Have you ever wondered about the upside of stress? How to limit perfectionism and avoid procrastination? How about how to cultivate the “right thoughts” to lead to positive emotions, actions, and results?
In this interview, we dive into self leadership with neuroaxiology expert Traci Duez.
After the Interview
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Hi, welcome to Deliberate Leaders. I am your host Allison Dunn, executive business coach and owner of Deliberate Directions. Today our guest is Traci Duez. She is the President of CCR3. And that is a company that helps other companies with performance management. She is also the owner of Breaking Free Consulting. And she is the author of this awesome book, which is Breaking Free Leading the Way Learning First to Lead Yourself. Traci, thank you so much for joining us here today.
Allison, thanks so much. My pleasure.
Yeah. So could you tell us you’re the President of CCR3, what does that stand for?
Well, the initials stand for from fog to clarity, from quicksand to concrete. And then from idea to reality and the three stands for all three dimensions the heart, the hand and the head of the human being.
Oh, neat. So clarity, concrete and reality. Yeah, if I grabbed all three of those, and then the heart, the hand and the head. Okay, fantastic. Cool. Thank you so much. I have some kind of categories that I’m going to ask you questions on. And so the first one is about your book breaking free. I love the I thoroughly enjoyed this read because it’s about our thinking and how some of our old thinking causes bad habits. So what are the habits that you find are the most common ones that holds people back?
Well, that’s a really good question. You said you had some good questions and I can answer. One of the ones. I think that holds people back is just perfection. People think that they have to have everything exactly perfectly right when in fact, no one would even know if it was not perfect. Like, when I started speaking in public, and I’d get up on stage, and I’d have my slides or whatever going back there. And I get to a point where, oh, crap, I forgot to say what I wanted to say on that last slide. When we want. Nobody knew that I wanted to say it. But in my head, there was this hesitation. And so sometimes that leads to another one that, that thinking that gets people in trouble, and that’s just self doubt, right, just lacking of confidence. And I think those two are kind of linked together when you’re a recovering perfectionist like I am. That seems to happen. Right? Right.
Well, I definitely suffer from both of those. And it is hard to think on your feet to recognize that like, Oh, I forgot to bring that up. And I forgot to bring that up and just continue forward in and not allow it to stop you from progressing. One of the sections of the book talks about discovery doing what’s right with you? And so I guess my question is what is right about us that we most often overlook?
Yeah, it’s so interesting. I was just on calls with clients this morning. And whenever I asked them, you know, what’s wrong, right? what’s not working? Oh, law, it just keeps coming, doesn’t it? I mean, they just have a whole list of things. And then I asked them, you know, what’s right with you? And they’ll be like, Woody, what do you what do you mean? Like, well, what’s, what’s good and what’s good about you, and when I find a lot of people will try to compare their worst to someone else’s best. And so it makes it really hard, right? So, for me, I find that people tend to forget that they are unique, priceless and irreplaceable, and just intrinsically valuable as a human being. And, in being a human being, there’s no right or wrong.
That is so true intrinsically beautiful. I love that I might have fact a hashtag that one. I think that’s a lot of my view of the world of Wow, that’s so beautiful. Right?
Yeah. Well, and people will you know, if I get them talking about their kids or someone that they hold very dear there. I mean, okay, if your kids don’t make their bed or they punch the kid down the street or what no matter what they get detention, or arrested or whatever, do you still think they’re unique, priceless and irreplaceable? And he was like, yeah, of course, they just made a mistake. Well, we don’t give ourselves that same grace.
Very, very true. And in one of your recent articles you wrote about the upside of stress. And so I’m just I’m curious, I think that everyone always looks at like how stress is such a negative thing, and it causes a negative mindset. So what is the difference between these mindsets and how can someone form a positive mindset around them benefits of stress.
