Darren Kanthal – Cleaning Up The Headtrash | Conversations with Coaches | Boxer Media

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Darren Kanthal is back! To the surprise of no one, our conversation today was excellent. We covered all sorts of topics – his experiences and evolution as a Positive Intelligence coach, the importance of identifying and naming certain attributes within yourself, and the role of gratitude as an additive and restorative influence.

We even explore the analogy of skin as a great way to talk about being both permeable and protective!

Darren’s actually got an exciting new webinar coming up very soon (1/31 at 12PM Mountain Time, check the link below to register). On top of that, he’s launching a new PQ cohort program in early February (2/8) that you’re going to want to learn more about.

Darren is an experienced executive career coach who combines a passion for developing leaders with deep expertise in the career process. He helps leaders to get clear on where they are in their career, where they want it to go, and how to get there as a trusted coach and advisor who advocates for them, their future, and their happiness.

Darren coaches based on real-world experience and provides practical tools, tips, and best practices to reach new and exciting levels of success and achievement.

To learn more about Darren:

Other links:
Webinar Registration: https://thekanthalgroup.com/webinar-registration/
POD Registration: https://thekanthalgroup.com/positive-intelligence/

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Kevin Stafford 0:00
Hello, everyone. Welcome to another episode of the conversations with coaches podcast. It is I, Kevin, and I have already been having a, I won’t pass on all the anecdotes, but we will be sharing some of the conversation we just had before I hit record, Darren candle has returned. And to the surprise of no one least of all me, he’s just as fun to talk to. And we immediately got to meaty conversation topics, and had had each other laughing and smiling along the way. So let’s go ahead and bring you in. Let me introduce reintroduce Darren for you. And then we’ll just dive right into the conversation we were just having. Darren, as you might remember, is an experienced executive career coach who combines a passion for developing leaders with deep expertise in the career process, he helps leaders to get clear on where they are in their career, where they want to go, and how to get there as a trusted coach and advisor who advocates for them their future and their happiness. They’re in coaches based on real world, real world experience, and provides practical tools, tips and best practices to reach new and exciting levels of success and achievement. I really I’m remembering appreciating the distinctions there. And I’ve already renewed my respect and admiration for you, as well as my delight for getting to talk with you again. So Darren, Thanks for Thanks for shooting the s with me again today. And I’m just stoked that you’re here.

Darren Kanthal 1:21
It’s always fun.

Kevin Stafford 1:23
So we kind of started out kind of like talking about what we might want to talk about. And it immediately became apparent that we should just stop talking and hit record because you have a lot going on early in 2023, which is fantastic. And we got to talking about certain certain subject matters regarding getting a yes and no and leadership and how can we how important communication is and the way in which it’s important. And the way in which is evolving. So you can pick your starting place. We can talk about actually you pick you pick your starting place. Do you want to jump back into that conceptual conversation? Or should we start with what you’re doing here in January and February of 2023. And just let that roll into wherever we were going. And you’re you’re the expert host? You drive. Okay, I want to start, I want to start with you, because we were just talking about what you’ve got coming up. And I got excited immediately as you were describing it. So obviously, we’re when you’re when you’re listening to this 2023 is in full gear, we’re still in January. And Darren has got some really exciting stuff coming around the coming around the corner that I want him to talk about early, and then we’re going to talk about it again later on and make sure the links to everything are in the show notes, just in case you were wondering. So we’ll talk about now we’re gonna close with it. And in the middle, we’re gonna have a nice sandwich. So start by talking about this stuff that’s coming up this webinars coming up this program is coming up here in 2023.

