Today’s podcast, “Clearing for Breakthrough” is the audio from a webinar presented by Tony Mayo, The Business Owner’s Executive Coach. Listen to this recording and then join us for Tuesdays with Tony at Twelve, a weekly, free webinar where you can explore powerful executive coaching tools and ask Tony about applying them in your life and career.

Tony explains the meaning of a breakthrough and discusses how to use the insights available from a breakthrough to dramatically accelerate your performance.

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Mostly for the benefit of the web indexing engines.

Coaches use some specialized terms, so I’ll explain what they mean. Let’s start with breakthrough.

And the idea of, well, how you can visualize the upgrade to say if you have the classic x y axes time going across this way. You’ve got some measurement along here.

We tend to think of life is going along, kinda like this. There are some dips and exceptional recoveries with things that gentle, we have this trend line up with that you know we keep on working, doing the right things will move on that trend.

But a breakthrough is when there is suddenly this discontinuous jump and then the trend line is operating from a different place. There’s this some shift is a number of things that can

Cause this chefs. One of my favorites is why we leave this access this time we change the value of this access we start measuring something differently.

A lot of people, and I was one of them come out of school thinking the main axis is money. We’re going to use that as the measure of all merit.

But if we find we start tracking different things like, like you said that the the rejections are part of the process for getting a bigger and bigger stages bigger and bigger sales.

And some sales people have breakthrough success when they realize that the more knows they get, the better. They’re going to keep progressing someone instead of counting the yeses and encouragement, they say, well,

I know that one person and 10 is going to say yes. Every time someone says, no, I whittled away at that nine nose and getting through there.

Now it’s just it’s a mental shift. We haven’t altered reality out there yet. But as you’ve probably experienced when we met we alter the assumptions here. Then we have greater power altering the reality out there.

One another interesting change in the access is looking for the laughter There’s good evidence that when people in groups are laughing that they are comfortable enough together to get work done.

Shared a very quiet solemn environment. You gotta wonder is there Corporation and creativity going on. It’s been laughter is a very powerful indicator that you may notice that when people in a work environment or some other productive situation like a volunteer committee.

Most of the time when people laugh. It’s not funny. It’s not a joke. There’s nothing humorous going on.

It seems that all mammals laugh. Certainly the primates have some repetitive sounds like that that look on the spectrum Graham, just like laughter

And I remember hearing some researchers who are looking at a young lab rats and they seem to play with each other. They had certain ritual games and they interact

With things but they said, gee, all other mammals, when they interact. This way, there’s some sound like laughter and they weren’t hearing it.

finally dawned on someone that most GRAT sounds are very high frequency high pitched even beyond our range of hearing. So they set up a microphone and brought it down a few octaves to our range. And sure enough, these little rats were giggling when they were interacting

So Tony Mayo says that laughter in groups isn’t necessarily a measure of humor, it’s, it’s an indicator that were close enough to harm each other, but we’re laughing. So we’re safe.

So a little rats and dogs and

Cats can wrestle and bite but when they’re making this laughter involuntary sound. We know okay this is this is play fighting. This is Play biting.

And when we’re disagreeing with other people’s ideas are bringing up our own precious thoughts that we don’t want to have shot down

If we’re getting some. Laughter We forget that feeling of safety. So that’s another access people might change to have a breakthrough in their results. I’m not saying that the laughter or the rejections.

Our ultimate goal. It just can be a more useful measure to give us the freedom to take the actions that will get us closer to the results that we want.

It makes sense so far. Makes sense. Yes, that’s the idea of the breakthrough that we’re not just trying to improve and it just trying to make the

increase a little bit steeper. We have a bit of a bump. It’s just, let’s break through to a higher level and stay there.

And operate from there. Okay. I had a client, a few years ago with a business partner and often the I’m when he cut off the call the party would say, Well, what did you learn with your coach.

Because there’s partners idea of a coat was more of a consultant or a subject matter expert. He wanted tips and techniques and a little insights, but I didn’t really know anything about the industry.

In so he had trouble justifying to as partner what he was doing with a coach, about seven, eight months in, and this seems typical I always tell my clients don’t expect that a breakthrough until you get to the six to 12 month mark.

