HOW TO COPE: C-level executives are embracing self-development practices to keep calm and collected at work.

Author:Griffin, Elie

I recently listened to a podcast episode featuring David Goggins, a former 300-pound teenager with a third-grade reading level and a stutter, who became a Navy SEAL, a world-class ultra athlete, and a world-record holder. I was fascinated by his story, but most of all by his ability to self-motivate and turn a lackluster life into an ambitious one.

Mr. Goggins said he was motivated by his own philosophical construct: the idea that when he died, God might hand him a list of all the things he was capable of doing, and all the things he actually did. He didn't want there to be a discrepancy between those two lists. He wanted to live his life knowing he was doing everything he was physically capable of.

So he did. And after one hour of listening to exactly how he did so, I was inspired to do the same. I realized there was a big gap between my own two lists, and that I was capable of so much more than I was allowing myself to achieve. So I set goals and created definable ways I could become better in all areas of my life, and thereby avoid the mediocracy against which Mr. Goggins preached.

This is the hope of self-development. That by listening to podcasts, reading books, hiring coaches, attending retreats, or practicing meditation, we can become more centered in our lives, and more motivated in our ambitions. And doing so has practically become a prerequisite for reaching one's professional peak.


"I'm the CEO of a company, and yet the only job I've held apart from this one is lifeguard," says Chris Gibson, the CEO at Recursion Pharmaceuticals. He's explaining the reason why he felt compelled to work with a coach last summer, though he's more qualified than he sounds.

Before founding the biotech company headquartered in downtown Salt Lake City, Mr. Gibson was completing his PhD in bioengineering at the University of Utah. He was preparing to attend medical school there when research for his thesis became the foundation upon which Recursion would be built.

Five years later, the company has raised $80 million in venture capital, hired 120 employees, and moved into a 100,000 square-foot laboratory and office space--all while its founder was learning the role of CEO on the job. "Being a first-time CEO is hard and lonely," he says. "It can take a bigger toll on your family and your own health (mental and physical) than most people realize. I spent a good part of [last] year working on finding my own personal balance."


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