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How to Develop a Growth Mindset with Craig Harper

What if I told you that there's a way to keep yourself young? It takes a lot of hard work, and it's a continuing process. However, the payoff is definitely worth it. It also offers a lot of benefits aside from longevity. The secret? It's developing a lifelong passion for learning and growing.

In this episode, Craig Harper joins us once again to explain the value of having a growth mindset. We explore how you can keep yourself young and healthy even as you chronologically age. He also emphasises the importance of fun and laughter in our lives. Craig also shares how powerful our minds are and how we can use them to manage our pain.   

If you want to know how to develop a growth mindset for a fuller life, then this episode is for you!

Here are three reasons why you should listen to the full episode:

  1. Learn how to develop a growth mindset to keep yourself young and healthy, regardless of your chronological age.
  2. Understand why you need to manage your energy and plan fun and laughter into your life.
  3. Discover the ways you can change your mindset around pain. 


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Episode Highlights

[06:50] A Growth Mindset Keeps Us Young and Healthy

  • It's helpful to take advantage of the availability of high-level research and medical journals online.
  • If you’re prepared to do the hard work, you can learn anything. 
  • Learning and exposing ourselves to new things are crucial parts of staying young and healthy. 
  • Age is a self-created story. 
  • With a growth mindset, you can change how your body and mind works so that you feel younger than your real age. 

[12:23] Develop a Growth Mindset

  • It's vital to surround yourself with people with the same mindset — people who drag you up, not down. 
  • You can also get a similar experience by exposing yourself to good ideas and stories.
  • Be aware of what you’re feeding your mind, on top of what you’re feeding your body. 
  • School is not a marker of your intelligence. Your academic failures do not matter. 
  • With a growth mindset, you can keep growing and learning. 

[17:40] Let Go and Be Happy

  • People tend to have career and exercise plans, but not a fun plan. 
  • We can't be serious all the time — we also need time to have fun and laugh. 
  • Laughter can impact and improve the immune system. Laughing can change the biochemistry of your brain.
  • Plan for the future, but also learn to live in the now.
  • Having a growth mindset is important, but so is finding joy and enjoyment. 

[23:31] Look After Your Energy

  • Having fun and resting can impact your energy and emotional system. 
  • These habits can help you work faster than when you’re just working all the time. 
  • Remember, volume and quality of work are different. 

[30:24] Work-Life Balance

  • Many people believe that they need to balance work and life. However, when you find your passion, it's just life. 
  • Even doing 20 hours of work for a job you hate is worse than 40 hours of doing something you love.
  • There’s no one answer for everyone.
  • Everything is a lot more flexible than before. Find what works for you. 

[35:56] Change the Way You Think

  • It’s unavoidable that we think a certain way because of our upbringing. 
  • Start to become aware of your lack of awareness and your programming. 
  • Learn why you think of things the way you do. Is it because of other people? 
  • Be influenced by other people, but test their ideas through trial and error. Let curiosity fuel your growth mindset. 
  • Listen to the full podcast to learn how Craig learned how to run his gym without a business background! 

[44:18] Sharing Academic Knowledge

  • Academics face many restrictions due to the nature and context of their work. 
  • He encourages the academic community to communicate information to everyone, not just to fellow researchers. 
  • He plans to publish a book about his PhD research to share what he knows with the public.
  • Science is constantly changing. We need to keep up with the latest knowledge.  

[50:55] Change Your Relationship with Pain

  • There is no simple fix to chronic pain. 
  • The most you can do is change your relationship and perception of pain. 
  • Our minds are powerful enough to create real pain even without any physical injury.
  • Listen to Craig and Lisa’s stories about how our minds affect our pain in the full episode!

7 Powerful Quotes from This Episode

‘My mind is the CEO of my life. So I need to make sure that as much as I can, that I'm managing my mind, and my mental energy optimally.’

‘If you're listening to this, and you didn't succeed in the school system, that means absolutely nothing when you're an adult.’

‘We're literally doing our biology good by laughing.’

‘Living is a present tense verb, you can't living in the future, and you can't live in the future.’

‘Often, more is not better. Sometimes more is worse.  So there's a difference between volume of work and output and quality of work.’

‘It's all about those people just taking one step at a time to move forward... That growth mindset that I think is just absolutely crucial.’

About Craig

Craig Harper is one of Australia's leading educators, speakers, and writers in health and self-development. He has been an integral part of the Australian health and fitness industry since 1982. In 1990, he established a successful Harper's Personal Training, which evolved into one of the most successful businesses of its kind. 

He currently hosts a successful Podcast called 'The You Project'. He is also completing a neuropsychology PhD, studying the spectrum of human thinking and behaviour. Craig speaks on various radio stations around Australia weekly. He currently fills an on-air role as a presenter on a lifestyle show called 'Get a Life', airing on Foxtel. 

