Welcome back to The School of Greatness! Today, I’m super excited to take you through part two of the most impactful moments from our podcast! If you haven’t already read part one, you can go back and check that out, or you can read on because this episode is entirely stand-alone!
When I first started The School of Greatness, my goal was to interview some of the most influential and successful people in order to learn how to live better, love deeper, and make a more significant difference. I’ve learned so many fantastic tools for doing just that, but I recognize that my journey to greatness will never be over. You can always become even better, and today I challenge you to learn from some of my favorite interviews and apply them to your life!
Also, make sure to stick around to the end of the episode. I’m going to share my biggest takeaway from the first 1,000 episodes of The School of Greatness, and you’re not going to want to miss it!
I had so many great guests in the first part of my 1,000th episode. I had Robert Greene, Tony Robbins, David Goggins, Brené Brown, and Chris Lee. On today’s show, I’m going to bring you some more great guests and revisit groundbreaking shows!
The first episode that I’m revisiting is Episode 691. On that episode, I had one of my favorite guests of all time: Kobe Bryant. He was an NBA legend, an Oscar winner, and a great father and husband. Revisiting this interview was both heartbreaking and deeply moving for me.
Next, I’ll revisit Episode 374, where I had the pleasure of learning about the importance of meditation from Preetha ji. Preetha ji is a transformational leader and spiritual guide. She co-founded the One World Academy with her husband Krishna ji, where they’ve led millions on the path to mindfulness and enlightenment.
I’ll continue my spiritual journey by revisiting my interview with Rob Bell in Episode 175. Rob is the founder and former pastor of the Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, Michigan. He’s also authored several successful books, including Love Wins, What Is the Bible?, and Velvet Elvis. Rob helped me find clarity with our discussion of spirituality.
The fourth interview that I’ll revisit is with Laverne Cox from Episode 974. Laverne is an immensely successful actress and LGBTQ+ advocate known for Orange Is the New Black. Laverne went deep into discussing how to develop resilience in trauma. My discussion with Laverne was such a great reminder that none of us are alone in dealing with trauma.
Finally, I’ll be sharing my own story from Episode 61. During that episode, I recounted my childhood trauma of being sexually assaulted to my friend Jonathan Fields, author of How to Live a Good Life. Even though it was incredibly difficult and nerve-wracking to share that experience on the show, a huge weight was lifted off me when I recounted the event. I wanted The School of Greatness to be a safe place for vulnerability, and I knew that if I wanted my guests to feel safe in sharing their trauma, I had to be vulnerable and share my own experience.
I’m so excited to share with you some of the best moments from The School of Greatness! If you’re ready to revisit some of the most powerful interviews from the show, strap in, and read on!
Revisiting my interview with Kobe Bryant was both enlightening and painful. He was taken from the world so young, but he didn’t waste a single day. Very few have embodied greatness as definitively as Kobe, and part of the reason for his success was his approach to failure:
“It’s exciting when you win. It’s exciting when you lose. [Be]cause the process should be exactly the same. Whether you win or you lose, you go back, and you look, and you find things that you could have done better.” – Kobe Bryant
Kobe didn’t let failure discourage him — he always used it to become better. It can be difficult to face your failures head-on, but you won’t improve if you’re not willing to face it. Kobe used to watch the basketball games that he lost in order to learn from his mistakes:
“The mistakes that you’ve made in that game, you have to do the hard stuff and watch that game and study that game to not make those mistakes over and over again. … So you gotta really study it, face it. … You’ll give yourself a better chance [to win].” – Kobe Bryant
What made Kobe great was not perfection but his ability to acknowledge his mistakes and grow from them. He recognized that an area that he struggled with while playing basketball was showing compassion and empathy for his teammates. Later in his career, he acknowledged his mistake and began making a conscious effort to understand his team.
Kobe recognized that failure is a teacher. Whether it involved outplaying another team or addressing his own shortcomings, Kobe grew from his mistakes and used them to become a better person.
In what areas of your life do you need to learn from your mistakes? Whatever it is, recognize that you’re not perfect, and face your failures, especially when it’s difficult. You always have room to grow and improve on your path to greatness!
During my time hosting The School of Greatness, I realized the importance of mindfulness. I’ve had many guests discuss mindfulness and the benefits of clearing your mind, but Preetha ji inspired me the most. My interview with her prompted me to take a meditation course in India, and now, I practice meditation every day.
Preetha ji described how our consciousness actually separates us from others. When we meditate, we enter a state of connection where we experience love, serenity, peace, and joy.
She described how thinking about yourself actually causes suffering:
“We are thinking about ourselves. … We are suffering. And the entire thinking is revolving around oneself. And then [when] thinking if you see states of anger, fear, jealousy, frustration. If you look into those states, if you actually see what is happening, you would see the entire thinking is revolving around yourself.” – Preetha ji
Preetha ji said that despite all of her experience with meditation and entering a state of connection, she still feels suffering, but now she can switch her state of mind from suffering to connection incredibly quickly.
Preetha ji instructed me through a meditation session to shift from a state of suffering to connection. Part of the meditation was taking three conscious breaths and observing the emotion that I felt with those breaths. She then instructed me to analyze what the feeling revolved around, whether it be the past, future, or present. This was such a great tool because it’s so easy to be out of touch with your own feelings in your busy day-to-day life. It’s important to be in touch with your feelings so that you can shift into a state of connection.
Meditation is such a powerful tool. Accessing your mindfulness can help you get through challenging conversations and situations.
I was so blessed to interview Rob Bell about faith and spirituality. I grew up in a Christian Science household, and that experience was very formative for me. I still feel a connection with something greater than myself, and I keep searching for more spiritual clarity. Rob definitely helped me on my spiritual journey, and I know that he can help you too!
