Rethinking Our Ideas Around “Success” feat. Brad Stulberg


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By Greg La Blanc. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Has the idea of “peak performance” as the general public sees it, run its course? It seems like nowadays, there is much more of a focus & value placed upon rest and recuperation, rather than the unsustainable burnout culture & hustle to get ahead that we’ve seen for ages.

Brad Stulberg is a writer and fellow at the University of Michigan’s graduate school of public health. He says his work explores principles of mastery and well-being that transcend capabilities and domains, with a focus on the philosophical and psychological foundations of excellence, and the habits and practices necessary to attain it.

He is also the author of the book “The Practice of Groundedness” and coauthor of the books “Peak Performance” and “The Passion Paradox.”

Greg and Brad examine the human tendency to strive for more in this episode, and when that becomes a fault. They also touch on heroic individualism, how being diagnosed with OCD changed his coaching practice, the degradation of community, and brown rice & M&Ms.

Episode Quotes:

Looking through medical conditions through a philosophical lens.

I think that, broadly, if we spent more time in philosophy, there'd be less mental illness because we'd accept that this kind of suffering is a part of the human condition. I think a big cause of particularly depression is people having this false belief that they should never be sad. They should never experience despair. They should never question the meaning of life. When in fact, all the great arts and philosophies do just that. And I think if we can normalize that, then when people find themselves doing it, they wouldn't freak out and be so scared, which is often what causes like an anxious depressive spiral. So yeah, I think that would be good, but I think when someone's kind of in the throes of this, the medical model makes a lot of sense, but I think there's a real risk of getting stuck in the medical model. And I think the path out is to go from medical model to philosophical, thinking about these sorts of things.

Defining heroic individualism

It is the constant pursuit of more. It is the false belief that you can achieve or accomplish your way to fulfillment. And it is a phenomenon where the goalpost is always 10 yards down the field.

Obsessive checking & workplace performance

So it used to be that you could get really caught up in how you're performing at work. And maybe 50 years ago, there was one or two promotion cycles a year, and you got really stressed and you either got the promotion or not. Then 20 years ago, there's a whole suite of dashboards that you can check every week. Now, there are real time metrics in just about every single knowledge working job that you can get obsessed with checking.

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220 episodes