Darren Kanthal 1:31
Yeah, okay, so important for people to know, Positive Intelligence is the topic. I am lucky enough to be one of the first 100 coaches that got certified in Positive Intelligence. When I describe it, I always say two things. It’s been life changing, and the missing link to my happiness. And that’s I can’t overstated or understated whatever that saying is, as a certified coach, I get to lead people through a program. So I lead a four month program. The first two months are focused on what I call the core PQ program, which is learning the tenets and the foundations and establishing a daily PQ practice and all the archetypes that we learn who talked in our heads. And then the final two months of the four month program is really focused on how to take those concepts and tenants and really apply it to real life. It’s a very broad topic, it being positive intelligence. And sometimes it’s hard to talk about, in the sense of not hard to talk about hard to explain. So January 31, at 12 o’clock, mountain time, pm Mountain Time, I’m going to host a 15 minute webinar to provide an introduction to anyone who’s interested. And then starting February 8, I’m going to kick off at least one cohort. And if there’s enough demand, maybe two or three will say. So those are two big dates January 31, for the webinar cohort kicks off February 8.

Kevin Stafford 4:11
Nice Do you have? Is there a limit to the number? I mean, obviously, with the seminar, there might be a limit to the number of like people who can stream it at the same time, but there’s no limit to the number of people who could watch it. But yeah, is there any? Is there any, is there any limit to the number of people who can who can be a part of it? So basically, I’m asking, should people act as soon as possible, just in case just in case the room gets filled up?

Darren Kanthal 4:32
Always. I don’t think I mean, honestly, I don’t think we’re going to exceed the limit on the webinar to be frank. And that’s cool, right? So I’m the last minute guy if you are too great. If you want to be more proactive, please do. But you do bring up a good point. When we run the cohorts. And we call it a pod in PQ it’s just a different term for cohort. It’s intimate, so there’s no more than eight people per pod minimum of five maximum of eight. And so depending on what the demand is As you know, slice and dice are divided up into how many pods that we need, but it is intimate. And, you know, I joke, but it’s also true, like there’s nowhere to hide. Right? Like, I know some trainings or professional development programs, some people can hide in the back of the room or pretend like they’re reading and not speak up. But that’s not the case with this program.

Kevin Stafford 5:19
That really is the sweet spot, isn’t it that number like five to eight that small group dynamic because there’s, again, because if there’s too few, you don’t get quite as dynamic of a cohort or a conversation. And also there can be some, some some undue pressure that will that will alter or warp a little bit the nature of what’s being shared and how you’re growing and how open you are and how available you are. And everybody else’s experience follows suit. Whereas too many you have the the hiders. And I speak as someone who has done that plenty of times in groups, even as they get up into the double digits, even as you get up to like 910 11 into the teens, it gets to a point where you know that you can recede if you would like to recede and just be like a fly on the wall. And obviously sometimes it’s important to be able to move in and out of the center of the conversation or in and out of the Maelstrom because there’s reflection and then there’s coming back with what you’ve what you’ve had time to think about and feel about. And but too many, and that there’s not there’s not enough pressure to keep you in the gravity well, so to speak, I’m almost thinking astronomically. And that that five to eight, that really is the sweet spot. It’s the sweet spot for group dynamics is the sweet spot for board games or color guard games I find there’s there’s like the energy is poppin. And everybody’s playing along and everybody’s got a got a role to play and everybody’s having a good time, or they’re losing it or not having a good time. But this is not that kind of game. But yeah, that really, really, really I respond very strongly to that sweet spot. Because it really in my experience is the best number of people to get really to get really intimate, get get uncomfortable in all the ways you need to be uncomfortable.

Darren Kanthal 6:56
Correct. I can overclock it. But that was well articulated.

Kevin Stafford 7:00
I was starting over talking there, I started to get all excited, my hands started rising up into the Zoom screen, which the audience can’t see. But Darren can because I’m such a hand talker. And New Jersey Italian strikes again.

Darren Kanthal 7:12
You’re talking German? I got you at the hands. It’s right. It’s right.

Kevin Stafford 7:15
I remember I remember. Um, so let’s that’s the events, the webinar and the pods, the cohorts, which is awesome. Let’s talk a little bit more. I know we talked about this in our first episode, but talk a little bit more about Positive Intelligence, your experience as a PQ Coach, I know this is a relatively recent development, you’ve had some you’ve got some experience under your belt now specific experience on top of your heaps of experience from prior prior coaching and prior professions. So talk a little bit about what PQ looks like for you now in 2023. And how you how you engage people, knowing what you know, and having learned what you’ve learned. How do you how do you how do you teach? How do you guide? How do you grow? Yeah.

