Topics Discussed in the Podcast
- being in competition with yourself
- the problem with comparing yourself to others and how to stop
- the line between self-compassion & acceptance vs. hard work and drive
- growth mindset and identity
- the language to use around identity
- reinventing yourself
- Visit CompeteEveryDay.com
- Jake’s Speaking Website
- Follow Jake on Instagram as well as Compete Every Day
- Book Mentioned: A Million Miles in 1000 years by Don Miller
- Book Mentioned: Mindset by Carol Dweck
- Listen to his Podcast
Inside Tracker: Take a Selfie from the Inside
Use Code: CHEERSSONYA for $200 OFF the Ultimate TestInside Tracker is a company that uses bloodwork to assess biomarkers, blood analysis, athletic performance, and nutrition software to optimize fitness and longevity. Founded in 2009, the Boston company first started working with professional athletes who wanted to see what their biomarkers, hormone and mineral profiles looked like during their training and how they could use nutrition and lifestyle to improve. They measure over 30 biomarkers and recommend food and supplements to optimize thinks like your energy, cognition, endurance, heart health, and more. I started working with Inside Tracker in 2017. I liked it because their ranges for your biomarkers change based on your goals. I also think it’s important to have baseline and also recurrent bloodwork as you age and also simply as an athlete.
Listen to the Episode with Jonathan Levitt from Inside Tracker
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Sonya Looney: Welcome to the show, Jake.
Jake Thompson: Hey, thanks for having me. Excited to be here.
Sonya: I’m super stoked to get to chat with you because I heard you actually fairly recently on my friend, Steph Gaudreau’s podcast. And I love that episode so much, I actually listened to it twice.
Jake: I am a huge fan of Steph’s. Connected with her 2011 maybe via Twitter, and then in real life at maybe the CrossFit Games or some event and so have been just a huge fan of her work and had a blast on that episode, especially talking imposter syndrome and confidence and a lot of things that we don’t like to talk about, but we all deal with. And so it makes for some interesting conversations of like, oh, that’s what I’m dealing with right now and I haven’t talked to anyone about.
Sonya: Yeah, I have a Monday show. It’s like a solo show called Crush It Mondays and it talks about a lot of the things that you like talking about. So we are definitely two people who have very similar passions, which is so cool.
Jake: Love it, love it. Well, today will be fun then for all the listeners and us of course.
Sonya: So I want to talk about what competition means to you, because having a healthy relationship with competition, and it changes throughout your life as well. What does that mean to you, and you’ve actually built a company around it? So I’d love to just hear all about that.
Jake: Yeah, so I haven’t always had a healthy relationship around competition, I’ll say. I grew up in East Texas, we talked earlier, you have some family in the area. So I grew up in the small town for anyone listening, if you’ve ever heard of Friday Night Lights, the book the movie, that is small town, Texas. to a tee. And on the weekends, the town shuts down paws into the local football stadium to watch games. So I grew up loving the game of football, loving sports, but I was really a smaller kid. I wasn’t as athletic as other guys in my class. There were some really talented guys a year older than me, a year or two younger than me. And so I learned very early on that if I wanted to play the sport and do the things I enjoyed doing, I had to learn to outwork people. And I really had to use the idea of competition to prove that I could outwork you and outsmart you. And on a very positive side that made me a very ambitious individual. It’s kind of a trade I’ve always had in terms of always striving to outwork my current position. But as you get older, if you’re constantly living to compete against everyone else, you end up in this comparison trap, because there’s always someone ahead of you and there’s always someone behind you. And depending on where you’re looking that day, who you’re trying to look at, you’re either going to feel like you’re top of the world, or you’re going to feel completely deflated. And so I got into a really kind of bad spot with that in my 20s, I would say, of just constantly comparing myself to everyone else. And my working career took a very interesting journey. It’s non traditional, by any means whatsoever, before I started Compete Every Day, which is my company now. And really what transpired out of that was twofold. And the first was I read a book by a guy named Donald Miller, called A Million Miles in 1000 years, and the book about the importance of story. And how if we went to a movie, about a guy that just wanted a BMW or sports card, and the movie was just about this guy working his job, saving his money buying his car, roll credit, like we would feel robbed, because in Miller’s opinion, great stories, movies have conflict. They have a main character who has a purpose much bigger than themselves. They’re willing to step into conflict and into discomfort, into the unknown against the evil empire or just the fear of failure of rejection, and then they invite others to join that story and journey with them. And for me, reading that book, it opened my eyes to the lack of story I was living myself. And so on one hand I had this whole new revelation that everything I was doing from a consulting standpoint, from a work standpoint, was just padding my bank account without ever making an impact on anyone else. I was living the crappy movie story. And as a guy that loves movies, that was a really big wake up call for me. At the same time, I’ve really started getting back into shape. I put on the freshman 50, I left my like junior year of college, it was a couple of years after my freshman year, but my crazy metabolism slowed down for the first time, and my eating habits had never changed. And so I ballooned up. And I remember at that point, I was like, I need to change how I’m eating, how I’m living. And so I started getting back into fitness, started going to the gym, started mixing and playing basketball a few days a week, then CrossFit. And really started opening my eyes to not worrying about what everyone else was doing in the gym, but just how can I do a little bit better? How can I maybe beat that high school version of myself who was in better shape? How can I work harder today than I did yesterday? And so I really became consumed with the idea of competing against yourself. And that ultimately, those two experiences and things that happened to me or that I read or went through, ultimately catapults me down the path of starting the brand Compete Every Day as just a way to remind people that their competition is with themselves. And the importance of taking action every day in life. You know, there’s always people we know that will live on the sidelines that will be passive that, for the most part, if they’re passive on the sidelines, they’re happy with letting left pass them by, and they’re gonna criticize anybody that tries to disrupt that or disrupt the status quo. And it goes back to the Theodore Roosevelt quote about the man in the arena, the credit goes to the person on the arena floor, whether they win or lose, they strive valiantly for something much bigger than themselves and their fate, regardless of whether it’s victory, defeat, whether they fall short of their goal, or they achieve it. Their life, their fate is so much better, so much bigger than the people on the sidelines that just criticize. And so that was kind of what initiated the whole thing is, how can I help people get their eyes off everyone else’s lanes? And how can I just remind them that great things don’t “just happen”, great careers don’t just are handed to you, you have to get up and start competing for it. And so that’s really the long winded version of how I’ve had that relationship with compete, how it’s changed over the years. But how now I think it’s just a much healthier version, and allows me to continually strive because I’m not comparing myself to everyone else. Because that will drain you, you’ll eventually burn out. But if you’re only focused on how you’re going to raise your own game today, you have this continual energy, because you have this continual challenge against just yourself.
