Steve Shallenberger: Welcome to all of our Becoming Your Best podcast listeners, wherever you may be in the world today! This is your host, Steve Shallenberger, and we have a special guest with us today. This is going to be an extraordinary experience! She grew up as one of seven children on a dairy farm in rural Australia, personal adversity, backpacking solo around the world, starting a business with four children under five, have taught her valuable lessons on building resilience, challenging norms, and embracing change. So, welcome Margie Warrell! It’s so good to have you!
Margie Warrell: It’s fantastic to be with you! Thank you for inviting me.
Steve Shallenberger: You bet! Well, before we get started today, I’d like to tell you a little bit more about Margie, and if we were ever having extraordinary times, we’re in the middle of it. We’re in the middle of the Coronavirus – certainly one of the biggest worldwide crises of the last 150 years. So, it’s going to be doubly interesting talking with Margie about this. She draws on her background in Fortune 500 business, coaching and psychology, to arm people with the mindset strategies and skills essential to lead themselves and others to better outcomes. Margie’s work draws on the latest research in positive and behavioral psychology, leadership development and organizational change. So, let’s get into this! We’re going to have a great visit today. Margie, tell us about your background, including any turning points in your life that have had a significant impact on you – and how did you get to where you are today?
Margie Warrell: Oh, wow! There’s a lot that I could add and put into that answer, Steve. I’ve had numerous different forks in the road, you might say, where it was like, “Which fork do we take?” I think if I was going to sum anything up, I’ve often gone toward the more adventurous, less certain, less-traveled path, numerous times. I moved to Papua New Guinea, actually, with my husband, just a year or so after we were married in the mid 1990s, and that proved to have some very interesting experiences that were both very challenging for me, but also very formative for me. And then, of course, much of my last 25 years I has been living around the world. My husband’s career has taken us around the world – that has had some upsides, but it’s also had some pretty big downsides and disruptions in recent years. I think along the way, Steve, what I’ve learned is that most of us are capable of a lot more than we think, and we often sell ourselves short and probably short-change the world in the process. It’s why I have such a passion for empowering people to live and lead more bravely.
Steve Shallenberger: Okay, well, that is a terrific background! I think our listeners will really enjoy a number of things here today. First of all, this show is coming from Singapore. That’s where she’s at right now, which is in the middle of a number of big-time challenges. We’ll talk about that. As I studied about Margie’s life and background, I went on the internet and it’s fun to do that with people – you get to learn so much. Well, she’s going to tell her story. Tell us about Andrew, what’s just happened? Tell us what’s happened with you because I think that’s a great setup for this.
Margie Warrell: Well, yeah, there’s no irony lost in the middle of me launching my book called, “You’ve Got This” and telling everybody we need to trust ourselves more, then my husband Andrew has contracted Coronavirus – COVID-19 – and currently today, I think it’s day 17 of being in the hospital for this awful virus. And so, I truly had to walk my own talk in the last couple of weeks, and as he’s battled this virus, I’m very, very, very grateful to say, as we’re recording this, that he has turned the corner and it’s looking extremely positive for him to return to full health. But, it’s been a roller coaster of a few weeks and I’ve really had to numerous times just stop, take a big deep breath and remind myself that I’ve got this, he’s got this – we’ll figure this out. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t felt immensely vulnerable and overwhelmed on numerous occasions.
Steve Shallenberger: And you’ve tested positive?
Margie Warrell: No, actually I have not tested positive. I was put under a very strict 14-day stay-at-home quarantine by the Singapore government, along with my son Ben, who is a senior in high school here. The Ministry of Health here, they’ve got very elaborate and extremely effective systems in Singapore, and three times a day, they have called us and checked our temperature. And if at any point, our temperature had got up even into a mild fever, they would have sent an ambulance to pick us up and take us off to the hospital. But actually, we weren’t ever tested because we’ve got through our two-week quarantine now and never got sick.
Steve Shallenberger: Well, that’s a blessing! But we’ll be thinking of Andrew, and you, and your family; we hope that he’ll be okay and have a full recovery. I just can’t imagine all the thoughts that have gone through your mind.
Margie Warrell: Yeah, there’s been a lot going on, as a mother and as a wife, so it’s definitely an interesting time to be talking to you about what does it mean to live our lives with greater trust in ourselves and being more grounded in our capacity for life, when I’ve well and truly been confronted with all the fears that often keep us from trusting ourselves and our ability to rise to the challenges that we’re dealing with right now.
