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Welcome to unleashing your great work, a podcast about doing the work that matters the most to you. I’m your host, Dr. Amanda Crowell, a cognitive psychologist coach, and the creator of the aligned time journal.
Every week we are here asking the big questions. What does it take to create something of your own? How do we overcome the procrastination, failure, and rejection that comes prepackaged with great work? And while we’re at it, what is your great work? How would you know, how can you find out?
We’ll explore all of this and more so get in here and let’s unleash your great work.
I am joined today by my very good friend and mentor Trish Blaine. Trish is the founder of Non-Ordinary a company committed to helping people live life on the evolving edge. Welcome, Trish!
Thanks, Amanda. I’m really honored to be on it.
You’re my second guest only. So that says a lot!
I know. That’s, that’s incredible. I feel very lucky to be on, especially as your second guest.
Thank you. So Trish, we always start every podcast with this question. Tell us a little bit about your great work.
The Four Forces Framework
So, um, well I am launching a new platform called nonordinary.com and it’s a training platform and community for what I’m calling evolving edge leaders or shifters — people who are really wanting to bring their great work into the world and have a positive impact in the world in some way.
At the foundation of this training community is a framework that I’ve developed over the last 30 years and it’s called the four forces. And I’ve found that these four forces are really at the heart of everything.
When I started working with them, I found them to be our deepest desires. I found them to be at the heart of everything that we’re trying to get in our lives. And also sort of from a bigger picture of really at the heart of why they’re suffering in the world, even like trying to get these four things.
We’ve not really been taught what they are and how to get them in a way that is deeply satisfying for a lot of us. So the four are connection. I found connection is the desire to love and be loved and belong.
Um, the second is expression. We want to belong and be loved. We also wanna be unique and separate and individual and then be seen and heard.
The third is purpose. The idea of contributing to something greater than ourselves, that we actually have something to offer and that we have significance and we make a difference in the world in some way we have impact that would be purpose.
And then fourth is growth. The idea of, um, tomorrow being better than today, uh, the idea of progress, newness, variety. We want that as well.
So to listeners of the Unleashing Your Great Work Podcast, these four might sound actually pretty familiar, and that is not an accident.
Trish and I, uh, we’ve been friends for a long time and we’ve had a lot of conversations about the four forces. I find it to be a remarkable philosophy.
I’ve done some of her programs and have developed some of the skills that she teaches. And I, it has made a big impact on my own life. And when I was developing the essential pillars of great work, um, I talked to Trish a lot about the four things that I think go into great work and they are very similar.
They’re different because it’s focused on, you know, your own creative contribution, but, you know, she says these are the four forces of everything. And I, I found that they are in fact, the floor forces of great work too.
So when she talks about connection, you know, we talk about the fact that great work is done in community. When she talks about purpose. We talk about the fact that great work creates a legacy. When she talks about expression. We talk about the fact that it comes out of your personal perspective, your unique point of view, when she talks about growth, that you are on your evolving edge, that you’re figuring things out.
So the four pillars, the essential pillars of great work are actually built on inspired by enriched, by it’s hard to know we’ve talked, what is the right word, um, to describe the relationship between these two.
And what’s interesting is Trish talks about how, and I’d like you to speak on this, just maybe briefly that the four forces, because it’s the four forces of everything, it sort of operates as an operating system.
So can you talk a little bit about how the four forces is actually the four forces of everything?
Yeah, and well, I found that they’re at the heart of, of everything. All of our desires come down to these four things. Like if we even think about why do we want money? It usually is related to these four, four things.
I also found that they are a set of skills that you can learn. So I’ve found that a lot of the suffering in the world is trying to get these things, but actually not knowing how to actually satisfy it at a deep, at satisfy them at a deeper level.
So as you, you know, the four forces of everything, I also found that patterns that show up strategies around trying to get connection or strategies about being seen or heard actually end up creating communities based on those or communities that have similar strategies. Or if you look at political groups or cultures that different cultures and different groups have emphasis of one or, or more of these.
Balancing The Four Forces
Uh, this is all super interesting. And I think it would help us to have a really concrete example to work with. So what do you think is a good, what’s a good sort of problem to look at, to unpack how each of these individual forces, when they’re in overdrive, do you stabilize the other four and cause human suffering?
