In this episode of The Forum Podcast Amy Yip (Amy Yip Coaching) shares what mental fitness is, why it matters, skills & practices to build their own mental fitness, and how to apply it in cultivating a more diverse, equitable, inclusive workplace.
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If you’re physically fit, you’d be able to climb a steep hill without much physical stress. Same with mental fitness. The more mentally fit you are, the more you’ll be able to handle the stress, anxiety, and frustrations that come from work and personal life challenges.
Recent events such as the pandemic, social unrest, and political changes have overstretched many of us. Mental fitness is the X factor. Your level of Mental Fitness is the best predictor of how happy you are, and how well you perform relative to your potential. It’s the key to unlocking your growth mindset and ability to evolve, change and adapt. So you can not just survive but thrive in these tumultuous times. Good news: like physical fitness, you can boost your mental fitness with practice.
- Describe what mental fitness is and why it’s important to building a positive workplace culture
- Identify and summarize the three core muscles at the root of mental fitness
- Apply the mental fitness skills and practices to better handle daily work & personal life challenges
The following is an uncorrected transcript generated by a transcription service. Before quoting in print, please check the corresponding audio for accuracy.
Speaker 1 (00:00:00):
The Forum on Workplace Inclusion’s 2022 podcast series is sponsored by Best Buy more diversity in tech means more ideas that can change the world. Learn more at bestbuy.com/moreofthis
Speaker 1 (00:00:16):
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Ben Rue (00:01:45):
Hello and thank you for tuning into the forum on workplace inclusion podcast series brought to you by best buy I’m Ben Rue program manager here at the forum. We’re really looking forward to today’s podcast, building mental fitness shift from surviving to thriving with Amy Yip of Amy Yip consulting. If you’re physically fit, you’d be able to climb a steep hill without much physical stress. Same with mental fitness, the more mentally fit you are. The more you’ll be able to handle the stress, anxiety and frustrations that come from work and personal life challenges. Recent events such as the pandemic, social unrest and political changes have overstretched. Many of us mental fitness is the X factor. Your level of mental fitness is the best predictor of how happy you are and how well you perform relative to your potential. It’s the key to unlocking your growth mindset and ability to evolve, change and adapt.
Ben Rue (00:02:37):
So you can not just survive, but thrive in these tumultuous times. Good news like physical fitness. You can boost your mental fitness with practice. During this podcast, listeners will learn what mental fitness is, why it matters skills and practices to build their own mental fitness. In this episode, Amy will describe what mental fitness is and why it’s important to building PO a positive workplace culture, identify and summarize the three core muscles at the root of mental fitness and teach you how to apply mental fitness skills and practices to better handle daily work and personal life challenges. Amy Yip is a life transformation and mental fitness coach who works with women to let go of the shoulds and be the author of their own life story. Because if you don’t tell your story, someone else will. One of her greatest learnings on her life journey so far is that your mindset, not your circumstances, make all the difference in your happiness and success.
Ben Rue (00:03:36):
Mental fitness help Amy find the courage to pursue her dreams. Then pivot her dreams during COVID, which ultimately led her to where she is today with a thriving coaching practice while embracing the digital nomad life. She is passionate about bringing mental fitness work to the world to help other build others, build their mental fitness, to shift from surviving, to thriving, to find their passions and author their own life story. Ultimately, they leading to greater empathy, positive relationships and emotional intelligence. Amy is an international coach Federation professional certified coach and certified Hudson Institute coach. She is also one of the pioneer mental fitness coaches to be certified through positive intelligence. She has coached a range of clients from executives to new leaders and individual contributors on finding their voices and the courage to speak up building self-confidence navigating change, discourage, discovering what they want next in their life and career and identifying their authentic leadership style. Prior to becoming a coach. Amy was a global leader at Google as the food team’s global talent programs and engagement manager, where she owned the creation and implementation of the food programs under talent approach. This included a significant focus on the D E I B strategy and programs to leave positive change across fender organizations. Amy has been an active leader and advocate for various AAPI and women’s ERGs throughout her career and continues to be passionate about sharing her experiences and expertise to inspire and build collective strengths among the community.
Ben Rue (00:05:18):
Welcome Amy. We’re so happy to have you be part of our 2022 podcast series. I couldn’t think of a better time to be talking about mental fitness than now. <Laugh> but before we get into the interview, could you share a bit about yourself and your journey?
Amy Yip (00:05:32):
Yeah, definitely. So in January, 2020, I left my job at Google. I sold all my belongings in my New York city apartment and with just a backpack on our backs, my husband and I took a one way flight out to Ghana to volunteer at a breast cancer nonprofit. And our plan was we would volunteer for a few months and then travel the world. It has been a dream of mine for over a decade. And then there was that little thing that came along. I don’t know if you heard of it, but you know, COVID came along yeah, that, that small thing. And, and it completely shifted our plans. So we ended up getting stuck in Ghana for nearly seven months. And when borders in Ghana finally reopened, we were like, well, all we have is a backpack on our backs. And you know, it was a chaotic time in the us at the time it was elections.
Amy Yip (00:06:33):
And so we were like, well, let’s just live and work nomadically. And at this point in my story, typically, a lot of people say things like, oh, that was so brave. You, you know, you had so much courage to leave Google. I wish I had the courage to do the same. And then they would typically follow it up with something like, but I can’t because of where I’m at in my career. I can’t possibly leave it all behind and you know, just go I I’m the breadwinner of my family and my family relies on my income. So I can’t leave or I’m at the prime age for starting a family. So I couldn’t possibly leave. And the reality is that there will never feel like a right time, never to live your dreams no matter what that dream is, even if it’s not going and traveling the world, even if it’s something else, it won’t ever feel like a good time.
Amy Yip (00:07:31):
And I promise you, I’m no braver, no more courageous than anybody out there. It wasn’t an easy decision for me either. And I had the same exact thoughts running through my head before I made the decision to do what I did. I was stuck with all of these shoulds, you know, like the, the shoulds of what people are telling you, you should or shouldn’t do who you should or shouldn’t be what should or shouldn’t matter. And so for me, some of those shoulds was I was leaving Google. My career was going so well and everyone asked why on earth would you do that? Are you bananas? Like all these people are trying to get into Google and you’re leaving. You should just stay, just donate money to whatever nonprofit you wanna go volunteer at. And you could go travel later on in life. At the time my husband, yes, exactly the safe way.
