Ignite Growth and Make Better Decisions Faster | Paul Epstein

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How can the head-heart-hands equation help you make better decisions faster?

I’m thrilled to share with you the insights from my recent podcast episode with the dynamic leadership and culture expert, Paul Epstein. Paul is known for his work in reviving underperforming sports teams and igniting growth in organizations. He’s also the author of two insightful books, The Power of Playing Offense and Better Decisions Faster.

In our conversation, we delved into the concept of making better decisions faster using the head-heart-hands equation. Here’s a quick breakdown:

The Head-Heart-Hands Equation: This equation represents the process of decision-making. The head stands for mindset, the heart for authenticity, and the hands for action. It’s a simple, yet powerful tool to guide your decisions.

Mindset Matters: Paul emphasizes the importance of a growth and ownership mindset. He shares four keys to unlock a growth mindset: growth, positivity, grit, and curiosity.

Authenticity is Key: Paul believes that authenticity is the gateway to making better decisions faster. He shares personal stories and drills to help cultivate authenticity and passion.

Confidence Counts: Confidence is essential in decision-making. Paul has created a confidence quiz on his website to help you assess and improve your confidence over time.

Aligning Head, Heart, and Hands: Paul discusses the importance of aligning our values and goals in decision-making. He encourages us to fill our lives with more “green” decisions and to be aware of the negative impact of “red” decisions.

Paul’s insights are not just thought-provoking, but also practical. I encourage you to listen to the full episode to gain a deeper understanding of his head-heart-hands equation and how it can transform your decision-making process.

Remember, making better decisions faster is not just about speed, but also about alignment and authenticity. So, let’s start making decisions that truly reflect who we are and what we stand for.


In a recent podcast episode, I had the pleasure of interviewing Paul Epstein, a dynamic leadership and culture expert known for his work in reviving underperforming sports teams and igniting growth in organizations. Paul has authored two books, The Power of Playing Offense and Better Decisions Faster. Our conversation revolved around the concept of making better decisions faster and the head-heart-hands equation.

The Head-Heart-Hands Equation
Paul introduced the concept of the head-heart-hands equation, a process that represents making better decisions faster. The head symbolizes mindset, the heart stands for authenticity, and the hands signify action. When deciding whether to take action, there are two checkpoints: the head and the heart. If both are on board, it’s a green light to take action. If neither agrees, it’s a red light to stop. If one of the two is on board, it’s a yellow light, and the gap needs to be addressed.

Paul emphasized the importance of having a process and system in place to make better decisions faster. He also stressed the need for awareness of red lights and the ability to navigate the yellow lights.

The Importance of Mindset and Authenticity
Paul discussed the importance of mindset and authenticity in decision-making. He highlighted the need to avoid running red lights, both literally and metaphorically, as it can lead to negative consequences.

Mindset plays a crucial role in decision-making. Paul mentioned concepts like growth mindset and ownership mindset, emphasizing the importance of being growth-oriented and taking ownership of one’s actions. He also discussed the difference between offensive and defensive people, stating that mindset is the key differentiator.

To unlock a growth mindset, Paul suggested four keys: growth, positivity, grit, and curiosity. He shared personal stories and decision drills to help develop and cultivate a growth mindset, assuring that they can lead to better decision-making.

Leading with Authenticity
Paul believes that authenticity is the gateway to making better decisions faster. He explained that authenticity is not just about being true to oneself, but also about being real and allowing our hearts to tell us the truth.

He shared a personal story about how he used to have two different versions of himself, one for work and one for his personal life. He realized that this was not authentic and merged his two versions into one.

Exercises to Increase Passion, Authenticity, Gratitude, and Happiness
When asked about drills or exercises to increase passion, authenticity, gratitude, and happiness, Paul shared two examples. The first is a reframe on finding passion, where instead of asking what you love, you ask what you hate not doing.

The Role of Confidence in Decision-Making
Paul discussed the role of confidence in making better decisions faster. He compared confidence to chips on a poker table and created a confidence quiz on his website to help individuals build and sustain confidence.

Aligning Head, Heart, and Hands in Decision-Making
Paul emphasized the importance of aligning our head, heart, and hands in decision-making. He explained that green represents decisions that are in line with our values and goals, while red signifies decisions that go against them.

He also highlighted the challenge of making yellow decisions, where our head is on board but our heart is not. He suggested that these decisions can be more detrimental than red ones because they lack true alignment.

However, Paul also encourages us to embrace the good yellow decisions, where our heart is on board. He advises against wasting these opportunities and urges people to lead from their heart, as it is often an overlooked aspect of decision-making.

In conclusion, Paul Epstein’s insights on decision-making, mindset, and authenticity provide valuable lessons for anyone looking to make better decisions faster. His head-heart-hands equation is a powerful tool that can help us align our values and goals, leading to more effective and efficient decision-making.

Mentioned in this episode:


Paul Epstein: Your head is your mind set. Your heart is your authenticity. And hands are your action. The equation is head plus heart equals hands. So in other words, when deciding whether to use your hands, whether to take action, there’s two checkpoints: head and heart.