Can you check it out. I know what it is we’re doing says, I’ve noticed that when I come into the office. Now I see different things. So I take different actions. He says, because of the coaching I’m living in a different world.

That’s the idea of a breakthrough, the physical circumstances may be the same. But you notice different things.

And therefore, you can take different actions and often those actions are conversations. So that’s the idea of breaking through we move along this way.

And we’re sort of stuck on this trajectory. How do we break out of that. Well, if you keep playing the same game. You can’t break out of it.

I’ll give you another example from one of the people who originated coaching as we know it today.

Werner Earhart and created asked, and that turned into landmark education that spawned a lot of other training programs for the last 40 years

As part of his study of how coaching worked in other domains outside of

Self Actualization he learned to drive a racecar so I forgot what kind of cars, it was, but it was a where you can have a hobby and he

Had the resources and the time we bought the equipment. He got to teach them how to drive, and after a while of practicing and competing he found that he was pretty consistently in the top seven or eight people among the finishers

But encounters. There was another smaller group that was always placing for a second. Maybe third when these guys showed up. They when placed our show.

And he was in this group that was always. Sometimes it get first or second. But mostly they were in the second set of leads

So he began to interview. These people or as he admitted interrogate them what’s going on in their heads with their procedure. What is it that’s different about them.

And what he noticed is when you first learn to drive one of these fast cars, pretty much operating on terror trying to stay alive.

And then once you get past the terror, what you’re doing is becoming expert at controlling this huge piece of steel. That’s hurdling along at 150 to 200 miles an hour around a track.

And you’re trying to go as fast as you can. Around that track and that’s a pretty intense activity and only a few dozen people get good enough at it to be in that second group of people

But when he talked to the folks who will consistently coming in first, second, third, he noticed who playing an entirely different game. And this idea of playing a different game is another core coaching concept.

Says for these people. They had handled driving a fast car. They were comfortable going around a track at 200 miles an hour. They weren’t operating at 200 miles an hour anymore. They were concerned about the one or two mile an hour difference between them in the car. They want to get around.

They were is relaxed, but there was sitting on the sofa at home just taking these little tiny adjustments to take advantage of the draft from this car.

To notice this person comes into was turns a tiny bit later. So if you get around them on that point. Wow, they were playing a slow motion game of precision instead of a high speed game of survival.

And when he started thinking of it that way, just trying to get ahead of one other car going around one more competitor. He began to get to that group. The one twos and threes.

I noticed his skills and change didn’t buy a better car. He didn’t learn some new driving technique. He just looked at the given circumstances through a different lens or a different filter and that became a breakthrough.

So I introduced a few ideas there. A one is this idea of taking what we’re trying to accomplish and looking at as a game that doesn’t mean to trivialize it or make it into a pointless diversion. Notice that in a game. There are certain rules that you play by

And some outcomes are preferred to other outcomes. Plus, there are people trying to Fort you in that game.

They want to win the game to

And you can see that applies to a lot of things in life. If we don’t get us, someone else will in there are certain rules and boundaries.

And one of the first places to look at our games in life, whether their sales delivering to speech, creating a product hiring employees motivating our staff is

Well, are these rules that I’m operating within actually the rules, maybe there’s something else to do, maybe that’s not the proper game.

So I missed. If the rule is, as so many business owners think for them to be have all the answers to be in total control to make every important decision, which is a pretty comments that are roles running a business at highly restricts their game.

But if the game becomes, how do I make this the kind of place where people invite your friends to come work.

They all want to be growing and getting better. That’s a different game. How do you, how do you instigate that

There’s one client. I was so proud of because for several from meetings or a pair of a couple of months, he was just crowing about one of his key executives, one of the

Six people that was always at the table, and they make the big decisions. I sat down and met with him, I said, you know, what’s been going on, what’s new is as well. I let Vivian. Go ahead, that fire.

Really you were to love with her results. He says, yeah, she was very good at her job, but it kept emerging in our executive meetings that she wasn’t interested in any

personal growth opportunity she didn’t want to take any courses. She didn’t want to train a new tasks you didn’t want to attempt anything that wasn’t clearly a skill that she had already established and he said, personal growth is one of our fundamental values.

