How do you keep bad moments from turning into bad days? It is helpful to have a tribe of people who listen to your problems, while keeping you levelheaded and focused on the best possible solution. Being able to pause, breathe and reflect on moments throughout the day can help you to stay on track by not getting caught up on the small things. Executive Coach, Speaker and Best-Selling Author, Michael O’Brien, uses personal experiences to SHIFT corporate leaders into the right mindset, so they are able to achieve great success + not sweat the small stuff.

  • 2:01 – The last bad day
  • 6:19 – How adjusting your mindset can better your body
  • 11:36 – Re-labeling your days
  • 12:21 – Positive energy ripples that help shape others
  • 14:42 – “Smoking Hopeium” vs. understanding the bad & broken
  • 22:25 – How to set your intentions for the day
  • 27:55 – Leaning on your peloton to achieve success
  • 30:15 – How good listeners help solve problems
  • 32:07 – Grabbing PBR: pause, breathe, reset
  • 33:59 – The power of gratitude
  • 36:25 – Finding the micro doses of kindness
  • 37:10 – The importance of curiosity & values


Mentioned Books:

My Last Bad Day Shift: How to Prevent Bad Moments from Turning into Bad Days – Michael O’Brien

Shift: Creating Better Tomorrows; Winning at Work and in Life – Michael O’Brien

Full Episode Transcription:


Todd: (00:01)
Awesome. So we’ll just jump right in. So, Michael, I’m so excited to have you here. We had a good conversation right beforehand, but so much we’re going to get into on the show. Oftentimes we talk really high level sort of philosophy, a mindset stuff, but I’m really excited to get really tactical and want to hear, give you a chance to share your story and, and teach us about what you do for people.

Michael: (00:25)
Well, I’m totally stoked to be with you, Todd. I’ve been looking forward to this all day long. So this is a highlight and I’m ready to get as tactical as you want to get. So let’s bring it on.

Todd: (00:35)
Excellent, excellent. Well first of all, I made, I made you save some of the juicy details of a really bad day that you’ve had. You’ve had a pretty, pretty interesting experience that is very unique. So maybe we can start with that and how that’s effected you, how it’s, you know, driven you to do what you’re doing right now and how you help people have their last bad day.

Michael: (00:59)
Yeah. So my last bad day is the juice. Like that’s a juicy story. So I had been an avid cyclists, gosh, going back to my high school days and I had a company offsite meeting, so I was like sort of live in like the typical script. I came out of college and I thought, well here’s the script that you need to follow in order to have a successful career in life. And I thought I was doing a pretty good job following it, you know? Yeah. You work sort of hard in college and then you graduate and you get a gig and you might meet someone and marry that someone and raise a family and climb the corporate ladder. All that jazz. Well I was doing all that. We’re now in New Jersey, working for a pharmaceutical company and we had an offsite meeting in New Mexico and I decided to bring my bike out.

Michael: (01:43)
The other guys were bringing their golf clubs, but I, I had something about the future. I knew, I knew cycling would be the next golf. Right. The new, the new golf is cycling. And so I brought my bike out to get some early morning miles. I was training for a bike race and I wanted to avoid the hotel gym and cross New Mexico off the state’s i’ve ridden my bike. And on that morning of July 11th I came around to bend and I had this beautiful like map, got this two mile loop out the back of the hotel up the main drag. Thought I would do like 10 laps for 20 miles and be all smug. When I went into the offsite, as they tried to torture you with PowerPoint and I came around the band and a Ford Explorer was coming right at me. It was going about 40 miles an hour. I mean it was fully in my lane and I looked at it and I was like, it’s gonna move. It’s gonna move, it’s gonna move. And as it got closer, I realized it wasn’t going to move and I had nowhere to go. I had no time to react. And I remember.

Todd: (02:40)
It was on the wrong side of the road completely? 