Sonya: I love that. And the comparison thing is so incredibly hard, especially with how we consume media. And the problem is that when you’re always comparing yourself to somebody else, the better you get, you’ll just raise the stakes. So you might have been comparing yourself competing with somebody else and maybe you do surpass them, well, that won’t be good enough. And now you start comparing yourself to somebody that’s further ahead than you and you kind of create this unobtainable situation where you’re actually never going to get to where you want to, to feel fulfilled.
Jake: Well, not only that, but we’re so limited in our perspective, when we compare ourselves to other people. We don’t know how long they’ve been training, how long they’ve been on this journey, what their different skill sets are; we know none of that. We see like a 2 or 3%, or we see the 1% highlight that people post on social media that, for the most part, is just crap. I laugh, but the more I’ve been utilizing and engaging on social media for the business, for my speaking, the more I almost hate it, is the best way to put it, because I know the backstories of different things going on in people’s lives. I know the false realities that are so easily painted and the the inflated likes and comments that are pods. And so it really turns me off in a way but it also at that same time, helps me validate the importance of competing against yourself, because you don’t know what someone else is going to, you don’t know their situation. And honestly, you don’t control it. So why would you give up control of the things that you actually have control of which are your focus, your energy efforts, your attitude, your actions everyday? Why would you give up control of that to focus and put effort and be controlled by something else outside of that? And so the worst social media gets I think the better it helps validate the idea of eyes on your own lane.
Sonya: I think the comparison versus the inspiration – you can compare yourself to somebody but feel inspired to take action and look at them as a leader or a mentor or someone that just makes you want to be better. Or you can be comparing yourself to somebody and just feel bad about yourself. So having the wherewithal to realize what you’re when you’re doing that and when it feels was good and when it doesn’t feel good, it’s also something that I think really helps.
Jake: Without a doubt, and I talked about this on, I think it was one of our episodes 100, we did this year, 150, I actually was the guest on our own show. And my co-host James had asked me about that. And I said, honestly, like, I’ve had different points during my life during my career, even the last 10 years, where I’ve intentionally unfollowed people that I liked, that I respect, because I noticed how I was responding internally and mentally to things I would see of theirs online. And I knew it wasn’t healthy for me to compare myself to them because they were in a completely different race. And I said, there’s people I’ve gone back, and I’ll re follow later, and they’re like, hey, did you unfollow me? I was like, don’t worry about it, I can explain it later. But I literally would have to control that myself and limit where my eyes where my focus was going so I could refocus on the things that I controlled. Having the mentor is amazing. And that the healthy part about the mentor relationship is if you’re willing to do the work, the mentors are always going to continue to want to keep helping, because they love seeing the individual that is going to sit and ask questions and add value to their life and then when they make recommendations, or they encourage you, they challenge you, you actually go do it, which is what most people don’t do. And so the way I look at that is find the great mentors, limit who you follow on social media and be okay with not following certain people and know that if you have to learn how to refocus yourself, that’s okay. And then challenge yourself at that same time if you unfollow somebody, if you say, hey, I can’t look at this person without being envious, without being jealous or comparing myself to them, you’re okay to unfollow them for a bit. But you need to remind yourself of this, what they’re doing should not make you jealous, but should inspire you of what’s possible. Because if you can look and see someone else doing exactly what you want to do, their journey may have been different, they may have had different advantages or connections to get to where they were, but they proved it can be done, which means you just have to figure out the game plan and make it work for you.
Sonya: I love that. And I want to go into competing with yourself because people listening to this, a lot of them are endurance athletes, and in endurance sports, especially the longer it gets, you don’t see anybody anywhere, so you really do start competing with yourself. But you said something in other podcasts I’ve heard you on and you said that your competition is with your bad habits. And I thought that was really awesome. So if you have some tips for people who maybe they’re still like looking in other people’s lanes, or maybe they’re just having trouble staying motivated to compete even with themselves, how can people get better?