Have an executive who isn’t expressing our fundamental values. See, that’s a different game. The game is to put together a team that believes in and axon are fundamental values and someone who is just producing great results within their narrow sphere. That’s not enough.

So proud of because it was hard. I mean, you spent a long time recruiting for that position he’s invested in her. But then he realized not, I’ve got to get some of that not only does good work but expresses our values, different game.

One nice thing we’re calling it a game is you get to define it, you get to

Create new rules played a different way, try things out becomes a little less grim.

Alright so let me see what the questions ever reason. So, so far, Jane. When you think of

Games breakthroughs and so on. What, what comes up for you. I like the idea

Of the game.

Yeah, that that’s resonating with me, seeing as a game.

And definitely about the core values. Yeah. Yeah, definitely. I’m seeing that even though somebody reproducing. But if they’re not matching the values of the company.

It’s not the right fit. Yeah, so

Sure the values of our company.

All right, so let me show you a bit of an illustration on

Breakthrough cool

No hope you seeing a picture of building right now. I do. All right, and

That’s the kind of a sudden traumatic.

What are these planned implosion.

So that was let’s see 26 seconds. Yes.

That was going to be some clean up afterwards you can tear down this huge building in half.

And I’m sure that when people first came up with the idea of using implosion.

That was a breakthrough.

But what people often don’t realize is, there’s a lot of work and preparation that goes into these implosions

People study the building very carefully, they’ll, they’ll get the original plants at the candle. Talk to the engineers who designed the buildings.

And they’ll find out where they need to place these charges have this happen and often they’ll go in and they’ll, they’ll break down part of the bearing walls are cut holes in the floor. So the air can come through.

As everything collapses. It takes weeks of research and days and days of planting the explosives at different places that will go off in a particular sequence so that it falls, where they want to fall.

So there is has to be this preparation, what I call a clearing that’s appropriate to a breakthrough. It doesn’t just happen. That’s why I tell new clients that don’t expect dramatic shifts and results for six months or more, because we’re creating that clearing

And clearing is the is the other idea that I want to talk about today and that is

The idea that you can prepare a space so that what you want to have happen is more likely to happen not only more likely, but it becomes easier even automatic and self sustaining

One example that can think about this was when I was on vacation with my family and unlike you probably you’ve had some of your key insights and creativity. When you’re not working when you’re out for a walk, often in nature. And that’s powerful tool as well.

So we’re in Shenandoah National Park. That’s about an hour west of here in Virginia, and this is an Eastern Park. It’s not one of those

West and parks with the federal government just happened to have title to your huge expanse of natural beauty and decide that put a fence around it, call it a park.

No Shenandoah had to be reclaimed from human settlement. So they started buying up the farms and the lumber stance and letting it go back to being a forest. So with the family on a range of war. Walk in one part of shadow national park called Big meadows.

And as the brains is taking us through this area’s about 80 acres of open land and the forest, saying that as far as they can tell big meadows has been a meadow for about a millennia.

I raised my hand. I said, Well, you’ve already told us that the rest of the park is mostly farmland.

That has returned to forest. So what is it about this particular set of 80 acres that keeps it in meadow isn’t kind of geology micro climate is if something about the soil said well we mow it twice a year.

Okay. That covers most recent 50 years. What about the 950 years

And she said, well, that’s why this area was so important for the Native Americans several times a year, they would burn this part of the forest, because if you clear part of a forest.

Then the deer will come out of the woods to eat the grass in the young shoots. And then you can, you know, harvest. What you want more easily.

So consider this. Your the, the head of a stone age tribe and you’ve got a very clear goal of a care of your keep your tribe alive. And to do that, you need the deer for for meat and hides and bones for tools and all the things that people do when you

And you’ve got this

Two alternatives you live in a forest that’s filled with their. That’s good. So you ever really supply. You’ve got clients this tribe that’s trying to stay alive.

And you could get very clever and stealthy and learn to track the deer through the forest and try to get close enough to one to, you know, harvested.

Or you can get your tribe together and clear part of the forest and create an environment that’s attractive to the deer, the deer come out to where you are and you can take care of them well.