Yeah. So, you know, a big, a huge topic, which I don’t, um, I don’t have all the answers for in the way that, like I’m gonna solve climate change, but it’s certainly a big topic right now. Yeah. And I would approach it from two different ways.
One way is you can look at it from the four forces and see all the elements that are in play and how overemphasis on any one of these causes problems and ricochets in the other.
So for example, um, purpose, having more rules and regulations, right? We have to stop people from producing carbon. Um, we have to have these regulations reasonable because we’re like, Hey, we have a problem. And, and we have to, um, really, you know, hunker down and make some choices here. And so we’re gonna put rules in place.
But then what happens is you end up with people that are more focused on freedom or focused on wanting to make a living or having a job or economy, which is also important.
Both of those are also important. Those now become in opposition to the rules, right? Like, you’re trying to stop me from having a job. You’re gonna shut down my plant. You’re gonna, or you’re gonna stop me from making my billions, um, or free. Don’t tell me what to do. I should have the choice. Right?
Um, and so just by putting in rules in place, when we look at it from this place of, of polarity or one or the other, there’s a lot of suffering that comes into play, depending on who’s in power.
For example, if you’re a let’s legislate, like, you know, and, and put the hammer down, then those people may consider it, you know, suffering that now jobs are being lost and right. I can’t make the money, but if we do it the other way, we’re like the hell with, with the rules, hell with legislation, then you’ve got sort of a willy-nilly, um, like growth that would be overgrowth, right?
That’s overgrowth and overexpression. Of like any, anything goes and the individual doesn’t care about the others. I’m just gonna take what I wanna take. And, and the hell with, you know, climate change is not real and let’s not even worry about it or whatever. So from that context, there’s a bigger and deeper issue of learning the skills and why we, these four things are there, whether we wanna wake knowledge it or not.
So climate change isn’t going away. Right? You can, you can argue about the science of it, but there’s also just a reality that 8 billion people on the planet, you know, I had an environmental store for 12 years back in 80, from 89 to 2001. And it was like, it was, they were talking about it then, like it’s not sustainable to have 8 billion people. People keep growing to more billions of people and not have some way of, of learning how to, um, live on a finite planet.
And yet at the same time, it does not work to talk about sacrifice and sustainability. So from a four forces point of view, it would be how, what kinds of, how can we create regulations and, or even how do we create structure in order and meaning in our society so that we all want to do it?
Like, what does a world look like, where we’re all thriving? What does a world look like, where you get your individual freedom, but the greater good and individual freedom are both. And they’re, uh, uh yes, and they’re not an either, or, Hmm.
And what does that look like from a creative version of, of, um, of solutions and products, or I see it as each individual, as we’re learning these skills, do all four together. Like there are so many things we haven’t even thought of yet that could solve this problem.
And I do think, you know, it’s a very cliche saying, but, you know, Einsteins saying that you can’t solve a problem from the same mindset that created it, that I think is so true. And this is where, when we step out of the polarity of one or two of these forces at odds with the other, and instead put them together, then we really do have options that we haven’t even thought of yet that are ways of, um, of shifting. And I think that’s the space of that evolving edge, right?
Of that great work, too, of what do you see as an individual that maybe hasn’t ever been thought of before as a new perspective, to look at it, and if you’re whatever your passion project is, whether you’re a scientist or you are an activist, or you’re a, um, a business owner, like if you are aligned with the four forces you’re aligned with life and you’re, and we’re aligned with each other, and then what gets created is going to be even more amazing than if we’re in that polarity of trying to, you know, make sacrifices for one thing or the other. Cause it doesn’t work, unlimited growth does not work.
And the idea of sustainability, sameness sacrifice, boring rules, regulations doesn’t work either. So how do we create a different version of that? How do we create structure that actually supports creativity and innovative solutions that are about the greater good and individual, um, freedom? Hmm. Does that make sense?
Yeah. So I think what you’re saying is like, there’s a different way of looking at what is, when you say like the four forces are there, whether you acknowledge them or not is an interesting perspective. So it’s like, it sort of sounds like this is how the world balances itself out.
According to you, tell me with that, I’m, I’m trying to restate your story in a way that, you know, I, I have to say like even after years of knowing you, I still sometimes get kind of boggled by the enormity of what really you’re saying, which is that the world is balanced on these four forces. That over purpose will always be a problem because purpose without growth, isn’t how it’s meant to be. It’s not how it thrives, not how life thrives. Life thrives when there is purpose so that things can accumulate growth so that innovation can be brought in connection so that we’re all in it together and expression.