Jake: Yeah, so I love that and you’re right, the hinderance you’re all alone sometimes and so how are you going to push yourself. And so the one thing I’ve seen and experienced firsthand and seen with clients and with just people I know, is the reason we have problems overcoming these bad habits, competing against them, competing against ourselves, or where we want to be, is because our eyes are so fixated on the finish line. And as an athlete, as a racer, like we understand that we’re running toward the finish line, but the most important thing is not the finish line, the most important thing is what’s my next step? Am I paying attention if I’m on a trail to where I’m stepping, so I don’t roll an ankle or fall or step in a hole? If I’m running a marathon on the street, am I paying attention to who’s right in front of me? And so what I challenge people on, one of the things that I talked to some high school students about this weekend in terms of grit, was the same conversation of staying motivated every day. The reason you build your grit is you do the right thing every day, just over the long term. And the right thing every day is to say what do I control today? I control my attitude, my effort, my actions and my focus. I get stressed out, I get burned out. I worry when I started thinking of variables outside of those four things. I start worrying about what’s going to happen tomorrow, what’s going to be next week, what about next year, to the point that we’re so almost to the point we’re paralyzed from taking any action today that we don’t. And so we give up, we quit and then we mess up at this meal and we’re eating well this day and then we just we go off track and then we just let the whole thing slide. And so my challenge to anyone that’s struggling with competing against themselves staying in their lane, is to ask yourself every morning what can I do today to get one step better? What just one thing, whether it’s your career, your relationships, you’re at home, your office, your training, like what is just one thing you can do today to get better? And dial in that focus on it. Get your eyes off of tomorrow, off of yesterday, last week, last year next year, just focus on today because the day is the only day you can control. And if you’re focused on what you’re going to do today to improve it’s pretty hard to be then looking at whatever anyone else is doing and where everyone else is because what you need to be doing is looking for an opportunity of where can I show up better? Where can I choose a better attitude? Where can I give better effort than I had the day before? And you take that approach every single day. We call it the day one approach at Compete. Because anybody that starts something new, whether you’re breaking a bad habit, or breaking an addiction, or starting a new habit, starting running, or you’re starting training, everybody’s excited about the first day. Like even your first day at a new job, everybody loves the first day. Day five, not so much. Day 50 really you’re like on edge. But if you just come in with the mindset of today is day one, I’m ready to go, I’ve got this energy. Doesn’t matter if you messed up yesterday, or you hit it out of the park with a homerun. It just matters what you do today. And so this day one attitude, this focusing on how am I going to improve today, really keeps us locked into the present and focused on competing against ourselves?
Sonya: I think that’s really great advice. Someone actually emailed me about this recently, and we had a conversation about it. And we talked about doing your best and wanting to be the best you can be versus self acceptance, because a lot of times, we’re super hard on ourselves and we beat ourselves up because we think we should be accomplishing more. Or if I just worked even harder, but there’s a certain limit to how hard a person can work without burning out. So how do people figure out the line between, am I being lazy by giving myself a break, accepting myself and having self compassion versus being in competition with myself and saying, I gotta work harder? It’s a super hard line to draw.
Jake: it’s a very difficult line to draw. And there’s two parts to that. The mental aspect of being okay to take a day off and rest versus almost the need to be working harder to the point of burnout. And so the first thing I want to say is just from a mental standpoint, coming to grips with taking a day off. People struggle with this work-wise they struggle with this training wise, they struggle with this in life, because we feel if we take 24 hours off of training, if we take a Saturday, Sunday on a weekend off from working, if we put in more space, that we’re losing ground to someone else. In reality, science continues to show like without rest days, your muscles cannot grow, they cannot recover from training, they cannot grow, you cannot become better as an athlete, you cannot perform better. The same applies to work. There’s research that continues to show people that are working six, seven days a week, your productivity plummets. The people that can really own their schedule and control it, and maybe they have a four day workweek, or maybe they at five o’clock on Friday, they shut it down, they don’t touch it again till Monday and they own a business. They’re an entrepreneur. They actually will produce better and perform better. Because the time away gives your brain time to reset and recharge. And what happens is when you constrain your work time, you actually produce better. You put your limits on how long you’re going to work. It’s why if we have a task, or a project that we’re supposed to be doing, and we know we’ve got a week to do it, most of us wait six days before we ever start the project. But if we know, hey, listen, I’ve only got an hour every day that I can commit to this, and then you’re locked in on that hour, and you’re probably working the entire 60 minutes on that task versus I’m gonna do a little bit here and a little bit there and a little bit over here. And then you’re rushing at the very end to throw it together and it’s not your best work. And so, understand the idea of constraints help us. If you train every single day, the fifth or sixth day, your output is not going to be nearly as good as it was on the day after the rest day because your body’s not recovered. Your muscles need recovery. Same way your brain needs that recover. So first understand that. And I laugh because people like well, isn’t it compete every day? I said it is but if you know our brand, like it’s about pursuing your best. And sometimes you taking a day off training to read or hang out with your family, that means you’re competing for your growth, you’re competing for your relationship. That counts. You need to look at is that and nothing grows without rest and recovery and nourishment. The second piece is going to the point of failure. And actually this is funny that we’re talking about this, because I had a student asked me this at that retreat I spoke at this weekend. First time I’ve ever been asked that at an event is how do you know the difference between getting out of your comfort zone and burnout? And I said a lot of it’s going to have to do with your focus and perspective. If you’re going every single day because you’re afraid to take a day off, you need to take a day off. That is the line that knows where you’re going to hit burnout. The other key piece of that is, are you stressed? Do you notice you’re not sleeping well? Are you not taking care of yourself in terms of what you’re eating, what you’re drinking, skipping sleep, to try to work and train harder and do all that? If you notice yourself start doing that, well, that’s more likely going to lead to burnout. Well, we get to the point of talking about pushing yourself. Everybody knows that feeling in your stomach like that, in that gut, discomfort, oh, my gosh, I don’t know if I want to do this. It’s really that feeling of where I’m about to go with somewhere outside of my comfort zone. That is something you lean into, that’s not the, hey, I’m stressed out, I’m burnout. I’m running low on energy. I’m not sleeping. I’m snapping at everyone. All of that. That’s the burnout. But the feeling of discomfort, the feeling of like, oh, I don’t know, if I like this, this is new. That’s what we lean into. That’s where we push ourselves. Because our comfort zones kill our dreams; they kill our goals. They keep us from reaching our true potential. And so drawing the line in the sand, if you’re feeling the discomfort of this is new, this is unknown, I don’t like this, that’s probably the thing you need to go do. That’s not burnout. This is growth opportunity. When you get to where it’s like, I’m not sleeping, I’m stressed, I’m burnt, you know, I can feel my energy levels are going, I’m just have no discipline in terms of how I’m handling relationships and communicating, that’s the signs for a reset. And so that’s really the difference for the two. And the way you combat that is you structure your schedule you own every hour of every day, which sounds like overkill for most people, but the discipline of doing that actually creates more freedom. Because you limit the amount of time you work, you limit the amount of time you train to just a window. And when you do that you actually perform better in that window. By also controlling your schedule, you create space. So you can create those breaks to take a Saturday off to take a Sunday off to reset. And so that all together helps you balance that line of doing just what’s comfortable, to how can I increase my output? How can I lean into this discomfort without burning out?
