Eduardo Briceño
Homeland Security

To achieve your full potential, you need to balance time in the performance zone with time in the learning zone.

Eduardo Briceño
Listen Now
Show Notes

Eduardo Briceño is a global keynote speaker and facilitator who guides many of the world’s leading companies in developing cultures of continuous improvement, innovation, and high performance. His TED talk, “How To Get Better At The Things You Care About,” and his TEDx talk, “The Power of Belief,” have been viewed more than nine million times. His book, The Performance Paradox: Turning the Power of Mindset into Action, was selected as a “Must Read” by the Next Big Idea Club and was shortlisted for the Thinkers50 Breakthrough Idea Award, given to thinkers who “have ignited Eureka moments in management, offering radical ideas that have the potential to reshape the future of business as we know it.” His work has been featured in Harvard Business Review, Big Think, Business Insider, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Forbes, Inc., Quartz, and others.

Earlier in his career, Eduardo was the co-founder and CEO of Mindset Works, the pioneer in growth mindset development services, which he started with Stanford professor Carol Dweck and which he led for over a decade. Prior to that, he was a venture capital investor with the Sprout Group and served on several for-profit and non-profit boards. Before that, he was an investment banking analyst with Credit Suisse. He is a Pahara-Aspen Fellow, a member of the Aspen Institute’s Global Leadership Network, and an inductee in the Happiness Hall of Fame.

Originally from Caracas, Venezuela, Eduardo holds bachelor’s degrees in economics and engineering from the University of Pennsylvania, as well as an MBA and M.A. in education from Stanford University. Most importantly, he continues to enjoy lifelong learning every day.

“The performance paradox is the counterintuitive reality that if we focus only on performing, our performance suffers.”

-Eduardo Briceño

Key Takeaways:

Performance vs. Learning Zones: To grow and reach new levels, we need to balance time in the performance zone (executing as well as we currently can) with time in the learning zone (deliberately practicing skills and stretching beyond our comfort zone).

Growth Mindset: Cultivating a growth mindset – the belief that we can improve our abilities through effective effort – is key to motivation, resilience and achievement. We also need to know how to change and have a strong sense of purpose.

Creating Growth Cultures: Leaders can transform their teams and organizations by fostering a learning culture. This requires modeling growth behaviors, providing resources and support, and aligning systems around improvement.

Productivity Paradox: Focusing relentlessly on productivity can backfire. Building in time for exploration, reflection and recovery actually fuels better performance in the long-run. Declutter to focus on what matters most.

Transcending Positionality: To solve our biggest challenges, we must be willing to question our assumptions, engage with different perspectives, and iteratively test solutions. Staying stuck in fixed positions limits progress.

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Mark Divine (00:02):

Coming up on the Mark Divine Show. 

Eduardo Briceño (00:04):

If we focus only on performing, our performance suffers. And I think that’s what a lot of us are doing in work and life. We’re just trying to get things done as best as we know how, trying to minimize mistakes and that is harming our performance as well as the journey, as well as how much joy we have throughout the process. 

Mark Divine (00:26):

Hi, this is Mark Divine, and this is the Mark Divine Show. Thanks so much for joining me today. Super stoked to have you on the Mark Divine Show. I love to explore what it means to be fearless and super accomplished and unbeatable by speaking to some of the world’s most incredibly compassionate, inspirational, and thoughtful leaders. I’ve talked to folks from all different areas of life, stoic philosophers and psychedelic researchers and entrepreneurs and leaders in performance coaching, such as my guest today, Eduardo Briceño Eduardo is the author of the Performance Paradox, turning the Power of Mindset into Action. He’s got a TED Talk that’s been viewed over 9 million times. He’s a global keynote speaker and facilitator guides many of the leading, many of the world’s leading companies in developing cultures of learning and high performance earlier in his career as the co-founder and CEO of Mindset works, where he partnered with Carol Dweck, who pioneered the idea of growth mindset. 


