164: Anna Tunnicliffe Tobias, part 1: Olympic gold and Crossfit Fittest on Earth (transcript)
Anna is down to earth for anyone, let alone a gold medalist and CrossFit champion. Watch her videos to see the contrast between what she does her abilities and how she doesn’t have to be humble. We start talking burpees early which for anyone who knows me knows why I would love. She talks about the value of coaching, the intimacy and vulnerability in it. I hear that she wants people to develop for themselves which she’s developed for herself, community being a big part of it. Number one in the world on something highly competitive means reaching your potential. If you’re interested in reaching your potential putting people like Anna in your peer group not just abstract heroes, I think helps you reach your final goal. If the environment matters to you, your goal is likely far off with no guarantee that you’re going to reach it. Anna shows how she made it through such situations on a global level. As a side, I can’t help sharing some guests inspire me usually in the second conversation when I hear their environmental activity. Anna inspired me before we even spoke. Researching her I saw that at the 2013 CrossFit Games the athletes not in her division they had to do on a rowing machine, they had to row a marathon that means 26.2 miles rowing. They were all happy to do it so I decided to try it. Never having rowed more than I think about 7500 meters at a time I first rowed a half marathon at the beginning in February. Then a few weeks later at the end of February I rowed a full marathon. It felt tremendous and that’s what happens when you put gold medalists in your world.
Joshua: Welcome to the Leadership and the Environment podcast. This is Joshua Spodek. Iâ€™m here with Anna Tobias. Anna, how are you?
Anna: I’m great. Thank you.
Joshua: And you know actually I don’t know if you know this. We were in the same room at the same time when I was out at Oakcliff and Dawn Riley who was a guest on the podcast introduced us. She was pointing out different people in the room and she was like all these Olympic people and so forth and I was like, â€œWowâ€. And I should have gone up and said â€œHiâ€ then. So I apologize for not having met in person when we could have but glad to talk to you now.
Anna: Yeah. Iâ€™m glad we get to catch up.
Joshua: And as I just mentioned before recording I’ve been watching your videos. And so let’s see, you’ve won an Olympic gold medal. You’ve won the CrossFit games. You came number one.
Anna: And the master. Yeah.
Joshua: So that’s 35 to 39. Something like that?
Joshua: And this is really amazing stuff.
Anna: Thank you.
Joshua: I’ve been watching your videos and I see that you do a lot ofâ€¦ I’ll put links to it for people to watch. And what I see is like you’ll do something like a set of exercises that any one of these exercises would be very challenging like a [unintelligible] or climbing up a rope and then you do as many as you can in a short period of time and then you do it with a whole bunch of other things in a kind of circuit and you do what most people would consider hard a lot of it and then a whole bunch of those things together. It seems like a lot. It’s really to me inspiring because I look at something that I think, â€œOh, that would be so hard to do.â€ but then I think, â€œWell, she’s doing it. She’s obviously doing it. And that means I can do it too.â€
Anna: Absolutely. So yeah. I do CrossFit, I coach CrossFit, I run a CrossFit gym with my husband [unintelligible]. And the great thing about it is that it’s infinitely scalable and anybody can do it.
Joshua: Yeah, it seems very accessible. I mean I guess maybe someone isn’t going to have a rope that they can get access to. I guess there are a lot of CrossFit gyms around but generally it’s all things that are functional things that you can replace one thing with another like if you donâ€™t have a bench I guess like I used kettle bells. I don’t have a bench in my apartment. And it always seems like it’s things that it’s difficult for some to say, â€œI can’t lift that much but not that I can’t try and eventually get there.â€ It seems like there’s a strong community of that as well.
Anna: There is. I mean the whole idea behind this, around CrossFit is a healthy lifestyle and functional fitness. Some of us take it to the extreme and we compete but that’s not what it’s really all about. It is about creating a healthier lifestyle so that you know when you are outside of the gym for the other 23 hours of the day that you’re going to be healthy and know how you’re going to move your body, you know how to lift something and it helps you create strong muscles and develop strong muscles and joints so that when we are older in life that we can still get a bite of a chair without assistance, we can still pick stuff up, we can still move, if we fall over we can still get up by ourselves. If we think about what a burpee is basically [unintelligible] gets up off the floor and standing up. So if we can get strong and we can do a burpee you know and if we’re 70-80-90 years old and we can still do a burpee, if we fall you know we’re going to be able to get up on the wall.
