CX Top Tips

279: Kevin Vallely – Facing the Unknown

Kevin Vallely Helps Leaders Face Challenges with the Spirit of an Adventurer

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Kevin Vallely Show Notes Page

Kevin Vallely was travelling with his family at the McKenzie River, when a lone wolf suddenly approached their tent. Surprised and afraid, Kevin fired shots at the wolf to make it go away. After a few shots, the wolf did go away, leaving his family unscathed. The surprise encounter with the wolf left them a frightful impression, and they questioned whether to stop their adventure or not. They ultimately decided to continue on their journey. They recognized why that wolf acted the way it did, and through that process, brought experience and empowerment to their family. Because of that experience, they have learned the importance of pushing through and becoming stronger for it.

Kevin Vallely was born and raised in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He has two younger siblings – a brother and a sister. His parents emigrated to Canada from Limerick, Ireland when they were in their 20’s and started a family. All of Kevin’s extended family still live in Ireland.

When Kevin was 10 years old when he began his journey to become an explorer. He and his younger brother Michael, who was only 6 at the time, became separated from their parents in large department store in downtown Montreal late one winter night. It was closing time and an overzealous security guard decided to kick them out rather than help them find their parents.

Without money or any sense of where home was Kevin was forced to navigate himself and his terrified baby brother home through a raging winter storm. Through trial and error and the chance discovery of a street name he recognized, Kevin was able to lead himself and Michael home. It took them over 3 hours in freezing cold temperatures. It was the scariest moment of Kevin’s young life but also became the most empowering.

Shortly after he began to dream of skiing to the South Pole. It would take Kevin 35 years to achieve this dream, but January 7, 2009 he’d make it to the pole and proceeded to break the world record getting there.

Kevin studied architecture at McGill University and won the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Medal as top graduating student in 1989. He is a registered architect and still maintains a successful architectural practice while working as a leadership trainer and internationally recognized explorer.

The legacy he is most proud to leave behind is his two daughters. He wants them to feel empowered just like he was when he was a kid. He has undertaken numerous journeys with his family including a 1700-kilometer kayak journey down North America’s second longest river, the Mackenzie River, from Great Slave Lake, NWT to the Arctic Ocean in far northern Canada.

Kevin lives in North Vancouver, British Columbia Canada and is happily married with two teenage daughters.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Listen to @VallelyKevin get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShowClick to Tweet

“Cognitive reappraisal is the quick mental ability to switch and flip.” – Click to Tweet

“Every adventure has to have a sense of realistic optimism.” – Click to Tweet

“Either you quit or you keep going. Adventures keep going.” – Click to Tweet

“You can’t allow yourself to just dwell on the negative. You have to move forward into a positive mindset.” – Click to Tweet

“You have to take a crazy idea and break it down into a set of instructions that you can hand over to someone to do it for you.” – Click to Tweet

“No matter how you feel, you have to feel like you can get it done.” – Click to Tweet

“Even if you’re not whole-heartedly behind something and you’re feeling uncertain about it, put a smile on and be brave.” – Click to Tweet

“We feel at our best if we’re giving more and helping others.” – Click to Tweet

“Organizations that have a sense of purpose have been proven to be more successful.” – Click to Tweet

“The key to innovation is stepping away.” – Click to Tweet

“The magic of innovation is the stepping away moments – an adventure is a stepping away moment.” – Click to Tweet

“You have to be open-minded and willing to pivot on a dime to do things.” – Click to Tweet

Hump to Get Over

Kevin Vallely was travelling with his family at the McKenzie River, when a lone wolf suddenly approached their tent. Surprised and afraid, Kevin fired shots at the wolf to make it go away. After a few shots, the wolf did go away, leaving his family unscathed. The surprise encounter with the wolf left them a frightful impression, and they questioned whether to stop their adventure or not. They ultimately decided to continue on their journey. They recognized why that wolf acted the way it did, and through that process, brought experience and empowerment to their family. Because of that experience, they have learned the importance of pushing through and becoming stronger for it.

Advice for others

Believe in yourself. You are capable of so much more.

Holding him back from being an even better leader

Not being confident and certain with myself.

Best Leadership Advice

Trust your gut.

Secret to Success

Perseverance.

Best tools in business or life

Positivity.

Recommended Reading

Wild Success: 7 Key Lessons Business Leaders Can Learn from Extreme Adventurers

Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

Contacting Kevin Vallely

Twitter: https://twitter.com/VallelyKevin

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kevin-vallely-b0b7bb16/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kevinvallely/

Website: https://www.kevinvallely.com/

Resources

 

Show Transcript

Click to access edited transcript

Unedited Transcript

Jim Rembach (00:00):

Okay, fast leader Legion today. I’m excited because we have somebody on the show today who is going to take what we all perceive as you know, kind of like

Jim Rembach (00:08):

practical wisdoms, very simple, understandable, but yet have an immense depth that you would never have expected. Kevin Vallely was born and raised in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He has two younger siblings, a younger brother and a sister. His parents immigrated to Canada from Limerick Island when they were in their twenties and started a family. All of Kevin’s extended family still live in Ireland. When Kevin was 10 years old, he began his journey to become an Explorer. He and his younger brother, Michael, who was only six at the time, became separated from their parents in a large department store in downtown Montreal. Late one Lynn winter nights. It was closing time and an overzealous security guard decided to kick them out rather than to help them find their parents without money or any sense of where home was. Kevin was forced to navigate himself and his terrified baby brother home through a raging winter storm through trial and error and the chance discovery of a street nanny recognized Kevin was able to lead himself and Michael home.