Mark Divine (01:20):

Previous to that, he was a venture capital investor with a Sprout group, and he’s a Pahara Aspen fellow, a member of the Aspen Institute’s Global Leadership Network and inductee into the Happiness Hall of Fame. How cool. Before I get into the show, I wanted you to know that I’m opening up slots for our Unbeatable Coach certification and our unbeatable team for 2024. The Unbeatable team is an amazing year of transformational training. It’s where I direct my full attention and time in coaching and training. I don’t do it anywhere else. It’s here in the unbeatable team that I can give my full attention to help those deeply committed to transforming, to become uncommon in a world that you know is rapidly collapsing into fear, moral realism, and mediocrity. We meet virtually every month as a team come together four times during the year for three days of powerful in-person training and practice. And I’m here to help you break through any barriers and to crush all of your goals for 2024. So if you’re ready to go deep with me and willing to do the work, I can guarantee amazing strides will be made. Go to unbeatable team.com and unbeatable coaching.com to learn more about these unbeatable events. Now, back to the show, 

Mark Divine (02:32):

Eduardo, thanks for joining me on the Mark Divine Show. 

Eduardo Briceño (02:35):

Thank you for having me, Mark. Good to be here. 

Mark Divine (02:36):

Yeah, no, it’s great to meet you too. And good to know you’re up the road in sunny San Jose. And are you a transplant from Venezuela or were you born here in this country? 

Eduardo Briceño (02:46):

I was born in Venezuela. I live my first 16 years of my life there and I never thought I would leave. So my dad got transferred when I was in high school, and that was unexpected and it led to a completely different journey than I expected. 

Mark Divine (02:57):

Venezuela has gone through some times. We have a good friend who was maybe a little older than you, but she left and then she said the family that she left back there. There’s a lot going on, a lot of strife and political struggle. 

Eduardo Briceño (03:10):

Yeah, it’s been really hard. More than half of the people that I grew up with are all over the world. All over the world, and it is been traumatic for some of the people who have been left behind. My parents and sister are still there, but they’ll move to the US in the coming years. Oh 

Mark Divine (03:24):

Really? Oh, good luck for them. As I mentioned before we started, I’d like to kind of give our listeners just a sense or know you’re from Venezuela, but what shaped you to become a mindset expert? What were the influences in your life, mentors or challenging situations? What were the turning points? What’s your life like up to now? 

Eduardo Briceño (03:44):

Well, I’ll try to make it succinct. I’ve had a lot of twists and turns and I’m doing things that I never thought I would be doing. My mother and father were both very much numbers people. My mom studied mathematics in college and stayed at home with us. My father was a mechanical engineer and started his career in the oil fields in Western Venezuela where I was born. He worked for over 30 years for the same company, an oil company, and he ended up being the CEO of one of the divisions. What he always taught me was to work hard, like the value of hard work. That was a good lesson that has served me well. But on the other hand, the lesson was more like you got to grind it out. You got to go to work and do the work that you dislike because that’s what you have to do. 

Eduardo Briceño (04:27):

And so I didn’t have an entrepreneurial bone in my body. I didn’t know any entrepreneurs. I didn’t think of myself as creative, and I just went to school and I didn’t have any real interest. I just applied myself in school. I tried to fit in. There’s a lot of pressure to conform to a norm I felt like, and I was not a happy kid, but without any great better ideas, I just try to fit in and try to do okay in school. And really looking back, I was focused on just performing. It wasn’t when I was going to school, I was just trying to get good grades and then try to get to a good university. And then when I graduated, tried to get a good job, which to me was just a high paying job. So I ended up studying chemical engineering and finance, even though I wasn’t interested in those things, it just like I thought it would give me a job that was secure. 

Eduardo Briceño (05:14):

And I ended up working investment banking in New York City and then spending five years in venture capital in Silicon Valley. And I was in a place that I’d never thought I would end up in Stanhill Road and Menlo Park investing, leading startups with my own office with a mahogany desk. But one night I was working and I did something I had never done before and I have never done since, which is I was angry and I started taking it out on the keyboard. I started hitting the keyboard hard doing my work, and my thumb started hurting and the pain started moving through my forearm. I didn’t think twice about it. I was used to just working through pain, but the pain got worse over the coming days and I learned that there was this thing called a repetitive strain injury and it was getting worse. 

Eduardo Briceño (06:05):

So I started to get work on ergonomics and using speech recognition, I started going to the doctor and I thought at the time that the doctors, I thought of them as car mechanics. I abuse my body, I go to the doctor and they fix me, and that’s how I saw it. But this became something that was difficult to diagnose. I had to end up doing lots of things from eastern and western medicine and tried spirituality and all kinds of things to try to figure out what was going on with my body. And my body was getting worse. I met people who had the same condition that I did, which is called Myofascial Pain syndrome, who couldn’t use their hands for more than 10 minutes a day. That freaked me out because I was having trouble opening doors, brushing my teeth using the computer. The fact that I might lose my ability to use my hands really woke me up to the fact that I didn’t feel like I was doing anything useful with my hands. 