Joshua: You know the way you describe it youâ€™re describing physical capabilities but it’s hard not toâ€¦ Also it sounds like it’s mental capabilities as well to say you can get up is a very enabling empowering statement.
Anna: Absolutely. It definitely builds your confidence and it pushes you to new physical levels that then you know pushes you to new mental levels. Your mind will give up hundreds of times before your body actually gives up. And so every time you do a workoutâ€¦ I mean Iâ€™ve been doing CrossFit for like seven years now I think and it’s definitely not any easier now than it was on day one of doing it. You just get better and you get more comfortable with the physical pain so you push harder you know and mentally you get stronger with being able to push yourself to new limits on a daily basis.
Joshua: I guess the flipside is also true that as far as you go it’s always challenging but it also means that as early as you start there’s always an access point no matter where you are, no matter how out of shape you are and no matter how youâ€¦ I don’t know the timeline. Did you do CrossFit before? You still sail?
Anna: Yes. I still fail. I found CrossFit at the end of 2011 and used it as my new fitness training leading into the 2012 Olympics. And then after that retired from sailing for a few years and focused on just competing in CrossFit.
Joshua: So you came to it already being a world class athlete but you could have come into it being a couch potato and there would still be an access point.
Anna: Absolutely. I guess that it’s infinitely scalable whether we scale the movement, the rep count, the workout time you know even if it’s you just coming in warming up, meeting the community, getting comfortable and rowing for 10 minutes you know if you’ve done absolutely nothing and you just come in and you know you just move you know it’s the starting point and it gets you going you know that’s what’s so awesome about this is the community that’s behind it. The hardest part of CrossFit is walking through the door. Once youâ€™re in, you’ll be so surprised that the community thatâ€™s there they’re so welcoming and you just feel all of a sudden part of something that you want to go back to on a daily basis.
Joshua: You know that makes me think of something that was a major discovery for me in my life and obviously I haven’t gotten to the level you have but I used to think people in the gym were all muscular and I wasn’t. And so I felt if I went to the gym, I’d feel intimidated and I felt like people would look down on me and make fun of me. And then as I would go to the gym more eventually I realized it was exactly the opposite. If when a beginner comes in, if they don’t know what they’re doing, everyone wants to help. I mean they might go out of their way but generally people are going to mind their business. But if asked, they’re like, â€œYeah. Here’s how you do it. Here’s the form that I use or here’s how to prevent an injury.â€ or stuff like that. It’s the exact opposite of what I did. I realized the intimidation that I felt was actually my own internal thing that the resolution was not to keep away but actually to go and that community was such a big part of it.
Absolutely. They said there it doesn’t matter what are you doing, it doesn’t matter what movement you’re doing, you’re just part of the community and you’re part of what’s happening, and everybody together is creating a healthier lifestyle for themselves and for everybody else. And that’s what’s most important about it.
Joshua: I want to go back a bit now that I’ve mentioned the Olympics. Can I ask you a few Olympics questions?
Joshua: I woke up before my alarm this morning and I was like I got to ask her these things but I’m sure she gets asked all the time so I apologize if I’m asking things that you’ve already been asked. I mean there’s a couple of things like what does it feel like when they put the medal on or what does it feel like when they play the national anthem or what does it feel like when you cross the finish line and you realize like that was the last one like you’ve gotten there? And how often do you wear the medal?
Anna: I wear it around daily. No, I don’t. I don’t put the medal on that often. Only if I’m doing a speaking engagement or I’m showing it to somebody and taking a picture. No, to be honest, it was amazing, it was a dream of mine since I was 12-13 years old to win a gold medal at the Olympics. And I’ll be honest, when we crossed the finish line and I was on the podium and I got the medal around my neck it was excitement, honor, relief in a way like we did it and it’s over like thank God. And then when they played the national anthem it was a super, super proud moment. You worked so hard to represent your country and you come in with this one goal to bring home the gold medal for the USA and then being there and hearing the national anthem you know I think it’s a really proud moment for you as an athlete being on top of the podium.
Joshua: Oh, man, it’s… I’m just trying to imagine. I’ve had some really great moments in my life and we’ve won tournaments and things like that but I just love hearing it. And do you get asked all the time? Or is it a common thing you’ve answered?
Anna: Yeah. Iâ€™ve been asked a few times. I think the funniest part it’s not funny but like the biggest surprise is that you just feel a sense of relief you know like you have all this excitement and happiness. But then at the same time you have this massive amount of relief that it happened and I don’t think people really expect to hear that as one of the emotions that you have but itâ€™s there.
