A few weeks ago I joined Em Stroud and her Clown Barabra and chatted about my life as The Possiblist.
Listen to the Podcast to find out:
What is a Possiblist?
How can we move from optimism or realism into the way of being the Possiblist?
How will being the Possiblist make your life better?
How is Barbara (the Clown) already a Possiblist and what else does she discover is possible while chatting with me?
How can embracing this way of being truly change how you are feeling in your life?
And much much more..
Clowning Around, Clowning Around. This is just us Clowning Around. Yeah. Hello, and welcome to Clowning Around with me Emma Stroud. And I hope that you have had a very good week. And of course, I hope that you have found time to laugh thing can play more, because, it does make you feel better. And yes, yes, dear listeners have Clowning Around. I know, I know. I know. I know. I know it is every single week because it is true. Every single week. I’m excited because I love doing this podcast, which is why I’ve done nearly 100 episodes, celebration. But this week, dear listeners of Clowning Around, we are going to be Clowning Around with The Possiblist. Yes, that’s right, with the brilliant Gitanjali Trevorrow-Seymour.
Gita, it is so lovely to have you here and to be Clowning Around with the Possiblist. Let’s start with 10 quickfire questions. I want you to imagine you’re standing on stage. Here is the first question, what animal is the Possiblist?
I want to say the first animal that came to mind was the dolphin. I can only imagine that popped into my rather polluted mind from a place of curiosity, because that is really where it starts with being Possiblist; curiosity, and I have great curiosity about dolphins. I feel like they’re incredibly curious creatures. So, when there’s a mirror put into a terrible tank that they may be being kept in for research purposes, then they are very, very curious, unlike a lot of other animals, they sort of want to understand what they’re looking at.
They’re also relatively intelligent; I’m not intelligent or cerebral in any way to be a Possiblist, but there is a level of bringing your cognition to things; like a curiosity that is activated from two different places. One is your inner wisdom and your intuition that comes from I believe a much greater source and then the other is coming from your prefrontal cortex, the part of your brain that thinks things through and problem solves. But I do not know how much of a prefrontal cortex a dolphin has?!
Question number two, what does the Possiblist just mean to you?
It really comes from a place of frustration. I am incredibly frustrated by the level of positivity that is often shoved down our throats. And that turns into quite a toxic thing. I was having this sense of me being a kind of a fraud of when I wasn’t being positive; that I should be being positive, because firstly, there was an expectation that I should be positive, and that I am an optimist, and my mom is an optimist. And at the other end of the spectrum, I would certainly have never been described as a pessimist.
And my other half certainly never describes himself that way. He describes himself as a realist. And it got me thinking, is there something in between? Something in between that is much richer, where our possibilities lie.
Question number three, why does the Possiblist scare you? If it does?
I don’t think it scares me.
Question number four, when if you ever have, have you felt fully in command of being the Possiblist?
On more than one occasion, and certainly when it’s most acute, is when I have been practising meditation, then I’m truly what I believe a Possiblist is. Being incredibly present in the moment, in the now, not using my mental time machine to travel forwards or backwards. In those moments, I will literally cry sometimes when I am meditating. Tears of joy at the sense of being so incredibly present with your high level of gratitude. Everything is possible at that moment, and that it becomes addictive.
Question number five, what object is the Possiblist?
The one that sprang into my mind was a light bulb, which feels a bit too obvious.
Question number six, when you fully own the Possiblist, what happens for you and your body?
It’s divine. It’s such a sense of knowing of. It’s like a fullness in your being. It’s a richness that isn’t dependent on anything or anyone outside of that. A calmness, but with such a light bulb of electricity, like I’ve got goosebumps. It’s that knowingness. It’s not a kind of passiveness. It’s a fullness.
Question number seven, who makes you think of the Possiblist?