Michael: (02:47)
Yea, completely, fully in my lane.There was a road that had about a 20 to 25 mile per hour speed limit. It was going about 40 and it was, you know, time was just surreal. You, you weren’t expecting it. So I was thinking, he sees me, he sees me, he sees me and he, he didn’t see me until he hit me. And I remember the sound of me hitting his grill and the sound I made when I went to his windshield cause I crashed into the wind shield and broke a hole in it, which is hard to do if anyone’s tried to like get out some of their anger by with a baseball bat and a windshield

Todd: (03:18)
Incredibly hard. I’ve actually done that at a dump. I used to do a lot of old automotive restoration and those windshields are tough man.

Michael: (03:26)
Tough. And so I broke a hole in it and I remember the screech of his brakes and then I came to the asphalt below and was knocked unconscious and I only regained consciousness when the EMT’S came and I was surrounded by police and fire and the ambulance and I looked around and I was in the worst pain I had ever felt in my life. I just thought thought of moving was painful. And then I did, you know, Derek knows this about my story. I did the thing that only another cyclist can truly appreciate. I asked them like, well, how’s my bike? And they looked at me and they’re like, you know, they’re like, you got to think about you. Your bike’s fine. And, and I knew in that moment that my life was in balance, but clearly I didn’t know the extent of my injuries.

Michael: (04:12)
I just remember trying to will myself to stay awake and not to fall asleep. I thought if I fell asleep or lost consciousness, I would lose control over the situation. And I had a little, a little problem with control back then. In my early part of my career I thought I had to be Superman at work cause I was a leader and ahead of all the answers and Superman at home cause I was the provider and did a pretty poor job of pouring the stress inside and not releasing it. And eventually they called the helicopter to medevac me to the university of New Mexico because my injuries were that bad. And as I got onto the helicopter I made a commitment to myself that if I lived life would be different. I would stop chasing happiness. Cause I was also, besides this whole control thing I was doing what I think a lot of people even today do is we chase happiness.

Michael: (05:03)
We think that we’ll be happy once we get promoted, we’ll be happy once we buy that new thing or have that external merit badge in are, wherever. Right. And then we’ll be successful or we’ll be happy. And I was doing just that. And I remember every minute of my 19 minute flight to Albuquerque and then for the next four days I don’t remember anything because my anesthesiologist was that good. And the first surgery took about 12 hours. I needed 34 units of blood product and I spent the next four days in the ICU and the doctors told my wife, you know, had I been 10 years older or not in shape, I would have died before I got to the hospital. Because besides breaking a whole bunch of everything, I shattered my left femur and then that lacerated the femoral artery. So in essence that was bleeding out in the middle of nowhere in New Mexico. 

Todd: (05:59)
It’s terrifying. Terrifying. When you When you were in those four days, you really, you don’t remember anything in those four days?

Michael: (06:03)
No. It was so wild. Todd. Like my wife took copious notes. I had interviewed her for a job on my team. I went through the whole interview guide, all 45 minutes I had it memorized, which is quite disturbing to say the least. And what’s even more disturbing is I didn’t hire her after the interview. I, I told her to buy Amazon stock back then in July of 2001, Amazon stock was trading for about $15 a share. We didn’t buy any, so I didn’t hire her. She didn’t buy the stock and we call it even in terms of things. But yeah, I don’t remember anything about those four days. I was really drugged up. I was strapped down. I was really agitated. I really only got my bearing straight when they moved me into the orthopedic wing of the hospital after my stay.

Todd: (06:50)
Wow. So, so what, what came out of that? I mean I picked up on when you said stop chasing happiness and there’s some irony there that you’re always moving fast on a bike, trying to get somewhere to get somewhere to get somewhere. Right. So, so what is, what has come out of, of that decision you made that sort of stake in the ground you planted at that point?

Michael: (07:11)
Well that that aha moment came unfortunately several weeks, much time after. Cause when I came out of the ICU and the doctor started painting the picture of my accident and the driver had a revoked license and they really did paint this grim picture of dependency in limitations. They’re like, you know, a guy like you, we’ve seen this injury before, probably gonna walk with like a lot of limitations, probably not going to get on your bike again. And in this whole spirit that we go where our eyes go were perspective matters. Instead of being like, like living like differently, not chasing happiness. I went dark really quickly Todd. I was like life is so unfair. This should have never happened. I did all the right things. Why do bad things happen to good people? And a lot of people around me validated like, Oh my God, I can’t believe this happened.

