Athletes all need to train their performance mindset before a game. Those who are nervous have a higher chance of losing. On the other hand, those who know how to relax and have fun end up winning. That is the mindset that Penny Zenker and her guest Joey Klein will discuss in this episode. Together, they talk about how you, as a high performer, can get into the zone. Joey is the founder and CEO of Inner Matrix Systems. He is also the author of the book, The Inner Matrix: Leveraging the Art & Science of Personal Mastery to Create Real Life Results. Learn how to control your mind so that you can find that key to fulfillment today.
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Simple Tips To Achieve A High-Performance Mindset With Joey Klein
We are going to talk a little bit about mindset and performance and understand some real simple tips that you can shift your unproductive emotions to productive emotions so that you can get the result that you are looking for in terms of performance. That’s the key part that has us choke in the moment of how when we show up and could be at our best but we don’t show up at our best. It’s those unproductive emotions that show up. I have with me an expert in this space. Joey Klein is the Founder and CEO of Inner Matrix Systems. It’s a personal mastery training system for high achievers. He’s also the author of the book The Inner Matrix: Leveraging The Art & Science Of Personal Mastery To Create Real Life Results.
He’s been interviewed by SELF Magazine, Inc., Yahoo Finance, NBC and Penny Zenker. For many years, he studied a range of healing modalities from psychology to neuroscience, martial arts and meditation. He synthesized the effect of elements from multiple disciplines into a single approach that he sees can help others train their thoughts and feelings to discontinue destructive patterns that engage their formidable internal resources to create powerful visions for themselves.
He has worked for more than 80,000 individuals through his program around the world. He does one-on-one coaching and has worked for Boeing, IBM, Dell, Google, Panda Express, Coca-Cola and the World Health Organization. Without further ado, let’s check out this conversation with Joey and me about how we can shift our emotions from unproductive emotions to productive emotions.
Joey, welcome to the show.
Thank you so much for having me. It’s great to be here.
I understand you work with top performers and talk about how to help people stay at the top of their game. That means dealing with all the chaos that goes around us and still being able to focus on getting results. Tell me how you get here, your intro into how this became a passion for you.
It happened by accident. I was fascinated by the idea of personal development. I got into it because I was in a lot of pain and was looking to eliminate that pain and trying to figure out why for myself. I ended up meeting a prominent mentor of mine in Los Angeles, Dr. Lou. She was a prominent psychologist there who worked with the elite of society. She had a lot of Fortune 100 and 500 execs, famous movie producers, actors, actresses, pro athletes and things of this nature. She got a case that she got stuck with. She would love them over to me because I was teaching the internal training aspects.
I taught mindfulness, meditation and internal training. Years ago was when I got started way before as popular the way it is. I was able to get results with people inside of 1 hour or 30 minutes or a few very uncommon sessions. She got very interested in this idea of inner performance and training. She coached me inside the arena of psychology. That’s where I got my start. Within a year, I had 88 private clients, coached one-on-one that led to seminars and taught 40 programs a year throughout the country. In different parts of the world, we have 80,000 people who have gone through our programs and training. It was something that I accidentally found.
People want to get to know you, which is on your bio and everything. It is important and great. What was it that drove you into meditation? What was the pain that you worked yourself out of that’s using these techniques?
I grew up in Wichita, Kansas. There’s nothing to do out there. In my second year of college, I fell into partying, tons of drugs and alcohol. If you found me back then, you probably wouldn’t find me sober. I had no idea what I wanted to do like what I wanted to major in and dropped out of college. I had a sales job. I chased commission gigs so I could make decent money or at least get by living this insane lifestyle that I was up to.It's most important that you find the idea of happiness and what it means to know peace and fulfillment. Click To Tweet
I remember one day after I have been on drugs and partying up 2 to 3 days straight, I woke up at 3:00 in the morning or so and was like, “If I don’t make a change, it doesn’t likely I’m alive in a year so I have to do something different.”
At that moment, I remember thinking to myself, “What’s the most important is I find the idea of happiness and what does it mean to know peace and fulfillment.” I didn’t know anybody around me at the time that was happy and excited about their life. I said, “I’m going to go figure that out.” That search took me all over the world like India, Thailand, Japan and Europe.