Jim Rembach (01:10):

It took them over three hours in freezing cold temperatures. It was the scariest moment of Kevin’s young life, but also became the most empowering. Shortly after he began the dream of skiing to the South pole, it would take him 35 years to achieve this dream, but January 7th, 2009 he made it to the pole and proceeded to break the world record getting there. Kevin studied architecture at McGill university and won the Royal architecture Institute of Canada metal as a top graduating student in 89 he is a registered architect and still maintains a successful architectural practice while working as a leadership trainer and intentionally and internationally recognized, explore the legacy he is most proudly behind his his two daughters. He wants them to feel empowered just like he was when he was a kid. He has undertaken numerous journeys with his family, including a 1700 kilometer kayak journey down North America. Second largest river, the McKenzie river from the great slave Lake and the Northwest territories to the Arctic ocean in far Northern Canada. Kevin lives in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and is happily married with two teenage daughters. Kevin Vallely. Are you ready to help us get over the hump?

Kevin Vallely (02:24):

Oh, I am Jim. Very, very psyched too.

Jim Rembach (02:27):

Well, I am glad you’re here. Now I’ve given my Legion a little bit about you, but can you share what your current passion is so that we can get to know you even better?

Kevin Vallely (02:35):

Well, I’m, I’m, I’m passionate about inspiring others to be better. And I’ve been, this is really at the core of what I do. And I’ve, you know, I’ve had, uh, an opportunity to reflect on that and think about my fundamental purpose in many ways. And I recognize that my adventures when I undertake my adventures is that I come back with what skills will learning that then I want to share and an understanding that I can connect those, that wild wisdom garnered in the adventure world to the business world to everyday life, to people struggling with their own issues or overcoming their own challenges. Is that what I’ve learnt in that wild world, uh, has a direct application and I really feel like I’d love to share it.

Jim Rembach (03:18):

Well, and I’m glad that you do. I mean, and I have, I mean for me, I, I’ve had a real joy, uh, reading your book wild success. Um, and w I definitely want to get into that. Um, because for me it was one right after another of a story about some things that seem very practical. We’ll talk about those in a second. But it was like adventure story after adventure story. It was, you know, heroes falling in and having issues and getting some of them terribly, almost maimed in the process and then rising up again. And you know, finding all of these things that we often again seem very practical and simple. It’s like, Oh yeah, okay, whatever. Um, but then the depth to them, especially when you start looking at these group of people is just immensely enriching and priceless in many ways

Kevin Vallely (04:05):

and knowing the individuals themselves and what is intriguing about it is yes, it’s, it’s that classic arc of a narrative where, uh, the hero to a challenge and then back to being a hero again. But for myself and my coauthor Amy Posey, what was fascinating to us was, uh, to dig a little deeper on what got them out of that low point and what magic do they have, what super power do they have? And really what we recognized was that that’s what our assumption was in some ways going in that it’s a super power, you know, a Mark Matthew is one of the greatest big wave surfers in the world. How does he cognitive reframe and how does he come out of something like this? It’s like, well, he’s just different than the rest of us. He’s just this incredible guy who could do things.

Kevin Vallely (04:46):

But the really interesting thing about the book and what we, we studied these, these extreme athletes and fully began to understand what makes them tick is in fact that those special skills are something we all have. And it’s something we can all train and what has made them get out of it because they’ve exposed themselves as adventurous to these challenges all the time. That’s their skillset. They’re always pushing themselves to the limits, always facing adversity. So invariably they have to build these skills to get themselves out of a hole. So what are those skills? And we can, we can all learn them and we can actually all thrive because of them. So that was the real aha for us was recognizing that those special things. So super powers are accessible to us all.

Jim Rembach (05:31):

Well and going back to those super powers, they seem really simple. Although the first one I’m really interested to get your full depth and understanding of it cause it’s called, you call it cognitive reappraisal. And then we have grit growth, mindset, purpose, innovation, resilience, and then personal sustainability, sustainability. So if we can’t, if you can share with us what cognitive reappraisal is.

