There are going to be hundreds of obstacles that we face when trying to pursue greatness. At times ourselves can be our own enemy but for Dave Hollis, we can get out of our own way.
Some people will tell you that you’re not enough.
Others will say your ideas are unconventional and crazy – “it’s never going to work!”
Maybe your own family doesn’t believe in you.
The pressure from other people can be insane and paralyzing, but sometimes we are our own worst enemies. We can get in our own way when it comes to our dreams. Insecurity has a way of tripping us up when we try to get out of our comfort zone. Thoughts like “I’m not enough” play on repeat. We are too paralyzed by fear that we end up not accomplishing anything.
Other times, pride has a way of convincing us that we’re doing everything right, when we’re actually not, and that’s not great either. Maybe you’re gotten too comfortable in your own way of thinking. You’re not willing to consider other ways of handling things, and you’re too consumed with your own process that you don’t see the value in trying something different.
If we want to achieve success in the workplace and in our relationships, we need to be willing to change, to humble ourselves when necessary, and to get out of our comfort zone.
We usually don’t get it right the first time. But getting it right the second time or the third time or the fourth time is way better than getting it wrong all the time.
On this episode of The School of Greatness, I’ve got Dave Hollis in the house to tell you his story about struggle, adaptation, and success.
Dave Hollis is one half of the dynamic, powerhouse duo that is Rachel and Dave Hollis. He’s the former Disney film distribution chief who was responsible for the relaunch of the Star Wars franchise, the Avengers series, and mega-hits like Frozen and Beauty and the Beast, but he left his prestigious post at Disney last year to lead The Hollis Company alongside his wife Rachel Hollis.
In addition to running a company and raising his four beautiful children, Dave is touring the US, regaling tales of how one former personal development skeptic became a spokesperson for growth.
In this interview, Dave is vulnerable and shares about his marriage with Rachel as well as his previous dependence on alcohol. He says that after first reading his wife’s now-famous self help book, Girl, Wash Your Face, he didn’t want her to publish it. The vulnerability of the book scared him, and made him uncomfortable. Now, Dave embraces vulnerability as a superpower.
Dave Hollis recently came out with a book titled Get Out of Your Own Way which is all about how a “growth skeptic” like him turned into chasing growth full time — and how you can too! It contains 20 lies that he once believed that kept him “in his own way.” He opens up about his relationship with Rachel and the struggles they went through and how they ended up saving their marriage.
If you’re someone who struggles with having a fixed mindset and you doubt the power of self-help tools, then this book is for you.
Dave understands the path to success well and acknowledges that it’s a path full of change. In his early career, Dave never really met much failure, but once he switched his career to working with Rachel, he realized that he needed to grow. True success is usually not comfortable. It requires not only strategy but also the willingness to grow and adapt to situations you never saw coming. That’s what Dave Hollis’s new book is all about.
While Dave is still running The Hollis Company alongside his wife, he has stepped down from his CEO position and has become the COO. Rachel is the CEO, and he is no longer technically the boss. This “demotion” is contrary to everything that Dave used to live by:
“My identity for so long was attached to what was on my business card, who was on my business card, [and] what it said to other people … [But now] I am going to push away from the thing that makes sense to other people, for this thing I know I need — which is to leave certainty for uncertainty, to leave convention or unconvention.” – Dave Hollis
While working at Disney, Dave was consumed with two things: affirmation and status. And it makes sense, we all love to be affirmed and important — not just that we are doing a “good job” but that people around us are happy with our performance. So when Dave stepped down from his Disney role and transitioned from CEO to COO within his family business, this tendency is something he had to resist — he had to resist the impulse to take charge and obsess about what people were thinking of him.
“There was this freedom in recognizing that titles truly mean very, very little … and so Rachel has always been the leader of the organization … Switching back to a COO role was something that truly is a recognition of the work that I’ve been doing and puts her back as the CEO of a company she founded 15 years ago.” – Dave Hollis
This willingness to change, to let go of past habits and embrace healthy ones, was something that saved Rachel and Dave’s marriage as well. I asked Dave what has been the biggest challenge in their marriage since he left Disney and how they’ve worked through the changes.
“The last two years have singulary been the best and the hardest years of our marriage … And I went through a long season of being resentful of her becoming better, which is terrible. Because the resentment was not truly a reflection of me having any reaction to her. It was really an insecurity of, if she were to continue to grow, might she outgrow me? Right, it was this worry of maybe being left behind. And it, like it really ended up coming to a head, where we had to have a very, very hard conversation about the trajectory of our lives … ‘A year from now … will we still be married?’” – Dave Hollis
Thankfully, this is not where things ended. Dave calls these past two years the best years of their marriage because he was able to break out of his shell of skepticism and embrace change, vulnerability, and compassion.
At some point, every great leader has to recognize that what they’re doing might not be the best for their company and for the people involved. This goes for relationships as well — growth is a necessity. If you aren’t willing to grow, you’ll end up getting in your own way.
The massive shift in Dave’s life — from being Disney’s film distribution chief to working as an entrepreneur — had a massive impact on his emotional and mental health.