I was a living student with a guy in Boulder, Colorado and then ended up in LA. If it had to do with personal development, whether it was psychology, neurosciences, meditation, mindfulness or the ancient wisdom traditions that have been up to this stuff for thousands of years, I threw myself into it trying to figure it out. How to get me on point essentially is where it all started.
What was it that worked for you that helped you find yourself?
I don’t think it was any one thing. It was a combination of things. I’m an obsessive person. I like partying. When I decided I was going to do that, I did it all in. When I decided I was going to figure out what is the key to fulfillment and happiness, I went all in. I was meditating 8 hours a day in temples in India for 30 days straight.
I met a Harvard-trained neurologist and was like, “Why does meditation work? Why is it that these people have been doing this for thousands of years?” I studied Dallas Meditation. He helped me to understand the brain science behind why breath works, meditation and mindfulness were as effective as it was.
I met Lou who taught me the psychology behind this like pattern dynamics. Where do our patterns come from in terms of emotional patterns and mental patterns that drive every choice, decision and action that we make? Where’s the root of that? Over the last years, I found a piece here and there that was necessary for the puzzle. What I train people inside of is the cheat sheet of those entire modalities where I found the best for each of those practices and put those together.
I have been thinking deeply about some of the patterns that drive. You’ve got all this educational background. I’m interested to pick your brain a little bit. We are going to have a little fun on this interview because I have been thinking about control and how it’s weaved into our essential fabric. It’s our desire and our need for control, how it unconsciously drives us in certain directions, creates procrastination or perfectionism to talk about in my book and where that balance is so that it doesn’t become obsessive. You talked about obsession. I’m curious on your take on that. How does our relationship with control play a role in us finding this high performance?
The more a human being tries to control something inherently, the more out of control they become. Most people strive for control. I know because I used to be a control freak. I would fall into that category. What I found was the need for control comes from this desire or coordination to essentially feel safe in one regard or another.
If I can expect what’s coming, I know it’s going to be okay, I’m going to win and not lose. That translates to I’m not going to feel pain. The reality is there are a lot more that we can’t control in terms of ourselves in the world and what happens that we can influence and control. The idea is not to control things but rather to pay attention to the influence of things is what makes the difference.
The more we chase something, the less we are going to have of it. We try to control everything and everyone and then we are out of control more than ever. I’m a recovering micromanager so I speak like that. What are a couple of tips? You talked about breathwork and people underestimate it like, “We breathe every day.” We don’t think about that as a tool that we carry around with us every day. Perhaps we could take a moment to talk about a couple of tips there on how people can bring out high performance with that thing they carry around every day.
If we break down every choice, decision or action that a human being takes and look at what motivates those choices, decisions or actions at the base essence, it is an emotion. I’ve worked with a lot of high-performers and they think, “I’m a very rational person that makes rational decisions.” The reality is our nervous system isn’t built that way. If we look back to where we were at 6 months old or 1 year old, our entire communication system was emotional. We were feeling sad and happy through the mirror neurons in our brain by way of being exposed or impacted by the people who are primary caregivers around us.
For years, 100% of our language and the way we interacted with the world was emotional communication. If we look at it in essence, when do we perform well? When are we performing at our best? When is an athlete in the zone? There’s a sense of joy, inspiration driving that and peace there. We feel a sense of love and connection to ourselves and those around us.
If we look at that space as where our highest performing moments exist, it’s in our highest emotional state. If we look at the places where we perform in the least, there are fear, anxiety, panic, shame and guilt. There are choices, decisions and actions being motivated by those lower spectrums of emotion. Breath is one of the best tools that we have to essentially switch the sympathetic nervous system, the fight or flight systems off, which are responsible for things like shame, guilt and anxiety and get into more of a parasympathetic response, which is love, inspiration, passion, joy and those spectrums. If we understand how to leverage breath, we can understand how to manage the nervous system essentially.The more a human being tries to control something inherently, the more out of control they become. Click To Tweet
With breathing, we can take any of those emotions that are unproductive at the moment when we are trying to reach high performance so fear, anxiety, guilt and shame. Like a light switch, we could turn and transform that energy into more productive energy. I want to repeat that so people will know that it is possible. Think about we listen to a song. We can be feeling bad and sad and then an awesome song that we love comes on. It can shift our emotional state like that. I want people to understand that we can shift like that out of an emotional state and access the best part of ourselves even though we thought a moment ago we weren’t able to do that.
Many people inherently believe that emotions are this mystical force like they are not there but understand the nervous system and how emotions function. The emotions that we feel didn’t just occur. Those were trained and conditioned in the way that we were brought up by the environment that we existed in, the things we were exposed to and so on. This is a good thing because if emotions are trained and conditioned, that means we can train and condition the experiences that we want to have and even conform those emotional patterns to relate to the outcomes that we want to achieve and the level of which we want to perform.
I’m no longer a competing martial artist but I still practice to stay healthy. I remember when I was competing all over the world, my martial arts master because I studied a very traditional martial art, said, “If I’m going to train you, you have to win.” I remember going to competitions and world championships. I would perform very well in the dojo and at practice.
I would get to the competition and choke essentially. I would lose. I would often lose to people and competitors who were far less talented than me and I would not lose performing at my best. That used to be so frustrating to me. People would come up to me after competitions, people that I trained with well and my buddies. They’d be like, “I thought you have that. I was certain you were going to win. What in the world happened there? That guy is not very good.”
That made it worse because I already felt that for losing. I thought, “Why in the world is this happening?” I started paying attention like, “What do I do in training?” That’s different from the competition. I was like, “Everything is mostly the same. I’m executing the same combination of punches and kicks.” I’m trying to execute the same thing I do in one place than the other, other than the environment, the fact that there are thousands of people watching. It shouldn’t be anything different.
When I stopped and paid attention when I was at the dojo, I was having fun. I was joyful, connected with my friends and relaxed. There was a sense of joy there and creativity in the process. When I got to the tournament, I started focusing on winning and what would it mean if I didn’t win, disappointing my teacher and my master. When I started looking at it, the anxiety and fear would be there. All of a sudden, I was shutting my nervous system down without realizing it. That was where I started to create a ritual and said, “I’m going to breathe in a certain way, put on a certain focus and pay attention to what I do at practice.”
I’m going to do that same thing when I go to tournaments or compete. Ultimately, I didn’t make any change in my training regimen or nutrition, nothing. The only change I made was I would turn on my state and made sure that I was in that experience of fun, joy and creativity before I would compete. The moment I started doing that, I pretty much began to win consistently and regularly, which led to three consecutive world championship wins in a row. Essentially, I decided I was going to be done because it was a little bit too much of an impact on the body but that was where I understood and learn the distinction between emotion and performance.
That’s a great example because everybody can relate to a moment in time, whether they are an athlete or in any area of their lives where we are free. To light this up for people who are reading, it could be in a job interview where all of a sudden, you choke. You don’t remember what to say because you are all nervous and fearful about getting the job. It could be in a performance review, at any high state moment or a moment with your children where you are trying to have an important conversation and that doesn’t happen. We can all relate in any area of our lives. Do you have anything to say about taking it out of a sports context and into our life context?
At the end of the day, it’s where we train emotion. The more frequently we do it, the better we are going to get at it. If we notice that we feel overwhelmed at work and we attempt to be calm, inspired and passionate at work, we are probably not going to be very effective because the reality is we are not just overwhelmed and anxious at work. We are overwhelmed and anxious at home because we have one nervous system. We take ourselves everywhere we go.
Something that I always encourage the people that I trained to do is, “Pick one emotion or state that you want to start with and train.” Maybe it’s a sense of calm when you first began like, “I’m going to note where I am and see if I can get to a place of calm, peace or a general sense of being connected to myself.”
