Your wife of 11 years has butt-dialed you twice in conversation with another man, and she lied about her whereabouts when you tracked her phone. Are you right to be worried? Welcome to Feedback Friday!
And in case you didn’t already know it, Jordan Harbinger (@JordanHarbinger) and Gabriel Mizrahi (@GabeMizrahi) banter and take your comments and questions for Feedback Friday right here every week! If you want us to answer your question, register your feedback, or tell your story on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Now let’s dive in!
On This Week’s Feedback Friday, We Discuss:
- Your wife of 11 years has butt-dialed you twice in conversation with another man, and she lied about her whereabouts when you tracked her phone. Are you right to be worried?
- As a flight attendant, you decided to get medical attention for an overdosing drug mule instead of allowing him to complete the run and save his abducted mother. You never discovered the outcome, and years later, you still wonder if you made the right choice. [Thanks to political advisor, conflict negotiator, and author Daniel Levin for helping us with this one!]
- You’re a business owner who’s great at showing appreciation to your staff, paying generously, and letting employees know when they’ve done well. But you’re not so good at giving negative feedback or coaching them toward improvement. How do you strike the right balance between nice guy and fair boss?
- Is the ex who rejected your advances for years and agreed to be “just friends” — while still living with you and sharing the same bed — suddenly interested in getting back together just because you got a new job and make twice as much money as you did before?
- As the teacher for one of the best educational theater programs in your state, is it wrong to be somewhat obsessed with winning its annual competition — or is encouraging your students to excel just part of the job?
- Have any questions, comments, or stories you’d like to share with us? Drop us a line at email@example.com!
- Connect with Jordan on Twitter at @JordanHarbinger and Instagram at @jordanharbinger.
- Connect with Gabriel on Twitter at @GabeMizrahi.
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Tooth and Claw is the podcast where wildlife biologist and animal behavior expert Wes Larson shares true stories of the most extreme wild animal attacks ever documented. Listen here or wherever you find fine podcasts!
Miss our conversation with Ishmael Beah, a former child soldier and New York Times bestselling author? Get caught up with episode 622: Ishmael Beah | Memoirs of a Boy Soldier here!
Resources from This Episode:
- Nury Turkel | A Witness to China’s Uyghur Genocide | Jordan Harbinger
- Why We Owe People Honesty | Deep Dive | Jordan Harbinger
- Parcheesi Royal Edition | Amazon
- Never Gonna Give You Up by Rick Astley | Amazon Music
- Employee Training: Communication | Los Pollos Hermanos
- Daniel Levin | How to Find a Missing Person in the Middle East | Jordan Harbinger
- Proof of Life: Twenty Days on the Hunt for a Missing Person in the Middle East by Daniel Levin | Amazon
- Do You Owe Your Friends Honesty? | Jordan Harbinger
- How to Deliver Bad News (And Not Be the Bad Guy) | Jordan Harbinger
- Adam Grant | The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know | Jordan Harbinger
- ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show’: Why Rob and Laura Petrie Slept in Separate Beds | Showbiz Cheat Sheet
- Ride Wit Me by Nelly | Amazon Music
- Breaking Bad | Prime Video
- How to Stop Feeling Like An Imposter | Jordan Harbinger
- How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome | Deep Dive | The Jordan Harbinger Show 127
- Adam Savage | Every Tool’s a Hammer | Jordan Harbinger
- Dr. Drew Pinsky | Give the World the Best You Have Anyway | Jordan Harbinger
- Medical Meddling’s Wack from Bipolar Hypochondriac | Feedback Friday | Jordan Harbinger
- Should I Move In with My Father-in-Law? | Feedback Friday
- Distancing from Junkie Sibling’s Self-Jinxing | Feedback Friday | Jordan Harbinger
- My Manipulative Sister: How Can We Resist Her? | Feedback Friday | Jordan Harbinger
- Trouble Runs Deep with the Neighborhood Creep | Feedback Friday | Jordan Harbinger
- Is It Possible to Assuage Narcissistic Rage? | Feedback Friday | Jordan Harbinger
- Iran’s Crisis of Legitimacy: An Embattled Regime Faces Mass Protests—and an Ailing Supreme Leader | Foreign Affairs
732: Low-Key Beguiler is a Cheating Butt-Dialer | Feedback Friday
[00:00:00] Jordan Harbinger: Welcome to Feedback Friday. I'm your host, Jordan Harbinger. As always, I'm here with my Feedback Friday producer, my partner in prescription, Gabriel Mizrahi. On The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets, and skills of the world's most fascinating people and turn their wisdom into practical advice that you can use to impact your own life and those around you. We want to help you see the Matrix when it comes to how these amazing people think and behave. And our mission is to help you become a better informed, more critical thinker so you can get a much deeper understanding of how the world works and make sense of what's really happening even inside your own mind.
[00:00:36] If you're new to the show, on Fridays, we give advice to you and answer listener questions. The rest of the week, we have long-form interviews and conversations with a variety of incredible people, from spies to CEOs, athletes to authors, thinkers to perform. This week, we had Nury Turkel and a Deep Dive on honesty. Nury Turkel, really interesting episode on the Uyghur genocide in China. And our Deep Dive on honesty — do you owe people honesty? Do you owe your friends honesty? How much honesty? Why do we do it? How do we do it in a way that is congruent with who we are and doesn't get us in trouble? So check out Nury Turkel and our Deep Dive on honesty if you haven't done so yet this week.
[00:01:12] Gabe, what is the first thing we have out of the mailbag?
[00:01:16] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hi, Jordan and Gabe. I'm a 49-year-old man who has been happily married to my 40-year-old wife for 11 years. We have two wonderful kids, a deep emotional and intellectual connection, and an amazing sex life. Our relationship is built on love and trust, and we both try to give each other some healthy space. The thing is, two years ago I got an accidental voicemail from my wife. It was a conversation between her and a man I didn't know, but it sounded like they knew each other from work and like this guy was flirting with my wife. She wasn't playing along, but she wasn't firmly pushing back either. When she got home later that night, I confronted her. She said she had bumped into colleagues at a cafe and that yes, this guy was flirting with her. She said she regretted not drawing a firm line, but she felt it was harmless and took it as an ego boost. I was deeply disturbed by this event, but we talked through it and she promised it would not happen again. A year later, I got another accidental call from my wife while I was in the car with our two kids and the call was on speaker phone. This time my wife was with another man discussing how she should get back to the meeting point where I was picking her up so that I wouldn't notice. I quickly hung up to avoid any damage. Again, I confronted her. She apologized saying she was meeting this guy for coffee and had a walk because they're friendly as colleagues. Nothing else. This event caused me great stress, especially because I was going through a really rough period at the time, which I didn't share with anyone, so I decided to investigate. I looked into her phone and laptop. I browsed through our conversations. I even set her Google account to track where she goes.
[00:02:52] Jordan Harbinger: Mmm.
[00:02:52] Gabriel Mizrahi: I didn't find anything incriminating. Everything she said checked out. Until this past week, my wife was at a festival with some of her friends. I started tracking her online and saw her leaving the concert at midnight, moving to town, then staying at an unknown address for one and a half hours. When she finally came home, she denied leaving the concert. I got really upset this time, raising my voice. I called her a liar and showed her the evidence. Our explanation was that she was with her colleagues and went up to one guy's apartment where they had a chat, but nothing happened. The guy is getting married next week and just wanted to pour his heart out. She insists that she is faithful to me and never had an affair. Now, I know exactly how this sounds. If anyone else told me this, my reaction would be that the husband is an idiot if he takes any more of this and should file for divorce. But there are a couple of things you need to know about my wife. I've known her for 17 years. Although she's beautiful and intelligent, she's not your stereotypical hot woman. She hardly ever wears makeup, doesn't wear high heels, and generally tries to downplay her looks. She's very open and warmhearted, which makes her extremely popular wherever she goes. She loves company and has a sizable social circle, but few close friends. I'd never seen her cross a line before our relationship started and there were no signs of cheating either. No overtime at work, no secret calls, no emotional distancing, nothing but the evidence I do have, and the fact that she lied to me is disturbing enough. Needless to say, I'm devastated. I can barely sleep, and I'm emotionally distancing myself from her right now. I feel humiliated, betrayed, angered, and just overall deeply sad. If we didn't have kids, I would move out, but I cannot do that right now. What would you do? How do I work through this? Signed, Finding My Spine on the Other End of the Line.