Steve Shallenberger: Great! Now, tell us about your book.
Margie Warrell: Yeah. So, I wrote, “You’ve Got This” – it’s actually my fifth book. I decided to write it about 18 months ago because we were living in the US for 11 years, then we were moved to Australia, my husband’s company said, “We’ll move you back to the US” and then they decided to move us to Singapore. It was pretty disruptive from a family perspective. And for me, I do a lot of work, obviously, empowering people to be braver in how they live and how they lead and how they communicate, and yet, in the face of so much uncertainty, I had to really lean into myself and just trust that “You know what? Whatever happens, whatever the future holds, I’ll figure this out.”
Margie Warrell: And in my experience, in my work around the world, so often I meet people who doubt themselves too much, and who let fear sit in the driver’s seat of their lives – it keeps them from pursuing the aspirations that would light them up, that would be most meaningful to them, from making changes to aspects of their life that aren’t working for them, and in the midst of change to just having faith that they’ll get through the other side of it. And so, often our self-doubts keep us from trusting ourselves. We give them so much power. So, I really wanted to write a book that would help people doubt themselves less and trust themselves more and just have more faith in themselves and in the biggest game of life, in the higher intelligence that ultimately the dots always connect – we just have to be patient, often, in the midst of it all to figure out how this is ever going to work out.
Steve Shallenberger: Okay, good! Thanks for the background on that. I had two questions that came to mind. Firstly, I’d be so interested and maybe our listeners would be interested in the research. What’s some of the most impressive research that you’ve done, that stood out for you that you’ve used in your book?
Margie Warrell: I’ve done a lot of research. I’m actually in the midst of doing my doctorate, at the moment, so I certainly was leaning on a lot of the research I’m doing as part of my Ph.D. A few things stand out: when it comes to self-doubt, none of us are immune to self-doubt – except for perhaps serial narcissists. Most of us, we all have moments where we wonder, “Do I have what it takes? Have I got the skills, the knowledge, the know-how, the talent to get from where I am to where I want to go?” And we often struggle with this imposter syndrome, “When are people going to cotton on to the fact that I don’t know as much as they think?” I don’t know if you’ve had that, Steve, but I’ve certainly had it numerous times where I’m waiting for everyone to realize, “You know, she doesn’t know as much as we thought she knew”, or “She’s not as worthy of where she is, as we thought she was.” And I know I’m not alone in that.
Margie Warrell: And so, some of the research I found in regard to doubt, for instance, is that when we learn to doubt our doubt, to really challenge those stories that we tell ourselves about ourselves, about who we are and what we can do, it can help to reclaim the power that we give the doubts, and help us to then give ourselves permission to try things even though we’re not sure we’re going to succeed – to be braver in what we do. And the most powerful thing is, when we do those things we’re afraid that we might not be able to do, what we inadvertently discover is that actually, we’re capable of more than we thought, that we often have underestimated ourselves.
Margie Warrell: And so, often, I’m sure you’ve met people or you can even think back in your own life to times where you were really worried you were going to fail at something or fall short at something, and then you did it and you’re going, “You know what? That wasn’t so bad!” And so, we build more confidence by actually defying our self-doubts. And so, part of the key message of the book is to dare to defy the little doubting voices in your head; dare to take a risk, to back yourself. And in doing that, what we discover is actually we had far less reason to be afraid than we thought, and that’s why I think it’s so important that we continually give ourselves permission to do things, even though we’re uncomfortable, and even though we have doubts – not to wait until the doubts are gone, but to take action in the presence of our doubts.
Steve Shallenberger: I love it! I’m so glad I asked about that. Doubt the doubt! Dare to defy! I love it! Those are so good! We’re in the middle of just releasing another book called, “Conquer Anxiety”. It’s a terrific book. We’ve written it together with John Skidmore – who is a doctor in psychology – and it’s been wonderful! And the way we describe this is “Monkey Chatter” – in other words, “you can’t do it, you’re not good enough”, all of those kinds of things, that’s the monkey chatter – and to challenge the monkey chatter. Well, I love what Margie is saying here: doubt the doubt; dare to defy. Good job! Here’s the follow-up question: you described a lot of change, a lot of disruption, and things going on – what have been some of the top lessons that you’ve learned in the middle of all that?