Maybe it is an inspiration. Pick one quality that you are going to try to bring throughout your day, whether you are at home hanging out with your family. Check-in occasionally. “If I’m not there, can I get there?” When you go to work, it’s the same quality. “Am I there? If I’m not there, can I get there?” We have one nervous system. Ask yourself the question, “What did I wake up to?” We all woke up to something. Some of us woke up with a bit of anxiety or we were sad. If you are like my dog, he wakes up every day and is lit up. He’s bouncing on his hind heels and super excited to be alive for the day.
Some people hop out of bed joyful. The lights are on and they are passionate and ready to go. If we pay attention, we typically wake up to the same thing every day. There’s a habit and routine of emotion and feeling. If we can start getting clear on what we want to feel and learn how to train and turn that emotion on, before you know it, it becomes a reflex and it is what we take to every part of our day.
The more we allow ourselves to be angry, feel anxious, overwhelmed or sad, the better the brain gets a producing that experience and the harder it is to shift that state. Luckily it works on the other side too. If we learn how to turn on that parasympathetic state, be a bit happier and joyful and spend a bit more time there, that becomes our norm, reflex and prevalent.
I have a couple of questions. First of all, I want to talk in a moment about some of the ways how I might shift my state. We talked about breathing as one of them. We can come back to that but what about all these people talking about toxic positivity? Maybe somebody would say, “That’s toxic positivity. You are saying that I’m going to train positive emotions so that I’m going to be positive all the time. I’m going to be positive Penny.” What would you say to that?Once you can start getting clear on what you want to feel, it becomes a reflex, and it is what you should take to every part of your day. Click To Tweet
Toxic positivity comes when we become disassociated from the feelings and emotions that are present. A lot of times when people are like rose-colored glasses, like awkwardly positive, that tends to be a mental event where we are positive about life all the time but yet the actual feeling or emotion that that person might be experiencing is a little bit of sadness, unworthiness, shame or something like this. It almost becomes a coverup for how they are feeling like an overcompensation. The by-product of that is we become a bit disassociated or disconnected from the emotions that we feel and what’s present.
We are emotional beings with mirror neurons in our brain, which are responsible for the empath. If somebody is overly positive and I’m sitting with them, yet I feel as though they are anxious, overwhelmed or sad, then I know there’s this disconnect so it doesn’t jive for me. It’s different than if I’m experiencing a sense of happiness. What I’m sharing are my thoughts and natural expressions as a result of being happy or grateful. It’s connected and people feel that they know that. It doesn’t rub people the wrong way.
Do you feel like that sometimes it might rub people the wrong way? Some people say, “You are pushing down emotion.” Let’s say they are connected, feel positive about things and try to look at the silver lining like, “This situation sucks but I’m going to move past it and move on.” Somebody else might be like, “You should be pissed.” That’s a toxic positivity. “You should not be moving on. You should be wallowing for a little while.” What would you say to those people who are saying, “You can’t pick up and move on, have a positive outlook or look at the silver lining all the time?”
To those people, I say thanks for your opinion and input. I feel great and I’m moving on. What I find is the idea of influence. By nature, I’m a joyful person. It’s not that we are always going to feel joyful. That’s not possible. It’s healthy to feel sad, shame or guilty sometimes but if we get caught or trapped there, that defines our experience of life in a certain way and then it limits what we can produce and create in the world.
At the same point, if I’m joyful and the people around me are like, “You should be angry,” I go, “I hear that. Thank you for your opinion. I get to determine the experience of my day. I can accept that maybe this wasn’t a great thing that happened but I’m also not going to let it define who I’m going to be. I’m going to move forward and create the life that’s important to me.”
It doesn’t have to mean that you are pushing down negative emotions. You are choosing that it’s not going to impact you.
It’s like, “What do we want to carry forward?” The way I think about it is, “The people in my life who are closest to me, I want them to have the best of me and experience the best I had to give.” If I have something happen at work and maybe somebody does something unkind, has bad business ethics or says some nasty things about me, whatever goes on in the world, we all make mistakes and have those moments. If I don’t realign that, then I bring that anger and sense of unworthiness or sadness home. That’s what I’m sharing in the relationships with the people I care about.