The person that makes me think of it first is a favourite neuroscientist, an incredible neuroscientist called David Eagleman, and the reason he makes me think about it is because many moons ago, I went to a School of Life Sunday sermon that he was giving. And he started to talk about this kind of dichotomy more from a knowledge perspective of religion versus the other end of the spectrum, more as an atheist. He was talking about the idea of where we don’t know enough to say one isn’t right, but we know enough to say that the other isn’t right.That has always stayed with me, and that’s someone I think about from what I now term as the Possiblist. Also, someone who is a cliche, but I’m gonna say it because it popped into my mind just like the dolphin did. It is someone like Oprah and that sounds so cliche.
One of the stories about her in particular is that she stayed in a job that she could have moved from to one paying her 10 times what she was being paid. Her father was like, ‘You’re never gonna ever get paid more than that, take that job’. But there was something in her which I believe to be true when you’re a Possiblist, is that you’re listening to more than just, or certainly what other people are saying, but more than what your logic is telling you.
Question number eight, what song is the Possiblist?
It’s really interesting, because the song that popped into my mind is from Annie the musical tomorrow, which is absolutely not possible that the sun will come out tomorrow. Bet your bottom dollar, that one.
It comes from a haunting childhood memory of when I wanted to audition in Australia for Annie, and clearly as a half Indian, that was not ever going to work. Although have you seen the new version? And then Annie is black.
Do you want that to be your song?
I really don’t because it’s just not what it is. Because that’s all optimists are. That’s what I’m finding really frustrating, that’s what an optimism is like, look to tomorrow like there will be a silver lining and actually, I don’t give a damn if it’s a positive or not. So no, that’s not the song for the Possiblist.
Question number nine, if the Possiblist was a country, what country would it be?
Well, it’s nebulous, but it would be an undiscovered one.
We’ve had Neverland. We’ve had other planets that don’t exist. So I love the idea that it’s a country that has yet to be discovered.
Question number ten, has anything stopped you from owning the Possiblist?
Judgement of self. Always just that sense of fear that comes from a place of not knowing, from a place of wanting to be liked and loved, and say the right thing, and do the right thing, and make the right decision. It’s the recovering perfectionist in me that is the contrast to a Possiblist; I have always joked that I’ll do a 12 step programmed for perfectionists, just like AA, to be perfectionist synonymous. And that’s the journey from perfectionist to Possiblist. Because underneath that there’s so much more kindness isn’t there?
And it really won’t surprise you with all the work you do that answers to that final question have all been around fear, self belief. And that is the end of the quickfire quiz.
So I’m curious. And for my listeners that haven’t come across you and your work, the Possiblist, it’s quite a bold statement. And you alluded a little bit about, how you’re naturally an optimist, and your lovely other half is more realist. What’s led you to get to this place, the world that you’re playing in?
People talk about a game of two halves, I feel like I’ve had a game of three thirds; my acting background, when there was just an epic, epic amount of self doubt and low confidence when people believed I was confident. There was this tension always around, not having that sense of self and belief in myself and in an industry that literally is rejecting you at every other audition.
Then I made the natural segue, as so many actors, do into a banking career!
Just before we move on to your banker career, I want to mention that with a lot of actors, and I think a lot of creatives, but specifically actors, I think there is a misconception that loads of actors are super, super, supremely confident. And I think it it really does depend on your training about how your confidence, whether it’s a confidence, that is a true confidence, or whether it’s a persona, which is why I think so many actors end up with addictions, because that constant rejection, and it’s 85% of actors are consistently rejected, and then they’re grateful if they’re working for a few months of the year. And you do just have to think, wow, it’s that mindset, and it is very much about the training, and then it’s about the mental health.
So the acting carried through to my career in banking, and I was promoted and put into leadership roles, that this C word kept coming up, I mean, not that C word listeners…
But the C word of confidence, which you just alluded to, not being as confident as they thought etcetera. So, that part of me was still there. And what I am continually annoyed about is that it is a word that we continue to use either in a corporate environment as part of feedback for people when you help them; just be more confident because you’ve got everything it takes, go for that promotion. You either haven’t got it and people think you have it, you haven’t got it and you want it and you don’t know how, or you’re told you have too much of it, and tone it down.