Amy Yip (00:08:25):
And at the time I also my husband started his own venture and I became the sole breadwinner and I felt so much pressure. So these were shoulds coming from myself. Like I should be the stable one. I should be responsible and reliable while he lives his dreams. And I could wait to live my dreams later. And one of the biggest shoulds I heard during that time, because I was in my mid thirties at the time is you are at prime baby making age. You should just have children. You’re going to regret it if you don’t. And I even had people saying your eggs are roting, so you should really get on it before they, they really go bad. Yeah. People are, people are so kind with their advice and so well,
Amy Yip (00:09:16):
<Laugh> yes. <Laugh>. So at the time our husband and I knew we wanted kids eventually but we weren’t ready yet. And we had this big dream. So we decided we’re gonna freeze embryos as our backup plan which, which is what we did. And then a year later there was a mishap at the facility where they were stored and they basically told us, we can’t tell you the viability of your embryos until you plan to use them. And let’s just say to this day, I still don’t know the viability, cuz we decided we didn’t want to use them yet. But at that point, when I found out that my embryos were in question, I hit rock bottom. And that was when I began my self-help journey. And I started my self-help journey by reading every book out there, I read for eight months out there.
Amy Yip (00:10:07):
So if anybody out there needs book recommendations, contact me. I have a huge long list. But the reason I started with books rather than anything else was because there was a lot of shame like on the outside, everything seems great. I got this great job at Google, wonderful husband, great friends and family. What could I possibly complain about? Right? Like there are other people that have it worse. Why am I unhappy? And so instead of talking to anybody about it and trying to seek help, I went on a reading self-help journey after eight months of doing that, realized that didn’t give me an answer. Like lots of great knowledge did not give me the answer to what I needed, which was, do I have babies or do I go pursue my dreams? And so after that, a my, my best friend knew what I was going through.
Amy Yip (00:11:02):
And so she came to me and she said, Hey, have you heard about iowaska? And for those who don’t know what iowaska is, it is a medicinal plant. They have iowaska ceremonies in Peru with a shaman. And essentially it’s supposed to give you clarity. So my best friend came to me and she said, Amy, there’s this thing called iowaska. It’s supposed to give you clarity. And of course I go, oh my gosh, that’s exactly what I need. I need clarity. So I went down to Peru for a five day Iowasca ceremony. And I will say that Iowaska gave me a lot of clarity. It did not give me the answer I wanted, which is, do I have babies? Do I go pursue my dreams and travel the world?
Amy Yip (00:11:50):
no, it did not give, give me, did not gimme that answer. But I got back to the us and a coworker told me about coaching. And I’ll be honest. When I first heard about coaching, I, I didn’t know what coaching was at the time, but when I first heard about coaching, I was skeptical. I was like, how could somebody else help me figure out what I want? I am smart enough. I can figure it out on my own. And I don’t understand how somebody else would know me well enough to be able to help guide me to, you know, my north star, but I was pretty desperate. So I ended up hiring a coach and it was the best decision of my life because a coach is who helped me to peel back the layers of my onion. And I call those layers of the onion, all those shoulds, the shoulds that, you know, everybody had placed on me.
Amy Yip (00:12:46):
And I realized what mattered to me most. And I made two decisions at that point. One is I’m going to leave Google. I need to pursue my dreams because if I don’t, I’m going to regret it. Plus even if I stayed, I’m not guaranteed to have kids. Like it’s not something that’s within my control. So I need to go live my life. And the second thing that I made the decision on is I wanna be a coach because it absolutely sucked being stuck for so long. And I wanna be a coach helping other people going through the same thing that I did to help them figure out what really matters to them. And one of my greatest learnings on my journey of life so far is your mindset. Not your circumstance makes all the difference in your happiness and success, your mindset, not your circumstance makes all the difference in your happiness and success.
Amy Yip (00:13:44):
Mental fitness is really what helped me to find that courage to pursue my dreams, pivot it during COVID and really find that gift in every circumstance. And I will say, you know, things come full circle because I returned back to the us after having been gone a year and a half. So my husband and I returned in August of 2021. And it was because we ended up getting pregnant naturally while away. Again, it was, there was all these shoulds. So at the beginning of 2021, all these people were like, oh, you guys are 40. You should start trying. Now it’ll take you months, if not years. So, you know, you should start trying. So my husband and I were like, all right, well, since we have another year, might as well start trying, that means we have another year of traveling. You know, and we, we start trying two months later, I was pregnant and I did not believe it. I had to take like three pregnancy tests to believe it because I was like, but everyone said it would take a year.
Amy Yip (00:15:05):
So full circle. <Laugh> my little one was born seven weeks ago.
Ben Rue (00:15:10):
Amy Yip (00:15:10):
Ben Rue (00:15:11):
Even more impressive that you’re doing this podcast now.
Amy Yip (00:15:14):
Ben Rue (00:15:17):
Well congratulations again. Thank you. And thank you for sharing that awesome story. I, I honestly was thinking I would probably never just got up and leave Google. But yeah, but I think I need your coaching hopefully by the end of this. No, I’m just kidding. I’m not gonna up and put the forum, but yeah, but we could, I think we could all use some mental fitness right now, especially with every going on the world. So what exactly is mental fitness? And is, is the same as mental health.
Amy Yip (00:15:50):
Yeah. Great question. So mental fitness is essentially your capacity to respond to life’s challenges with positive mindset rather than getting upset and stressed. And if we were to use a physical analogy to bring this to life, so let’s say you have average physical fitness, then you could climb small Hills pretty easily, but if a big mountain were put in front of you and your physical fitness, isn’t strong enough to handle that. Then as you’re climbing the mountain, what would happen? You would be out of breath, you would be physically stressed and it would be pretty hard for you to handle it physically. And so the same thing is happening to many of us with what’s going on in the world today with the pandemic or working from home, returning to the office, going in between back and forth politics, race relations, the war that’s happening.