[00:04:46] Jordan Harbinger: Oh boy, this is rough. I'm really sorry you're going through this, man. I can only imagine how painful and unsettling it must be. There's a lot going on here, so let's try to make sense of it. First of all, Gabe, before we go any further, I just got to ask what is with all the butt-dials. That's kind of interesting, right?
[00:05:04] Gabriel Mizrahi: Very interesting.
[00:05:06] Jordan Harbinger: You butt-dialed your husband when you're maybe kind of low-key cheating on him, fine. Maybe that's an accident, but then you do it twice after you're already on notice and probably trying to be pretty careful. I don't know, it just seems fishy to me. I'm not one of those, but it does.
[00:05:20] Gabriel Mizrahi: You think she wanted him to find out?
[00:05:22] Jordan Harbinger: Maybe on some level, like the Freud level, maybe she actually wanted him to find out. This is a twisted way to do it. I don't know. But even if she didn't deliberately call him, I do wonder if there was some part of her that wanted him to find out.
[00:05:35] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right, no accidents and the unconscious and all that.
[00:05:38] Jordan Harbinger: Exactly. Obviously, we can't know for sure, but it seems like really, it's very curious to me, unless she butt-dials everybody at really terrible times. So look, whether your wife is actually having affairs with other men or having these more innocent emotional affairs, or just putting herself in dicey situations where something could happen, there is obviously a problem here. I love that you guys have the kind of relationship where you give each other space. You're not too controlling or paranoid, at least not before the first voicemail anyway. But your wife is clearly using that freedom to act in ways that are unfair and hurtful to you, bottom line. And the fact that she's lying about it, that kind of tells you all you need to know.
[00:06:18] If these encounters weren't wrong, she just wouldn't hide them from you even if they were fairly innocent. She'd say, "Yeah, I left the concert early and I went up to this guy'S place because he really wanted to talk, and then I came home," right? She wouldn't go like—
[00:06:29] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:06:29] Jordan Harbinger: "No, I didn't leave. Oh, okay, fine. I left, but we just talked." I mean, it just sounds like the most obvious—
[00:06:35] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:06:35] Jordan Harbinger: —load of crap ever. But Gabe, do we actually, do we buy that, that's all that that's going on here?
[00:06:41] Gabriel Mizrahi: Who knows? I think it's very possible that there was more going on. The whole, "I have to get back to the meeting point so my husband doesn't notice."
[00:06:48] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:06:49] Gabriel Mizrahi: Going up to some dude's apartment to your point at midnight and not telling, I don't know. That doesn't sound good.
[00:06:53] Jordan Harbinger: No. That sounds like cheating. They are not up there playing Parcheesi.
[00:06:57] Gabriel Mizrahi: Parcheesi, I haven't thought about that game since like 1998.
[00:07:01] Jordan Harbinger: I mean, maybe 1988. It is a great game, by the way.
[00:07:04] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, great game. Huge part of my childhood also. I haven't thought about that.
[00:07:07] But anyway, to your point, it doesn't really matter if she's having full-on affairs or if she's just having these super deep conversations with these guys.
[00:07:15] Jordan Harbinger: At midnight.
[00:07:16] Gabriel Mizrahi: She's lying to her husband about it. Yeah, well, that too. She's lying to her husband about it because she knows that it's wrong or that it would upset him, and that is the problem.
[00:07:24] Jordan Harbinger: And he knows that. But I find it really interesting that he's trying to contextualize or rationalize her behavior.
[00:07:31] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:07:31] Jordan Harbinger: She's not your stereotypical hot woman. She hardly ever wears makeup. She doesn't wear high heels. She's sweet. She's likable. She's never crossed a line before. Like, okay, how does any of that matter at all?
[00:07:41] Gabriel Mizrahi: It doesn't. I mean, she doesn't have to look or dress a certain way—
[00:07:44] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:07:44] Gabriel Mizrahi: —to have an affair, obviously. Although maybe what he meant was that she's so outgoing that she makes friends with people wherever she goes, and so the lines with these guys can get a little blurry sometimes.
[00:07:54] Jordan Harbinger: Mmm.
[00:07:55] Gabriel Mizrahi: She's their friend/confidant, and then maybe it escalates in a way she didn't intend or something.
[00:08:00] Jordan Harbinger: Like guys can't be attracted to her if she doesn't wear makeup. It's not her fault. Okay, fine.
[00:08:04] Gabriel Mizrahi: Not the case at all. Yeah.
[00:08:06] Jordan Harbinger: That doesn't make it okay though. She still needs to be honest with them and clear with other people about her intentions.
[00:08:11] Gabriel Mizrahi: Absolutely. The part that really stood out to me though was when he said that she loves company and has a sizable social circle, but few close friends.
[00:08:19] Jordan Harbinger: Mmm. Yeah. Kind of maybe a little window into her personality there.
[00:08:22] Gabriel Mizrahi: Maybe. I'm not quite sure what to make of that, to be honest, but it's interesting that a woman who is this warm, this open, this sociable, that she doesn't have many close friends.
[00:08:33] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, I think his point might be she's really warm, but she isn't BFFs with every single person she meets. She's actually pretty discerning about her close friendships.
[00:08:42] Gabriel Mizrahi: Okay. Yeah, maybe, but also maybe this is a woman who has more superficial relationships with a lot of people, but very few, if any, truly close ones. And is that the type of woman who might, I don't know, feel more comfortable pouring her heart out to a random guy in his apartment at midnight?
[00:08:59] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:09:00] Gabriel Mizrahi: And also maybe more comfortable hiding that from her husband.
[00:09:04] Jordan Harbinger: Interesting. Okay. I can see that. But you know, she's not the only one who might be hiding in this relationship.
[00:09:10] Gabriel Mizrahi: He is too a little bit, right?
[00:09:12] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm. When he said after the second time he caught her, he said that the whole thing was extra stressful because he was going through a really rough period, which he didn't share with anyone.
[00:09:21] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yes, That jumped out at me too. Yeah.
[00:09:23] Jordan Harbinger: So we might be hearing from a guy who struggles to open up to other people when he is having a hard time, a guy who might be quarantining parts of himself too, shutting himself off, feeling like he needs to be able to handle things on his own. Maybe even withdrawing from other people, including his wife, without even realizing it.
[00:09:40] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, that's a really good point. And so the question for me becomes how is his stuff interacting with her stuff to possibly contribute to these extra marital, I don't know, what do you call them, encounters? Is that fair?
[00:09:53] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:09:53] Gabriel Mizrahi: Or at least creating the conditions for them.
[00:09:55] Jordan Harbinger: That's exactly the question. And to be clear, I'm not blaming this guy for what his wife did. She's making her own choices here. What she's doing is not okay.
[00:10:03] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:10:04] Jordan Harbinger: But they're both in the marriage.
[00:10:05] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:10:06] Jordan Harbinger: And the way they're interacting even now in the aftermath of this latest discovery. That is absolutely playing a role in how they feel about each other, how they treat each other, and where they go to look for security, stimulation, validation, whatever it is.
