Thinking Out Loud – Ep: 12 – Shame on Somebody…But Not Dak Prescott

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TRANSCRIPT:

Andrew J. Mason:

This is Thinking Out Loud with Dr. Joe Currier, Episode 12, Shame on Somebody, but not Dak Prescott.

Andrew J. Mason:

Welcome to Thinking Out Loud with Dr. Joe Currier. My name’s Andrew J. Mason, and this is the show where we hit the pause button on life, head to the locker room for some life changing halftime inspiration, and then zoom back in and grab the tactics direct from Dr. Joe’s playbook to pull it all together when we’re on the field. Today, Dr. Joe shares his perspective on healthy, emotional processing, what are the right places, times, and people to share your emotions with. And now, here’s Dr. Joe.

Dr. Joe Currier:

The other night, I was getting ready for the kickoff of a new NFL season. I donned my Ravens hat, check. I put on my favorite shirt with my number prominently displayed, check. And yes, a libation. Before kickoff, I got caught up in a commentary about the Dallas Cowboys quarterback, Dak Prescott. The interviewer sounded deeply disappointed by Dak’s quote, lack of leadership, his words, not mine. The story goes that Prescott, during an earlier interview, spoke of his personal feelings. Hold onto your hat. He broke the cardinal rule that real men and powerful women never ever show vulnerability. The specific gender dictate is, real men don’t cry. In Dak’s case, it includes whining and airing emotional laundry in public. The implied message was put on your helmet, stow your emotions, and throw the damn ball. Enough of the Dr. Phil, poor me, childish behavior.

Dr. Joe Currier:

In my opinion, Dak Prescott’s quote, lack of leadership, is defined by incorrect, outdated, macho standards that my team and I address in our emerging leaders process called Lead, Follow, or Hide. Which of the three, lead, follow, or hide do most traditional quote, leaders, model? They follow the dictate that I learned as a young Marine recruit, never let them see you sweat. Oh, by the way, that dictate meant during conflict moments when it’s asses and elbows to the door. When Dak admitted having feelings of anxiety and depression, he was boldly, courageously, and truthfully standing above the macho norm. When the interviewer quickly sounded the alarm, that Dak is the leader of America’s team and as such had better knock off the whimpering, it seemed as if Dak was in the heat of competitive battle.

Dr. Joe Currier:

But no, I respectfully correct the record. Dak was simply and profoundly demonstrating leadership as a fellow traveler on the road of life. Boys and girls, men and women, are often encouraged to hide their truth. Of the four primary emotions, by the way primary means natural universal feelings, it is okay to celebrate joy and happiness. It’s important to share anger, to kick ass and take names when necessary to hold and stand your ground. But do not show fear, sadness, and pain. Rub some dirt on it, take the wound, and bury your sensitivity.

Dr. Joe Currier:

I never met Dak Prescott, but I have worked with many athletes on every level, including NFL professionals. I have been privileged to share painful conversations with these incredible men and women. I believe that there are sports interviewers, coaches, business managers, and even parents who struggle to toughen up their kids for a dog-eat-dog world. Bravo. I also believe that many might want to kick my ass by encouraging emerging leaders to adopt what they consider infantile self-defeating behavior. In their eyes, I should be running up and down the halls, yelling, “Suck it up,” rather than asking athletes and leaders, from the boardroom to the family living room, to consider what I refer to as the kimono paradox. At the right time, right place, and with the right people, there is an opportunity to get real and stop burying sensitive primary emotions, and when facing fear, sadness, and deep emotional pain.

Dr. Joe Currier:

The paradox is when. Wait, please, don’t start throwing darts until you assure me that you heard the caution. There is a right time, right place, right people to share our inner pain. This is a message to Dak. Please, please, don’t go into next Sunday’s huddle, when you’re facing a fourth and short yardage situation, please Dak, do not ask your teammates to hold hands and run through a quick chorus of Kumbaya. Nor would it be right time, right place, to tell your fellow warriors that your brother recently committed suicide and your dear mom is not doing well in the face of her struggle with cancer. Family facts, painful life moments, that Dak Prescott had the courage and thoughtfulness to share when asked a simple question, “How are you?”

Dr. Joe Currier:

My question to you, my listeners, “Is there ever a time, place, a brotherhood, sisterhood, competitive partnership, to open life’s kimono and share your pain, doubt, wonder?” I also have a second question. “Why would you do that?” I will leave these two questions for you to figure out when you face the challenge. Will you lead, will you follow, or will you hide? I’m not going to burden you with the statistics of what happens to our mind, body, and spirit when we hide our primary emotions. I will ask you to play a game we call war, W-A-R. What’s at risk if you change your behavior and what’s at risk if you do not. I’m not going to go over the consequences of burying our personal pain deep within ourself. I just ask you to not change the channel when Dak Prescott suits up and goes to war. I’d like you to see how a powerful life leader performs on and off the field. PS, all leadership is grounded in both emotional self-awareness and the courage to get real. Right time, right place, right people.

Andrew J. Mason:

Well we’re here in a sense metaphorically in the locker room after Dr. Joe has kind of went out in the field and just left it all on the field, which I appreciate. I wanted to share with the audience though, when you shared this content with me, Dr. Joe, I could tell immediately that it had struck a personal chord with you, and that is why, I think, you felt compelled to produce it so quickly. What’s behind this passion that says, “This is something that we’ve got to talk about now.”