Amy Yip (00:16:47):
And the thing is most people are of average mental fitness. So that means you’re able to handle the Hills of life with relatively okay, levels of stress. But what is happening in the world right now is a mountain of challenges. So what ends up happening is we are getting all stressed out, unable to handle all that it brings, whether it’s the pandemic, the war, something personal without getting upset and stressed. So that is essentially what mental fitness is all about. And to be clear, mental fitness is not about curing a mental health issue or saying that there’s anything wrong. It’s not about healing or fixing. It comes from a perspective and a paradox that you are okay as you are, and there’s still opportunity for growth. So, you know, it, there’s a notion that we all have different starting points and we can all become better versions of ourselves today than we were yesterday. And if we were to go back to that physical analogy, you can think of individuals with physical disabilities. So for example, Maynard who climbs kill a Manjaro and Maynard is a guy who does not have limbs, so he was able to climb, kill Manjaro. And so the whole idea with mental fitness is it’s just like physical fitness. It’s about being proactive. So can we become 1% better version of ourselves today than yesterday and to prepare for whatever is to come our way.
Ben Rue (00:18:24):
Thank you for that. And for the clarification and I mean, we’re facing the killimanjaro of just mental C or stresses right now in the world. Yeah. Yeah. I was gonna say that’s perfect reference there. And why is, why is having mental fitness or strong mental fitness important?
Amy Yip (00:18:45):
So having stronger mental fitness allows you to master your mind. And when you’re able to master your own mind, you can create lasting change. You can shift your focus. So consider this why is change so hard?
Ben Rue (00:19:02):
I mean, it’s scary. <Laugh>
Amy Yip (00:19:05):
Yes, it is definitely scary. Right? So it’s why is it that you can read a ton of books, attend a ton of workshops, get really excited about the information and your gung-ho because you’re like, yeah, I’m gonna leave and I’m gonna make changes. And then what happens? Right? You might make some changes for a few days, then go back to your old ways. And why is it so hard to stick to these changes? It’s because 20% of change is inside and knowledge, 80% is mental muscle and habit. So that’s why, when I was reading all those books, I got a lot of insight, a lot of knowledge, but that didn’t help me with the change I wanted. 80% comes from mental muscle and habit. So for, for example, do you want to get healthier?
Ben Rue (00:19:51):
Amy Yip (00:19:52):
Do you know what it takes to get healthier
Ben Rue (00:19:56):
Diet and exercise?
Amy Yip (00:19:58):
Mm-Hmm <affirmative> yeah. So what’s standing in your way.
Ben Rue (00:20:02):
I mean, I honestly just, I, I, I, I have trouble committing to a routine. Mm-Hmm <affirmative> yeah. And just changing my life.
Amy Yip (00:20:13):
Ben Rue (00:20:14):
Yeah. And, and my own mental <laugh>. Right.
Amy Yip (00:20:18):
It it’s, it’s exactly that it’s 80% of changes mental muscle in the habit, right? Yeah. Like everybody says, I wanna get healthier. Everyone knows, oh, I need to eat healthier. I need to get some movement. I need to sleep seven to eight hours, have eight glasses of water a day. But then what is standing in everyone’s way? It is because we know a lot of things, we know plenty of things, but knowledge and insight is only 20% of change. 80% comes from building that mental muscle and habit. And that is why so many of us stay stuck in these patterns and yeah.
Ben Rue (00:20:50):
Cause we’ve built, we’ve built muscle and habits in the opposite direction. So it’s like, I want, I could work out, but my tradition is to just sit on the couch after work. So yes. But but yeah, so it’s hard to break those, those mental muscles and habits have to try shift into good ones or better.
Amy Yip (00:21:10):
Yeah. Yeah. And, and actually, you know it’s also part of the reason why it’s, it’s challenging. Take, take a guess. How many thoughts do you think the average person has each day?
Ben Rue (00:21:24):
I’m going to say 80,000
Amy Yip (00:21:32):
Close average person has between 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. depends on the person. Depends on the day close.
Ben Rue (00:21:43):
I think a lot, I just have a lot more thoughts than people appear. <Laugh>
Amy Yip (00:21:47):
You’re on the upper spectrum. <Laugh> guess how many of those thoughts are negative? How many of the 12 to 60,000 thoughts per day? What percentage are negative?
Ben Rue (00:21:57):
I’m gonna say 65.
Amy Yip (00:22:01):
Ben Rue (00:22:02):
Oh, well see percent
Amy Yip (00:22:04):
Are negative. <Laugh> yes. Now take a guess. How many do you think are repeated day after day after day. Same thoughts
Ben Rue (00:22:15):
Gonna say 90
Amy Yip (00:22:17):
Close. 95%. So imagine this 12 to 60,000 thoughts per day. 80% of those are negative. 95% are the exact same repeated thoughts day after day after day. And what consumes your mind consumes your life. That’s why growing your mental fitness is so critical to building lasting change and happiness.
Ben Rue (00:22:39):
Thank you for that. Yeah. And it makes total sense. And, but with physical fitness you have different muscles like triceps, biceps, quads, hamstrings. I’ve heard people in gyms say things like this <laugh> that you can work out to get stronger. When it comes to mental fitness, are there different types of muscles as well?
Amy Yip (00:23:00):
Yes, there are. So the, the mental fitness research has basically found there are three core muscles behind mental fitness. So there is the saboteur interceptor. The second muscle is the Sage perspective and the third muscle is the self command muscle. And I’m sure everybody’s like, what the heck are those things? <Laugh>. So in order to understand the muscles, we really have to talk about the fact that there are two sides of our brain. And an analogy I like to use is star wars. So what is often happening inside your brain is there’s this constant war going on between inner-Jedi and inner-Darth Vader. Right. We have these characters inside our head and there’s always these war, this war going on between the two characters. Have you ever experienced that?
Ben Rue (00:23:52):
Oh yeah, definitely.