Kevin Vallely (05:56):

Yeah, it’s, and it’s funny, cognitive

Jim Rembach (05:58):

reappraisal, it sounds very technical term. It’s reframing. It’s reframing a situation. Really. That’s what it comes down to. How do you see a glass half full, half empty? I mean, it really comes down to that, but it’s, it’s training ourselves to do so. And it sounds so much easier than it really is because when you’re really confronted with a difficult situation, I mean, even looking, reflecting on what we’re going through now, how we recognize the environment we’re in with this COBIT 19 crisis is that, how do you see it? How do you frame it? You frame it, okay, Hey, everything’s going to hell. And it’s like we’re all, you know, the economy and, or it’s like, you know, this is an opportunity for us to rethink and refocus and, uh, we’ll be better for in the end. It’s that quick mental ability to switch and flip.

Jim Rembach (06:41):

And that’s something that Mark Matthews is a surfer, uh, has an incredible ability to do, but he’s trained himself to do that. And he was confronted with a horrible situation where he, he basically was told by doctors he’d likely moose his leg and he’d never surfing again. One of the greatest surfers in the world managed to flip his mindset when a young patient, the hospital came into his room who was even more hurt than him, was in fact became a quadriplegic and saying to just see his hero, Mark Matthews. And he said, right away he realized instead of feeling sorry for himself, he realized how lucky was he wants in this young guy. And he flipped and he did. And the amazing thing that Mark is not only has he come back, he’s out there surfing these giants again. So it’s this unique, amazing ability to just flip it.

Jim Rembach (07:23):

And we all, we all can do it, but it’s something we have to train out, train small, and to build up so that when it really is at a difficult moment, like he was faced on his hospital bed, your mind is prone to doing it rather than just going in this death spiral into a horrible place, which none of us wanted to go. Well, and even in the book when you start talking about these seven chat, seven key lessons and the chapters that leaders can, can learn from these extraordinary adventures is, um, you know, when you start talking about putting cognitive reappraisal into action, you say start small and practice, right? It’s muscle and there things you have to continue to do. You learn to recognize your emotions. You know, I’m lucky we’re talking about Kevin and realizing when the young kid came rolling in to his hospital room and then also make that cognitive reappraisal a habit. So, okay, we’re practicing, but then how do you make cognitive reappraisal a habit? Is, are we talking about, you know, shifting always to maybe an appreciative mode? Are we talking about, you know, um, moving outside of ourself and trying to get into other people’s shoes? I mean, what do you mean by doing that?

Kevin Vallely (08:36):

Well, it’s, yes, on all aspects and, or maybe no one other times, but it depends on the situation, the circumstance of course. But it just simple little things. And as much as uh, Oh geez, you know, I got a, I got a flat tire today and how am I going to deal with this? And instead of getting into a sort of really feeling upset with yourself, flipping and going, Oh, you know, jeez, I have at this moment to relax and Hey, my, my, my, my daughter’s with me. I’m going to teach her how to change a tire. I mean, it’s little things like that. It’s just micro moments and making changes. But if you, if you consciously think to yourself, Oh geez, this is not great. Okay, let’s see if I can flip this and just do, and you’re going to find the more you do it, it becomes habit.

Kevin Vallely (09:13):

And next thing you know, when something serious comes along where you’re inclined not to go that direction, your natural instinct will be to fall into habit and to look for the brighter side. We’re not like we’re talking Pollyanna here. This is just realistic. Optimism is so important. It’s critical. And it’s one aspect of every adventure that I’ve, I’ve learned from is that every adventure has to have a sense of realistic optimism. Because when you’re confronted but setback continuously, either you quit or you keep going and adventurous, keep going. That’s what makes them do what they do.

Jim Rembach (09:47):

Okay. As you’re talking, I even start thinking, so for me, I spent a lot of time in the customer experience in the contact center world and I start thinking about, you know, dealing with customers and having to constantly do that and not, I myself was picking up something in a grocery store at a deli counter and this, and the lady who was working there was complaining about them having multiple orders today and saying something to the effect that she wishes they just wouldn’t deliver them. And she continued to go on. And I’m like, and I’m just sitting there not, not necessarily judging her per se, but I’m like, gosh, we have 25% unemployment. Be happy.

Kevin Vallely (10:23):

Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And that’s what it is, is recognizing it. And for her to maybe do the switch, that flip that switch as well. You know, salespeople are the ultimate in cognitive reappraisal because they always can see a situation and go, no, no, actually, and make it a really good salesperson. Naturally employees reframe it and they do it just, you can’t allow yourself to just dwell on the negative. You got to find a, you know, a bit of a twist to it, a spin to it where you believe it as well and it’s, it’s real and moving forward. And we go into a more positive mindset where naturally a little bit more creative, a little bit more accepting of things and moving forward and we’re healthier for it. So, uh, again, a small little, uh, uh, habit, but one that can have profound effects on itself.

Jim Rembach (11:11):

Well, and, and like I was saying, I saw I’m a customer, I’m sitting there and I’m hearing that, right? So it’s like, so then I’ll edit. It starts impacting and affecting my experience. It starts impacting and effecting, you know, other employees. I mean, I’ll, I mean, so I think for me the whole cognitive reappraisal and teaching and helping to teach everybody to do that and even setting it as an expectation would be an important thing.

