Beware False Tigers with Frank Forencich

Frank Forencich is an internationally-recognized leader in health and performance education. A Stanford University graduate in human biology and neuroscience, he has over 30 years teaching martial arts and neuro health education. Frank holds black belt in both Karate and Aikido. He’s a multiple author, including the book, Beware False Tigers: Strategies and Antidotes for an Age of Stress. We can learn lot’s from Frank, including:

  • What are “False Tigers” and how to recognize them.
  • The “primate’s predicament” and “the state of the human-animal.”
  • How to notice the big stressors of our time – The real tigers?
  • The consequences of high stress on business leaders?

Transcript: Thanks to Jermaine Pinto at JRP Transcribing for being our Partner. Contact Jermaine via LinkedIn or via his site JRP Transcribing Services

The Leadership Hacker News

Steve Rush: You’ll know if you’re a regular listener, there’s always top tips and ideas to help you on your way. But we’re going to flip that round today and look at things that we can avoid. So here are the five common mistakes that both young and experienced leaders make and how to avoid them. Number one, in properly delegating work, failing to properly delegate work is a number one, common leadership blunder, good leaders, hand out assignments, according to skills and interest. Don’t assign a writing assignment to a developer and vice versa. You know, that just makes no sense, right? Another way to innovate and get results is to award certain work with those who volunteer for it. By taking a chance, you might discover unique skills from the person who least expect it. Number two, communicating poorly, feel like you’re not providing enough feedback to your team. And it’s time to revisit the lines of communication, make it a priority to have open communication, regardless of who it is. Reiterate this need to have weekly meetings, stress the importance of timely replies. Just as long as your team will answer, and you do the same. You can create a huge swell of energy that’s positive. Overcommunication in a crisis is even more relevant, but the hack is to set out sometimes and set out some expectations of what it is you are intending to send and receive from your team. Number three, focusing too much on strategy and not enough on day-to-day tactics.

Some leaders get blindsided by the alluring strategy rather than the day to day, but it’s these everyday tactics require strong focus in order to arrive at your final solution in the first place. I used to call these BBCs or basic, but critical behaviors, things that you expect to see happen that are task driven and focused on outcomes. They’re all people centric, and you’re able to connect the dots to your strategy, but those daily basic routines help you on your longer journey. Number four, failing to balance a hands-off approach with micromanaging. Many leaders are either two hands off or they over manage. The optimum solution is to find the balance between the two and to help you get there, accountability and empowerment are the two triggers. Get your accountability and empowerment imbalance you create more leaders and high performance.

Number five. Forgetting to teach, train, motivate, and reward. Ongoing training and learning and development is not only vital for the individual, but for the entire company. There are thousands of online seminars for pretty much any discipline, especially in things like digital, many are free. And for those that aren’t, you might be able to pay them through relationships. Doesn’t have to be a direct cost. And of course, the biggest learning comes from doing. The experiences you have that naturally occur across your organization. Sometimes helping people recognize that actually that is exactly what’s happening. They are learning is part of that process. Next is motivation. Now you’ve pretty much worked out I would imagine that you can’t actually motivate anybody, but you can create the right environment for those to be motivated in whether it be a senior group of people or junior staff. It’s more important that you find those good old-fashioned things that are really important to them. Understanding their internal and intrinsic motivations will really help you connect the dots and the purpose of the work that they do. The things that make them tick.

And it’s a mistake, but many leaders just don’t even ask, what is it that motivates you? And lastly, reward, if an employee excels, provides more bonuses, small gestures of thanks, doesn’t have to be huge amounts of bonuses, but again, linked to intrinsic motivation can make a world of difference. And of course, it’ll be different for everyone, but find out, ask a question, how do you like to be rewarded? And you’ll also get some great data that you can rely on as a leader.

Leadership mishap and blunder are an inevitability. We’re going to do it. The most important thing is to learn from those blunders along the way. So as leaders, we can truly be in the service of our teams. That’s been The Leadership Hacker News. And thank you to Rebecca, one of our listeners who encourage us to look at this from a different lens to flip the context and to look at this as a lesson learned activity, let’s dive into the show.