Great question again. You’re good at this. So, a lot of times people just want to get rid of stress in their life, right? Just get rid of it. Well, if you think about where stress came from stress is, was good when we were cavewoman, not that you and I hire but when we aren’t sure I came from tape women. When we were cavewoman, we, we would hear something rustling off in the, in the brush, right? And we’d be like, oh, stress happen immediately. And so what happened, it gave us the energy to move and to get out of the way of danger or just stand still do whatever, right? But we had the energy to do that. And that’s because we were in an immediate return environment. We heard the wrestling, we went for a jog into the cave or wherever we happen to go. And then the stress was relieved. Well, now we’re in there. delayed return environment. So you get the email that says your boss is requesting you in her office tomorrow at 8am. And you’re like, what? Like, what is this for? I think I just got a good performance review what’s going on? It’s got our body has this energy from this unexpected event. And we turn this energy into something harsh, right? Instead of saying, Wait a minute, they won’t, they won’t meet with me no big deal. And so stress is just our body’s reaction, to give us energy to do what we need to do or want to do in order to improve our situation. But a lot of times we think that it’s, well negative and it’s kind of tearing us down and if you just reframe it, I think you’ll see that anytime you’re feeling stressed, it’s gonna give you a boost of energy, not anxiety. It doesn’t have to be labeled anxiety. It could be labeled energy.
For sure. So I can truly identify like that burst of energy and choosing to have it go okay. Like let’s go do this as opposed to catastrophizing it in some way, I think. Yeah. Yes. Good advice. Nice little shift.
You work with executive clients, correct?
Do any of them struggle with procrastination?
Yeah, that’s one of my favorites, right? Yes. I think a lot of that comes from what we just talked about previously perfection.
What are what are the kinds of things that they you find that they’re procrastinating over?
That really depends on their thinking and how they see their own value. Some of them see their own value in terms of Wolf, they’ve come up through the ranks, for instance, they see their value in the systems and the process. And procedures and everything’s in an Excel spreadsheet or something, right. And so they find there that they may procrastinate when that system isn’t exactly right. Okay. So whatever that means in their head, they’ll some of them find their, their value in, in what they do and what they produce. And so if they have like a downturn in numbers or they think they might, they’ll procrastinate doing the things that can get them moving forward because they’re afraid, right? They have that sense of doom, right? And then others there. They see their value kind of intrinsically and who they are, and they just want to inspire other people and, and again, sometimes when they feel a little less than whether it has to do with the business that they’re running or something outside of the business that they’re running. They tend to step away from the very thing that’s made them successful. And right and move forward. Right? So they procrastinate in a variety of ways. But a lot of times just doing the things they need to do in, in, let’s just use that last personality or type as an example. What would be some of the tips that you would suggest someone do when they find that they’re I’m going to say, leaning away versus leaning into it? Yeah. Well, it’s part of it’s part of what we do and you know, I, we have assessment tools, that’s what our performance management company does. And so we measure those three dimensions that are in our name about people we measure their hands, which is basically their behaviors. What do they like to do and many people take an a disc or a Myers Briggs anything along those lines, right? And then we measure their heart what is it that motivates you? And there’s an Edward Springer’s work there’s seven different motivators anything from economic which people tend to see but also aesthetic and altruistic and theoretic in traditional, there’s seven different areas there. That is more their heart. And then there’s the head, we measure how you think and how you make good value judgments. And so when it comes to leaning in, you want to find the communication style, which comes from the behaviors that you most like, you’ll also want to, you’ll want to lean in more when you can see that it’s adding the value or the motivator, that that is aligned with you. I was just talking to someone today. And they’re like, Ah, you know, they’re trying to grow their business and they’re all they’re going to their meetings and their networking, and oh, it’s just so painful. And I said, what is it that that motivates you? And she Oh, I just love. I’m a high I on the disk. I’m inspiring and I just love to talk to people and, and I’m like, isn’t that what you’re doing? Oh, yeah, I’d like to talk to big groups of people. Okay, well, then why isn’t that what you’re doing? Instead of this one to one kind of, and just getting people aligned with their heart can help give them that energy to move forward and to lean in, as well.
That’s a great example, especially if the one to one to you know many and where you get your inspiration from. And you describe three classes of value that affect our productivity and our work. What are those classes? And why are they important?
How you are just feeding that right to me, aren’t you? I love this. This is kind of my passion. So I so appreciate this. I’m a recovering chemist, and it professional. So I’m like a nerd and a geek. And that makes sense to me of what you just said, knowing you.