Darren Kanthal 7:58
So I’ve really found my stride working with leaders at companies and leaders is a broad term. And it’s purposely so for me, it’s it could be the sea level down to the emerging a new leader. And irrespective of level, I see the same themes with just about every leader I work with. One bottom line, one bottom line way to say it is that we all live in the conversations in our brain, right the way we look at the world, the lens, that perspective, good day, bad day, whatever it is like that’s how we see the world. And so the conversations, a lot of people’s brains focus on negativity. I’m not good enough. You’re not good enough, right? There’s a lot of talk about impostor syndrome, which b&q We call the judge, right? So there’s all this talk about like negative perspective perspective, which many of us live in, I did for sure. And a lot of us are unknowingly living through these negative lenses. So for me, what PQ really does a beautiful job of is, in essence, give a wit, in essence, give you a mirror into your brain. So we highlight the judge, we highlight what we call saboteurs, which are these archetypes like the controller, the avoider, the pleaser, and for our listeners, you could probably start to ask your team how these archetypes wreak havoc. So all of that is to say that, really what I hear from most people is that not that I can give you confidence. I don’t think that’s something one human can give another. What I hear from a lot of people is that they feel more confident as a result of coaching with me going through PQ learning about these voices that many of us have, and then finding ways to I don’t want to say combat because that’s that could have like a contentious fighting type of thing, but overcome, or productively use these things to our benefit, you know, not whipping ourselves to drive faster and be better and with, but more like, I feel anxious or I feel stressed, what’s causing it? What’s behind it? What can I do to overcome it or neutralize it? And then how can I motivate through love compassion, empathy, activation, that type of stuff.

Kevin Stafford 10:26
It really is. It’s so powerful just having a name for something, when it’s just the shapeless, formless mass, occupying space and having an influence, and you have really little to no idea of what it is or even what to call it, you have no way to engage with it, you can never get your hands on it. And that first step, give it a name, a name that carries with it some some some more words, some definitions, some understanding, and then learn about what that means. And then when you look, you can identify and once you identify something, then you can start to sort through, and I’m gonna, I’m gonna go and use your word that you that you gave to me, before I hit record that I love, you can start sorting through the head trash, you can really just, it’s not just a giant dump, where it’s just like mounds of trash and tires and old refrigerators, and plastic and like paper. And it’s not just it’s not just this massive everything. Like I was saying, I started to have words for it’s not just a pile of trash, it’s all these little individual things. And I know, okay, that can be recycled, that needs to go at least to get buried that needs to get burned, that can actually be repurposed, that’s not trash, I need to do something with that. Because that could actually be useful. I’m going to fold that into where I’m going going forward. And that’s, that’s when the real journey can begin. And I totally understand how you can get confidence for that. Because as I’m talking about it, I’m like speaking it out, I’m feeling myself get a little more confident because like, Oh, hey, I know where I’m at. I might be in a junkyard, but I know where I’m at. I’m in the head trash sorting stuff out. And I feel myself like I haven’t pleased to plant my feet, you know. And once you have that, that confidence, it just, it’s a natural outgrowth of that process. And you act as quite frankly, the perfect guide to getting to that place where the confidence begins to grow and become self sustaining. You know,

Darren Kanthal 12:07
I love what you said. And you articulated that well, too. I have to give credit to my good friend and colleague Shawna, she’s the one that introduced me to the concept of head trash. So thank you, Shauna. Sue, is what I talked about what some of these awarenesses of archetypes in our brain has, personify it. You know, the author of the book, the guy that created PQ, named Shirzad really encourages us to name our judge. Mine is named Richard, for obvious, you know, having a beer reasons for short named Richard. That’s how he acts. So it’s like, instead of thinking, like, I’m just this negative guy, I start thinking that my Judge Richard is the negative one. And that really what we learned in PQ is that we are safe. We are these beautiful beings that are faulted and imperfect and all this stuff. And if I accept and embrace my imperfections, instead of beating myself up for them, right, that is human, right? Beautiful, and flood, they can be mutually exclusive. And so a big outcome of PQ is to recognize that these judge characters are really not us, so to speak. They’re like our side friend, if you will, in a negative way. So are whatever I’m trying to say. But we are saying, we are these beautiful beings.