Either way it’s not anything of anything – it’s an output that people read in you in terms of your behavior. So how am I supposed to be more confident or less confident? And this is what has really led me to the third third of my life, having my people development company, High Definition You. At the basis of everything, whether we’re doing a coaching program, a training program or a one to one executive coaching, it is really looking to get away from positive versus negative thinking, and also the basis of if it’s not confidence, if it’s not about confidence, what is it?
And that is the conversation that I want to have with people, as part of this Possiblist conversation; It’s about C words, but it’s not confidence. It starts with what we talked about a little bit already, which is curiosity. It’s about being present, not being just present, but curious, and the science of curiosity is really interesting. And that’s kind of my intersection. But juxtaposition of the two worlds for me, which is always the science and neuroscience particularly, and what’s going on with the brain and psychology and the study of human behaviour, but also a curiosity from a place of wisdom that is born into you.
Curiosity is replenishable, constantly iterative, adaptable, fully resilient, completely a whole well being, that it’s the same thing, but sometimes, given that, most of our clients are within financial services, consulting, professional services, they the science helps them to understand it. But really, the underlying piece, and this has been my own shift over the last few years dramatically, is my story about nearly dying six years ago.
I am very grateful that you did indeed survive, nearly dying. Yes, and you did nearly die five years ago, and from that, you’ve shifted, you changed, right?
Yeah, I changed as a result of the not changing that came before that of everything that happened before. But it was in that moment that I started to question how we end up in these situations; like the ‘what ifs’, which is linked to the idea of curiosity, the situation 6 years ago is why I became incredibly curious about how we make choices, how we end up in our lives. And I had always been like that.
I mean, you were an actor. It starts from a place of curiosity. I’d sit on a bus as a kid next to someone that I didn’t know and my mind would be racing a million times a minute thinking, Who are they? What’s their story? Where are they going? Do they have children? Have they ever experienced loss? Full stories that I didn’t even realise. I just thought everyone must think that about everyone.
Yeah, I also, I mean, you’re talking to someone that is like, yeah, of course you do. Because that’s how you create stories and characters. And then when you’ve got those characters, then you jot them down. And then that’s how you create plays, of course, but apparently, not everyone does that. Apparently, some people don’t even notice other people because they’re thinking about stuff in their own head.
They’re thinking about writing, they’re thinking about…
What they’re going to eat. It could be all these different things, and it is amazing. So now as you kind of look back on yourself six years ago, and that, I mean, we all do have these moments, and it’s one of the things that people quite often say to me; I don’t have a big story. I haven’t nearly died or I haven’t climbed a mountain. And I haven’t… And I’m always like, everybody has stories. And the stories all have weight. And when you look back on yourself then and as you rightly said, all of the other experiences and everything else had led you to that place. When you look back on yourself now, are you really proud of the journey that you’ve been on personally in order to become somebody that is happy and, not suggesting you were unhappy before, but that is now sort of really advocating this new way of – because for me, this whole idea of the Possiblist is a new way of – it’s not only a way of thinking it’s actually a way of being. And are you proud of that journey that you’ve come on? So this is the thing that you are now: I want this to change the world?
It’s an interesting – my reaction to the word “proud” is really interesting, because, well, firstly, it didn’t happen, or all in that time, because it was really only probably two and a half years ago. And there’s an incredible coach and author called Michael Neill, and I wanted to go deeper in my own coaching with my clients. And also, when I was looking at things that they tell you to look at your IP and your methodology, and I was training coaches that now work for me, and I came across him. So that actually is that in the last two and a half years if I was to think about the word “proud”, then that would be it’s less a sense of being proud about it and more a sense of it’s hard to put into words of this sense of it’s not – relief isn’t the right word. It’s like I got out of my own way.
Yeah, it sort of feels like you’ve come home. That’s the only way that I can describe.
Exactly. You’re picking up on what I say to so many people, which is, and I literally just said this last week to one of my group coaching circles, and I said that is what I want to do in the world, which they know because they’re all Possiblists now. But I want to touch, and I know we’re not visual, and I’m currently pointing at a video and your face on screen, a photo of you. I want to – not like Glinda, the Good Witch, because I’ve watched Wicked and I know that that story is not true. But I just want to touch people in an appropriate HR manner.