Really? Yeah, yeah. So um, so this, these three dimensions of value art are my passion because you probably wouldn’t know me had I not known about these three Dimensions of value. I took an assessment. And I didn’t know how to trick it. There was a point in my life when every assessment my boss asked me to take, I knew how to Well, shall we say manipulate the answer so that I gave my boss what I thought I needed to get the next raise or the next promotion or whatever is happening. Yeah. In the meantime, my self esteem was really low, because I felt like any day now, someone was going to find out that I was really a loser, just dressed up nice, and I’d be kicked to the curb. This thoughts were really in my head. I know. It’s hilarious, isn’t it? Yes. So I found this assessment. And I had no flipping idea how to trick it, how to manipulate it. And so that’s when I looked into this science called axiology. And so those three dimensions of value are hierarchical, and the lowest dimension of value is systemic. And this deals with the stuff we make up in our head. Right, the systems. So, right, wrong, perfect No need to exist, there’s usually just a one or two, you know, a one or a zero when it comes to the systems that we make up being right is, is part of being system and, and only the things that fall in this are also clans and processes and procedures, again, speed limit. One other thing fits into that systemic stuff that we make up. The key is to add and generate more value is to take the systemic and create something. So you take a plan, and you create a product or something else that’s measurable and tangible. Those are extrinsic. So that’s your hands. Those are the things you can touch or sense. And most of our lives were taught about these two dimensions of value, right? You go to school, you learn the best practices and how to do your math and then you get graded on how well you scored on your test and then you use that to create something. However, there’s a third dimension about You and we talked about that a little bit earlier. And that is the intrinsic. And it’s, it’s great that we have a plan and we create a thing, but the most value comes in terms of what that thing allows us to experience as human beings. And so, you know, we can create an iPhone, we have a plan for an iPhone, we create an iPhone, and that’s worth I guess, 1000 bucks. Now, can you believe that for No. So in the book, why will people pay it does not cost $1,000 or with some profit to make that, but they’ll pay for it because of the human experience of it. Because grandma can get watch her grandkids grow up from 3000 miles away because of a little piece of plastic and some glass right. And so it’s the intrinsic part. That is where we find the most value, if we’re looking for it.
Okay, and you were able to identify Not to trick this through a assessment test that you took. What’s the name of the assessments? Is that part of your Three? Three? RC?
Yes, yeah, our CCR3 assessment has that as well. It has that part until it’s, it measures how you think you just rank two sets of 18 items. And we can measure how you think we can measure your thinking. I call them biases, but that has a weird connotation, but they’re, they’re just the thoughts that sabotage us like the thought that says, Oh, I have to be perfect when I’m on this podcast recording because, wow, everybody’s gonna see it, and we have to be perfect. We can make any mistakes. And then we get all off down another trail, right? So it measures the thoughts that sabotage us, but it also measures the thoughts where we have an amazing perspective and an amazing clarity when it comes to seeing how to generate and create value, which I believe is all of our jobs is to generate and create value. So when you start to learn to use your thinking strengths or your ask cognitive assets, that’s when you end up being able to well used to be being afraid to be in front of people and speaking, and now that’s what I do for a living.
Unknown Speaker 16:17
And you use the terminology and axiology. And so I know neuro axiology is a good portion of your type of coaching, correct? Correct. That’s right. Can you fill l my listeners and a little bit about what that’s about? I kind of feel like you just touched on it, but I just don’t want to undermine that official term. It’s very, it’s very savvy term.
Thank you. It’s a neuro axiology is a blend of neuroscience of course, how your brain works. And axiology axial means value. And so the study of value human value and human value judgments, how we how we think and process value and it’s based in math. A lot of people think that it’s a psychometric It’s not, it’s a value metric tool. And so neural axiology is basically how your brain works. blended with how your mind works. And when you understand both of those, it’s a lot easier to get them aligned and have your brain and everything else within you moving in the same direction.
I sometimes feel like my mind and my thinking aren’t aligned. If that makes sense. Yeah. Where where’s the research coming from on neuro axiology? Is it a university based? Is this your research or leading?