Rob had a great definition of spirituality that can include everyone regardless of faith or belief system:
“I define spirituality as your awareness that your life is a gift that you have received breath. For some reason, God, higher consciousness, being, reality itself, the universe, whatever language you want to use for that, you have received this extraordinary gift, and what you do with it [and] how you respond to it matters. And that your spirituality is your awareness. … Your life [is] actually animated by these unseen realities: hope, joy, peace, longing, and desire to be a part of something bigger than yourself.” – Rob Bell
He described how people often write off spirituality as something having to do with judgment and religion, but spirituality is really about recognizing that life is a gift, and religion exists to organize that spiritual practice:
“It’s practice. It’s the routines. It’s the rituals that remind you that life is a gift and how you respond matters.” – Rob Bell
I asked Rob what he believes overall, and his response was incredibly enlightening and thought-provoking:
“I believe that there is something at work in the universe moving us forward. … I believe there’s something at work in human history. There’s a force of benign love. I call this force ‘God.’ … There’s something that when you give yourself to the wellbeing of other people, something deep within [you] says, ‘This is good.’” – Rob Bell
Regardless of your faith or belief system, helping other people is something we should all be striving for on our path to greatness!
In my 7.5 years of hosting The School of Greatness, I’ve always tried to gather people who have different values and backgrounds. I always want to make sure that everyone is being represented on the show, and prioritizing diversity has led me to learn so much from different walks of life.
Recently I had the pleasure of having Laverne Cox on the show. Laverne has done so much for the LGBTQ+ community. She paved the way for more roles opening up in Hollywood for transgender actors and actresses.
Laverne and I immediately established a deep connection from the fact that both of us dealt with childhood trauma. Laverne had great advice for dealing with trauma:
“There’s resilience to trauma. Healing from trauma is really about not being overly defined by the trauma, but then not being in denial about it, acknowledging that the trauma happened, but that it’s in its proper place in your timeline.” – Laverne Cox
Laverne recounted how her signing on a condo triggered a trauma from her childhood that related to housing. Her fear of homelessness rooted in her childhood experiences manifested in her adult life and caused panic attacks. She explored her issues with her therapist and eventually was able to work through the traumatic events and put them in their proper place rather than experience them over again:
“The nervous system does not know if a trauma happened 15 years ago. … Once we are triggered, the nervous system feels like the trauma’s happening right now. And the thing of healing from trauma [and] creating resilience around trauma is putting the trauma within the right timeline of our lives. … I’ve had a lot of unfortunate things happen to me, but I don’t need to be defined by those things. I’m not in denial of them, but they don’t define me.” – Laverne Cox
Do you have any unresolved trauma in your life? You can’t change the past, but you can put your past trauma in its proper place so that you don’t experience it again. Don’t deny what occurred, but don’t let it define you.
When I initially started The School of Greatness, I had to make the tough decision of what kind of interviewer I wanted to be. I had to decide whether I wanted to be passive in my interviews and let my guests do all the talking or if I wanted to add my own substance to the show. I knew that if I wanted to create a safe space for people to be honest and vulnerable, I would also have to show that same vulnerability and be honest about my past. That’s why I shared my childhood trauma with my guest and friend, Jonathan Fields.
Even though I’ve now told this story many times, it never stops being difficult. I was raped when I was five years old. It took me almost thirty years to tell anyone my story. I was incredibly nervous to tell my story on the show, but it was met by such a positive response, and I’m incredibly grateful that it’s helped others.
When I was a child, I would often stay at my babysitter’s house for a few hours after school. One day her teenage son was at her house. I had never met her son, and I never saw him again after this day. The door was open to his room, and he was playing a Nintendo game. I came into his room and asked him if I could play the Nintendo. He said, “Yes, but you have to do something for me.” He then took me to the bathroom and performed a sexual act on me. At the time, I had no clue if what we were doing was right or wrong, and I just went along with it.
I didn’t fully realize what had happened until much later in my teenage years. I felt a great deal of shame and anger that I had been sexually abused. The trauma hurt my relationships with others. I felt that I wasn’t accepted or loved when I was growing up, but ultimately, what ended up happening was that my feelings related to the trauma made me want to show love and compassion towards everyone because of that lack of love that I felt as a child.
I didn’t want my trauma to control the rest of my life and cause me to be closed off as an adult, so now I view the incident as something that I can learn from. I’ve forgiven myself and the man that abused me because harboring resentment only hurts you.
Even though it was painful to share my story on the show, I’m incredibly glad that I did. I made The School of Greatness a safe space for everyone, including myself, and I’m so happy that I was able to find the courage to tell everyone that they’re not alone in recovering from traumatic experiences.
I have learned so much in the last 1,000 episodes of The School of Greatness, but I still have much more to learn. Greatness is a lifelong pursuit that never ends, and I’m excited to continue my journey after this episode.
Now I’m going to fulfill the promise that I made to you at the beginning of this show — I’m going to tell you my biggest takeaway from my first 1,000 episodes. My biggest takeaway is that the key to a successful life is relationships and the key to a successful relationship is vulnerability. I’ve been able to build amazing relationships with my many guests because I was vulnerable. I’m so blessed to have had so many amazing guests in the last 7.5 years, and I can’t wait to build more fantastic relationships in my next 7.5 years!
If you enjoyed this episode, make sure to check out my 5-Minute Friday this week, where I’ll tell you my three truths and my definition of greatness! You’re not going to want to miss it!
Also, make sure to listen to this full episode! If you want to learn about approaching failure from Kobe Bryant, the practical uses of meditation with Preetha ji, spirituality with Rob Bell, healing trauma with Laverne Cox, and the importance of showing vulnerability with yours truly, join me, Lewis Howes, on Episode 1,001 of The School of Greatness!