Want to know more about Craig and his work? Check out his website, or follow him on Instagram and Linkedin!

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To pushing the limits,



Welcome to Pushing the Limits, the show that helps you reach your full potential with your host Lisa Tamati, brought to you by lisatamati.com.

Lisa Tamati: Well, hi everyone and welcome back to Pushing the Limits with Lisa Tamati. This week I have Craig Harper. He is really well known in Australia. He's a broadcaster, a fitness professional, a PhD scholar, an expert on metacognition, and self-awareness. And we get talking on all those good topics today and also neuro-psycho-immunology, very big word. Really interesting stuff; and we get talking about laughter, we get talking about pain management. We sort of go all over the show in this episode, which I sometimes do on this show. I hope you enjoy this very insightful and deep conversation with Craig Harper. 

Before we head over to the show, I just want to let you know that Neil and I at Running Hot Coaching have launched a new program called Boost Camp. Now, this will be starting on the first of September and we're taking registrations now. This is a live eight-week program, where you'll basically boost your life. That's why it's called Boost Camp. not boot camp, Boost Camp. This is all about upgrading your body, learning how to help your body function at its base, learning how your mindset works, and increasing your performance, your health, your well-being and how to energise your mind and your body. In this Boost Camp, we're going to give you the answers you need in a simple, easy-to-follow process using holistic diagnostic tools and looking at the complete picture. 

So you're going to go on a personalised health and fitness journey that will have a really life-changing effect on your family and your community. We're going to be talking about things like routine and resilience, mental resilience, which is a big thing that I love to talk about, and how important is in this time of change, in this time of COVID, where everything's upside down, and how we should be all building time and resources around building our resilience and energising our mind and body. We're going to give you a lot of health fundamentals. Because the fundamentals are something simple and easy to do, it means that you probably aren't doing some of the basics right, and we want to help you get there. 

We're going to give you the answers you need in a simple, sort of easy, process. So we are now in a position to be able to control and manage all of these stressors and these things that are coming at us all the time, and we want to help you do that in the most optimal manner. So check out what boost camp is all about. Go to www.peakwellness.co.nz/boostcamp. I'll say that again, peakwellness.co.nz/boostcamp, boost with a B-O-O-S-T, boost camp. We hope to see you over there! Right, now over to the show with Craig Harper.

Well, hi everyone and welcome to Pushing the Limits! Today, I have someone who is a special treat for you who has been on the show before. He's an absolute legend, and I love him to bits. Craig half and welcome to the show mate, how are you doing? 

Craig Harper: Hi Lisa! I’m awesome but you're not. 

Lisa: No I'm a bit of a miss, people. I’ve got shingles, a horrible, horrible virus that I advise nobody to get.

Craig: What it— do we know what that’s made? What causes it, or is it idiopathic as they say?

Lisa: Yeah, no, it is from the chickenpox virus. Although, I've never, ever had that virus. So I'm like heck how, you know, it's related to the cold sore virus and all of that, which I definitely have had often. So it sits on the spinal cord, these little viruses, dormant and then one day when your immune systems are down, it decides to attack and replicate and go hard out. So yeah, that'll be the down for the count now for two and a half weeks. In a lot of pain, but—

Craig: What is it like nerve pain or what kind of pain is it? 

Lisa: Yes, it's nerve pain. So this one's actually, it hits different nerves in different people, depending on where it decides to pop out. My mum had the femoral nerve, which is one that goes right down from the backbone, quite high up on the backbone, down across the back and then down through the hip flexor and down the leg. I've got all these horrible looking sores, I look like a burn victim all the way down my leg and across my back. And it comes out through the muscles of your like, through the nerves and nerve endings and causes these blisters on top of the skin but it's the nerve pain that's really horrible because there's no comfortable position. There's no easy way to lie or sit and of course, when you're lying at night, it's worse. It's worse at nighttime than in the day. So I learned a lot about shingles. And as usual, we're using these obstacles to be a learning curve.

Craig: Why on earth are you doing a bloody podcast? You should be relaxing.

Lisa: You're important, you see. I had, you know, I had this appointment with you, and I honour my appointments, and I—

Craig: Definitely not important. What's the typical treatment for shingles?

Lisa: Well, actually, I wish I'd known this two weeks ago, I didn't know this, but I just had a Zoom call with Dave Asprey, you know, of Bulletproof fame, who is one of my heroes, and he's coming on the show, people, shortly. So that's really exciting. He told me to take something called BHT, butylated hydroxytoluene, which is a synthetic antioxidant. They actually use them in food additives, they said that kills that virus. So I'm like, ‘Right, get me some of that.’ But unfortunately, I was already, it's— I only got it just yesterday, because I had to wait for the post. So I'm sort of hoping for a miracle in the next 24 hours. 