Dr. Joe Currier:

You know, Andrew, I think some of it took me back to the playground where you were a little kid out there and you want to make sure that you’re seen in a good light. And you know, if you’re not the toughest kid in the playground, there’s always a chance that can you show pain? Can you talk about something that’s troubling you versus this iron clad code that real men and strong women don’t, and you could follow that with whine, cry, or show any sense of vulnerability, which to me is another version of a question of emotional honesty.

Dr. Joe Currier:

You know, I use the term primary emotions, and again, it’s the concept of universal, whether you’re coming from [inaudible 00:08:51], whether you’re coming from [inaudible 00:08:52], whether you’re coming from African American to Caucasian to Christian, there are certain universals. And where we can celebrate our joy together, where again we’re supposed to be tough and hold our ground, those other two feelings get lost. And when I was sitting watching TV and literally I thought, and I mean, no disrespect, but I thought the man was kind of being trivializing or maybe slightly, almost mocking, what’s wrong with this guy, it struck a chord. And all of a sudden I started to hear myself think out loud.

Andrew J. Mason:

Now, Dr. Joe, you alluded in this podcast to this perception that some folks have that it’s unhealthy to show any kind of emotion. And yet we’ve all seen folks who have done the opposite. You know, they’ve shown emotion at the wrong time. And you know, they opened the kimono at the wrong time or with the wrong group of people. Can you speak a little more to how do we develop this sensitivity to know where’s that right place and those right times and who are those right people?

Dr. Joe Currier:

First I’d like to also add a word there when you say unhealthy to, versus unwise to. The right time, right place, right people I think is one of the markers that I’d like people to consider here. Is it safe to be able to say certain things and speak your truth? And again, I would propose that there’s all kinds of physical, psychological, spiritual reasons for showing up in your truth and that it’s a sign of maturity. And when we talk about this kimono paradox, the paradox is when and why would one do that? So I think part of my question and my privilege has been kind of being a fly on the wall or the person’s rabbi so to speak, to be able to sit and listen to their truth. And to me, it has always raised the psychological bar of respect.

Dr. Joe Currier:

But I will tell you couple of things that have gotten my attention. One of them is where we have this sense, we even use the term he or she broke down. If you think of the language in here, you mean he or she cried. That’s number one. Number two is usually when you see a strong person or just a fellow human being on their journey, start to cry, you can bet they’re going to say, “I’m sorry.” They apologize. And you ask, “Apologize for what?” So you can see that implied message here of, “Don’t go there.” Well, where does that emotion go to? Do we sweep it under the carpet? Do we hide it under the bed? Or do we hide it inside of our body? Which I don’t think is in our best interest.

Dr. Joe Currier:

And power partnerships, passionate partnerships, where we literally continue to really make a bond, where we can show up to each other at the right time and the right place, I believe that’s part of the magic of a power partnership.

Andrew J. Mason:

Do you have any tips for someone who says, “Yeah, I get you. I understand. What you say makes logical sense, but I’m not really a touchy feely person at all.” So any tips or first steps for that person, who’s just like, “Yeah, I agree. It’s probably unhealthy, but you know, like I should go on a diet or I should quit smoking, I should share my emotions in a healthy environment.” How do you get that person started with some first steps?

Dr. Joe Currier:

Well, you know, stay with the statement of, “I’m just not a touchy, feely person. Never have been, never will be.” Remember, that’s a learned response. That’s the modeling of men and women that were before us where you often will ask the question or I will, I’ve never had a dad, my dad died when I was four years old, so I often ask men and women, “Have you ever seen your dad cry?” And it’s not unusual. In fact, it’s the common norm that real men don’t cry. And if it is, the exception is at the funeral of his or her mom.

Dr. Joe Currier:

We had a very courageous, heroic man who adored her had said, when the grandmother had passed, they went to the funeral parlor and the father said, “Look, I’m going by myself. Nobody’s to come in. I want to just sit some time alone with my mom.” And a daughter said, “Dad, you have always been there for me. Please, I’d like to come and be there for you.” And he looked her in the eye and he says, “I can’t.” So she said, “I’m going to tell you what then dad, if you’re okay, I’m going to sit outside.” And she kind of watched as a vigil to just waiting for her hero to come back out, because again, he was not able to share. So the reality of “I’m not a touchy feely person,” it’s the social norms.

Dr. Joe Currier:

Secondly, in this pandemic, look at what is happening to us and the stress levels when we can’t have social closeness, when we can’t physically bond closer to people. There’s a natural need for this. It’s one of the most primary basic needs of human beings, to affiliate. In fact, Maslow says you go from safety and physical needs up to affiliation and when you open that door and can have a healthier level of affiliation, you can open the door to what he calls self-actualization and the message of becoming all that you really can be.

Andrew J. Mason:

Dr. Joe, as always, we so appreciate your perspective. Thank you for your time.

Dr. Joe Currier:

You’re welcome. Thank you, Andrew.

Andrew J. Mason:

And as always, thanks to all of you for listening as well. If you like what you hear, please do leave a rating or review on iTunes. My name is Andrew J. Mason and this was Thinking Out Loud with Dr. Joe Currier. Leadership transformation, growth acceleration.