Joshua: I feel like a lot of people look at what people who work really hard at something whether it’s an athlete or an artist or lots of different areas where youâ€¦ It looks to the outside like sacrifice. I mean obviously to train you were not going out to parties all the time. You werenâ€™t doing what a lot of people would consider fun in the moment. But I would bet that even if you hadn’t won gold, you would still look back. Did it feel like you sacrificed for it?
Anna: I wouldn’t say I felt like I sacrificed. Did I sacrifice by the definition of it? Yeah but you know it was to me what was needed to get to that point. So if I didn’t do what I did and I didn’t come home with the gold medal, I would feel like I cheated myself out of something because I didnâ€™t do everything in my power to be the best I could be. So looking back at it that way like it wasn’t a sacrifice. It was what was needed to be done to get the job done. If that makes sense.
Joshua: It sounds like an internal… I mean there is the external part but there’s also something internal that independent of the results, independent of the outside world of youâ€¦ Youâ€™re challenging yourself but it sounds like finding out who you are, what your potential is and reaching that and if you achieve that, well now it almost sounds like a clichÃ© but if you achieve your maximum potential, that’s the reward in and of itself.
Anna: Yes. You know I think I was on both sides of the Olympics. I won the gold medal the next time we went and had the gold medal favorite and didn’t come away with a medal. We finished eliminated from the Court final. And what I have changed anything that we did in the London Olympics we thought we did the best plan that we could. We gave everything we had. We won so much leading into the Olympics and we weren’t by any means cocky, confident or anything like that. I think we were still a very humble team. It just didn’t work out. Something we did a move wrong and it cost us the race and we were eliminated. So it’s heartbreaking that that didn’t happen that we didn’t come away with the medal there. But we gave everything we could. And I wouldn’t have changed much of anything of what we did going into the Olympics either. So even like you said yes, like it it’s all about knowing that you gave everything you had to that moment and hopefully you come away with the goal and sometimes it doesn’t work out and sometimes you do not come away with the gold but no regrets because we gave everything we had for that moment too.
Joshua: Yeah. As you said it I’m thinking of some of the videos where you finish your exercises and the exhaustion that like you collapsed to the ground. There’s a couple where you can’t lift that last weight, there’s a couple where you finish everything and that feeling of exhaustion it reminds me of the Vince Lombardi his quote on victory and winning when he says, â€œThere’s no greater feeling than when you lay down in the field of battle.â€ or something like that. That feeling of exhaustion is tremendous and it feels like that’s kind of what you’re describing on a different scale. I’m not sure.
Anna: Yeah, yeah. You know I think once you’ve found that voice physically you can relate it to like the mental side of it too. And absolutely it’s the same thing.
Joshua: You know as we’re speaking at the same time we’re talking about athletics but you know the environment is a big thing for me it’s the Leadership and the Environment podcast so Iâ€™m thinking a lot of what you’re saying of the effort that you put in is worth it for it being your potential, for being what you care about. And I’m also translating it into a lot of people are like, â€œOh, it’s too hard.â€ or â€œWhat I do doesn’t matter.â€ And they ask like â€œWhy bother?â€ like what you do doesn’t matter. And I think to myself but it’s what matters to me and that reward is much greater if I decline some packaged food in favor of having to cook for myself. I fear if I like jump scale to something too minor but actually not.
Anna: It’s not. You know you there’s only so many things in your life that are in your control and if you don’t control what you have control of to make it the best possible path for you, then in a sense you’re not giving everything you have for that goal you know. And you know for me and fitness and sport if I half of the workout you know I’m cheating myself out of something that could have been better because now I’m not going to get the chance to redo it Iâ€™ve used all my energy for the day but I didn’t use it to the fullest potential so therefore you know I’m not getting the most out of that workout that I could have. Same as food. Like you said like I could go out and eat something processed or I could cook my own clean food. You know what’s going to make me recover better? What’s going to help me get that one small step forward and closer to that goal? And so you know it is as simple as making your own food you know drinking water instead of a soda. Like it’s the little things like that that add up over time. It’s easy to do the big goals. It’s really hard to do the little ones.
Joshua: Now when you said it makes so much sense and that’s how I feel. And a lot of times people say, â€œWell, Josh, you’re so extreme on this. I just want to be more moderate you know I want to be more balanced.â€ To me it’s like living in my potential. I don’t want to balance like living partly to my potential. It doesn’t really make sense to me.