Also, intravenous vitamin C, I've had three of those on lysine, which also helps. One of the funny things, before we get to the actual topic of the day, is I was taking something called L-Citrulline which helps with nitric oxide production and feeds into the arginine pathway. Apparently, while that's a good thing for most people, the arginine, if you have too much arginine in the body, it can lead to replication of this particular virus, which is really random and I only found that out after the fact. But you know, as a biohacker, who experiments sometimes you get it wrong. 

Craig: Sometimes you turn left when you should have turned right. 

Lisa: Yes. So that, you know, certainly took a lot of digging in PubMed to find that connection. But I think that's maybe what actually set it off. That combined with a pretty stressful life of like—

Craig: It's interesting that you mentioned PubMed because like a lot of people now, you know how people warn people off going Dr Google, you know, whatever, right. But the funny thing is, you can forget Dr Google, I mean, Google's okay. But you can access medical journals, high level— I mean, all of the research journals that I access for my PhD are online. You can literally pretty much access any information you want. 

We're not talking about anecdotal evidence, and we're not talking about theories and ideas and random kind of junk. We're talking about the highest level research, you literally can find at home now. So if you know how to research and you know what you're looking for, and you can be bothered reading arduous academic papers, you can pretty much learn anything, to any level, if you're prepared to do the work and you know how— and you can be a little bit of a detective, a scientific detective. 

Lisa: That is exactly, you know, what I keep saying, and I'm glad you said that because you are a PhD scholar and you are doing this. So you know what you're talking about, and this is exactly what I've done in the last five years, is do deep research and all this sort of stuff. People think that you have to go to university in order to have this education, and that used to be the case. It is no longer the case. We don't have to be actually in medical school to get access to medical texts anymore, which used to be the way. And so we now have the power in our hands to take, to some degree, control over what we're learning and where we're going with this. 

It doesn't mean that it's easy. You will know, sifting through PubMed, and all these scholarly Google articles and things in clinical studies is pretty damn confusing sometimes and arduous. But once you get used to that form of learning, you start to be able to sift through relatively fast, and you can really educate yourself. I think having that growth mindset, I mean, you and I never came from an academic background. But thanks to you, I'm actually going to see Prof Schofield next week. Prof Schofield and looking at a PhD, because, I really need to add that to my load. But—

Craig: You know, the thing is, I think in general, and I don't know where you’re gonna go today, but I think in general, like what one of the things that keeps us young is learning and exposing ourselves, our mind and our emotions and for that matter, our body to new things, whether that's new experiences or new ideas, or new information, or new environments, or new people. This is what floats my boat and it keeps me hungry and it keeps me healthy physically, mentally, emotionally, intellectually, creatively, sociologically. It keeps me healthy. Not only does it keep me in a good place, I'm actually at 57, still getting better. You know, and people might wonder about that sometimes. 

Of course, there's an inevitability to chronological aging. Clearly, most people at 80 are not going to be anything like they were at 40. Not that I'm 80. But there's— we know now that there's the unavoidable consistency of time as a construct, as an objective construct. But then there's the way that we behave around and relate to time. Biological aging is not chronological aging. In the middle of the inevitability of time ticking over is, which is an objective thing, there's the subject of human in the middle of it, who can do what he or she wants. So, in other words, a 57-year-old bloke doesn't need to look or feel or function or think like a 57-year-old bloke, right? 

When we understand that, in many ways, especially as an experience, age is a self-created story for many people. I mean, you've met, I've met and our listeners have met 45-year-olds that seem 70 and 70-year-olds— and we're not talking about acting young, that's not what we're talking about. I'm not talking about that. I'm not talking about pretending you're not old or acting young. I'm actually talking about changing the way that your body and your mind and your brain and your emotional system works, literally. So that you are literally in terms of function, similar to somebody or a ‘typical’ person who's 20 or 25 years younger than you. We didn't even know that this used to be possible, but not only is it possible, if you do certain things, it's very likely that that's the outcome you'll create.

Lisa: Yeah, and if you think about our grandparents, and when I think about my Nana at 45 or 50, they were old. When I think about now I'm 52, you're 57, we're going forward, we're actually reaching the peak of our intellectual, well, hopefully not the peak, we’re still going up. Physically, we got a few wrinkles and a few grey hairs coming. But even on that front, there is so much what's happening in the longevity space that my take on it is, if I can keep my shit together for the next 10 years, stuff’s gonna come online that’s gonna help me keep it on for another 20, 30, 40 years. 

For me now it's trying to hold my body together as best I can so that when the technology does come, that we are able to meet— and we're accessing some of the stuff now, I mean, I'm taking some of the latest and greatest bloody supplements and biohacking stuff, and actively working towards that, and having this, I think it's a growth mindset. I had Dr Demartini on the show last week, who I love. I think he's an incredible man. His mindset, I mean, he's what nearly, I think he's nearly 70. It looks like he's 40.