[00:10:19] Gabriel Mizrahi: I mean, he literally said at the end of his letter that he's emotionally distancing himself from her right now. So he has all of these really intense feelings. He's humiliated, he's angry, he's sad, all of which are perfectly appropriate given what's happened. But he's not bringing them to anyone, certainly not to her, so they can start to talk about this. They're both being kind of avoidant in different ways.
[00:10:40] Jordan Harbinger: Right. They might each be co-creating a situation for this kind of thing to take place.
[00:10:45] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:10:45] Jordan Harbinger: And a great example of that is when he got the call and he heard his wife say, "I need to get to the meeting point so my husband doesn't notice," and then he hangs up. I mean, I understand his kids were in the car, but if this is me, I'm taking that call off Bluetooth. I'm going handheld, I'm hanging on every word I want to know. I want to make this as unambiguous as possible so I'm not second-guessing myself and her for the next decade.
[00:11:06] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:11:06] Jordan Harbinger: I wonder if he wanted to not hear anymore so that he did not find out, deliberately, did not find out more information about what's going on. That's playing a role here too.
[00:11:16] Gabriel Mizrahi: That's a good point.
[00:11:17] Jordan Harbinger: What do you do about all this? Well, I think you guys need to start talking as painful as it is, and I mean really talk. What led you guys here? What is your wife looking for from these other guys? Why is she hiding them from you? How are you showing up in the marriage? How are you responding to these affairs? Is this space you guys give each other, is this healthy, or is it maybe another aspect of this emotional distance? And most important, is there still a future here? I know these are heavy questions. That's not something we're going to be able to answer right here, but that's the territory you need to get into.
[00:11:51] And if you guys need some help doing that, which at this point I think you might, I highly encourage you to consider couples therapy. There are 17 years of history here, several affairs or almost affairs each of your patterns, your kids, that's a lot to handle on your own. If there's a future here, if you guys want to grow and find a way back to each other, then this will definitely be time well spent. But even if you go into therapy and decide you want to split up, I think you're going to learn a ton about yourself in the process. And that's a win too.
[00:12:22] Gabriel Mizrahi: Definitely a win. And hey, maybe if they work with like a Freudian therapist, they can finally figure out if those butt-dials—
[00:12:27] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:12:27] Gabriel Mizrahi: —were truly an accident.
[00:12:28] Jordan Harbinger: I go to therapy just for that, for sure. But candidly, Gabe, I don't know if this marriage can survive. This is a real pattern of deception and I'm just going to call it like it is. It's deception and the damage might already be done. But if she didn't actually hook up with any of these guys, maybe there's more of a chance.
[00:12:44] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah. Maybe that's for them to figure out. She needs to really come clean about what actually happened and why. There's so much that's not being said and I feel like she has maybe one view of their relationship, what the rules are, and it's hard to say exactly what's going on. This is hard. There's still a lot of love in this marriage, and he did say that they have a strong connection. Maybe the marriage can survive.
[00:13:07] Jordan Harbinger: It might, I just hope it's not a situation where they sweep it under the rug again, and in another year, he gets another pocket dial from his wife in a freaking sex dungeon or something. Like, "All I heard was [whoosh, whoosh] and I decided to hang up the phone." If they stay together, they're going to have to do some really deep work.
[00:13:25] Gabriel Mizrahi: What do the whip sounds mean? And I don't understand.
[00:13:27] Jordan Harbinger: If they stay together, they're going to have to do some really deep work, figure out what she's hiding, what she's looking for from these other guys, even if it is just emotional intimacy.
[00:13:36] Again, I'm really sorry this is happening to you for real, but this is an opportunity for both of you to figure out how you guys are operating together, and that's really important. So good luck, my friend. I am sending you good thoughts.
[00:13:50] You know who's never going to run around and desert you, Gabriel? The amazing sponsors that support this show. We'll be right back.
[00:14:00] This episode is sponsored in part by Better Help online therapy. Life can be overwhelming and it's important to invest in your mental health, especially during big life transitions or relationship issues. My mom sought a therapist during a rough time in our lives way back in the '90s. And it helped so much to have a licensed professional help us navigate through some family issues. It saved our butts big time. Better Help is great because you can do a weekly video chat or text or a phone call without having to drive anywhere. The convenience factor is definitely key because while we might not be able to make it a priority to go to weekly in-person sessions, especially if it's not something super critical in our minds, when it's online, there's always something to talk about for an hour. I always feel better just having expressed myself as well. It's also much more affordable than in-person therapy, and you can get matched with a therapist in under 48 hours. Jen literally got matched with her therapist in under 30 minutes. I want to say it was like 15, 20 minutes. Unbelievable.
[00:14:51] Jen Harbinger: That's right. And our listeners, you get 10 percent off your first month at betterhelp.com/jordan. That's better-H-E-L-P.com/jordan.
[00:15:00] Jordan Harbinger: Most of you listening right now are probably multitasking. So while you're listening to me talk, you're probably driving, cleaning, exercising, maybe even grocery shopping. But if you're not in some kind of moving vehicle, there's something else you could be doing right now. Getting an auto quote from Progressive insurance. It's easy and you can save money by doing it right from your phone. Drivers who save by switching to Progressive save over $700 on average and auto customers qualify for an average of seven discounts — discounts for having multiple vehicles on your policy, being a homeowner, and more. So just like your favorite podcast, Progressive will be with you 24/7, 365 days a year, so you're protected no matter what. Multitask right now, quote your car insurance at progressive.com to join over 27 million drivers who trust Progressive.
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[00:16:14] Now back to Feedback Friday.
[00:16:17] All right, Gabe, what's next?
[00:16:19] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hey, Jordan and Gabe. I've been working as a pilot for a European airline for 25 years and have spent a lot of time flying in and out of Nigeria, which I've seen firsthand becoming more and more dangerous. Three years ago, I was getting ready for a flight out of Lagos when a flight attendant called from the back of the plane saying that a young man seemed to be having an epileptic seizure. I made an announcement over the PA to ask if there was a medical doctor on board, and an older Nigerian doctor came forward. After examining the young man, the doctor said that he wasn't having an epi epileptic seizure. He was having convulsions from an overdose. The doctor's hunch was that he had probably ingested a plastic bag of drugs and it was leaking probably a locally produced synthetic amphetamine that had become a popular export for the Nigerian diaspora around the world. While we were talking, the young man OD-ing became somewhat conscious and the flight attendant told him that he was going to be offloaded to get medical attention. The guy flew into a state of utter panic insisting that he was going to his intended destination no matter what. The doctor explained the physical danger he was in, and I explained that I wouldn't knowingly be involved in drug trafficking. The young man jumped on the flight attendant and clung to him like a kid on his first day of school, blind panic. So the flight attendant lets the young man calls his mother. He gives the phone to the flight attendant who mostly listens to the mother on the other end of the line, and then I see his facial expression turn from concern to terror. Then the flight attendant hands me the phone. The mother is sobbing and tells me that she's been abducted and that the only way to keep her alive is to take her son to the EU to complete the drug run. So now, I had a choice to make. Do I let the guy continue in his state to the EU to save his mother, or do I get him off the plane so he can survive? In the end, I had the young man offloaded. It took four police officers to pry him off the flight attendant and carry him off the plane, shouting, crying, and struggling like a wild animal. It's been over three years since that happened, and I'm still tearing up as I write this. I questioned whether I made the right decision and what the legal consequences might have been. Do you think I made the right call? And how do I process these unresolved feelings about what I did or what I could or maybe should have done? Signed, The Anguished Aviator.
[00:18:39] Jordan Harbinger: Wow, this is a wild story. What an insane glimpse into the drug trade, especially Nigeria, which we've been talking about a lot on the show lately. Although, honestly, this happens all over the world, even in America, so it's obviously a global problem.
