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Joe Sanok On Changing Your Narratives & Reinventing Yourself

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In this episode with Joe Sanok, we learn many of the skills and strategies that we need to shift our identities and reinvent ourselves.
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“You are enough and you have the skills you need to help the world!
— Joe Sanok

Greetings, SuperFriends!

Today we are joined by Joe Sanok. Joe is a keynote and TEDx speaker, business consultant, and podcaster. He is the host the #1 podcast for counselors, The Practice of the Practice Podcast, and has interviewed the likes of Pat Flynn, John Lee Dumas, and Lewis Howes!

Joe is also a writer for PsychCentral, has been featured on the Huffington Post, Forbes, GOOD Magazine, Reader's Digest, Entrepreneur on Fire, and Yahoo News. He is the author of five books and has been named the Therapist Resource top podcast, consultant, and blogger. Not bad, right?

I wanted to have Joe on the show because when I was on his show, he mentioned a few things that I didn't have enough knowledge about, like the concept of “family of origin” – and I wanted to learn more. I also wanted Joe on the show because he not only had a psychiatry practice, but also has built a business consulting other practices.

We had an amazing conversation, we talked about psychology, and how really to engage in personal transformation – which means how you can completely reinvent yourself! I'm sure you will enjoy this conversation as much as I did!

-Jonathan Levi

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In this episode, we discuss:

  • Why Joe Sanok doesn't work on Fridays [3:45]
  • Who is Joe Sanok, what does he do, and how did he get here? [5:35]
  • What drove Joe to change perspectives in his work? [6:55]
  • What is some practical advice for reinventing yourself? [8:45]
  • What is the concept of the “family of origin”? [18:20]
  • How can you take back control over your childhood programming [25:00]
  • Taking ownership of our role in our relationships [32:10]
  • What are some of the top concepts and tricks Joe has learned through his work? [34:25]
  • What has led Joe to work with a therapist? [38:30]
  • Where can you learn more about Joe Sanok? [42:45]
  • Joe Sanok's final takeaway message [43:30]

Resources Mentioned in This Episode:

Favorite Quotes from Joe Sanok:

“The brain likes new things, but also likes security and safety.”


Introduction: Welcome to the Award-Winning SuperHuman Academy Podcast, where we interview extraordinary people to give you the skills and strategies to overcome the impossible and now here's your host, Jonathan Levi.

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Greeting, SuperFriends, and welcome, welcome, welcome to this week's episode of the SuperHuman Academy Podcast. You know, I would have read one of your reviews out on the air, but unfortunately, I have run out. So if you haven't left a review, please take a minute. Just takes a minute and we so appreciate it.

On to today's episode, ladies and gents today, I was joined. By Joe Sanok. He is a keynote and TEDx speaker, business consultant, and podcaster. He is the host of the number one podcast for counselors, the practice of the practice, and has interviewed everyone from PatFlynn to John Lee, Dumas Lewis house, and many, many more.

You've also seen him in psych central Huffington post-Forbes, good magazine reader's digest entrepreneur on fire, and many, many more. In addition to writing his own five books. Now I wanted to have Joe on the show because previously when I was on his show, he mentioned a couple of things that I didn't quite have enough knowledge about things like a family of origin and I wanted to learn more. I wanted to have Joe on the show because he not only had a psychiatry practice but also has. Built a business consulting, other practices. Very, a very interesting conversation ensued. We talked a lot about psychology and how really to engage in personal transformation. In other words, how can you completely reinvigorate and remodel who you are? I really enjoyed the conversation and I know you will as well. So please enjoy my conversation on how to reinvent yourself with Joe Sanok

Mr. Joe Sanok. How are you, my friend?

Joe Sanok: I am doing awesome today Jonathan, how about you?

Jonathan Levi: I am doing pretty well? It is a Thursday as we're recording this, which is my version of a Friday. We don't work on Fridays in Israel, so I'm pretty stoked. You're one of the last calls of my week. I'm pretty happy to be ending the week on a bang.

Joe Sanok: Yeah, we have that in common. I don't work Fridays either, so yeah look it up.

Jonathan Levi: Tell me more about that. Why?

Joe Sanok: Yeah. You know, a number of years ago when I was, I was working at a community college and then left kind of full-time for podcasting and consulting. Um, that first summer after I had left, it kind of hit me that even though I had been raised to work, you know, five days a week and 40 plus hours, I didn't have to follow that script anymore and so my wife and I sat down and looked at the numbers and I said, you know, what if I just took every Friday off over the summertime. And in college, I had done that, where I scheduled all my classes to be, you know, four days a week, except for one class that the only offering was an 8:00 AM on Friday. Um, but other than that, I kind of lived that life and, you know, even when I had a full-time job, I would really see if I could do extra hours during the week to have at least a lighter Friday. So that was always kind of something I liked, but then it really hit me that I could create kind of whatever schedule I wanted, as long as it worked for the family.

So we did an experiment for that summer to just try taking Fridays off and it ended up working even better. I had more time for my health more time for my family, for my relationships and the income actually went up over that time. Uh, and then, uh, we stuck with that Fridays off and then the next summer did another experiment to take Mondays off. So I'm down to Tuesday. Wednesday, Thursday is my work week.

Jonathan Levi: That is awesome. I also, uh, I take Tuesdays off and, obviously Fridays, I don't always take the Tuesdays off, but I try to take them off as much as possible.

Joe Sanok: It just kind of frees up the brain to be able to really sort through what's important and it also forces you to drop the ball on a number of areas where you say, is it worth it for me to be working on this or should I just outsource it to somebody else? And it really forces you to only do what you're good at.

Jonathan Levi: Well, and it's like Dan Sullivan says an entrepreneur who's too tightly scheduled can transform.

Joe Sanok: Absolutely.

Jonathan Levi: So Joe, tell our audience a little bit about who you are and what you do and your three days a week.

Joe Sanok: Yeah. So most of my career has been in the mental health space. I owned a counseling practice, a group practice until 2019 when I sold that and that was because I was growing in the podcasting world of helping mostly clinicians that own private practices, but also massage therapists, chiropractors folks that they have really important work that they do, but they have no idea how to run a business and so I helped them kind of find that, that magical spot in there, meaning, uh, where that also meets profits and so, uh, we'll get going with their practice and grow that, but then more times than not what happens is they then want to level up their big idea to kind of optimize things outside of just their practice to take that message to them a broader audience.

Jonathan Levi: Really cool. So you're really helping people, help people as it were.

Joe Sanok: Absolutely. And so to, to look at the multiplication effect of, if someone goes from being a really good therapist that say helps couples, and then they hire five more therapists over a year and you know, each of those therapists now is seeing 20 or 30 couples a week. Uh, the multiplication effect of impact is just amazing to see on that individual person's life that owns the business but also just in me feeling like I'm contributing to create a world that's better than I found it.

Jonathan Levi: That's really cool. Now did, were you, did you feel limited when you were running your own practice? Was, was that a part of your decision to say, you know, Hey, I can only see so many people and I want to do something bigger or was it a business opportunity? I mean, what, what drove you to, to change things up and, and, you know, your podcast is called The Practice of The Practice so what drove you to give up and sell the practice and work on the Practice of The Practice?

Joe Sanok: Yeah, I think it was a long decision because so much of my professional identity was wrapped up in being a therapist. You know, you go to grad school, I got a double master's degree, spent all this time and my dad was a psychologist. So there was a lot of, kind of emotional baggage there to let go of but even when I started practice of the practice in 2012, I found that this thing that I thought was really ugly, the business world actually wasn't it was just kind of the lens I had I've seen it through, uh, I had sold Kirby vacuum cleaners door to door, and it felt really slimy when I was in college and that's all the business world that I had seen is trying to sell vacuum cleaners that are two or $3,000 to someone that lives in a trailer park and so for me, that was all I had seen.

But then when I saw that, wait, these principles, if you apply it to something that is good and that actually helps so world, uh, it's not the principles that are bad. It's actually just the implications of them and how you implement them and so, as I learned more about just business and business strategy and started seeing results in myself and my consulting clients, I just was more and more interested in that and started to see fewer clients built out the group practice, where at the end I was seeing one or two clients a week.

Um, so it was really a natural transition so much so that it was actually one of the clinicians that bought the practice from me, where she recognized that she said, you know, you're not really doing much counseling and our lease is up, you know, and in 2019, do you want to talk about selling the practice? And it was a great transition, um, that we were able to make, uh, away from my clinical work and to just kind of the business work.

Jonathan Levi: Now I want to ask around, you know, Joe Polish always says success traps are harder to get out of than failure traps right? It would have been easy to make that transition if your practice was completely failing and you're like, I need to eat, I need to find out another way. But yeah I've found in my life like whenever I want to make a change, especially a change with regards to my identity, you know? And I ask you, because you do have this background in training and education, and you've done this yourself. What advice would you have for folks who are maybe sensing that they're up for an identity remodel or make-over and, and need to change the way that they see themselves from for example, being a clinician to being an entrepreneur or from being a student to being a professional or whatever, it may be. What's some practical advice that people can take, for that kind of reinvention process?

Joe Sanok: Yeah, I think we first have to start with, uh, we're the first generation that really has this kind of option in regards to our career. When you think back in the 18 hundreds, we all would have been whatever our mom or dad did, uh, that would have just been kind of what our scripted life was. Even in the 1940's and 1950's, for most people, they weren't entrepreneurs. They weren't kind of pushing themselves to try something new. We really are the first people to be able to have those options.

So the tension that we feel right now, when we say I want to reinvent myself, that's something new for humankind and so the fact that we struggle with that is totally normal. The brain doesn't really know what to do with that. So I just want to start by normalizing that, Hey, this is really new for humankind and how cool that we get to be this first generation to, as a generation say, Well, do I want to do what I went to school for? Or do I want to try something new? Do I want to do some life hacking to do something else? And so if we start there and then we say, okay, well, what do we know? Well, we know that the brain, uh, it likes new things. It likes tension. Um, but also like security and safety. I mean, you look at the hierarchy of needs, you know, safety and security is number one.

And so how do we do it in a way that optimizes our brain to then move us towards something new? Well, our brain needs to feel safe and secure while also moving towards something new. And so what I've found is just like when I did the Friday's off experiment, the highest performing people that I've interviewed and we've done over 400 interviews through the podcast is that they will do experiments instead of pass fail and so our current education system, we all went through is a pass, fail mentality. It's meant to create factory workers. It's meant to have people that really don't ask big questions. Uh, and that's starting to shift with a lot of, kind of the new forms of education. But if you were raised in the 1970's, 1980's, 1990's, um, that education system really taught you to just kind of comply.

And so when, when you move away from that pass-fail system, and say, okay, I'm going to do an experiment and I'm going to get information from that about myself, but about my career, about my family. Uh, it takes away that risk where you can just say, after two months of trying something new, that really doesn't work for me.

And so I really encourage people to have a maintenance school. So with your own business, uh, what are the things that you really need to do to just kind of tighten things up to automate things outside of yourself, and then to have, you know, some people will call it a stretch goal, a big idea, goal, a risk goal.

There's lots of ways that we can label it, but something that helps you push into something new. And so for myself personally, I always have one new project that I'm kind of pushing into and seeing if that those clothes kind of fit for me and then if it doesn't work with my community or if it doesn't work, you know, with my audience, then I can always step back and then move into a different direction.

Jonathan Levi: Wow. I'm so glad that we had you on the show today because I personally am going through this right now of like, you know, how much do I want to talk about learning and memory? And I'm, as you can tell, very open with my audience, how much do I want to talk about learning and memory after seven years? Or how much do I want to go on to new topics, new ventures, new ideas, new products? I mean it, and you know, is, is this the venture that I want to do it in? Or, or should I start another company alongside it? And yeah and I love that idea because, you know, in our minds, it's, it is pass, fail. It's black or white. It's like, I'm either super in love with what I'm doing right now, or I need to, you know, do something else.

And it's not, it's like, well, I could experiment for two months on developing, you know, uh, another podcast alongside this one and if that doesn't work, it's totally cool because I went into it saying it's an experiment. And I think a lot of times in my life, and I imagine in my audience's life as well, uh, you know, we don't look at it that way.

It's not an experiment and it's, we look at it as like, dang, that was a really big failure.

Joe Sanok: Yeah. And I think what a lot of people will do is they think that they have to start something brand new to change their identity and that may be true. Uh, but I would say what I see work more often is more kind of adjusting an established river. And so you think about, you know, moving a river over, you know, Three feet or five feet compared to digging an entirely new river. Uh, moving an established river is going to be easier than it is going to be, uh, starting from scratch because you have that momentum and the same sort of thing has happened with the practice of the practice.

I totally screwed up, uh, in this and that's why I'm telling you kinda from the other side where I launched a podcast called how to become a consultant and this was in probably. 2014, I put kind of all my eggs into getting big influencers. So my first three, uh, people that I interviewed were Pat Flynn, John Lee Dumas, and Chris Ducker.

And I thought if I get these big names, then this is going to be a huge success. It's going to be amazing. You can't fail with names like that. Did 80 episodes, uh, in the first 15, uh, wherewith those three, because we did five episodes per consultant dug really deep with them.

Jonathan Levi: Wow.

Joe Sanok: And at the end of it, uh, launched an e-course and seven people bought it. So I spent all this time trying to build something new and had a vision for my audience becoming consultants. But what I had missed was that most of my audience was starting a counseling practice, jumping to being a consultant was just too big of a jump for them. So I was completely starting from scratch.

So what we shifted to doing was to really look at well, okay. If we say people that are scaling a practice, you know, they're going to a million-dollar practice and we have people that are just starting one let's fill in that entire spectrum so that if someone is starting a practice, the natural next step is to go into our membership community.

And then when they're there and they want to start a group practice then they're going to step into doing one of our larger mastermind groups and then it gets into a smaller mastermind group and then individual consulting and then a done for you services. So we have things from free or $17 one-time fee all the way up to $20,000 products.

So then I can shift into the things I'm excited about a year ago, I ran five mastermind groups, helping people launch their big ideas and I realized that for who I am right now, that's not what I want. So when those mastermind groups closed, I didn't start new ones instead I moved into done for you podcasting.

Cause that's really exciting to help people launch podcasts for me right now. So I've still stayed within kind of the stream of private practice, but it's that continuation beyond you're starting a practice. You're growing it, you're scaling it and now you're realizing I don't really want to be in the chair.

I want to be out there telling big kinds of words to the world and, you know, speaking and being on podcasts and all of that. So I then take my audience and say, here, I want you to follow where I've been and we're going to do it together and then I kind of pull them along that journey into the things that I'm interested in with an established audience.

Jonathan Levi: Wow. This is really great and totally what I need to hear and I imagine what a lot of people in the audience need to hear. And I think part of it, you know, what resonates with me, if you're familiar with that idea of turning the flywheel, right? It's really hard to turn a flywheel the first time, but once you get it up and running, uh, it's, it's, it's just keeping the momentum.

And so what you want to do is instead of turning the big, the big flywheel to get started is a, they give this example of fire bullets, not cannonballs right? Like try, try little things out, go on a podcast, get interviewed a couple of times. See if you enjoy the format before you launch your own, you know, and dive in and realize like, oh, this isn't what I want to do. I think that's really sound advice.

Joe Sanok: Yeah, and I think it applies because I know that you talk more than just business on this podcast, uh, it applies to our everyday life too. And so for me, working out has been something that I've always wanted to get better at. And I've kind of tried some different things over the last year.

So I read, you know, Timothy Ferris', Four-Hour body did some of that, uh, signed up for a sprint triathlon last summer and, you know, did the sprint try to see if I liked that found out that I hated it and I'm never doing it again, but now I can say a triathlete. Um, and then, you know, I've kind of gotten into a rhythm now of what I do like, and so even in our everyday life, we sometimes feel like we have to create these big commitments to the world and put it on Instagram and then stick with it and that's, that's important to stick with things that, that are working. But I think that that pass, fail mentality to just go back to that and to say, we're not a failure if we decide that we don't want to be a triathlete, uh, I did it, I tried it and it really isn't my jam and so that doesn't mean that I'm lesser than, um, my family of origin story may kind of push back against that and we can kind of deconstruct some of that as well today if you want to.

But I think that even in our personal lives, um, pushing into new things and then pulling back from them, um, that's how we really can discover these, these things we've never even considered putting our time into.

Jonathan Levi: Now in our conversation, both during the recording and before recording, you've mentioned the idea of a family of origin and, and that being a really important part of personal development. Elaborate on that for me.

Joe Sanok: Yeah. So our family of origin and family doesn't have to be necessary that you live with just a mom and dad. It could be that you were raised by a grandparent, or maybe there's a close neighbor. Um, maybe you were a part of a certain church community, and, uh, those things all impact us at a young age.

Even if we think back to second or third grade. I mean, I can think about in third grade when this one girl, uh, you know, peed in the classroom because she like lost bladder control, these crazy stories from our childhood. We remember really, really well. So you think about if there's a, you know, five or 10 year, period of time, that impacts us.

I mean, it's our childhood. If I said to you, Jonathan, you know what happened when you were 27 years old or what happened? You know, when you were 21? You might have to kind of think through it. Where was I when I was 27? What was I doing? Um, whereas if I said, you know, in eighth grade who picked on you, uh, that's probably going to come back a lot quicker.

Right? So those formative years, um, they, they teach us about the world, but they teach us in an inaccurate way. Uh, so for example, I was raised Catholic. Uh, my, I went to Catholic school. My whole worldview until I was probably 15 or 16, was that there's kind of Catholics and then there's the rest of the world. Um, even so much that our teachers, when Catholic kids from public school would be coming for CCD classes on Wednesday, they would say, oh, those public school kids, they're going to steal your pencils and stuff. So I'll make sure you hide your pencils and so this worldview that I received from teachers from my parents, um, was a very specific worldview.

Now, part of becoming an adult is to differentiate and so, you know, when teenagers start dying their hair blue, like I did, or dying their hair, like a cheetah print, that's differentiating from your family of origin and so in my high school years, uh, when the whole alternative nineties scene was big at Catholic school.

I grew my hair out into a ponytail. I had a chain wallet, uh, really differentiated from kind of the Catholic school football world that I was in. Now, what can happen though, is we stunt that differentiation away from our family of origin and so, um, one thing that therapists are noticing right now is the purity movement that was really big in the nineties.

You know, don't have sex until you're married in those really big and evangelical churches. It was a very strong message in our culture. That differentiation away from that has been really hard for people in their thirties and forties because it was such a pronounced message with so much shame around it.

So therapists nationwide are seeing that there are tons of this kind of ex evangelicals that are still carrying a lot of that baggage. Um, and as a result, uh, they have to kind of re differentiate and rethink through who they are outside of their family of origin or their church of origin or the culture they were raised in.

Jonathan Levi: Wow. I really like this and this is something that's that's near and dear to my heart, uh, because my parents have, as every parent they have used about the world and how trustworthy it is and how abundant it is that I, uh, that are a source of, of conflict for myself and my parents. Uh, because I have very very vehemently kind of shed those views away. Um, do most people do this kind of naturally on their own or is this something that a lot of people have, have a lot of difficulty with?

Joe Sanok: You know, I think naturally in your kind of teen years and early twenties, when, if you go off to college and you start to meet people different than yourself, there's usually a pretty rude awakening of way.

I feel like I was lied to where the world isn't the way that I thought. So the natural kind of reaction oftentimes is anger or pushback or kind of moving away from your family. Uh, and then it kind of moves into often kind of. It, depending on how healthy the family is, uh, philosophical debates, differences in politics, or in religion between the parents and the child, adult child.

Uh, but then what frequently happens is the adult child, uh, is then saying to their parents, this is where I stand and they're learning to more confidently stand in that position while not feeling they have to convince that other person to be like them and so that really sign of maturity. Uh, even just this past weekend, my, my wife's grandma died recently and she was 97 and just an amazing woman that was kind of with it all the way to the end.

So we were up celebrating her life and, uh, my mother-in-law after the funeral, like the day after, um, she's a strong evangelical and she asks to me. Um, so what do you think about the afterlife? And when we get, when I asked for their daughter's hand in marriage, I was very much kind of in the evangelical camp.

And so 15 years later now quite a bit has changed for my wife and I were, and we have a much different view of the afterlife and of God and all of that and we had an honest conversation about it and in the past, probably five or 10 years ago, I would have I felt the need to kind of walk through why her version of the Bible wasn't necessarily the most accurate in regards to the culture or the Hebrew or the Greek and, um, all those sorts of things.

But instead, I realized and have been working on that, that really works for her. That gives her a sense of peace, a sense of what the universe is and it's not my job to help her change and if she wants to ask questions and hear my point of view, that's awesome. But really there's not a need for me to put that wedge in our relationship. She's asking about my point of view and I'm sharing my point of view without going into it saying, I need to have you also align with my point of view.

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I wonder if there's any exercises, uh, you know, that people can do to kind of get a feel for, because I think, I think if, if people are struggling with this, they probably already know it right? I've found, especially in matters of psychology, that someone will be exposed to an idea or a concept like we're talking about right now, like, you know, having a conflict with your parents' beliefs, and all of a sudden they'll see themselves in that. It's from my experience and maybe this is just myself and the work that I've done to be more self-aware, but I rarely need someone to go.

Oh, and by the way, you, you, you suffer from this as well. Um, so if there are folks in the audience who were saying, you know, maybe I do have some beliefs from mom and dad around love that I don't really want to be carrying around anymore. Um, what can people do practically to, to bring that to their attention and, and shift that?

Joe Sanok: Yeah, well, I'm going to give her a couple of book recommendations that I think are helpful, and then we can talk through some exercises as well. Um, so if you're in a relationship with somebody, uh, the book eight dates by John and Julie Gottman is just an amazing book. Um, John Gottman has been studying marriage for 40 years and with, I think 97% accuracy, um, can predict whether or not people get divorced within a 15 minute period of time.

Uh, the guy's just a ninja when it comes to figuring out why people stayed together or don't. And so even if you're in a long-term partnership or a long-term relationship, this book's really applicable. Uh, in that book, the very first chapter is all on trust and commitment and when my wife and I did that first date, uh, we realized from one question just how different our family of origin is.

And it was, it was a game-changer for us and so the question was, what did trust and commitment look like in your family of origin? And so for my wife, her, uh, mom and dad would cuddle every night. Her dad would give a foot rub to her mom almost every night. They would often hold hands, um, all sorts of things.

Uh, whereas in my family, um, my parents were often at odds. You know, they were strong, good parents in a number of ways. Um, but sometimes it felt like loving commitment is putting up with someone you don't really want to be around and so to just have those two very different versions of trusting commitment helped us as a couple say, well, for me, I feel like if things are clicking along and we're not fighting, we're doing awesome. Whereas she's like, why am I not getting a foot rub every single night? You know? And so it's one thing to say your parents, I want to differentiate from you, but it's a whole nother thing for a loved one, a spouse, a partner to, to recognize just how big of a gap there is between the two of you. I do one book.

Jonathan Levi: Yeah. I definitely can resonate with what you're saying, because I think one of the only times in life, right that we're ever accepted into another family fully. I mean, we all have mentors. We have aunts and uncles, but I mean to be in another family and this is obviously in an ideal world is when we get married and all of a sudden we're part of a new family in a way that we were never able to be before and that's been really eye-opening for me as well. Just seeing first off, my wife has siblings and I don't, so they're a larger family and it's just so interesting how dynamics change and the trips are different when it, you know, it's not an only child situation, but also what is loving relationship look like has been really fascinating.

Joe Sanok: Yeah. Yeah and I think that we often, I think we have to change that family, um, to us, or we have to help our spouse see our point of view. And that's where I think the second book really comes in and I've been actually reading through this book, uh, for my own personal development recently and it's called how to be an adult in relationships.

I mean, it comes from a Buddhist standpoint, um, but it's. It's applicable to everybody and the whole idea of nonresistance. And so what that would look like in my marriage, you know, before this book, and before I started doing some of this internal work was say, Christina said, You know what I think this weekend we should just lay low we should be home. Uh, we should just relax. Uh, and I'm more of kind of an active parent oftentimes where I'm like, no, we should go do something and be exciting and, and we might get an a, I wouldn't say a fight, but at least kind of a conflict over what the weekend would look like. Um, and then when she pushed back with resistance, I would get into debate mode and kind of say, well, here's all the reasons that it's good for kids to be outside. It's good for kids to feel social. It's good to feel all these different things.

So this book really pushes into, you know, non-resistance and to really understand kind of what people are their motives are, what they're trying to communicate, but then also to slow down and not push back as hard and it's been interesting to see as I've not pushed back as hard, at least in my relationship, how much that's caused Christina to have to then examine her own kind of motives because I'm not fighting.

So then it's, it's like, well, I'm left with myself now and so that's a really good book for anyone that wants to feel more grounded and kind of who they are. It's an older books. I think there's only used copies of it out there on Amazon, but it's definitely worth picking up, uh, cause those exercises within that, those two books both really help you understand yourself, but even more importantly, how you relate to others and then kind of what the ramifications are of that relation to others.

Jonathan Levi: Yeah and I'm, I'm taking note that, you know, a lot of the exercises are actually in, in regards to relationships and I wonder if part of that is because that's where they really, where the rubber meets the road, right? When you build a life with another human being is really when you need to confront and, and make some serious decisions about like how you want to be in the world especially if that relationship is one that plans to bring other people into the world.

Joe Sanok: Yeah, well, and even if you don't have a significant other, you still are in a relationship with other people and so being able to depersonalize how other people act is really important as an adult, to be able to discover who you want to be.

So, for example, um, if I'm flying with a friend, uh, down to Florida, for example, uh, if we fly out of traverse city where I live, uh, they are all smaller Arab airlines and so most of the time you have to gate check your carry on luggage, which means you have to wait for know, five to 15 minutes to get that luggage on the other end.

So say we had, I was traveling with a friend and we have a close connection and he decides to bring a carry-on luggage that I know he's going to have to gate check, but we have a close connection. Now I could get all worked up over the fact that, oh, it's going to be late or we're why are you doing this? Why don't you just check it? Um, But if I go into that a little bit more grounded, I can look at all the options that I have. Okay, I have the option to stay with my friend and wait for his luggage. Um, I have the option to go to my plane and if it comes, then I have the option to get on it or to wait for my friend.

Uh, if we miss our flight, then we can make the best of it or we can not, I don't have to personalize it, that he is somehow trying to ruin the trip if he's bringing carry on luggage and so just being able to slow down that process a little bit and realize that most people's behavior isn't aimed at hurting us, even if it feels that way.

Jonathan Levi: Right. Absolutely. You know, I think, I think there's so much value in that um, and just, it, it is interesting because I often do think and, and maybe you have an opinion on this, but like, I really do think the success of our relationships, especially romantic relationships has really more to do with us than, than the person across from us right? It's in my case, like getting into a healthy relationship was really about doing the work and becoming the right kind of person.

Joe Sanok: Yeah, I think that's, that's really important to understand your role in it. Uh, there's a book called the scream free marriage, which it's not anti fighting in a marriage, but the idea is really to kind of own your, your own role in a marriage in particular.

Uh, and in that book, he talks about how marriage is like a campfire. That if you change one element, if you change the wood or the air or the spark, it's going to change the entire campfire and so if the dynamic within a partnership isn't working, just one person changing is going to change the relationship.

Now, you being more assertive or you stepping back more or whatever the thing is that you want to step into, uh, who knows what your partner is going to do to react to that, but then it reveals what's what's happening and so, for example, uh, I realized over probably the last six months of working with my therapist that I really am a pursuer in regards to the relationship. So I'm the one that's looking to hold hands, looking to cuddle. Um, you know, I love you and wanting that. I love you back. Um, and just realizing if I am the glue that holds our relationship together. And if I step back and it falls apart, that's a really big problem that that's not a relationship that exposes that, uh, Christina wasn't necessarily as invested and so were the last probably three months I've, I've stepped back a little bit in regards to being as much of a pursuer and then she has stepped forward. Now that was a gamble, you know, she could have just, you know, stayed where she was, but those sorts of things and working with a therapist or, you know, kind of doing your own work can help you understand that these habits, that for you feel very true, but maybe you should push back on and say, well, is this really how I want to be relating with my partner or relating with my friends and family?

Jonathan Levi: Really, really cool. No, Joe, we've burned through a majority of our time already and I still haven't had a chance to ask you. I mean, you've interviewed 400 of the world's top performers. What's some of the things that have stuck for you? What are some of the hacks tips, tricks, habits that you, uh, take advantage of to perform at a high level?

Joe Sanok: Yeah. I think that one of the commonalities that I see is the ability of people to slow down so as to speed up. The amount of clarity people get from slowing down is just amazing. I mean, you look at Bill Gates and Warren Buffet when they were on the Larry King show. Um, they both were talking about how they have major parts of their week that are just for thinking, um, you know, Bill Gates has a week, every year called think week where he goes to a cabin by himself with a bunch of books.

Uh, we host a conference called slowdown school where for two days we go hiking. We have massage therapists and a yoga teacher on the beaches of Northern Michigan and then the last three days we run full tilt towards the business and the big ideas and to see the things that get shed by just slowing down, uh, that and those parts that really come to the surface and say, wait, my big idea really needs to be this one thing, not this five kind of pieces of spaghetti I've been thrown at the wall. It's amazing to see. And every single year we do it, uh, it happens where the clarity that comes through slowing down. So I would say that, uh, and I would say, I think it's Tony Robbins who often says, and I'm not sure if he's quoting someone else that, you know, someone that's healthy has a thousand dreams. So someone that's not, uh, has only one, uh, Being somebody that has had back surgery. I had back surgery when I was 20 from a snowboarding accident. Um, my back is always kind of on the brink of a flare up. So just even regular exercise for me and getting into that, um, to avoid a flare-up, uh, It makes life just easier and so these top performers realize that, you know, whether it's nutrition or working out or meditation or relationships, all these things that we know, the happiness research points to, uh, those are important to make you more effective in your business and your life.

Jonathan Levi: I love that. And that's one that I don't hear enough. You know, we hear meditation, we hear exercise, but hearing the slowing down is, is a really important one and as I said, I'm striving to take more free days. Uh, I've recently decided to allow myself to take thinking time, you know, Keith Cunningham just wrote this book, the road less stupid and it talks all about the importance of thinking time like set aside an hour, just sit down with a pen and paper and think, and none of us ever do this anymore because we're 24/7 stimulated and, and we are not capable of being with our thoughts anymore, but I've, I've finally accepted that I can do that and that doesn't need to be in my free time. That is actually focused time. You know, that's productive time that happens during workdays and carving out the time and putting it on the calendar because it's just as important, if not more important than answering your fricking emails, which are, are just a distraction.

Joe Sanok: Absolutely. And your emails or, you know, someone else saying I need something from you. It's not, you kind of determining it. So yeah, I think that idea of thinking time, and even when you are present with a friend or a family member. So every night I put my daughters to bed. That's kinda my role and my wife helps out a little bit with that, but she's usually packing up lunches.

Now I could, while I'm reading to my daughters, be thinking about, okay, I have all these other things to do tonight or tomorrow, I'm gonna be doing these podcasts, but then I'm really losing that moment. Uh, with, um, I was just listening to you, the armchair expert, and Sam Harris was getting interviewed on that by Dex Shepherd, uh, this morning and Sam said, um, you don't become happy. You just are happy uh, and so the idea of being happy in the moment, Uh, I think is really hard for a lot of us because that whole fear of missing out, or I want to be on social media or scrolling through TikTok or whatever it is that people are getting sucked into. You're taking away from your moment when you're doing that.

Jonathan Levi: I could not agree more. I do want to touch on one of the thing you mentioned, you mentioned you are working with a therapist, obviously you have the knowledge yourself and you've run practices and you consult practices. I think that's really cool and I want to go into that and I want you to share the logic behind that because I think a lot of people, I mean, my father always said. You know, I don't understand why people go to therapy. You know, you should be smart enough to solve your own problems and yet here you are talking about, by the way, you know, your family of origin stories here you are you've done the work you've been there. You know, you are a clinician and yet you see a therapist. So talk me through that.

Joe Sanok: Yeah. So we see a marriage therapist as well as I see my own therapist. Uh, and I think for me, it's having that external perspective to really sort through things. We don't have some major issues. It's not like one of us had an affair or anything that, you know, most people would maybe start-up therapy for. It's really meant to be preventive and to help us optimize our marriage. Um, and for me, It's been more about learning how much I need to step back and so, um, for example, on the Enneagram, I'm an achiever, my wife, uh, she's a peacemaker.

So we think about what does a peacemaker need to do if they really want it to feel more like an adult? Well, they need to disrupt, they need to push back against that peacemaking because when there's conflict, Christina, we'll stuff that down, she'll just leave it there and then grow resentment because she wants there to be peace because that's her kind of main thing that she values.

Whereas for me as an achiever, I want to get things done. I want the checklist. I want to know, you know, exactly what's going to make the best marriage and the best, whatever, you know, and it becomes obsessive at times. Um, so what, what does an achiever need to do to kind of become more of an adult needs to stop achieving and step back and chill out and so having a therapist say to me, In the couples counseling, you know what, Joe, you really have nothing to do right now for the marriage and Christina needs to speak up more and then we'll talk about how you guys respond to that. I mean, that's terrifying for someone that's an achiever to say you have nthing to do.

It's like, no, I want a book to read. I want a checklist. I want a podcast and, um, and realizing how much yeah of me sending her podcasts. Oh, this is a great podcast on this is me again, leading that process rather than letting her become the disruptor and her becoming the person that she wants to be. So then in my own individual therapy, working with my therapist on family of origin issues, where does that achieve fairness come from? Um, there's obviously benefits to that, but then there's also a lot of things and a lot of baggage where if external validation is always the thing that makes me feel good about myself, that's a terrible way to live and that's not anything I have control over if people affirm me or don't affirm me and so he, he's a Buddhist therapist and has been practicing meditation for 25 years.

Um, so just having that perspective of kind of yes and, uh, of, yeah, it can be that you're an achiever, but you also in that don't have to give. That up, but you can also, uh, chill out a little bit. So I love having that external perspective too. Just help me sort through what I'm thinking and what I want to get out of life.

Jonathan Levi: It's quite funny, your marriage sounds a lot like my marriage and your therapists sounds a lot like my therapist, you know, what we talk about is, well, why do I feel the need to help so many people and achieve? And what am I trying to, to make up for? And what trauma am I trying to heal by showing the world how good I am and how much I can do for others and how much I can serve others. You know that that comes from trauma. And so, uh, when I do make the time to go there and that, that's what we work through.

Joe Sanok: Yeah, the worst and the best statement that my therapist said to me was, what if you never found another life hack? And I was like, are you kidding me? Like, of course, I want to optimize life and get the most out of it. I want to have every moment be the best that by the time I die, people say that guy lived five lifetimes. It was in one lifetime. Um, but then we kind of deconstruct that and say, where does that come from? Why is that important to you? And you know, those questions that I would probably just ignore if I just sat and thought about it by myself.

Jonathan Levi: Absolutely. So, Joe, we have now come up on time and I do want to give you an opportunity where can people check you out and learn more about all the amazing stuff that you're doing?

Joe Sanok: Yeah. So if you are a counselor, a coach have some sort of private practice, then the Practice of The Practice podcast, or website It's the best place to go. We have live chat there with my assistant, Jess so she can point you in the right direction.

If you're someone that is looking to level up and have a big message for the world, we have and we have a nine part email course. That's all about kind of the first things to think through before you launch a podcast. So whichever one of those suits, your fancy head on over to there.

Jonathan Levi: Brilliant and Joe, before I let you go and thank you for your time and your wisdom today if people take away one big message from this episode and they carry it with them for the rest of their lives, what would you hope for that to be?

Joe Sanok: I mean, I think it's something that I as well need to hear and that's the, you are enough and you have the skills you need to help the world.

Jonathan Levi: That's a beautiful message to end on Mr. Joe Sanok. Thank you so much for spending your time with me today. I really appreciated it and I know my audience learned a lot as well.

Joe Sanok: Thanks so much, Jonathan.

Closing: Thanks for tuning in to the award-winning Superhuman Academy Podcast for more great skills and strategies or for links to any of the resources mentioned in this episode, visit while you're at please take a moment to share this episode with a friend and leave us a review on iTunes. We'll see you next week.



  1. Luiz
    at — Reply

    Thanks, I learned a lot of interesting things in past episodes.

  2. Shivaditya Purohit
    at — Reply

    loved th heart and the depth of the conversation. The way that Dr. Metivier shared from his enormous experience and insights was just amazing. Thank you Jonathan for doing this podcast!! 🙂

  3. Rob
    at — Reply

    Great interview with Dr. Greg Wells! He mentioned a doctor from Colorado around the 42:30 point of the podcast, discussing turmeric and black pepper. I couldn’t make out the doctor’s name. Can you provide me with his full name and maybe his website or contact info. Interested in his products.



  4. Muhammed Sani Ibrahim
    at — Reply

    I am new here, and learning really fast.
    Thank you.

  5. Leonia
    at — Reply

    Maybe oarts of the things he has to share are right, maybe not. If I look at him which impact his nurturing and living style has on himself I see a very old looking man! He is year 1973!! That is not old and he looks definitly much older!! If I would not know his birthyear I would guess that he is in his mid-60ies!! A bit concering for someone who claims his lifestyle is suitable for a long life, isn’t it?

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