So that I feel like I’m an individual person when those four things are balanced, life can thrive. And so when we talk about great work, when those four things are together, your work can thrive that like when it, when I pull it into the space that I think so much about, it’s like, it starts to make sense to me that if you are trying to do great work, that’s too focused on the legacy.
Of course, it’s gonna get outta whack. It’s gonna start, you’re gonna be start doing things for reasons that aren’t really about who you really are or who you really trying to serve. But I of what’s going to get you accomplishments and legacy. And it’s, it’s interesting to think of these as like, you could really take anything and push one of these forces out of joint and start to see how the system begins to fail.
Unleashing your great work is sponsored by The Aligned Time Journal. As you think about great work, you might think, okay, but how, how do I figure out what my great work is? How do I make progress on it? How do I overcome procrastination, burnout, and perfectionism? What I like to call the three horsemen of the apocalypse?
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When you start to really look through this lens, you can see that a lot of what drives us as humans is really these four things. And I found as you deepen your skills in them, at least doing all four deeply at the same time gives you a new set of levers and a new set of ways of experiencing life of experiencing reality when you, when you understand how to get the is four things.
Hmm. That’s so interesting.
What I think is really fascinating about a lot of the conversations we’ve been having about the four forces and related to the four pillars is in, in essence, the four forces. I see them as the operating system that then you with your great work, get to come in and create something really unique.
It’s not just, oh, they’re the same four forces. There’s a, you’ve taken it, and the pillars are your great work that are aligned with the four forces, but they have your flavor, they have your desire in them. They have your creative process.
So what I love about it is it’s a way for us to coordinate and our great work with each other, with this operating system, but you and each person gets to create your own unique version of those. That’s your expression, that’s your great work.
I definitely think that that’s true, but I also don’t want you to underestimate what you’ve done, which is to, uh, to sort of uncover and clearly articulate a different way of thinking about what is. Like, that’s a big contribution.
And I found it to be a remarkable almost. I know you don’t like, I know you don’t really talk about it this way as much, but the way I personally use it after having sort of gone through your programs and worked with you fairly deeply is almost as an assessment.
When I start to feel unhappy in a deep way, right? Like I’m feeling a little out of control or I’m starting to get too angry or I’m starting to feel a little bere, like, like maybe my, you know, maybe I’m not worthy enough or whatever, that I can sort of run my state through the four forces and find a solution that allows me to feel more imbalance.
So, you know, if I’m feeling angry, I might be into my maybe locked in a little too much on and I need to like pull it back and remember that other people exist and bring my attention to them. Or if I’m feeling a little, uh, type A, just like really tightly wound, I’m sure this a huge surprise to everyone, that happens. You know, I can say I’m a little over, I’m a little locked in on purpose right now. And I need to relax and allow creativity to flow a little bit and let things emerge and like not get so caught up in trying to predict what’s about to happen.
And I think in great work, you can do the same thing. You know, you’re absolutely all of you out there. You’re a hundred percent doing great work. Like it’s not something that you like achieve like, oh finally, I’m doing great work. No, every minute of work that matters to you is great work.
But there is, you can run your great work through this, through the essential pillars, as a means of like, when you start to feel a little outta whack, like you start to feel like, why am I making these choices? Well, you may discover that you’re making them because you want legacy. You’re doing things just because other people want you to, or because you think people will like it, or it’ll work well in the marketplace or whatever, you can connect back to yourself and say like, who am I really? What do I really want to express?
And that can just help to recalibrate the system. Like it doesn’t, it can sometimes be a way to make sure, like when, when you start to feel like this isn’t as deep as it could be, how can I deepen it? Well, by looking through the lens of the essential pillars or if it’s great work or in everything, cuz they’re four horses of everything.
Yeah. And I think you bring up a good point too, that I know over the years, you know, one of the things we can fall into with great work is where it becomes, you know, it’s our passion and we’re persistent with it or we know that we need to be doing it, but we also don’t. It doesn’t have to be a hard struggle and sacrifice. It also needs to be fun and pleasurable and feel good.