Start of Podcast

Steve Rush: Frank Forencich is a special guest on today’s show. He’s an internationally recognized leader in health and performance education. He’s a Stanford University graduate in human biology and neuroscience. As over 30 years, teaching martial arts and experience around health and education. Frank holds black belt in both karate and aikido and his many research trips across the world, including Africa, has helped him really get into and study the human origins and ancestral environment. And that’s where he got his inspiration from his new book, Beware False Tigers: Strategies and Anecdotes for an Age of Stress. Frank, welcome to The Leadership Hacker Podcast.

Frank Forencich: Delighted to be here.

Steve Rush: So, I’m really intrigued at how you can get two black belts and two martial arts, as well as all of the experience you pull together.

Frank Forencich: [Laugh].

Steve Rush: And written many books, Frank. So, I can’t wait to get into the journey. Perhaps for our audience. You could just give us a little bit of the backstory as to how you’ve arrived to do what you do today?

Frank Forencich: Right, well, I first became interested in the martial arts in my early twenties. And this was when I was an undergraduate at Stanford and I was studying human biology and I was fascinated with physicality and with movement. And I thought that there was something there that was very important. And as an educational experience, the martial art was just fantastic for me. It was a time to feel really focused. And I had a lot of really fantastic teachers. And at the same time, I had a professor in human biology who said, if you really want to understand the human animal, you have to go to Africa and study our history. And so, I took him up on that and little by little, all these various pieces started to come together. And later on, I studied athletic training and massage therapy and it’s been a really exciting journey to look at the human body where it came from and how it functions. So, I’ve, been exceptionally lucky in this to have all these opportunities to do.

Steve Rush: And many scholars that kind of walk in your path almost have gone to Africa into the Savannahs and have used that as a backdrop to really understand human behavior, as well as animal behavior, haven’t they?

Frank Forencich: Right, and I think it’s so essential that we are involved in this because the modern world is kind of an illusion. We tend to believe that the world has always been the way it is now, and we’ve kind of parachuted into the modern world. But in fact, we have a history, and that history is deep and important.

Steve Rush: And that history I suspect that you talk about is where we had no distractions. We were kind of in our original settings and that’s how we were programmed physiologically to behave, right?

Frank Forencich: Right, you can study the stuff directly. But I think for people who haven’t studied it is to have a look at the movie. The Gods Must Be Crazy. And you might remember that one where, the first half of the movie, actually the first 20 minutes of the movie, they look at the lives of the Kalahari Bushman in South Africa. And they compare that to the modern, urban people living in Africa. And they really show the mismatch between our original experience and what we experience today.

Steve Rush: So, some of our folk will be familiar with that fight or flight freeze and appease that comes with that physiological response to an environment. But the irony is, that what was created through our evolution to protect us and service in times of danger and need, actually, we now trigger for this, you know, being late for work or I’m behind on a Zoom meeting or something like that, right?

Frank Forencich: Right, and that’s sort of the irony. We’ve created a world, a modern world with a lot of comforts, but at the same time, we’ve created a lot of new and unique threats to our bodies and our lives and things like computer viruses and phishing attacks and all of these fine print sort of things didn’t exist until recently. So now we have, you might say new tigers in camp.

Steve Rush: Yeah, so hence the title of the book, right. Beware of False Tigers.

Frank Forencich: Yes.

Steve Rush: So, what was it that compelled you to write the book and tell us a little bit about it?

Frank Forencich: Right, well, this goes back to my experience in massage school, because of course there was a lot of talk about stress and reducing stress. And the more I looked at that, the more I started to realize this is a major, major theme for the modern world. It’s not just feeling a little bit anxious, or it’s not just a threat to your own personal longevity or health. This is something that afflicts the entire human population now in a way that’s historically unprecedented.

Steve Rush: Right.

Frank Forencich: So, this is a major theme for all of us.

Steve Rush: Yeah, you call these tigers. How do you recognize tigers?

Frank Forencich: [Laugh], well, we recognize them through the limbic system of our brain and our autonomic nervous system. And this is something that happens oftentimes below conscious radar. And we experience a feeling, a threat to our personal welfare. And then we get to try and interpret what that is. You know, the voice of stress is not always that articulate. And we may feel a threat to the organism, a threat to our welfare. And then we get to try and decode what that feeling is all about. So, it’s an exercise in learning the world and an exercise in learning who we are.