Sonya: I think you mentioned rest days from sports. I think that, like a lot of people know that they shouldn’t be training seven days a week necessarily. But the resting of the brain is something that is really interesting and a topic that I think is going to really explode even more. I had this really interesting podcast guest on, a couple guests actually, through this book by Alex Hutchinson called Endure. And a lot of it is about like mental fatigue and how like when your brain is tired, you actually can’t perform physically, and how even from a work and creativity perspective, there’s a book called Peak Performance by Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness and that’s about burnout and rest as well. And it’s about how it is so imperative to rest your brain. And what a lot of us do that are trying to do all the things is on our “rest day,”and I’m super guilty of this today especially, it’s like, oh, I’m not training today so I’m going to work like 10 to 12 hours, so I can get caught up at work. But then what happens is you’re still not really recovering, like you might not be moving, but you are putting all of your energy into something, your brain is working on overdrive, and you’re actually not getting the rest that you need. So a rest day means a rest day doesn’t mean working extra. And it’s so hard to have the discipline to do that.
Jake: It really is. And so there’s a couple of ways that I always try to encourage that. The first is to schedule something, like schedule going to a movie, schedule grabbing an afternoon lunch or something with a friend, like scheduling something during the day that forces you to get away from work and get away from training. Something that puts you out like the movies, that’s what I use as my kind of shut down because I don’t I can absorb the story. But it’s not like you’re thinking heavily about what it is. And so you have to create that. And then you have to have accountability. So you have to have the people in your life that are willing to check on you and call you out if you’re go go go go go for that as well.
Sonya: The accountability piece is also really interesting, because I’m somebody that like you mentioned, I have every single part of my day scheduled, including scheduling and breaks. But you have to have the discipline to go do the thing on time, or if you have a break scheduled at 11:30, stop work at 1130. But a lot of times what happens is I’ll say oh, yeah, 11:30 and then it’s 12:30 and I’m still going so that’s hard to do that too.
Jake: It is but it’s just like, it’s just like our physical training. You’re never going to be good at it the first time. And so what you have to do is have the patience to play the long game to say, oh, I noticed I messed up here and go back and evaluate what can I do differently? It’s funny, but we’re so good at this from a physical sense. Like if we’re In a competitive environment, we will finish the event. We will have notes already in our head this is what I should do differently next time, this is what I should do differently. We watch film, to see where we can adjust what we’ll do differently the next time. And then we make adjustments on the go. In our work, in our career, we rarely do that same level of focus, we some reason we separate that physical side with the actual mental side or the work side. But it requires the same process. It requires us to track the day. If we’re tracking every hour, and we noticed we hit a couple of spots, and then we noticed two to three days in a row, it’s the same lunchtime window that we continue working through instead of taking those breaks, that we know we need to redo and modify or scheduled during the work period. If we know we get trapped on social media when we go to schedule, some kind of post for our company or whatever, and we’re like, oh my god, that was 20 minutes ago, what have I been doing for the last 20 minutes than we know we have to figure out other alternatives to do that. We have to start looking at how we treat our work in our life to the level that we treat our training. It doesn’t yield the same fulfillment factor initially of crossing the finish line and achieving that PR, but it does over time when you’re able to look back and see the growth you’ve made in the increase in different areas of your life that you’ve made in a mental sense and a personal growth standpoint, just like you would in the physical.
Sonya: That’s such a good point. So I want to talk about Carol Dweck book mindset because I’ve heard you talk about it. And that’s one of my favorite books. And I’ve heard you say, that you mentioned earlier in the show that, you outworked everybody and you really were focused on effort. But then in her book, she talks about how you can have a growth mindset where you’re focused on effort, but in other areas of your life, you focus on the fixed mindset where you just think you’re born with a certain amount of talent and it’s shameful to show that you’re working hard. So this relationship with hard work, I heard you say, school came easy, but in sports, you worked super hard. So there’s kind of a battling identity there.
Jake: Without a doubt.
