You are an achiever, you get things done, you’re a visionary, creative and entrepreneurial. With 20 new ideas a week, you’re successful. So, why do you feel like something’s missing? Creative driven people have a hard time turning it off, you get ideas in the shower, at breakfast, at a ballgame, at one AM. Most are worthwhile, some are breakthroughs, it’s far too easy to lose yourself in trying to chase them all.
Stop Chasing Squirrels lays out a step-by-step system to uncover your true hidden passion, not to limit your creativity but to focus it, so that every idea you follow unlocks your deepest potential and fills your life with meaning. With six pillars to support you as you shift into your purpose, Stop Chasing Squirrels will help you get focused, stay focused, and unleash your creativity with daily heartfelt joy for the rest of your life.
This is The Author Hour Podcast, and I’m your host, Frank Garza. Today, I’m joined by Ted Bradshaw, author of a brand-new book, Stop Chasing Squirrels: Six Essentials to Find Your Purpose, Focus, and Flow.
Ted, welcome to the show.
Ted Bradshaw: Frank, thanks very much for having me, excited to be here.
Frank Garza: To start, I’d love to hear just a little bit about your background and how that led to you writing this book?
Ted Bradshaw: Well, going back out of college, I started my career like many do, looking for a job. I managed to get lucky with Xerox and then IBM, learned a lot, and I didn’t like the corporate world and some bureaucracy, so decided to start my own company, and that’s going back now about 25 years or so. Since that time, I’ve started five different businesses in all kinds of different industries.
My experiences with those, three of them have been success stories, two of them learning opportunities. As I was coming out of my last business, I was introduced to a business operating system, and I started to use it in my business and found a lot of success with it and then realized that I had a real passion to do that type of coaching work and coaching businesses, so I’ve been doing that now for the last six years.
But what led me into the book is watching these very successful business leaders, owners, entrepreneurs, and our leadership teams, start to get their business in order and then taking a look around them and saying, “Okay, well, now that the business is working, now that the team’s working, what about me?”
So it occurred to me that we spent an awful lot of time on a lot of external things we think are important to maybe they are at the time, but if we neglect number one, ultimately, we’re not as fulfilled as we could be. So I figured, through my observations and my own experiences, let’s see if we can change that.
Frank Garza: So as you were writing this book, who is the target audience that you had in mind for it?
Ted Bradshaw: So, the target audience started off with those leadership teams, those entrepreneurs, and the leadership teams that are a part of those companies because they tend to be high achieving individuals that want to grow and want to learn, so I had that group in mind.
As the book was being written and as I was talking to some test writers, also realized that there were some other markets as well, this was right around COVID, of course, when I started to write it, and so there was a whole group of what I call, you know, the dislocated and disillusioned that because of COVID had some pretty good disruptions in our life.
So all of a sudden, those COVID displaced people started to become the target and then I also had a couple of millennials, high achieving millennials, just sort of starting off their careers that the book really resonated with. So it started off as these owners, leadership teams, and entrepreneurs and then expanded a little bit in a little bit into those other two groups that I mentioned.
Stop Chasing Squirrels
Frank Garza: So, the book is called, Stop Chasing Squirrels. Tell me about why you chose that title?
Ted Bradshaw: Yeah.
Frank Garza: I love it, by the way.
Ted Bradshaw: Thank you. Well, the book writing experience was one thing, what I learned along the way though, it’s also there’s stages to this, who would have known? There’s actually a process if you really want to get the book out there and one of the first steps is have a catchy title.
So I thought about, “Okay, what makes for a catchy title and would attract me?” you know, encourage me to pickup the book and start to at least, look at the table of contents and so, I figured, let’s do something whimsical but still meaningful and maybe universal and one of the things that I do in my coaching sessions when I’m working with these leaders and these owners, many of them are visionary types.
So they’re big picture thinkers and I always make sure that those visionaries are seated with their backs to the window because if they are able to look outside and look around and see stuff that’s going on, it’s difficult to keep then focused. It just became a common saying in my session room is, “Hey, let’s stop chasing squirrels here,” right?