Michael: (08:05)
And my whole identity was in question because I put a lot of identity into my own personal brand as far as like I’m an athlete, I’m a leader. And what the doctors were telling me to set really low expectations with like that identity is going to be compromised. So for a long time I was really dark until I came back to New Jersey. And I had a big aha moment where I realized that if I was going to help get my body better, I had to get my mind better first. And I knew enough about mindset through sports that mindset mattered. And I, you know, I sort of lost my way in the initial weeks of the recovery. I realized, well, I can get my mind right then maybe I can get my body right. And I lost a lot of that whole like chasing happiness piece of it. 

Michael: (08:53)
And one of my mentors actually paid me a visit. He said, Hey Michael, nothing in your life. Can you can, you don’t have to put a label on anything. Like all the events in your life are neutral until you decide to label them. And at first I was like, I almost like, I don’t know what you mean by that, but you know, and this is 2001 before all the internet you know, education we get, and he went on to say nothing has meaning until you give it meaning. So he said you can, you can label this as you’re the victim and this is like the most horrific thing that ever happened to you. Or you can give it a different meaning that this is going to be one of your best moments that you’re going to be defined by how you respond to it. And that was just enough of a door opener that I was like, okay, I see that possibility. And then I got, I got to work on trying to make my mind so I can make my body better.

Todd: (09:46)
You know, it’s, I love that you’re bringing this up because I’ve, I’ve been a, you know, passionate self-development enthusiast for a long time. But honestly, very, very recently, I’ve, I’ve had a bit of a shift and I’ve, I’ve been meditating quite a bit for the past year and maybe that has something to do with it. But in terms of like labeling something with a meaning I would guess that that’s at the core of a lot of the things that you do because you know, you talk about never having a bad day again, doesn’t mean the same stuff isn’t going to happen. It’s, it’s your, it’s how you label it, how you respond to it and the meaning that you give those things.

Michael: (10:35)
Absolutely. Yeah. So that is that core and that actually helps me get through my day because things still happen to me. Like I still deal with New York city traffic and you know, bills and you know, like drama and all that jazz. But in that moment I decided to relabel that day. I was like, you know what, that’s going to be my last bad one. Cause I knew enough like as long as I could get through my day and my wife and daughters were still in my life. And I hit my head, hit the pillow, how can I call that a bad day? I still had like three wonderful people in my life that I could start creating a better tomorrow with. And, and that doesn’t mean I don’t have bad moments in my day. It just, I don’t want to give them any more energy than they deserve. And I’ve had some challenging days.

Michael: (11:22)
I’ve had some very sad days and that was in the hospital during nine 11 that was a horrific and emotionally filled day for not only the world but in particular in the US but even in the darkest moment for us, I had a whole bunch of gratitude for our first responders. And then I had my family close by and I had at least something to like grab onto to build something again tomorrow that maybe I didn’t have today. And lot of times we make stuff up, you know, like in our corporate life and our personal lives. And what we’re doing when we make stories up is that we’re labeling things and I try to keep a neutral mindset and that helps me get less triggered. And so when you’re less triggered, you can, you can do the things you’re meant to do and really try to have a positive ripple of energy that’s going to hopefully shape others because our energy does ripple and cascade into other people.

Todd: (12:21)
So I’m going to get taken approach to this conversation that’s maybe a little different. So I’m a very positive person just by, by nature. Right. And it’s actually gotten me a little bit of trouble, like being too positive. Right. And I think sometimes when people start hearing a conversation like this, like, Oh, you never have a bad day again. They think like, well, you’re just going to fake it and pretend that everything is good when it’s not. Right. I have a mentor of mine is a guy named John Assaraf. I don’t know if you’re familiar with John’s work, but he we were having a conversation one day and he’s like, he’s like, you gotta be careful with this because because of what I just said, like I’m naturally very positive, like to a fault. And he was like, there’s, there’s smoking hopium, right, which is smoking hopium versus like understanding that something is bad or broken or wrong, and then recognizing it, but then quickly moving on and being able to have a positive mindset about how to fix that thing. So maybe you can talk a little bit about those two things. Like it doesn’t mean that nothing is ever bad and like if you were to get hit by another car, you would just say, Oh, well that’s great because of a, B, and C. Right.