Sonya: Yes, and I totally can relate. It’s like the angel and the devil on one shoulder. So like, how do you reckon with that?
Jake: There’s no question. And that was me to a T. I hated certain classes avoided certain things because I was afraid of getting a B, getting a C. I didn’t at all want to take a chance because my identity was wrapped up in being smart, being naturally smart. And then of course, you throw in the whole high school scene as it is where you just want to be accepted and you’re trying to fit in. And the popular kids don’t want to ever look like they’re working hard. And so then you throw that mix in all together. Dweck’s book is always fascinating for me to read, because I learned so much every time I read it, and I always start getting memories triggered of like, oh, now I know why I did that. Now, oh, this makes sense, too. Because I mean, I was heavily outcome focused, and part of that was a product of my environment. Part of that is tell a lot of the school systems and education system is set up, for the most part in terms of the outcome versus learning that process. But for me, it was and still is to a degree, has always been that constant struggle. But I’m at a place now where the self competition has allowed me to better embrace the process and focus on the process and just saying, what am I going to do today to get better? The only outcomes that I care about now for the big part are can I deliver when I go when a client hires me to go speak like, Am I able to deliver for them? But even still, in that degree, it’s always a process, what do I learn from this experience, what do I want to tweak what and what do I want to improve. And it’s just something I have to practice on a daily basis. Today was a great example, I got an email from a client that I’ve been in contract talks with, for, I don’t know, three months. And it was between me and two other speakers. And they went with one of the other speakers. And the first thought that goes through my mind is like anger. Because anytime we get rejected by anything, it’s that fixed mindset of this is my identity, this is terrible. And all I had to do was stop and reset and say, okay, it just means that I need to improve how I communicate to them, or how I package myself. But it also could be timing. So what am I learning about this process to continue staying in good graces with them? Even though they’re not ready now, they might be one day. And that’s a completely different flip. Because 15, 16, 18 years ago, I would have gotten rejected from something like that. And I would have leaned into that initial feeling we all have inside this as to I don’t like this. I don’t want any part of this. Maybe I don’t need to do this. Maybe I need to stop trying to do this because we fixate on that outcome being part of our identity versus the growth and so that’s just been a slow, slow process. And for anyone listening that hasn’t read Mindset, I highly encourage it from a professional, from a relational from just a self growth standpoint, it is one of the best, if not the best book, in my opinion on it because it’s really going to open your eyes to how do you respond to certain situations now, and then how would you like to respond to certain situations. And then it’s just a matter of the only way you’re going to develop it is getting your reps in, so when those situations arise, you have to continually remind yourself, this is who I want to be. This is how I’m choosing to look at the situation, instead of allowing my first reaction to just be it.
Sonya: Yeah, and it’s so heavily tied to whenever you look at your outcome of something, and in this case, you’d be getting rejected. And rejection is a part of life. And especially, I can really relate with this as well, as a sponsored athlete, as a speaker, you’re always putting yourself out there and you’re gonna get rejected way more times, and you’re gonna get accepted. And if you look at the rejection as validation that you aren’t good enough, well, that’s a really fixed mindset. I love that your perspective of like, well, they’re just not ready for me yet. And that’s using that word yet is just a really powerful thing that kind of almost lets you off the hook. But confidence is really intertwined into this discussion here because if you lack self confidence and you get rejected, then I think it’s easier to fall into that I don’t feel very good about myself, and I’m just not good enough. So figuring out how to feel like you are good enough is a whole other battle in and of itself.
Jake: Without a doubt. And the confidence has grown by getting the reps in and feeling like we’re good enough, there’s two parts to that. One, it can always come back to the comparison piece. The second part of that, that I always try to remind people is if what you’re doing from a career, from a life standpoint, from an impact standpoint, if you’re focused on yourself, it’s very easy to feel like you’re not good enough. Because all you’re doing is looking at yourself and what you’re putting out all that if you turn that outward perspective, and you start looking at how am I impacting my friends and family? How am I influencing people at work? Where am I looking to make a difference? Who am I trying to help inspire, educate influence? When you turn that perspective outwards, it’s really hard to feel like you lack the self confidence, you lack the ability, because the focus and the attention is not on you anymore. It’s where’s an opportunity to help someone else? And that will completely change your approach to everything because then it’s not about you. It’s the idea of what can I do and how can I show up to be in service of you? And that was something amazing one of my coaches from speaking taught me years ago, he said, on stage, it’s never about us. It’s always about how we can be in service to the people in that audience and change one of their mindsets, one of their lives, all of their lives, it doesn’t matter, you’re just there to be of value and service. And that really takes away the idea that I don’t have what it takes, I’m worried about impostor syndrome, or any of the thoughts that go through that whole just string of negative inner loop dialogue.
Sonya: Yeah, and something that you said earlier was also really awesome. And this kind of relates with confidence. It also takes confidence to take a day off or to step back and allow that empty space. And that’s a little bit of a sidebar, but I was thinking about that when you were talking about taking time off. Because if you feel like you need to be training all the time, or working all the time, and you’re afraid to take a day off, it’s because you’re afraid that if you take your foot off the gas, then you’re gonna get passed. So that confidence can really help you in lots of areas.
Jake: It can and even the best of the best always take a rest day; they take a day off. And what they understand is, I need the day off to rest and when I do train, when I do work, no one’s working harder during that time period. And so I’m earning that rest. And so it doesn’t matter what anyone else does, they can try to work 24 hours, seven days a week, but they’re going to burn out. I know myself, I’m pushing myself to my limit within the limited window I’m giving myself and then allowing myself the opportunity to recover.