Eduardo Briceño (06:58):

I didn’t feel like if I lost my, either if I died or if I lost my ability to use my hands. I wasn’t making a dent in the world and I was kind of wasting my life. And so I had to learn a little about health and nutrition and how to hold my body, but also search for a purpose. How am I going to be a good steward of my life and how do I want to live? So that looking back 20 years from now, 40 years from now, I’m going to be proud of how I’ve lived. And so I went to grad school to pivot and to develop a different path. And when I was there I met a Stanford professor, Carol Dweck. She’s a psychologist who coined the term growth mindset. She was looking for somebody with a business background to start an organization with to put out growth mindset out into the world at a time. Nobody had heard about it. Her book had just come out that started me on this path. Well, that and just learning about her work and how a fixed mindset had gotten in the way of my goals, I had gotten in my own way because of where I had fixed mindsets that unlocked a lot of growth for me and I partnered with her to help others and continue to learn along the way. 

Mark Divine (08:01):

That’s terrific. How was it to start that company and to work with Carol and talk about that work? The work you did at Mindset Works? 

Eduardo Briceño (08:10):

It was wonderful, and Carol’s being a close mentor for 16 years now, but Mindset Works is an organization that helps schools foster cultures of learning rather than cultures of performance, which is when I was going to school, I was just focused on grades. So growth mindset, it cultures both for the adults, for the kids, for the parents. And it was an amazing experience doing work that I was passionate about, helping turn around and just foster cultures where kids develop the love of learning a love of growth, and teachers develop practices that cultivated that focus on learning rather than focus on just the grades and focus on improving rather than focus on improving focus on taking on challenges that we can learn from and examining and try to do everything flawlessly. So it was very fulfilling work. I definitely made mistakes. So the company is thriving and it’s impacted schools all over the world, but it took us longer than it should have because I made mistakes as that first time entrepreneur, one of them I had in venture capital. 

Eduardo Briceño (09:14):

I felt that there was a lot of pressure to put a lot of money into a company, have it grow quickly and sell it. And I saw this as a life endeavor, as a marathon and as something that the world wasn’t. And it wasn’t ready for us to hire a lot of salespeople and marketing and just grow quickly. We bootstrapped the company. And a mistake that I made is that we didn’t put enough resources into the company. So we were really focused too much on performance and too little on learning and learning from people who have done it before and focusing on fewer customers at first to experiment and to figure out what worked best for them. So it was an amazing journey of learning, taking longer than I should have, but amazing growth as well. 

Mark Divine (09:57):

Yeah, well that’s a judgment call that you can make in the rear view mirror. Yes. But at the time, it very well was probably the right cost. The pressure as you know that you put on an organization when you bring in outside capital and all the different board vision that gets inserted into it and suddenly it could have also destroyed the business. I struggled with that same thing. I completely self-funded my organization and it’s taken us a long time. At the same time, we own a hundred percent of it and we don’t have anyone telling us what to do. We’re not beholden to anybody except our clients. I mean, that could change someday, but it’s just the way things were. Right. 

Eduardo Briceño (10:33):

Yeah, no, and it’s a great place to be where you don’t have those outside kind of pressures that sometimes might not be aligned. And on the other hand, there are some great investors there that are long-term investors and focus on the mission and making a good impact. So we also could have search for those investors that were aligned with us. 

Mark Divine (10:51):

Yeah, yeah. No, I hear that. So your interest in performance, I could see started with your own journey of healing. By the way, have you fully recovered from the myofascial issue? 

Eduardo Briceño (11:02):

Yeah, I fully recovered. Yeah, it took a long, for three years I was using speech recognition for three years. I was stretching for an hour and a half every day. I changed the way I eat, I changed the way I exercise, I hold my body. I was psychologically, I was every day telling myself that as if I was in a sprint all the time. So I was literally tensing my muscles all the time. And what happened is the muscle of plastic or malleable like the brain is, and so when they were always contracted, they lost the ability to relax and they became physically shorter. You can measure the range of motion is very restricted. And so they became very hard and it becomes hard for the blood to penetrate the muscle to then heal the muscle. And so there’s lots of things that I had to do. 