[00:18:54] So first of all, oh, man, I'm really sorry that you're wrestling with this still three years later. This is clearly a heavy burden for you to carry around, and even if you did the right thing, I'm sure it's still incredibly upsetting to witness something like this firsthand. I mean, a dude foaming from the mouth and begging you to let him continue on his surely lethal drug run, so his mother doesn't get executed by some Nigerian Gustavo Fring. It's, it's traumatizing. So I understand how you're feeling. It makes a lot of sense. And I'm sorry that you had to make this tough call.
[00:19:25] You're asking a really complex question here, so we decided to reach out to Daniel Levin, political advisor, conflict negotiator/hostage negotiator, author, and apparently our new Nigeria/International intrigue specialist to get his take. This is a really great guy. He's been on the show. And Daniel's opinion straight away was that from an operational perspective and also just from a human perspective, you absolutely made the right decision here for two reasons.
[00:19:52] First off, according to Daniel, there was a high likelihood, probably more than 50 percent, that this guy would not have survived the flight. Can you imagine being on that flight next to this guy who's dying or dies next to you?
[00:20:04] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, not cool.
[00:20:06] Jordan Harbinger: Obviously, he can't put an exact number on the odds, but Daniel's actually had experience with drug couriers and mules. And he said that once there's been a tear in the bag and these symptoms set in an overdose is likely to be fatal within hours, if not treated, especially in less than ideal conditions like a pressurized aircraft cabin. I mean, you're lucky to survive if you're in the hospital from something like this.
[00:20:26] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:20:26] Jordan Harbinger: Let alone, your—
[00:20:27] Gabriel Mizrahi: Your economy class of British Airways.
[00:20:30] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Economy class of British Airways. God forbid you're on Spirit, you're never going to make it. So Daniel—
[00:20:36] Gabriel Mizrahi: What are the odds of surviving around—?
[00:20:37] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, Alaska Airlines, goodnight. You're out of here.
[00:20:40] So Daniel's opinion, as heartbreaking as this was, you made a decision that saved this passenger's life. In his view, that was the only decision you could make based on the factors of information under your control. What this guy went on to do with his life? Not your responsibility. Just like you weren't responsible for what this guy did before he got on the flight. But the other reason Daniel believes you did the right thing is you had no way to verify this guy's claim about his mother.
[00:21:08] As he explained to us, drug gangs are very sophisticated and Nigerian gangs like so many criminal enterprises, they've perfected the art of deception. In fact, Daniel was involved in several kidnappings, where he was put in touch with a parent of a victim who said, "You know, I'm being threatened. They're saying more of my family's going to get taken and killed if you guys don't hand over this money by noon tomorrow," or whatever. And in almost all of those cases, Daniel said, the parent actually turned out to be fake. Drug couriers are often given numbers to call in case they get caught. And gang members often are just on standby, ready to pose as a crying mother, a panicking father, whatever it is. It's all part of a highly choreographed and very profitable scheme.
[00:21:52] Now, we obviously have no way of knowing whether this mother is real or not. His reaction sounds real, but he was also high as a kite on a drug that exploded in his intestine and neither do you. You don't know if the mother's real or not either, and that's Daniel's point. You absolutely made the right decision based on the reliable information that you had at the time. And also it's illegal to take somebody — you would've been involved in drug trafficking, period, and endangering the other passengers. I could go on, but you get the idea.
[00:22:18] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, definitely. I would've done the same thing. And I'm guessing his airline's policies and all of his training would say the same. But I know this situation left a mark on you and Daniel also recognized that you do seem to be suffering from some kind of post-traumatic stress here or something akin to it. And as he reminded us, the thing about trauma is overcoming it isn't some cerebral process that you can just talk yourself out of or have someone else talk you out of, no matter how hard you try.
[00:22:45] Daniel himself has been in some truly harrowing situations between serving in the army and working on hostage negotiations and stuff like that. So he knows firsthand how these events can trigger very similar responses. He's found his own ways of working through those experiences. But Daniel's main advice was, if you need help processing this event, seek out that help and take it seriously. That doesn't make you weak. It doesn't make you needy, it just makes you human, a human who is in a very extraordinary circumstance.
[00:23:14] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:23:14] Gabriel Mizrahi: And there are tons of resources out there, namely therapy, of course, which you can probably access fairly easily through your airline's healthcare plan or maybe in-house counseling services. But there are also books, workshops, medication if you feel you need it if it ever comes to that. And talking to your friends, your family, maybe even other pilots who have been through similar experiences. You know, like, have you ever seen something like this? How did it make you feel? How'd you deal with that? You don't have to shoulder all of this on your own, so seek out some help, open up about this. I do think that would be huge for you.
[00:23:45] Jordan Harbinger: Agreed completely. And I know sometimes pilots are afraid to ask for help because they're worried it's going to affect their license or their reputation but so many pilots wrestle with mental health stuff, and I know there are confidential options out there, so don't let that stop you, even if you have to work around it a little bit. And again, I'm really sorry that this memory weighs so heavily on you, but it doesn't have to be that way, especially since again, you absolutely did the right thing here and I commend you for making that tough call.
[00:24:13] If you want to learn more about Daniel Levin, by the way, amazing guy, check out the interview I did with him. That was episode 617. I also highly recommend reading up on the hostage work he covers in his book, Proof of Life: Twenty Days on the Hunt for a Missing Person in The Middle East. We'll link to both of those in the show notes for you. Great read, great interview with that guy. I just loved it.
[00:24:34] You can reach us firstname.lastname@example.org. Please keep your emails concise. Try to use a descriptive subject line. That makes our job a lot easier. If there's something you're going through, any big decision you are wrestling with, or you just need a new perspective on stuff, life, love, work. What to do if your partner's sexsomnia is throwing you for a loop? Whatever's got you staying up at night lately, literally, I guess in the case, in the case of the sexsomnia. Hit us up email@example.com. We're here to help and we keep every email anonymous.
[00:25:03] All right, next up.
[00:25:04] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hey, guys. I own a small business that employs an all-female staff. I consider myself an extremely empathetic leader with a high EQ, and in almost every way, I'm good at bonding with my employees, showing them appreciation, paying them generously, providing positive feedback, and fostering a very positive environment. I regularly get emails from them telling me that I'm the nicest boss they've ever had and that they love working in my business. My problem is that I am absolutely horrible at giving negative feedback or coaching. I'm either too nice and I sugarcoat things like saying, "It's okay. I can work on this. You're awesome. You'll figure it out." Or I'm too direct and harsh, like, "Amy, that report was late and I need you to work faster." I've read several books on conflict and candor, and although I get it intellectually, I always end up defaulting to my natural way of doing things, being too nice, while in my mind, wanting to be much harsher. How can I address performance issues without ruining my hero status with my team? And how do I address issues without hurting feelings? Signed, Owning My Say So Without Losing My Halo.
[00:26:11] Jordan Harbinger: Such a good question. So first of all, I think you need to make a mental shift here and realize that being kind and being honest are not mutually exclusive. In fact, being direct with your employees in the service of getting better, that's actually one of the most powerful forms of kindness that there is. My sense is that in your mind, you're either the beloved cool boss or you're the punishing nightmare boss, but you can absolutely be both. You can be supportive and you can be candid, or you can be both at different times depending on what the situation requires.
[00:26:44] So I would do a little introspection to figure out why offering criticism is so difficult for you. In my experience, it usually comes down to a few things. The desire to please people, the impulse to spare their feeling, a lack of confidence in your own authority, a need for people to always like you, discomfort with conflict, usually some combination of all of this. And to be clear, all of those instincts, those are perfectly normal. Nobody wants to hurt their employees' feelings. No one who's not a monster anyway. Nobody wants their employees to resent them. Nobody wants the office to be a stressful environment. But you can't be a great leader until you learn to lean into these difficult conversations, and you can't lean into difficult conversations until you acknowledge the complicated feelings that these difficult conversations actually bring up. So I would take some time to really explore what giving criticism brings up for you.