Margie Warrell: I think one of the key things is we have to give ourselves permission to be fully human and to embrace our vulnerability. And often, when we’re dealing with challenging situations, it gives rise to confronting emotions, to fear or doubt, to anxiety, to sadness, to a sense of feeling like we’re being left behind or you name it – there are often some pretty uncomfortable emotions. So, one of the key lessons I’ve learned myself is to really embrace our sense of vulnerability, to sit and feel our emotions. Robert Frost once said, “The only way out is through.” And often, when we’re feeling something, we’re feeling anxious or we’re feeling unsure of ourselves – there’s a lot of uncertainty in what we’re dealing with right now in the midst of this pandemic – that we often want to numb it down or distract ourselves or busy ourselves or deny it. We don’t want to have to be with it.
Margie Warrell: And I think it’s incredibly powerful to simply, in the midst of those times when we find ourselves feeling unsettled, uncertain, anxious, to just stop and feel fully into our feelings, feel our vulnerability, acknowledge it, even label the emotion. Actually, a study by UCLA found that simply labeling our emotions can help to deactivate that monkey part of the brain – that fear, that fight, flight, freeze, instinctive reactive part – and it activates the thinking part of the brain, the prefrontal cortex; and so, naming our emotions, breathing into the emotions, finding where they’re sitting in your body, and literally saying, “I’m feeling anxious right now” and find where’s it sitting. Is it in your stomach? Is it on your chest? And just even taking 90 seconds to just do some deep mindful breathing, can help to loosen the grip of that emotion over you, but more so than that, the grounding ourselves in the values that we care about the most.
Margie Warrell: Right now, in the midst of this pandemic, there is so much that’s outside of our control, there’s so much that we don’t know about, there’s so many unknowns, there’s so much uncertainty, and that can cause a lot of anxiety for people. There’s a lot of people right now that are losing jobs, financially we’re not in the place we were, the future, what’s happening? And so, an incredibly helpful strategy is to just stop and just connect in, “Well, who is it that I want to be in the midst of this moment? And what are the values I want to align myself around?” – whether that is optimism or courage, or friendship or community or compassion – and decide how you will show up in the midst of that. But also, then, to really prioritize those rituals, those practices that help us feel stronger.
Margie Warrell: I think right now when we’ve been bombarded with reasons to feel afraid, we have to really double-down on what makes us feel braver and allows us to bring out best and braver selves to the challenges in hand, rather than getting caught up, stressing about, and getting caught into lots of fearcasting – anxiety drives us to turn our forecasts into fearcasts – and we get caught up in, “What if this happens? And what if that happens?” And it’s like, “You know what? We don’t know what’s going to happen. All we know is right now, today, where we are and what is it that we can do with what’s in our control today.” I think that’s a really important part of this book and my work – and that is, it allows us to walk the path of faith versus the path of fear.
Steve Shallenberger: Okay, wow! That was a great answer! A lot of good stuff there! So it’s okay to feel vulnerable, to pause and say, “Hold it! I’m human”?
Margie Warrell: Yeah! And in fact, it’s not just okay to feel vulnerable. I think it’s more than just okay. It’s not just a nice-to-do. I think it’s actually imperative for us because, obviously, in the world, we’re often kind of trained and conditioned not to show vulnerability – show you’re strong and you’ve got it all together and “Hey, yeah, I’m fine, I’m fine.” But actually, when we reveal – not to everybody, but when we really sit with our vulnerability, and we’re willing to share with people that we know we can trust – the real truth of our lives, it actually gives us access to a whole new realm of strength, and courage, and resilience, that we wouldn’t have access to otherwise.
Margie Warrell: I know the day after my husband, Andrew, was hospitalized with Coronavirus – the night before he messaged me saying “I’ve tested positive” and he’d been hospitalized and they’ve X-rayed him and found a spot on his lung – I was absolutely anxious. And the next morning I got up and I wrote in my journal – it’s one of my practices, and I’ve written about that in my book, too – but I then just decided, “I need to just share this with people in my world and I need to just ask for support and ask for prayers, but also just let people know this is what I’m dealing with right now.” And, of course, so many people right now are feeling anxious about this virus and what my opening up to people in a very real and authentic way – and I did it on my public Facebook page; anyone can go and see that video – it really allowed people to support me and I was just overwhelmed with wonderful support from people both in Singapore where I’ve lived just for a couple of years, but also from friends across the United States and friends in Australia and actually friends across the world.
