How Spirit Influences Your Work with Michael Diettrich-Chastain | FP 121

On this therapist podcast, Whitney Owens talks to Michael Diettrich-Chastain about how Spirit Influences Your Work

How do you integrate spirituality into working with clients? What are the benefits of being clear about who your practice does and does not best serve? How do you unite your staff through values?

In this podcast episode, Whitney Owens discusses how spirit influences your work with Michael Diettrich-Chastain.

Podcast Sponsor: Brighter Vision

An image of Brighter Vision Web Solutions is featured as the sponsor on Faith in Practice Podcast, a therapist podcast. Brighter Vision builds all in one websites for therapists.

We made it another year and now it’s time to jumpstart your practice and gear up for a successful 2022. What are the first steps to bringing in more of your ideal clients? Having a great website and marketing your private practice online.

Whether you’re a seasoned clinician with a website in need of a refresh, or you’re fresh out of school needing your very first therapist website, Brighter Vision is the perfect solution.

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All you have to do is go to brightervision.com/joe to learn more and take advantage of this great deal.

Meet Michael Diettrich-Chastain

A photo of Michael Diettrich-Chastain is captured. He is the CEO of Arc Integrated, an Organizational Consulting and Professional Coaching practice. Michael is featured on Faith in Practice, a therapist podcast.

Michael Diettrich-Chastain is the CEO of Arc Integrated, an Organizational Consulting and Professional Coaching practice. Michael and his consultants are passionate about helping organizations, leaders and teams become experts on change management, communication, and emotional intelligence. During the last year alone, in the midst of the Covid Crisis, Michael and his team facilitated leadership events for thousands across the globe.

Michael is also a bestselling author, facilitator, and professional speaker. Michael’s writing has been featured on Time, Money, Entrepreneur, and The Washington Post. His first book, Changes, was released in 2019 and became a #1 best seller in multiple categories.

Visit the Arc Integrated Website. Connect with them on Facebook and Instagram.

Connect with Michael on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

FREEBIE: The Changes Playbook: Get better at responding to uncertainty and creating positive change, in work and life.

In This Podcast

  • Michael’s seven pillars
  • Values in work culture
  • Spirituality and values with clients
  • Michael’s advice to Christian counselors

Michael’s seven pillars

  1. Cognition: your thinking mind
  2. Heart: your emotional self
  3. Action: your discipline and drive
  4. Nourishment: sleep schedules, eating habits, and movement
  5. Guts: the courage to commit and complete a task
  6. Environment: the people and places you put yourself in
  7. Spirit: spirituality and belief systems

Belief systems obviously influence everything else but an environment for instance, what we surround ourselves with, also influences what we believe. (Michael Diettrich-Chastain)

Belief systems in general are bi-directional. They are things that we have or maintain that influence how we interact with the world but they themselves can also be influenced.

Values in work culture

In a healthy workplace culture you want to have a really good identified value system, like what are the core values of the workplace, what’s the mission, what’s the vision? After that, can you [hire] folks [into] that system that have congruency with the values that you hold? (Michael Diettrich-Chastain)

Who are the people within your hiring process or practice that are well-matched with the core values of your business?

Who may be detrimental to these values, or make it difficult for those values to be lived out? These are not “bad” people, but they just may not be the best people for the practice.

Spirituality and values with clients

Get clear on who [we are] for and who we are not for … I think it’s great to be able to … want to serve the community, and I think it’s more beneficial to be clear about, “here’s who we’re best at serving and here’s who we’re not best at serving”. Not to say that we would dismiss people … but I think it is helpful from the consumer’s standpoint. (Michael Diettrich-Chastain)

Being clear about who your practice serves and does not serve is not about pushing people away, but it is more about attracting the ideal clients.

It also assists the client to know whether your practice would be the best fit for them, which is integral to the success and progress of therapy.

Michael’s advice to Christian counselors

Evaluate what your beliefs are, big and small, and ask yourself, “are they serving me, or are they getting in my way?”

Books mentioned in this episode:

Useful links mentioned in this episode:

Check out these additional resources:

Meet Whitney Owens

Photo of Christian therapist Whitney Owens. Whitney helps other christian counselors grow faith based private practices!Whitney is a licensed professional counselor and owns a growing group practice in Savannah, Georgia. Along with a wealth of experience managing a practice, she also has an extensive history working in a variety of clinical and religious settings, allowing her to specialize in consulting for faith-based practices and those wanting to connect with religious organizations.