Stop chasing squirrels, you know, these distractions and so, that became a little bit of tongue and cheek, looking at it from the actual where it comes from, it is squirrels chasing each other. A little bit of territory, right? A little bit of trying to make their presence known and so it just seem to me, what a great metaphor for where we often find ourselves in life, not knowing which road to go down but you know, trying several of them. So that’s where it came from.
Purpose and Drive
Frank Garza: Okay, so in chapter two of the book, you talk about – it’s called what drives us – and you talk about six different drives you’ve identified that you believe motivate those of us who lack purpose. I wanted to go over at least one of these that caught my eye, resentment. How does resentment motivate people who lack purpose, can you talk about that?
Ted Bradshaw: Yeah, and just, I do want to – Frank, I want to dive in a little bit into why those – what the premise for those drivers are, and this started with me. So what I wrote about in the book, I can tick the box on all of those items. I’m not suggesting necessarily that someone doesn’t have purpose if they’re being driven, it’s just a question of, the material that we’ve used to define what should drive us.
I think that’s where some of the common techniques and steps to try to uncover purpose or figure out your why, we can’t just start there. We have to start by recognizing, “Well, why are we even asking this question in the first place? Shouldn’t this just be automatic? Are we not born with a purpose and why is it so elusive and why are so many people trying to find it?”
So that’s where those drivers come in but to address your question on resentment and where resentment – and in the book, those six of the most common drivers that I’ve identified, there are others, but those are the six, in the book, the reader will see their most common resentment being one of them as you identified.
Where resentment doesn’t serve us is where we start to find our behaviors, our actions, or what it is that we do because something has happened in our life or hasn’t happened in our life and for whatever reason, we feel like we deserve more or we feel like, “Why did this thing that happened to me, why is it keep – why do those patterns keep repeating themselves?” and I keep finding myself being motivated by negative experiences.
I’m being motivated, maybe by a coworker that did me wrong or maybe being motivated by an ex-partner or a boss or you know, it’s that whole – I’m going to show them. Get me the fastest way to accomplish something, tell me I can’t do it. I hear that a lot and we have to ask, so, where’s that external motivator coming from?
It’s because we’re trying to prove something to someone else, or are we doing it for ourselves and so that’s where I’ve seen resentment show up. Some people taking some actions that they – actions are decisions that after they’ve done them. If you’ve ever been in that situation, Frank, where we’ve just sort of acted out of emotion maybe or we’ve gone down a path and then as soon as it’s done or as soon as we see the outcome of our action, we regret it instantly.
So those are some of the roots where I’ve seen resentment causes to lose focus on really what matters and what’s important to us.
Frank Garza: Of those six drives, is there one in particular or two in particular that you see more than others?
Ted Bradshaw: Yes, there’s two. First one that I see more than others is guilt. In the workshops I’ve done and just having this conversation with others, often, there’s some guilt. Some guilt from the past where someone did not feel like they lived up to their potential, or they let someone down, or they did something that they’re not particularly proud of and so they spend weeks, months or even years dwelling on it and trying to make amends.
I think, this is just one of the reasons why that shows up so much is because it’s unavoidable. We’re going to make mistakes, we’re going to do things that, after the fact, may make us feel guilty because we did not show up as our best selves in that moment and everybody has a bad day.
So the question is, are you going to take that moment or are you going to take that experience and maybe you had a bad day or you’re going to turn that bad day into a bad week or a bad month or a bad year and so, everybody seems to have some example that they can point to right away where guilt is definitely having a negative effect on their motivations.
The other one that appears quite often is, constant need for approval. These are the people pleasers and I find that with the groups that I speak with in that target market that you know, those achievers, many achievers, they’re very selfless, they’re individuals that are held first, they really want to make a difference in the world and they do really want to help.
Sometimes they’ll lose sight of the force for the trees when they haven’t helped themselves and so they gauged their effectiveness, they gauge their happiness, they gauge their progress based on other people’s opinions of them and look no further than social media today, and a lot of the indicators of whether or not someone’s feeling good about themselves is completely related to the number of likes that they get on at any given post.