Margie Warrell: And so, I think it’s really important, when we’re in the midst of a difficult time, don’t be too proud to reach out and let people know what you’re dealing with, and don’t be shy or afraid to accept help when it’s being offered as well. I think right now, we’re so much stronger when we are plugged into the people around us; while we need to be physically distancing, I think we need to be so socially connected to people because we are more resilient, and we are braver, and we rise stronger, and we go further in our lives when we are connected to other people, and when we’re real with people, and we’re authentic with people. I just encourage anyone listening right now, just to really prioritize conversations with the people that you care about, and that you can trust, because that is going to help you ride through this storm that much better and emerge from it that much stronger.
Steve Shallenberger: Well, thank you for sharing that. And what’s your experience, Margie? Are people hesitant to be vulnerable? Are they afraid? How do you see that?
Margie Warrell: We are hesitant to be vulnerable, and that’s because we are all wired for belonging. We all want to look good in the eyes of others. No one likes to be rejected, no one likes to be criticized or ostracized. And so, it often drives us to have a social veneer, like this is the face we put on for the world, and we can have these beautifully curated lives, and beautiful homes, and everything looks beautiful. But often, underneath, when you scratch beneath the surface – and as a coach, I’ve had the privilege of doing that thousands of times – the truth of people’s lives is often not quite so beautiful and there’s a lot more rawness and a lot less polish and often a lot more suffering going on. And so, we’re wired not to show vulnerability, we’re wired to have people think that we’ve got it all together, and it’s why it’s such a profound act of courage to say, “Hey, right now, you know, I don’t have it all together.” I mean, that doesn’t mean I don’t have it together in some parts of my life or that I don’t have it together sometimes. I like to think for myself personally, “You know what, I’ve often got it fairly together, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have moments where I feel really uncertain or insecure, or my doubts don’t rise up. I am human too.”
Margie Warrell: And so, we can connect with people far more deeply and we can forge far more meaningful relationships when we do lower our masks and lower the armory we often use to protect ourselves and say, “Hey, I’m struggling!” or “Hey, this is what happened!” And you know what I found? And I’ve had this so many times – I had a series of miscarriages before I had my first child, and then I had some more in between my second and third child. But just numerous family struggles amongst my brothers and sisters. And when I’ve shared with people what’s really going on, often people go, “Ah”, and then they’ll share with me mental illness struggles in their family or issues they’re struggling with, and that allows us to forge so much more meaningful connections with other people. And so, it’s why, actually, the chapter 10 of my book is really around finding people that lift you up and that help you rise and that you can be real with because I think the quality of our lives is so often so directly measured by the quality of the relationships that we have with people as well.
Steve Shallenberger: Yeah, indeed! I’m so glad that you brought this up and that we’re able to talk about it because when people are genuine, when they’re real, when they share even their worries, they find that their relationships are taken to another level, and the trust goes up and you feel connected to that person. So, it’s powerful! I’m glad we’re able to discuss it today. One of my close friends used to say all the time, “That which is most personal – in other words, we worry about it privately – actually is most general.” And when we talk about those things that require the vulnerability, what seems to be really personal to us, all of a sudden allows us the chance to talk openly and connect with others and we find that others share it and understand it. So, great job on that! Nice going! A couple of other really key areas I think are important for us to discuss: what can people do to build confidence in their ability to cope with the challenges that they’re facing?
Margie Warrell: Okay, the very first chapter of “You’ve Got This” is titled, “Don’t wait for confidence. Begin before you feel ready.” And it’s been my personal experience again, and again, and again, and it’s been my experience meeting and working, running weekend retreats, and speaking and doing all sorts of work with people – that the way we build confidence is not waiting until we have confidence. It’s by taking action and acting as though we have the confidence even though we don’t. And when we take action and act as though we have confidence is like that old idea of fake it till you make it – and this isn’t about being inauthentic; it’s about deciding what really matters more and daring to do the thing even though you’re not 100% confident that you’re going to succeed at it. And right now, yes, we’re in the midst of a really big global storm with this pandemic, but just in our everyday lives, often we set the bar so high for ourselves, we think that we have to know exactly what we’re doing before we start, we think that we have to be really good at something before we put ourselves out there, or that we have to have all of the answers or that we have to be the ultimate expert in something before we’ll make a suggestion. And so, whether it’s people working in big companies, sitting around a meeting table, and they’re like, “Oh, I’m sure other people know more than I do here. I don’t want to suggest something in case I make a fool of myself.” I would just say, just offer that up or put your hand up for the role or start your business.