Knowing the pains and difficulties surrounding building a private practice, she started this podcast to help clinicians start, grow, and scale a faith-based practice. She has learned how to start and grow a successful practice that adheres to her own faith and values. And as a private practice consultant, she has helped many clinicians do the same.

Visit her website and listen to her podcast here. Connect on Instagram or join the Faith in Practice Facebook group. Email her at whitney@practiceofthepractice.com

Thanks For Listening!

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Podcast Transcription

[WHITNEY OWENS] Welcome to the Faith in Practice podcast. I’m your host Whitney Owens recording live from Savannah, Georgia. I’m a licensed professional counselor, group practice owner, and private practice consultant. Each week through personal story or amazing interviews, I will help you learn how to start, grow and scale your practice from a faith-based perspective. I will show you how to have an awesome faith-based practice without being cheesy or fake. You too can have a successful practice, make lots of money, and be true to yourself.

Hello and welcome to the faith in Practice podcast. Thank you so much for taking the time to listen today. Love hanging out with you guys. I hope your January, 2022 is off to a good start. It is already just busy, busy over here so I’m working really hard on slowing down and not getting so caught up in things as I hope that this year, at least for me, I’m looking at simplifying and smoothing things out. So I hope that you have some words, some goals that are already in place for this year and that you’re moving forward in those. Or if you don’t already take a few minutes, think about your goals, think about what you want to accomplish this year and spend some time in that.

So I am looking forward to this episode today where I interviewed my good friend, Michael Chastain. He was so much fun. I met him in person. I think we talk about this in the episode, but I met him in person in Asheville a few months ago, such a great guy, so giving, like just giving of information, giving of time. And after we did this podcast episode, he literally sent me his book and his change cards. You’re going to learn about change cards in the episode.

I was so thrilled because I had some friends visiting at the time and it came in the mail and I immediately opened it up. I was like, oh, the change cards and pulled them out and we immediately started doing change cards right there while my husband was making dinner and literally change happened. Like there was one of the cards about your health and two people are like, we’re going to help each other get in shape and be in touch with one another. It was so cool.

So you’re going to enjoy learning about Michael, but also learning about his business. But before I kind of do his official introduction, I want to take a second to talk about humility your practice. I recently got hit with humility. So as you’ve been following this podcast, you’ve probably heard me talk about different ways to market your practice, Google My Business, fantastic way to market your practice, totally free, and you can get a lot of traction there. People can put reviews, you get your website through Google My Business as well, like it’s like a separate kind of little website. It helps your SEO, all that stuff. If you don’t have a Google My Business, please go get one.

I did do an episode a while back. You could go look for it with Craig as he is a Google My Business expert. That was a really good episode and after I interviewed him, we already had Google My Business, but we made some really big changes and improved it and was getting a lot of traction from it. So what happened was back in November, all of a sudden our Google My Business got suspended and we had no idea why. So I asked the marketing director on my team and she spent many long hours trying to figure it out. She kept contacting Google. It was hard to find a phone number. I was posting in Facebook group. She joined a Google My Business like Facebook group for people having problems.

It was like we were at the mercy of Google because there was no one to contact. Every time we would submit the forms, they would say, don’t submit too many times, but we submitted like four times because we weren’t hearing back from them. It was just a mess. I actually did reach out to Craig and he was helpful in looking into it for us and in the long run, just so you can learn a little note here, the problem that it seems to be, this was never confirmed, but we had added a zip code outside of our immediate zip code.

We seemed to think that maybe adding a couple of zip codes right beside our zip code made us look not so local and that might have thrown things off, but whatever the case may be, I hear all the time about people who have their Google My Business suspended and they don’t know why and it takes a long time to get it back. Well over this timeframe, I had just signed a lease on an expansion from my office, which was a big step of faith. But right now we don’t have enough offices. We’re kind of office sharing. So this will provide us more space, but also the ability to add a couple more clinicians this year.