[00:27:40] For example, if one of your employees does bristle at a piece of feedback, why is that so upsetting to you? If your employees did view you in a different way, maybe as a boss who's really thoughtful but can also be tough when they have to, what's so wrong with that? What are you worried about making them feel? What are you worried about feeling yourself? Those are some of the questions I'd explore, but just to save you some time here, I can almost guarantee that if the root of this whole thing is a need for people to like you and an anxiety about hurting their feelings. Again, very normal instincts, especially for somebody who's an empath.
[00:28:15] I'm not saying you should stop being kind or appreciative or positive. Those are superpowers too. But sometimes gentleness can become avoidance and sometimes empathy can tip over into caretaking.
[00:28:27] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mmm.
[00:28:27] Jordan Harbinger: So I would dig into all of those tendencies and see what's going on, and then over time, try approaching these conversations in a new way, leaning a little more into honesty each time and see how your results change.
[00:28:40] Gabriel Mizrahi: That is great advice. It's so fascinating how empathy can be a double-edged sword sometimes. Like you can care about people and that's a superpower, but then it can become, you care about them so much, you're not even able to have an honest conversation with them.
[00:28:51] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:28:51] Gabriel Mizrahi: And these are your employees. That's so important. I would also keep in mind that you can phrase your criticism in a way that is still appreciative and still supportive. For example, you could snap at Amy and be like, "Amy, that report was late. I need you to work faster." Or you could say, "Listen, Amy, I noticed that your reports are taking a little while to finish. I would really like to get them more quickly. I also want you to learn to move a little faster so that you can get to other important projects that would help both of us. So let's figure this out. What do you think slows you down with the reports? How can we get a little more efficient? What can I do to help?" That's one way to be direct without being cruel. You can frame your feedback really as a collaboration between you and your employees. And look, you can even say, "Listen, I have some feedback for you and I want you to know that I'm not trying to make you feel bad whatsoever. This is just about the work and it's all in service of making us better." You can literally say that and that's how you preserve the relationship even when the feedback is a little tough.
[00:29:48] Jordan Harbinger: Preserve the relationship and even deepen it, I would argue.
[00:29:51] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, for sure. Because I think this person feels like giving their employees criticism is, it's almost like a rupture in the relationship.
[00:29:58] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:29:59] Gabriel Mizrahi: But it's not, It's actually the opposite. What you're really saying is, I value you enough to want to make you better, and I also trust you to take my feedback in and know what to do with it.
[00:30:08] Jordan Harbinger: That's a great point. You don't coach people you don't care about. And if you avoid these conversations, you might actually be sending a signal that you don't take your employees seriously because you'd rather keep things on an even keel and actually like be in a real relationship with them.
[00:30:23] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:30:24] Jordan Harbinger: And on that note, I want you to check out a few articles and episodes we've done on this topic. One of them is about why it's important to be honest with people. Another one is about how to deliver bad news and not be the bad guy when doing it. And then also I'd listen to my interview with Adam Grant, or one of my interviews with Adam Grant, where we talked about how to preface criticism so that other people really hear it. Those will be money for you right now. We'll link to all of them in the show notes.
[00:30:50] But listen, I love that you're so aware of this problem. I love that you want to work on it. Since you already have the high EQ piece, I know you can crack this. It's just going to take some introspection, some reframing, and a little bit of practice, and you got this. Good luck.
[00:31:05] Gabe, you know who always files their TPS reports on time? The amazing sponsors that support this show. We'll be right back.
[00:31:14] This episode is sponsored by H-V-M-N. You may have heard buzz about ketone supplements and how they can boost your workouts by helping your body use fatty acids for fuel. I never bothered to try any of this stuff before. I was skeptical. I am always skeptical of supplements and all that stuff but a lot of my athlete friends were using it and they've said it's amazing. They swear by it that they want to give it a go. After months of taking, HVMN's Ketone-IQ before every workout, I got to say I'm confidently sold on this. I'm less hungry during the day. If it's about putting something in your body, I'm never going to tell you to do it without doing it myself. So I got to say it's working for me. You know, sample size of one, but brace yourself for the taste. It is not pleasant. It's just like — I don't even want to tell you what it tastes like. That's the price of admission here. I take it like a shot at tequila while holding my nose. I feel much more focused and less hungry during the workouts and later in the day. It's not like the jittery coffee feeling when you're not hungry. Better endurance, I don't get that slow down towards the end of the workout like I used to, nearly as quick. If you're working out hard, you're training for something, definitely give it a try, and let me know what you think.
[00:32:16] Jen Harbinger: For 20 percent off your order of Ketone-IQ, go to HVMN.com, promo code JORDAN. Again, that's H-V-M-N.com, and use promo code JORDAN for 20 percent off Ketone-IQ.
[00:32:29] Jordan Harbinger: This episode is also sponsored by Tooth and Claw Podcast, which basically documents how people get attacked by animals. Yes, very interesting. I'll let the guys tell you more about it.
[00:32:39] Wes Larson: Hey, I'm Wes Larson.
[00:32:40] Jeff Larson: I'm his little brother, Jeff.
[00:32:41] Wes Larson: Together with our friend, Mike. Oh, yeah, Mike's not here because he didn't want to do this.
[00:32:46] Jeff Larson: He didn't want to do the promo.
[00:32:47] Wes Larson: We co-host a podcast called Tooth and Claw, where we tell stories of the most extreme animal attacks ever documented.
[00:32:53] Jeff Larson: Wes is a wildlife biologist and an animal behavior expert. So he is able to give me and Mike a whole new perspective to these stories covering animals like grizzly bears, great white sharks, alligators, lots of snakes, pretty much anything with sharp teeth.
[00:33:07] Wes Larson: On each episode, we'll go through exactly what led to these attacks, how the victims could have avoided the dangerous encounters, and how these stories can help contribute to a growing appreciation for all the wild things of the world.
[00:33:18] Jeff Larson: It could even end up saving your life.
[00:33:21] Wes Larson: So follow the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.
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[00:33:46] Now back to Feedback Friday.
[00:33:50] All right, what's next?
[00:33:51] Gabriel Mizrahi: Dear Jordan and Jabe—
[00:33:53] We haven't got that one in a while.
[00:33:54] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:33:54] Gabriel Mizrahi: I like it.
[00:33:55] About six years ago, my friend and I realized we had feelings for each other and moved in together. Six months later, we moved to a new state and rented a room in another friend's house who, because of his religious views, made us sleep in separate beds and have no intimate contact.
[00:34:10] Jordan Harbinger: Hold up. Wait a minute. He made you sleep in different beds. This is like a 1950s sitcom.
[00:34:18] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, apparently. I'm surprised they said yes. Like they're grown as adults, right?
[00:34:21] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:34:21] Gabriel Mizrahi: They can say no.
[00:34:23] Jordan Harbinger: Weird, but okay, maybe they just needed a place really bad and they didn't have a choice. Go on.
[00:34:27] Gabriel Mizrahi: I think that maybe might have been the case. Yeah.
[00:34:30] After a few months of that, we both found jobs and moved into our own apartment.
[00:34:34] Great. Awesome.
[00:34:35] Jordan Harbinger: Oh yeah.
[00:34:35] Gabriel Mizrahi: I tried to restart the intimate side of our relationship, but only got repeated rejection, so eventually I gave up.
[00:34:42] Jordan Harbinger: Wow. The separate beds thing really did a number on them, I guess.
[00:34:46] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah. I guess it worked from the roommate's perspective.
[00:34:49] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:34:49] Gabriel Mizrahi: I don't know. He goes on.