Margie Warrell: I remember back when I was starting being a coach, I had gone back to college in my late 20s and was doing psychology and then I moved to the United States and my Australian qualifications weren’t going to carry me in the US and I didn’t want to have to start over. I trained as a coach, and while I had, I think, a natural ability to establish rapport with people, I wasn’t the world’s most masterful coach. I remember thinking to myself, “Oh, I should do some more qualifications, and I need to get more training.” A friend of mine said, “Margie, right now, you have everything it takes to start out being a coach. So how about you just coach me?” She’s obviously a great friend! And so, she was my first client and what I learned then, by going out and starting to coach other people, sometimes in the beginning for free, was that actually, I had value to add right at the get-go. Did that mean I was the world’s most brilliant coach? No, but I had value to add. And so often I see people holding back from doing what it is they feel called to do because they think they have to be just the world’s most brilliant version of whatever it is they want to be doing. And that’s not true. We get better by giving ourselves permission to learn as we go. And so, I often tell people, “Yes, do your preparation, but give yourself permission not to be brilliant starting out.” And I think when we lower that perfectionist bar we sometimes set for ourselves – particularly women – I think it liberates us to do more of the very things that will allow us to become even better and to add even more value.
Steve Shallenberger: Well, thank you for your refreshing insight on that, of just going forth in faith and taking action and have faith that things will turn out in a positive way, that the pathways will open. Great going!
Margie Warrell: Yeah. As you know, one of the chapters in the book is called, “Choosing the path of faith over fear” – and I thought it was really important to really encourage people to show up in the world as though everything is going to work out for you, and that there’s a greater force that’s got their back. You don’t need to know exactly how all the dots will connect, all that really matters is that you are being intentional and purposeful with your life. And that fear – fear of not having what it takes, fear of failing, fear of everything turning pear-shaped – fear doesn’t sit in the driver’s seat and dictate the direction you go. And too often we do give too much power away to our fear. And so, having faith – faith in ourselves, faith that it will ultimately work out if we’re really living from a place of high intention and the vision we have for our lives is really aligned with the truth of who we are, that actually things do work out. We have to be patient sometimes in the middle of a mess, like right now, where you can go “How is this working out?” but actually, we have to just zoom up and trust that in the longer scheme of things, in the long arc of our lives, that actually it will work out, as long as we’re really being true to ourselves.
Steve Shallenberger: Okay, great. Well, I’m always amazed Margie, how fast things go. We’re already at the end of the show. So, before we end up today – it’s been a delight, by the way – thanks for your refreshing attitude and focus on life and the great tips that you’ve talked about today. Any final tips that you’d like to leave with our listeners?
Margie Warrell: Look to anybody who is right now feeling a little bit overwhelmed or anxious with all the change and all the uncertainty of this Coronavirus pandemic. Firstly, just be kind to yourself, be really compassionate with yourself, get off your own back, but show up in the world as someone who has faith that you will get through this and on the other side of this, life will be good again. And really just show up from a place of being purposeful and having confidence that good things can come from this. And look for good things in this. Look to find good amidst the bad – it’s not to deny the bad, but just double-down on finding the best that you can in this moment and bringing your best self to this worst of times.
Steve Shallenberger: Okay, inspirational advice! So, Margie, how can people find out about what you’re doing?
Margie Warrell: Oh, I would obviously love anybody to pop over to my website, margiewarrell.com. I also have the “Live Brave” podcast that I record – you’re welcome to listen to my Live Brave podcast, which is wherever you listen to podcasts. And of course, anybody who would like to really be inspired to trust themselves more during this period of time and frankly, in all times of life, to pick up a copy of my book, “You’ve Got This” which is on Amazon and wherever good books are sold.
Steve Shallenberger: Great! Well, thank you, Margie, for being part of this show today. We wish you and your family, all the best, that your husband will have a full and complete recovery, and that you’ll be safe. It’s been a fun visit today! Wonderful ideas! Thank you so much for being with us!
Margie Warrell: Thank you, Steve! I’m really grateful to be able to share my thoughts with you.
Steve Shallenberger: You bet! We wish every single one of you that are listening, the BEST in all that you’re doing. You’re making a difference, you’re going forward and you’re being a light to other people as you work on these things that are so important and so positive. We hope that you’ll be safe. And so, to all of our listeners, we wish you all the best! This is Steve Shallenberger, with Becoming Your Best Global Leadership, signing off.