He's amazing. And his mind is so sharp and so fast it’ll leave you and I in the dust. He's processing books every day, like, you know, more than a book a day and thinking his mind through and he's distilling it and he's remembering, and he's retaining it, and he's giving it to the world. This is sort of— you know, he's nothing exceptional. He had learning disabilities, for goodness sake, he had a speech impediment, he couldn't read until he was an adult. In other words, he made that happen. You and I, you know, we both did you know, where you went to university, at least when you're younger, I sort of mucked around on a bicycle for a few years. Travelling the world to see it. But this is the beauty of the time that we live in, and we have access to all this. So that growth mindset, I think keeps you younger, both physically and mentally.

Craig: And this is why I reckon it's really important that we hang around with people who drag us up, not down. And that could be you know, this listening to your podcast, of course, like I feel like when I listen to a podcast with somebody like you that shares good ideas and good information and good energy and is a good person, like if I'm walking around, I've literally got my headphones here because I just walked back from the cafe, listening to Joe Rogan's latest podcast with this lady from Harvard talking about testosterone, you'd find it really interesting, wrote a book called T

When I'm listening to good conversations with good people, I am, one, I'm fascinated and interested, but I'm stimulating myself and my mind in a good way. I'm dragging myself up by exposing myself to good ideas and good thinking, and good stories. Or it might even be just something that's funny, it might— I'm just exposing myself to a couple of dickheads talking about funny shit, right? And I'd spend an hour laughing, which is also therapeutic. 

You know, and I think there's that, I think we forget that we're always feeding our mind and our brain something. It's just having more awareness of what am I actually plugging into that amazing thing? Not only just what am I putting in my body, which, of course, is paramount. But what am I putting in, you know, that thing that sits between my ears that literally drives my life? That's my HQ, that's my, my mind is the CEO of my life. So I need to make sure that as much as I can, that I'm managing my mind and my mental energy                                                                                  optimally.

Lisa: Yeah. And I think, you know, a lot of people if they didn't do well in the school system, think that, 'Oh, well, I'm not academic therefore I can't learn or continue to learn.' I really encourage people, if you're listening to this, and you didn't succeed in the school system, that means absolutely nothing when you're an adult. The school system has got many flaws, and it didn't cater to everybody. So I just want people to understand that. 

You know, just like with Dr Demartini, he taught himself 30 words a day, that's where he started: vocabulary. He taught himself to read and then taught— Albert Einstein was another one, you know, he struggled in school for crying out loud. So school isn't necessarily the marker of whether you're an intelligent human being or not. It's one system and one way of learning that is okay for the average and the masses. But definitely, it leaves a lot of people thinking that they're dumb when they're not dumb. 

It's all about those people just taking one step at a time to move forward and becoming, you know, that growth mindset that I think is just absolutely crucial. You talked there about laughter and I wanted to go into that a little bit today too, because I heard you talking on Tiffany, our friend Tiffany’s podcast, and you were talking about how important laughter is for the body, for our minds, for our— and if we laugh a lot, we're less likely to fall victim to the whole adult way of being, which is sometimes pretty cynical and miserable. When you think, what is it? Kids laugh something like 70 times a day and adults laugh I think, six times a day or some statistic. Do you want to elaborate on that a little bit?

Craig: Well, I used to sit down with you know, I don't do much one-on-one coaching anymore, just because I do other stuff. I would sit with people and go, ‘Alright, tell me about your exercise plan and blah, blah, blah. Tell me about your career plan, blah, blah, blah. Tell me about your financial plan, blah, blah, blah.’ Tell me about, you know, whatever. And they have systems and programs and plans for everything. 

I would say to them, 'Do you like fun?' And they're like, they look at me like I was a weirdo. 'What do you mean?' I go, 'Well, what do you mean, what do I mean? Like, do you like having fun?’ And they're like, very seriously, like, 'Well, of course, everyone likes having fun.' I go, 'Great. What's your fun plan?' And they go, 'What?' I go, 'What's your fun— like, is laughing and having fun important to you?' 'Yeah, yeah.' 'Okay, what's your fun plan?' 

They literally, like this idea of just integrating things into my life, which are for no reason other than to laugh and to have fun. Not to be productive and efficient and to tick more boxes and create more income and elevate output and tick fucking boxes and hit KPIs and you know, just to be silly, just to laugh like a dickhead, just to hang out with your mates or your girlfriends, or whatever it is. Just to talk shit, just to, not everything needs to be fucking deep and meaningful and world-changing. Not everything. In fact, it can't, you know? 