So I think when we look at those factors, hard not to be thinking about, “What do other people think of me? You know, am I getting the approval from my peers or others?” So those would be the two, guilt and constant need for approval.
Frank Garza: Thank you for that. That is very interesting to know. So later in the book, you talk about a temperature check. Tell me about what is a temperature check and what is it used for?
Ted Bradshaw: Yeah, so there’s in the book once we’ve done the initial work to maybe become more aware that what’s driving us and motivating us may not be serving us that it creates that awareness. So we are starting to bring some things that may have been in the unconscious mind into the conscious mind. That puts us in a position to now be motivated, to give us the motivation to start to take a look at, “Well, what are the things that would be positive motivators?”
What are those things that would lead us to success as each of us would define it for ourselves? One of the next steps is to figure out, “Well, what do I use for material?” what are the ingredients to help me determine where it is I should be spending my time, who I should be spending it with? So the temperature check, I developed it to be simple but complete assessment of the ingredients, the characteristics or the things that we can use, the reader can use so that they are starting to define what their purpose is.
Because what I’m convinced of is that it’s already there, we’re already perfect from the perspective of we have everything we need in order to follow our purpose and so the temperature check is five areas that we do a self-assessment on. Our talents, so this is where we feel like we are uniquely better than others, this is the God-given talents that we are born with. We have always found them easy.
The next item on the temperature check is our experiences. So taking a look at those experiences in our life that have shaped us, good, bad, and otherwise. So those all have occurred to mold us to who we are today. Then we have motivators, so this is really starting to take a look at when we’re aware and when we’re conscious of motivators, what fills us up? What jazzes us? Where can we spend four solid hours and think it was two minutes?
So those passions that we have in life, so those are motivators, really getting clear on those things and then the P in temperature check, temps for short, is the personality. So this is really getting clear on what’s the makeup, what’s the fiber of our personality, the biology, our nervous system? Those things that really make us who we are and how we behave, how we think, how we act. So that would be really getting clear on personality.
There is lots of external assessments that assist with that and then we have the S in temperature check is our strengths. So not to be confused with our talents but those strengths, what are those things that we have developed over time if we fostered a talent, if we have used an experience to give us some capabilities, what have we honed and refined in our lives that we can really say, “Hey, we are above average” because we have been working towards it for a long time or we just happened to have practiced it a lot. So that’s the temperature check, the talents, experiences, motivators, personality, and strengths.
Frank Garza: Later in the book, you introduced the six essentials, and then a good part of the remainder of the book is really digging into these. So I know we don’t have time to go in-depth all six of them but could you just start by giving me a big picture overview of what are the six essentials and what’s important to understand about that?
Ted Bradshaw: Right, so let’s fast forward a little. We’ve done this work as individuals, we have taken the time to get a general sense of what our purpose is and we’re feeling like, “You know what? We are getting pretty close” so we feel good about it today. Over time, as we follow that purpose, it’s important to appreciate that times change, experiences change, our outlook changes, just again our experiences.
So this becomes a lifelong journey to follow this purpose or be guided by it. So the six essentials are those elements of our life that are critical to us being able to have a balanced and productive life or a happy life, and so the six essentials being mind, body, soul, nutrition, money, and relationships. The idea is that at any given time, we may fall out of balance with one of those, one or more of those six essentials.
So the premise is, if we are going to give ourselves the best possible opportunity to be successful in following and fulfilling our purpose overtime over the course of a lifetime, we have to tend and nurture to those six essentials. In other words, they are our guardrails, right? They keep us on a path so that we’re in the best possible position to be successful because if one of those six essentials gets out of balance or really becomes — we neglect it, all of a sudden a lot of other things in life don’t matter for having an issue with money or for having a big relationship issue. It can really derail the best of intentions, so that’s what the six essentials are designed to do.
The Importance of Soul
Frank Garza: So when you look at all the different clients you’ve worked with, is there one of these essentials that you see people consistently having issues keeping in balance or maybe one of them where people consistently don’t put as much effort as they need to into them?