Voice Over: This is the Build a Vibrant Culture podcast, your source for the strategies, systems, and insights you need to turn your dreams into your destiny. Every week we dive into dynamic conversations as our host, Nicole Greer, interviews leadership and business experts. They’re here to shed light on practical solutions to the challenges of personal and professional development. Now, here’s your host, a professional speaker, coach, and consultant, Nicole Greer.

Nicole Greer:  Welcome everybody to the Build a Vibrant Culture podcast. My name is Nicole Greer and I am The Vibrant Coach. Today, I know I always say this, but it’s true! I have another fantastic champion kind of guest today. His name is Paul Epstein and he is a dynamic leadership and culture expert. So he and I are like peas and carrots, and he is renowned for his transformational impact. With a background in reviving underperforming sports teams and igniting growth in organizations, he is a sought after speaker, author two times, just released a book and we’re going to talk about it. And he’s a mentor. He is passionate about purpose driven leadership and fostering resilient mindsets. Paul empowers individuals and teams to excel his insights showcased in his best selling books like The Power of Playing Offense and the brand new one, Better Decisions Faster, inspire positive change across any industry. Welcome to the show, Paul.

Paul: Thank you so much, Nicole. Fired up!

Nicole: Yeah, I’m glad that you’re here. Oh, so first of all, will you tell us, wants to know, what ball teams have you worked with or is it top secret?

Paul: Not top secret? My LinkedIn profile tells it all, but I will say it was a fifteen year journey. Amazing journey. We can unpack it as much or little as you like. Three NBA teams LA, New Orleans, then Sacramento. Then I joined a global agency owned by the Yankees and Cowboys, so some big blue chip brands landed me in the NFL league office. So 345 Park Ave. I’m running a national sales campaign for Super Bowl 48, and we broke some all time revenue records there. Then the 49 ers in the Bay area came calling when they were opening up Levi’s Stadium and created an executive role for me. So literally, Nicole, kid in a candy store. Total magic carpet ride like a decade and a half of working in a dream industry. And, obviously, a very purposeful story on why no longer in sports. But that’s the fastpass.

Nicole: Oh, that’s fantastic. Yeah. I just think to myself, you know, I have a son and I have a husband, NFL and all this stuff is on in the house all the time. And, you know, so I know that they would be curious because they listen to their mother’s podcast and their wife’s podcast. So, make sure I checked in with you about that. Yeah, I bet you it was. You were a kid in a candy store. I can just think of my people being in the NFL or the NBA. That’s fantastic. Well, you learn lots of lessons and you’ve put all these lessons down on paper and you’ve got these two books and this, this latest book. Tell us a little bit. You just released it, right?

Paul: Yeah. Literally when we’re recording this, we’re a week off from the book release, and I’m proud and humbled and honored to say that, again, the best selling accolade and the top new release in just some really, really cool platforms and major categories. But you know, what’s really neat, Nicole, is and I include this story in my second book, Better Decisions Faster, I talk about how launching my first in the power of playing offense, while he got all of the ribbons and the trophies and the success metrics and the accolades, I actually had a crash after it. I call it the external happiness trap. A lot of us have probably felt this when you’re climbing this mountain and it matters so much, and it means what you think is everything, and then you over index on this magical climax and, oh my gosh, we did it! And then you still have to live the next day, and you need to wake up and put your clothes on and jump in the shower and brush your hair. And you’re back to normalcy. And I wasn’t ready for that after my first book. So, I’m so happy that even though we’re recording this hot off the press and a lot of really cool stuff and recognition from the world about the second book, this time, my goodness, what a different experience. I knew exactly how to embrace the journey. I knew how to love the grind. I felt dopamine along the way, not just at the top of the mountain per se. I feel totally at peace with the results. And like, I just think it’s this really, really cool transformation that I had to learn the hard way. But that’s really in raw emotion where I’m at right now.

Nicole: Oh, that’s fantastic. Yeah. Sounds like you made better decisions faster this time on this book journey. And again, everybody, that’s the name of his brand new book. And we’re talking to Paul Epstein. And here’s the thing. I think I read somewhere I was googling around, checking you out, and getting prepped for this conversation, and you got complimented, I think, by Marshall Goldsmith, who is one of my heroes as a coach. So Marshall Goldsmith, everybody go look him up. He wrote a book. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. It’s a fantastic book.

Paul: One of my favorites, actually, when I was a young manager in the sports industry, I was in New Orleans and our leadership team did a, I guess we would call it a book club. Every Friday we would go out and we’d read a chapter and then we’d converse at lunch. And that was one of the first books that we started to kind of turn the business corner from producer to leader, and I was looking for a playbook that was one of the first ones introduced. And, you know, it’s really cool, Nicole, so since you said he’s a mentor of yours and as he is of mine, and I think a lot of us that are in the leadership and culture space, so not only did he write the foreword for Better Decisions Faster, but literally the blurb is that the number one thing that he gets asked about leadership is how do I make better decisions faster? So, I kid you not, when you literally write the book that solves the problem for the number one leadership thinker in the world and top executive coach. That’s why he said yes, because he’s like, dude, this is 100% what is keeping people up at night. So, if we have a solution, and we’ll get into head-hard-hands in a bit, but when he heard about that, that’s what led us together.