Our brain and our body and our emotional system and our nervous system and— it can't work like that we can't be elevated all the time. And so, literally when we are laughing, we're changing the biochemistry of our brain. You know, literally when we are having fun, we're impacting our immune system in a real way through that thing I've probably spoken to you about, psychoneuroimmunology, right? We're literally doing our biology good by laughing and there's got to be, for me, there's got to be, because, like you probably, I have a lot of deep and meaningful conversations with people about hard shit. Like, I'm pretty much a specialist at hard conversations. It's what I do.

But, you know, and, and I work a lot, and I study a lot. Then there needs to be a valve. You can't be all of that all of the time because you're human, you're not a cyborg, you're not a robot. And this hustle, hustle, hustle, grind, work harder, sleep less, you can, you know, you can sleep when you're dead, it's all bullshit. Because, also, yeah, I want to learn and grow and evolve, and I want to develop new skills. But you know what, I want to also, in the moment, laugh at silly shit. I want to be happy and I want to hang out with people I love and I want to be mentally and emotionally and spiritually nourished. 

Like, it's not just about acquiring knowledge and accumulating shit that you're probably not going to use. It's also about the human experience now. This almost sounds contradictory. But because of course, we want a future plan and we want goals and all of those, but we're never going to live in the present because when we get there, it's not the present. It's just another installment of now. So when next Wednesday comes, it's not the future, it's now again, because life is never-ending now, right? 

It's like you only like, live— living is a present tense verb. You can't living in the future, and you can't live in the future. You cannot. Yes, I know, this gets a little bit, what's the word existential, but the truth is that, yeah, we need to— well, we don't, we can do whatever we want. But I believe we need to be stimulated so we're learning and growing, and we're doing good stuff for our brain and good stuff for our body. But also that we are giving ourselves a metaphoric hug, and going, 'It's all right to lie on your bed and watch Netflix, as long as it's not 20 hours a day, five days a week,' you know. It's okay to just laugh at silly stuff. It's okay, that there's no purpose to doing this thing other than just joy and enjoyment, you know. 

I think that people like you and me who are, maybe we would put ourselves in the kind of driven category, right? You and I are no good at this. Like, at times, having fun and just going, ‘I'm going to do fuck all today.’ Because the moment that we do sometimes we start to feel guilty and we start to be like, 'Fuck, I'm not being productive. I've got to be productive.' That, in itself, is a problem for high performance. Like, fuck your high performance, and fuck your productivity today. Be unproductive, be inefficient, and just fucking enjoy it, you know, not— because in a minute, we're going to be dead. We’re going to go, 'But fuck, I was productive. But I had no fun, I never laughed, because I was too busy being important.' Fuck all that.

Lisa: I think both of us have probably come a long way around finding that out. I mean, I used to love reading fiction novels, and then I went, ‘Oh, I can't be reading fiction novels. I've got so many science books that I have to read.’ Here I am, dealing with insomnia at two o'clock in the morning reading texts on nitric oxide, you know. It is this argument that goes on, still in my head if there was an hour where you weren’t learning something, you know, I can't. Because I know that if I go for a big drive or something, and I have to travel somewhere, or going for a long run or something, I've probably digested a book on that road trip or three, or 10 podcasts or something and I've actually oh, I get to the end and I'm like, ‘Well, I achieved something.’ I've got my little dopamine hits all the way through. 

Now I’ve sort of come to also understand that you need this time out and you need to just have fun. I'm married to this absolute lunatic of a guy called Haisely O'Leary, who I just love, because all day every day, he is just being an idiot. In the best sense of the word. I come out and I'm grumpy and you know, had a hard day and I'm tired, I'm stressed, and I come out and he's doing a little dance, doing some stupid meme or saying some ridiculous thing to me. I'm just like, you know, I crack up at it. That's the best person to have to be around because they keep being—and I'm like, ‘Come on, stop being stupid, you should be doing this and you shouldn't be doing that.’ Then I hear myself, and I'm like, ‘No, he's got it right.’

Craig: Well, I think he does, in some ways, you know. It's not about all, it's not about one or the other, it's about— and it's recognising that if I look after my energy, and my emotional system, and all of that, I'll get more done in 8 hours than 12 hours when I'm not looking after myself. So more is not better, necessarily. In fact, often, more is not better; sometimes, more is worse. So there's a difference between volume of work and output and quality of work. Also, you know, quality of experience. 

I wrote a little thing yesterday, just talking on social media about the fact that I, like all of the things that I do, even study, although it's demanding, but I enjoy it. My job, you know, like, right now you and I do podcasts. I do seven podcasts a week, apart from the ones like this, where I'm being interviewed by someone else, or spoken to by somebody else. My life is somewhat chaotic, but I don't really, in terms of having a ‘job’. Well, one, I don't have a job. I haven't had a job since I was 26. Two, I don't really feel a sense of work, like most people do. 