It’s research that I’m leading. I have other partners in a company called x eugenics, we’re doing that as well. And a lot of it comes from the basics of formal axiology come from a fella by the name of Dr. Robert S. Hartman. amazing life story he has he fled Germany. He has a he had a doctorate. Philosophy, a doctorate in mathematics and his JD so he was like an attorney, lawyer kind of doctorate as well, just an amazing man. And so he blended philosophy and mathematics together to come up with this formal axiology it. It was informal for many years where he uses transfinite calculus and set theory to determine how we think, which is amazing. You don’t have to know that did I don’t understand anything you just said. I appreciate that. That’s no, no, probably it’s just math. Right. And so the research behind that was done a lot of it in the 50s and 60s by Dr. Hartman himself. And it is housed I believe, at the University of Tennessee. You can go to Hartmanheartinstitute.org and find out I think it’s at Tennessee. Cool.
I have some motivation and productivity question. for you as well. And do you find that most of your clients have a clear sense of purpose? When they come to, you?
A lot of them don’t because it’s well, or if they do, it’s not their purpose. It’s the board of directors purpose. It’s their managers. It’s somebody else’s purpose. And so one of the things that I love to do, I have an online course where I take people through seven steps and the last three are creating your purpose, crafting yet reclaiming your power and crafting a plan. And so I say creating your purpose because a lot of people think that they find it like they have to, like it’s hidden somewhere. I I’m not real sure where but somewhere around here, and I have to go find it. No, no, no, we are, in fact creators, and we create our purpose and so I walked Step by step through how to do that. And when they, when they see that their purpose aligns with their I’ll call it corporate or organizational purpose. If those two are aligned, it’s incredibly freeing, because sometimes we think it’s a battle and it’s really not. And then it’s also freeing when you realize they don’t align. And now you know that you have to, you have to find another organization that serves your purpose.
And that’s funny because I was I was just about to ask you, how do you what do you say to people to help them find their purpose? And they can’t find it, apparently. So would you say to people to help them create their purpose?
Excellent. Most of our lives, we have been taught to focus on extrinsic goals, like I want to get my degree, I want to make a million dollars. So you want some extrinsic, measurable, tangible thing. And there’s nothing wrong with that, right? I mean, I have a Tesla because I wanted to Tesla for crying out loud. Those are some awesome Some cars, and that’s good. But you, those can easily be taken away from you. And so when you create your purpose, it has to be around those things and the intrinsic, the most important part of value. So who do you want to be? And who do you want to become? So, yes, you can still focus on things. Okay? I wanted that car, right? And so who did I need to become in order to get that car? What are the attributes that I needed to be? So I needed to be more bold, or I need to be more determined or present or inspect whatever those words are. And so I talk to people about always working on being just as much as they work on doing and I teach that a lot too.
I think one of the biggest questions that I get is how do I get my and I’m going to use the word intrinsic because I think that that is the key here is intrinsically motivate your staff or get my team members to, you know, be intrinsically motivated. Any tips there? I don’t know that you can motivate someone else first and foremost, but especially intrinsically.
Yeah. and motivate means to, to make move. Right and I am with you, I don’t think that that’s something that we can make people move. We can, however, inspire them and inspire means to actually breathe life into like, and so when you know, and I talked about the assessment tool, we use one of the best parts about it, not the disk part, but the motivators. Part of it is that you get to find out very quickly, what motivates people. So what we tend to do is say, Okay, let’s say I’m motivated by reputation and money, which is economic. I tend to think that all I need to get you to do your job. So here’s some extra money. Right, I’m going to motivate you the same way. In truth, that’s not at all. But when you understand how your, your staff is truly motivated what really gives them energy inside of their own heart and inside of their own being, and you can provide a means for them to express that in their job. It you don’t, you’ll never have to motivate them, they will continue to be inspired because you will be breathing life into them by giving them that opportunity.
I feel very blessed in every area of my life. And yet I also you know, I’m very driven and so balancing that gratitude and being grateful for what I have, but also always, you know, pushing the limits and stretching for not more, but the next level, I guess, is my best word for it at the moment. How do you How would you help someone like me, balance remaining in gratitude because that always serves me best as opposed to being so results oriented, which is part of who I am?