Michael: (13:40)
So, yeah. So, so certainly like, yeah, the, I love this, the smoking hopium I love it. And, and there are definitely some been some people like really like you live in the land of unicorns and rainbows and an endless supply of Skittles. And it’s like, it’s not that. So for me, having your last bad day is the day where you decide you’re going to live life by your own script instead of following society’s script and just like following along and grinding it out. It, it gives you agency to choose your own script, to write your own script. And a lot of us work in corporations and there’s boundaries and values and stuff. And so it’s not necessarily a blank canvas, but we certainly have more space on a canvas than we realize. And yes, it’s about taking those bad moments cause I still have them.

Michael: (14:31)
You know, we had a 25th wedding anniversary trip to Costa Rica last week and we left our resort through whitewater rafting, which was really cool, really great place. But we got caught in, so the whitewater rafting was no joke and I’m not, I’ve been whitewater rafting but I’m no expert and got caught in a class four rapid and the boat started taking on water and I got thrown out of the boat and I went through a class four rapid on my back backwards. And you know, as we’re talking here, I got a whole bunch of bruises all over my body from it and I got a little like jostled and the whole shebang. And it was a definitely a scary moment. So I’m not walking around and saying, Oh that was awesome. Right that way. So it was, it was not a good moment. It was a very scary moment.

Michael: (15:24)
But what I do know is that that moment has passed and now I have to make a decision. Do I want to stay in it and fester on it or do I want to move forward? And I think for me that’s what having your last bad day and writing your own descriptors is that not staying with a moment any longer than you need to. And then moving from that moment onto things that can help bring about some positivity in your life or make connections with other people instead of just letting that bad moment on a 3:00 PM on a Friday ruin your whole weekend. Yeah. So for me, that’s what that’s about. Like I, I do not deny that bad bad things if we want to label them bad. And some people would probably call in and say, well not even those are bad Michael, but like some things in life are like, that’s the right label. That’s sort of where I’m coming from. We have those moments really for us, if we want to have the type of success and joy that we want out of our lives, it’s making those moments less frequent and less intense so we can go on to do the things that we’re meant to do.

Todd: (16:30)
Yeah. I think that, you know, from what I’ve seen that people who can have those moments and instead of be consumed by them even if they’re atrocious, like if you can use them, like if you can orchestrate what you want to do with your anger, like sometimes people are angry, right? And it’s fine to be angry or be outraged about something. But if you can settle yourself to be in control of your emotions and choose, write your own script as you said. And it’s almost writing, writing your own script as opposed to letting your, your eight pound mass inside your skull. Just react. Cause we are reactionary creatures, right? Like emotions make you do stuff if you let them. But emotions can, can be a source of information for choosing the decision you want. If you can slow down enough to make that choice as opposed to just be reactive.

Michael: (17:33)
I think absolutely Todd and I’m, I’m a full believer like less like step in and live all the different emotions that we can feel now. I know, no, we all think there are six primary ones but there’s a whole bunch and I think they’re probably even more emotions out there. We just don’t have the right descriptions for them. But sometimes anger is the most appropriate emotion and it’s okay to be angry and I get angry. Sometimes I get mad and pissed off or what have you, but I know this about me that I don’t want to stay angry cause you know, staying angry makes it almost impossible to connect with other people. And I think while we, we need in today’s society, we’ve always needed it is a sense of belonging and one could argue maybe Maslov got it slightly off. He put belonging at like level three.