Kevin Stafford 13:33
Yeah, and I really, I love how this draws attention to something that I think it’s a it’s a very common mistake. It’s almost like kind of ingrained in the way that we understand ourselves and that we often think of externalization as a diminishing of ourselves. Like we’re taking something out and setting it aside. When really all it’s what it’s doing is allowing us to understand and expand ourselves farther, we think of them as again, mutually sort of like externalization must be some sort of diminishment or separation, externalize. externalization is not separation that actually allows you I feel very strongly that allows you to better understand who you are this multifaceted human being that contains multitudes one of those multitudes happens to be Richard who we sometimes called Dick, or whatever, or whatever your name for this person who is you and other at the same time, it’s not it’s not it’s a paradigm I find paradox to be the gateway to so many, like, so many things I used to bump up against it now I can at least begin to understand. And it’s like it’s an I think it’s important to realize that it’s not you becoming less, it’s you figuring out how to become fully I didn’t leave you many places to go there. I just got really excited by that by that concept.

Darren Kanthal 14:51
You know, it’s what it’s coming up for me is what I say it’s the missing link to my happiness. Really what I learned was that the net If self talk was all consuming, like, all I saw was that I’m going to curse I was my judge Dyk convinced me that I’m the biggest piece of shit that walks this earth. When things go wrong, of course, it’s my fault because I always fuck it up. And like, that’s how I talk to myself. And that’s how I talk to myself all the time. Now, the way to overcome that was a brash, rugged, arrogant, loud overcompensation to try to show you confidence. So you couldn’t break through the tough shell to realize how insecure I really was.

Kevin Stafford 15:34
Man, this is starting to feel close to home for me.

Darren Kanthal 15:37
Like, when I say it’s like, life changing, and like, the missing link to my happiness is because I recognize that I am imperfect, and I’m still me. My mom loves me, my parent, my, my siblings love, and my girlfriend loves my friends, like, people love me, even though I have insecurities. And my brain convinced me that my insecurity was true, which is bullshit, it is not, it is my own. Nobody else reinforced those insecurities, but I live with them and believe that everybody knew them too. And so I had overcome it’s, it’s a really interesting cycle.

Kevin Stafford 16:12
It is there’s a, there’s a little a little sort of mini saying that I use, I use very sparingly because it can kind of like it’s a little bit too broad, and can sometimes be interpreted strangely, but the cracks are how the lights get the light gets in. It’s something I think about a lot. It’s like one of those things where it’s I felt a need to be impenetrable, in order to be fully myself that I was supposed to be some sort of smooth marble surface, that and that’s what would allow me to be valuable to the people I cared about and to the world around me. But the cracks or how the light gets in, and kind of realized that embracing that I kind of I came to understand that what I want it to be more like with skin, which is defined by two things that seem opposed but are actually joined together. It’s defined by how it protects, and how permeable it is. It’s defined as much by what it lets in, as what it keeps you safe from as it’s something I think about all the time how dynamic that is, and how the way I first learned how to like be my human being self. Those seemed like completely separate concepts like an inevitable completely incompatible. And now I realize not only are they compatible, they actually are one in the same. They’re the same organ, so to speak. And so I look, I look, I look to skin a lot as an inspiration for how I want to be in my heart and in my relationships. Perfect. Personal and professional.

Darren Kanthal 17:33
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I used to use the word infallible, like my hope was that I would be infallible and therefore remove any possibility of judgment or criticism or wrongdoing. And it’s an it is impossible to be infallible, in my opinion, right? Like skin is fallible, right, it cuts but it heals. Right, it’s permeable, and it keeps us safe. That’s a great analogy.