Nicole:  Yeah. And he says in there and I think this is totally true, that, you know, your life is the result of all the decisions you’ve made so far.

Paul: 100%.

Nicole:  Yeah. And so I think if people can get their head in the game about that, that’s fantastic. Yeah. And so the other thing, you know, is, I think, to make great decisions, you have to have unshakable confidence. And if you go to Paul’s website, you can take the confidence quiz and get an action plan to become more confident. And interwoven in there are some of the concepts from Better Decisions Faster. And one of them is this idea of the head-heart-hands equation. So will you tell us what that means? The head-heart-hands equation.

Paul: Yeah. So the beauty here, Nicole, is that if you write a book and share thoughts and keynotes around making better decisions faster, I think that’s great. But the challenge is now, what do you want me to do on Monday morning? I don’t think anybody would disagree that making better decisions faster is a good thing, a great thing, a transformational thing. Like everybody would want to do that. Like as soon as you say those three words, better decisions, faster, people say, I’m in. But what I found is unless you can create a process, unless you can create a system, unless you make it actionable and unless it is simple to understand. Then I don’t think that transformation is possible because now, a) I don’t know how to apply it on Monday morning, and then b) I cannot sustain my momentum or my efforts or my energy because it’s a very random act. So, once I understood that being decisive and embracing imperfect action and leading from a place of authenticity was important, once I kind of rallied around these simple truths, that’s the origin of the head plus heart equals hand’s equation. So here’s a quick masterclass. For everyone listening in, your head is your mindset. Your heart is your authenticity, and hands are your action. The equation is head plus heart equals hands. So, in other words, when deciding whether to use your hands, or take action, there’s two checkpoints: head and heart. Head. Do I think it’s a good idea? Heart. Do I feel it’s a good idea? And just like when you’re driving a car, you pull up to an intersection. You know exactly what to do. Green is go, red is stop, yellow is assess. And that’s exactly how the head heart hands equation works. When your head and your heart are on board, it is a green freaking light. Go ten out of ten, 10 to 10 out of ten times. You take action. When there’s no head, no heart, that’s a red light. You stop doing it or you don’t do it. When one of the two either head or heart is on board, that’s a yellow light and you solve for the gap. So the simplest way of thinking about this is, the way to make better decisions faster is by applying the head plus heart equals hands equation. The reason I wrote the book Better Decisions Faster – It’s to fill our business, our career, our lives, our relationships with more green lights in abundance of green lights. Everybody wants that head and heart fully on board. I also wrote it to raise the level of awareness around red lights, because subconsciously if we run red lights for months or years, we end up burned out or stuck or fatigued or not happy or not fulfilled. Okay, it’s because we didn’t realize we were running reds because we never had a framework for it. But now that we know we’re going to stop running reds. So more green, stop reds, and then we need an entire playbook to navigate and conquer the messy middle of yellow. That’s better decisions faster.

Nicole: That’s fantastic. Yeah. And you were saying, you know, running the red lights. I know a lot of people who run the red lights until they get taken away by the blue lights. And so it’s really, really important not to run those red lights. I mean you will crash and burn. That is for sure. Okay, so the head is my mindset. The heart is my authenticity and my hands are action. And so I want to think, does this make sense? Should I make this decision? My heart, do I feel like this is the right decision? And, if I have head or heart alone, I got to assess.

Paul: Yeah, and both yellows, they’re very different. I have a very different recommendation for how to navigate when only the head is on board versus only the heart. So, not all yellows should be treated equally.

Nicole: Okay. That’s so important. Okay. All right, well let’s do this. Lets look at head, heart, and hands separately. You have in the book about the head that there are four keys to unlock your mindset. So, let’s talk about mindset because I think the way you think makes a big difference in this lifetime.

Paul:  Absolutely. And I think that a lot of folks understand the importance of mindset and when we hear things like, thanks to the works of Carol Dweck is an example, growth mindset versus a fixed mindset. You know, another type of mindset that I’ve been hearing a lot, not only in the entrepreneurial community, but also just in the business community as a whole. I’ve been hearing a lot of the ownership mindset – act like an owner because you’re going to care more. If you’re an owner, you’re going to be more invested, you’re going to go that extra mile. And there’s just certain things – people want to be around people that own it, because the opposite of ownership is, oh, I’m a victim. Oh, I’m going to become negative. If these external circumstances and market conditions don’t work in my favor, how often does it do that? But it’s uncontrollable. And so this also is kind of the evolution of the power of playing offense, where I always get asked about the number one difference between offensive people and defensive people, and it is mindset. It’s a mindset that they’re very decisive. They’re very growth oriented. They never feel like they fully have made it, and they also embrace imperfect action. So, even though you want to talk about head to me, they’re inextricably linked. The reason mindset is so important is because it is controllable. And if for whatever reason, we don’t have a mindset that is benefiting us, then there are practical and tactical mindset shifts and new strategies and solutions. And a lot of that I include in the book. So you’ll see four green lights, which include things like growth, which there I’m going to unpack growth mindset I share stories from me and my executive coach, how I used to have a fixed mindset, but she changed my life because she got me to open up. 

