was handsome, personable, and respectful. Just an awesome kid. Both of his parents were physicians. He grew up in a really exclusive neighborhood of New York, one of the happiest kids I've ever met. And one day I'm talking with him and having a meeting with him. I said, you know, you just seem so unhappy is there anything you know, in your life? Are you unhappy? Are you kidding me? He just started screaming. I was blown away, I said what he said, I was a baseball player in little league. I was the best player in New York. All I wanted to do was become a professional baseball player. Wow, my parents took me out to a little league and started me in music lessons. Wow. He's one of the best. Yeah, and there's the shadow. So, the shadow grows up. And as you know, musicians lead a different kind of life, they experienced pressure to have other kids at school I'm not familiar with, they have to practice in ways that other kids don't do things other kids are doing. And they start resenting it. And if it's not that and bullying, or in high school, or college picking up a terrible teacher that doesn't like the way they're playing, and the shadow starts to develop, okay? So, it starts to build, and we don't want to think about it, we want to keep it suppressed. Because it's part of the unconscious, we don't want it to be part of our conscious life would drive us nuts. So, we use the ego defense mechanisms Freud's ego defense mechanism to keep it down. Now, this is something Freud did that does make sense. These ego defense mechanisms, such as denial, rationalization, intellectualization, refreshing, oh, what keeps that stuff from constantly being on our minds. And you know, when the shadow starts to develop, and you want to think I want to kill this teacher, oh, he can entertain that. So, you push it down, which was just repression, that's an ego defense mechanism to blackout reality. That's what they do. To now box out reality. So, you don't have to deal with it. Rationalization. you rationalize it away, it's not really. So, this protects our ego, and from guilt. Because you should be practicing all the time, but you're not because you don't like to teach exercises. That's why you're not practicing because the teachers an idiots, but you can't tell the teachers about it. So, you're pushing it down. And over the years, and especially if you become a professional musician, and you get the rejection for either audition, you're not hired for the gig. Or they don't like your style of play and all that. More repression, more resentment, more anger, okay. And the ego's defense mechanisms are to keep it down and out of consciousness. But in the meantime, it builds up and it's the shadow. And what you're doing is you're not recognizing the shadow. You're dismissing it, like, get out of here, don't bother me. I don't want to think about you, which causes more resentment, okay? So, what the shadow wants, believe it or not, is not to take two months off and go to a party to be recognized as real. As a real part of you as your persona wants your attention. Wants to complain about all this shift your persona has tolerated to please other people, which really pissed it off. I got it. So, it waits until the ideal time to get your attention because it's tried everything else. But again, people don't want to deal with it, so it hasn't broken through. So, keep on trying other things, okay? And what I find in talented, trained professional musicians. It doesn't happen in the premiums doesn't happen in semis. It happens in the final with a mistake that what was that? I haven't made that mistake since I was in high school. Are you kidding me? Got it. Why is that? Because that's the most important thing to musicians. Wow. That's where I'll try this. I'm going to make mess up another audition, I'm going to cause another unforced error that you can't explain because of me and you still not admitting I'm real. So, I'll wait for the next audition. So, then you'll probably play great. I won't bother you. next audition, when it really matters, when it really matters. And that's where I found it. And everybody I tell them to say yeah, that's, yeah, that expect there's nobody. I've no musician or athlete I've ever explained to students. I say, yeah, that's why I feel that rotation. That's why they lost their jobs. That's why I dropped those passes. That's why I lost the Olympics. I've taken Olympic athletes that won every national and the Olympics, they take two people on three-meter and two people on 10 meters. She came in third and third. Wow. I saw Miss Dives. She never missed. Shadow. The only explanation? Nobody else can explain it. I can see shadows. 


James Laughlin 41:53 

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James Laughlin 43:05 

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James Laughlin 44:11 

And how do we, first of all, come to terms or go yet? That's the shadow? And then secondly, what are our steps to actually 


Dr. Don Greene 44:18 

Wow, that's why I'm coming to you. I'm doing this for a reason 


James Laughlin 44:22 

You're building me up. I love it 


Dr. Don Greene 44:23 

But again, I go back in your own history to those times when you made mistakes. Never mind. Inconsequential situations. Yeah? 


James Laughlin 44:41 

Very clear. 


Dr. Don Greene 44:44 

That's what I'm saying. You could just check them off. 