[00:34:51] Two years later, my significant other asked me what we were, and we mutually agreed to be close friends without a huge fight or a dramatic breakup. We're still sharing a bed as we're both used to it, and it's convenient with the option of seeing other people if one of us got our own bed in the future.
[00:35:07] Jordan Harbinger: Okay. So there is a lot of bed stuff in here. I feel like their bed, their furniture situation is dictating their whole life.
[00:35:14] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah. This is kind of weird, right? Like sharing a bed with your former partner and best friend, but you're single.
[00:35:20] Jordan Harbinger: Definitely something ain't right, but I'll hold off. Keep going.
[00:35:23] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah. Okay.
[00:35:24] Over the last few years of this arrangement, I've become lonely and a bit bitter. I've considered pursuing other relationships but held off due to my excessive workload. Plus the whole sharing a bed platonically with my roommate deal making things kind of weird.
[00:35:38] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, no kidding. Try explaining that one to your Bumble dates.
[00:35:43] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah. Yeah. "Listen, Amanda, I'd love to take things back to my place. I just want to give you a heads-up, my ex still sleeps in my bed. Also, it's a twin. Like, totally normal. Nothing weird going on."
[00:35:55] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, she'll just be there always, all the time, even in the same bed, but it's only, it's just really convenient. We're just used to it.
[00:36:02] Gabriel Mizrahi: We're just used to it. Yeah.
[00:36:03] Jordan Harbinger: That's not going to be an issue at all. Sure.
[00:36:05] Gabriel Mizrahi: Might be time to buy a new mattress, bro. Okay.
[00:36:07] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:36:08] Gabriel Mizrahi: Let's hold—
[00:36:08] Jordan Harbinger: Hit the sponsors page and solve the problem here.
[00:36:11] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah. Okay, so he goes on.
[00:36:13] Fast forward to today, I changed jobs and I'm now making roughly twice what I was before and only working four days a week, considerably improving our financial situation. Now, my significant other has started to—
[00:36:24] Jordan Harbinger: Okay, hold on, hold on. His significant other, and it's our financial situation now? I thought they agreed to just be friends. What am I missing here?
[00:36:32] Gabriel Mizrahi: I don't know. I think that's what this letter is about.
[00:36:34] Jordan Harbinger: Fair. I'm a little trigger-happy today, but this is—
[00:36:37] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, you're worked up. I get it.
[00:36:39] Jordan Harbinger: It's the bed thing. It's got me riled up, for sure. Go on.
[00:36:42] Gabriel Mizrahi: Okay.
[00:36:43] Now my significant other has started to get a lot closer physically and has begun initiating intimacy, which over the last month has increased dramatically. I know I shouldn't complain as this is exactly what I wanted for years, but I'm feeling some kind of way about being rejected and then suddenly wanted. When I tried to gently bring this up, my significant other started to cry. Feeling bad for making me feel like they didn't like me and saying the change might be due to less stress. They've also been pushing me to respond to, I love you's with the same, although the love I feel for them now is more like what I would feel for a friend. I can't help but feel a bit used and like I can't rely on my significant other not to drop me again if finances ever got a little tight. Is it fair for me to be confused and hurt? What should I do? Signed, Jump change or a Changed Jump.
[00:37:34] Jordan Harbinger: Oh boy. This is all kinds of messy.
[00:37:37] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:37:38] Jordan Harbinger: Also, I just realized that the significant other might be a man or a woman. It's not clear, but honestly, I don't even think it makes a difference now.
[00:37:44] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:37:44] Jordan Harbinger: So right off the bat, yes, it's fair to be confused and a little hurt by all of this. You guys lost your mojo because you were in your, I don't know, weird farm situation. You've gone through this protracted breakup, which isn't really a breakup because you guys never really separated. Then you start making a lot more money, and now your partner/roommate/BFF is suddenly attracted to you again. Of course, you're going to be wondering if this person really loves you for you. Plus, this is no short. You've been through six years together of this weirdness, living in this very ambiguous arrangement, stunting your lives — at least stunting your love lives while you guys continue sharing a bed. I just wouldn't be surprised if there's also quite a bit of resentment in the mix here. You did say you were bitter. Like, "What are we doing? Are you only attracted to me for what I can provide?"
[00:38:36] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, I agree completely. There's so much happening in this relationship that probably is not being addressed. Although I don't know, I think there is another way to look at this.
[00:38:45] Jordan Harbinger: Great. Let's hear it.
[00:38:47] Gabriel Mizrahi: Okay. So yes, it's possible that his partner/ex slash—
[00:38:52] Jordan Harbinger: Slash perpetual platonic, big spoon.
[00:38:54] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, whatever they are, it's possible that this person is suddenly into him just because he has more money. And if that's the case, then yes, that is hurtful and kind of gross. But let's look at the facts, they didn't have jobs when they met. They had to rent a room in some prudish guy who's weird about sex as apartment. The guy writing in he worked really hard but probably wasn't making a lot of money. Then he lands this new job that pays him twice as much for less work, I'm wondering if that speaks to some real growth on his part, that he's not settling for his situation anymore, that he's making moves and people are rewarding him for his ability. And yes, that means he's making more money, but he might be making more money because he is doing something right.
[00:39:37] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:39:37] Gabriel Mizrahi: And that is attractive, right? Like it's attractive to be ambitious. It's attractive to grab life by the horns. So yes, this partner suddenly wants him when he has more money. But is it the money or is it this new personality that the money reflects?
[00:39:53] Jordan Harbinger: Okay, so that's a really fair point. His partner might not be a gold digger or whatever. They might just be responding to him in a new way. It's like the end of the Breaking Bad pilot, right? When Walt cooks his first batch and kills those guys and gets away with it. And then he gets into bed with his wife, the one who gives those terrible hand jobs we refer to in a few other episodes. And then they start to have sex and suddenly it's completely different.
[00:40:16] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right. Yeah. Walt is that you?
[00:40:18] Jordan Harbinger: Exactly. His partner might be having a "Walt is that you" moment.
[00:40:22] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:40:22] Jordan Harbinger: Like they saw him one way for six years, this guy who couldn't even go over to the other bed, or mom's going to knock on the door, dad's going to burst in. And now they're seeing him in a whole new way because he is different. And yeah, to your point, that might be totally fair, might be a tough pill to swallow, but in another way, it's very validating.
[00:40:40] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:40:40] Jordan Harbinger: So the question you need to figure out is, is it you or is it the money?
[00:40:46] Soundbite: Hey must be the money.
[00:40:49] Gabriel Mizrahi: Wow. That was great. Took me right back to eighth grade. Love that.
[00:40:54] Jordan Harbinger: You're making me feel old. I feel like I've had college parties where we broke a couch in that song, but anyway, continue.
[00:40:58] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, but that's the question. The partner can have whatever reaction they have, but bursting into tears when he brings this up kind of seems like a clever way to maybe deflect and avoid having this tough conversation.
[00:41:09] Jordan Harbinger: It sure does, yeah. I'm also not crazy about the whole pushing him to say, I love you thing all of a sudden. I find that super manipulative and very sus in the timing.
[00:41:18] Gabriel Mizrahi: Same. I'm also not crazy about the whole, "Oh, I'm just more into you these days because I'm less stressed," or whatever. Like you just happen to be less stressed the second my new direct deposit hits. Like, okay, what's that about?
[00:41:29] Jordan Harbinger: That sort of cuts against your theory that it's about his personality and not the money, right?
[00:41:34] Gabriel Mizrahi: It does. I'm getting mixed signals here. Honestly, I'm not a hundred percent sure. It could be both. Maybe she likes having more money and maybe she also likes him when he makes more money. It could be both.
[00:41:45] Jordan Harbinger: Right. It could be both. And that's what's tricky about all this. So my advice, you and your partner need to have some real conversations about all of this, not just you bringing this up once and then them crying and you backing off. You guys need to hash out the last six years. Make your partner explain exactly why they feel this shift now. Make it safe for them to be honest with you, and then decide if you feel wanted and valued in this relationship for the right reasons.