Amy Yip (00:23:53):
Yeah. I I’ve. I definitely experienced that a lot too. And, and most people do that’s that’s the reason why we love star wars it’s because it is telling the story of each of us humans, the inner story within us on screen, right? Yeah. That that’s what’s going on in our minds. So essentially we have two sides of our brain, the survivor side, where our saboteurs live. And if we were to go back to the star wars analogy, saboteurs are essentially Darth Vaders. And then on the thriving side of the brain, that’s where Sage lives and Sage is essentially our inner-Jedi. So on the survivor side of the brain, this dates back to gave man cave woman days. What are we trying to survive from that saber tooth tiger? We need to know when that tiger comes, do I fight flight or freeze? We also need it to be liked and accepted into the tribe. This was also for survival reasons, because if you think about it, if the tiger comes, are you more likely to survive if you’re alone or with a tribe,
Ben Rue (00:25:02):
With a tribe, yes. Safety and numbers.
Amy Yip (00:25:05):
Correct. And that is why we’re constantly assessing, am I fitting in, am I doing anything that could be, get me rejected from the tribe? Am I going to be accepted into this tribe? Because that is the survival brain. It is trying to compare and assess like, am I going to fit into this tribe for survival reasons
Ben Rue (00:25:30):
Never thought about it like that?
Amy Yip (00:25:31):
Yeah. And most people don’t realize like, oh, the reason I’m on Facebook or Instagram or whatever, scrolling and comparing and thinking, am I good enough? A lot of it is part of the survivor side of the brain.
Ben Rue (00:25:44):
Wow. Yeah. Never. Well, thanks saber tooth tiger for Facebook. <Laugh>
Amy Yip (00:25:51):
And that’s, that’s why we’re also constantly judging others. It’s also for survivor reasons, right? Like when we’re assessing other people this person’s too tall, this person’s too short, this person’s too dumb. This person’s too slow. We’re survive. We’re also doing this for survival reasons because we’re trying to see, are they, my enemy? Are they part of my tribe? Do I need to protect myself from them? So we’re constantly assessing and judging
Ben Rue (00:26:16):
That’s an asset to the tribe,
Amy Yip (00:26:18):
Correct? Yeah. You know, are they strong enough? Are they gonna help me? Are they gonna be the weak link? And so our saboteurs live in the survival side of the brain. They are the cause for a lot of the stress anxiety self- doubt, frustration, guilt, unhappiness, all those emotions and on the thriving side of the brain, that’s where the stage lives. So that you’re inner-Jedi. It’s an entirely different region of your brain. And it’s the side that allows you to experience happiness, joy, and really reach your potential. It’s like the inner-Jedi. And so that’s why with those three muscles that I mentioned, one muscle is the saboteur interceptor. Its job is basically to intercept the saboteur, right? Like catch the saboteur before it can cause harm. That second muscle I mentioned is the Sage perspective. The Sage is that inner-Jedi. So it’s really about activating that inner, inner-Jedi And then the last muscle is self command. So this muscle essentially helps you to shift from saboteur to Sage. And the reason this muscle is important is because when your hijack or triggered by your saboteur, how easy is it to shift to this inner-Jedi?
Amy Yip (00:27:38):
It’s pretty hard.
Ben Rue (00:27:40):
Yeah. I was gonna say,
Amy Yip (00:27:41):
How do you, at least for me, <laugh> at least for me, it’s pretty hard. And for most people I would say it’s pretty hard. And so essentially this muscle helps you do just that it is the muscle that enables you to command your mind and shift from that saboteur into the Sage. So those are the three muscles.
Ben Rue (00:27:56):
Wow. Yeah. Thank you for that. And so how do you strengthen this? The three mental muscles.
Amy Yip (00:28:03):
Yeah. So let’s start with the Sage. We
Ben Rue (00:28:07):
All wanna be Sage. How do we get there? How do we strengthen the Sage?
Amy Yip (00:28:12):
You know, the one thing to recognize for everyone listening is you cannot get rid of the saboteurs. And it is about turning down the volume on it and being able to catch it and shift because that is part of your survivor brain. It is not something that you can change. And it’s also good in some cases to have the survivor brain, because say a saber tooth tiger actually comes your way. You need to know to run away. You can’t be like, oh, look at this cuddly tiger. Let me play with it. Right. Never. Yeah.
Ben Rue (00:28:46):
Amy Yip (00:28:47):
Maybe I’m not gonna test that.
Ben Rue (00:28:50):
People will never have to find out.
Amy Yip (00:28:51):
Yeah. I’m never, I don’t plan on finding out But, but that’s, that’s why the survivor brain is useful. It’s just that if we’re in that survivor mode and there’s no tiger, we need to recognize that and be able to shift out of it. Yeah. The, the challenge is that most of us stay in it. We’re constantly looking at the trees rustling and we’re like, oh my gosh, where’s the tiger. And we stay in that place. So that’s where we need to learn to be able to shift to Sage. So.
Ben Rue (00:29:22):
Okay. So yeah. So back to the question, but how do we, so how do we strengthen the three muscles?
Amy Yip (00:29:26):
So the saboteurs interceptor that first muscle, that one, as I mentioned, it’s all about recognizing who your saboteurs are. So there’s been a lot of research and the research has shown that there’s essentially 10 saboteurs. So that the judge, Is the master saboteur. It’s the thing that we all have to some extent, and it judges in three different ways. So the judge of self, which is also known as the inner critic for many of us, and I’m sure many of us are very familiar with this one, the second way the judge judges is judging others. So, you know, it was like my tribe example where we’re looking at, oh, that one’s too fat. That one’s too stupid, that one’s too slow. So it’s the judgment of others. The last one is judge of circumstance. And sometimes we don’t even recognize we’re doing this.
Amy Yip (00:30:20):
The judges’ circumstances, this situation is bad. I can’t be happy until, so it might be, I can’t be happy until I retire until I make a million dollars until I finish my to-do list until the pandemic is over. Right. And so that’s the master saboteur, the judge and the judge judges in those three ways. And then there are nine accomplished saboteurs. So like buddies of this judge and those nine accomplished saboteurs are the controller, the hyper achiever, restless, stickler, pleaser, hyper vigilant, avoider, victim, and hyper rational. And the saboteurs motivate you through negative emotions, like fear, stress insecurity, shame, guilt. So the key with the saboteur intercept or muscle is all about awareness awareness to knowing which of those saboteurs do I have awareness to recognizing the lies that they tell you and how they impact you, and then being able to catch them before they take over and lead you to these unwanted negative emotions and actions.
Ben Rue (00:31:31):
It’s like a bit, it’s like an even more dark snow, white snow white in the tense habit. Yeah.