Steve Rush: And the whole notion of them being false tigers is, we’re probably releasing the tigers unnecessarily?

Frank Forencich: Right.

Steve Rush: Would that be a kind of fair take on things?

Frank Forencich: Right, it’s always about perception. So, if you have an event in your life and you interpret it as a tiger, but maybe it’s really not an actual threat to your life, then you’re turning on your fight flight system.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Frank Forencich: Unnecessarily, and if you only do that, occasionally, if you get it wrong, occasionally that’s no big deal, but if you get it wrong consistently over the course of months and years, then that’s going to degrade your health, but not just your health, but your cognition and your ability to function in the world. So, it has huge ripple effects across your entire life.

Steve Rush: The one thing that struck me when I started reading your book, Frank is, why don’t they teach us in high school? And why don’t they teach us in, you know, kindergarten and junior and primary schools?

Frank Forencich: Oh yeah. That’s a big pet pave of mine because this is something that’s so important to our ability to function. And yet we mostly ignore it. And the way I pitch this, I say, for the human animal, we have to have an understanding of what’s dangerous in the world. And in the paleo, this was always obvious because everybody, even little children in your tribe, in your camp, would’ve known that carnivores and predators are dangerous and that wildfires are dangerous and fast flowing rivers are dangerous. That sort of thing, and danger, would’ve been palpable and easy to understand, but now we have all these new threats, and we don’t educate for that. It’s unlikely that any of your listeners have ever taken a course called what is dangerous.

Steve Rush: That’s right, yeah.

Frank Forencich: But we should be doing that. And that would help us sort out genuine dangers from false dangers. And that would seem to be a fundamental part of human education now.

Steve Rush: Yeah, I agree with you. So, within the book, you talk about a couple of things I’d love to unpick them with you. One of which is prime makes predicament.

Frank Forencich: Yes.

Steve Rush: Tell us about that?

Steve Rush: Yes, what is the state of the human animal right now? And then there’s of course controversy about all of this. But from my point of view, we are under such a high level of stress. A total stress burden that we’re carrying around with us means that we have a population level predicament here. And some of the numbers are staggering. There’s like 1 billion people in the world now who have in mental health problems.1 billion people in the world are living with chronic pain. That’s like one out of eight. So those are huge red flags that the human animal is having trouble adapting to the modern world. And this gets back to mismatch this idea that we have. These ancient bodies trying to make a go of it in the modern world. Some people do pretty well with that mismatch. And some people adapt easily, but an enormous percentage of people are struggling with that challenge. And by and large, we aren’t taking it seriously.

Steve Rush: What’s the root cause to that mismatch. Do you think?

Frank Forencich: Well, it’s kind of a byproduct of our intense creativity. We are really good at devising innovations and short-term solutions and the world becomes progressively more complicated ever since the industrial revolution. We’ve had this just escalating series of innovations that the human animal hasn’t really had time to adapt to. All of this innovation has happened in the blink of an eye and boom. Now all of a sudden, we’re in this new world.

Steve Rush: Yeah, and if we kind of fast forward to, you know, the next 10 years. Thinking about the real stresses of our lives and our times and the real tigers, how do we kind of figure out what’s real to us versus what we are fooling ourselves as false tigers?

Frank Forencich: Right, well, I think the number one thing that we have to be doing right now is listening to the science and especially climate science that is without question, the alpha tiger on the planet right now, that is the biggest threat to human welfare, human civilization and our ability to have any kind of a future. So that is the tiger that we have to be working with right now.

Steve Rush: Yeah, definitely. And it’s, I guess you could call it a real tiger because we’ve got the evidence that comes with that.

Frank Forencich: Yeah.

Steve Rush: So much like in the paleo, we could see the, you know, the burning forest. We could see the rapids in the water. We can actually see that happening around us now. So, I guess it helps us make that awareness that it is a real tiger. How do you convince those who are maybe less aware that it is real?