Sonya: Another thing that’s a really interesting experience and I’m sure you’ve probably battled with this and I certainly have, is you finally get to the point where you’re like, okay, I have a growth mindset I’ve been able to put it in everywhere in my life. I’m going to really be focused on effort and hard work. But then I ended up getting a fixed mindset around hard work. And my identity got really tied up with how hard I’m working so if I’m not working harder than everybody or I’m not working all the time, well then I’m not good anymore. So I think that that’s something to watch out for for people who are obsessed with working hard is that that can become your identity and that can become negative too.
Jake: Yeah, I mean, we always have to be on guard and aware of our identity not ever being wrapped up in what we do. Whether that’s our career, whether that’s training, anything, because what happens is all of those things we do, whether we’re training for a sport, whether we’re building a career, we’re starting a business, all of those things will end at some point. Those are all limited time activities and experiences. We would love to be able to run into where 90 and 100, and some people do, but it’s never at the same level when you’re at your 30s. And so if your identity becomes fixated on that, then it’s so outcome driven, then you see yourself by how you place. Then you judge yourself by, like you said, how hard you’re working. And that shouldn’t always always be something we need to be aware of, and continually reaffirming who we are as a person, what traits we have. How our work is not us, but it’s part of our life. It’s not our full identity. It’s just a part of what we do. And a lot of that comes down to the language we use. And there’s there’s a lot of articles and research around it, but the idea of using language instead of I’m a racer, I actually enjoy racing. I also enjoy reading books, my name is Jake, this is what I do. I do public speaking. I like, enjoy public speaking. But I don’t want to say I’m a public speaker. Because what I don’t want to do isn’t tie up my identity again and again. And it’s so subtle, like the differences I just said are so subtle. I race; I enjoy racing versus I’m a racer. Those are incredibly subtle differences, but what they’re telling your brain are two drastically different things. One of them is telling you this is all I am. And the other saying this is just a part of who I am. And so we have to be very cognizant of the language we use, so that we don’t find ourselves and build this trap around an identity that will ultimately not always be a part of us.
Sonya: I think that’s really awesome and really good advice. I also think that that can help with impostor syndrome, because a lot of times people will say, well, I’m not a speaker. But if you say I enjoy speaking and then you go speak, then it kind of takes the pressure off of that, too.
Jake: Oh, without a doubt, without a doubt it does. Because it takes that attention off of you trying to come up and be this perfect embodiment of a speaker, and instead just says, what can I learn from it, I’m here to speak and add value, and I get the attention off of myself on to the people in the audience that I want to serve. And that’s how we do it is little by little by little, and it won’t change overnight. And for anyone listening, like I hate to break it to you, it’s going to take some time to be able to reinforce those positive self habits and conversations and dialogue, because you’ve spent days, weeks, months, years building the wrong ones. And so we can only change them a day at a time, but they can be changed. And they can create a whole world of difference for us, because it’ll change our perspective of how we see ourselves. And how we see those situations where it’s new, it’s unfamiliar, it’s unknown, it’s uncomfortable, that we just lean into and still show up and bring our best.
Sonya: It’s always interesting to look back at people’s lives like to see what they’ve done to get to now. And for you, your identity was being an athlete and being a football player and playing other sports. And this happens a lot in high school and college sports that are team related sports, because it’s really hard to just kind of go on after that, and play professionally. Not many people get that opportunity. So your identity gets kind of lost for a little while, whenever you did everything you could to be the quarterback on the football team or the hockey player. And then suddenly, you’re done with college, you’re done with high school, and your sport identity has ended. How did you deal with that whenever that time came for you?
Jake: Horrendously. Horrendously. Ah, yeah, in my mind was a number of things. I hurt my shoulder. And so it didn’t end the way I thought it was, which is kind of the case for a lot of us. It ends before we’re ever ready for it to. I went from having a leadership and influential role where I was a leader on a team, I was captain, I had players I was working with, training with, that looked to me, to then going into college and being a freshman and not knowing anybody and not having that same influence. So there’s so many different factors. And so for me, I mean, that was a big deal from a fixed growth mindset of just trials and tribulations because I struggled mightily. I mean, I would probably say it dealt with some level of depression. I was lost, just trying to fill that void with anything. And I didn’t know at the time what it was. I didn’t understand, I’m having this void, because I’m feeling like a part of me has died. And that’s essentially it. Like I laugh now that it’s still the worst breakup I ever had. But that’s part of it. And so you pour yourself into intramural and it’s not the same thing and you feel unfulfilled and you’re putting yourself in these competitive situations because you’ve got to beat other people because that’s what you knew and felt. And so eventually it got to a point for me it was kind of a burn braking point just later in life of realizing that it was not who I was. It was a part of my life. It was so much fun. It was amazing part and memories that always have. But the things that I learned during that experience can continue to help me now if I’ll let them. The idea of of showing up and practicing hard during an offseason, knowing a game is eight months away, 10 months away, will help me in my career, if I understand that, I need to just embrace the offseason until the opportunities arrive. It may be eight months, it could be eight years. But if I show up and do that work to prepare, I’ll be ready when my game day eventually shows up. The idea that talent alone doesn’t get you a win automatically. The fact that there are other people in your workplace, in your house, in your social circles, that are looking in to see how you respond. They want to know how are you going to handle when you do well and something goes right. They also want to know how you’re going to handle when life knocks you down. Just as in a game, people want to see how that that player responds, did you just throw an interception? Are you back on the field ready to go? Are you constantly worrying about throwing another one? Same with a touchdown – are you celebrating and over cocky because you did well one play and then you’re messed up the next? Are you locked in? And so once I started to realize that, and separate that experience, and the lessons I brought from it from who I was, I was then able to apply them. And I was also able just to be at more piece of that that was a great part of life, but I am who I always have been and will continue to grow and develop. But just because my playing days have ended, doesn’t mean my value as a human, my worth as a person, my spirit, any of that has changed whatsoever.
