How to Develop Mental Toughness
with organizational psychologist and mental coach Ilia Poznak.
We have more freedom and opportunities than most people in human history. There are endless opportunities to find a passion and share it with the world. Today, we have tools like Substack to write articles, Anchor to host podcasts, YouTube to share videos, and social media apps to share the journey. Individuals like Tim Srigley, show us that you can find a unique passion like leatherwork and build a community of likeminded individuals to share it with.
Yet, it seems like it is hard for us to get started. With all the ease that working from home, food delivery, and streaming apps provide - it seems like we may be missing something. With comfort often comes complacency. Fyodor Dostoevsky actually has a brilliant quote about this, that I first heard from Jordan Peterson.
Shower on him every blessing, drown him in a sea of happiness, give him economic prosperity such that he should have nothing else to do but sleep, eat cakes, and busy himself with the continuation of the species, and even then, out of sheer ingratitude, sheer spite, man would play you some nasty trick. - Fyodor Dostoevsky 1
I think what Dostoevsky is trying to remind us is that a good life is not about having zero struggle. Facing and overcoming adversity, or seeking challenges is what the human condition is. Perhaps, that is something we need to remember. With paved roads, ellipticals, and well developed communities we need to seek out struggle by choice.
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That is exactly what my guest this week enjoys - seeking out struggle and sharing what he learns with others. Ilia Poznak hikes to the top of incredible mountain tops with his dog Archer. They push, test, and challenge themselves and soak up every moment.
As Ilia describes, everyday problems like traffic, rude comments, or work problems seem smaller when you overcome hours of exhaustion to reach a summit. Facing struggle like climbing to the top of a glacier can provide perspective, and there is something fulfilling about the endeavour.
Ilia and I talk about finding meaning in your life. It seems difficult to define, but I believe something is meaningful if time flies by when you are doing it. Some people have time fly by when they are reading a great book. Ask yourself, how do people read all those Harry Potter books, and not complain about the length? Perhaps, because the story is filled with meaning. When I’m interviewing a guest 3 hours goes by so quickly. Often, I’ll tell the guest and they’ll say something like “Oh wow, I can’t believe it”.
Meaning can be found in a passion project, reading, work, family, movies and exercise. Andrew Huberman, the famous neuroscientist talks about how we can be in portrait mode and landscape mode. 2 He explains when you’re writing a paper, you’re in portrait mode - cutting time into small pieces and focusing on each word. Another example Huberman uses is when you’re at the doctors office, and you re-read the same sign multiple times and feel like every minute goes by at a snails pace. When you’re on a walk, looking out on beautiful mountains and rivers you’re likely in landscape mode. Typically, but not always time goes by faster in landscape mode.
I’ve been eager to sit down with someone who can talk about how people can reach their full potential. There are many people who try to offer coaching advice, but haven’t really lived. It was important to me to find a guest who practices what he preaches. If you visit Ilia’s Instagram you will see he is climbing incredible mountains, that would terrify the average person.
In our conversation Ilia Poznak and I talk about his family leaving the former USSR, how to think critically, my experiences being obese, whether happiness is a good goal, and if it is true that family is in the blood. We also talk about how to change your mindset, what the Placebo effect is, knowing your values, and what healthy sacrifices look like.
I found talking to Mr. Poznak to be very motivational and I think listeners will feel the same way. There is something so authentic and genuine about Ilia’s perspectives. You can connect with Ilia on Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube. He also provides mindset coaching to help individuals live a more purposeful life. You can listen to the full conversation on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, YouTube and all other podcast platforms. Please share the podcast and this article with your friends and family! Also follow the podcast on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube!