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The Two Support Systems Every Manager Needs

This article was based on episode 103 of The Modern Manager podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Modern Manager Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, iHeart Radio and Stitcher. Get a discount on the book My Last Bad Day Shift, when you become a member at

Most of us will never face a major crisis or tragedy, thank goodness. But for the few people who do, they often come out transformed, finding a greater sense of purpose, happiness and capability than they had before. Is it possible for the rest of us to experience such a transformation without the accompanying crisis?

Michael O’Brien, the Chief Shift Officer at Peloton Coaching and Consulting, says yes. He deeply understands the power of a fresh start. While biking in 2001, he was hit by a Ford Explorer going forty miles an hour. Regaining consciousness in the helicopter on the way to a trauma center, unsure if he would survive, Michael reflected on his life. Dismayed by the way he had been chasing after happiness and external validation, Michael made a deal with himself: if he lived, he would commit to living a different kind of life. After getting out of the ICU, Michael declared he would never have another bad day again.

Michael adopted and refined a series of mindfulness techniques that enabled him to dramatically change his life. Utilizing these approaches can help managers lead from a place of strength and clarity of purpose, and can stop those bad moments from turning into bad days.


The most important conversation that we’ll ever have is the one that we have with ourselves every day. Too often that conversation goes unnoticed. We’re so accustomed to hearing that voice, we don’t bother to stop and question it. But if we don’t put any effort into recognizing our outlooks or changing our limiting beliefs, we can easily get stuck. To counter those unhelpful, nagging, critical thoughts, Michael suggests beginning the mornings slowly and with intention. He suggests you start by focusing on your breath. As you breath, let go of any stress and ask yourself a few, centering questions:

  • Who do I want to be today? What kind of person do I want to be?

  • What do I want to do? How do I want to operate?

  • What do I want to have more of? What matters to me and will improve my life?

Through envisioning the world we want to live in and our ideal selves, we set ourselves off on the right foot.


Michael points out four common mental blocks that limit managers from being their best self at work.

Block #1: You Think Something Is Impossible Until It Actually Happens

How many people really thought that they could handle working from home? When forced into such a situation, many of us are finding that we can survive and even thrive in such unusual circumstances. It’s essential to notice when you’re dismissive of an idea simply because it hasn’t yet happened.

Block #2: You Misinterpret Situations; The Tip of The Iceberg Phenomenon

Our mind’s don’t like gaps, so we naturally fill in missing information. But assuming we know the full story when we only actually have a small fraction of information can be a disastrous mistake. When it comes to being a manager, we don’t know everything going on with our employees below the surface; all the thoughts and experiences and beliefs that make a person who they are. Drawing conclusions about someone limits how we view them and their potential. This inhibits us from providing them opportunities and offering appropriate support.

Block #3: You Feel Like You’re Not Enough

If we don’t recognize our own value, we shame ourselves into thinking that we’re not _______ enough (smart, good, fast, strategic, educated…), and often lose the courage to ask for the things we need or the compensation we deserve that could propel us forward.

Block #4: Because Of Past Mistakes, You Don’t Believe You Can Do Better

Just because you didn’t succeed in the past, doesn’t mean you won’t in the future. The belief that we won’t succeed due to past mishaps hampers our resiliency, and stops us from taking action even when things have changed. No one wants to be a fool who tries forever to no avail, but it’s critical that managers not let the past stop us from pursuing the future.

Often, in our over-connected, loud world, we don’t realize how many negative voices course through our brains. We overlook their powerful impact on our behaviors. Michael offers that for most people, it only takes a few minutes to transform these voices. By finding a few quiet times throughout the day to simply stop and listen to our own thoughts, we can recognize the limiting thought patterns that arise, discard them, and generate positive self talk that moves us toward our goals.


Despite Michael’s steadfast belief in the importance of individual efforts to unblock ourselves, he still believes wholeheartedly in the need for each leader to have a crew of people to help push and guide them. Michael refers to these people as “pelotons”, an analogy from biking; the peloton is the pack of riders who save energy by riding close to each other in a group and encouraging each other to move faster.

Likewise, leaders and managers often feel alone; they can’t go to their teams with concerns because they’re supposed to be leading them, they feel uncertain if their boss wants to hear their problems, and their life partners may not understand the situations they face. Rather than finding one person to fill all roles, find the right person to fill each of the essential roles:

  • A Clarity Person who can help you with your mindset when you get stuck.

  • A Crisis Person who can comfort you.

  • A Challenge Person to confront and push you when needed.

  • A Celebrator to rejoice with you when you win.

Having the right people on your side to help you see and hear what you are capable of helps you evolve and gain momentum towards your goals. As you build your peloton, consider whose peloton you’re in. What role can you play for others?

Although we may be living in times of great stress and uncertainty, if you can find a sense of quiet, as if the world pushed “pause” on us, you may discover something deep for yourself. Ask what it is you really want, recognize faulty thought patterns, and join others to steer toward a brighter future.

A fresh, new beginning is always available to us. What better time than now?


Get a discount on the book My Last Bad Day Shift, when you become a member at

This article was based on episode 103 The Modern Manager podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Modern Manager Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, iHeart Radio and Stitcher. Never miss a worksheet, episode or article: subscribe to Mamie’s newsletter.




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