Kevin Stafford 17:58
I love it. I love it. Also, there’s one other thing too, that I got, um, since you since you borrowed head trash from someone, there’s something that I’m told, I’m liberally borrowing from a coach I spoke to relatively recently. Because obviously, well, we all think a lot about gratitude, I think a lot about I think a lot about gratitude in the context of what I let in and who I am and how I represent and how I behave and show myself to the world. And it’s become, I don’t know how it could have, I feel like I’ve maxed out on the value of gratitude. And then the next day, I realize it’s even more valuable than I thought. And that seems to be every day of my life at this point. But we were talking about how, how that certain demeanor that that’s that impossible standard of infallibility can be exhausting, and can really grind you down. And if you find yourself emptying out, and he, he had this, this this three word sentence that I just I’ve been, it’s been on my mind every day since he shared it with me, gratitude fuels resilience. And I’ve been I’ve been thinking about that. And like, the truth of it was immediately apparent to me. And I was like, this has more to tell me, I’m going to sit with this because and I like each of the three words, I love the fuelling aspect of it, because I find that like the resentment, the anger, the impossible standards, that negative self talk that all that stuff inside me, was really like grinding me down and hollowing me out. There’s a lot of friction, a lot of grinding. And I thought, you know, you didn’t end up interpreting that as, that’s what getting strong feels like, which is that some other fallacious self talk that’s entered into my brain from a young age that I’ve had to work pretty hard to rewire. But thinking about the way that gratitude, just the act of being grateful for it doesn’t change a circumstance when you’re grateful for it. A terrible thing can happen to you, you can lose a loved one. And the gratitude for what that brings to your life doesn’t change the thing itself. You can be you can be in mourning, and be grateful at the same time. That when I first realized that that rocked my world that rocked my world, like I could feel two things at the same time that are crying At least seemingly on opposing sides. But really, they’re not at all. And I just didn’t know that. But gratitude fueling resilience has been sort of my theme so far for I think 2023. And I feel like it’s vibing very much with what we’re talking about right now, too, because of how, how I’ve had to learn to embrace that, which fills me up and fills up the people around me by extension, and two rejects the things that grind me down and grind the people down around me, by extension, that stuff, we’d like to think that it doesn’t creep into how we treat other people that we treat ourselves. Like, we’re our own harshest critic, but we treat everybody else with respect and kindness, that self talk that creeps into how we treat other people and insidious ways. It’s, it’s scary when you think about it. So yeah, and embracing that YuLing aspect of Gratitude has been has been really powerful for me so far this year.

Darren Kanthal 20:50
Yeah, it’s, um, I love it. It reminds me of a lot of a lot of people I talk to personal and professional. Their fears are often or at least often enough around the what if scenario? What if I tried, it doesn’t go well? What if I screwed up? What if I embarrass myself? What if they don’t like me? What if? And my response to it often is, okay, well, what if it happens? And it’s, it’s kind of a dumb question, but it’s not. As a little bit of a sidebar, I have a dumb saying, which is, unless you wake up dead tomorrow, whatever you’re dealing with today, it’s still gonna be there tomorrow. Right? So the whole point of it is like, if the what if scenario happens if you are embarrassed, right? You could be grateful for the opportunity even to be in a position to be embarrassed, you can be grateful for your courage to put yourself out there, you can be grateful for all sorts of stuff. And then that feels resiliency, right? If I embarrass myself today, maybe I don’t do that tomorrow. And tomorrow, if I’m brave enough to try it. Maybe I learned enough lessons to where I’ll be even better today. So that’s a beautiful, beautiful say I liked those three words. Also,

Kevin Stafford 22:01
I really I really liked that quote unquote, stupid saying because I love I love when when two states are in opposition, like if you wake up dead tomorrow. That’s one of those things is like it’s like almost like a little like a Zen koan, where it kind of like it tricks your mind into realizing stuff after you say it. I was like, Oh, like that if you wake up dead tomorrow. It’s like, wait, what? That’s what that doesn’t. And then I gotcha.