What I said to them is I want them to wake up and know that they’re home. They’re always home. They’ve never not been home. And one of the greatest myths that we’ve ever been fed is that we’re not home, and that we outsource our well being to things that are outside of ourselves, whether that’s a successful book or a certain amount of money in the bank or happy children or a happy boss or an environment that isn’t decaying around us. We outsource our well being, and that sense of – I have to answer your question, which I will answer at least one of your questions today.
Is, am I proud of it? It’s less proud as much as I’m so grateful to be able to be the conduit or catalyst for whatever is ahead. Because as much as our brains want to predict and that’s totally natural and primal. But actually, that’s where we get into a lot of trouble. So I can’t predict it. But but I’m incredibly grateful.
Yeah. And I really hear that. And I think this is such an important time for you to be doing this. And for this to be coming out in the world. Because, whether we like it or not, we have all lived through a trauma. And we’ve lived through a collective trauma, which as humanity, we don’t very often do. It’s only sort of normally world wars or previous pandemics where we all humans are all linked by the same thing. And I think with COVID, we have all come through or are getting through a trauma. And I hear, and I’m sure you do, lots of people that, dare I say it, they’re kind of having probably some of those moments that you did when you were near death’s door where you’re kind of questioning. I think lots of people are going, what is it that’s important to me? How do I want to show up? What do I want to be doing? Who’s important to me? And I think that’s a very natural human response. And I think, to sort of add into the mix, this new way of being feels massively important. So if somebody was listening to this, and they were like, okay, I’m sold. I kind of get this as a concept. I get this that it’s somewhere between that optimism and that realist. What does it feel like to be a Possiblist for them? Especially if they’ve been having quite a tough or a bit of a shitty time recently? Because I think to make that leap, I think lots of our adult brains would go yes, I understand that. That sounds very sensible. And you’re far more versed in neuroscience. This is why she’s done neuroscience, and I’m the Clown. But, our brains will go yes, we can do that. But there’ll be other parts of us going, yeah, but there’s loads of shit going on and d, d, d, d, d. So someone’s in that place. What would it feel like for them to kind of step into being a Possiblist?
Well, I’ll tell you the word that comes up the most for my clients when they get it, and I’m happy to talk a little bit about how they get it, is “liberating”, so they feel liberated and the greatest sense of calm that they’ve ever felt.
I mean, I don’t know what you’ve created there.
I can only hope that it becomes even greater than that moment of creation.
Exactly. So with your clients, they feel liberated when they take this mindset, this way of being on and they do that? For those people that are kind of listening to this, and I always kind of play devil’s advocate, because it’s kind of how I am as well, sort of slightly sceptical. What are the things that stop people from getting to that place?
So the thing that stops people from getting to that place is what I call false logic and insecure thinking. So there’s, and you can’t see me, but what happens is, like I go back to my banking days, right of like the ticker tape of the numbers running across the bottom of the screen is that a thought will come in, like one of those numbers at the bottom. And they’re meant to just run and run and run and run. And then this is the whole point. It’s like they’re not positive and they’re not negative. They just are. It might feel like one is better than the other.
And that by the way, and this is the secret, is that is our built-in feedback mechanism, my friends, is you were just laughing with Emma, and it felt good because you were thinking how funny she was. And that feels good, right? So we have this feedback mechanism of emotion that goes along with this ticker tape of thinking, but what we do, and you said like what gets in the way, what stops them, is that we don’t allow that to just continue.
So for example, my babies were born. They didn’t have any ticker tape and the ticker tape started, right? The minute that they drew breath, and it was I’m tired, that stinks, where’s mommy? I’m scared. Is that a dog? How big is that house? And it just keeps going. And then at some point, they’ll think I don’t think they like me or she’s not my best friend anymore. And it doesn’t matter. That’s totally okay. It’s like, I didn’t do that, well. I totally screwed up the show and tell. I wish I wasn’t by myself. I miss my mommy. And that is also just designed to come through from what I call our piccolo, our place of wisdom. And we experience feelings as a result. And from there, we take action or inaction. We say something or we don’t say something. But where people go wrong, is we then grab one of those thoughts out.