That’s different. Maybe I get caught there for a week, month or a year. Sometimes people get caught there for a long time. It’s like, “What’s the appropriate time to sober?” In my opinion, the appropriate time to sober is the amount of time I choose. For me, I might feel esteemed for a minute and be with it. I always ask the question, “Who do I want to be moving forward? How do I want to respond to this? What’s important for what I carry forward?” What I find is that the things that are maybe not great that happened in my life are not worth suffering over.
If we get caught in anger, feeling unworthy or sad and that’s what we wake up to every day for the next month, is it what we are suffering for? Is that worth bringing that impact to the people in our life? I understand if we don’t know how to train emotion or we don’t know how to make these shifts. There was a time I didn’t know how to do that. That’s okay.
It’s all right that we are where we are but if a human being wants to know how to change their emotional state and they can learn how to, it’s an extremely powerful thing to do. Not everybody around us is going to be happy with where we are but the reality is not everybody’s going to be happy with where we are anyway so you might as well be happy.
Breathing is one technique that can switch our emotional state. What’s another quick way that we could shift our emotional state?
If someone wanted to get started with this, there are three basic things to start implementing that if you did it, you would notice a little bit of a shift and change. Number one, ask the question, “Where am I?” Focus and listen to your body. Do you feel expanded or contracted? “Do I feel sad, anxious, happy or joyful?” Name the state of where you are at. What I find is the awareness of where we are at starts to create a change of where we are by way of naming and acknowledging it and being okay that that is there.
Step 2 is to take 2 or 3 deep breaths and do so through the nose. When we touch the tongue to the palate of the mouth and we take a gentle but deep breath through the nose, it stimulates the vagus nerve in the back of our throat. That tells the parasympathetic nervous system that everything is okay. Let’s relax a little bit. We are safe. It sends a signal to the brain that way.
You take a deep full breath in through the nose, find that top breath and then exhale. Let all your air out, maybe 2 or 3 times. From there, if you are going to train an emotion, pick something and then start to focus on it. “What reason do I have to be grateful and happy?” That’s a great one to start with. It’s very simple. At first, the mind might go, “There’s no reason to be happy and grateful.” You’ve got to override that because that might be the habit of thinking that we have gotten inside of.Toxic positivity comes when you become disassociated from the feelings and emotions that are present. Click To Tweet
Stop, take 30 seconds or 1 minute and pick 1 quality. “What reason do I have to be grateful?” Start with the simple things like, “I’m alive. I got a clean and warm shower. I have clean clothes and food to eat. I have got income, options, choices and opportunities.” Name a few things that fuel the emotion that you are wanting to generate. Emotional training can be very in-depth and intricate but those three things are a great way to start shifting your state right away and train the emotion that you want to get inside of more often.
What’s a good website to find you, your resources and training courses?
We always have a special deal for a show like this that we do. Go to TheInnerMatrix.com. That’s a great place to learn more, read my book and get started with the things.
Thank you so much for being here.
I appreciate it. Thank you so much for having me.
Thank you all for being here because this is an opportunity for you to get clear on the choices that you have and how you show up. Being able to do the inner work to be able to live the emotions and the life that you want to live is within your grasp. Go check out Joey’s materials. We’ll see you in the next episode.
- Inner Matrix Systems
- The Inner Matrix: Leveraging The Art & Science Of Personal Mastery To Create Real Life Results
About Joey Klein
Joey Klein is the founder and CEO of Inner Matrix Systems Inner Matrix Systems, a personal mastery training system for high achievers. He is the author of the book The Inner Matrix: Leveraging the Art & Science of Personal Mastery to Create Real Life Results. He has been interviewed by Self Magazine, INC.com, Yahoo Finance, and NBC.
For more than 20 years Joey Klein has studied a range of healing modalities, from psychology and neuroscience to martial arts and mediation. He synthesized effective elements from multiple disciplines into a single approach that he says can help others train their thoughts and feelings to discontinue destructive patterns, engage their formidable internal resources, and create powerful visions for their lives. Klein and IMS have worked with more than 80,000 individuals from around the world through both live and online training programs, as well as one-on-one coaching. Clients have included: Boeing, IBM, Dell, Google, Panda Express, Coca Cola and The World Health Organization.