If you want to be successful in your endeavors, a huge part of it is mastering mindfulness under pressure. It’s all a part of getting the versatility you need to be able to properly engage in any working environment. Tina Greenbaum, M.Ed., LCSW, is an Optimal Performance Coach and a dynamic workshop leader. Today, Tina sits down with Elizabeth Bachman to bring you to that state of mindfulness and meditation needed for your work to truly thrive under any condition. No matter what you do, being able to manage and conduct yourself properly is a difficult but vital to skill to master, and Tina is here to help you find the balance that works for you best.
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Mastery Under Pressure With Tina Greenbaum
I’m happy to have my wonderful friend, Tina Greenbaum. The cool thing about doing interviews as you get to interview smart people and Tina is one of those. However, before we go ahead, I invite you to go to our quiz. That’s the SpeakForResultsQuiz.com and you can fill it out and find out where you are with your presentation skills. Whether you’re speaking one-on-one to one person or in a meeting or standing up on the stage, it’s all about presentation skills. Here’s a chance for you to get a free assessment. My guest is Tina Greenbaum and she works with executives who want to increase their performance level in high stakes, high-pressure situations. Tina is an optimal performance specialist and she’s a sports psychology consultant.
She has a signature program called Mastery Under Pressure, which empowers leaders and their teams using cutting-edge technology, neuroscience, energy psychology, sports psychology and learning theory. In addition to her Mastery Under Pressure team program, Tina also works with CEOs and senior-level management as a confidential thera-coach, more than a therapist, more than a coach on a one-to-one basis. Her expertise is in guiding executives through their psychological and personal issues and helping them cope with the demands that their personal struggles place on them as they strive to be atop their sector. What I love about Tina is that she’s a friend of longstanding and I have worked with her. I’ve taken the Mastery Under Pressure program. I think I took it twice. What I love about Tina is that she likes to say, “The only thing standing between you and your goals is you.” Tina Greenbaum, welcome.
Thank you, Elizabeth. Thanks so much for having me. A little caveat on what you said, we need to go through these things sometimes many times because every time we go through personal growth and learning situations, we’re in a different place. We see it a little bit differently and we take in things differently that we hadn’t thought about before.
In preparing for this, I was listening to some of your old videos on your YouTube channel and looking for things and then, “Yes, here was a tip about focus,” which is something that I always struggle with and I’ve learned a lot from Tina. This is great. Tina, what I’d like to ask you about is can you give a quick overview of what do you mean by mastery under pressure?
When we think of mastery, we think of being an expert. We think of having acumen and abilities. Mastery under pressure means that we’re good at managing our emotions in these high-pressure and high-stakes environments. I think of stress management on one level. I think of it as a continuum. We all experience stress. The definition that I use for stress is a perceived amount of control that you think you have or you don’t have. If we think that everything is out of our control and we’re blaming other people, then we’re not effective in managing our stress. As we grow developmentally, we learn skills and coping mechanisms and we get into adulthood. Some of these things that we do work and many things don’t. We’re constantly always looking for ways to better our performance. Stress management at a minimum, at a level, and peak performance is training the mind to perform at a high level under pressure.
There are lots and lots of pressure on people’s lives. I’ve heard you talk about the mind, body, heart connection. Isn’t that a little too woo-woo for business?
I’ve been doing this for a long time. My ex-husband used to say to me, “Don’t let anybody know what you’re doing because they’ll think that you’re too woo-woo.” The truth is I’m not woo-woo at all. I’m grounded and I look for things that work. Many years ago, I was working with women with eating disorders and it was my first job as a psychotherapist. I would say to them, “I hear you, but I don’t feel you.” Intuitively, I knew that I needed to feel somebody’s emotion in order for them to change because otherwise you’re just talking off the top of your head and that doesn’t affect change. My first introduction was at a yoga class and I got into that deep state of relaxation at the end of the class, which is called Shavasana or the Corpse Pose.
I had never felt anything like that before, that deep state of relaxation. I said, “If I could only get those young women to do this, then maybe they wouldn’t need their eating disorders,” because all addictions are anxiety-based. It’s a matter of calming down the body so that the mind can think clearly. Now the neuroscience has come along and all the science is now proving what the gurus have known for centuries. We now have the science to prove things that intuitively I was just following my nose. It’s scientifically proven now and I’m becoming mainstream. Mindfulness and meditation and all the values of doing these things are becoming well known and important. As a matter of fact, I was at a corporate event and they were talking about wellbeing in the workplace and mindfulness training in the workplace. I said, “I’ve arrived.”Stress is the PERCEIVED lack of control, not the actuality. Click To Tweet
How do we use mindfulness? Say we are presenting yourself. For instance, I have a lot of clients who come to me and they say, “I can present myself. I can give a speech. It’s okay, but it only gets me so far. I can come so far.” It reminds me of my sister-in-law who was a colonel in the Air Force and she ran an Air Force base. She left because the next step was general. She said, “As a woman, you get as far as a colonel.” She ran the whole damn base, but she said, “You get to colonel through merit, but you get to general through connections.” I see that over and over in the business world is that people are rising, you get up to be a manager and you’re organizing things, but you can’t get through that glass ceiling to a director. Mastery under pressure or the mind, heart, body connection, where does that come in so that you show up as someone that the other directors say, “We need to promote her?”