Kevin Vallely (11:32):

Oh, and for a leader, right. And as you were saying it right away, you know, in a way she was almost a leader. We’re all leaders. This feeling that sometimes, well, I’m not a leader. Well, when you lead yourself, you lead your family, it doesn’t matter. But people also look to you and they see how you react to something. And frankly, if someone reacts well to something that’s really bad. I had a friend who went through cancer and I couldn’t believe how inspiring he was through the whole process and it was incredible. And now he’s healthy. But I have just been struck by that. His ability to say Nope, flipped it and became a leader to me in many ways is going, wow, if he can do that, I can, I can do that too.

Jim Rembach (12:11):

Most definitely. Okay. So for me though, when I look at you, I’m like, okay, career architecture, very calculated, very structured. And then you have this adventure, wild side. But I also start thinking how that could also be fed back into the work you do as an architect. And then just tell me because you have multiple disciplines that I think now enable you to have perspectives that are very unique. Um, and so I mean, and so I can see how all of this is coming about and you’re taking what like architecture seems pretty practical and simple, but it has so much depth to it.

Kevin Vallely (12:47):

Yeah. And well, you know what’s interesting there, Jim, is that in fact they’re so similar on some levels because true architecture is coming up with a crazy, wild idea. Like if you want, and I love the idea of designing architecture like something really kind of wow. And you have this crazy idea. It’s like, okay, now how am I going to get this built? And you have to take a crazy idea and break it down into ultimately a set of drawings and specifications that you can hand over to a construction team that can go onsite without you being there. And with nuts and bolts, they can build this crazy fantasy that you have in your head. Same goes at an adventure. You have this crazy idea, I’m going to ski to the South pole. Okay, wonderful. I’ve got this crazy idea. Now how do I start about going about this? And you ultimately have to get to a point where you’re taking one foot after step after another as safely as you can in the context of this completely wild environment and succeed at it. So in many ways, architecture and adventure are surprisingly similar. It’s coming up with this crazy idea that somehow you make a reality. And how do you make it reality there? There lies the magic potion I suppose.

Jim Rembach (13:53):

Well most definitely. Okay. So then you start talking about going to grit, right? And you say grit. You say you need to rewrite your positive story and we’ve been talking about that. Um, there’s one point here that I, that I want to reserve and I want to talk about a little bit more cause I’ve heard conflictions uh, in association with that. But you said troll what you can. Okay. It seems obvious, but you talk, the one thing, other things you talked about is fake it till you make it. Yeah. I’ve heard a lot of people say that that’s not something you want to do for altitude reasons. So I’d love to hear your perspective.

Kevin Vallely (14:25):

Well, you know, I, I, I disagree, uh, humbly so, and I’ve used this so often in the past and I can even, uh, I can reference from one of my clients, a huge organization here in the U S and the world. And, uh, I remember the chief legal officer was telling me about a story where the big massive organization just recently shared this story with me. Massive organization was, was, uh, breaking into two separate organizations. The CEO at the, it was a very difficult process and enough so that they didn’t know whether they were even gonna make it and they had to see Sweden and they had a conversation. And, uh, it was a heavy, difficult conversation. At the end of it. The suite, they were all leaving and all their faces were just feeling horrible. And then the CEO, she took them aside and said, team, put on a smile.

Kevin Vallely (15:11):

You’re going out. You are leaders. You’re going out to your team now is that if they see that they’re not going to feel like we can do this. So no matter how you feel, you have to feel like you can get this done and convey that. And I feel strongly about it because as a leader, we all look to that person no matter who, whoever is leading us forward through a difficult crisis, you look to your leader and you want to see how they act, no matter what’s actually happening. You want to see if they’re confident moving forward. You’ll be confident. It’s, it’s so critical at that moment and to my mind is that, uh, you know, you’re not, you’re not lying about something, but you put a positive spin. Again, cognitive reappraisal, but in that situation, what I mean by that is faking it until you make it. Even if you’re not wholeheartedly behind something and you’re feeling uncertain about it, put a smile on and be brave. If you’re going into thinking about it, are you going to, if you’re going into charging that in battle into the frontline and your leader is nervous and scared, you’re less likely to follow them. And if they’re like, we can do this, let’s go regardless whether they believe it or not fully. So I feel very strongly about faking it. So you make it, I’ve done it many times.

Jim Rembach (16:19):

So then we have, uh, that growth mindset and there’s been a lot of work associated with, you know, mindsets. I mean Carol Dweck, Seminole work area and others continued to expand upon that. Um, but you talk about looking for opportunities, uh, see, you know, learning from feedback. Yeah. And then as well as taking risks and working hard again. Okay. Okay. Seems pretty practical and simple. Um, but what’s the differentiator here?