Michael: (18:25)
Maybe it’s supposed to be like primary because you can’t have some of the things at a primary level like shelter and food and connection without a sense of belonging. So, so I’ll pay attention and maybe this ties back into emotional intelligence, like the emotions I feel and the emotions that others feel and you know, be present with them except them. But if it’s an emotion that is going to lead to festering or a cascading of energy that’s not going to serve you well, then how do we let that go? Before my accident, I was horrible at this. I would take my anger and frustration and I would pour it inside and I would pack it down and I was that guy that was like happy ho, I’m outside. Like we’re all good, it’s all good. But inside it was like building up and building up and building up and occasionally would like blow up burst out or I would get tired or I would catch a cold or I would even have like a skin flare up, you know, at like, you know, 28 get a pimple. It’s like those days were supposed to be gone 10 years ago. Those are all like stress induce things. Until I really learned through my recovery to say, okay, when moments happen, I’m not going to let, I’m not going to try to repress them and just push them down. I’m going to find a way to like, let them go so I can move forward.

Todd: (19:47)
You know, we talked, I want to get into some real tactical, like step-by-step for anyone watching or listening. But before we do that, we had a brief conversation before I ended about Tony Schwartz, right. And I remember reading Tony Schwartz, his book, is it the lot, the lot of performance? What is, what’s his book the three? No, that’s Dave Logan’s book. Three laws of performance. It’s something about performance, right?

Michael: (20:13)
Yes. And then, but he also has done like a lot of great work on energy and I forget the title of that book cause he’s got a, he’s got a whole bunch. He’s a prolific author. There’s no doubt about it.

Todd: (20:23)
It’s writing and I’ll find it on here. I’ll find it. I’ll find his his book lists here. Oh, the power of full engagement. That’s the one I was thinking. Okay. Okay. The powerful engagement and what you said reminded me of this because you said something about it’s your ability to recover from those moments quickly, right? So you can have those anger, you can be frustrated, you can be passionate, you can be angry, you can know, be animated I guess. But you know, with your sports background, it’s, I’m really interested about your perspective here too. The ability to quickly switch that off. Right. And you would, you would reference it about the bad day and having something happening in the morning, not dictating your entire day and making it bad. Even if your first 15 minutes in the, in the office door or up with your family or whatever it is not letting that ruin your whole day. So I’d love to hear your, your tactical approach to that. Yeah.

Michael: (21:24)
Well, there’s a couple of different things that I try to do and you know, going back to athletics, you know we, a lot of times we see especially like professional sports and you know we just recently had the Superbowl so we see the football players, the gladiators, you know, getting hyped up and it looks like they’re like getting really angry, right? So because they’re going into battle, they’re going into their arena where one team wins and the other team loses. But throughout the game they can’t sustain that level of anger if it’s anger cause it’s just too much on the body, it’s too much cortisol, too much adrenaline. What they have to be able to do is shift that from that initial amp up or hype to focus to be in present. Because the best players know that they have to be present on the snap right in front of them.

Michael: (22:10)
They can’t be going around, you know, angry all the time. Now the guys that can’t do it, a lot of times you see like the guys that can’t shut off the anger, they also have a hard time shutting off the anger in their personal lives. And then we end up reading about them or watching them on ESPN because they’ve done something, you know, like off the field. So you know, in corporate life, what one thing I, I try to get all my clients to do is to start our days differently. Like so many of us are sleeping next to, our trusty old smartphone, we now use them as our alarm clock. And what, what it is is a, a beautiful invitation. It’s not so beautiful. They step right into social media or to email. And then off to the races we go even before we get out of bed, even before we clear our head and make that mind body connection cause there’s no doubt the mind and body are connected.

Michael: (23:02)
They, they work in unison. So one thing I ask all my clients to do is like, wake up, grab 20 ounces of water, hydrate your body, cause the brain needs hydration to work properly. Move a little bit and then spend about five, 10 minutes before you get into your hamster wheel, known as email. Just thinking about what are your priorities today and how do you want to show up in the whole concept of Zig Ziggler his do have be be, do, have is how do you want to be, what do you want to do, what are your big priorities and what do you want to have more of today? And it can be not the material possessions or external markers of success, but more maybe more peace, more love, more connection, more gratitude, you name it. And going through that exercise as a way to sort of start your day, set your intentions for the day and that can get our head clear. Cause so many of us feel like we have so much to do that in order to be more cause we all want to be successful, we have to do more and off to the races we go and we’re already starting the day with this big coral cortisol bash that makes it easy for us to be triggered down the road.