This brings to mind, Elizabeth, the word of presence. Presence is an indescribable feeling that you get when you’re around somebody that you feel like you can trust, you feel like you want to hang around with, that you want to be with. They draw you into their orbit in a way. We use the word also authenticity. It’s somebody who’s real, that what you see is what you get. People are straight shooters and there’s something about them that everybody wants to be around. There are steps to take and we can talk about that in terms of connecting and relationships and networking and that will get you far. Without that level of presence, people may walk past you. Somebody said to me a long time ago, and I think probably for you too, he said, “You’re high-profile.” I know what that meant. He said, particularly, “When you walk into a room, people notice. The way you dress, the way you talk, the way you greet people, the warmth you exude. It’s real warmth, not fake warmth.” It’s that authentic place where you get to be you and you present you, the best you that you possibly can.
That makes me think about one of the buzz words that set my teeth on edge, masculine leadership versus feminine leadership. I think it’s so much about being you and also using your strengths, the strengths that men have, the strengths that women have, and it’s not necessarily masculine or feminine. What do you think about that when you talk about masculine leadership versus feminine?
When we talk about masculine, these are masculine aspects or feminine aspects. It’s not being a male or being a female. There are certain conditions that we think about when we think of masculinity. The masculine energy is forward energy. I’m thinking of the Archangel Michael, which gets a little woo-woo again but the Archangel, it’s moving forward, it’s action. The feminine energy is receptive. When we bring our masculine energy into the workplace, we are bringing that part of us that is assertive, that asks for things, that has confidence, that is action-oriented and moving forward. What happened in my generation, my generation was the generation of women’s lib. It was the ‘60s. I was never a hippy but the ‘60s had a lot of women speaking out and becoming masculine. Women were wearing ties and suits, pantsuits. We went a little overboard and we lost that feminine receptive energy of the one who listens, the one who takes it all in, the one who has a lot of presence. If you watch Nancy Pelosi, she’s a great example of that mix of feminine, masculine energy. She doesn’t yell, she’s not loud, she’s not aggressive.
I’d like to point out that the receptive energy doesn’t mean passive, sitting back and taking what gets dished out. I often like to think of it rather than masculine and feminine as single-focused versus multi-focused. There are strengths both ways, certainly in terms of communication. One of the big things I do in helping people communicate is thinking about who are you talking to and what is their listening style. Can you approach someone in a way that he or she is going to hear what you have to say? That’s a whole other conversation.
What you’re saying is that we need both sides of us. It’s not an either/or. You need to know when you need to be assertive and clear and when you need to sit back and you need to listen. When I think about group dynamics, when you are part of a group, everybody takes on a role unconsciously on different roles. Because I can see things, a lot of things, I always wanted to be active and speak up and I learned. A lot of times that got me into trouble, number one. Number two, it wasn’t the best use of my skills because a lot of times the best use of my skills is as a synthesizer. I listen then I pull in the threads of what I’m hearing. I can feed it back. That’s a feminine aspect.Every time we experience personal growth, we tend to take in things we hadn't thought about before. Click To Tweet
Women who are bumping up against the glass ceiling, how can women do something that would be helpful in terms of showing up powerfully without being bossy or a bitch? How can you show up in your power without giving it away and without being bossy?
I think the first thing that we need to do is to find the power within, and that’s where it comes back to this body-mind experience. In the chakra system, the energy system of yoga, you have the energy centers that run up and down the spine. The power center is in our abdomen or the tantien is what they call it in the martial arts. That is the center of your power or lack thereof. When I’m getting ready to do a talk, I get in touch with that part of me. That’s the body part. Also, the mind part is you can do this. You’ve done this a million times, you know how to do this, you’ve practiced this, you’re good. It’s that self-talk that is the motivator, the one that that is connecting. There are a lot of things that happen that have to happen before so you can go out there and tell this to yourself. If you don’t believe it and you don’t practice and you don’t put yourself in the situation where you own that power, it’s going to come off as false.
Also to be transparent, Tina and I have a program that we do together called The Inner Game and The Outer Game of Presenting. I’m particularly good at giving people the tools and techniques, but it does you no good whatsoever if you’re sabotaging yourself before you even get to the goals. This is where Tina is brilliant. What I love about you, Tina, is every once in a while you’ll say, “Elizabeth, have you gotten this?” It’s like, “Right. Okay.” Granted, we’re not going to have a chance to do the whole thing about The Inner Game and The Outer Game. Do you have one thing you can recommend getting out of your own way?