Sonya: Yeah, no flexibility to reinvent yourself is something that’s super powerful in life, because you mentioned that you were working kind of a cushy job that you felt was maybe a little bit soulless. And then you started your own company and that’s multiple reinventions. As an entrepreneur, you’re always having to reinvent yourself, because you can’t do the same thing every single day, you have to continue to evolve.
Jake: Yes, and you do and you’ve got to stay sharp and the things that worked in year two don’t work in year four. But the fun part for me of starting the business has been just continually learning how to not let my identity be tied up in what I do. So you’re constantly focused there, but it’s additionally the day competition, like how am I going to show up today to improve our situation and improve the lives of the people that trust us with their business? How can we influence and impact the people that that hang out with us? And so that’s how my brain works now, which is made it just a ton of fun, even though owning and running a business is a roller coaster in and of itself.
Sonya: I wanted to round out the rest of this podcast talking about your business Compete Every Day. And then also about your book that you are pretty much done with, almost.
Jake: Almost. Oh my gosh, the labor of love. Yeah, we were chatting about that before on air. So it took me years to write. I laugh, but it took me years to write. And I finally said I can’t get to where I want to go in my career unless I have this book done. Like I just I knew it could be done without it. But it’s easier with one. And so I finally sat down on opening day of baseball season and said I’m gonna give myself until game one of the World Series to get this done. So I sat down and every day I was cranking out 500 to 2000 words. Iit was a minimum of 500. Wrote about 40,000 words, hated it, hated it. It pulled from pieces of my keynotes. But I just didn’t like it. Something wasn’t working. And so I just, I sat on it. I had two examples and stories I was missing. And so I was using that as an excuse of like, I need some space to figure out what’s missing. And this past summer, I got asked by the Dallas Big Brothers Big Sisters association to keynote one of their annual event. And as I’m writing the keynote, knowing it’s kids, like it’s kids seven to 17, and adults 30 to 60. So you have the kids and the bigs in the room. And as I’m working on the content, I’m thinking like what’s going to work for kids. My corporate content about competing, some of it is and some of it isn’t. And so I distilled the whole talk into seven catchphrases. What do I want these kids to know that leaders do differently that successful people do differently? And as I wrote the list out, I was like, oh my gosh, this is the book. And then as I built out the talk, I was like, oh, this is absolutely the book. And so even though I’d written 40,000 words, I scrapped about 38,000 of them and started over. And I’ll tell you, that was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. And the only way I can compare it as I’ve told people, it is the idea of going all out on the fourth and final round of a workout and it’s a 400 meter sprint and it’s barbell work and you just put everything you’ve got into it. And when you finish, you realize there’s a fifth round to the workout. And you just spent everything on the fourth round, and you just stare at that bar. And the last thing you want to do is pick it up and finish the workout because you’re done, you’re spent. You’re mentally done, you’re physically fried. That was the feeling of going back to finish the book, knowing I’d invested and written so much, and was having to start a chunk of it back over. But I finally finished it, it’s with beta readers. Now I’ve got two beta readers who are helping me clean it up, make sure everything flows. It’ll then go to my editor. And at that point, we’ll work on publishing and releasing it in the spring of 2020 that I’m excited about. But it’s all around the things leaders do differently to compete everyday and win at work and in life. So it’s really the personal development, leadership space, of just seven things that each of us have full control of and can do differently. And it really was inspired by the company. Compete Every Day was started as a t-shirt company in 2011. I was selling t-shirts out of the trunk of my car, just the message printed on it, trying to figure out what I wanted to do with life and with this message. And little by little over the years, it’s changed and it’s adapted. And 2020 is a big year for us, because it’ll be the first year in our business where the apparel is not the main driver, which is terrifying, but it’s also a lot of fun because we’ve we’ve laid the groundwork. And so next year, if you visit, competeeveryday.com, you’ll still see shirts and apparel that we sell, and they’re doing a lot to the holidays, but you’ll see our competitor university, which I’m really excited to roll out kind of our online development leadership, development training program on there, and then I’ll be doing speaking and workshops in the book. And so it’ll all flow together really well around the idea of helping people with they’re work, their workouts in their life. And that ultimately comes down to everything we talked about today. How do we build that winning mindset? How do we learn to compete every day against ourselves?
Sonya: That’s so cool, how that all started, and how it’s just evolved into this really big thing that helps people in so many different ways.