Amy Yip (00:31:37):
Ben Rue (00:31:37):
But you mentioned that saboteurs motivate you through negative emotions. Aren’t negative emotions, like sometimes good for you.
Amy Yip (00:31:46):
So the parallel question that, that I wanna ask you is, is pain good for you?
Ben Rue (00:31:53):
I would, there are some people would say yes, but I would say no. <Laugh>
Amy Yip (00:31:56):
Okay. So consider this. If you had your hand on a hot stove, it’s good to feel the pain because otherwise you keep your hand on a hot stove.
Ben Rue (00:32:06):
Amy Yip (00:32:07):
The question then is, but for how long do I wanna keep my hand on the hot stove? Or how long do you wanna feel that before you get the message that you need to remove your hand from the hot stove? And hopefully you’re saying as soon as I get the message, I wanna be able to remove my hand from the stove. So it’s the same for negative emotions. It is good to feel stress because there might be danger. The moment that information is delivered, then if you stay in the negative emotion, you’re in tunnel vision and you’ll cycle in that negative emotion from stress to anger, to shame and all of those things. And it becomes like this endless vortex of negativity. And then it, it oftentimes impacts those around you too. And it’s not the part of the brain that can find the best solution. It’s only the part of the brain that can figure out what else can go wrong. Like have, have you ever experienced that? Where one thing’s wrong and then you you’d find like 10 other things that’s wrong or bad.
Ben Rue (00:33:09):
Oh yeah, definitely. Yeah. Yeah. Just like the worst case scenario kind of person like or the, yeah, just spirals. Although I am, I am sometimes that person who’s like, well, I’m just gonna expect the worst, like think about all the worst things that could happen. And then when it doesn’t happen, I’m just like, oh good. <Laugh>.
Amy Yip (00:33:26):
Yeah. And well, most of us do that when we’re, when we’re looking for what else can go wrong, we are gonna find 10 more things that are wrong. Yeah. And so being in that part of the brain, it, it cannot find the best solution because it’s constantly not looking for the solution, but looking for what else is wrong. And so that part of your brain or the part of your brain that has access to like creativity or resourcefulness and calm clearheaded action is the other side of the brain where the Sage lives.
Ben Rue (00:33:55):
Amy Yip (00:33:56):
Yeah. So negative emotion to back to your question. Are they good for you? Yes. The, the key question though, to ask is for how long do I wanna sit in this negative emotion?
Ben Rue (00:34:07):
Yeah. You don’t want to dwell negative emotion. This reminds me of, have you ever heard of the show human resources on Netflix?
Amy Yip (00:34:16):
Ben Rue (00:34:16):
Mm-Hmm <affirmative>, it’s based off of a big mouth. Also on Netflix with like, they have the different, like there’s the shame monster. And then there’s like the anxiety mosquitoes, and it mm-hmm, <affirmative> all these, if you haven’t, if you’re a listener and you haven’t checked those out, I highly recommend it. But one of the saboteurs you mentioned is hyper is hyper achiever. That made me think like isn’t achieving. Is it achieving a good thing? Like how could like hyper achiever be a saboteur?
Amy Yip (00:34:44):
Ben Rue (00:34:44):
That sounds very Sage.
Amy Yip (00:34:47):
Yes. And so the thing to recognize with all saboteurs is they are our strengths overused. So if you were to think about a knife, a knife can be used by a surgeon to save someone’s life. It can be used by a robber or murder to kill someone. So strengths of hyper achiever are they’re driven. They’re goal oriented. Self-Directed capable of growing themselves, achieving full potential could possibly even be inspiring for other people. But one of the impacts on self is that the joy of achievement is short lived, right? So I have the hyper achiever saboteur. So oftentimes I might have this belief of you will be happy when, when you achieve this thing. And so I am busy climbing up this mountain and then, and, and believing when I get to the top, I’m gonna be happy. But before I even get to the top, what happened, I’m not up there celebrating. I’m not happy. I’m already looking for the next mountain to climb.
Ben Rue (00:35:57):
Amy Yip (00:35:58):
And so it’s this never ending cycle of climbing mountain after a mountain, after a mountain, but am I truly happy? I’m not. And so if I were to be able to use this self-directedness and this goal, orientedness in a strength based way, I wouldn’t be pushing myself in that way and constantly be overworking and killing myself. So all the saboteurs are essentially strengths that are overused. If we can learn to manage and use the strength in a positive way, then it’s not saboteur led or driven letter driven.
Ben Rue (00:36:34):
That reminds me so much of the whole like the grind culture that was recently pushed, you know like that. Yeah. Like to succeed that you have to be working like 80 hour weeks and that that’s, then that’s, that’s normal. That’s good. That’s what you should be doing. You know, that’s how you make it. And if you’re not doing it like you are, you know, you’re a failure. You, which I think has kind of, kind of been combination of COVID pushed towards the great resignation that saw mm-hmm <affirmative> people turned out <laugh>
Amy Yip (00:37:07):
And, and that actually makes me think of this. This gentleman I met in Albania and he was telling me, you know, I don’t understand Americans. You guys are always in a rush trying to achieve trying to do things, but where exactly are you going? Cuz at the end of it all, it’s just death. So you’re basically rushing towards your death. And that re that has stuck with me for, I mean, since, since I met him, I’m like, oh yeah, what are we rushing towards? Why are we pushing ourselves to achieve all this stuff?
Ben Rue (00:37:42):
Wow. That’s gonna stick with me. That’s that is very deep.
Amy Yip (00:37:45):
Ben Rue (00:37:46):
<Affirmative> <laugh> also also very dark June. Like he was rushing towards death. Yes. That is one way. Okay, thank you. Albanian. <laugh> he,
Amy Yip (00:37:57):
He, he was like, well, at least we know how to enjoy life. We might be slower, but we enjoy the journey versus like, let me just get to the end.
Ben Rue (00:38:04):
Exactly. And I think a lot of a lot of other cultures look at America, America like that and like, where, what, why are you rushing all the time? Yep. Which again, it was, it was just, it’s just been so driven in like Western or especially the us culture. Like you work hard and that’s what you’re supposed to do, like the grind and you will be some reward at the end someday. But until then you just keep working mm-hmm <affirmative> until you die.
Amy Yip (00:38:30):
Ben Rue (00:38:33):
Ah, dark. OK. How just, how do you strengthen the other muscles then?
Amy Yip (00:38:38):
That’s a great transition. Cause we went from this dark sub our place. Yeah. Yeah. Let’s get let’s let’s shift over to the Sage side. So yes <laugh>. So, as I mentioned, there is this Sage side and this is your inner Jedi lives in an entirely different region of your brain. So we wanna shift from this darkness into this lightness. Yes. So basically the Sage perspective is every outcome or circumstance can be turned into a gift and opportunity. Every outcome or a circumstance can be turned into gift and opportunity. Even if it’s not obvious in the moment later in life, you might be able to look back and see it. It might not be obvious right now, but when we reflect back, we will see that something is a gift or opportunity. For example, relationships, I have been through many, a breakups, many, a relationship endings.
Amy Yip (00:39:37):
And when those relationships ended, I was in this space of, oh my gosh, I feel horrible. I’m so unloved. This person doesn’t care about me. And like, my life is over, right? Like all these emotions. And you’re, you’re thinking that this could, is the worst possible thing ever. And now I look back at all those relationships ending and I see it as a gift because had those relationships not ended, I would not be with the most amazing man today. My husband is so wonderful. And if I were still in those relationships, I’d be one with one of those guys versus him. And so I look back now and see it as a gift, even though at the time I thought it was a bad thing. Yeah. And so this Sage perspective is really about, can I see that every outcome or circumstance can be turned into gift and opportunity, even if it’s not obvious in the moment. And you know, one of my favorite quotes is Albert Einstein. And he says, the most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe. So the question for everyone to consider is what do you believe the answer to this question determines our experience of life. Whether we realize it or not, we’re always acting from one of these perspectives friendly or hostile universe.
Amy Yip (00:41:07):
And the other thing is you know, what we call our experience. So even what you’re experiencing, talking to me or whatever the audience is experiencing, listening to this research has shown that 80% of what you’re calling your experience is getting generated from the information inside your mind. It’s all about your perspective. Only 20% actually comes from the external circumstance in events. So 80% of it is being generated from inside your head, what you’re calling your experience and you know it and that, and that’s why, where focus goes energy flows. It’s important to, to choose where is my focus going to be?
Ben Rue (00:41:51):
I like that. So
Amy Yip (00:41:53):
Yeah, I, it’s a, it’s a thing that’s has stuck with me where focus goes energy flows, where is my focus? And I love examples and analogy. So play with me here, Ben let let’s, let’s say you decided I’m gonna buy a red Jeep. If you started looking around, what would you start seeing? A lot of
Ben Rue (00:42:14):
Amy Yip (00:42:16):
Did all of a sudden, a lot of people start buying red Jeeps.
Ben Rue (00:42:20):
Yeah. Everybody has the same mindset as me, obviously. Great mind.
Amy Yip (00:42:26):
All of a everyone’s like, yes, we want red Jeeps. No,
Ben Rue (00:42:29):
No. Yeah. It’s your mind being like, oh, red Jeep. You
Amy Yip (00:42:32):
Want it? Yes, exactly. Right. Like all, all of a sudden you’ll start noticing red Jeeps because that’s what you’re looking for. And that’s, what’s tough of mind and that’s why, where focus goes energy flows. If you’re focusing on all the good, you’ll see more good. If you’re focused on all the bad, you’ll see the bad. And so if there’s anything El at that and that you or the listeners take away from today, it is this, can you focus on the gift or opportunity of your circumstance? Can you choose to see the gift and opportunity in your circumstance, even if it’s not obvious right now?
Ben Rue (00:43:09):
I, yes, I think I can. <Laugh>
Amy Yip (00:43:12):
I think I can, I think I can
Ben Rue (00:43:15):
To quote that wonderful piece of literature that American classic the, I think I can, I, it, it, to your point, it is very, it is very difficult especially with everything going on, but I’ve, I’ve personally tried to see it that way. Like, I mean, otherwise I think you’re just go insane or <laugh> if all you saw was negative. I mean, even with, even with COVID, I’ve been trying to see some positives, like, you know, after this, there be, you know, was with like the plague in the past, like after the plague, there was like this boom in workers’ rights mm-hmm <affirmative> because so many people had died that there was a shortage workers. That’s thankfully not the case here, but there, you know, there had been some kind of, a lot of positive things that have come out of COVID with like people being able to work from home advances, you know, in technology that were sped up because they had to be yep. So just trying to like, see yeah, the silver lining or the glass half full, but it is, it is difficult, especially when everything seems to be going wrong at once.
Amy Yip (00:44:28):
Yeah. and that’s why this is mental fitness. It’s about building this mental muscle so that you can be able to shift into that perspective. And that’s why it’s so important for people to build their mental fitness, because it is very much easy to stay in that dark place.
Ben Rue (00:44:44):
Yeah. But like, so yeah, I know I, we are, we are in a very dark place and a lot of people’s a lot going on, but yeah. I’ve, I, you know, it’s been, I’ve been fortunate with like, with the COVID situation, mm-hmm <affirmative> for example, for example, that I have not lost anyone close, you know, or had something like really tough like that, but like what about tough situations like that? Like what, what about like, what if you did lose someone close to COVID or something like El like even more traumatic? Like how could those possibly bring a gift or opportunity?
Amy Yip (00:45:15):
Yeah. And so those are definitely tough situations and there can be a gift or opportunity. And for example, there’s an organization called mothers against drunk driving. It’s a nonprofit in the us, and it was founded by a woman who her 13 year old daughter was killed by a drunk driver. And she could have stayed in the place of sorrow and not do anything. She chose. Let me try to find the opportunity here. So she decided she wanted to do something to reduce drunk driving and the deaths. So she started mad mothers against drunk driving and mad has just, you know, increased in visibility and done so much work in this area. Another example would be Christopher Reeves. He became paralyzed from the neck down from a spinal injury during his horse riding accident. And he could have just given up and not done anything, but instead he chose to become heavily involved in campaigns, supporting handicapped children and paraplegics. And he did so much work. He launched the Christopher Re’s paralysis foundation. You know, he did all these things before he passed away. And so again, how can we look at even traumatic situations like these? How can we turn them into a gift or opportunity? And, and they is a choice. Is it an easy one? No, but there is a choice there.