Frank Forencich: Oh, that’s a great question. And what I’m seeing is a lot of frustration in the climate community among climate scientists who are saying, we need to convince people that this is real. There’s a lot of frustration there. A breakaway group of climate scientists now have become activists. And they’re saying the conventional channels really aren’t working. So, I’m not sure what it is. I think it’s going to take some shocks to the system that are going to make this obvious to more people. But right now, it’s an uphill battle.

Steve Rush: You used the word that I just want to explore, which is activist and activism. And I know that’s something that you’ve been really passionate about, but people also get confused with the word, don’t they? Because they see it as something that’s aggressive and it’s contrary. And actually, you have a very different spin on it. I wonder if you could just share that?

Frank Forencich: [Laugh], right. Well, the book I’m currently writing is about activism from a martial arts perspective.

Steve Rush: Okay.

Frank Forencich: The idea here is that we are immersed in a world where their conflict is inevitable. And once again, we don’t have much training for that at all. Our educational systems basically ignore that fact of conflict and we don’t teach young people how to deal with that. So that’s why there’s so much angst, I think in people who are trying to make a difference, we basically don’t know how. We don’t know whether to be hard or soft in our various styles, whether to be linear or circular in the way we approach conflict. So, there’s a lot of work to be done there, but I think activism is essential. There’s plenty of research to show. It actually improves the quality of our health. When we act on things that we find meaningful, then the body tends to do better.

Steve Rush: That’s really interesting perspective too, isn’t it?

Frank Forencich: Mm-Hmm.

Steve Rush: And it is that act on something that you’re really passionate about, which kind of underpins that whole activism bit, I guess, that what you see in the press and on the TV of activists is usually the far end of, the extreme ends of where people have already been triggered and are probably overplaying that, right?

Frank Forencich: Right, yes. And it’s easy to focus on the spectacular acts of activism, but there’s a lot of invisible activisms that’s going on as well. And it may not be spectacular, but there’s a lot of work that people are doing currently that is very important and may not be as dramatic. So, we need to keep that in mind as well.

Steve Rush: Now, for many of the folk listening to this show, they’ll be either leading teams or businesses or even leading themselves. And therefore, from their perspective, what do you see as the certain consequences of them not getting hold of this in terms of their managing their stress and their energy?

Frank Forencich: Right, well, there’s a whole list of consequences that come when people are under chronic stress. And one of the most interesting for me is called reversion to the familiar. And we all know this in our own personal lives, because if you’re having a hard day, what do you want to do? You want to go home and sit in your living room, a place that’s familiar to you and you want to read the same books you’ve always read. You want to watch the same movies that you’ve always seen. You want to eat the same foods. You want to go back to the familiar and for people who are leading teams, this is also important because maybe you need new ideas. Maybe you need creativity going forward to come up with solutions to the problems you’re facing, but the stress, it inclines people to revert to what they already know. And that makes sense, and it’s fine in moderation.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Frank Forencich: The dose makes the poison here. So, if you go home at the end of a hard day and you revert to the familiar, that’s good for you. But if you, do it all the time, you’re never going to make any progress.

Steve Rush: Ironically, it could even make the stress worse in the future because the gap between the intention and the act gets bigger, right?

Frank Forencich: Right, exactly. And that’s what we’re seeing in the world of climate and ecosystem. Collapse is, that as the stress escalates, people are going to just double down on what they already know, and that’s going to make solutions even more difficult to arrive at.

Steve Rush: There is a notion too, isn’t there. That stress is actually not a bad thing if you get the dose, right?

Frank Forencich: Right, and the way I say it is that stress is a frenemy.

Steve Rush: I like that.

Frank Forencich: And it’s a wonderful thing for the body and the mind, small doses of stress are good for us. And this is the job of the teacher, the coach, the therapist, and the leader in an organization is to be precise in how much stress we put people under. And we have yet to really do this in any kind of systematic way. But it’s essential to remember that there’s an inverse U-Shape curve to this. A little bit of stress is good. A little bit more stress is even better. And then of course there’s a tipping point and a reversal where stress becomes bad. But this idea in the standard narrative, that all stress is bad, and that the ideal life is a stress-free life. That’s not very helpful.

Steve Rush: Is there another word we could switch out for stress? Because I think it actually has a word itself, it’s probably unhelpful. Is there another word you might use that would kind of help us think about stress in a positive way?