Yeah, that’s a great question. And like that, and as you were talking, I was thinking, I don’t know why you didn’t want to use the word more, but it is about more. That’s what creating value is about. And it doesn’t have to be creating a thing. It’s about creating a human experience, which is the intrinsic piece of it right? For so being grateful for the human experiences that we have. So that we get the energy to move forward and create the next one, whatever that happens to be. And I just believe in delivering human experiences, no matter who it’s for, or where it’s to write in every coaching session, to me every speaking engagement. Every time I talk to anybody, I want to I want them to have an experience, whatever that happens to be. So being able to be grateful for are the ones that you had so that you can now experience even more.
Unknown Speaker 25:08
Okay, I like that. Thank you. Does that work for you? Absolutely works for me that speaks to my heart for sure.
Okay, good. Good.
And my next questions around what I understand you like to refer to as the tier model and that is terminology that’s pretty new to me.
Do you want to describe the tier model or do you want me to?
Unknown Speaker 25:31
Well, yeah, you can give it a shot. All right. So my pair model though, like Karen Oh, but it is tear is it is tear as well. Right? So I don’t want you to cry though. I just don’t want you to cry. I want you that if you learn this model, you’re gonna really tear it out.
I love it. Okay, so I’m gonna tear it up. So tear model is that our thoughts which is the T leads to our emotions, which is the E which leads to our actions, which is the A which leads to our results. So our thoughts drive our emotions which drive our actions which drive our results. Is that correct? Did I tear through that properly?
You tore that up. That’s nice. Yes, yes.
And what are some examples of the right thoughts that we should have to be able to cultivate that to create our best path?
Okay, I heard your question and I don’t believe there are right thoughts. Okay. I believe that each of us is unique human being. And so people say, Oh, we must always think positive Think positive thoughts.
On fact, before we can be inspired to go to something most of us run away from something. So when I was growing up, we didn’t have A lot of money, I never wanted to have that little money, right? And so I kept working and working to get away from that. So the negative actually gave me the energy to keep moving. I got to keep my butt in college, even though it was super hard, right? I have to do this, because I wanted to get away from that. And that’s a lot of people stay there. Right in that. I’ll call it negative. I don’t believe that there’s negative or positive thoughts, either I believe there’s either action producing or action reducing, there’s actually good energy producing and energy reducing for sure. And right. And so sometimes we need thoughts to slow us down. Because we need to plan we need to think we, we don’t need that rah rah kind of thought. And, and so I don’t know that there’s a right thought. It’s just really about for me, going through the model that you very nicely explained. Because most people, they see a result that they want. And they just keep poking at the action level, right? Go you got to do this, you got to feel like doing it, you got to do it and then they try to use willpower to get it done. That is not going to work because the power comes from the emotion. emotion is energy in motion for me in a human being. And you need to have the right emotional or energy level in order to take the action. Well, where does that come from? Well, that comes from our thoughts. But we’ve been taught. I don’t know if you were ever taught this. When I worked in the corporate world, there was no this was no place for emotions.
I was raised on that.
Unknown Speaker 28:48
And so there’s no place for emotions in business and then they’re very she was very same leaders will say, am I the only one that cares around here? No, right? Oh, well listen, if you’re going to stamp out all the emotion and squash it down, and well, you’re not going to get the good or the bad, right? Truly so. So it’s that’s what it takes, well, the difference between where you’re trying to go and then the emotional level that you have, that’s going to be stress. And so if you can lift up your thinking and emotions, and then move your actions forward, that’s going to be what’s best. And so the key is, what thoughts for you produce the energy and emotion that you need to take the actions? There’s no right or wrong thoughts there? Because I think every brain is different. For sure.
I hope I’m leading you into where I’m trying to have this go. But do you have any quick suggestions to help people focus on the right thoughts more often?