James Laughlin 44:46 

Yeah, I can go back to Vancouver. One was in Washington state one was in Glasgow, Scotland one was like- 


Dr. Don Greene 44:53 

Exactly what I'm saying. Ask any musician, they'll tell you the same thing. They'll be very specific. Not Yeah, kind of happened? No, it was in the Pittsburgh audition. It was a mad artist. Yeah. And if I gave you more time, you'd come up with more. 


James Laughlin 45:07 

Yeah, of course. There are probably 50, 60, and 70. Like, there's lots. 


Dr. Don Greene 45:11 

That's what I'm saying. I talked to a musician today. He's 37 years old. He has failed 90 auditions. Talk about the shadow. And when I talked started talking about a shadow. Oh my God. He was abused. Really abused. How are you still playing? I have no idea. 90 auditions. Terrific. I couldn't figure out why. Again, when I even explained this to coaches Oh, oh, yeah. Okay, so that's the problem. Everybody can relate. So, Carl Jung came up with a thing called individuation. Namely, our goal is to recognize our individualness, and most of that is our shadow. Everybody has a unique shadow. So that's step number one. Step number two is understanding that it has caused problems, but for reasons that we now know for lack of attention, lack of recognition, and, so that's going to be the beginning of the solution, okay. But this whole thing is called assimilation and integration, that you assimilate and integrate your shadow into your whole personality to your whole self with a capital S. All parts of you coming together. And it goes from the shadow being your worst enemy. And a trickster that you can't trust that causes doubt. To your best friend and ally call the golden shadow that can play better than your persona could play. Because it's fearless. And the reason people hold back is that they're afraid of the shadow, then they don't play out. And they play in the garden safely. And that never works. Because they're afraid of the shadow causing problems. And once you win the shadow over to your side, it's on your side. It will play better than the persona could play because it doesn't care about mistakes. It is magical. And it caused them and once you stop causing them, it won't you won't make any unforced errors. You won't pay perfectly. It's to challenge the instrument with too much going on. But you stop self-sabotaging. And that's what the that's what this is all about. It's incremental. And then people start playing in the range of 95 to 100. A couple of technical glitches there a couple in fact, yeah, little up there. But no unforced errors. Like, what the hell was that? Yeah. Self-Sabotage. And that's what the shadow does unless recognized and appreciated. 


James Laughlin 48:30 

Wow, that's game-changing. That really is. 


Dr. Don Greene 48:32 

Wow, that's, that's what I'm saying. This is Game Changer. That's why I'm so excited about it. It took me 20 years to figure it out. But I did everybody I gave it to its totally life-changing, not just game-changing. Because the shadow affects you on a daily basis. Yeah. Yeah, definitely. All of a sudden, people are the happiest I've ever been. And the reason why I do this is because it's not easy. Believe me, as I'm coming to the output. The reason why this is important is. Is because you become the happiest in life. Without the shadow continuing the darkness lifts you don't have this oppressive thing constantly on top of you. Because I'm convinced happy musicians sound better than miserable musicians 100%. 


Dr. Don Greene 49:24 

Musician tastes that I'm starting to enjoy playing again. I'm loving music again. I've hated it for years hating music is just going across mistakes. It's not going to be good. So, part of this process is becoming happy by not fighting on a constant basis with your shadow because your shadows are fierce fighters, but it's a great ally, once you stop giving them reasons to oppose you because that's what it does. It will oppose you until you start recognizing, and it keeps on going up to better and better auditions that you should win. Wow, that was what I really wanted that one. I can't believe I miss that. I'll give you an obvious example of a person I worked with years ago before I figured this out. She was auditioning, I think at the meet, the New York Philharmonic. And it was a crescendo with a run-up, and it was either half a step up or a whole step up. I know you know what I mean. Yeah. She did the opposite. She had done that at Grammar School. Wow. And, and still didn't figure it out. And since I've learned she has this incredibly feared shadow. A lot of problems should never tell us. People don't want to deal with these things, and customers are unpleasant. Add memories. Uncomfortable. That's why the repression keeps it down. So, we don't have to deal with it. But that doesn't solve the problem. They just wait for another occasion to get your attention.  


James Laughlin 

Creates more misery in the long run.  


Dr. Don Greene 

Oh, well, that's just it. And that's why I found most of the people in major orchestras, whether they should be happy or not. And in constant fear of their shadow messing up and then being fired. 


James Laughlin 51:38 

I can relate to that. When I retired from international competing, I borderline hated competing. I hated it.  


Dr. Don Greene 51:50 

Back to what I'm saying. With good reason to. But you never heard the shadow because I needed it so much. That's right. It was because of the rejection. Yeah. Shadow hates rejection.  