Eduardo Briceño (11:52):

There’s something dry needling where the needle goes into the trigger point and there’s a twitch response and that creates some. So there’s a lot of things that I did, but at the end that all worked and I’m in a much better emotional place and with having purpose and the way I’m living, but also such better healthy place because I feel like if I had stayed and doing what I was doing, I would probably have a heart attack in my fifties just because I was just doing so many things in an unhealthy way. So at the time in the middle of it, it’s something that I find interesting is that I thought it was a horrible thing to be for what I was going through in my mid twenties, but looking back, it was such a blessing that really got me in such a better trajectory. 

Mark Divine (12:37):

Right. Yeah, that’s always the case, isn’t it? I talk a lot about an UN Beatle mind, which is our training system, even with sealfit, seal’s got more of the harder edge to it because training to be a Navy SEAL and training like that, you got to really lean into the hard. But we also emphasize that you have to have equal emphasis, not necessarily equal time spent in the recovery phases in the softer side of training, such as interior skills like you would find in developing mindset, breath control, visualization, positive self affirmations, those types of things. And my work with Navy SEAL candidates that approach that hard and soft, the yin yang led to some extraordinary success. Like the typical Navy SEAL candidate, I think 85% fail seal training. And those who trained with SEAL fit 90% were making it through SEAL training amazing. 

Mark Divine (13:28):

It was all mental emotional and it was all the soft side because the hard was well known. You could do Google search, you can go bang out as many miles and as many pushups as you can, and you can show up pretty good shape. But if you didn’t have the softer skills to be able to maintain control and chaos and to be able to become non-reaction and to be able to relax your muscles so you don’t always suck up all that energy just by always being in active go mode. So it’s extraordinarily important. And I think that’s the key to your performance paradox, if I’m not wrong, is like you got to have the hard balance for the soft and then this could be expressed in a lot of different ways, right? 

Eduardo Briceño (14:07):

Absolutely. There’s definitely a connection there. In the performance paradox, what I realized, so in my work with Carol Duet, her work on growth mindset is that she should discover that when we believe that we can change and that our abilities and qualities are malleable, then there’s a lot of psychological benefits that come from that called growth mindset versus when we believe that we can’t change that we’re fixing a certain way, for example, people are natural athletes and that’s why they’re so good or natural leaders and that’s why they’re so good, then everybody can become a better athlete or a better leader. So her work has shown that believing that we can change is really important to growth and to performance. But what I also discovered and what I’ve learned from her and others is that we also need to know how to change and how to grow. 

Eduardo Briceño (14:53):

And that is different from what I thought. So what I had been taught when I grew up is the Keith hard work. If you just work hard, you’ll get better and you’ll succeed. But what I’ve learned from Carol Dweck and Andrew Erickson and others is that actually that’s misguided because we can work to perform or we can work to improve. And those are different things. If you think of an athlete when they’re working on the performance, they’re in the master in the tournament, they’re in the championship final, they are doing things as best as they know how, trying to minimize mistakes. That’s what I call the performance zone. But what we don’t see, I mean you see it because behind the scenes, but what most people don’t see is that what they do off the court is very different from what we see on the court. 

Eduardo Briceño (15:36):

Off the court, they might say, this move that I was trying to avoid in the game, I was just failing every time. I’m losing every point. I need to work on that move or I need to work on the next level of challenge that I haven’t mastered yet. And that’s what I call the learning zone, right? It’s leaping into the unknown. And the performance paradox is kind of the counterintuitive reality that if we focus only on performing, our performance suffers. And I think that’s what a lot of us are doing in work and life. We’re just trying to get things done as best as we know how, trying to minimize mistakes and that is harming our performance as well as the journey, as well as how much joy we have throughout the process. And so in the book, the Performance Paradox, what I focus on is in contrasting the performance zone from the learning zone and what are the different strategies that we use to learn and to grow and improve that are different from just what we do to get the job done? And how can we do both of those things which are important in our work and in our lives. I think the digital teams and organizations, 

Mark Divine (16:31):

Yeah, cool overlap. Few things that are coming to me that I learned in the seals and through my many years as a martial artist, oftentimes or most of the time or all the time even, it’s really better to do a fewer narrower range of skills and to practice them more than it is to try to master a broader range of skills. And of course, through the necessity of time, you end up practicing them less. It’s like Ani Mai book of Five Rings said, I’d rather take a warrior beside me who has practiced one sword cut a hundred thousand times than a warrior who knows a hundred thousand different sword cuts. And so that kind of doing less things better is a really powerful principle. And I think you just touched on that. There’s also this idea of just doing something you you’re already good at and just trying to keep on doing it harder. 