Like the other night, I did a gig. I don't know if you, if I posted a little thing about this on Insta, and I was doing a talk for Hewlett Packard in Spain. Now, how cool is the world? Right? So I'm talking here, right here in my house, you can see, obviously, your listeners can't. But this is not video, is it? Just us? I wish I knew that earlier. Sorry, everyone, I would have brushed my hair. But anyway, you should see my hair by the way. I look like bloody Doc from Back to the Future. Anyway, but I'm sitting in here, I'm sitting in the studio, and I'm about to talk to a few hundred people in Spain, right, which is where, that's where they're all— that's where I was dealing with the people who are organising me to speak. 

Just before I'm about to go live at 5:30, the lady who had organised me was texting me. So it's on Zoom. There's already a guy on the screen speaking and then lots of little squares of other humans. I said to her, ‘How many?’ and said, ‘You know, like a few 100.’ I said, ‘Cool.’ I go, ‘Everyone's in Spain,’ and she goes, ‘No, no, we're in Spain, but the audience is around the world.’ And I go, ‘Really? How many countries?’ She goes, ‘38.’ I'm sitting here and I'm thinking, I'm wearing a black t-shirt. I'm wearing my camo shorts. I've got bare feet. I'm talking to hundreds of humans from this big organisation in 38 countries, and I'm talking about the stuff that I am passionate about, right? I don't have to do any prep, because it's my default setting. I'm just talking. I had to talk for an hour and a half about high performance. Well, giddy up, that's like an hour and a half of breathing. You know? 

I just had such fun, and I had this moment, Lisa, halfway through, I don't know, but about halfway through, where I'm like, I remember growing up in a paradigm where pretty much when I was a kid everyone went and got a job and you went, you became a cop or you sold clothes, or you're a bricky or sparky or you’re some kind of tradie. A few of my super smart friends went to university. That was way over my head, I'm like, ‘Fuck university.’ But there was literally about 50 jobs in the world. You know, it's like there was only 50 jobs, and everyone or nearly everyone fitted into one of those 50. There was a few other ones but for the most part, nearly everyone fitted into about 50 jobs. I'm sitting there going— I won't say what but I'm earning pretty good money. I'm sitting in bare feet in my house talking to humans around the world about this stuff that I want to tell everyone about anyway. 

I do it for free on my podcast and your podcast and I do it anyway. I have this great time, it's a really good experience. Then I finish at 7 pm. Then I walk 15 feet into the kitchen and put the kettle on and check my messages. 

Lisa: No commuting, no travelling, no flying.

Craig: I’m like, ‘How is this a job?’ I'm like, ‘How is this real?’ ‘This is a scam. I'm scamming everybody.’ Like, how great is 2021? I know there's a lot of shit going on and I'm not trying to be insensitive, and it's smashed my business too. All of my live events for 2020 got kicked in the dick in two weeks, right? I got financially annihilated, but you just go, ‘Oh well, improvise, adapt, overcome and figure shit out.’ But, I think when you can have it and a lot of people and it's a very well-worn kind of idea. But when you're, what you love, and what you're curious about, and how you make a few bucks, when that can all collide, then life is a different thing. Then there's not work and life, there's just life. 

You know, and so when we talk about this idea of work-life balance, you know, it's like the old days that talk about that a lot. And it's like, almost like there was some seesaw, some metaphoric seesaw with work on one side and life on the other. And when you get balance like that— because what happens, think about this, if we're just basing it on numbers, like all 40 hours of work versus however many hours of non-work or however many hours of recreation and recovery. But if you're doing even 20 hours of a job that you hate, that's going to fuck you up. That's gonna, that's gonna mess with you physically, mentally, and emotionally. That's going to be toxic; that's going to be damaging; that's going to be soul-destroying, versus something else like me studying 40 hours a week, working 40, 50 hours a week doing 90 in total, depending on the week and loving it, and loving it. And going, ‘I feel better than I've ever felt in my life.’ 

I still train every day, and I still, I live 600-800 metres from the beach, I still walk to the beach every day, you know. And I still hang out with my friends. You know, it's like, it doesn't have to be this cookie-cutter approach. The beauty I think of life, with your food, with your lifestyle, with your career, with your relationships with the way that you learn, like the way that you do business, everything now is so much more flexible, and optional than any time ever before that we can literally create our own blueprint for living.

Lisa: Yeah. And then it's not always easy. And sometimes it takes time to get momentum and stuff. Being, both you and I have both said before we're unemployable. Like, I'm definitely not someone you want to employ, because I'm just always going to run my own ship. I've always been like that, and that's the entrepreneurial personality. So not everyone is set up for that personality-wise. So you know, we're a certain type of people that likes to run in a certain type of way. And we need lots of other people when doing the other paths. 