James Laughlin 52:07 

Of course, you know, I remember a very influential teacher said to me at one point, such and such, you know, he was born to be the world's best player. But you're just a good player. 


Dr. Don Greene 52:24 

That's exactly what I'm saying. 


James Laughlin 52:26 

I will never forget that.  


Dr. Don Greene 52:29 

And of course, you know, the shadow never forgets. When you start doing this, you'll get things that you have really buried from a long time ago. Yeah, the shadow. It's like yesterday, like yesterday. So, this process involves meeting with the shadow. And in my book, leads up to this and how to do it because it's tricky stuff. And again, it took me a long time to figure out. But you explicit in my book details of a series of shadow sessions, with a time with a timeout in between to recover, because it's tough to work. heavy lifting. 


James Laughlin 53:16 

And Don, I can imagine this would apply. So, I've got a listener listening right now, who's not a musician, but who runs a business and has a family. They're running a team this would equally apply to the shadow that is going to show up in their life. 


Dr. Don Greene 53:28 

Absolutely. I'm convinced that anybody who grows up in the world nowadays has to have a shadow. Of course, when it's parents' own shadows and being abusive or getting frustrated with their kids or screaming at the kids or hitting their kids or teachers in school. Or bullies in school or financial situations. You got to quit school to take a job. The world's a harsh place. Even if you grow up rich, it's not an easy passage you get bullied for being rich. So, I'm convinced just about everybody has a shadow and the vast majority just repressing it. I don't want to think about that. I am living a happy life now. Yeah, it was a long time ago that dad and it's going to affect your business decisions are losing your temper with your children, not often just once in a while. But if they lose their temper that's a shadow. 


James Laughlin 54:32 

And getting out of their head like I don't know, all the steps but for me getting out of my head and onto a page through journaling. 


Dr. Don Greene 54:40 

That's why I did the journal. I love it. Because it's not enough to say I know this. You got to get it as you said out of your head on the paper while you're seeing it and looking at it at a conscious level. Because this whole thing is about going from unconscious to conscious. Unconscious, burying it too conscious because a lot of it got buried when you were a child that didn't have the skills you were a child, and couldn't figure it out and still couldn't as a child figure it out. But now when you bring up these painful things, you're an adult. And you can deal with it as an adult and say, yeah, it was, but look, I live a good life now. You know, it didn't destroy me. And yeah, that guy was a total jerk. I should have told him, I quit. But I didn't, but I couldn't. So, you sit down with your shadow with the journal or a piece of paper, and you interview your shadow and say, tell me, start telling me what you're so pissed off about? 


James Laughlin 55:56 

I am so excited to do this. And I'm going to share my journey of it with you and with the listeners as well want to do I'm very excited about it.  


Dr. Don Greene 56:05 

I would love it. The first one is the hardest. Because the shadow has its own pecking order, not your personas. And be surprised your persona is going to be that. Oh, I forgot about that. Yeah. Oh my god. Yeah, that's, I haven't thought about that. I should have told the teacher to quit. But he was, he didn't know any better. 


James Laughlin 56:29 

If I could go back to that teacher probably say something with a few more choice words. 


Dr. Don Greene 56:33 

Oh, that's what I'm saying. And you're going to tell him, you can allow your shadow to say them out loud, and you're going to write them down. That's all at once. It does not want to go find that person and kill them. Mine does. 


James Laughlin 56:54 

Love it. I'll tell you, Don. There have been times in my life. I mean, I've carried that for 20 years. Yeah, but 20 years. And there are times in my life when I've been consumed by this person and what they've said and what they do and what they do to hold me back and consumed. 


Dr. Don Greene 57:11 

Oh, believe me, I know. I told you about my college coach, the one that I didn't, okay? Because of his coaching, I have two titanium rods six inches long and my back. Wow. Because of him. Series back surgery, I couldn't walk at a certain point. And it's because of him and his poor coaching. But he's still alive. 


James Laughlin 57:41 

He survived the wrath of Don. 


Dr. Don Greene 57:44 

So yes, you need to write this stuff down and take it really seriously. That's all your shadow wants. And it doesn't repeat. It has a long laundry list it wants to get to, and it won't repeat. But it's its own order. I was the most serious issues and complaints first. 