Nicole: Don’t miss that everybody. His coach changed his life. Okay, go ahead.

Paul:  And, by the way, the first coach I ever had, she was a part of my executive MBA program. Prior to that, my mentors in the sports industry, they asked me the right questions, too. But, you know, I never went there because they knew my boss and I weren’t in a safe space. And it’s like, hey, Paul, how’s it going? Great, great, great! Even though it was good, but, with her, no holds barred, she asked me the right questions. I was ready to hear it, ready to act on it, ready to make decisions through it. So all that to say, inside makes better decisions faster. When you’re experiencing a chapter as an example on growth and developing and cultivating a growth mindset, it’s not enough to just say that. What I have in here is not only the head plus heart equals hands equation. In every chapter, there are decision drills. So, there’s drills that will tap into growth. The next chapter is on positivity. And I take you through exercises so you can untangle some of the pollution that’s in the mind. How do we unlock our mindset? How do we elevate our mindset? And then I will give you real life situations. I ask real questions, leaving space to take notes. So, now in real time, you’re growing and you’re learning and you’re evolving and you’re going to make some green light decisions. It’s going to make you aware of some reds. I’m going to help you navigate through the messy middle of yellow. So all of these decision trails are very intentional. I attached them to people that I consider to be some of the most confident decision makers and action takers that I know, two people per chapter, two decision drills per chapter, and for green lights for the head, four for the hard, four for the hand. So it’s a very prescriptive formula to say, like if I just said go make better decisions faster, I’m not confident it changes the world. But with this head, heart, hands equation and with the decision drills, if you do the work, I promise you transformation because I have personally gone through each and every exercise and it transformed my life. I integrated into my coaching. It transforms my clients lives, and now it’s going to transform readers lives, keynote audience lives, and so on.

Nicole:  All right. So could you give us an example of one of those drills, or maybe a story of somebody who went through a mindset shift and had great success?

Paul: Absolutely. So, my executive coach that I mentioned, her name is Suzanne. And no doubt she changed my life. And I remember her asking me very specific questions when she asked about my job. And she said, at the time, I’m heading up sales for the 49 ers. And she said, Paul, what do you love about it? What do you hate about it? What do you tolerate? Love, hate, tolerate? So she asked me those questions. So now I put it back on the reader. Examine your life. Examine your job. What do you love? What do you hate? What do you tolerate? And then she got me to understand what percentage of my time I’m in the love bucket. And when I realized how low of a number it was, I was like, oh my gosh, I’ve been climbing this ladder that I don’t even know if I believe in anymore. No wonder I’m not happy. No wonder I’m not fully fulfilled. But I needed to be asked the right questions to have these discoveries. And so these are the types of questions that I’m putting back in decision drills. And then she also, I remembered this specifically, she got me to rally around this concept that every decision has trade offs and there’s always a cost. And so there’s some questions that put the reader back in that position of if I make this decision, at what cost? Is that worth it to you? How much does it mean? How much does it matter? So now you’re evaluating not only green, yellow, red, but the intensity of the colors, which is key. Intensity matters a lot like a hell yes green versus a light green. Different still take action, but maybe that dictates how fast you do it. You know how urgently you do it. And then maybe the last tidbit that I’ll share with our audience right now on how Sue Ann changed my life and some of the questions she asked me and that I pose now to readers, is that she always got me to realize my self limiting beliefs. Her questions were, where did this come from and how is it serving you? So, if you have a self limiting belief, what is the source? What is the origin and how is it serving you? And it’s kind of an obvious answer when you think about it in retrospect, even though it sucks in the moment. But the reality is self limiting beliefs or self-inflicted wounds. Even if there’s something from my childhood or something that’s coloring it, I still am choosing to have this mindset today. So I own that. And the reality is, I’ve never had a self limiting belief that served me for the positive. So when I started to think about it very clearly, like, dude, Paul, you’re creating your own pollution here. You’re inviting storms into your life and none of these storms are going to help you. So that’s how I overcame where I used to have a lot of self limiting beliefs. Now I have very few, and if I do, they don’t last very long because I just apply her framework.  And, that’s an example of a decision drill.

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Nicole:  Okay, fantastic. All right, so we’ve just talked about the four keys to unlock your mindset. And that is with your head. That’s what your head does in our head-heart-hands formula. That is in Paul’s new book, Better Decisions Faster. And so then we have the next thing is our heart. So will you be really specific? What are the four keys to lead with authenticity? What are those four keys? How do I check in with my heart? What do I need to do?