Frank Forencich: Right, and that’s a good point because it’s been worked so hard in the popular press. Everybody seems to think that they know what it is and it’s kind of a pigeonhole problem, right. So, one workaround that I use there is, I talk about our encounter with novelty. So, a little bit of novelty is exciting and therapeutic, young children love novelty, right. And they seek it out. Young adults love novelty, more is better, up to a point. And so, you can think of stress of in the same terms. This is our encounter with novelty. A little bit is good. A little bit more is great. Too much novelty becomes toxic.

Steve Rush: I love the reframe because as you’ve just alluded to, as soon as you mention the word, novelty, people are intrigued. They want to find out. They want to learn a bit more don’t they? And that gives them that unconscious permission to dive in a bit deeper.

Frank Forencich: Right, and it’s an essential part of our creative process is to have that encounter with novelty. But there has to be limits. There has to be guidelines, and there has to be a recognition that you may be encountering too much novelty. And then you’ve got to take care of yourself.

Steve Rush: Maybe you can just take us through some of your tried and tested methods for relieving, some of that stress or some coping mechanism solutions, call it what you will?

Frank Forencich: Right, yeah. Well, I’ve got quite a list here, but the first one of course is to ask the question, is this a real tiger? Or is it not? And that, it seems such a simple approach, but it really works. And it’s worked in my life where I’ll be worrying about something, and something has dominated my consciousness. And then I take a step back and I say, okay, is this a real threat to my life? Is this a real threat to my future, my welfare? And if the answer is, yes, I have to take action. If the answer is no, I can safely let that thing go. So that’s helpful.

Steve Rush: That’s really powerful, right. Because in that moment, you’re able to pretty much evaluate that whole, is it a real threat or not? And therefore, unconsciously will trigger different chemical reactions in our mind, won’t it?

Frank Forencich: Right, right. And you can always revisit it. You can always reevaluate whether it’s a genuine threat or not, but it is a powerful starting point. The other bit of advice that I give people is just to say, give yourself a break. I mean, this climate predicament that we’re in, this level of mismatch that everyone is experiencing, this is universal across the planet. It’s not just you, [laugh], that’s experiencing this. And just knowing that in itself can be helpful.

Steve Rush: And if I’m stressed out right now, I’m in the moment, I’m listening to you Frank. What would be the one thing that would enable me to kind of step out of that?

Frank Forencich: The scanner prescriptions are quite good here. I mean, focusing on the breath is really good. And the other bit, I think that’s really important is just slowing down. This is another part of a modern world. That’s so difficult for us is, that a sense of urgency is very contagious among hyper social animals. So, if the people around you are in a big hurry, which is often the case, then that tends to rub off on us. And then we start speeding up as well. So, the reminder here is, whatever you’re doing, slow down.

Steve Rush: And in your experience, Frank, having traveled the world and worked in different locations, studying, not just humans, but also animals. Is there a blueprint we can look at in the animal kingdom that is replicated in how we behave as human sapien?

Frank Forencich: Well, yes. And I had an insight into this when I visited a museum in the American Southwest, and it was a desert museum, and they had all the types of things that you would expect in a desert museum. But we walked around into a courtyard at the museum and there was a large cage there with a wild Jaguar, a wild Panther that had recently been captured. And this was an extraordinary thing to watch that this Panther was pacing back and forth in the cage and exhibiting what you might call hyperactivity or ADHD or whatever you want to call it. The animal was very anxious. And from a modern perspective, you might say, well, that animal was having some sort of a neurological problem or a lifestyle disease or some sort of anxiety disorder. But on the other hand, you look at that animal and say, no, that’s an absolutely normal response to being incarcerated.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Frank Forencich: And so, for me to look at animals in that kind of situation, and then to look at humans and this epidemic of depression and anxiety that people are experiencing now. I tell people, look, you are not diseased. If you are feeling this way, this is the normal response of a normal animal to these kinds of difficult surroundings. So that’s a big stress reliever right there, because.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Frank Forencich: Once you realize that your body is behaving the way a normal animal would behave, it’s not you [laugh], it’s your animal life. And so that I find very helpful.