Ben Rue (00:46:45):
Definitely. and I think of, you know, other organizations like the or the gosh, the Matthew Shepherd after the, after his, why, why am the shepherd projects? Mm-Hmm <affirmative> so, so what about the last muscle? How do we strengthen that?
Amy Yip (00:47:06):
So the last, so the first muscle was saboteur interceptor. It’s all about, you know, intercepting in saboteur. Second is that Sage perspective. And the third is that self command and it, this one is the one to help you shift from saboteur when you’re hijacked into the stage. So question for you, Ben mm-hmm <affirmative> do you believe that you are in control of your own mind?
Ben Rue (00:47:30):
That depends on the day <laugh> let’s say yes.
Amy Yip (00:47:35):
Okay. Do you still live and respond from a place of anxiety, frustration, restlessness, guilt, shame, anger, even though you know, it doesn’t serve you.
Ben Rue (00:47:44):
Amy Yip (00:47:46):
Okay. Exactly. And I will look you in the eye or, you know, pretend I’m looking you in the eye <laugh> we looked earlier. That is true. I’m gonna pretend I’m still looking at you in the eye. And I will tell you that you are not in command of your own mind. And how do I know that it’s because if you are in command of your own mind, which really command your mind to wake you up at three in the morning, worrying about things that you cannot do anything about, whether it’s a presentation you have or a to-do list item, you need to finish, you know, would you command your own mind to be commanding yourself, to criticize your yourself for any shortcomings you might have. These are not things you would be choosing for yourself. You would not choose to be like, oh yeah, today I’m gonna choose to be stressed or anxious or upset. And so if you aren’t choosing them, then why are they happening? It’s because you aren’t running the show.
Ben Rue (00:48:45):
I’m not in control of my own mind.
Amy Yip (00:48:47):
Ben Rue (00:48:47):
Much thought, but I was also wasn’t 100%. So
Amy Yip (00:48:50):
That’s true. You were, you were like sometimes. And so the thing is, you’re not running your own mind. Most people are not running and mind. Your mind is running the show. And two often we’re doing that from saboteur mode. So what we wanna do with this third muscle, this self command muscle, so you can observe yourself and which mode you’re in and then be able to command your mind to shift from, oh, I’m in saboteur mode. And I need to convert into this stage mode and, you know, best way to do this is to do a practice. So how about we practice together?
Ben Rue (00:49:24):
Let’s do it.
Amy Yip (00:49:25):
Okay. So I will invite you to take two fingertips
Ben Rue (00:49:29):
Amy Yip (00:49:30):
And gently rub them together with such attention. You can feel the fingertip ridges against each other, gently rub your fingertips against each other. So you can feel all the sensations of touch.
Amy Yip (00:49:49):
And so that was maybe around 10 seconds. And if I were to put your head under an MRI machine, what you would notice is that just those 10 seconds of PQ reps. So these are like what we call like a bicep curl or whatnot. So it’s a rep for your mental fitness. So those 10 seconds ever so slightly quiet at the region of your brain, where your saboteurs live. And in this MRI. Machine, I would be able to see that you also activated the region or the Sage lives. So your inner-Jedi. And so that was only 10 seconds and that won’t change everything. But what if you did a lot of these things, it’ll build up that inner-Jedi that commands yourself to not be stressed, to recognize when you’re stressed and be able to shift. And so,
Ben Rue (00:50:38):
Yes, easier than going to the gym.
Amy Yip (00:50:41):
I know <laugh> like 10 seconds done. And, and the thing is, there are lots of ways to do this. We don’t have time to go over like every single way, but there are a lot of other ways than this fingertip one there’s ones where you use your sensations of sound, your visual breathing. So there’s a lot of different kinds. And really the goal is to figure out, well, which one resonates with me the most and works for me.
Ben Rue (00:51:12):
That sounds a lot like meditation. Are they like, are they similar? Are they the same?
Amy Yip (00:51:17):
Yeah. So meditation and mindfulness, you can think of them as specialized forms of doing PQ reps. So just like everything else, right. We’ve gone to the root level. And so meditation and mindfulness are different types of PQ reps and the beauty of these reps that I just showed you like the fingertip one is that one, you don’t have to be a lifelong meditator and two, you can do them with your eyes open. So let’s say you’re in the middle of a meeting. And someone just said something that kind of triggered you. And you’re like, what an idiot. You can’t really be like, oh, Hey, I’m gonna go step out to meditate right now. But what you could do is have your hands and do that fingertip exercise until you feel yourself shift into the stage and bring yourself back to the meeting then. And so yes, meditation and mindfulness are helpful.
Amy Yip (00:52:14):
They are forms that can be used. But what the, the pros of the things that we are doing here are that you could use them in any context. And so those are essentially the three core muscles that we talked about, the saboteur interceptor. So intercepting your Darth beers. When they show up your Sage perspective, it’s really about bringing about the gift and opportunity in every situation and circumstance. And then that self command, which is the finger exercise that we did. And there’s a bunch of other ones, but that muscle is really about shifting from saboor to Sage.
Ben Rue (00:52:53):
Awesome. Thank you so much. I’m still doing the finger exercise. <Laugh> we be doing this all day? So let’s say someone strengthens all three of these muscles, then what, like how does one go from having strong muscles to then being able to shift from survival mode to thriving mode?
Amy Yip (00:53:09):
So the, the great thing about this work is you can put the muscles together into an operating system. And I love operating systems like a three step process. So
Ben Rue (00:53:20):
We are very different people. <Laugh> <laugh>
Amy Yip (00:53:25):
I like simplification. So the three easy steps step one is to notice and stop. Step two is to shift your awareness and then step three is to activate your Sage. So step one, you notice and stop. If you are feeling any sort of negative emotions, then stop. It doesn’t matter. Who’s doing what to you doesn’t matter what has happened in the world. If you are feeling emotions like stress, anxiety, frustration, guilt, shame, anger, even for a second and reacting to it and stop you are in saboteur mode and it is not helping sometimes though it might be hard to just stop. It’s easier set than done, right? So you could name your saboteur. And so for example, I have hypervigilant saboteur and I call her Ms. Worrywart. So when I notice that Ms. Worrywart has shown up, I go, oh, there you are. In this worry work.