In both strategies could work. So you have to ask you a question is you what kind of life. Do you want to live. Do you want to be chasing and dragging now or

Yes. Now these Native Americans chose clearing and harvesting and so did a lot of Europeans fact when they would build a formal garden on these the states and manners, they would often have a clear area. So the deer come out to be looked at and admired, and that’s where the

You know this brand comes from of this Elvis water up your way.

No, I’ve never seen now.

I’m just faces. It’s called The Deer Park brand at this handsome little deer on there in a formal garden that area was called a Deer Park.

So this is the idea, you know, just so clearing and a forest influence the behavior of the deer declaring your company is declaring you as a person, our

Influences the behavior of people. Yeah. And it’s kind of obvious when I pointed out, that’s often the case with these coaching distinctions. Once you hear you say, oh, yeah, that is the way


There are certain people certain places conversations that encourage specific predictable behaviors and we encounter these clearings all the time now.

You’ve probably had this experience. You walk into the kitchen to get something out of the junk drawer peer pliers and you find yourself in the refrigerator.

I didn’t come in here, but the kitchen is the clearing for opening your fridge rater to eat. Yes, kitchen is for

And you know, when you talk to a young child, you get down, you make big eyes and you move your hands around generally act like an idiot.

Communicating with child is that’s a clearing to bring out certain things and in one of my goals in life is to be able to take out my phone and actually do the thing I took my phone out to do.

And then put it away.

Instead of whatever else is a clearing for. So these clearings are all around us. But we don’t often think about how to design these clearings into our own life. But if you’re alert you can notice the poles of the various ones in choose to do something different.

I say that

So, did you notice some of the clearings new life. Maybe that are pulling you towards things you don’t want to be doing.

Yes, I would say. So I would say so. Yes. Yeah.

Do you have a home office chain.

I have not really, no. I have like like Mike my kitchen table.

So you can, you got to be very conscious that when you’re at the kitchen table you know there for the meal and family socializing reason you’re there for the

For work, you know,

Many signals are clues for doing that, you know, some people they have a particular coffee cups. Okay.

Well yeah, I haven’t

I have a teapot. Yeah, I would pick this up pot of tea and mug and put it to the side computer and I get to work. Yeah.

These rituals in in in talisman talismans might seem silly, but that’s the way we operate. We looked at a lot of clues for how we behave

Effect. Yeah, there’s a whole nother conversation, but we tend to think of ourselves as a stable being with a fixed personality.

But that’s mostly because our environment is pretty stale at pretty stable really fixed and you put people in a different environment. You going to get very different behaviors.

To the extreme of the the Milgram prison experiment where he told some students that they were prisoners and some students that they will guards in the immediately became antagonistic yeah the guards vicious and the prisoners became rebellious. Yeah.

There’s something about the environment that pulls this force. So in a nutshell, and think, what is a child moral he’ll be creative, to take an initiative well on the floor, playing with bunch of Legos or while sitting in a cubicle being told me creative build something form it

Yeah, a lot of businesses. I like that.

He just squeeze a lot of the creativity out of declaring that our offices are

So there’s that opportunity that whenever you see any kind of water bottle doesn’t have to be this brand just say, well,

There’s a clearing being created. Am I doing it consciously choosing it and it could even be a clearing for breakthrough.

For knocking down some of the barriers for changing some of our measurements and that’s where we can start getting results that were discontinuous unpredictable.

And maybe the key to what we want as the clearing the consciously choosing the designing of the clearings that makes it sustainable. So it’s not just that one off event that we’re not quite sure why it was that way how to have it happen. Okay. Okay.

Now, next time on Tuesday. We’ll talk about some of the clearings that I have found are conducive to big breakthroughs. For now, it’s just the idea

Of if we notice we’re doing a behavior that works for us on a consistent basis will. What is it that’s going on is that the people I’m interacting with is the way I’m using my language. Is it something about the physical environment.

And the other thing after some behaviors that are in a way that are distracting dissipating or energy pushing us in the wrong direction. What can we change about that. Okay.

Yeah okay cool ideas about that. No, no, and

It’s, it’s interesting. This is kind of timely.