[00:42:12] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yes, agreed. But more importantly, I really think you need to take a hard look at this relationship in general. This thing has been limping along for six years and you guys have not been intimate for a lot of that time. I get the sense that you guys have clung to each other, like a life raft maybe to avoid the grief of the breakup, maybe out of comfort.
[00:42:32] Jordan Harbinger: Mmm.
[00:42:33] Gabriel Mizrahi: Maybe for some financial reasons, which is fair. And maybe because you were too afraid to navigate life on your own.
[00:42:39] Jordan Harbinger: I think it's all the above in some measure—
[00:42:41] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:42:41] Jordan Harbinger: —if I had to guess.
[00:42:43] Gabriel Mizrahi: To me, the real issue here isn't the money thing. The real issue is what function is this person serving in your life and what function are you serving in theirs and what are you gaining or maybe avoiding by staying in this relationship.
[00:42:56] Jordan Harbinger: A hundred percent. He's hiding from something. They are too, and I think he knows it's time to face it. So get clear, my friend. Something's happening here. You're making more money. You're growing up, you're learning how you want to be valued by people. It's great. So whatever you decide to do, keep building on that, and good luck.
[00:43:13] All right, next up.
[00:43:15] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hi, Jordan and Gabe. I'm a 14-year-veteran theater teacher in a small town, which is home to one of the best educational theater programs in the state. I'm humbled, validated, and extremely honored to be chosen to lead this department. The thing is, while my students have placed in the top eight in a statewide theater competition, I can't help it feel that I'm not good enough because I haven't yet won the state championship. I preached my students that winning isn't everything, and the goal is always to have a play done as well as it can be done. But deep down, if I haven't won a championship or made it to the top level, I feel that maybe the play wasn't done as well as it can be done. I've now become somewhat obsessed with giving my students the best chance to succeed. I worry that this obsession may become unhealthy. I love my job and I'm passionate about this competition because it exposes so many students to the arts and teaches empathy, teamwork, and social-emotional learning, but I still want to win. Do you think this is a healthy obsession? And if it is, how do I recognize when it's becoming an unhealthy obsession? Also, how do you deal with imposter syndrome? How do I validate myself without having to rely on winning a championship trophy? Signed, A Passionate Thespian Looking at My Reflection.
[00:44:31] Jordan Harbinger: Well, first of all, congrats on landing this prestigious job. You're right. This school wouldn't have chosen you if you weren't great at what you do. And I can tell from your letter that you're in this for the right reasons, which are to enrich your students' lives, open their worlds, make them better people. That is really special.
[00:44:47] So you're asking an interesting question, and it's one that I think a lot of top performers ask themselves. And to be fair, it's a tricky one. When does desperately wanting to win tip over into an unhealthy obsession? You could argue that the need to crush, dominate, be outstanding that's by definition kind of unhinged. I hate to say this because I wish it weren't the case, but you usually don't get insanely great results, whether it's in business or in sports or in the arts, by being content and well adjusted. You often see those results when the people involved are, well kind of insane, to perform at the highest, highest levels. You usually, not always, but usually have to be a perfectionist. You have to be ruthless, you have to be compelled.
[00:45:31] So it reminds me of those gymnastics folks, the Olympics ones where you always hear later, like, "They abused us," not the sexual stuff aside. I just mean like, "They made us go even if we were tired and exhausted and they just caffeinated us and they made us get up at the ass—" or like, yeah, that's why you all had gold medals, dude.
[00:45:45] And so it's possible that there's an aspect of your ambition that's a little — well, I don't know if it's unhealthy, but it might be borderline obsessive and intense and maybe that's appropriate if what you really want is to win. Coaches talk about this all the time. They know that their game is about more than just winning, but at the end of the day, if they're going home with an L, they're pissed off, they're depressed. Their athletes could be having a grand old time, but when they lose the championship, they know that they're not doing their jobs. But that doesn't mean you have to ruin your life or your students' lives in the process, and it doesn't mean that you can't find meaning in other things besides winning. And that's where your values come into play.
[00:46:26] If you show up to rehearsal every day picturing that trophy at the state championship, and in the process, you worked your students to death, you forget the joy of doing theater for its own sake. You ignore the meaning of the play or how your students are doing as human beings. Then that's a sign that this obsession is unhealthy because then you're fixating on the rewards over the process, which is always a mistake. The other way that this obsession becomes unhealthy is if you start diminishing yourself in the process. If your whole sense of self falls apart if you don't win state, if you're staying up till 3:00 a.m. ruminating about winning. If your relationships are taking a real hit, then that's a signal that you need to check in with yourself. You need to make sure you're pegging yourself worth to the right things.
[00:47:10] Because if you equate your value with how many trophies you win, you will suffer. But if you equate your value or at least part of your value to the things that actually make teaching worthwhile, and I know you know what that is because it's in your letter, then you'll actually have a much more solid foundation. And that'll help you write out the highs and the lows of the competition circuit, and stay connected to something deeper than, you know, prestige and status.
[00:47:34] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mmm, great advice, Jordan. Because this person's job as a drama teacher, it's not just about winning some competition, as exciting as that is, it's about making these kids better. And showing them what theater has to offer. So when they go out into the world, that's what they're going to take with them. And I know this person knows that, but that can easily get lost when there's so much pressure to win.
[00:47:53] Jordan Harbinger: Well, I feel for him there. I mean, how do you not conflate your self-worth with your achievements when your job description is literally to achieve?
[00:48:02] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, it's hard.
[00:48:03] Jordan Harbinger: I fall into that same mentality myself. I look at my download numbers or my revenue or whatever, and I judge myself by those metrics because they obviously matter. But then I have to keep coming back to my own personal metrics, which are — is the show having an impact on people? Is it being helpful? Is it being responsible? Am I getting better as I host every year? And also, how am I doing as a human outside of the show? Because that's what really matters, especially now that I got two small kids who do not care about my download metrics but care way more about me spending time with them. Even if they could comprehend what download metrics were, they wouldn't care, let alone right now, where they don't even understand why Daddy somehow is able to — they're not even thinking about how you generate revenue. That's decades away.
[00:48:46] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, you're a human being outside of this. That is what really matters. But also those qualities that you're describing, these other more personal, meaningful metrics, those are what contribute to the external success as well. It's not like you have to choose between having a meaningful show and having good numbers. You have good numbers because you have a meaningful show.
[00:49:04] And I wonder if that's what this drama teacher needs to remember. By focusing on empathy, teamwork, learning, love of the arts and theater, they can also maximize their students' chances of winning state. It's not an either-or, they're totally connected.
[00:49:18] Jordan Harbinger: I completely agree, but I will also say, I don't think it's entirely bad that this person is hungry to win. If they're just not performing at the level they could be then being obsessed, yeah, maybe it's a good thing. That might drive this teacher to dig even deeper, to push students to do their best work. That's also part of their job to show these kids what's possible when you work your ass off and do your best work.
[00:49:39] So there isn't a clear answer here. You need to balance these two parts of your role. Keep checking in with yourself. I would keep an eye on whether your desire to win is appropriate and well motivated without being dysfunctional, and that it's not overshadowing the true purpose of theater, which is to express yourself and become a better person. As long as you're doing that, I think you're going to be okay.
[00:50:00] As far as the imposter syndrome, we're going to link to a bunch of great episodes for you in the show notes. Some interviews I've done on the topic, some past Feedback Fridays. I definitely give those a listen right now. I think they'll be a big help. We've covered this a lot. I love your attitude and your self-awareness and man, your students are lucky to have you, so good luck.
[00:50:18] And Gabe, there's something funny about a theater teacher who's like, "Get out there and crush those bastards," right?