Amy Yip (00:54:21):
I was expecting you. And the whole idea here is you wanna remember to have compassion for yourself? You don’t wanna get upset with yourself. You just wanna name it and stop because oftentimes if you know, our saboteur show up and we wanna just get angry with it, like, why are you here? Just go away. What ends up happening to it is you’re giving it more power because we’re trying exactly we’re, we’re like, get in the closet, don’t come out. And then it’s like begging on the closet and it’s giving it more attention. So we wanna be playful with it, you know, and then just stop. So I say, Hey, miss worry, were there you are. And then I pause. So that’s step one, noticing and stopping step two is shifting your awareness. And how do we shift awareness? It’s about it’s around doing those reps to quiet saboteur and activate Sage.
Amy Yip (00:55:11):
So it’s that self command muscle that we practiced to command your mind to shift from saboteur to Sage mode, from survival to thriving. And if we, you know, you might choose to do the fingertip one, there’s all these other ones that you could do. But as you’re doing the, the self command exercises, if you were an under an MRI machine, I would be able to see that you’re quieting that region where saboteurs live and activating the region where the Sage lives. So I’ve noticed and stopped. I’m sh I’ve done these fingertip exercises and shifted my awareness. And the last step is to activate your Sage. So we want you to assume the Sage perspective that says every problem can be converted to gift or opportunity. And that’s the Sage perspective with everything. So you can ask that question in that moment. Well, how do I generate a gift or opportunity? What might the gift or opportunity be here, right. And really approaching it with some curiosity. And open-mindedness, as you ask that question and similar to physical fitness, it takes going to the gym to be able to build up these muscles. It takes practice. So if you’re not able to do it immediately right off the bat, mm-hmm, <affirmative> be gentle with yourself. Be compassionate with yourself. You cannot build up your physical fitness overnight. It’s the same thing with mental fitness. It takes time.
Ben Rue (00:56:35):
Don’t let your hyper achiever get in a lay. Yes.
Amy Yip (00:56:38):
Ben Rue (00:56:39):
Yeah. Achieving your goal. Oh, thank you so much. Like for this, this has been so helpful. I mean, not only with what’s going in the world outside, but we have our conference short coming up. So this is a been very helpful to me personally, and just like getting, you know, getting, working on my mental fitness before that. So thank you for this. And I, yeah, and unfortunately, this is our last question, but I think this is perfect question, cuz I’m sure. Like me, all our listeners, you know, want to build their mental fitness more. So where do you recommend they start? Like what would be their first step?
Amy Yip (00:57:18):
So the first step is always awareness. We always wanna go into doing mode. The first step though, is awareness and awareness of which saboteurs you have. So as I mentioned, we all have the judge and then there’s all those nine other ones. So it’s figuring out, well, which of those nine saboteurs do I have? How do they impact me and how can I catch them before they do damage? And that starts with awareness. So if you want to know your saboteurs, you can take a free saboteur assessment through this organization called positive intelligence. So if you go to positive intelligence.com, there is a free saboteur assessment and it is scary, accurate. So once you take the assessment, you get results, it comes with detail description about your saboteurs so that you can get to know your own really, really well. And you can start becoming aware of what kind of emotions they cause thoughts that arise so that you can catch it faster. And the way that you can think about this, it’s almost like created a, creating a wanted poster for your saboteurs so that you can really catch it and intercept it.
Ben Rue (00:58:26):
That’s great. What was that website again?
Amy Yip (00:58:29):
Positive intelligence.com. Yeah.
Ben Rue (00:58:33):
Amy Yip (00:58:34):
Yeah. And then once you have your results, you can contact me. We could talk through them. We could come up with fun names for your saboteurs.
Ben Rue (00:58:44):
Like miss BOSI. Was it?
Amy Yip (00:58:46):
Mine was miss worry wort for the,
Ben Rue (00:58:50):
Yeah, miss worry. I thinking of the Mr. Men show and I think there was a character called miss bossy. Oh, <laugh> yeah, if you haven’t checked that out, that that’s also cute. That’s a cartoon for God knows how long ago. Well thank, thank you for that. For sharing that and feel free to any resources that you have or, you know, like direct, you know, you mentioned the list, your book list from earlier mm-hmm <affirmative> do you feel free to share that? And we could share it along with this podcast. Sure. But yeah, definitely. Yeah. Definitely check out positive intelligence dot com. And is there anything else that you would like recommend for people AF other than after checking out positive intelligence and connecting with you?
Amy Yip (00:59:30):
Yeah. Connecting with me, you can visit my website, Amy. Yip. Coaching.Com. So it’s am Y Y I P coaching.com. I have a lot of articles on there and other resources and definitely scheduled time. So you could chat with me.
Ben Rue (00:59:47):
Wonderful. Well, thank you so much, Amy.
Amy Yip (00:59:50):
Thank you. Thank you for having me. This has been lovely talking to you.
Ben Rue (00:59:54):
It’s been a blast. Thank you.
Ben Rue (00:59:57):
Thank you so much, Amy, for that wonderful podcast and thank you to our listeners and our sponsor. Best buy to learn more about mental fitness, please contact Amy at amy@AmyyipCoaching.Com. New episodes of the forum podcast are available at forum, workplace inclusion.org/podcast. You can also find a podcast on apple podcast, Spotify, anchor, and Stitcher. Thank you again for listening. Have a great day.
Speaker 1 (01:00:21):
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Speaker 1 (01:00:44):
The forum on workplace inclusion podcast is recorded at Augsburg university in Minneapolis, Minnesota. One of the most diverse private colleges in the Midwest Augsburg university offers more than 50 undergraduate majors and nine graduate degrees to 3000 foreign students of diverse backgrounds at its campus in the vibrant center of the twin cities and nearby Rochester, Minnesota location. Augsburg educates students to be informed citizens, thoughtful stewards, critical thinkers and responsible leaders in Augsburg. Education is defined by excellence in the local arts and professional studies guided by the faith and values of the Lutheran church and shaped by its urban and global settings. Learn firstname.lastname@example.org.