Paul: Yeah, absolutely. And as I’m looking here at the book, too, and I know we’re on video, so just so you see the table of contents here, I think this is important so that you can see. Like, in head, we literally were talking about growth. But positivity, grit, and curiosity are the other green lights. In the four green lights of the heart, it’s passion, authenticity, gratitude, and happiness. But really when you zoom out and you ask yourself about your heart, I believe that this is the number one thing that we bypass, and the reason we don’t make better decisions faster is because if you think of head-heart-hands as think-feel-do we live in a go, go, go, do, do, do world. So I don’t need to convince people to think more. I don’t need to convince people to do more.  Now, are they thinking the right things? I can help. Are they doing the right things? I can help. But people are thinking, thinking, thinking, doing, doing, doing. That’s where paralysis comes from, right? This whole paralysis analysis gets in the way of better decisions faster. But we’re not checking in with our heart. Like, so many folks are just bypassing this step because we never had a framework. We never had an equation like the head plus heart equals hands equation. And so what I’m inviting people to do is to lead from a place of authenticity. You know your truth. And I don’t mean truth like some woo woo thing. I mean, like, is this real? Like, do you really love this person? Do you really like your job? Do you like your boss? Do you like your team members? Do you like your office environment and, like, don’t lie to yourself. Like these are self questions. These are things we need to be analyzing on our own. And so my invitation is just to cut the BS out of our lives. I’m very direct about that because I’ll tell you a very vulnerable thing. I used to have two different versions of Paul. When I was in the sports industry, I had work Paul and I had personal Paul, and he showed up in really different ways. And one was just suited and booted and would never say he didn’t know. Felt like he had all the answers whether he did or didn’t. Appearance mattered and wanting to look good mattered. What people thought about him mattered. All these things that now I place little to no value in because I had to become one. I had to merge my two versions of Paul into one. And that’s what I mean by leading from a place of authenticity. If you have to drastically change who you are, what you stand for, or how you’re showing up in different environments, then it’s just not authentic. It’s just not. And so my invitation through not only the book and these four chapters, in these four greenlights, I think, Nicole, that the green light and the core value of authenticity, while there are twelve for the head, four for the hard fork for the hands. I believe this is the portal to the other eleven. You can’t do the other eleven if you’re not being authentic. So could you say authenticity is the most important? Sure. Or you could just think of it as it’s a portal and gateway to being real. And if you’re not being real, then your heart isn’t going to really tell you the truth. And so that’s kind of where I’m at, is if we want to make better decisions faster, then we need to own it. And we need to really believe in this process. And authenticity to me is that gateway.

Nicole: Yeah. And I love these four different ideas that you have for the heart – passion and authenticity, gratitude and happiness. So are there drills for us to kind of increase our passion, up our authenticity, get our gratitude and be in great place and be more happy? 

Paul: 100% Yeah.

Nicole: Share one with me.

Paul: I’ll just share one or two quick hits. So, here’s the thing about passion. I have a problem where I chase too many shiny squirrels, so maybe there’s some folks in the audience that also have what I call the squirrel syndrome.Squirrel! You get excited about something and you want to chase it. You want to pursue it, you want to attack it and, like, this whole thing. Because I have a lot of vitality and energy for life. So one of my guys, Jay Farrugia, who runs one of the top health and wellness and fitness podcasts in the world, and we became friends. I had him on my podcast and he shared something really interesting because he and I combined on this and he’s somebody I feature inside of the book. And he says, Paul, you know how people in the world ask you, so what are you passionate about? Go chase your passion. Go do things you love. He’s like, I actually don’t love that advice. And here’s why. He says, my answer is a thousand different things. He’s like, Paul, I love life. So some people struggle with finding one thing they’re passionate about. This addresses the opposite problem, which is, my gosh, like all these different things excite me, but how the heck do I choose? Where do I spend my time? What do I prioritize? So here’s a reframe on a decision drill. Jay says, instead of asking, what do you love ask, what do you hate not doing? S, instead of what do you love, what do you hate not doing? And the decision drill gets you to answer that. And then, obviously, it’s like reverse engineering how to get to a green light. So,that’s one example. And then maybe another quick hit is I mentioned it earlier when I talked about becoming a bestselling author the first time and I had I fell into the external happiness trap, which a lot of us have suffered from. I’ll be happy when dot, dot, dot. I’ll be happy when I get the job. I’ll be happy when I get the promotion. I’ll be happy when I make more money. I’ll be happy when I get the bigger house. And then you usually get those things and within days or weeks, nothing, like you’re back to your former state. You are no net net positive happier because of this thing or whatever it was that you thought would make you happy. So the reframe here is instead of I’ll be happy when dot dot, dot, which is all future, let’s bring it to the present. I am happy because. There you go. I am happy because dot dot dot. Now current state. Real stuff, not hopeful stuff. What is making you happy today? Even if it’s one thing, maybe it’s five, maybe it’s ten things. And it’s just it’s a mindset shift from future based because then you crash to current. And now it’s not only a happiness solution, it’s a gratitude solution. Now you’re more grateful for these things that make you happy. So it’s kind of a two in one punch.