Anna: Yeah. I agree. And I think you do have to keep basically what you want in check. So again, I’ll take it back to [unintelligible on sailing, if you’re fully committed to the goal of being the best, whether you’re competing at a profit game the Olympics or you just want to be the best you fitness wise you can be, then yeah you might have to you know not have those cheap meals, not have you know alcohol on the weekends or whenever, you might have to skip that candy bar that you want. But if you’re like you know I work out for a happy lifestyle, I do like to go out with my friends once a week. OK. I keep that in moderation as long as it’s not going to be like four or five times a week you know but that once a week like you’ve got to keep like the fun side of life in balance as well. So I think a lot of it comes back to what your ultimate goals are but if youâ€™re really committed to one goal and that’s what you want, then as much fun as something could be you have to weigh the pros and cons of how it’s going to affect your ultimate goal whether it be on a big level or a small level. Because like I said I think everything in some way helps you get toward your final goal. And it’s just a matter of weighing the pros and cons and how important that final goal is to you and how much you’ve committed to it and on what choice you’re going to make on your little goal.
Joshua: So when youâ€™re talking about goals when a goal is really far off and you’re not really sure like you can’t necessarily see the light at the end of the tunnel there’s a question it’s interpreted either way of a sports environment like a lot of people when the competition is years away and the exercise that you’re doing now it’s so much easier to sit on the couch. How do you connectâ€¦ Is it a matter of connecting like what I do now might not make a difference? You know if I do this but no one else does it, what does matter what I do? But yet you do. How do you make that connection or how do you motivate yourself when it’s far off and it would be easier to sit on the couch or something like that?
Anna: So I have like a… I call it the [unintelligible] and it’s the talk and kind of beliefs that I have. And it basically covers that. You know you have this dream of what’s going to take you to get there. You need the desire, the dedication and the discipline to get you to that dream. And my big example is to think of it as like think of a river and you’re on one side of the river. On the other side of the river is your dream. And how you’re going to get across that? Well, the river’s running rapidly and thereâ€™s the stepping stones along the way. Some of them are slippery, some of them are solid, some of them are a little wobbly. And these stepping stones are what you need to get yourself to that dream. And those are the smaller goals. And then you can see yourself crossing the river getting closer and closer to that dream. And some of them are hard and they could be like these lovely wobbly ones. Some of them are easier to attain and those are like the dry sturdy one. And I think to me like I look at it as OK, well I have all these goals and some of them are hard but these are all that I need on my journey to get to that dream, my final destination and you know that’s how you check it off. You cross each step stepping stone and make your way across that river to that final dream.
Joshua: Oh my God, no wonder you have a gym. Your clients must love you as a coach. That’s like I want to cross the river. That must have been honed through practice because it reallyâ€¦ How did you develop that? Was it through coaching people or through coaching yourself or did someone coach you that way?
Anna: No, I think it was just through experience and you know when trying to put all my thoughts together I had a little bit of help in organizing it but the river and the dream thing that’s always in line, itâ€™s always been my way to look at how to get somewhere and how to like visualize getting somewhere because you write stuff on paper you can you know but actually seeing something that like you can kind of visualize yourself doing in a way that’s not necessarily related exactly to what you’re doing but you can see the progress along that journey. It’s always the way I look at it.
Joshua: The way you said it it reminded me a couple of months ago I was visiting someone’s front a man’s gym and he has. We’re doing what he called contrast therapy three minutes in an ice bath and then going to a sauna and cycle through that. And I take cold showers regularly but and I was like I can’t wait to do this is can be a really good experience. And then you’re standing by the ice bath and things change because like some part of my brain it’s like â€œI’m going to do this.â€ and a lot of my brain is like â€œNo, you’re not.â€ I mean it looks really hard. And then he just went into this mode of like, â€œAll right. Let’s go five, four, three, two, one.â€ And it was like I knew I wanted to do it but you know I don’t know how long I would have stood there had he not said that. And then as soon as I got in he starts walking me through like how to get through it. And the first time I made maybe 90 seconds, maybe two minutes but the next time I made three minutes and the next time I made three minutes like with calm breath because he was there speaking in a way just like you were speaking, not the words the same but what you said reminded me of that. And I can’t believe what I did. Like it was really an amazing accomplishment. And it was words like the coaching as you were saying made it possible and it felt great afterwards.