Mark Divine (17:21):

And that doesn’t work either, right? If you’re a runner, just running more miles isn’t going to necessarily make you a better runner. There’s a whole different attitude about this idea of a learning zone. It’s like even doing different things. My relationship to that is I was a competitive swimmer in Colgate University, and it wasn’t until I took up rowing that my swimming improved. I literally plateaued for two and a half years, and then I took some time, I started a new sport and I came back to swimming, and suddenly everything was so much better by doing something completely different. 

Eduardo Briceño (17:52):

Absolutely, yeah. This Greek orderer, for example, is a lawyer named the Masese. He was the best order of his time, but at the time the courtrooms were outside, they were very crowded and loud, people shout. And so he did things like go practice by the ocean where it was very loud. He had a twitch in this weird thing he would do with his shoulder. He would bring it up so he would practice in his basement with a sword hanging from the ceiling so that if he raised his sword, his shoulder, it would hurt. So to your point, the things that we do to improve are different from just doing more of the activity. 

Mark Divine (18:28):

I’d love to just get some of the practical and tactical ideas that you bring forth in the book to unlock the learning zone and to overcome or to live the performance paradox. I’m not sure how you would say that, but embrace the performance paradox probably 

Eduardo Briceño (18:43):

Better. So the performance paragraphs is a challenge. It traps us into chronic performance, into trying to perform all the time. And what we need to think about is first start with what do I want to improve? What do I want to develop, what do I care about? And just having the consciousness and the intentionality of first, okay, what do I want to get better at? And then what are the habits that are going to help me improve in this area? Do I need a coach? Do I need to do some deliberate practice? Whatever it is, meditation. And so maybe I think that kind of reminding ourselves every morning of what that is that we’re trying to improve and how we’re going about it is a great way to start. And then thinking about what are our habits? A lot of our habits tend to be performance habits, just getting things done and systems, whether it’s individuals, teams or organizations. 

Eduardo Briceño (19:32):

What are the systems and habits and tools that we’re going to use not just to perform, but also to learn. So for example, in team meetings, often we talk about just performance things. What do we need to get done by when? How are we going to keep ourselves accountable? That’s all really important. We need that. But we could also put into a meeting agenda that’s like, what have we learned recently that might be helpful to others, or what questions do we have for each other? Or what insights are we getting from customers or what experiments are we running so that it becomes the easy default? The way we work and live is we work and live in both zones. And what kind of strategies we use varies depending on what skills we want to improve, what our context is and what our resources are. 

Mark Divine (20:13):

So when you’re coaching, what do you recommend when someone’s like beyond the point, they’ve had the go button pressed to full for so long that now they’re burned out and they’ve lost motivation and they lack clarity. And I’m sure you’ve seen so many people I have who are just hit the wall. 

Eduardo Briceño (20:32):

And to your point, in order to be a motivated learner. So I think we need four things. One is the belief that we can change. That’s a growth mindset. We need to know how to change that’s founded in the difference between performance and learning. Third, we need a why. We need a reason, a purpose. And you’re getting to that. Why am I going to put effort into performing or learning or both? And then finally, it’s really helpful if we feel like we belong in a learning community. The people around us are also learners. They’re learning alongside us, and we feel like we belong in that community. And so I’m very fortunate that the people who tend to come to me are senior leaders who want to foster a culture of learning in their organizations. So they are motivated because the world is changing faster and faster. 

Eduardo Briceño (21:15):

They want their relat just to be more agile and more innovative. And so there’s interest there. And their challenge is how do we make this the air that we breathe throughout the organization? And that is something that people embrace when there’s leaders that identify here are our refreshed core values. Here’s what we care about. Here’s how we’re going to support this going forward. Here’s how I’m going to model this. I’m going to be working on it myself. Then that is something that people jump to, especially if there’s a purpose to the organization that people feel like their work is important, it’s going to make a difference in other people’s lives. And so often when that kind of cultural transformation efforts are going on, most people embrace it. Most people, they might have challenges. For example, the biggest challenge is either fear that fear of how they’re perceived if they start talking about what they’re learning or the mistakes that they’re making. 