And if you talk to any of my clients, they’ll talk to you about rabbits. They’re like, oh, the rabbits were jumping gates. The rabbits were shagging. And when I was a kid, we had every animal possible. Well, that’s an exaggeration. But we had a kangaroo. We had a goat. We had a sheep dog. We had rabbits. We had peacocks. And what I remember to be true is when you have one rabbit in that cage, that rabbit is doing whatever that rabbit wants to do, and it’s totally blissful. The minute you add another rabbit into it, they like it to shag. And then there’s how many rabbits? And then that cage is full of rabbits jumping.
So what we do is we grab hold of one of those thoughts of I don’t think now is the right time for me to do that. Like, I don’t think that’s gonna go well, that presentation or that promotion or that gig. And we add another thought to it, which is I knew I wasn’t ever going to make this work. Goddamnit, what’s my dad gonna say? Because he knew that I wasn’t cut out for this, or what am I going to say to my boss, because they know that I can do it. They’re going to tell me to just do it, and we add and add and add. And then this is what happens is we don’t know we’ve done that. And we believe that is how we figure things out. So that’s where the false logic comes in is let me use my thinking to figure out my thinking, and I will talk to clients about metacognition. I’ll talk to them about raising up and looking at their thinking. But the false logic that goes with that is that it’s hard work.
And it’s so true what you’re saying, and I love that way of you describing it, because it brings such clarity. And I think one of the things that I’ve noticed not only within myself but with people that I’ve worked with is we also make some of those lines of thinking in our 20s or our early 30s, which we then look back on, and we go to as default. And we believe it to be true. And one of the things that I think you and I both share a deep rooted passion for curiosity and being curious about the world and people and all of that stuff. And for me quite often, for some reason, I think people stop being curious. And so they then go, well, this is how I am; this is what I do; and this is how I show up, and these are things I don’t like doing, and these are things that I do like doing.
I remember there was one woman in a gig, this was years ago, and I sort of said to her how do you play? And this woman just looked at me, and she must have been in her mid 50s, and she was like, I don’t play. I’m an engineer. And I was like, you must have played as a kid. And then a bit later on, there’s a sort of a small giggy workshoppy thing. And she just sort of went, I stopped playing when I was eight, and she had this moment, and this deep-rooted clarity. And I said, well, I’d question that because there’s playing and there’s engineering. And she went, I’ve not played since I was eight. And then for the last 40-odd years, I’ve told myself, I don’t play because of that decision that my eight year old made.
And when you have those moments, and when people have those moments of clarity, and I urge anybody that’s listening to this just to kind of be like, what are the things that you tell yourself that you believe to be true based upon, what are the rabbits that you’ve already created and whether they’re true, right?
And the sense of play is so, so important, which is why I adore you and the work that you’re doing in the world, because part of being a Possiblist is understanding that and this is why we never, whether it’s a corporate training program on branded communication or one-to-one exact time, we never give homework. It’s always home play. All playing with the concept. You’re playing with an idea. You’re playing with what we call downstream tools. But it’s always with a sense of play, because, when you are playing, what is crucial is the understanding that there is no failure.
Did you hear that? Just say that again? Because I know that so many people need to hear that. Say that again.
When you’re playing, there is no failure. Or there’s always just something else, as long as you are open to the possibility of dot dot dot, right? Are you open to the possibility of not feeling worried about not playing enough, right? Because then that becomes the things. And then we start doing what I say, shooting all over yourself, right? Like I should do this. And I should do that. And I heard that podcast, and I should be more like that. But actually, so then it becomes a thing, but actually staying in that sense of play. And that really is that part of that liberation is a sense of irreverence and detachment.
And I love that. And I remember when something really shifted for me, and there was a moment where I truly sort of, I was with my coach, because like you, I practise what I preach. I have coaches. I have mentors. I have people that help me be Em because we all need that support and different questions and stuff.
I’m absolutely perfect the way I am. I don’t have any coach.