Nicole:  That’s fantastic. All right. So everybody write that down, I’ll be happy because. Write what you’re happy about. 

Paul: Yeah, I am happy. I am happy because… Present day I am happy because.

Nicole:  Yeah that’s fantastic. All right. So we’ve talked about the head. We’ve talked about the heart. And now we have the hands which stand for action. And you’ve got four keys there too. And their courage, service, excellence, and impact. We share a little bit about taking action.

Paul: Without action, nothing in the world happens, right? You could think it. You could feel it. If you don’t do it, it just doesn’t matter. It doesn’t count. It’s like, oh, I want to be an athlete. But you never put in the reps. You never played in the game. Like, oh, it’s just it doesn’t matter if we say things and feel things. We have to do things. Obviously, head plus heart equals hands means you should do them when both your head and your heart are igniting your hands with that purposeful action and momentum. But really, action is where the rubber meets the road. If it was just head plus heart equals blank, like this is kind of a pointless thing here. Like, no, it’s head plus heart equals hands. Hands are the output. So the inputs you check in with your head and heart. So now you know exactly what to do or not do with your hands. And that’s why when you talk about the green lights of courage and service and excellence and impact, those to me are these end states everybody wants. Courage is standing tall when fear and risk are high. Service. We all want to feel like we’re a part of something bigger than ourselves. We want to contribute. And that’s what service is.  Then, excellence. Well, if we’re going to put in all this work, if we’re going to put in all this effort, then let’s kick some butt. You know, like I want to be the greatest speaker in the world and I say that with full humility, but I balance my humility and confidence, and I grow them in the same time, in the same breath, because I want to be excellent. It’s that whole chase perfection, catch excellence thing and with impact that to me, that’s the scoreboard that counts. Are you making a difference? Are you leaving people in places better than you found them? And that’s just a sneak peek and a little bit of a peek behind the curtain here of what’s inside of the hands chapters of Better Decisions Faster. It is where the rubber meets the road, and it is how you can ultimately live a more purposeful life because you took action on the green lights that this book inspired.

Nicole: Yeah, and I love what you say. You know that excellence is the opportunity to do what others won’t do. Do you have a story of somebody who might have, you know, taken action, use their hands to do something somebody else wouldn’t do? I think there’s a lot of things out there that need doing and people need to step up.

Paul:  Absolutely. And this is not only in the read, but actually because you mentioned that your husband and your son are both football fans. So if they’re listening to this still at this point, it’s not just about the beginning. They got to hang in there for this part of the interview. So Ronnie Lott is a legendary football player. He played for the 49ers. One of the greatest safeties. One of the greatest players of all time. And I had the beautiful blessing and honor and opportunity to get to know Ronnie when I worked for the 49ers. So one day when my mom was going through some things and, you know, just some medical things, and she’s okay now. But I remember seeing Ronnie and I had a football with me, and I asked him, hey, Ronnie, can you sign this for my mom? Like, it would mean the world. And, you know, it would uplift your spirits and the whole thing. And without hesitation, of course, brother, I got you. And the picture of this football signed by him is actually in the book. And her name is Stella. It says, Stella, Be Your Best. And so attaching to this theme of excellence. But here’s the story that the world knows Ronnie for, and I think it’s an extreme story, but we can all learn a ton from it. So when Ronnie was a player, there was a late regular season game where they were a week or two away from the playoffs, and he was primed and ready to go and just peak performance and his usual self. Well. He gets his hand injured. Just a bad tackle. And one of those things where his finger essentially was irreplaceable. Like, it’s like, Ronnie, we got to make a decision. Speaking of better decisions faster, Ronnie, we got to make a decision. This finger is not good. It’s not only dislocated, like, it is no longer functional. And I’ll leave it at that. Gets a little gruesome. But basically the doctor gave him two options. They said, Ronnie, you could perform surgery, but that’s going to be an eight week recovery, and you’re going to have to obviously miss the entire playoff run. Or you could do nothing, but understand that worse damage is you might not just lose the finger, you might lose a hand. You might lose an arm. Like there’s nerve damage and like Ronnie, like, it wouldn’t be proper. But yet, of course, it’s an option. And so Ronnie thought, okay, I want to achieve excellence. I want my team to achieve excellence. What do I do? Option A or B? And instead he creates an option C. He amputated the finger. Amputated. So that he could be ready to play with excellence for his team and for himself seven days later, in a highly meaningful playoff game. Now, I’m not suggesting that we need to be so extreme, but obviously in his profession they’re supposed to be courageous. That’s why we admire. That’s why I’m telling this story decades later. And so not only to know who Ronnie is character wise, behind closed doors the way I know him, but to know the types of decisions he made better and faster in the moments where they mattered most. When you’re after excellence, you’re not going to get there based on what other people see. You’re going to get there based on what you do in the unseen hours. That is what achieves excellence. Who are you? What are you doing? How are you showing up in the unseen hours? For me? That’s 4 a.m.. My family gets up at seven. Nobody knows what I do between 4 and 7 a.m. except for me. And I credit all of my winning to the process, the dedication, the commitment, the work from 4 to 7 a.m. I don’t miss days, and that’s my version of excellence. That was Ronnie’s. And hopefully by reading this, there’s a lot of other folks that create their own blueprint for excellence.