James Laughlin 58:05 

And once we identify them, then do in the book provide a methodology for how we overcome them or how we read 


Dr. Don Greene 58:12 

Oh, yeah, yeah, well, then there's a second session and a third session. And after that, the first two or three, which are the hardest, and gut-wrenching, because a lot of again, painful stuff, you've been burying for good reason for years. If once you get all of that stuff out, you reach a point of neutrality. Okay, because when you first start with the shadow, it's like an adolescent like, I don't even want to talk to you. Leave me alone. So, after you get through that, and uncross is actually the second or third session, you reached neutral where okay, you heard all the complaints, finally, fine, okay. So then when you go to practice or play it, you won't have to worry about making mistakes. It's just sitting in the corners and Sam, let me see what you got. Okay. So, it stops opposing you. Then the last few sessions, you win it over, and it becomes your best ally. And what I do with people, then it blows people away. It turns into a golden shadow; it would like to help you. I would like to be your best friend. But not until you hear its complaints and resentments till then, how old was he? I'm just going to cause problems. 


James Laughlin 59:42 

Think of any relationship than trusting the person you've got to know the person, right? And so, this is no different to trust a shadow and break the trust you've got to know 


Dr. Don Greene 59:52 

You understand this set. This is all about understanding your worst features and after you realize they're worse because you haven't been paying attention to them, yeah, not because they're evil, or bad. They're not. They're not. They would like to be your friend but are not into the appearance and recognize it, then you start appreciating it. Okay. So, I have this young lady in Europe, a clarinetist who is a very dedicated good teacher but has a really tough upbringing. But she's always had a problem with her tongue fast enough. She does auditions and basically wins the auditions except for tonguing. 


James Laughlin 1:00:44 

This one specific movement. 


Dr. Don Greene 1:00:49 

That's the only comment we get, you need to tongue faster, too slow. She's been every teacher in Europe, every fast tongue. So, after she got too neutral with her shadow, which was really fierce. I said, "Take a masterclass with your shadow. Let your shadow tell you how to turn faster. In one hour, she turned faster than in her whole career. 


James Laughlin 1:01:22 

Wow. That's mind-blowing. 


Dr. Don Greene 1:01:25 

It just came out of addition, last week, I talked to her. And she said it's not an issue. Wow. Incredible. I could give you other examples. On other instruments, it's the same thing. The Shadow has been to every lesson you've been to. It's been very positive, good, and bad. And it has things to tell you that it knows about your playing that could be better. But people are afraid that they'll you know, it will blow up the instrument or break the snare drum or, you know, that kind of thing. Well, play like a crazy person. In that case, it opens up things that have been trying to tell you that you just wouldn't trust or not No way. And all of a sudden, you're playing the best of your life and winning auditions. That's been my experience.  


James Laughlin 1:02:23 

Wow. This is transformational for that. 


Dr. Don Greene 1:02:26 

It is. And it changes people's lives. Yeah. And they're playing so it doesn't matter if it's the snare drum, or, you know, trading stocks. Because the shadow affects your decision making can cause people to make screwy decisions. Yeah. 100 Yeah, so it's the same mechanism. 


Dr. Don Greene 1:02:51 

So, once you do that it changes, transformation. So, the last few shadow sessions are very happy occasions. 


Dr. Don Greene 1:03:07 

And you reward the shadow. And now it's on your side. And you don't have to worry about making mistakes. So, the confidence goes up and a doubt level of doubt comes down. You start to stop doubting yourself. Because the reason you're doubting yourself is because of the shadow. 


James Laughlin 1:03:31 

That is incredible. And you walk hand in hand with you almost doing a dance with it while moving forward.  


Dr. Don Greene 1:03:35 

That's exactly it. It's your best friend, not your worst enemy. Yeah. Women describe it as going out to lunch with their best friend and having a girl talk. I love it. That's so good. So that gets into the area of the golden shadow. Because the shadow is a source of creativity. And musicians are creative artists and it's a different way of playing this piece a different way. And, it opens up your creativity. Because again, it's people who are afraid of you know, weird ideas of wild ideas. Again, when it's not opposing you, you'd have some really neat creative ideas. What creative projects, I've worked with a woman that's been playing with an orchestra in Chicago for 30 years. The first time in her life. She started singing Wow. Another one that started dancing. Incremental. This girl I talked to today had to give a speech in front of her boss as she was basically asking for things and then she was afraid the shadow would yell at her boss. So, we went through the shadow stuff. And I convinced her shadow to be charming and smiling. She said, "It's not my style. I said, I know because you're ready for the shadow. So, I talked to her. And she said the meeting went great. It was all flowing. I wasn't worried about the shadow. I don't think it could have been better. She won't let me know till next week. So, I don't know. But is the best presentation I've ever given. Wow. And she said you know what? She said, you know, you asked me to write out my ideas before this. And I realized my shadow is a good way. Never before. Wow. 39 years old mother of two never written. She knows that she can write. That's an epiphany moment for her, right? Yeah. But again, Shadow is a source of creativity. And there's nobody I know that doesn't want more creativity. In any walk of life. That's what I'm saying is the essential element. And you'd look at relationships, relationships go bad because people get stuck up, they run out of ideas, and they just keep on doing things, thinking the same way. They have an entire relationship. And now they're both burned out.  