Todd: (24:16)
I think that’s so important. And if you know anyone listening and watching finds himself in that trap, I can’t recommend it enough in the morning. Like it’s so easy to get one email and then you bounce into this idea and bounce into that idea. And you know, if you, if you start the day off in a reactive state, not choosing who you want to be, how you want to be and what you want to do you’re, it’s so easy for people to manage your calendar for you.

Michael: (24:50)
Yeah. Yeah. And I knew you take that like agitation if you will, into your commute and then you’re rushing to get to work and you’re thinking about the work thing. You made up a story about what your colleague may say or do because you’ve maybe read that email too quickly and all of a sudden you go through the front door, you get into your office and you’re, you’re already jacked up. And if we believe that life in our success in life is more about community, obviously we all have personal responsibility, but in order to get things done nowadays we need a strong tribe. I like to call it a strong Peloton that we need connection. And the thing that makes connection happen is better conversation. So wouldn’t it be better just to like, you know, check, check the phone? Yes, after you’re done setting your intentions but going in hopefully with more of a neutral mind as you start your, the early part of your day so you can build a better connection with the people that are going to help you get your work done.

Todd: (25:52)
Yeah, 100%. You mentioned your, your company’s called Peloton coaching, right? Yes. Is Peloton the origin of that word, is it just have to do with cycling or is there a more ancient definition that made that appropriate for groups of bicyclists? Cause I see the definition is just a main field or group of cyclists in a race.

Michael: (26:19)
Yeah. So that’s what it is. So a lot of when I go out and travel, Todd and I do some talks and usually usually it’s like, Hey, we got Michael O’Brien from Peloton. And the audience was like, Oh wow, those Peloton cycle guys. And they think maybe they’re going to get one of those exercise bikes. Then Emma Lovewell or Robin or whomever is going to pop out and do a class and yup. I hate to disappoint them. They’re not coming. So Peloton is a group of cyclists in a bike race. So for those that don’t know, think the tour de France, the main group of cyclists, that’s a Peloton. And I came up with the name when I was in the hospital. I had a whole bunch of medical people around me dealing with a complication from my accident, from all different departments. And I went to my wife after they left, I go there like my medical Peloton, you know, cause a Peloton is made up of different teams just like at work, just like in life.

Michael: (27:10)
They’re all going in the same place and they need coordination, leadership and communication and all that jazz. They go down the road as fast as possible, just like we need in life and what I needed from my medical team back then. And so as I sat in my hospital bed, just, you know, doing the things that you do as you’re trying to recover. I was like, that’s a good name for a company. And then Peloton cycles came along with a much bigger advertising budget and they’ve helped, they’ve helped bring the word Peloton into the public domain and I do not fault them at all for doing so.

Todd: (27:42)
Yeah. Yeah. I mean you got lucky with the brand name there for sure.

Michael: (27:47)
Yeah. So, but for me, what I, I now use it for is a, is a, a tribe at work. Almost like your personal board of directors. Like who are you riding with in life and how intentional are you because the people around you going back to like the Jim Rome days that were the sort of collected energy of the five people we spend the most time with. We have to be smarter about who we’re with professionally and personally and knowing that different people serve different roles. You know, not everyone could be there for me for comfort when I was in a crisis, but they can be there to help me clarify things. And so what I learned along the way is that not everyone plays the same role and that’s okay. You need some diversity and a good Peloton or a good personal board of directors can be in your personal life and your professional life, but you need community as well as personal responsibility to create the life and career that you really want.

Todd: (28:47)
Do you, when you’re working with people on, you know, creating their Peloton or getting some accountability or feedback coaching, do you overlay that with your process for never having bad moments turn into bad days? Like is there a way, you know, you have like a venting partner, they can kind of catch you when you’re, when you’re slipping and letting something like that take over and ruin your whole day.

Michael: (29:13)
Yeah. So that is one role in a good Peloton to have like someone that you can vent to that you can release things with that hopefully it can be objective. They may not be maybe a direct partner in your movie or a player in your movie but can hear you out with from a non-judgment perspective, maybe not trying to solve your problem right away, the most effective listener that can play back and acknowledge and validate when you need to vent. But they’re also that person that can help you clarify things. So there’ll be a good listener and they’ll take it on and they’ll ask you that beautiful question that you need in that moment. Like what do you want to do next? How do you think that’s going to work? Because I think we need those people in our lives to as, as opposed to just venting for venting sake.