We go back to the beginning part when we talked about what’s the definition. I use this stuff for stress. It’s the perceived amount of control that you think you have or you don’t have. The operative question is as soon as you start to experience, that you’re starting to feel tight, you’re tightening up, you’re starting to get anxious, you’ve got butterflies in your stomach. The operative question is, “What’s in my control? What’s out of my control?” If I look around a situation, if I’m getting ready to present and I’m starting to feel anxious, what’s in my control is my presentation. What’s out of my control is the audience, whether they’re picking up their phone or they’re not and whether they’re getting up and they’re walking out or they’re side talking or they’re doing any of that. I can’t control that. I can control the skills that I have learned and doing the best job that I possibly can, staying in touch with me, which then helps me stay in touch with the audience. Am I making contact? Am I walking around the room? Am I greeting, talking to people? Am I asking questions? Whatever the things are that you know that make a good presentation, that’s what’s in your control.
I’ve been very much on my mind about how to get past stage fright. The thing is that most of the time, we’re nervous about walking into a meeting or getting up on a stage and talking to a group or making a sale, walking into a sales conversation. Most of the time the voices in our heads are saying, “They think you’re stupid. They’re going to think you’re this.” It’s all about what you think they’re going to think, which you cannot know. If there’s someone who’s sitting in the front row scowling at you, it might not be because they hate you. It might be because they’re concentrating, and that one took me a long time to learn. Focus on the one person who was frowning or I would be listening to someone and someone would come up to me afterward and say, “I think you hated my speech.” I said, “No. I was trying to remember it.” This is wonderful, Tina. I had a whole list of questions for you. Let me go back to my notes here. You’ve talked in the past about blind spots. How can we find our blind spots? Talk about blind spots because I can’t even try to quote you, you say it all so well.
We all have them and I like to say, “Wouldn’t you like to know what yours are? Because everybody else does.” The way that we find out our own blind spots is to work with somebody. It can be a mentor or coach. It can also be a close friend, somebody that you trust, people that are in your audience that you ask them for feedback afterward, but you need feedback. It’s basically what you need, number one. It’s informed feedback, not criticism. “This is what I’ve noticed. I noticed that you did X, Y, Z and X, Y, Z.” There’s a whole bunch of different ways that we can go on this. When I was at Toastmasters and I was learning how to like my introduction to speaking as a skill, at Toastmasters they have a thing called table topics. It’s extemporaneous. You’re asked a question, you get up and you have to answer it extemporaneously. I had a friend next to me and I said, “Could you give me feedback after I’ve done my table topics?” I would get up and when she would say to me afterward, “Tina, you put your hands on the back of the chair. Think about putting your hands on your side when you speak and stand up straight.” The next week, “Tina, take your hands off the chair.” Next week, “Tina, take your hands off the chair.” Maybe by the fourth week when I got up, as I was thinking about what I was going to say, I also remembered to take my hands off the back of the chair. I would never have known that. It’s a simple thing.Mindfulness and meditation and all their values are becoming well-known and important. Click To Tweet
That’s another thing about blind spots is getting feedback over time. We did this in your class where we were saying, “Ask people about your blind spots.” People, if you spring it on them, they’ll go, “Um.” I think you have to let that marinate. Let people think about that.
That’s the part where you get the feedback externally. You’re also getting internal feedback. Things are not working. My favorite operative question is, “What do you notice?” I was learning how to speak and sell at the end of a speech, and in a way to do it that it doesn’t feel like selling. It doesn’t feel as a hard sell to the audience. It’s authentic, that I have something that I want to share with you and I would love you to partake with me. There are techniques and there are methods and things that you need to remember as a speaker in order to be able to carry that off.
At the end of a talk, it’s always about offering something to people so that they can get in touch with you. Invariably at the end of a speech, as I was learning this, I’d walk away and say, “I forgot to do this. I forgot to do that.” Analyze your own performance without judgment. That’s the definition of mindfulness. You are noticing and becoming aware in the present moment without judgment. When we go back after we give a talk and we go back and we analyze it, what worked, what didn’t work, what did I forget, what didn’t I forget? The next time you do it, you correct that, and the next time you do it, correct it until it becomes integrated that you don’t even have to think about it. That’s the whole thing. The other thing about blind spots is we have patterns that we bring from our childhood. Those are the ones that frequently get us into real trouble.
Tina, can you tell me a little bit more about noticing your own blind spots?