Kevin Vallely (16:47):

Well, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s funny again and a lot of times these things you have to really think about them cause we tend to drift towards a fixed mindset. This feeling, well, they’re talented. They’ve got it. And that’s the fundamental thing with, with Dwecks theory is that no, actually, uh, we can work at it and we can get better. And recognizing that, you know, someone who has this mindset that if you’re, if, if, if it’s all based on talent, if you’re going to be coming up against a challenge, you’re going to see it as being an opportunity for other people to see or maybe not talented, rather than someone with a growth mindset, seeing a challenges. This is a way to make me stronger. So if I have a setback, it’s like, well, okay, I’m gonna learn from that gonna move forward. So it’s something that adventures invariably have to have in a very, very strong way.

Kevin Vallely (17:31):

We about [inaudible] with growth mindset in the book. And, and Matt has an amazing ability to just coming from very humble beginnings in Australia to wanting to be a, uh, an open ocean sailor, which he succeeded in doing and makes it to Antarctica and back nearly dies in an accident and then decides he wants to be a polar Explorer and becomes one of the first people ever to go to the North pole three times. So it’s fascinating to watch someone just embrace risk and embrace uncertainty, learn from that and grow from that rather than say, well, I just don’t, I can’t do that because I just can’t. I don’t have that. I just think it’s a, it’s a simple thing, but how profoundly important.

Jim Rembach (18:15):

Well, and even when you, when you start combining even this next one together, I think that it’s the growth mindset and this one that really ends up being something that enables that, that that internal motivation that will feed into the some resilience that you talk about. So it’s a combination of a lot of these things in their, in their interrelationships with one another. There are true differentiators. So I would dare to say if you were to take some type of st scoring model or matrix and look at all these adventures, you probably get multiple checks and a lot of these things. Oh yeah, absolutely. Definitely. So the next one being purpose, you know, find your spark, align your spark with your core values. I think that’s critically important so that you know where you stand and, and then also contributing to the greater good. So I think there’s been many examples of these things right here, but for, for you, when you start talking about the finding the purpose, who puts stands out?

Kevin Vallely (19:12):

Well, I have what sends out is giving for greater good. I mean that is the fundamental foundation of it is that why do you do what you do? I mean, really reflecting on it is that there’s all these different reasons your values aligned with it, but ultimately it’s, we feel at our best in terms of purpose. If we’re giving more and helping others in some way. And that is the critical thing. It’s your family members, your friends, your community at large, your country. But understanding that sense of purpose, that’s where purpose comes in on such a fundamental level. And it’s something we don’t tend to think about a lot. And I think we need time to reflect on it, to really recognize it. But, but organizations that have a sense of purpose that have been proven by every metric to be more successful because people feel they’re going to be there, they’re going to be there for the long haul because darn it, you know, this is, there’s real life. There’s meaning in what I’m doing.

Jim Rembach (20:02):

Well, I, even though when you start talking about that, I’m starting to think about these adventures and I started thinking about purpose, I’m like, no, what’s the purpose of going to the South pole there?

Kevin Vallely (20:12):

Well, you know, it actually, interestingly, uh, there was some deep purpose with that in all the different ones. And interestingly enough, it got me, it stimulated me when I was out there, I had a dream to ski to the South pole since, as we alluded to that as a start for 35 years. So I wanted to do this and it was such an empowering thing. But when I was out there, I had a young offender connect with me as a young guy from uh, uh, uh, a detention center in Chicago and he asked me, uh, how do you keep going? Why don’t you quit? I remember thinking I had all these other emails that we were, had a satellite technology. We had over 10,000 school kids following us, right? So all of them were like, are you cold? You have a cold? What are you eating?

Kevin Vallely (20:52):

Either eating butter. Like, I mean, it’s funny little questions then this, how are you going to keep going? Why don’t you quit? I was, I didn’t even know how to answer them at first because I knew that this kid was connected with us. He was engaged by what we were doing more so than he was a strike two offender. One more mistake. This kid was bumped up to adult court Al prison and here he was asking me, how do you keep going? Why don’t you quit? And I realized it’s there right now, that I had an ability as an adventurer to transcend the simple act of me getting to the South pole hall to actually inspire others, maybe inspire others to be too get him out of where he was or maybe recognizing. So I, there was a real aha for me, uh, in, through it all going, yeah, it’s great. I made it the South pole and in many ways completely meaningless. It’s a little spot like anywhere else in Antarctica, but it wasn’t meaningless to me in terms of my process of getting there. And it’s that process that that is the lesson and that is hopefully something that this young guy, Sammy heard, which he did in terms of an email, but also in terms of my actions and others moving forward ever since that day.

Jim Rembach (21:58):

So then you get into talking about innovation, which I think so many people are being forced into meeting to do. When you started about the copays thing. Yeah. Um, but it’s, it’s about dreaming big, embracing the struggle and, and adjusting, you know, your environment. Uh, now we talk about the whole survival thing. And Darwinism and adaptability, how important that is. But innovation, you know, really is deeply rooted in the whole creative thinking process. Yes. And so for me, when I started looking at that from the adventure perspective, that is immense. Um, when you start thinking about creative, you know, the creative process, you know, everything from the whole preparation to the adjustments to the, you know, the whole variability of weather to, I mean, all of these different factors and how the creativity starts coming into play. So let’s get some of your perspectives on, on that. And you even mentioned it before when you started talking about architecture.