Michael: (30:01)
I think that has a purpose. But if we’re consistently venting, if we’re going through a process of build up, build up, build up of our stress and then blow up and then we, you know, someone listens to us but then there’s no other action to say, Hey wouldn’t it be better if it never built up in the first place that you learn how to like repress. Some are like re release some of it as opposed to repress it and that person in your Peloton can be like a lifesaver, right? Well literally and figuratively because they can help you release things and also get you to a point of clarity so you can take some action.

Todd: (30:37)
Yeah. So on, on sort of the tactical level of of never letting the bad moments turn into bad days. If, how do you work with someone directly on that? Is it teaching them the skills and a framework or are you sometimes the venting partner and you have clients that are like calling you at 8:30 in the morning and be like, MICHAEL. How does it actually work when people are learning what you’re teaching here? 

Michael: (31:06)
Well, there’s definitely like, occasionally I would get a couple Michael calls, you know, eight, eight 30 in the morning or five 30 at night. And so we work through that. And part part of it is shifting their perspective on the situation. So when we have our moments, we clearly see what we see as being right. And in that moment we, we grab something of that, I like to call it grabbing a PBR, which does not stand for paps blue ribbon. So because eight 30 is too early for that and you know, five 30 may be good for some people, but we’re not talking about that type of PBR. PBR to me is pause, breathe and reflect. It’s like almost like a micro dose of mindfulness or meditation to say, Hey, let’s reconnect with our breath. Let’s slow it down. And what’s another way of looking at this, right?

Michael: (31:57)
Maybe we can look at things from the other person’s perspective or if you just took two steps to the right, two steps to left, how else could you see it? From there, we start to open up and see different possibilities and then from there we can say, okay, what do we want to do next? You know, where, where’s overall message in that? Where’s their overall learning in that? And then we start to game plan. So grabbing a PBR, most of my clients know is, is there a common practice for me and I, it’s one of the things I write about too, like during our work life, our work day, we’re running from our eight to nine nine to 10 10 to 11, 11 to 12 and then eat at our desk. And then we do it again in the afternoon, grabbing some time just to connect with our breath to slow things down so we can be present in the current meeting as opposed to thinking about the meeting we just had or worrying about the next meeting.

Michael: (32:51)
We can be present in our meeting and hopefully make those meetings more productive. So that’s one big step. And I would say another really like tactical thing I do, which I knew nothing about back before my accident was the power of gratitude. And for me, when the doctor first told me about my limitations, all I saw with everything I couldn’t do anymore, everything that I had lost and what gratitudes helped me see is all the things I still can do, all the things I still have. And so I have a practice at night where as I’m getting ready for bed, I just sort of think through like the things that made the day really grateful. And it can even be some of our challenges. And I have a group online where we share each week the high for the week, the low, the biggest challenge. And the thing that’s most interesting. So I love to include challenge in the gratitude practice because as we all know, sometimes our greatest challenge or challenge or challenges become our greatest like life lessons or learning lessons. So

Todd: (33:55)
Very often I think that’s what happens. Yeah.

Michael: (33:59)
So I think in today’s world because there’s so much conflict, there’s so much strife and there’s so much like going at each other in society that we’re starting to over index on like avoidance or peace. And we’re not acknowledging that challenge can be great. So the high, you know, the high, low most interesting is really cool because what it does is it brings challenge into your gratitude practice and it gets, it gets challenge, It helps normalize the whole concept that we’re going to have moments and we’re going to learn from them and those are going to make us stronger as we go forward or a little bit smarter. So yeah, that’s another big part of it. So I love to start the morning with a lot of intention. I love to grab a few PBRs during the course of the day and that capstone my day with a whole big dose of gratitude.