Nicole: That’s a fantastic story. Love it. All right. So we have gone through the whole formula, and I want you to just kind of tell me a little bit about the confidence quiz. I did take it today, and it has a lot to do with the decisions you make. And it gives you kind of a starting point, right? Like this is where you’re at and you have a couple of different exercises people can do and a downloadable if you go take the confidence quiz, you can do that. You’ll get some of the exercises that can help you get your mind in the game, probably your heart in the game and get you taking proper action. So will you talk a little bit about how confidence plays into head, heart, and hands.

Paul: Yeah, confidence is really the table stakes that are required for better decisions. Faster. If you don’t have confidence, you’re not going to make better decisions faster. So, if the head plus heart equals hands, the equation is how you make better decisions faster. Confidence. If this is the poker table confidence or the chips, like, you need chips to play this game of better decisions faster. And here’s the beauty of it. We all want more confidence. But again, what’s the process? What’s the system? How do we build it? How do we sustain it? So, I created a quiz around it for two reasons, one within five minutes, and you can find this all on my website. As you mentioned paulepsteinspeaks.com. You’ll see right there in the top nav bar confidence quiz. So in under five minutes you’re going to get a confidence score of 1 to 100. So that’s your data point of where you are today – 1 to 100. But here’s the cool thing. Not only is it the resources that will help you sustain a level of confidence and build it over time, I also want to impress this upon folks. I don’t care if you’re an 82, a 91, a 70, or a 48. Those could be four random scores that folks might get on their confidence quiz. But that’s just where you are today. So the reason I created the quiz was to prove the point that through applying what’s inside of Better Decisions Faster, through applying the head plus heart equals hand’s equation, you will build and sustain unshakable confidence. Because confidence is not a light switch, it’s not off/on. Confidence is a dimmer switch. Plus one, minus one, plus five, minus four, plus eight, minus two, plus ten. Like your 48 can become 52 and then 56, and then 68 and then 91. Like it’s a process. And, even me, I created this. My confidence might go down 1 or 2. It ain’t going to go down 20 or 30 though, because I’ve built the infrastructure and I’m making decisions through my head, heart, and hands. And so my confidence is much stronger. It’s more intense. And that’s really what the confidence quiz is. It gives you a current data point, but then it invites you to take the better decisions faster and head, heart, hands journey so that whatever your data point is today, over time, it grows and it evolves and you get better and you get more confident, and then you start realizing that your highs, you’re pretty darn high and you’re kind of fixed up there. Now, I give you tools to sustain it, but if you’re low, then I give you tools to get plus one, plus two, plus three, plus four. You come back, you take the quiz. Six months later, and all of a sudden you’re 52 is a 78 and you’re feeling like a new person because now you have unshakable confidence.

Nicole:  Yeah. And I love the journaling exercise in here.

Paul: Yeah. Happy to share that.

Nicole:  Yeah. Well you know, Paul, with people here journaling. Like, I know a lot of people have, like, instant, like, I’m not journaling. But I will tell you, the best thing a leader can do is sit still and think about how you’re thinking.  It’s called metacognition, right? And so he suggests that you align your head, your heart, and your hands daily by choosing one of these four keys out of one, one out of each one or one that you’ll work on out of head, heart, or hands. So you could work on growth in your head. You could work on authenticity of heart. You could work on service and hands. But you journal and you work on that key. So talk a little bit about the journaling exercise.

Paul: Number one exercise that not only transformed my life but that I use in my coaching practice. This 100 out of 100 times will deliver unshakable confidence if you do it and if you sustain the process. And here’s exactly what it is. So you pick a value and you in my confidence quiz, you’ll see on the back end, I’ll hook you up with 50 or 100 values. You pick the one that resonates the most with you. Or you could pick one of the 12 from the book, but pick a single value that means something to you. Now that you pick the value, the journaling exercise, and it takes two minutes a week, so no matter how busy we are, no excuses. Two minutes a week. So you journal for the week ahead, I will live my value of blank by blank. The first blank is the value that you chose. The second is an action that you connect to that value. So I’ll give everyone two examples. Let’s say you choose the value of joy. For the week ahead. I will live my value of joy by. Cooking my favorite meal. Cool. Everybody can do that. Of course. Hey, if I’m making bacon, I am a happy camper. I am feeling joy. That’s me. What would it be for you? That’s joy. Now let’s raise the stakes. Let’s hop out of joy. Different example could be courage. So your core values courage. For the week ahead I will live my value of courage by. Having that challenging conversation that I’ve been putting off. You’re not having that conversation because Paul said, you’re having that conversation because courage is your core value. So I gave two examples and here is my promise. We need to develop habits out of this. If you just do this journaling practice one time, I don’t promise any permanent change or transformation. Can’t do it, won’t do it. I’d be lying to you two times. Same. It’s why New Year’s resolutions don’t work. We don’t have a process or system like journaling. Also, we don’t do it long enough to create habits. Habit formation is what we internalize the muscle memory. And that’s how you permanently grow and transform. What most science will tell you. There are some higher numbers and lower numbers. The sweet spot for habit formation is 3 to 4 weeks. So in other words, you journal this for four weeks so that you make sure you pass that threshold into habit zone habit formation. Do this for four consecutive weeks. I will live my value of blank by blank. Stay on the same value for 30 days. So Journal joy four consecutive times, Journal courage four consecutive times. And then you just start your first week. You do one action the next week 1 or 2 the next week 3 or 4. And by your fourth journaling sit down. You’re doing five, six, seven, eight things in a week connected to that value. And here’s the confidence code that that is attached to. Confidence equals value times action. The multiplication is how frequently and consistently you do it. Show me a person that takes consistent action on their values. I will show you a confident person, period. Point blank. So if you want more confidence, this values journaling. Exercise two minutes a week times four weeks in under ten minutes. This is the fastest way to build, grow, and sustain unshakable confidence.