Kevin Vallely (22:50):

Yeah. I mean, as an architect you’re hard to be creative. And innovation comes to me in a way, as somewhat naturally, I think because it’s, it’s what we’ve been trained to do and hired to do as an architect. And it’s interesting. It’s not like you can just log time and be creative. Uh, it’s when I’m out on my bike is what I’m walking in the trails. It’s when I’m walking my daughter to school. That’s when the aha has happened. You gotta put in the time, you got to, you know, turn away with it. But then you’ve got to step away from it. And that’s the key to innovation stepping away. And that’s where actually this whole crisis we’re going through now, this is a forced step away. Whether we know it or not, we’ve been doing something, something, something. Now we’ve been forced to step away.

Kevin Vallely (23:31):

And many of your listeners are probably recognizing that, wow, you know, we’re approaching things a little differently now and I’m getting all sorts of ideas around it moving forward. This is the magic of innovation. It’s these moments, these stepping away moments and in, in an adventure, an adventure is a stepping away of course, but you’re forced to innovate quick in that environment. And often times it’s, um, it can be life and death unless you do it right. So being open to it and there’s, it’s, it’s definitely very much, uh, there’s tactical ways about being more innovative and it’s not what we think. It’s not just sitting down for 12 hours at a desk and you’re going to come up with a creative solution. No, actually step up, move away, get away from your desk. And there’s something called an ultradian rhythm in fact, which connects to all that. We’ll talk about about that a little bit later, but uh, is, uh, is recognizing those break moments are where the inspiration happens.

Jim Rembach (24:25):

Uh, so for me, when you were talking, I started, I started thinking about the whole open-mindedness aspect of it. I don’t think he could be an adventurer and be closed minded.

Kevin Vallely (24:34):

No, he wouldn’t go out there. Absolutely not. You have to be open minded to new things. I mean, if you’ve never, when we tried to roll the Northwest passage in a 25 foot rowboat, it was, no one had ever done that before. So we were going to do something that no one has ever, ever done before. And it’s like, well, what are you going to be faced with? I don’t know. I mean, there was no research. We have to figure this out. So yeah, you have to be open minded and willing to pivot on a dime because, uh, you’re learning as you go. But boy, you come out at the other end of it failure or not as, I’m so much more knowledgeable and empowered to do incredible things, uh, frankly when it comes to it.

Jim Rembach (25:16):

Well and then you get into the whole resilience piece. And so we talked about preparing for worst case scenarios, sustaining strong relationships and then create stories with a sense of realistic optimism. And I think even going back to what we were just talking about a second ago, I find and come across so many people that will not consider worst case scenarios. They’re like, no, no, no, I don’t want to go over there because it might open up a door to this or people might start thinking this and I’m like, that’s close minded, right? You need to be open minded and you need to really consider, you know, other perspectives and then therefore address those if need be or plan for those if need be. And then sometimes if the answer is just don’t respond to it

Kevin Vallely (25:55):

or just put it to bed, I mean then it, yeah, that’s totally the wrong way. If by just putting your head, it’s like being an ostrich, putting your head in the sand. I mean it’s just not the way to be resilient and the fact is just come up with scenarios and right now frankly with what we’re going through is come up with scenarios. Maybe if someone says, well, what happens if I do lose my job? Well, what does that mean? And then you sort of plan it out. It’s not great. We’re not saying that these options will be great, but you at least have it tactically thought through. Then you put it to bed and you don’t think about it again. But at least it’s been thought through. And Lisa Blair in our book as open ocean sailor, young woman, credible sailing around Antarctica, she had done that before.

Kevin Vallely (26:32):

She left and looked at. Worst case scenario is what happens if I dismissed in the middle of the storm in the Southern ocean? It’s unthinkable. It’ll never happen. Well, it did happen and there she was just like, okay, this is what I do. A, B, C, D, and she survived it because of that. Otherwise, you’d be overwhelmed by the moment. And then actually you’re not going to think at your best. So do it. Think about it. Plan for it. Don’t be over melancholic about it, just being tactical and put it away. And you don’t even have to share it with people. But if you have it in the back of your head, uh, it’s not a bad thing. It makes you more resilient.

Jim Rembach (27:03):

So now we’re going to talk about the thing that you mentioned a moment ago when we get into having the opportunity to build your personal sustainability. And you mentioned setting boundaries, acknowledging your old trade-in rhythms and feeling your four energies. So I think we’re going to have some really good insights into this.

Kevin Vallely (27:20):

Yeah, well, and that, that chapter was all about me, uh, and balanced because I am a writer. I’m an architect. I happen to be an internationally recognized, uh, Explorer. I’m dead. Uh, and you know, uh, I’m an architect and like, it’s all these different things. It’s like, well, how do you do that? Well, there’s a score of other things that I’ve wanted to do as well, but I’ve put to bed and say, well, Nope, that’s not for me in terms of my world. But recognizing there is a balance and how to balance your time to be effective and the obsession and thought is that you, if you’re just work, work, work, you’re going to get the most done. And I feel so strongly against that and that’s what I was saying with the Altria and rhythm is that it’s based like a circadian rhythm, but all trade-in rhythm is during the day.