There is this ability now to start to change the way you think about things. And this is really important for people who are unhappy in where they're at right now. To think, ‘Hang on a minute. I've been I don't know, policeman, teacher, whatever you’ve been, I don't want to be there anymore. Is there another me out there? Is there a different future that I can hit?’ The answer is yes, if you're prepared to put in the work, and the time, and the effort, the looking at understanding and learning, the change, being adaptable, the risk-taking, all of those aspects of it. Yes, but there is ways now that you can do that where they weren't 30 years ago, when I came out of school I couldn't be, I was going to be an accountant. Can you imagine anything worse than that? 

Craig: Hi, hi. Shout out to all our account listeners, we love you and we need you.

Lisa: I wasn't that— Academically that's I was good at it. But geez, I hated it. And I did it because of parental pushing direction. Thank goodness, I sort of wake up to that. And you know, after three years. I had Mark Commander Mark Devine on the show. He's a Navy SEAL, man. You have to have him on the show. I'll hook you up. He's just a buck. He became an accountant before he became a Navy SEAL and now he's got the best of both worlds really, you know, but like you couldn't get more non-accountant than Mark Devine. We all go into the things when we leave school that we think we're meant to be doing. And they're not necessarily— and I think you know, the most interesting 50 year-olds still don't know what the hell they want to be when they grow up.

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Lisa: You know, I'm still in that camp.

Craig: You raise a really interesting point too, and that is programming and conditioning. And, you know, because we all grow up being programmed, one way or consciously or not, we grow— if you grow up around people, you're being programmed. So that's not a bad thing. That's an unavoidable human thing. So, situation, circumstance, environment, school, family, friends, media, social media, all of that stuff shapes the way that we see the world and shapes the way that we see ourselves. 

When you grow up in a paradigm that says, ‘Okay, Lisa, when you finish school, you have to go to university, or you have to get a job, or you have to join the family business, or you have to work on our farm,’ or whatever it is, you grow up in that. You're taught and told and trained. And so you don't question that, you know. And for me, I grew up in the 70s, I finished in the 80s. I finished school in 1981. And I grew up in the country, and most people go to trade or most people worked in logging or on a farm or— and I would say about five in 100 of the kids that I did— by the way, doing year 12 was a pretty big deal in that time.

‘Geez, are you a brainiac?’ Definitely wasn't a brainiac. But year 12 is a big thing now. Now, even if you have an undergrad degree that it's almost nothing really enough. It's like, you kind of got to go get honours, or masters or maybe even a PhD down the track. And that landscape has really changed. So it's just changing again to— you know, and I think to become aware— like this is for me, I love it; this is my shit; this is what I love— is starting to become aware of our lack of awareness. And starting to become aware of my own programming and go, ‘Oh, I actually think this. Why not? Because this is how I naturally think about, because this is how I've been trained to think about work. I've been trained to or programmed to think this way about money, or relationships, or marriage, or eating meat, or being a Catholic or being an atheist or voting liberal law,’ or whatever it is, right. 

Not that any of those things are good or bad, but it's not about how I eat or how I vote or how I worship. It's about how I think. And is this my thinking? Or is this just a reflection of their thinking, right? So when we open the door on metacognition now we start to become aware of our own stories, and where they come from. And this is where I think we really start to take control of our own life, and our own present, and our own future that doesn't exist, by the way, but it will, but it won't be the present. 

Then, we start to write our own story with our own voice, not our parents’ voice, not our friends’, not our peers’ voice, you know. And we're always going to be influenced by other people. Of course. Just like people are influenced by you and your podcast, and your stories, and your thinking, and your lessons for them. They're influenced. But I always say to people, ‘Don't believe me because you like me. Listen to me, if you like me and consider what I say. If what I say sounds reasonable for you, maybe a good idea to test drive, take that idea for a test drive, and see if that works for you, because it might not.’ Right? 

I think, I really encourage people to learn for themselves and to listen to their own internal wisdom that's always talking. So listen to smart people. I don't know if Lisa and I are in that category, Lisa is, listen to her. But at the same time, do your own, learning through exploration and trial and error, and personal kind of curiosity and drive. 

For me, I opened my first gym at 26; first personal training centre in Australia, there weren't any. I'd never done a business course, I've never done an admin course, I knew nothing about marketing. I knew nothing about employees. I knew nothing. But I learned more in one year than I would say, most people would learn in five years at university studying business, because I was in the middle of it, and I was going to sink or swim. So in one year, I started a business and I acquired overwhelming knowledge and skill because I had to, because of the situation. But that was all learning through doing. 