Eduardo Briceño (22:09):

So they need to get on the same page, test the waters, make sure people are serious about this. And then the other big challenge is time. People have so much to do and so little time, this is the biggest opportunity is that shifting how we work. For most people, it’s not about blocking an hour to work on a very specific skill, although that can be helpful, but it’s more the biggest opportunity is how do we shift how we do things so that we get things done and improve at the same time? That involves changes, that involves figuring out how to experiment, how to give and receive feedback, for example. And then there’s some people who don’t take to it right away. It tends to be the minority. What I coach leaders to do is to invite everybody, but then work with the people who are more ready 

Mark Divine (22:51):

Sooner, get the champions on board in, 

Eduardo Briceño (22:53):

And then people start seeing that leaders are serious and that this is working and it’s leading to success and progress. And then more people kind join in. And then at the end, there’s a few that usually don’t make the change and it end up not being a good fit. And they might need to part ways, but organizations can transform their cultures in a really inspiring ways. 

Mark Divine (23:11):

In fact, that’s a great way to kind fare it out. Individuals who don’t have a growth mindset or are incapable of or unready to go there is to create a growth culture. And then all of a sudden those people start showing up like light bulbs. 

Mark Divine (23:28):

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Mark Divine (25:38):

This is very inspiring because we’re starting, I should say, to do some similar work with our unbeatable mind, primarily through individual clients who’ve been working with us who then want to bring us into their teams to help transform their cultures, probably how it’s worked out with you as well. And so we call it creating a growth culture and vertical development. So my next, I mentioned I’m getting my dissertation done at Pepperdine and I’m going to be studying vertical development of teams. And so what that essentially is, is growth, right? Accretion of growth through successes, stages of development of human development, ego development as opposed to horizontal skill development, which is like accruing new communication skills or strategy, developing tactics and stuff like that. Both are important, but as you vertically develop individually or as a team, then you are able to see more, take more perspective, include more, have more of these kind of balanced approaches to life that we’re talking about here. 

Mark Divine (26:37):

It’s very important work. And the other thing that you said, which I think is really critical is in the old personal development was done on your own time. Maybe you take a course or you do your Coursera stuff, but you really didn’t do it at work. You didn’t have the time or it wasn’t culturally appropriate. Whereas I think in the new paradigm is you go to work and that’s your best opportunity to grow. And the company and the leaders recognize that if you have a growth culture, then everybody benefits, all the stakeholders will benefit and you’ll have a much healthier workforce. So you go to work to grow, not just to go to work. So that’s a new paradigm and I’m really, really excited to see that emerge. And we’re going to do a little bit of our part. We’re just getting busy with that, but it sounds like you’ve been doing it for some time now. Yeah, 

Eduardo Briceño (27:27):

That’s really exciting. I do see a lot of organizations shifting and it’s really exciting. 

Mark Divine (27:32):

We’re influenced by Robert Keegan’s work out of Harvard deliberately developmental organization, and we’ve kind of like, that’s not prescriptive. So our work is more prescriptive in that we deliver the Bule Mine integrated training system and what we call the Bule mind operating system to be able to assess both potential and performance, which is kind of the yin yang of the individual and the potential performance or the yin yang of the collective. So culture deepening connection, and then the organization itself clarifying and emboldening the vision in service. And so when you can work on all these four dimensions simultaneously, you have this real acceleration of growth and learning. 

Eduardo Briceño (28:12):

How do you decide, mark, what you bring into those programs? Because your interests are so varied and on a spiritual sense and on a human sense, I feel like you’re such a high level that people might not be ready for some of the things that you teach. So how do you decide what you bring and what you 

Mark Divine (28:35):

Leave? So just like with you, there’s the framework and then there’s the customization for the unique needs of the client. So every client’s culture, you got to kind of start where they’re at, but you can draw a roadmap. So a of the, and the other thing about our training, Eduardo is I call it taking the FU out of the kung fu. So we have some deeply spiritual practices that people don’t even know are spiritual practices. So we start each meeting with box breathing. It’s a simple practice to calm the nervous. We have all the science behind what is it doing for your arousal control? What’s it doing for your attention control? If you practice it over a long period of time, it’s going to deepen your power as a concentration, help you focus more, get more done. So it’s very practical. So I teach at the Navy Seal candidates, but if I told them that I was teaching ’em a yogic pranayama practice, their eyes would roll back in their head and they’d go to sleep. 

Mark Divine (29:25):

So we’ve developed these practices over the years, which are just very simple, very practical, but have a profound impact on your psychology, physiology, sense of self. What’s unique about what we’re doing is we’re doing them as a team. We create the safety so that the team is okay to shut their eyes and breathe together. And the team is okay to share vision and to actually visualize. We know from sports performance, it’s one thing to have a vision, but if you’re not practicing every day, you’re not adding to that, adding energy to that imagery, then it’s just shooting one round versus having full magazine. But most people aren’t taught how to do this, and they’re awkward if they think they’re going to do it in a group. And so we help dispel all that through example, through training, through walking ’em along the path. And so it’s very cool because we’re bringing this vertical development into teams and teaching them these. What I think, and probably you would agree is the next frontier in personal and leadership development is all these internal skills that have been ignored in the Western world. 