Well, of course, that’s what that’s what I do your answer. Yes, we want to, the best thing to do is to measure them and the assessment tools that I have, allow you To do that, and it’s super simple, it allows you to rank two sets of 18 items from the worst thing from the best thing at the top to the worst thing at the bottom. And we compare that to the mathematical equivalence, which you don’t need to know about, but we can find out. Where do you think the best? And well, where are your thoughts a little wonky? Or a little unclear? Not only that, a lot of assessments just you read them and you’re like, Oh, that’s nice to know. Yeah, yeah. I kind of knew that. We actually teach you how to make that shift, how to shift into your best thinking, so that you can, from that perspective, create the whatever energy you need to take the action to get your results.
Yeah. And we met in I think, spring of 2017, a couple of years ago, and after meeting and reading, I breaking free book. I took the assessment and we did a consultation from that consultation, I carry around with me since that day forward my centering questions for me to keep myself focused in the right thoughts more often. And so this has been incredibly impactful in my life. And I want to thank you for that. Because I don’t think I’ve followed up to tell you that, but it’s been incredible. And it’s something I carry around, I have it on my side door. It’s something that when I’m struggling, I pull it out and I go, Okay, what is the right question I need to be asking right now. So thank you.
Ah, I’m very honored. That’s very humbling. So that’s awesome. Yeah, I’m glad you find value in that.
I do. So I am kind of kind of in our wrap up mode, and I just want to find out is there anything that you have as far as a particular motto that you use in your own life? I always kind of like to ask that question.
A motto when what Yeah, and it’s, it kind of does what you were just talking about. terms of recenter yourself whenever I find that I’m really struggling with something. I always say, God, you have a problem. And I see that because it’s not like God, I like no, I’m really talking to God, comma, God, you have a problem. I have a problem.
I believe Houston, we have a problem.
Exactly, exactly. But I believe that if I can just get outside of myself, and that’s whatever God is to you, right? If you can just rise to wherever that is and look back down, you are going to come, you’re going to tap into that wisdom that I believe is there. And instead of spiraling downward, you end up looking at it from a brand new perspective. So for me, that’s kind of my motto is just God you have a problem whenever I have happened to have one. That’s a good one.
Yeah, like that. Thank you. Sure. Um, for your book, who Did you write it for and what would you want people to get out of the book when they read it?
Oh, who did I write, I will let you know I did not sit down and intentionally write a book. I, I had been speaking for three or four years and every, almost after every talk, people say, Oh, do you have a book? No, no, I don’t. And so finally, I got tired of people asking me, so I truly wrote that book for the people that I speak to. So that when I say, Oh, yeah, here, here’s a book. And what I hoped people would find the value I hope people would find was that they can break free of some of the habits that they have. My parents taught me from very young age not to speak to strangers, because I was the oldest of four girls and we would all go grocery shopping together and mom did Want us to wander off, so I wasn’t allowed to speak to strangers. And so my brain picked up on that. And so that was a habit of mine not speak to strangers and it served me so well as a four year old, I was never kidnapped by anything, not one, right? Not even once right now, but is a 34 year old director of an IT consulting company, it didn’t serve me very well at all right, and I didn’t know what to do, because I kept feeling like I was an imposter there, like someone was gonna find out, kick me to the curb. And when I realized that I couldn’t trick that assessment, I had to figure out what the assessment was. And so that’s when I found this axiology. And in finding that it was very liberating to me to recognize that I didn’t have to keep thinking the same thoughts that I’ve always thought before. And so that’s why in the book, I really hope that you can have hope that you can learn to lead yourself and do that first, and the rest will take care of itself.
Yeah, that’s a great takeaway. Thank you so much. I just want to make sure our listeners know how to find you where to follow you what’s the best way to keep connected?
Oh, great question. Um, LinkedIn is where I’m at the most in terms of social media, where most of Yeah, they can find definitely find me on LinkedIn. And I have a bunch of articles and links and, and things out there.
Okay, perfect. So Traci Duez at LinkedIn, yes.
Awesome. Okay, Traci with the call. Traci, thank you so much for your time this afternoon. Your gift of these last few years of the century questions that are the ones that I need for myself based on what I need. And it’s been very impactful. So I so appreciate your time.
My pleasure. Thank you for inviting me. I appreciate being here.
Okay. Thank you.
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