So that was really exciting and scary because while the Google My Business thing is going on, our traction is decreasing. Our SEO went in half the month of December and pretty much all the calls we were getting were word of mouth referrals. That’s very different for us. We usually have about 60% come through Google. So while this is going on, I am in prayer. I’m telling my team to pray. I’m like what in the is going on here? And I just really realized that I needed to be patient and wait and trust, which is not easy when you don’t see things going the way you want.

But I have a feeling or I seem to notice, is what I should say is that God has this way of movements in our practice, like times that are more busy, times that are less busy because He has something He wants to accomplish or offer us or something that we need to focus on. I noticed this when I was a solo practice owner and I noticed this in my group practice. So this Google My Business was not working and it really taught me that I can do all the work I want in my business. I can listen to every podcast. I can do all the, listen to, read blogs, whatever, learn from consultants, but ultimately I can do everything I can do that I really don’t have control. And I’ve just got to trust the process.

So it was a real lesson for me as a business owner. Fortunately a couple of weeks ago, Google, some third party reached out to us and they were able to fix the issue overnight. Now we are reinstated. So I’m grateful for that, but I’m also grateful for the lesson that I learned to kind of let go and trust the process. We do all that we can on our side to grow our business and we have to trust God with the next step. So there’s my lesson here on humility.

All right. So I do want to get into this fun episode. So this is Michael Chastain. Let me you a little bit about him. He’s the CEO of Arc Integrated, an organizational consulting, professional coaching practice, best-selling author, leadership, coach, facilitator, and professional speaker. He and his team are passionate about helping organizations, leaders and teams become experts on change movement, communication and emotional intelligence. Michael’s writing has been featured on Time, Money, Entrepreneur and the Washington Post. His first book Changes released in 2019 and became a number one bestseller in multiple categories.

During the last year alone in the midst of the COVID crisis, Michael and his team has facilitated events of thousands of leaders and teams across the globe. His bio definitely speaks to him. He is an amazing man and offers so much. You’re really going to benefit from hearing more about his book and more about how spirit, which is one of the seven categories that he talks about and how that influences work. So this is episode number 121 on the Faith in Practice podcast.
[WHITNEY] Well, today I have my good friend Michael here with me to hang out on the Faith in Practice podcast. How you doing Michael?
[MICHAEL DIETTRICH-CHASTAIN] I’m doing well, Whitney. It’s good to be here with you.
[WHITNEY] Awesome. Well, Michael and I met a couple of months ago. I’m always talking about pay attention to the people you meet and get to know people and learn from one another. I just love when we met up and we had dinner and ice cream and cookies and hung out. So I was glad to have you on the show today.
[MICHAEL] It was a pleasure to connect in Asheville. I’m glad we got to, and yes, it’s great to connect with you again here.
[WHITNEY] Wonderful. Well, if you first can share with the audience a little bit about yourself and kind what kind of business that you’re into?
[MICHAEL] Sure, sure. So the background is that I’ve spent pretty close to equal amounts in my career in the mental health space and the corporate space. Currently we have a leadership development consulting practice in Asheville that serves leaders and teams and organizations all over the globe through a process of strategy training and facilitation and ongoing executive coaching to help their leadership, their teams and their cultures become peak performing. So that’s what I’m up to now.

Prior to COVID was traveling around a good bit, delivering services in person, and now it’s all via Zoom or WebEx or Microsoft Teams and thankfully we’re very busy. I’m also really excited to get back to in person. So my background is, when I was originally in undergrad had the idea and kind of the vision to go into what’s called industrial organizational psychology, which some of your listeners may have heard of, which is essentially like looking at the business systems and business and culture and team team dynamics that influence the success of a business.