Eduardo Briceño (30:32):

And that’s so exciting. And as when people go through those experiences together and grow together, it builds their bonds, their trust, they can be more transparent with each other in sharing more of their emotions or their thoughts. And that feeds learning and performance because we are bringing all of our perceptions and all of our ideas together without fear. And so that’s really powerful work. 

Mark Divine (30:55):

I’d like to double click on that. As you talk about trust is a big deal right now, especially since Covid and all the political polarization that’s gone on and working remotely, the studies have shown that trust is degraded by 20, 30% just because we don’t really have that opportunity to be in person anymore. So how do we build more trust? What are some of your ideas on how do we really recover trust and build more trust in organizations? 

Eduardo Briceño (31:20):

Well, I think we need to be clear on the goals and then give people structures and the clarity of goals to deliver on those goals rather than when people are working from home, for example, tracking how much time they’re working, for example, that erodes trust because they’re getting the sense that you don’t trust them versus if you get clear on what are the expectations in terms of outcomes, and then tell me if you need support and let’s see if we are going in the right direction and meeting the right progress that we want to be meeting. So we want accountability to both performance and to learning, but it is about being clear on the goals and having transparency on ongoing conversations, but not micromanaging more, being more about how can I support you to deliver on these goals? And then for each of us to deliver on those goals. And if we get into situations where we are at parallel of delivering on something, then bringing that up and saying, Hey, this is not point as planned, or I might need more time on this. It goes through. All of us need to take responsibility to just be open with each other about expectations, about what needs to get done and then deliver or have conversations about when it’s not happening and what we can do about it. Whether you are ideas. 

Mark Divine (32:35):

Well, I like a lot of what you’re saying, work is different when it’s virtual because you just lack the hangout time. There’s a concept called homa hangout, mess around and go deep. And those are three ways that we interact in a normal workspace. And so I think if we could bring Homa back into virtual where we have some time to just hang out and just not be so performance focused, and then the going deep is learning, maybe we have some learning time. So I think some companies really get that, some cultures get that, but most when it’s like virtual, it’s just like you said, it’s all do task, task checkup on the task and all that. So I think that’s what we’re trying to do is build more Homa, more hanging out time, just sharing ideas. Don’t have to have any specific outcomes, but sometimes the best idea comes when there’s no pressure because we’re just sharing stuff. 

Mark Divine (33:31):

We’re on the water cooler. And then I think what you said earlier, or we talked about earlier is being okay to recontextualize productivity. It’s like some of the studies coming up about the four day work week, so you’re actually just as productive or more because people are motivated to have that third three day weekend for Westerners. For me, I try to prioritize one main thing every day. And today and yesterday I’ve got some podcasts lined up. So these podcasts are my main thing. So I won’t schedule a lot of other stuff. I have other meetings, but they’re not where my energy is focused. So figuring out what we call it the most important target, what’s your most important target for the day? Radically focus on that and then just relax about the other stuff. Allow for some spontaneity, cancel a meeting if it feels like it’s going to drain your energy. 

Mark Divine (34:26):

And that’s been really helpful because by focusing on that one thing and releasing the pressure on just the endless task list, then what happens is things start to solve themselves. And also you have more space to recontextualize. And so what happens is suddenly you see that the way you were looking at a problem that had broken it down into these tasks is wrong. And maybe there’s a way to come at it that has way more leverage. So the idea of doing less things better means decluttering your environment, focusing on the right things for the right reasons, and allowing the space for what I call shi Boomi. That effortless perfection, that knowingness that comes can only come from stillness when your mind is out of the way. So I prioritize a lot of meditation and contemplation into my day, not just in the morning, but also in midday and in the evening transition between work and home. And I can guarantee almost all of my good ideas come from those silent times 

Eduardo Briceño (35:24):

That resonates. And to me, it makes me think of, I try to think about the mental and emotional space that I want to have as part of the mix in my life and the habits, 

Mark Divine (35:35):

Like a pre-framing them almost. 