Jake: The purpose has always been there. And I told someone that today, because they were going through a similar thing of passion and purpose and where all that fits. And I said, our business has changed. And I’ve swung and missed on a couple of moves that we tried to make years ago. I said, but when the purpose has always been about helping people build a mindset to win at life, this was just a natural progression, like shirts fit, it was a great start, it’s still a great part of our business because people love to wear something that makes them feel good, that makes them feel empowered, that reminds them of what they’re capable of. But there’s so much more to it when we get into conversations like this, when we’re able to sit down and talk to you about ways to control your day, to control your schedule to build and strengthen your focus. And that’s what really gets me excited because when I send a t-shirt out when we sell a t-shirt, or my warehouse team ships it, I’ll occasionally get emails from people. And we got one the other day that I was like in tears reading because it was a guy that had a shirt and he found the shirt right before he was getting ready to kill himself that night. It’s crazy. I’ve gotten a few notes like that over the years. And I’ve gotten ones where people buy it because they’re about to battle cancer. And so the shirts will always do a piece be there. And that means so much to me. But when I when I hear stories like that, and I’m like, man, if a shirt message got that, like what else can we do to help you really realize your life is worth competing for and there are ways to get out and change your current situation. How can we create those? And so that’s ultimately driven us throughout of just finding different avenues. And it may work and it may not. And fortunately, I have the growth mindset that says we’re just gonna roll with any punches, and just keep finding a way to add value to others, and not have the attention on just us.
Sonya: I gotta hand it to you, I mean, I started my own apparel brand about a year and a half ago. And it’s hard knowing how much inventory to have and how much to reinvest in new product and knowing when to come out with new designs, and then how to deal with designs that didn’t work as well. And then trying to figure out what resonates with people and what doesn’t, and customer service… that is a massive business in and of itself. And yeah, massive props to you because you’ve done awesome.
Jake: Well, thank you. I’m happy to talk shop anytime on that stuff about what I’ve learned and what I would do differently. And I laugh because my wife and I had a garage sale, I don’t know, like two weeks ago, first time in five and a half years of being in this house and having crap filling up. And I had a box of old Compete Every Day shirts from 2011 and ’12 that we could never sell. Take them to an event for five bucks, two bucks. Nobody wanted them. And so we had them at a garage sale and we got rid of a couple and I like laughed, I was like, oh, that’s exciting. And my wife’s like it was $1. I was like that thing is been with me since 2011 because I haven’t been able to sell it and she was like why? And I was like apparel business you don’t know. The shirts you think are gonna hit, don’t, and the ones you don’t think you’re gonna hit do and so you have to test and experiment and not be afraid to fail on some of it because it’s inevitable. And every company does that ever friend that it’s got a massive men’s dress wear line and we laugh that one of his shirts that I liked and had, nobody else did. And he was like, yeah, nobody bought that we have that a warehouse full of that color shirt. I was like, oh, awesome.
Sonya: I know. It’s so nuts.
Jake: But yeah, I mean, anything I can ever do on that and happy to add value and continue the conversation. If anyone’s listening, that’s like, oh, I’m getting into that, let me warn you to run. But if you decide to stick with it, feel free to shoot me a DM on on Instagram or LinkedIn message or wherever, I’m always happy to, to engage and help out.
Sonya: Yeah, in terms of investing your time or your money or your energy into projects, I think a lot of times people are afraid to start. And I will say that my book has been one of these situations where, what you said, you wrote 40,000 words, and then you scrap most of it. And I haven’t written that much and scrapped it, but investing your time, and then have it not be as efficient as you wanted it to be, or investing your money, and then maybe losing money on something. But there’s a guy, a friend of a friend, and he said something really powerful that really helps me whenever I get frustrated when something didn’t pan out the way that I wanted it to. And he says, sometimes you have to pay to go to school. And like everybody gets you got to pay to go to college, but life’s college involves paying with your time or your energy or your emotions or your money and the things that you learn from that you can’t even learn in school. So it’s not a bad investment even if you’re losing sometimes.
Jake: Oh my gosh, yeah. And I’ve like anyone else that’s ever started the business has spent thousands and thousands of dollars on stuff you’ll never get back and stuff you lose. But the emotional growth, and just self awareness, I’ll say you get going through the process is the big one. And the book’s a great example. I mean, we’re both going through that. You’ve written and published the ebook stuff like you’ve gone through the weeds. But one of the scariest things in the world is sending that book out, even if it’s to a beta reader, because you’re like, oh, what if they don’t like it? Does that mean they don’t like me? Does that mean I suck? You go through the whole same dialog over and over again. But you’ve got the years of experience now to say no, just means I need to make it better. It just means that Ernest Hemingway has the quote, it’s like, the first draft of anything is crap. And it’s funny, because any person that’s ever written a book knows that because the editing process should be brutal, like you should tear up your first draft. And it works the same way in life. The first thing that we create, we do, we try, we’re probably going to suck at, we’re probably going to fail. But the only way we get better is by continuing to do it. And so you just got to keep doing it. Keep working it.
Sonya: I think that’s a great place to end it. Where’s the best place for people to find you and get more of Jake Thompson?
Jake: Yeah, so easiest way to connect with me is competeeveryday.com. I’m active on there as the actual account on any of them. So say hi, and then my own Facebook and Instagram where I kind of hang out is just @JakeThompsonSpeaks. So super easy to find that website domain as well. We’ll take you to the right place to if you want to learn more about that kind of work that I do. But yeah, say hi, tell me you heard about it here on the show. We’d love to connect anything that we talked about today that you’re like, I have a question or you said something here, seriously, shoot me a DM. Always happy to continue the conversation or clarify anything that I might have left you confused on.
Sonya: And I can personally say I follow both of your Instagram accounts, and they’re both really awesome. So you guys should definitely check it out. Thanks so much for coming on the show. This is awesome. I feel really good after our chat and hopefully you feel good too.
Jake: Yeah, no, this was a blast. I appreciate you having me on and hope everybody enjoyed the talk.