Ted Bradshaw: Yeah, Frank. The number — and this one and it is not even really close — is soul.
Frank Garza: Okay, that seems like a really important one.
Ted Bradshaw: It is. You know, it’s arguably the most important one and I don’t know, Frank, maybe it is the people that I am hanging around with. So maybe some of your listeners would disagree with me but this, it is not so much that it’s not important. I think everybody – here is the irony of this is everyone knows how important it is and you know, we talk about some of the drivers and immediately, it kind of shifts back into, I don’t know, there’s a little bit of guilt, you know?
It doesn’t matter what or where they come from, it doesn’t matter what their backgrounds are, you know, this is we’re not talking about religion here. We’re not talking about spirituality necessarily unless that’s what soul means to the individual. There’s just this understanding and this is what fascinates me with that essential, Frank. It is one of these hard to put our hands around and I think when we can’t really feel it or touch it or see it and maybe not feel is the right word, when we can’t really touch it or see it or prove it, we can have a hard time with it.
So I think that’s what happens with soul and I also, you know, there is no shortage of depending on where you looked today forever, there’s been a lot of source material for our body. You know, here’s how to work out programs, whatever you might call it. There’s been a mindfulness movement over the past several years that’s starting to bring more attention to the mind and you know, so that is getting attention.
Then, of course, nutrition always with diets and all the rest of it, it gets attention and money and relationships. Soul, interestingly enough with soul, it is arguably as you said, the most important and it’s also probably has the richest deepest history if we really look at it that it’s been around the longest, that it is interesting that it’s at least today, maybe in times we’re in, it’s fallen low on the priority list, but I am seeing that change.
I am seeing that change and I am seeing lots more indicators where you and I have this conversation in a year, and maybe it’s not quite so nebulous and what is this thing we call soul.
Frank Garza: Yeah and now that you have talked me through that, I can understand why that one just isn’t maybe as easy to measure or get your hands around as some of those other ones up there like nutrition and money and body and mind.
Ted Bradshaw: Yeah and unfortunately, you know there has been a little bit of politicization with it. I think it brings connotations for some that we can lose sight on it, and so it becomes a little bit of a hot potato. So instead of exploring it, sometimes the reaction is, “We’ll just ignore it” or “We’ll just turn away from it,” but I think if we really look at it for what it is and I explain it in the book or at least one interpretation, we should be able to have a very open, objective, neutral and deeply personal conversation around the soul.
Frank Garza: Well, writing a book is such a feat, so congratulations on putting this out into the world. Before we wrap up, is there anything else about you or the book that you want to make sure our listeners know?
Ted Bradshaw: I am just thankful for the opportunity, Frank. Thanks very much for giving me the opportunity to speak about it. It was really for me, a cathartic experience to get those thoughts out there and you know, I just hope it resonates. I hope someone who picks the book up, they will maybe look at things a little bit differently, especially if they’re not feeling like they are exactly where they want to be right now that maybe there is a nugget or two that they find in the pages that maybe is something that moves them forward.
Of course, I’d be thrilled to enter into a dialogue with anyone who is interested in exploring it further but again, just glad to have the opportunity to get some of my ideas out of my head and onto some pages.
Frank Garza: Thank you so much, Ted, this has been such a pleasure. The book is called, Stop Chasing Squirrels: Six Essentials to Find Your Purpose, Focus, and Flow. Besides checking out the book, where can people find you?
Ted Bradshaw: People can find me on all the socials, that’s probably easiest accomplished through www.tedbradshaw.com, follow me on LinkedIn — connect with me on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube. So you should be able to find me but tedbradshaw.com is probably the quickest path.
Frank Garza: Thank you, Ted.
Ted Bradshaw: My pleasure, thank you, Frank. I really appreciate the time.
Frank Garza: Thanks for joining us for this episode of Author Hour. You can find, Stop Chasing Squirrels, on Amazon. A transcript of this episode as well as all of our previous episodes is available at authorhour.co. For more Author Hour, subscribe to this podcast on your favorite subscription service. Thanks for joining us, we’ll see you next time, same place, different author.