So I did some of that work out of undergrad and then got the itch to take a deeper dive and went back to get a master’s in counseling and then eventually a licensed as a therapist and worked in the mental health world for a number of years and all sorts of capacities from private practice to community, to hospital, to jail system. I really got wide variety of exposure, which was fantastic and taught me a lot. And I still had this itch and interest in team and leadership and culture. So made the pivot back to corporate work about gosh, maybe eight years ago and have been there since. So that’s, I guess, kind of a long answer to your question.
[WHITNEY] No, I love it. Well, I like how you share about your mental health background. Of course our mental health background influences all that we do. Any kind of career that we’re in and counselors are using that experience. It’s just important to say that like, hey, you can get a degree in one thing and be doing something totally different, like following your passion, joy, and what brings you life? I love that you said, “Hey, I liked mental health, but this is my passion, teams, leadership, moving beyond.” And that’s what you’re doing. And also you spoke to COVID, it’s like, yes, you’re busier ever because we as teams really need help managing life during COVID.
[MICHAEL] Yes, a hundred percent. As we all know, there’s like so much more complexities in the workplace right now with working remote or the hybrid version, which a lot of companies are doing or the partial work remote combined with this great resignation that they’re calling it where people are leaving companies or making transitions, are going out on their own. So yes, there’s just a wide variety of complexities, not to mention of course all the stress and anxiety that’s produced from the current kind of state of affairs that we’re in. So yes, there’s a lot going on.
[WHITNEY] Definitely. Well, your book came out, I guess what, the year before the pandemic, right?
[MICHAEL] Yes, that’s right. That’s right, just before.
[WHITNEY] So can you talk a little bit about your book?
[MICHAEL] Yes, sure, sure. So yes, it’s my first book. I had a lot of interest in continuing down the book writing process. So I got a couple others on the burner, but yes, this book is about looking at what are the pillars of change that exist in our life? What I mean by that, Whitney is what are the factors of our lived experience that influence our ability to not only create change, but respond to it effectively. I spent a lot of time thinking about this and thinking about the various clients I’d served over the years from corporate executives who were “very successful,” financially, but maybe we’re struggling with emotional intelligence or with stress management or work life balance, to folks when that I worked with in the mental health space that were maybe going through life transition, birth of a child or a divorce or addiction issue or stress or anxiety.

Then also reflecting on the many clients that I served that were struggling with some really serious, severe, and persistent mental health issue, schizophrenia or bipolar, or fill in the blank. I say all that because what I was most interested in was exploring what are these commonalities that influence change, no matter what kind of change we want to produce? If we can get really good at managing and producing change, then we can apply that skill to anything, whether it’s surviving the constant changes in COVID or it’s getting healthier physically or it’s finding the relationship that we want or building a practice. So the book, essentially is about these seven pillars of our lived experience that that influence our change making. So that’s what it’s about.
[WHITNEY] Well, I know today we wanted to talk about one pillar in particular, spirituality, is that right?
[MICHAEL] Yes, yes. The seven pillars of spirit, which I define as our belief systems, both large and small, large meaning like how we think about, or what we believe in regarding like where do we come from as human beings? Where are we going when we die? Why are we here? These big, like spiritual, religious beliefs, and then also the belief systems around what’s possible in our own life, meaning how much money we might make or how much love we deserve, or how big can we grow our practice or how healthy can we get? You know, these are all, I call them more granular beliefs about our own individual life.
[WHITNEY] It’s interesting. I was actually just leading a mastermind group before we started this call and we were talking about beliefs. We were talking about money and what do we believe about money and what were we taught by our parents about money. So there’s, I’m hearing kind of give that element of like our beliefs in what we were taught, but then there’s also the beliefs in what does our bigger faith say? Like, how do we bring those together in our business? That’s an interesting combination there.
[MICHAEL] Yes, yes. A hundred percent. I was just talking to my editor. We’re working on a journal that will go with this book and it’ll be released sometime next year. We were talking about like, how do we create activities that differentiate these kinds of beliefs? He was trying to like understand my point further and I gave him the example of, have you heard the story about the first person to run, I think it was like the four-minute mile that no one thought it was possible until someone did it. And then after someone did it, of course, then there’s many, many people that have done it. Obviously there’s a lot to get to that point of athleticism, but one of the elements there is the belief that it’s possible.
[WHITNEY] I love that you just shared that because this idea that things are possible and that we can have bigger beliefs than maybe what we were taught or what we learned while we were growing up. I love that. But I want to jump a little more into this idea of, because this is for faith-based practice owners, this spirituality pillar, this idea that like spirituality influences our lives, but also influences our business. Did you talk about some in the book?
[MICHAEL] Yes, a little bit. I think there’s a relationship between our belief systems and everything that we do and vice versa. So a couple, I’ll just give you the seven pillars real quick to kind of frame it up, so they are cognition, which is our thinking process, what we tend to focus on. Heart, which is our emotional selves, is that something we’re avoiding or is it something we’ve spent some time exploring. Action, which is our habits and routines daily, weekly, monthly. Nourishment, which is our physical experience, so how we tend to move, what we eat, how we sleep, the totality of our physicality. Guts, which is our courage to act in the face of fear. Environment, the people, places and things we are surrounded by or what we choose to surround ourselves with. Then finally spirit, our belief system.