Anna: Yeah. I mean a lot of it is like I said the mind like the body can do amazing things. It’s just training the mind to do it.
Joshua: Yeah. I think that comes through physical endeavors. I mean for whatever that means for each person. I think in my experience thereâ€™s a lot of people out there and they say you know they want to do something environmentally but they want to raise their awareness so they want to be more conscious or something like that. But I think that if you just try and mentally to do it without some physical component, without acting, I think you just go in circles for a long time and you have to challenge yourself and it doesn’t necessarily have to be a huge challenge. Is that what you experience too?
Anna: Yeah, absolutely. I think you can learn from everything in life. Physical moments are the easiest way to learn and physical interactions and physical exertion. Do you have the time [unintelligible] You’ve got to learn. I mean I just I’m a big believer in learning from everything that happens and trying to take something positive out of it and make yourself better because of it whether it was a good experience or a bad experience.
Joshua: You donâ€™t have to answer it. So what’s it like when you see someone who’s just not trying? When they give up too early or when you’re sailing and you see trash in the middle of the ocean and you know that someone justâ€¦ I don’t know if you’ve had that experience but a lot of theâ€¦ I haven’t been off shore but I hear people talking about not even like the Great Pacific Gyre, they’re just offshore and there’s just like some, I don’t know, some Coke bottle in the water.
Anna: Makes me sad that people have no respect for the environment when they [unintelligible] trash in the water like that that makes me angry. And you know we are both not very dry or good at throwing stuff but we do try and if we sail past the water bottle or something we do try to pick it up and pull it out to help you know you can help one fish or something like that.
As far as people trying again it goes back to their goals. So for me and my gym I try and know all my members and I try and know all their goals. Some people want to be pushed to that extreme level of absolute failure in the workout that they go on so hard. Some people are there for the good time for the community and just so they stay healthy and not that they’re not trying. It’s just a different level you know that they want to be pushed to and they want to push themselves to. They’re happy with it and so I’ll encourage them to get to that level. If somebody is not trying, you know Iâ€™ll try and boost their confidence a little bit and you know get them to push just a little bit harder, maybe afterwards have a little chat like, â€œHey, how is it going? What’s on?â€ And try and uplift them a little bit, get them back on track. But if it’s somebody that quit in my opinion too soon, we need to do something you know bam like I’m not going to judge them because of it. Something made them do that you know on that part. So there’s a reason for it and hopefully they’ll learn from it.
Joshua: I guess the best you can do is just keep enjoying life and hope that they’ll come back. If it’s a joy that is available to them as well.
Anna: Yeah. And it sounds all very like happy go lucky. And it’s not really that. It’s you know I want people to be happy and enjoying what they do and you know getting the most out of what they do and being the best they can be and any way that I can help somebody do that is what I want to do and every human is different. So it’s all about me coaching, it’s about reading what they want and what they need. You can’t coach everybody the same way. And you know sailing with the team, teammates you know the way I do one thing is not necessarily the way my teammate does things and I’m not going to judge or get angry or whatever but to figure out a way that we both can get done what we need to get done and deal with the game mentally the best way we can each in our own way but hopefully all lined up. If that makes sense. Everybody’s different though it’s all about finding what makes that person fit.
Joshua: How about the coaching you’ve gotten? You own your gym with your husband. Is he like a coach, a partner?
Anna: He is my coach. Yeah.
Joshua: But I guess you got coaching along before then. How has been coaching been for you? Have you gotten coaches?
Anna: I’ve been very fortunate with my coaches. Yes. I’ve definitely had different styles of coaching. You know in the gym I need pushing, I need yelling at, I need that like â€œWhy are you resting? Why are you not moving?â€ sort of motivation. When I’m sailing if I really am not on, I need that stern like â€œHey, let’s get it together and sort it out.â€ And I think the coaching in sports is slightly different. Sailing, there’s a lot that goes into it but the mental, physical, you know I think I get really good mental training when I’m in the gym with Brad because now he pushes me physically but he pushes me mentally too. And then there’s times where he’s looking at me and heâ€™s like, â€œWow, how did we get married?â€
But you know we’ve had this rule from the beginning when we first met as friends that like what happens in the gym stays in the gym you know. So if he pushes me to that point where you know I’m on the verge of breaking and you know almost crying or am crying, thatâ€™s fine. Like that’s what I need. At that point we leave the gym, we have five minutes to sulk and then it’s done. On the water you know I think mentally I’m much tougher because of what I go through in the gym. So on the water I’m looking for that. I would say my coaches are very good at keeping me calm and talking about like what we’re seeing in the racing and how we could have improved the race or something like that. Not necessarily that tough mental like military toughness, mental toughness that I get in the gym, I guess.