Darren Kanthal 22:25
Sure, you receive it a lot like a lot of us coaches, right, we have all these little sayings. Oh, yeah. And I remember when I was going through my coaching program with CTI, these master coaches had all these metaphors and analogies and all of our students were like, how do you have this stuff so readily available? And I remember them saying, trust us in time, you will have them too. And sure enough, many of us have them.

Kevin Stafford 22:50
I just might let my eyes creep up to the Zoom clock. We’ve already been talking for almost 40 minutes, which I’m completely I’m surprised but also like, I’m consistently amazed. I was like, where did that felt like five minutes. But I say that to say that I should let you go. We both have some other stuff to get to today. And, man, am I grateful for our conversation today? I remembered, I remembered really enjoying, I went back and listened to our episode before we recorded today and was like, oh, yeah, I do remember this. This was good. And I saw you on the calendar. I got really excited about it. Let my expectations creep up, which I usually don’t do. I’m usually like one of those principal of expectations. Like I expect this to be really good conversation. So thank you for exceeding my my already slightly lofty expectations. This has been this fitness competition went everywhere. I hoped it would go including places I didn’t see coming, which that’s I couldn’t ask for anything more. So before I let you go, I want to make sure because I promised the sandwich. Make sure to remind everybody about the webinar. And there’ll be a link to register in the in the show notes when it’s available. And then also when your first pod begins for this PQ cohort. Yes. Thank

Darren Kanthal 23:59
you for that. Yes, the webinar will be Tuesday, October, October, geez, let me start over Tuesday, January 31, at 12 o’clock Mountain Time, that’ll be the webinar and I’m going to keep it under an hour. unless anybody has additional questions and such. The pod is going to kick off the following Wednesday or week Wednesday, which is February 8.

Kevin Stafford 24:27
Okay. And we’ll put all this information in the show notes and the links to register. Darren, I’m well first of all, I’m completely on surprise, but I’m really I’m really excited that you’ve got so much already like catching fire in 2023. I love I love kicking the year off on the right foot and it’s been it’s already been it’s weird to say we’re only a few weeks in when we’re recording this It’s already been a pretty fantastic January. And I’m stoked that you’re like striking while the iron is hot and you’re getting some big stuff started early just means more success as the year goes on. Oh, it feels like getting off on the right foot. So I’m pretty stoked for you, and pretty stoked for me too, because I got to, I got to talk with you about it.

Darren Kanthal 25:06
Thank you. And I want to commend you, because you have a gift in the role that you play here in our conversation and the ones you have with other people, is you listen astutely. And your ability then to save what was said in your words, which then expands the understanding and gives different ways of thinking about the same exact thing. That’s, it’s really strong, it’s a powerful gift that you have.

Kevin Stafford 25:31
Thank you. And also, I will go ahead and I’ll tie this back to something you said, I, in the execution of that gift, have embarrassed myself tons of times, but, but in that embarrassment, I wasn’t able to be corrected. It was like, Oh, I didn’t get what that person was saying. They let me know where I went wrong. And now I learned and so not only did I get the benefit of that feedback, I also got to try stuff out. So I had to embrace some embarrassment had to get the you know, the the extra deodorant as the armpit sweaters, I realized I’m putting my foot in my mouth. But that’s, that’s not but and that’s part of the process to be embraced and welcomed and to be grateful for. So I’m grateful for you there. And honestly, it’s been freaking fantastic. I’m looking for and I’m probably going to reach out again, maybe like later in the spring and just just check in and see how things are going and just have another conversation like this because these are, these are just too good to not have a few times a year, I feel like so, if you don’t mind, I’m going to be sliding into your DMS in a few months and seeing how things are going.

Darren Kanthal 26:32
Thank you for the opportunity to get talking to you. It was my pleasure.

Kevin Stafford 26:35
It was our pleasure to include the audience and hey, you know what they’re all about, you’ve just listened to, you know, 30 plus minutes of us chatting. Click the link in the show notes. You’re gonna want to hear what he has to say at this webinar and you know, consider getting to know Darren a little bit I have already benefited from greatly and I’m confident you will too. And for me, I’ll get the chance to talk to you again very soon.

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