And I just remember just saying to my coaches, I really, really give a shit. But I also don’t give a shit now. And she just looked and she just went, That’s changed, hasn’t it, for you. And I said, hugely, because I so deeply care about the work that I do, I so deeply care about the people that I go to work with, and the impact that I’m having on the world. But also I also don’t, because I can’t do anything other than be the best of me. And to be the best of me, I have to carry on working on me, because that’s the only thing that I have any control over. Everything else, I don’t have any charge over.
And for me with everything that you’re saying about the Possiblist, it is that. It’s being – as you sounded like when you were saying about what it felt like to you, it does feel like you’ve come home.
Wherever you are, there you are.
I love that.
There you are, and the piece around the not caring, I often talk with clients and in my talks about this sense of detachment that comes with being a Possiblist. And then people’s association with detachment is often that you don’t care. I’ve worked with CEOs, partners, and my coaches work at a more junior level, whatever level it is, they’re like, oh, I don’t want them to think I don’t care about my job, about my team, about my clients. But actually, for me, the detachment isn’t that you don’t care about the person, the thing, the outcome, the result, the project. It is simply and profoundly at the same time that you know that whatever comes next, you are completely designed to navigate it.
You can have detachment from whatever that is, whether it’s coming from a decision, a piece of feedback, something that didn’t happen that you wanted to happen. What we get into and what stops people is we get into this false logic of, oh, now I have to make another decision, and that was hard enough. Our brains are our problem-solving machines, to go back to the science of it, right? They are moulding hypotheses as we speak right now. But what they’re doing is they’re filtering them out to our consciousness because otherwise our conscious mind couldn’t process all of that. So you add into that the understanding, which I call the upstream, and we nudge people back into that understanding of, what I call the understanding, which sounds a bit like a cult that goes along with being a Possiblist.
This understanding is that every decision is coming from a place of knowing, of knowing that actually, I’m completely whole.
I mean, every single thing within my body just went, yeah. I mean, there’s just no more beautiful way of finishing this conversation with you because I could literally talk to you for hours. Oh, Gita, as I knew it would be, it’s been joyful. How do people find you? How do they find more about this beautiful world of the Possiblist?
They will absolutely find me on Instagram, on LinkedIn, on Facebook as well, or feel free to email me as well.
All of those links will be on the show notes. Gita as I knew it would be, it really, really, really has been a joy. And I genuinely could talk to you for hours. Thank you so much for coming on Clowning Around, with me M. Stroud? Thank you.
I mean, how good is Gita? I mean, I hope that you’re as proud of me as I am of myself of managing to say the Possiblist on a regular basis without managing to actually fluff up that word. But I mean, gosh, just that idea and that thought process and that way of being, I just think there is something so deeply powerful in what she is saying, and I think it really landed with me that actually everything, that whole idea about everything being possible, and I really hear her about that, sort of, have positive thoughts and really challenging that whole idea about positivity and maybe reframing it, for want of a better word, into possibilities. And maybe that’s just a bit kinder. And I love that whole idea that, that then allows us the freedom to really feel like we’ve come home. I mean, surely that’s kind of what we’re all seeking, right? I mean, I don’t know. I mean, you might feel like you’re home already. I mean, you might already be home. I mean, I am already at home, as I say this, but you know what I mean. But all joking aside, I really hope that that got you thinking. As all of you know that listen regularly, I started doing this podcast because I wanted to make people laugh and think. And I think that episode just did that. I mean, it did it for me. So yeah, I mean, for one one person, I’ve definitely achieved what I set out to do. I mean, admittedly, that’s myself, but hey, ho, I did it. But I really do hope that that landed with you. Do follow her, read up on her stuff, because she’s doing some really, really cool stuff. So obviously, links will of course be in the show notes. So that’s it another episode of Clowning Around.
So I hope that you have a splendid week. I hope that you do find time to laugh and complain because it does make you feel better. And as I always ask, please rate, review, subscribe, do all of those good things. And I look forward to catching up with you next week. Take good care. Have a really good week. Thanks for listening. Bye.