James Laughlin 1:06:37 

Yeah, that creativity keeps that variety at the core of it all. And that prevailed back when there were many different reasons, of course, that I stopped competing at that level. But there was a sense of boredom. There was a sense of sameness, a sense of this again like I just thought there was nothing else that could be exciting or challenging them and not in an arrogant way, but I'm bored. 


Dr. Don Greene 1:07:01 

Your shadow got bored. Yeah. shadows get bored and really have a really short attention span. But the good news is the shadows like excitement, and you've got an instrument, you can play with a lot of excitement.  


James Laughlin 1:07:18 

When I retired from competing, I started doing some retreats for drummers in Hawaii. And I would just perform in An Evening with the sun setting. And it was the most passionate performance, and I didn't care what was happening, but it was fun, right? I enjoyed it. 


Dr. Don Greene 1:07:35 

Yes, there it is. The Shadow loves to have fun. These are the good qualities that creativity, fun, excitement, adventure, thrilling that it's all buried under this dark cloud. repression. resentment, anger. Once it's out, and again, it only needs to come out once. I've worked with really angry people who abuse people, and you only have to do it once.  


James Laughlin 1:08:08 

It's amazing. Well, I'm pretty cool. I'm pretty confident that the listener that's listening right now is going to look at the show notes. Click on that link and buy the book. I'm very confident. 


Dr. Don Greene 1:08:20 

So that's the third week it's it leads up to that again, the first two weeks of conventional split psychology optimal, then heavy into the shadow several sessions. Yeah. It continues into the fourth week. Now we're talking about golden shadows and happy chemicals in the brain. Like actually tons of oxytocin and dopamine, serotonin. Yeah, that is they're released into your brain. And people get incredibly happy. I mean, joy comes into their life in buckets. 


James Laughlin 1:08:56 

That's incredible. What a journey. 


Dr. Don Greene 1:08:58 

So, at that point, I asked him to do the final exercise. And it's death and rebirth. That you imagine your own funeral. And in detail, 


James Laughlin 1:09:17 

that's very intense. That'd be very fragile. 


Dr. Don Greene 1:09:19 

I imagine it is very intense. People have a hard time doing this one too. But then right before they take you away, they say a very important question this has to do with you. 


Dr. Don Greene 1:09:36 

Is there anything you'd like you didn't do? Because I'm convinced, we probably are. We come here with a sealed envelope of our mission or purpose in life. What we're here to do, that nobody else can do. Talking about leadership. We are given these gifts and the shadow stuff that makes us individuals with our own purpose, and our own mission. And this exercise gets you in touch with that. That's incredible. People don't give them enough time or attention. Really, again, once you're done with the shadow, and all the negative stuff, and you're in a very happy place with renewed energy, believe me, a total burst of renewed energy, like what am I want to do? What do I need to do? And it's a new or new sense of purpose that gives life to people at any age. That's, that's what I'm experiencing. And, that, again, is why it took five years to write this book, because it was five years of not being happy and struggling, but it was on purpose because I knew, I knew once I got into the book, I was the only one that could write this. Not egotistically, but with my background and athletes and musicians and, and understanding and watching people fail for 20 years. And I was the only one that could write it. And I had to write it. And it was not easy. I'm not a trained writer. I never aspired to be a writer. The highest grade I ever got in college for term paper was a D. 


James Laughlin 1:11:30 

Now you're a bestselling author. I love it. 


Dr. Don Greene 1:11:35 

Because of the very reasons, I'm telling you. Yeah, I figured it out with the shadow. And I figured out I'm the only one that can explain it. And I know, I've explained it well. I've turned into a good writer from writing and coming to terms with my shadow, and really having something to say. But that's why it took me five years because I really wanted to get it right. Yeah. And the last two months. I was burned out. And it was a pure shadow. My shadow wrote last month, and I was absolutely fucking miserable, absolutely miserable. But then up to the last few months, I was absolutely miserable. I didn't sleep, my body hurt. I was living all these bad memories. And I thought I'd kind of do it. And I did it. And because of the stress of that. That's why I lost my voice as soon as I finished. Wow. Once I was finished, the stress of five years had been like a rocket. Wow. I went to the doctor, and I did all the tests. I said I've been under incredible stress. Nobody listened to me. I thought it would give me two months without stress. I'll heal myself. I can heal myself. Sure enough, two months without writing. My voice was better than ever. 