I tee that up, Whitney because spirit is, belief systems obviously influence everything else, but environment, for instance, what we surround ourselves with also influences what we believe. I think a great example of that right now is the news. I think that the news is I might go out on a limb here, but I think it’s fair to say that no matter what political side you’re on the news is pretty toxic in that it’s constantly feeding us fear of sorts, whether that’s about various kinds of pains in the world. And of course in our relationships, there are really positive influences and there are those people in our life that maybe are toxic as well, or draining on our ability to achieve what we want to achieve or maybe are influencing negative beliefs that we have. So yes, I tee all that up just to say that belief systems in general are bidirectional. We have them and they’re influenced.
[WHITNEY] That’s so important to mention. Like, I’m sitting here thinking about my team or group practice owning. So it’s important that I’m surrounding myself, my team, these are the people I’m around, like with the ability to encourage me, strengthen me, not only just with positive affirmations, but like in my belief system, in my spirituality and encouraging that in my life.
[MICHAEL] Hundred percent. When we work with clients, this comes up a lot. It’s a little more complicated in the sense that, obviously you first want to have a really healthy workplace culture, you want to have a really good identified value system. Like what are the core values of the workplace? What’s the mission? What’s the vision. Then after that can you create folks that are in that system that have congruency with the values that you hold? So it’s a common question that we were work with leaders on in identifying who of the people within the system are matches for the value and the culture and who maybe are detrimental to that value in culture.

And I say that with the asterisks that that’s not to come down on that individual and say that they’re bad, or they’re awful in some way, but it’s just like an unfit match basically. It’s the idea that there’s probably a culture out there that’s really good for that person and the opportunity could be that they might be happy and better served in a different culture as well. So yes, it’s really important just like in life, I think to find those matches for us combined with the kind of people that are willing to give us maybe the hard feedback that we might learn from along the way.
[WHITNEY] I appreciate you saying that. I help people like in the beginning phases of starting a group practice and so often they really struggle with their first hires because you’re still trying to figure out what is that person? How much do I need them to adhere to my faith and my values and is it okay to let that fall by of the wayside? How do I hire appropriately? Well, this person’s available. So it’s like all those things you’re like sorting through.
[MICHAEL] Yes. We’ll often tell organizational clients that values are, you know there’s obviously dozens and dozens you can choose from, and there’s really not a wrong answer necessarily. I mean, there are certainly like key markers of what are the elements that will produce a high performing team or culture. I’m happy to talk about that if you’d like, but as far as values go, I mean, they can be all across the board. So we always invite clients to get really clear on whatever those values are that feel really congruent with them and then be able to use that as a way to hire.

Now, I recognize when it gets into spiritual, religious belief systems that might offer some additional complexity, but I guess I would say to that, that regardless of someone’s spiritual or religious belief, I would think that they could likely pull values out of that. That would be congruent with their belief system and not make it like necessary that every person they hire shares their exact belief system, but maybe that the values are aligned.
[WHITNEY] I’m so glad you said that, because that’s actually a big thing that I run into in talking with other faith-based practice owners. Some people will say, “Hey, I’m only going to hire Christian counselors, because I have to have a Christian practice and these Christian values.” What’s great is they know what they want and they know who they serve and that’s key, but then there’s other people that would say, “I want to have a faith-based practice, but I don’t want everyone to be the same. I don’t want everyone to have the same religious system.” Like good work is good work regardless of what your faith background is. So I see that also coming to the table. So it’s that importance of really defining what it is that you are and bringing that diversity, I guess, to the table.
[MICHAEL] A hundred percent. I would add to that, is my guess is that if we had 50 different identified Christian practices, that they would not all be the same. I say that because, I’m sure your listeners can appreciate that. Someone says I uphold Christian values. That might mean one thing to one person and something different to someone else. And I think that again, to your point, it benefits everybody to get clearer on what are the specific values that we’re talking about beyond just saying we’re a Christian practice. Well, that’s awesome and what does that actually mean? What are the specific behaviors and actions and practices and what does that culture actually really look like?
[WHITNEY] One real struggle I also hear in this area is wanting to have a practice that meets the needs of the community from a faith-based perspective, but not wanting to turn away people that wouldn’t adhere to a certain religion. Or maybe they’re Muslim, or maybe they’re Buddhist and like really wanting to also meet their needs as well. Like, how do we practice that as a business meeting the needs of different faith organizations?
[MICHAEL] Yes, it makes me think about, and I will say that what I’m about to say, you know our practice are integrated. This is something that we are always striving to get better at. I feel as it is kind of like a challenge for me, which is to get really clear about who are we for and who are we not for? I bring that up because I think it’s great to be able to be to want to serve the community and I think it’s more beneficial to be clear about, hey, here’s who we’re best at serving and here’s who we’re not best at serving. Not to say that we would like dismiss people by any means ever, but it is, I think helpful from the consumer standpoint to say, well, Whitney’s practice is really, really good at this and Michael’s practice is really, really good at this. I think it’s easier for business development. It’s easier for the consumer. It’s easier to share information about the business. So I think there’s just a lot of benefits.
[BRIGHTER VISION] We made it another year and now it’s time to jumpstart your practice, this and gear up for a successful 2022. What are the first steps to bringing in more of your ideal clients? Having a great website and marketing your private practice online? Whether you are a seasoned clinician with a website in need of a refresh or you’re fresh out of school needing your very first therapist website, Brighter Vision is the perfect solution. During the entire month of January, they’re running their biggest sale of the year.

For the entire month of January, they’re completely waving all set fees and only charging $39 a month for your entire first year of a new website. That’s a savings of $240 for your first year of website service with Brighter Vision. All you have to do is go to brightervision.com/joe to learn more and take advantage of this great deal. That’s brightervision.com/joe.
[WHITNEY OWENS] I was curious if you had anything to say about how do you see spirituality influencing different teams that you’ve worked with and really wanting to hear more about, I mean, you could share some negative stories, but some of the positive ways that you’ve seen spirit kind of influence business.
[MICHAEL] The story that comes to mind is I was on a call with a client. This was a training. We were doing this like two weeks ago, three weeks ago. It was a three day long leadership development program. I counted it afterwards. I think there were, gosh, I want to say eight or nine different countries represented in the meeting and there was probably, I don’t know, 14 of us, I think. So it was a small group and this organization is huge. They’ve got offices and representation really, and every corner of the globe.

I bring that up because in this group, for instance, there were all sorts of not only different religious and spiritual beliefs, but full cultural differences. So I think that religion is a kind of a component of culture and I think the complexities are even further when you’ve got all the other elements of culture that bring up differences within a group. So I bring this story up because what is always so beautiful about working with diverse groups like this is their curiosity and interest in learning from one another.