Joshua: I’m just getting more and more inspired. And you know I’m also curious what role models have you had? Are there other people you look up to in whose footsteps you’re following?
Anna: There’s a lot of people. I definitely look up to my parents. I love seeing like what they’ve done, how they’ve grown, how much they’ve supported me. They never pushed me to do anything but supported and believed in me. I looked up to Robert [unintelligible] especially when I [unintelligible]. At the time Robert was a legend and obviously he is a legend, just phenomenal athlete sailor. And like even my peers, like when I was at university one of the seniors on the team, Sally Barkow, I looked up to her. I was a freshman and she was crushing everything and I was like, â€œWow, I want to be like Sally one day you know.â€ And last on London Olympics we would [unintelligible] out, her and I for there the one spot for the US [unintelligible] thing and so in a way I like it was cool to be battling somebody that you’ve looked up to for such a while. So yeah, I mean I’ve had role models and I think my role models are how we treat people who win, about people who have like that incredible drive to just want to be better all the time.
Joshua: Do you mind if I switch a bit to talk more about the environment?
Joshua: So when you think about the environment… Yeah, if you’re picking up stuff that you don’t have to when you’re sailing, there’s something there motivating you. What does the environment mean to you?
Anna: If the world is our playground and if we ruin our playground, then we’re not going to have anything to play in. You know I think I live where I live I live out in the country. We own 34 acres where we live you know and still have very much in the wildlife out there and I can’t imagine like ruining it so all the animals that live on our land now are being there in a way you know we’re kind of trying to coexist with them. I’m on the water like we’re in someone else’s habitat. So I think it is just a cycle if we ruin or trash you know something that’s not ours. Well, you wouldn’t walk in to a playground as a kid and just [unintelligible] stuff apart and leaving stuff all over the place. At least I hope you wouldnâ€™t. And you know like I think it’s the same thing like this is our playground. Why would we ruin it?
Joshua: So it sounds like it’s a mix of this playground that is to me it says fun and playful and childlike and joy and maybe if we lived in a different time, that’s all it would be but we don’t live in a different time. And now this is being ruined in places and so it’s a mix of this fun playful with responsibility of not letting this keep happening which keeps happening.
Anna: Right. I agree. And you know it’s a tough battle but it’s got to be each and every one of us has to make that choice to just make the world a better place by cleaning up and being more responsible and doing what you can to make the world better.
Joshua: Well, actually one of the things I do on this podcast is I ask guests at their option based on their values what the environment means to them. It’s different for everyone. And everyone listening you know they’re going to have a different you knowâ€¦ Probably some of what you said will resonate with them and some of it won’t. But some of what they do is important for them is something that’s unique to them. But I invite you at your option to do something to act on that value that you’re not already doing. And it’s not like you have to save all the world by yourself. It’s just to do something to consider doing something you weren’t already doing to act on that. And you know it doesn’t have to be big but somethingâ€¦ Most people have something that they’ve been thinking of. Or we can go back and forth a little bit to think of something. Would you be game for giving that a shot?
Joshua: So is there anything that you have in mind? I mean a lot of people have like thereâ€™s something that theyâ€™ve been thinking of and they’re like, â€œOh, yeah, I’ve been meaning to do X you know this will be my chance to do it.â€ Although sometimes people will go back and forth a little bit to think of something.
Anna: Let’s go back and forth a little bit to think of something.
Joshua: Yeah, that’s actually I like that process because that way Iâ€¦ Part of why I do this is so that listeners at home don’t have to feel like â€œIf I act and no one else does, then what I do doesnâ€™t matter.â€ because they’ll get to hear people are doing these things. So I don’t know. You talked aboutâ€¦ When I heard you talk about the land and if it gets ruined for animals like this is something to me about protecting, not polluting or something like that. Sometimes people have things like about avoiding packaging or about diet related things.
Anna: Yep. I’m thinking. I donâ€™t know. Throw ideas.