James Laughlin 1:13:06 

The body keeps score. 


Dr. Don Greene 1:13:11 

I'm working with a violinist now. 50 years old. Top orchestra. Heavy shadow. All of a sudden, both of her hands froze. She couldn't bow. She couldn't think. She's been a concertmaster and several orchestras. That's how good she's Wow. She can't play. She's off for two months. Heavy shadow. I started talking about her show. Oh my God. Yeah. never dealt with. So, I'm finally localizing. Again, this shadow localizes the areas that a key. I'm not a violinist didn't bother my wrist at all. I'm a speaker. I lost my voice. She's a violinist. She lost both wrists and hit you where it counts. Yeah, localized. It's right there. Wow. Shadow is smart. It's wise. That's why I'm saying when you take this masterclass with the shadow, you'll be surprised Wow. Why didn't I ever think of that? 


James Laughlin 1:14:21 

I'm looking forward to sharing it with you. And, you know, I imagine there'll be 1000s of others that will hear this want to do the work, and want to share it with you. So, I hope so. They will I know well that people who listen in the lead on purpose are after the next level. They're striving to be their best selves. They're trying to overcome their self-doubt. So, this book is for them. 


Dr. Don Greene 1:14:44 

It really is for them. Yeah, this is not necessarily for college kids. College kids don't have enough experience. They haven't been out in the world and kicked her out enough. So, the shadow develops into a real entity is it real? In college, they say, Nah, it's just a negative product. 


James Laughlin 1:15:08 

Well, I feel like honestly, we're getting close to wrapping up. But I feel like there's another conversation that needs to be had. And perhaps after I do the work, and go through the full book, to train my own hero, perhaps we reconnect, and I share, 


Dr. Don Greene 1:15:22 

I love to! and maybe have other people involved, you know, get on it. I want Q&A. 


James Laughlin 1:15:28 

That'd be amazing. 


Dr. Don Greene 1:15:29 

I know I'd love it.  


James Laughlin 1:15:32 

Let's do it. I love it. And just one last question I want to ask before we wrap up. If we fast forward to the end of your life, it's your last day, it's your last moment, it's your last five minutes. And someone very young and very precious in your family, or someone close to you comes up and says, hey, Don, how do I go about leading my life on purpose? What advice would you give them? 


Dr. Don Greene 1:16:01 

Read my book. Because that, to me is what gets in the way of purpose. The shadow? Yeah, you know, again, that for abuse enough negative stuff, this is not worth I don't I don't need to do this. And we give up on that purpose and find an easier way. Because the purpose is not necessarily easy. Yeah, that's just it. So, it's easy to find excuses for dropping out nights. It's not the current thing that knows that ad, and it's because of the shadow. Yeah. It's still complaining. I don't want to do that. Yeah. You know, I don't want to take that abuse again. Because sometimes it is abusive, or, you know, working for a conductor that's abusive. What are your choices? Well, put up with it. 


James Laughlin 1:16:53 

That's beautiful advice. And for the person that's listening. I will put the link to get the book on Amazon or directly on Dr. Don Greene's website. And Don, I just want to say a heartfelt 


Dr. Don Greene 1:17:03 

and I'm sorry to interrupt. Also, I'm training on hero.com. Are my webinars, the two webinars on the shadow? And they are now I have to do is click reach 40 or 45 minutes long, but it's a really good introduction into the shadow, even before they read the book. 


James Laughlin 1:17:21 

We'll make sure to put a link to that end as well. Great. Absolutely. I just want to thank you so much. It's been an incredible opportunity to get to know you and get to understand your work even deeper. 


Dr. Don Greene 1:17:32 

My pleasure. I'm so glad this has just been a delight. I really look forward to the next one. Whenever you're ready, I'm ready. 


James Laughlin 1:17:39 

Fantastic. Bring it on.  


Dr. Don Greene 



James Laughlin 1:17:57 

Thanks for tuning in today and investing in your own personal leadership. Please hit that subscribe button. And I'd love it if you'd leave me a rating and review. I've got some amazing guests lined up for you in the coming weeks. And leaders. It's that time to get out there and lead your life on purpose.