So one of the things that I’ve seen in the work that I’ve done with big organizations like that is that it’s almost like this, the large size creates a normalcy around difference and that normalcy drives people’s kind of interest in and curiosity about learning. Like, tell me about the religious and cultural practices in India. Then you’ve got somebody there from Germany and somebody there from Korea and it’s just this fascinating blend of seeing cultural and belief systems kind of come to life. So yes, very, very rich.
[WHITNEY] I like that. Seems like we keep kind of coming back to this idea of diversity and like having a team that knows their value. They know kind of where they land on spirit, I guess, but yet they’re all diverse in a different way, but they all come together on something common, I guess, is kind of what I’m hearing.
[MICHAEL] Yes. I think regardless of the size of the organization, whether it’s tens of thousands of employees or it’s a practice that has maybe a couple employees, the opportunity is always to embrace curiosity and embrace the value of diversity and get really curious about what can we learn from the nuances of someone’s belief system, religious or spiritual, and what might that tell us about our own religious or spiritual beliefs? That’s one of the cornerstones of the, in the book, the section spirit is all about challenging, or at least kind of looking under the rug to say, what are the belief systems that I’ve just accepted from whatever it is, from my childhood, from my schooling, from my parents from my college or workplace? What are the one that I’ve really looked hard at to say, does this resonate with my being, does this religious or spiritual belief actually truly resonate or is it just something I’ve kind of blindly accepted? So I think one of the benefits of diversity is hopefully it pushes us to ask those questions of ourselves.
[WHITNEY] I love that. I feel like my team is always challenging me to think about the way I think about myself and the way I think about my spirit and then us challenging one another in that. So I love that you brought that up.
[MICHAEL] Yes, yes. I think with any, and again, I may be going out in a limb here, but I think with any religious or spiritual doctrine, in its most rigid form, it can be, there can be like ways in which doctrine can be challenging to, or incongruent with what we want to create, depending on again, how it’s interpreted or how someone applies it to their life. So I just, I think that it just really benefits, does this belief serve me or is it keeping me stuck?
[WHITNEY] Yes. And I’m sitting thinking about my own life in ways that have changed my belief system over time. It’s really been through meeting people different than me and seeing God in them and then they influence me to rethink the way I’ve read a Bible passage or the way I’ve thought about community or the way I think about relationship.
[MICHAEL] That’s beautiful. Hundred percent. Me too. Me too. I appreciate what you’re saying, because it’s like nothing, it’s hard to kind of develop in a silo, whether we’re talking about spirituality or religion, or we’re talking about leadership or we’re talking about physical fitness or whatever. Like things don’t happen on our own. Have to be feedback mechanisms in place and that feedback mechanism could be as simple as having a conversation like you just mentioned.
[WHITNEY] Yes, definitely. Well, this is a random question. I didn’t tell you I was going to ask this, if you want to take a second, but I’m just curious is there one or two, like big flaws with teams that you see when you’re doing training that you’re like, oh, this is the thing that I see all the time as a flaw?
[MICHAEL] So a couple things come to mind. There is an old quote called “Going to Abilene.” Are you familiar with this quote?
[WHITNEY] I think so. So continue though
[MICHAEL] It’s about, I can’t remember who, I’ll look this up. It’s about the idea that the team’s biggest challenge that they have is not how do they resolve conflict, but it’s how do they navigate agreement? It’s the idea that, the Abilene paradox, that’s what I was trying to think of. So I think, in my experience Jerry Harvey is the person that came up with this Abilene paradox and I think it’s, I see a lot of both. I see a lot of how do we navigate agreement and do we navigate conflict as major challenges? I think that another major challenge is how do we navigate boundaries? That’s a huge one, both like within the individual, as well as within the group. What is my individual boundary around?

And I kind of define boundaries a little broadly, but obviously what am I willing and not willing to tolerate? Where’s my strength and blind spots? Where do I truly shine? What do I want my future to look like? These are all kind of boundary issues. So those are a couple that come to mind. I think that another, I’ll give you a third example, which is, I think teams can get stuck in the dynamic of just like constant production. I call it like trying to put out fires and not enough time in the process, meaning evaluating what we’re talking about. Like, how do we handle conflict or how do we handle boundary issues or how do we handle how we’re communicating? Are we communicating?

Well, I think that the teams that do this really well are the highest performing teams. There’s actually some research to support that. Can I share that real quick? You can find this interesting. And this is, again, this is like, it’s another paradox, because I think that the assumption often is if you get a team of like really intelligent, hardworking geniuses in a room, they’ll produce the best results. The reality is what the research shows us, which started in the nineties through Dr. Amy Edmondson, out of Harvard, evaluated the question of which teams produce, or the highest performing basically? Is the teams that are the most social. Is it the highest IQ? Is it the 80-hour work week teams?