Eduardo Briceño (35:36):

Yeah, it is like in a book, I talk about the performance in the learning zone, and I contrast those two, but there’s other things, right there is joy and fun and connecting with others and mindfulness and playfulness and rest and mind wondering. So it is that concoction of what are daily habits and what kind of emotional and mental states do we go through? And all of that together both leads to better performance and a better journey along the way. 

Mark Divine (36:03):

We got to wrap up soon here, but anything that we haven’t touched upon with your work that you think that the listener would be interested in? 

Eduardo Briceño (36:10):

I’ll just kind of highlight that. When we get unstuck from chronic performance and we add some of these other elements to our life, our performance increases. We achieve higher goals, but the richness of life is so much better. We experience more joy from whether it is exploration and discovery or we get to know each other better, we listen better, we ask more questions. So we develop better relationships. We also experience less anxiety and depression because we have tools to deal with a fast changing world. And with challenges, we know we’re not perfect. We can always learn from. So whenever there’s a challenge, we know what to do, we know how to learn from that. And so a lot of us are stuck in chronic performance and also in just the biggest challenges of society, I think we’re stopping chronic performance often. There’s two sides to political sides, and each of them has sure of what the solution is. It seems to me often. And what we do is determined by who gets to power when we get to power, then we say, okay, now we’re going to do this, as opposed to here’s the hypothesis, let’s test a few things. Let’s talk to people who think differently than me and let’s figure out how to continue to solve this problem better and better over time. So those are kind of some things to think about. 

Mark Divine (37:29):

Yeah, no, I agree with that. That whole idea of transcending your positionality as a culture, we’ve got to be able to transcend the positionality of the left, right, right, wrong kind of gridlock to really, I call it post liberal posts. Conservative people say, what are you? Are you Republican or Democrat? I’m like, I’m neither. I don’t identify with any of those. And so where do we go from that? Well, you’ve got to move beyond, and that’s what growth mindset is. You got to be willing to go beyond your biases and your positionalities to be open to the fact that there are multiple legitimate viewpoints on everything under the sun for that matter. 

Eduardo Briceño (38:04):

Absolutely. And we learn so much from people who think differently than us, whether it’s understanding people’s experiences and backgrounds and why they think the way they think, and we gain so much insight from listening to people’s perspectives. So I also have been always independent just because I don’t want to put a hat on my head that makes me more biased because I want to be on this team or another team, and that’s important to me as well. 

Mark Divine (38:30):

So your book is out, the Performance Paradox, turning the Power of Mindset into Action came out September. Where can folks connect with you, learn more about your work besides the book 

Eduardo Briceño (38:42):

Active on LinkedIn, and my website is senio.com. I have a mostly newsletter and some resources there to develop a growth mindset. 

Mark Divine (38:50):

Well, Eduardo, thank you so much for your time today. It’s been a brilliant conversation. I really love the work that you’re doing and wish you great luck with it, and maybe we’ll connect and find some way to work together someday. That’d be fun. Dito, it’s great 

Eduardo Briceño (39:01):

To speak with you, mark. I love your work, and thank you for having me on the podcast. Yeah, 

Mark Divine (39:05):

It’s been my honor. Alright, take care. You too. 

Mark Divine (39:11):

What a great interview with Eduardo. Thank you so much for your time. I really enjoyed learning your views on the performance paradox. We share a lot of great ideas, and I appreciate your work, Eduardo, and thanks to my incredible team for bringing guests like Eduardo to us every week. That’s Catherine Divine, Jeff Haskell and Jason Sandon. You can find the show notes up on my markdivine.com website. You can find the YouTube on the YouTube channel. If you want to reach out to us with ideas or questions, you can find me at Twitter x at Mark Divine and on Instagram and Facebook at Real Mark Divine or on my LinkedIn. If you’re not getting my newsletter every Tuesday morning, then go to markdivine.com to subscribe for the Divine Inspiration Newsletter where I disseminate my most top of mind, inspirational things that are happening, people, habits, et cetera. 

Mark Divine (39:57):

I also have a blog and the notes for the weekly podcast. Go check it out. It’s really positive and helpful. Finally, please rate or review the show if you have the time or if you are so inclined. It’s very helpful to keep this show at the top of the ratings and for other people to find it and share it with your friends. Thank you so much for doing the work and for being part of the positive change that we want to see in the world. It has to start with us. We have to, like Gandhi said, be the change you want to see in the world, but we can now do it at scale because the technologies like this show and the books and newsletter and collaboration. So thanks for being part of that journey and we’ll see you next time. Until then, be unbeatable.



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