I have one blind spot that got me into a lot of trouble when I was younger because I have a hard time with injustices. When people are doing things that I believe are morally incorrect or wrong or hurt, hurting other people, I had a hard time keeping my mouth shut. I would get myself in the middle of things that I didn’t belong in or I belonged, but not in the way that I did it. I had a spiritual teacher who called it Tina in the Middle when I would go to him and talk about all these terrible things. I got to know what it felt like when I was getting ready to open my mouth. I got to think first, think about the consequences of, “Do I want to say this? What is the best way to go about saying it? Is this the most diplomatic way?” All these different questions needed to come up. Frequently, if we’re talking about presentations in companies and wanting to move beyond the glass ceiling, how do you navigate and strategize your way where you come out winning? It’s a whole feeling that comes up over me when I want to open up my mouth. It’s like, “Think about this first. Think about the consequences.” I was going to say that I hadn’t done it in years, which I hadn’t but I did it with my kids. I did something. I had their best interests at heart, but it wasn’t the best way to go about it. It brought up all that there’s that Tina in the middle trying to do good.
That leads me to one work of the last question I have for you, which is one of the things that’s a constant nowadays is a change in companies. I’ve probably had 4 or 5 people say, “I can’t do what we were going to be talking about because we have a new vice president who’s now taking over my team or they moved me over to something.” I say, “What’s it like in the office?” They said, “People are nervous and uneasy because we have a new C-level CEO and nobody knows how to deal with them.” How do you achieve mastery under that pressure?Presence is an indescribable feeling you get when you're around somebody you can trust. Click To Tweet
The one constant that we know is change. It is the one thing that we can depend on. As much as we may not like it, it is ever-present. Things change from moment to moment. To think that they don’t is a myth. If we get tied into something that is like a forever thing and then it shifts on us, we have to be able to shift. My definition honestly of good mental health is how flexible you can be. How quickly can you recognize that what was 2 seconds ago is no more? It’s like a flip. Sometimes it takes us a while to catch up. My husband, we’re both good at it. He’s good at it and recognizing it’s done, it’s over, it’s gone. How much time do I want to spend? We mourn losses and it’s part of the natural process of loss, but how long do we stay on it and how quickly can we recognize that we now have a new paradigm? I’ll give you an example. I have a client I’m working with and it was a law firm that referred me to her. The law firm is paying for me to work with her. I found out that the woman who made the connection was now let go. It’s them taking away her job. It’s not anything to do with her personally, but they removed her job completely. What was 2 minutes ago is no more.
It leaves me with, “What can I do? What’s in my control? What’s out of my control? We’ll make sure that there’s a good transition and also reconnect before she even leaves with the person that’s taking over that role? How assertive can I be? How can I make myself still known in that firm so that the next person might choose to call me? These things happen all the time. That comes back to being self-aware. That’s number one. When we talk again about our blind spots and you can see how all these pieces fit together is knowing where your own vulnerabilities are and that’s your personal work. To be able to shore those up and become more masterful, more aware so that you can make different choices. Because when the blind spots rule us, we’re not in charge. We know we want to turn it around so that we can be in charge of ourselves. Whatever situation changes, it changed. Where are we? How do you connect to the new person? You have a new manager. How are you going to create a relationship with that person? How are you going to be helpful? How are you going to be assertive? How are you going to be the team member that they know that they can count on you? There are a lot of things that you can do.
One other thing is that in terms of managing yourself, how can you also support your team while you’re doing this? That’s part of leadership too.
Leaders that are true see things before other people see them. They’re aware and they’re also good problem solvers.
Tina, clearly everybody who finds himself in this situation has to go work with you. Thank you so much for sharing this and your wisdom and so forth. Is there anything you would like us to know about? How can we reach you? How can people learn more about you?
You can reach me at Tina@TinaGreenbaum.com. I also have a quiz which is MasteryUnderPressure.com and you can learn where you are on that scale of peak performance. For those of you who are interested in growth and personal growth and change, I offer a 30-minute complimentary consultation. You have to take the quiz first.
Tina has been helpful to me in the time that I’ve known her and I value her immensely. Thank you so much, Tina.
It’s my pleasure.
- Tina Greenbaum
- Mastery Under Pressure
About Tina Greenbaum
Tina Greenbaum, M.Ed., LCSW is an Optimal Performance Coach and a dynamic workshop leader now living in the Bay Area of San Francisco. Throughout her extensive career of 36 years, she has been a pioneer in combining traditional psychotherapy with body awareness, energy psychology, neuroscience and spirituality. She brings you the latest discoveries in neuroscience with the ancient traditions of the East, as well as the best of Western Learning Theory.
Her own personal journey led her to the discovery of the intimate connection between mind and body and she has been teaching others the skills necessary to gain mastery over managing their emotions in challenging and pressured situations. She works with business leaders, athletes, artists, speakers and other high achievers who want to excel in performing under pressure.