Joshua: Let’s see. I’ll give a couple examples. Dawn, for example. While I was out there and she was packing sandwiches to go out to deliver to people out on the water and she was like, â€œI can’t figure what to do about the saran wrap.â€ or whatever the plastic wrap and she was like, â€œI’m going to figure out how not to use this plastic wrap to wrap sandwiches.â€ And she figured out a way to do it. One guy every time he would get coffee they give him a disposable cup and he’s like, â€œI’m going to bring a mug with me. I’m not going to use a disposable cup for a month.â€ and he’s kept that up ever since although he only said for a month. There’s one woman recently she just said that she’s not going to buy any clothes for 2019. She’s like, â€œI got plenty of clothes.â€ and I actually spoke to her, it is now six weeks into that. It was starting in December. I asked her like, â€œHow is it going? Have you not been buying clothes?â€ Sheâ€™s like, â€œActually, I’m doing more. I’m getting rid of clothes. I’m giving them to friends and stuff.â€ She’s had clothes for when she was different weights and she said, â€œI’m not going to gain or lose weight. I’m going to stay around. I don’t know why I have this clothes. I’ve had them for years.â€ And so sheâ€™s like giving them to her sisters and whatever. Some people do things like driving less. Just yesterday I was talking to John Lee Dumas. He’s another podcaster and he lives by the beach and every once a month for the 2018 he would go to the beach with a bag and pick up the garbage that he found and thatâ€™s growing and blossoming as relatives visited him. He would take them out. I donâ€™t know. These are couple of things.
Anna: Yeah. So one of the things I have been trying to do is thatâ€¦ I drink a lot of tea and trying to cut back on the number of like if I go to Starbucks like using my own mug or reuse mugs or to make my own tea versus going to get tea all the time and getting new cups every time. So that is one thing I have really been trying to work on lately and I can definitely do a better job at it. It’s not getting as many mugs if any and only taking my own.
Joshua: So there was something kind of sitting there like kind of on the back of your mind like look you get the plastic cup and youâ€™re like â€œI didn’t want to do that.â€
Anna: Yeah. Yeah. So that is something I have been trying to work on. [unintelligible] keep working on it and get better and better at it.
Joshua: See we made a SMART goal out of it, SMART meaning specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and time based. Usually the time is the main thing is how long would it would take for you if you did it for some amount of time to get a feel for if this is clicking or not.
Anna: Iâ€™d say probably if I did it for a month [unintelligible] it would probably work.
Joshua: Would you be game to talk again in a month and share how the experience went?
Anna: Yeah. We could do that.
Joshua: OK. I do want it to corral you and we can delete this part and not have people hear it if it’s something you donâ€™t want toâ€¦
Anna: Yeah. I mean I’m trying, I really am trying to do it. There will be times where I just donâ€™t have an option and it will happen but most of the time I really work on it. If I do want a refill and I already got one cup, I’ll have them reuse that cup so I don’t get another cup. Or if I have my own mug with me, I’ll have them fill that up instead. So Iâ€™m definitely trying to make it more so that the less of the [unintelligible].
Joshua: Okay. I’ll be curious to hear how it works out because it sounds like there’sâ€¦ Something tells me that when you take on something you find ways to make things work. I’m really curious how it’s going to work out.
Joshua: And now I want to kind of wrap up. I usually wrap up with the question of is there anything I didn’t think to ask that’s worth bringing up or that I should have asked or that you want to share?
Anna: No. I think you nailed a lot of things.
Joshua: Cool. And is there anything that you’d want to say directly to the audience?
Anna: I donâ€™t think so.
Joshua: OK. Well, Anna Tobias, thank you very much.
Anna: Thank you for having me. Great chatting with you.
Great leaders do things step by step in the moment. I can’t tell you how many people hearing my strategy for environmental leadership ask things like, â€œWell, what about the government? But what about big corporations?â€ or â€œHow are you going to motivate billions of people?â€ All these hurdles. Can you imagine asking an athlete in training, â€œBut what will you do if the competitors are ahead of you? But what if the fans make too much noise?â€ Great leaders as far as I can tell act in the moment. They don’t need to answer everything all the time. They know what to do and they do what they need to in the moment and they give their best all the time. That’s one of my big takeaways from Anna. I don’t know how Iâ€™ll solve future problems but I believe that what I’m doing is critically important. We can’t finish without it and I’m moving as fast as possible and I expect that that preparation is the best preparation I can do to answer those questions when they need to be answered and to prepare for them as well. All of the doubters keep doubting and follow people like Anna.
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