And so when we’re not feeling good when we’re in that, whatever, whatever reason, like being able to say, oh wait, what am I really, what, what is out of whack here, as you say, and, and, you know, I think that’s been a big thing for me too in the refinement of my great work of this, bringing this to the world has been, you can get, you can get caught up in the, the mission of it or, or some version of it instead of like, what feels good and is fun with it too. Right? Like it can be a lot easier than a lot of us make, you know, maybe I’m just talking for myself, but I know I’ve worked with a lot of-
Like, you’re talking for all of us,
-a lot of us, you know, that are doing great work. We it’s, it’s serious. And at the same time we also it’s, it’s gotta be pleasure. You know, I’ve been self-employed forever and it’s like, it’s gotta be enjoyable. Other what? Otherwise, what’s the point.
What’s the point? Yes. Yeah, exactly.
What I’ve really appreciated about our conversations in Amanda is that there’s been a both and of like, wow, you have, um, a genius and great work that is yours. And I have my great work, which is the four forces and in collaboration, it’s made both of our work better.
And there’s all also this place where I found sometimes where people are like, well, I don’t wanna do somebody else’s framework. I’ve got my own framework. And yet what I love about the four forces is it can be a common operating
And you know, it sort of eludes to one of the questions I always ask, which is, you know, this work that you’re doing is it’s big and it’s important. And I assume it’s like a little hard. So I’m wondering what challenges have you faced in sort of bringing such a big theory to the world?
Um, well thanks. And yeah, I mean, it’s, I’ve certainly had, um, a bunch of challenges and I, I don’t think they’re necessarily, um, unique to me. I think these are too common ones that happen for people, especially when you feel really drawn to bring something unique, something different, a new perspective, a new, you know, defining one of the things about great work too, is defining your unique offering.
So, you know, the two things that I think I found have been most challenging has been one has been timing, uh, the idea of being ahead of the curve and, you know, I’ve, I’ve had a lot of situations, um, where, you know, having an environmental store in 89, right. And talking about climate change when it was called global warming or wanting to do an internet cafe and community online and the early nineties, you know, when people were like the interweb, the internet’s not gonna go anywhere.
Or coworking spaces, cuz I felt like we needed a space to gather, and that was in 2007 and investors were like, “that’s crazy. Nobody’s gonna wanna know where you’re located” So, you know, those, those are challenges when you’re ahead of the curve to, to, um, be able to say, no, this is what I see is next. You know?
And also, in addition to that and related, is finding language when something is, um, a newly defined space and you know, it’s funny, I, I will often Google things and I’ll, I’ll find, oh no, there’s no results. And I get really excited. I’m like, oh, that’s exciting something new. And you know, my partner is like, no, that is awful. Like there’s no SEO and there’s no keywords. Like how are we gonna market this? If, if, if there’s zero Google results, when you type that in that phrase in, so, you know, on that note, it’s been really challenging to find help, particularly in marketing.
Um, I remember I had a, I hired a business coach. I actually was on a whole, like for a year I was really looking for help with how to describe, you know, how to market this. And I went to a bunch of masterminds and I hired a, a very well-known coach and, and he just kind of beat me up with like that language isn’t gonna work. And it’s all like, you know, out there and well, two years later he’s using that language now, you know, oh, it’s not right.
You’re ahead of your time again.
But it’s also, you know, one of the analogies that came out of that, working with him that felt helpful was at one point I said to him, look, analogy that I wanna use is like, if you’ve created, I feel like, you know, if you’ve created something like astrology, like I’ve created this system that works for you to be able to describe the world or be able to, um, enhance every aspect of your life.
So if I use the analogy of like astrology, I feel like everybody in marketing is telling me, well, pick one, pick Taurus’ and market to Taurus’. And I’m like, that’s not the point I wanna market the whole system. And I think that’s where marketing can be really super challenging because there is always this line of wanting to find language in words and identifiers that people like, what’s your avatar. You wanna find something that people can relate to.
And at the same time, when you’re carving out a new space or you have a different point of view, those words don’t necessarily match. And we have to kind of create our own language and educate people about our language.
What’s an example of something that you Googled that you couldn’t find any results for.
Oh gosh. Um, well, you know, one that comes to mind and I can’t remember if there was zero or not that many.
But like the idea of like the creating a utopia of U you know, so, okay. Like the word utopia is a great example where a lot of times people have negative connotations to that word because there’s a lot of thoughts that it’s boring or that it’s same. Or, you know, like it just isn’t for some reason inspiring. And yet I say to people too, that if it’s, if you think it’s boring, it’s not utopia yet.