Steve Rush: You do a lot to help people get out of that environment, don’t you? So, you use things like movement, your martial arts as an example of that. Just tell us a little bit about how some of those things can help.

Frank Forencich: Right, well obviously getting outside is crucial and a lot more people are recommending this now, and it makes sense, but it’s not just the experience of being outdoors. It’s this psychological identification with nature that I think is what we really need to see as native people have done for a very long time now, this thing called nature is not other, it is actually itself. It is actually us. So, when you look at a forest or you look at the ocean, you look at some natural terrain, that is an extension of you. It’s an extension of your body, the native people call this the long buy. So that is a very helpful way to look at this as well. The other part of your question there is, with the movement and the martial arts, this movement in a social setting and touching other human animals that has a very therapeutic effect as well, developing rapport with other people through the body that eases our sense of fear, and it makes us feel great.

Steve Rush: Awesome. Really fascinating. I could spend all day picking your brains but.

Frank Forencich: [Laugh].

Steve Rush: Unfortunately, we won’t have the time. One of the things I would love to do now though, is just to turn the tables a little bit and dive into your brain, thinking about some of the things you’ve experienced from a leadership perspective over your 30 plus years in teaching leaders and others to get to grips with their human self, what would be your top three leadership hacks?

Frank Forencich: Well, the first one, and I love this one because it’s kind of counterintuitive, I say, treat people like animals.

Steve Rush: [Laugh], right.

Frank Forencich: And, for some people, this sounds so surprising.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Frank Forencich: And so shocking because when we use that phrase, we were treated like animals. We tend to think that that was a bad thing. We were on the airplane, and they treated us like animals because that’s, I guess, what we’ve done historically is, we’ve treated animals poorly, but I turn this thing upside down and I take a veterinary approach to leadership or teaching or coaching, any of these things, look at your people, your students, your clients, your patients as animals first and foremost. And if they’re coming into your setting and they’re already hyper stressed, now you’ve got to work with that. Maybe they need more stress. Maybe they need less, but you have to look at what their experience is right now. And that is a whole new domain I think of leadership because we have to look at the physical experience and the psychological experience that people are bringing to the setting.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Frank Forencich: Now some people have suggested, well, we need to measure their cortisol levels and that would be a technical approach. But they, I think there’s another approach there, it’s just more humane and means listening better.

Steve Rush: Yeah, love it.

Frank Forencich: Other leadership hacks. The other one I like from the native and indigenous tradition is called contextual leadership. And this simply means that people are leaders, not across the board, in every situation, but in certain domains. So, you might be a really good leader on the hunt and people in your tribe would recognize that. But when you get back to camp, you might not be such a great leader at preparing food. You might not be such a great leader telling stories around the campfire. Other people are good at that. And this is part of the indigenous tradition that people say, well, you are a leader in this situation, but not in another one. And I think this is something that we can also take to heart and assign and invite people to become leaders in other roles.

Steve Rush: Yeah, and if you think of yourself as an animal in a tribe or a pack, they all have their roles to play and that’s good old fashioned, situational leadership, isn’t it?

Frank Forencich: Right, and I think in the modern world, we often get this wrong because we say, if a person is a good leader in one domain, then they must be a good leader in all things, but that’s best crazy.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Frank Forencich: And then the third leadership hack, I think is, just to recognize the power of story and this is so important because the stress response is driven by our perception and our interpretation of reality, which means there is a story body connection. There is a connection between story and the autonomic nervous system. And if we can change or reframe stories, then we can literally working with people’s bodies and we need to be better storytellers.

Steve Rush: Love those, their awesome. Thank you, Frank. So, the next part of the show we call Hack to Attack. So, this is typically where something hasn’t gone well and maybe been catastrophic, but we’ve taken the opportunity to learn from it. And now is a force of good in our life or work. What would be your Hack to Attack?