“The decision [was] to push away from a safe harbor. The choppy waters were the hard choice, day after day. I definitely struggled with identity [and] I definitely struggled with imposter syndrome at times. I came out of this environment where there were so many things that worked well because of a really accomplished team — super strong intellectual property. The greatest leadership in the world. And when I got into this small business, there were things that went wrong all the time. Man, that was hard for me to process.” – Dave Hollis
Often when change comes into our lives, there’s going to be some instability for a while. This happens with good change too! Having a child is a wonderful thing, but those first couple weeks are anything but easy. Starting a new job can be exciting, but it can also be extremely stressful, especially when you need to rewire your entire mindset. When this happens, we often try to medicate our stress, either by distraction, dissociation, or just by being agitated all the time. For Dave, his distraction was alcohol.
“I have four kids. I’ve got a busy job. I’m trying to maintain a great relationship with my wife. I’m going to have a drink, or two, at the end of the day. And as this transition introduced [an] identity crisis — working with my wife for the first time, small business ownership … — there were things that [stacked] … and [had] me lean way too hard into alcohol.” – Dave Hollis
Something that begins as a simple way to decompress can easily turn into a coping mechanism. For Dave, it was alcohol. For you, it might be watching too much TV, overeating, or isolating yourself from others. Instead of working through the anxiety, we often try to mute it all together, and if we do that, we are missing our opportunity for growth.
After hard conversations and some introspection, Dave decided that he needed to do something different:
“All right. I will not have a drink for a year. I need to find something that I can substitute for my reaching for a drink when I feel triggered. And my substitute was running. I had to put on shoes, right? And running for me became this therapeutic outlet to process the things that were otherwise triggering my anxiety … I just ran a marathon [and] I’m training for an Iron Man. I mean I am going to continue to push myself beyond the limits of what I believe I can do, as a positive coping mechanism for stress. So that when stress comes, I am reminded immediately — oh oh, I can handle this, thank you very much, bring it on.” – Dave Hollis
Now, Dave is running marathons, he’s in the best shape of his life, and he’s ultimately happier and healthier. Running has become a form of self-care for Dave, and while running might be the opposite of self-care for you, there’s always a healthy, non-medicating option when it comes to stress.
I first asked Dave what holds back women from greatness — this is a question he says that Rachel gets all the time.
“[There’s] this question of what will this do to your kids … People in some ways [have] a set of stories told to them about the inability for women to both be great moms and chase dreams … I have three sons [and] my three sons will never one time in their life question whether a woman can write two number one New York [Times] bestselling books.” – Dave Hollis
What Dave says is so true and applies to not only women but really everyone. There might be a story out there that says you can only be a mom or only an entrepreneur and that you have to choose. That’s a false story. If you want to be a mom AND an entrepreneur — then go for it.
“There are some limiting beliefs around the worry of what people might think or [what] it might, you know, say about you against the backdrop of traditional gender norms. And those stories are true, if you decide to believe them.” – Dave Hollis
And this problem of worrying about what other people think doesn’t just apply to women. We all struggle with worrying about what people think of us and our decisions. When I first started this podcast, I had an unhealthy obsession with checking reviews and responding to every negative comment online. It was exhausting and totally not worth it.
“Now there are some people for sure that are paying attention and focused on you. But so often, their focus is through the lens of their fear. Not of your truth … And so you have to decide — are you gonna let someone else’s story, as formed by their fear, dictate whether or not you have the life that you want?” – Dave Hollis
I think that’s so powerful. Are you going to let someone else’s opinion get in the way of the person you want to become? The person that you already are? People are ultimately concerned with themselves and not with you. Their judgement might sting but it’s usually not about you — it’s about their own insecurity.
I had Dave’s wife, Rachel Hollis, author of Girl, Wash Your Face, on the podcast a while back, and I was so excited to have Dave on here as well!
I really admire Dave for his transparency and his vulnerability. Men are often discouraged from being vulnerable — it’s usually seen as a weakness, so we hide behind false courage. But what we don’t always realize is that vulnerability is courage. Anything that requires courage also requires vulnerability.
All those hard conversations Dave had — with his wife and with himself — took immense courage. If he had chosen not to change — to stay put in his ways — things would not have ended up well. In all honesty, he and Rachel might not be married right now. But with a clear mind and a committed spirit, Dave broke a cycle of skepticism and now is a champion of personal growth.
Dave’s definition of greatness reflects this newfound growth mindset:
“My definition of greatness is ‘better tomorrow.’ It’s a simple concept, but I am in pursuit of a thing that does not have a finish line. I am interested in just becoming a better version of myself, a better father to my kids, a better husband to my life, a better leader for my teams … That is greatness.” – Dave Hollis
I love that. How can you be a better version of you today? It’s not about reaching some sort of finish line and suddenly you’re at “success.” Success happens every day you commit yourself to growth.
Don’t forget to check out Dave Hollis’s new book Get Out of Your Own Way to learn more about breaking free of a skeptic mindset and chasing personal growth. Whether you’re a dreamer type or a hard-core skeptic, we could all use some help breaking out of our set ways and embracing change.
Do you feel stuck in your relationships, in your business, or in your family? You might be tripping over yourself. Listen to Episode 926 to learn how to get out of your own way and find the best version of yourself.
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