But you know, my version of utopia is a utopia of utopia is like, how can we each have our own individual utopias? And then to gather collectively using this common operating system, like that’s a phrase too, of, you know, trying to find language using that common operating system, your utopia, my utopia then can be aligned.
But there’s, you know, there’s been several phrases. Um, when I, I often will, um, either meditate or I’ll get sort of what I say is like a download or I’ll have some inspiration come in and then I’ll go and research it. And usually, I find stuff that’s sort of on that evolving edge or I’ll find that, oh, that, that, that phrase doesn’t exist yet. So
How do you, so how do you navigate that? Cause if you’re, if you’re talking about something that people’s first reaction to is like, that’s boring, but it really is what you’re trying to say. How, if you’re so far, how Trish have you figured that out, if you’re so far ahead of your time that no one are understands what you’re saying, how do you get to people? Like how do you help them see that what you’re talking about is relevant to them today?
You know, I mean, I think that is part of the learning that I’m also incorporating and bringing into the training that I offer people now, because there is, it is different marketing, uh, a new paradigm or marketing new category. It is different than sort of standard marketing.
And I think a lot of it is putting it out there and seeing what people’s responses were like. For example, you and I went to heroic, we met at heroic public speaking, right. As, and both doing that training. And I went through the months of training of that to come up with language. And at the end of it, people were still sort of like, I don’t really quite get it and, and ended up having, uh, a session with somebody where I was just sort of sharing and helping with their unique, you know, with their lives and kind of sharing my perspective.
And at the end of it, she was like, what the heck? Like I had no idea that’s what you were talking about up on stage, you know? And that’s actually where the word non-ordinary came from, you know, like you need a different way of describing this.
Lot of it is trial and error, but there is, you know, um, there is, I’m finding a way of marketing, a new paradigm that if you think of it, as you’re creating a new space that you’re inviting people into, what is that onramp? Like? What, what is someplace where you can start with words that people know, but then you have to build in of an onramp, you have to, to bring them from the words they know to thinking about them differently and introduce your language.
So it, it’s more of a process. I found that just being able to go out there and say, okay, here’s my marketing campaign. Yeah. So, you know, a lot of that is what I work with my clients too, and what I’m wanting to offer. And some of the training is what I’ve learned over the years of about that need for that on-ramp.
Yeah. Yeah. Well, and the, the sort of leaders on the evolving edge is a, is a term that I think really does kind of hit a particular nail on the head because I feel like there are a lot of people these days. I mean, there’s no question that things are kind of a shit-show.
There’s a question of like, how do we get out of this and into something new? And nobody knows the answer. Like anyone who’s like, I know how is like lying or diluted or something. Right? Because the, the answer to the question, how do we do this really, really differently and end up in a different place is like just a complicated question, and we need lots of perspectives to come together to find it.
But I think leaders have come to realize, I need to be able to lead in a different way to bring different things forward, which actually is one of the levels of your training program. Right?
So actually let me segue that into the question. If people on the call who I’m sure there are lots of them who are interested in learning more about you or maybe learning from you, how can they
I work with people in several different ways. I, I do have one on one coaching and I also, um, have sort of my advanced facilitator leadership training programs. But in between, I’m also, um, offering a bunch of, um, really targeted monthly, like four-week-long courses. And yeah, they’re building the skills for community where we can practice these together and everybody can bring their unique perspective too, but have that common operating system.
So, um, you can go to nonordinary.com and, uh, there’s, you can sign up there. There’s a bunch of stuff that we’re doing right now that are opportunities for free courses, for webinars, for community, uh, meetups, uh, to meet other, other people that are interested like you. So there’s, um, a bunch of opportunities. If you go to honorary nonordinary.com, uh, that you can, you will get notified of.
Awesome. Yeah. I’ll definitely put the link to that in the show notes. And I will add my own recommendation that you go over there and sign up and at least go to a couple of the events because it’s such an interesting concept. It’s so deep and so rich and, you know, Trish, I really am so grateful for you coming on the podcast to share these ideas with us. Um, thank you so much.
It’s absolutely my pleasure. And I am very excited to have you as a friend and a colleague and, um, very excited for what you’re bringing to the world and just honored to be a part of it. So thank you very much for, for having me on.
Yes, it was my pleasure.
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