Todd: (34:48)
What kind of questions, you know, I find that sometimes people, again if they’re new to this, whether it’s the you know, the PBR, the reflecting or gratitude. Do you have any prompts, any very specific questions that you can provide? Like you said, you kind of think of things throughout your day, but I know I’ve talked with many people who are like, you know, they get stuck on like these same thing. I’m thankful for my family. I’m thankful for this. Like any sort of prompts that might be useful? 

Michael: (35:26)
So I, what I tried to do during the course of the day is certainly like I, I can now to look for like little micro things in, in life and, and seeing it’s when someone holds the door open for you. It’s the, it’s the wave when someone allows you in to like merge into traffic and not necessarily have the gratitude be about the bigger thing. Certainly those things pop into my life. There’s no doubt, but I tend to look for those like little micro doses of kindness in our world. So I, that’s a big part of it. So like one prompt is like, what’s the, the, the smallest bit of gratitude I can see. The other thing is, you know, how can I approach my meetings and my conversations with more curiosity?

Michael: (36:19)
So as I head into a meeting, I also love to, you know, work with my clients on this and just myself is as I step into it, like how can I show up as the most curious version of myself and in, so now it’s a point of discovery. 

Todd: (36:35)
That’s what I was digging for. That’s a great one.

Michael: (36:35)
Yeah. And so, and cause I think one of our biggest addictions, obviously we have a a horrible epidemic with pain, med addiction, but we are also addicted to being right and, and that, that just sets up these battles that we’re all facing. So, but yeah, in one of my books, God, I talk about 20 questions and what people can do to sort of like think about the day. So, you know, what another question, did I get enough recovery in my day? Like we all are like work in a time, like we’re killing it on our hamster wheel.

Michael: (37:12)
But I’m a big believer of like work super hard. Like when you gotta go hard, go hard. But when you need to recover, recover hard. And we’re not, cause that’s when, that’s when our brain gets healed and recovers. That’s when our body does. Another one is, you know, how well did I honor my values today? You know, like so many of us walk around not understanding what our values are. Our values tend to be trigger moments. If we don’t have clarity to that, then it’s so easy to get triggered by a whole bunch of different things. So like really live in a life that’s intentional about the values. I really want to honor. And so if someone comes close to that red line, on one of my values, then yeah, you’re going to get a reaction from me. I’m not going to be all like calm. You’re going to see a different level of emotion. But I make it about those priorities as opposed to getting riled up about everything. So, and another one too is how well did I value we over me. Like how well did I see like us and things versus just like what I want for myself. Like my land, grab my turf. Like how do I make it about other people.

Todd: (38:25)
These are great. I’m gonna, I’m going to link to your books and you know maybe list some of these questions in the, in the show notes.

Michael: (38:32)
Yeah, I can give you all 20 and you can put all in your show notes. 

Todd: (38:36)
Oh very cool. Very cool. And where if people want to get a little more info on you, I know you’re doing, you know you’re an author, speaker, training, coaching, all, all of the above. Where can they best find out more information on how they can work with you? 

Michael: (38:51)
The best guide is my website, which is Michael O’Brien, and there they can find my latest book, which is all about preventing bad moments from turning into bad days. That’s where the 20 questions comes from. And then my memoir is there as well. And all the proceeds go to world bicycle relief. They help girls conquer the challenge at distance by giving them a bicycle. So every 10 books we sell helps build a bike for someone in remote parts of Kenya and Malawi.

Michael: (39:20)
And they give them, it gives them a whole bunch of independence and rumor has it, it’s pretty good story. It starts off a little rough, but it’s a very happy ending. So and then they can learn more about like other things that I do, like my leadership blog and my speaking and coaching right on the website. 

Todd: (39:39)
Awesome. Fantastic. Well thanks so much for bringing your energy today. I’ve got a ton of notes here. I love some of those questions too. I can’t wait to see all 20, so I’ll go make sure I grab those and put them on the site. And it was great to talk with you today. 

Michael: (39:54)
Yeah, Todd, thanks for having me. It was awesome to be on. 

Todd: (39:57)
Awesome. Good. Well, enjoy the rest of the day. We’ll have you back soon. 

Michael: (40:00)
All right. Thanks brother. 


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