[00:50:23] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:50:23] Jordan Harbinger: It's not something I expected. My football coach used to write in middle school poems that would get us super jazzed up. They'd be really, really cool. And they would build up and they would mention some of the starters and we would—
[00:50:35] Gabriel Mizrahi: That's awesome.
[00:50:35] Jordan Harbinger: —absolutely get out there in psycho mode.
[00:50:38] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mmm.
[00:50:38] Jordan Harbinger: And when he didn't do it, he'd be like, "Oh, I didn't have time." I remember just the different — he would always make time because we would get slaughtered if he didn't get a poem. And it's kind of funny to think of theater as like this super competitive, cutthroat. Like, "You get out there and you do the best goddamn Othello you can."
[00:50:56] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:50:56] Jordan Harbinger: Make them cry in their script books.
[00:51:00] Gabriel Mizrahi: I want you to dig down and I want you to find that empathy.
[00:51:03] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:51:04] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah. That's, I mean, a theater teacher going ham is almost as weird as a football coach writing poetry.
[00:51:08] Jordan Harbinger: It is. He was also the French teacher. So everyone's like, "The French teacher is the football coach. What a fruit ball." But he was actually the super athletic guy who just wasn't like threatened by learning, his masculinity wasn't threatened because he liked French and Spanish. He was just extremely athletic and confident. Actually, that guy was an awesome teacher. I still remember.
[00:51:26] Gabriel Mizrahi: He sounds dope.
[00:51:26] Jordan Harbinger: He was one of my favorite teachers. I've told this story on the show before. It was middle school and when I was such a bad student and a bad kid in middle school that at the end of my eighth-grade year, the end of middle school, all the teachers lined up at the door to shake everyone's hand and see us off. And I remember he was like, "Man, take care of yourself out there." And it was this concern that I never forgot because the look on his face was, "I'm probably going to see this idiot on the news," you know?
[00:51:53] Gabriel Mizrahi: Oh my gosh.
[00:51:55] Jordan Harbinger: It concerned me how concerned he was for me.
[00:51:57] Gabriel Mizrahi: Wow.
[00:51:58] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:51:58] Gabriel Mizrahi: That's wild.
[00:51:59] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I should go back and tell him I'm doing all right now because I'm sure—
[00:52:02] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, send him some links to the show.
[00:52:03] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, exactly. I'll be like, "Hey, I talked about you in episode 732 of my extremely successful podcast. Turns out I wasn't destined to be a criminal failure in life although I didn't do well in French. Sorry, Mr. Wilson."
[00:52:15] As we head into the weekend here, I encourage you to read a little bit about what's going on in Iran if you're not up to date on this. This is really something to see. I know Iran has protests every few years against the regime. These seem to be spreading much, much more quickly and across the country in a very different way. For those not up to speed, this was kind of all kicked off by the death of a 22-year-old woman who was essentially harassed and arrested by the so-called morality police because she was wearing her head scarf, her hijab, incorrectly. You know, you can have a little wisp of hair hanging out and get arrested over in Iran. And I guess they beat her up so bad that she died, and that was just the last straw on what is a tinder box of a country that has been trying to shake off a brutal, antiquated, theocratic nonsense regime for decades now.
[00:53:05] And it's really an interesting situation. I hope that it's going to develop into something more because the people of Iran deserve better. You've probably seen a lot of the activists on social media talking about this. So as we head into the weekend, look up a couple of stories in your journal of choice, your newspaper of record, whatever media you like to consume, and familiarize yourself with this situation and the plight of the people in Iran.
[00:53:29] And hey, if you're already up to speed on that, look up what's going on in Azerbaijan and Armenia. This is also another hotspot. We're going to see more of this as Russian power, which just now so clearly has been a myth for decades, so-called Russian power, I should say. You know, we thought they were the second strongest military in the world, and now it looks like they are just nothing more than ramshackled, nonsense, unequipped, untrained, unfueled military. We're going to see a lot of the regimes they were propping up and a lot of the places that they were supposedly keeping the peace in erupted into conflict for better or for worse. So keep your eyes on all that. It's a very interesting situation. It's something we should all be educated about. And frankly, it's going to make you glad that you live in a stable country if you do indeed live in a stable country.
[00:54:11] Hope you all enjoyed that. I want to thank everyone who wrote in this week and everyone who listened. Thank you so much. Don't forget to check out our episodes with Nury Turkel and our Deep Dive on honesty.
[00:54:20] If you want to know how I manage the book, all these amazing people on the show, it's always about relationships, systems, tiny habits to maintain my network, and I'm teaching you how to do that for free in our Six-Minute Networking course over on the Thinkific platform. jordanharbinger.com/course is where you can find it. I'm teaching you how to dig that well before you get thirsty because once you need relationships, you're too late to make them. The drills take five, six minutes a day. I wish I knew it 20 years ago. Yeah, it's not fluff, it's crucial. Find it all at jordanharbinger.com/course.
[00:54:50] A link to the show notes for the episode can be found at jordanharbinger.com. Transcripts are in the show notes. Advertisers, deals, discounts all at jordanharbinger.com/deals. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on both Twitter and Instagram or you can also connect with me on LinkedIn. You can find Gabriel on Twitter at @GabeMizrahi or on Instagram at @GabrielMizrahi.
[00:55:10] This show is created in association with PodcastOne. My team is Jen Harbinger, Jase Sanderson, Robert Fogarty, Ian Baird, Millie Ocampo, Josh Ballard, and of course, Gabriel Mizrahi. Our advice and opinions are our own. And I'm a lawyer, but I'm not your lawyer and never was a good lawyer. So do your own research before implementing anything you hear on the show. Ditto Daniel Levin.
[00:55:29] Remember, we rise by lifting others. Share the show with those you love. And if you found the episode useful, please share it with somebody else who can use the advice we gave here today. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show, so you can live what you listen, and we'll see you next time.
[00:55:45] You're about to hear a preview of The Jordan Harbinger Show with Ishmael Beah, who at the age of 13 was forced to become a child soldier. To hear about life in a war zone where he fought for three years before being rescued by UNICEF, check out episode 622 of The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:56:01] Ishmael Beah: I started when I was 13. The first day that we went to war, I think it was the most terrifying thing that ever happened to me, just on the way there, knowing what we were going to do, but it hasn't yet happened. Having this feeling that I was descending into some kind of darkness into some place that was going to chip away from who I had been that I would no longer get back truly. And then there was an ambush, and then we started exchanging fire and people who looked like us were shooting at us. And there was a kid that when we were training, had looked up to me, he was next to me, and there was an explosion, and his body flew and he was killed. There was blood all over my face and everything, and I just lost it. I realized at that moment, "Now, listen, if I don't shoot, I'm going to end up like everybody else who's being killed next to me." And I started shooting.
[00:56:49] Shooting to kill, and whatever could get you as high as possible, so you feel like you are kind of in a long nightmare. You took it. That becomes the new reason to fight. You didn't want to calm down from the high, but there's also, because you're on the high, you also get addicted to the violence itself. So you constantly keep yourself moving, being high, engaging in more violence until you remove from it which is why sometimes people are shocked when soldiers come back from fighting and they're traumatized. Sometimes they shoot themselves to become violent. When you go and take out another life and dehumanize it, in reverse it dehumanize yourself, your own spirit, your own being, and it takes a lot of undoing.
[00:57:29] I was once a kid who loved hip-hop, Run-D.M.C. LL Cool J, learned Shakespeare, wanted to be an economist, and then I became a soldier and I started doing things that I didn't think I would ever be able to be in a position to do, but I did them.
[00:57:43] Jordan Harbinger: To hear about life in a war zone where he fought for three years before being rescued by UNICEF, check out episode 622 of The Jordan Harbinger Show.
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