Kevin Vallely (28:02):

Circadian rhythm is at night and you know, REM sleep and deep sleep ultradian rhythm is all about how you function during the day and they’ve and scientists are now recognized that we have this all Tridion rhythm of about 110 minutes where we work really well for 90 and then we start to fade out and we start, we need some rest and it’s roughly 20 minutes. It doesn’t mean you have to take a nap, but it just means stepping away from what you’re doing. And then coming back to it could be just, you know, answering boring emails or something where you’re not thinking the same way, but you go in and out of a flow state throughout the course of the day. So for, for listeners recognizing that, is that just be more in tune with how you feel after about 90 minutes. Step up from your desk, walk around, do whatever you gotta do, go to the coffee machine if it means or just take a walk around, go outside, clear your head, take a call, do something different and then come back to your work. You’re going to find actually, uh, that is an incredibly powerful way to be more productive than high performance.

Jim Rembach (28:59):

Well I think the whole awareness component of what you’re talking about is really the key here. Cause there’s even been some other systems like the Pomodoro method where you, you know, sprint and work for a little while and take, yeah, I mean it’s just fun finding what works best for you. But when you start talking about going through these seven key lessons and all these adventurers who had the opportunity to interview and meet, and I’m sure you’re personally connected to several of them, I started looking at inspiration and there’s a whole slew and multiple sources of it. And one of the things that we looked at on the show in order to give us some of that, our quotes and I’m sure you have tons of them, but is there a one or two that you like and you can share?

Kevin Vallely (29:39):

Well, I, I probably have it verbatim, but TSL is, uh, you know, at the end of all of the exploration or end of every journey, uh, is to return where you started and know the place for the first time. And I found that one really, uh, it’s so profound for me and a lot of people have heard it, but I know what it means so strongly is that I go on one of these expeditions and I come back to where I am and it’s a reboot. I just see everything a little bit differently, a little bit better. I see what’s important in my life is what’s really important and what’s not. Because it’s no better way to know that than to be out in an environment where there’s nothing but you and, and survival moving forward and appeals away all those inconsequential issues. And you recognize what’s important. And that’s so important for all of us to get those moments reflecting on family and friends health and just of why I’m here and why I’m doing what I’m doing. So I find that quote for me, um, resonates very, very powerfully.

Jim Rembach (30:39):

Well, when I started thinking about this and going through the book and even your story telling in your adventures, the ventures that you have, even early one with your brother, which was unplanned for a, and even I saw that you have the opportunity to share that story. I watched it on video and you talked about a place where my wife and I stayed where we went to Montreal at the shepherd Champlain. I got a good chuckle out of that, so thanks. Um, but there’s times, you know, where, Hey, we, we take off on a particular adventure whether planned or, or otherwise. And, you know, there’s a lesson there to help. We have to get over and we come back on the other side with a different perspective. Um, is there a time where you’ve gotten over the hump that you can share?

Kevin Vallely (31:22):

Yeah, there is. Interestingly, uh, I traveled as, as you mentioned, uh, down the Mackenzie river to the Arctic ocean for almost 1200 miles with my two daughters. And at the time I think there were nine, 11 little girls, my wife, wilderness expedition, we’re talking out there nothing and for safety sake, big grizzly bears, wolves, and everything else. I had taken a shock up, just has said an emergency item that I would never use. Well, I had to use it on one occasion with a big aggressive Wolf approached us one morning, woke me from camp and my little daughter woke me up and said this something outside of the tent. And I stepped out and there was this Wolf, I’m telling you, the size of a hyena. And it was angry at me and I tried to shoot away and it wouldn’t go away. And I remember finally I wasn’t going to kill the the thing, but I shot over his shoulder and scared it away, but it didn’t really go that far away.

Kevin Vallely (32:10):

And we finally packed up and left. And it was, it was just jarring moment for me with fear about taking care of my family and what am I doing and why am I here and all these questions. And we came into town and I spoke to one of the environment people there and they said, Oh, we call that the Phantom Wolf. He’s monster. And he’s, uh, we know that he’s out there dancing with his, with his female somewhere. And um, uh, you probably came upon his death, so he wasn’t down there to hunt you. He was down there protecting his pups and I was doing the thing and it was interesting telling this story to my pops and they got it, they understood it and we stepped away and gave him his space and we kept moving on. But I got to a point, do I continue or not continue? At this point? We’re about halfway through and as consensus as a family, we were going to continue. We recognize why that Wolf acted the way it did, and we did. And through the it, through that process, seeing that empowerment, my two little girls at the end of it, they’re different. They’re turning into strong young women. Now, having been an experienced, something like that, that, uh, uh, it’s important to push through, but speak as a group, as a family, and they wanted to continue. We continued and we’re all stronger for it.