Nicole: I love it! And today on the Build of Vibrant Culture podcast, we have been talking with Paul Epstein and he has been talking about his new book, Better Decisions Faster. Paul, I know that people are thinking, oh no, it’s not over, is it? Give us one more nugget. What’s one more nugget? Paul would leave us with one more goodie. We can put it in our pocket and take away. 

Paul: Sticking with the theme of green, yellow, and red and head-heart-hands. Green and red. Pretty straightforward. Now that you’re aware. Fill your life with more green. Of course. And now that you’re aware. Stop running reds. So pretty straightforward stuff. Yellow. When only your head is on board, the challenge is your heart is never going to join for that party. Like you’re not going to wake up with a different heart next month or next year. Like it’s just not going to happen. So that yellow, the quick prescription is that’s more deadly than a red. You know, in your head, Nicole, have you ever been in a situation where your head, like, I used to run big sales teams. Oh, keep them, keep them, keep them because they produce their performers. I have pressure on me. Goals, expectations, metrics. So keep them, keep them, keep them. But your heart knows they’re not a keeper, you know? Yeah. We’ve all had some of those people in our life, whether professionally or personally, and you’re like, oh, and then you keep them and years later, you’re like, years later, you’re like, that was not a better decision faster. It just wasn’t. And people pay the price, right? So that’s kind of I want to encourage folks to say, be honest with yourself when your heart is not on board, it’s never going to be on board. So if you’re being honest, that yellow is worse than a red, because now you’re not only going to lose the momentum, you’re going to lose the time. It’s all of that. But my lasting words will be about the good yellow when your heart is on board. Don’t ruin that. Don’t waste those opportunities. You know, for me, some of the bigger yellow lights where my heart was in being a parent. My head wasn’t ready for the journey. I went through some storms and some things, and I was not ready to wear all these hats and like, man, I struggled with it mightily. But I had some of those courageous conversations. I overcame some of those self-limiting beliefs. You can work on your mind. You can work on improving your head. So when your heart is on board, think of like that funny cat meme where it’s hanging and it says, hang in there. My message to folks where your heart is in, please, please, lead from your heart. It has become a forgotten art. Work on the stuff from the neck up, because there’s going to be such few opportunities in our life where our heart is a hell yes. And when those yellows, the good yellow, the heart yellow can transform into a green? That’s the life that I want to live. I don’t know if it’s going to happen one, two, five, ten, fifteen times, but those precious few yellows that I worked on my head to make them into greens? Genuinely, I think that that is the biggest payoff and promise, not only of the book, I just think that’s a life worth living. And so those would be my final words.  Lead from your heart. It has become a forgotten art, and hard decisions always win.

Nicole:  All right. Thank you so much, Paul Epstein, for being on the Build a Vibrant Culture podcast. Hey, everybody, I know that Paul and I would both appreciate dearly if you would just press that like button. And if you do us a favor, go down and leave a comment. Leave some love. Lead with your heart, use your head, use some good grammar, and take action and give us a review. We would really appreciate that. You can find Paul over on LinkedIn. His handle is Paul Epstein Speaks. He’s also on Facebook, also on Twitter – Paul Epstein LA, and you can find him at his website which is paulepsteinspeaks.com. Thank you so much. I’m so grateful for your time, your energy. And join him for his podcast, which is Monday. Do I have that right?

Paul: Yeah, you got it.

Nicole: Okay. Fantastic. Thank you so much.

Paul: All right, Nicole.

Voice Over: Thank you for joining us on this episode of the Build a Vibrant Culture podcast. If you found value in today’s episode, please take a moment to leave us a review on your favorite podcast platform. Your feedback helps us improve and reach more like minded listeners. Remember, the journey to building a vibrant culture never stops. Stay inspired. Keep nurturing your vibrant culture and we can’t wait to reconnect with you on the next exciting episode of Build a Vibrant Culture podcast.

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