For this as you’re talking. I’m like, oh boy. This is so timely.

And it’s actually helping me make a better decision for sure. Yeah, I have one of my instructors here in the studio.

Cons sent me a text last night at midnight asking if I was still awake, which, of course, I wasn’t. It was sleeping and she

contacted me this morning and a big state of big data frenzy and chaos and she had a fight with her husband and wanted to sleep on my couch.


Just this whole worldliness and chaos and i don’t i don’t like being around chaos.

Because I find it just, it’s, it’s that it’s that pulls me to direction. I don’t want to be during going to

Yeah. And anyway, so the conversation.

didn’t go the way I had hoped, because she was very emotional agenda hanging up on me.

Yeah, you didn’t want to go into her world of chaos.

No, no. And she was like, You’re being very cold and

Disconnected is how she’s like, I was like, I just don’t like getting involved in this craziness that you’re creating. Yeah.

That’s one of the things people do is, even if their life isn’t working by their own standards they like to pull people into it for reassurance that it has to be that way.


These are these clearings reinforced themselves with. It’s interesting, as you were talking about this. I’m thinking, well, the usual response to establish better boundaries right yeah boundaries and clearings go together. I guess I think

And that’s it. And that’s it. Yeah. So, and that’s why in the morning. I saw the Texas. Like, what have I done to make her think that it was okay to text me at midnight to see if I was still awake. If I can sleep on your couch. Good for you.


What Jesse opposite of what 99.9% of people would do. Right.


What’s wrong with her that she would do this. Yeah.

I’m all right now. Yeah, right. I’m more right now going, Okay, what if, what have I done. What have I created what relationship with I created with this person, what boundaries that by not set

To make this happen.

So yes, that’s why this is like this is really timely.

You saw you’re going to revisit that and and work on the relationship with her and I am

I am but I’m going to do it one she’s in a commerce date.

Because right now, I will get the results that I want to have. Right. And so I’m just gonna let her calm down and then connect with her at a later date and say we let’s talk. Let’s have a discussion and I’ll for, say, I’m taking responsibility for the dynamics of this relationship.

Because I think I’d given

There’s friendship and then there’s employee employer relationship and they blurred.

So, so what do you think you you could do were stopped doing to have that not occur so often.

I have to

I have to decide what kind of what kind of relationship. I want to have first. I think I need to decide is this. Do you want this as a friendship relationship.

Or do you want to be as an employer, employee relationship because I don’t think they can be both I and leaning more towards the employee and employer relationship.

Because I find that the friendship doesn’t support me well through everyday life get pulled into the drama pulled into the drama and that’s that doesn’t work well with me, but you want to be a good friend and listen, but I’m not

I’m not to. What’s the word for it.

A therapist would be a better path.

Then the for that because I’m not a therapist. I’m not skilled, so I want to bring it back to employee and employer relationship.

Or just have the boundaries around the friendship. I’m even a friend could say, yeah, it’s not in your interest to me to try to be your therapist yes order or to hold the net every time something goes wrong, ha, yes, that’s really interesting. Yeah. And so, you know, I’ll end the recording.

So we’re not posting your conversation bomb.

Yeah, that’s interesting that idea of boundaries with the clearing in attracting certain things, but I can

Now do you attract some things, but that’s that could crowd out some others in perhaps if declaring his you’re attracting employees who are self sufficient to our have more stable personal lives. Yes, that’s what I would like.

Because everybody else is like that. Yeah.

All my other staff everyone’s consistent stable. That’s why I was thinking going, how did this happen. I have somebody who’s chaotic, because I don’t look for that I look for.

clues that she might be a more needy or less stable.

No, this was she’s been with me for a while, so. But originally, she was very stable. She’s, she’s going through the going going through a lot but yeah yeah but that’s what I want to attract that stability in that

Because in their safety and stability.

Not so much chaos.

When it comes to business.

Right, yeah. And especially as you’re trying to branch out into other things you want your business to be predictable. So that’s just that.

Yeah, that’s just up for sure. For sure. So that was was very timely. Thank you very much. All right.

Well, thanks for being with me. Thank you. Look forward to you again soon.

Okay. Take care. Bye.