Jim Rembach (33:20):

Well, thanks for sharing that. Now for me, when I started looking at the book, when I started looking at, you know, all these different things that you’re doing and talking about the architect you’re talking about, you know, the, the leadership work that you’re doing. I mean, you’ve the number of adventures that you’re still yet to do and want to do. Um, you know, with or without family. Um, I’m sure we’ll slew of choices, but I start thinking about a goal that you may have. And I know there’s several, but is there one that you can share?

Kevin Vallely (33:48):

Well, you know, my goal, uh, is, is a legacy really is to inspire and empower my girls to do whatever they darn well want. And that really is my overarching goal is as a proud father and by my actions, uh, you know, giving them and empowering them to feel whatever they want to do. And it sounds so cliche to say that, but it’s not, it’s really the way I feel is that, uh, critically and we all know it as, as a parent, you know what too is that you feel that way. You, you have kids, you just, you want them and the best for them. And I as, as young girls, I just want them to be empowered. So for me, that’s the critical one. Uh, many ways I, I don’t have to keep banging that nail in anymore in terms of recognizing the adventures I’ve done over the years. I love doing it. So I’ll keep doing it, but I need me to prove anything by any stretch that’s long gone. I’m in my fifties now. It’s, I’m way past that at this point in the game. It’s uh, it’s hopefully inspiring others to be their best. And uh, I find that just hugely inspiring for me

Jim Rembach (34:53):

and the fast near Legion wishes you the very best.

Kevin Vallely (34:56):

Now before we move on, let’s get a quick word from our sponsor.

Jim Rembach (35:00):

And even better place to work is an easy to use solution that gives you a continuous diagnostic on employee engagement along with integrated activities that will improve employee engagement and leadership skills in everyone using this award, winning solutions, guaranteed to create motivated, productive, and loyal employees who have great work relationships with our colleagues and your customers. To learn more about an even better place to work, visit [inaudible] dot com forward slash better. Alright, here we go. Pass the Legion. It’s time for the home. Okay Kevin, there’s a pull down as a part of our show where you give us good insights. So I’m going to ask you several questions and your job is to give us robust. You have rapid responses that are going to us move onward and upward faster. Kevin Valley, are you ready to go down? I guess I have. There we go. Alright. So what is holding you back from being an even better leader today?

Kevin Vallely (35:50):

Uh, maybe still being, uh, not hugely confident in certainly myself. It sounds as crazy as it is, but a is always questioning myself and recognizing that, uh, you know, I could always do better. So maybe a little bit uncertainty always.

Jim Rembach (36:05):

What is the best leadership advice you have ever received?

Kevin Vallely (36:08):

Trust your gut. I really feel that strongly. Really trust your gut. I’ve learned that is that if something feels wrong, don’t do it. It feels right. Figure out why it’s right. But you kind of know what trust your gut.

Jim Rembach (36:20):

And what is one of your secrets that you believe contributes to your success?

Kevin Vallely (36:24):

Perseverance. I just, when I stick my teeth into something I hold on tight and I don’t let go.

Jim Rembach (36:31):

And what is one of your best tools that helps you lead in business or life?

Kevin Vallely (36:35):

Uh, positivity. Uh, I have a positive frame of mind no matter what it is. I try to look on the positive side of things.

Jim Rembach (36:42):

And what would be one book that you’d recommend to our Legion? It could be from any genre,

Kevin Vallely (36:46):

any genre. Oh, um, geez. I really enjoyed, uh, Simon cynics. Why? I think it’s fantastic. It’s really inspirational and I’ve always enjoyed it. So I mean fairly recently I would just read it year ago, so I’d suggest that.

Jim Rembach (37:00):

Okay. Pastor Legion, you can find links to that in other bonus information from today’s show by going to fast leader.net/kevin-Vallely. Okay, Kevin, this is my last hump day. Hold on question. Imagine you been given the opportunity to go back to the age of 25 and you can take the knowledge and skills that you have now back with you, but you can’t take it all. You can only take one. So what skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why?

Kevin Vallely (37:24):

Whoa. Believe in yourself. That would be it. Just believe in yourself. And again, you asked me earlier why call me back, is that sometimes I don’t believe in yourself that we’re capable of so much more than we think we can do. You got to believe in yourself. You can’t, you just at least give yourself that leg up, believe in yourself, because if you don’t believe in yourself, why should anyone else believe them?

Jim Rembach (37:51):

Kevin, I had fun with you today. Can you please share with the fast leader Legion how they can connect with you?

Kevin Vallely (37:56):

They can connect with me on my website at, uh, just Kevinvallely.com and they can reach out. We’d love to chat. And, uh, and uh, please read our book if you can. Um, and again, that website is more wild success.com and yeah, I’d love to, I’d love to hear from you,

Jim Rembach (38:14):

Kevin Vallely. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom. The fast leap Allegion honors you and thanks you for helping us get over the hump.

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