She looked at this through various cultures and various industries and she found these major predictors. The number one predictor of the highest performing team is the team that has the strongest psychological safety. Psychological safety is kind of a jargony term, but it’s basically the idea of, can I show up as myself, are my ideas seen, heard and felt, can I enter into conflict and be okay at the end of it? These are all kind of elements of creating safety. So if we know that the number one predictor performance is that then obviously it makes sense that we spend more time evaluating our process as human beings together. Again, back to the communication, the boundaries, the conflict, all that.
[WHITNEY] I’m so glad you shared that. Thank you for sharing that research. I always love when people can rattle off people’s names and research they did. I’m like, wow, this is so good. We talk about that some in our group stuff that we do about the importance of like, if you don’t create safety, you won’t have creativity. Like you have to create that trust and safety first, but that, yes, businesses that have people that are creative and feel like they can like step out on a limb are businesses that are more successful,
[MICHAEL] A hundred percent, a hundred percent. That data, that research I just quoted from the nineties, if people are curious, they could look at a similar conducted research that happened in 2012 to 14 which Google looked at Amy Edmondson’s research to say, is this still relevant? It’s called project Aristotle and they found the exact same thing. So yes if teams want to impact the bottom line in the most drastic way, that’s what they should focus on, is how do we build psychologically safe environments?
[WHITNEY] That’s great. Well, I want to talk for a few minutes about other things that you have. I think you have a free download on your website?
[MICHAEL] Yes, for sure. For sure. There’s a bundle that we give away, which is pretty cool. It’s got all sorts of goodies on it and it’s just archintegrated.com/free. It’s A-R-Cintegrated.com/free. It’s got a whole bunch of stuff. There is digital copy of the book, first couple chapters, there’s a full audio book. There’s a card doc, which we haven’t talked about, but we created a question deck, which I’ve heard a lot of therapists, friends and colleagues say that they’ll use them in session and with their teams and they find that to be super helpful. So in this free bundle, you get some additional activities around how to use that card deck. Then also a little workbook around how to apply some of the lessons that are in the book. So yes, Changes Playbook is what we call it and archintegrated.com/free.
[WHITNEY] Thank you. I was going to mention the cards here at the end, like basically for those of you that listened to, I had an episode come out the end of December about my mastermind group and how we had gotten together in Asheville. That was when I met Michael and Uriah Gilford who does productive therapy. He had Michael’s cards there. So that was my first encounter with Uriah and with Michael, was these cards. It was all those pillars you just talked about and we would pick each one and we would ask each other questions and it was a great way to challenge each other and get to know one another. I think those cards are on your website, right?
[MICHAEL] They are, yes.
[WHITNEY] So if you’re looking for like a questionnaire or something to do at a party, or maybe you want to do it in your therapy session, or maybe you want to do it with your group practice, like really cool cards to use. I love them.
[MICHAEL] Oh, thank you so much, Whitney. That’s great. We hear a lot of good feedback often from therapists and coaches and teachers. So, yes, it’s really heartwarming to hear.
[WHITNEY] Oh, good, good. Remind people the name of your book and how they can get ahold of that.
[MICHAEL] Sure. It’s called Changes. It’s got a really obnoxious subtitle, which is obnoxiously long, which is The Busy Professionals Guide to Reducing Stress, Accomplishing Goals and Mastering Adaptability. Yes, it’s in all the formats. You can get it wherever you like to get your books, Amazon certainly, and all the other places as well. So yes, the cards the same. You can get those on Amazon as well.
[WHITNEY] Awesome. Good. Even though we’re recording in December, so I’m thinking good Christmas gift, but this’ll come out in January. So good gifts for other things. So Michael, I want to ask you what I ask everyone at the end of the show, what do you believe every Christian counselor needs to know?
[MICHAEL] I love that question. I think that, you just would leave people the invitation of again, like we’ve talked about really evaluating what are the beliefs, again, both big and small, big meaning where we come from, where are we going, where are we here? And the small meaning what is it that I’m, what’s possible in my life? What might I be able to create? Evaluating those beliefs and asking the question, are they serving me or are they getting in my way? I think that when willing and when appropriate, having those same kinds of discussions with our team can also bring a lot of reward in a workplace. So that what I would leave people with.
[WHITNEY] That’s great. Well, thank you so much. I really appreciate you taking the time today to be on the show. You’ve brought a lot to the table and been making me think about my team here. So I really appreciate that.
[MICHAEL] Yes, my pleasure. Great to connect with you and look forward to seeing you again
[WHITNEY] Again, we want to thank our sponsor Brighter Vision today. If you would like to get a new website or refresh your website, head on over to brightervision.com/joe. They’re doing a new deal for $39 a month off your first entire year. That’s brightervision.com/joe.

Thank you for listening to the Faith in Practice podcast. If you love this podcast, please rate and review on iTunes or your favorite podcast player. If you liked this episode and want to know more, check out the Practice of the Practice website. Also there, you can learn more about me, options for working together, such as individual and in group consulting, or just shoot me an email, whitney@practiceofthepractice.com. We’d love to hear from you.

This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. This is given with the understanding that neither the host, Practice of the Practice, or the guests are providing legal, mental health, or other professional information. If you need a professional, you should find one.

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