Frank Forencich: Right, well, looking back at my life and some of the mistakes I’ve made, I can trace some of this back to having a poor understanding of what’s called the drama triangle. And you may have heard of this, is a popular theme in the world of psychotherapy and counseling, where therapists have recognized a common pattern. And that’s when things aren’t going well. We tend to describe ourselves as victims. And when we do that, then we typically blame perpetrators for our situation. And then we go in search of rescue. So those are the three points of the drama triangle. And this is a very popular thing [laugh] that people do. And it sucks us in, because we say I’m a victim. There must be a perpetrator out there somewhere. And so, we blame these people or governments or institutions for our unhappiness. And then we’d go looking for rescue from ideas or ideologies or substances, whatever it is. And when we get immersed in this drama triangle, things tend to spiral out control.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Frank Forencich: So, the way out of the drama triangle, as most coaches and therapists recommend, they say, look, you have to be creative, stop blaming perpetrators, stop looking for rescue and start focusing on the creation that you want to do in the world.

Steve Rush: Nice.

Frank Forencich: And that took me some years to realize

Steve Rush: [Laugh], it’s nice. I like it a lot, yeah. So that last part I show Frank, we get to do with you is taking you on some time travel. You get to bump into yourself with 21 and you get to give yourself some advice. What do you think it might be?

Frank Forencich: Yes, well, I would say to my 21-year-old self, that taking responsibility, and this goes back to the drama triangle. Taking responsibility is powerful because the more you take on the more meaningful life becomes.

Steve Rush: Mm.

Frank Forencich: And you don’t have to just take responsibility for your own personal life. No, you take responsibility for the entire world. And so, for example, I didn’t cause climate change, I don’t cause racism or sexism or xenophobia or anything, but I do want to take responsibility for those things in the world and doing what I can. So that is a path towards meaning and that is a path towards fulfillment. And my 21-year-old self really would’ve benefited from that.

Steve Rush: Yeah, mine too. I think [laugh], wise words. So, what’s next for you then Frank, on your journey?

Frank Forencich: Well, I’m really excited about this book about martial artistry and activism. The title is The Enemy is Never Wrong and I’m excited about the title because this is a teaching that I had from a martial art teacher some years ago. And he advised us to stop getting emotionally involved in the rightness or wrongness of our opponents. He said, look, whatever the enemy does is just what you have to work with. Don’t get attached to any particular strategy or outcome. You have to just take the enemy as is, that’s a good teaching there. And that’s something that we can do as activists.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Frank Forencich: So, I’m really excited about that title and that concept and that’s where I’ll be going for the next year.

Steve Rush: Excellent, and I love that notion as well, because more often not, you can get so easily involved in the problem or the solution rather than just seeing it as it is, which when we wind it back to 1.1, being present and in the moment stops those false tigers, doesn’t it?

Frank Forencich: Yeah. Yeah. It’s a powerful teaching, so.

Steve Rush: Awesome, so how can our listeners get copies of many of your books and indeed find out a little bit more about the work you do beyond our conversation?

Frank Forencich: Right, well, it’s easy to remember the website. It’s all there, it’s and if you type in exuberant animal, you’ll get it.

Steve Rush: Cool, and we’ll put those any links you have to the various books and work you have in our show notes as well Frank.

Frank Forencich: Nice, nice.

Steve Rush: I’ve really enjoyed chatting. It’s such a fantastic parallel to our world and your work has brought it into the world of business because it’s a real thing. We all have tigers. Some of them and in fact more of them are probably more false than real.

Frank Forencich: Right.

Steve Rush: And just understanding them and being able to deal with those can help us become better leaders and better people to work with. So, thanks for sharing your information, Frank, and thanks for being on our community, on The Leadership Hacker Podcast.

Frank Forencich: Oh yeah. It’s been great fun. I’ve enjoyed It.

Steve Rush: Thank you, Frank.


Steve Rush: I genuinely want to say heartfelt thanks for taking time out of your day to listen in too. We do this in the service of helping others and spreading the word of leadership. Without you listening in, there would be no show. So please subscribe now if you have not done so already. Share this podcast with your communities, network, and help us develop a community and a tribe of leadership hackers.

Finally, if you would like me to work with your senior team, your leadership community, keynote an event, or you would like to sponsor an episode. Please connect with us, by our social media. And you can do that by following and liking our pages on Twitter and Facebook our handler their @leadershiphacker. Instagram you can find us there @the_leadership_hacker and at YouTube, we are just Leadership Hacker, so that is me signing off. I am Steve Rush and I have been the leadership hacker.

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