The way that you've learned, you know you said earlier that, like, a lot of people think that they're not academic; therefore, they're not smart. Some of the smartest people I've ever met, and I don't— and this not being patronising, but like, mind-blowingly brilliant, how they think, live outside of academia. One of the reasons some people are so brilliant outside of academia is because they're not forced into an echo chamber of thought. They’re living outside the academic paradigm, where we're not trying to restrict how you think or write or speak. There are no rules out here. So there's no intellectual inhibition. 

Lisa: Yeah, I love that.

Craig: When you do a PhD, like me, and I can separate the two, thankfully. But there's a way of communicating and writing in PhD land, which is incredibly restrictive because of the scientific process, which is fine, I get that. But it's having an awareness of— this is what I'm often talking to my supervisors about is, yes, I'm studying this thing, which is deep, deep neuropsychology, and everything, the way that you do your research, get your data or interpret your data. 

The whole process of creating new science, which is what you're doing as a PhD, creating, bringing something new into the world. That's one thing. But you write your journal articles, which is my PhD process, you get them, hopefully, you get them published in academic resources and magazines. But then, I don't want that to be it. I'm going to write a book when I finish about all of my research totally in layman's terms so that people can use the knowledge, so that people can— because that's the value. 

For me handing in some papers and going, ‘Oh, Craig Harper is an academically published author.’ That's cool, but it's not— and I'm so respectful of people who have had hundreds of things published, but that doesn't blow my socks off. I'm not really— like that's a real, you really hang your hat on that in academia. Oh, how many things he or she had published, publications, which is cool. They're all smarter than me. But I'm not. I'm like, yeah, that that's cool. But I want to connect with the masses, not the few. Also, by the way, people who read academic papers, they raise it— they're reading it generally, just like I am right now, for a specific reason which relates to their own research. There ain't too many people like you. You're one of the rare ones who just thumb through fucking academic journals to make your life better.

Lisa: Yeah. And it's just some real goals. So you've got the wisdom of having lived outside of academia and being a pracademic, as Paul Taylor says, and then actually seeing the pre— and this is a discussion that I had when I was talking to someone about doing a PhD and they say, ‘But then you're going to become a part of the establishment, and you're going to be forced into this box.’ And I said, ‘No, not necessarily because it's— I can see where you're coming from. But you can take that, because you have that maturity and that life experience and you can fit yourself into the box that you have to fit into in order to get those things done. That research done, but you don't have to stay there.’ 

That's what you know, one of my things has been, I don't want to spend however many years doing a PhD, and then that's not out on the world. To me that that needs to be taken out of the academic journals, wherever you go to publish, and then put out into a book or something that where it's actually shared, like you say, with the masses, because otherwise, it just collects dust like your MA does, or your whatever, you know, that sits on your bookshelf, and how you got hey, your exam your piece of paper, but you didn't actually do anything with it. 

Of course, lots of people do their thing, they're going like they're in research, and they're furthering research and so on. But I— my approach, I think yours is too, is to be able to communicate that information that you've learned, and then share it with everyone, so that they can actually benefit from it, and not just the people that are in academia. The other thing I see after interviewing hundreds of doctors and scientists and people is that they are, actually, the more specialised they are, the more inhibited they are by what they can and can't say. 

While they need to be doing that because they need to protect what they are doing in their studies and what they're allowed to and what they're not allowed to do and say, it also is very inhibiting, and they don't get the chance to actually express what they would actually like to say. That's a bit of a shame, really, because you don't get to hear the real truth in the qualifying everything flat stick.

Craig: I reckon you're exactly right. But they don't need to be that. And the reason that a lot of academics are like that is because they get their identity and sense of self-worth from being an academic. They're way more worried about three of their peers hearing something that might not be 100% accurate, and then being reprimanded or, rather than just going— look, I always say to my academic, super academic friends, when I talk with them, not everything that comes out of your mouth needs to be research-based. You can have an idea and an opinion. In fact, I want to hear your ideas and opinions.

Lisa: You're very educated.

Craig: You know, that's the— and as for the idea of you becoming an academic, No, you go, you do your thing you study, you learn the protocol, the operating system, and you do that you go through that process, but you're still you. Right, and there's— you and I both know, there are lots of academics who have overcome that self-created barrier like Andrew Huberman. 

Lisa: Yeah, who we love.

Craig: Who we love, who, for people listening, he’s @hubermanlab on Insta, and there's quite a few academics now, like the one that I spoke on before, on Joe Rogan. She's a Harvard professor, she's a genius, and she's just having a— it's a three-hour conversation with Rogan, about really interesting stuff. 

There's been a bit of a shift, and there is a bit of a shift because people are now, the smart academics, I think, are now starting to understand that used the right way, that podcasts and social media more broadly, are unbelievably awesome tools to share your thoughts and ideas and messages. By the way, we know you're a human. If you get something wrong, every now and then, or whatever, it doesn't matter.

Lisa: Well, we'll all get, I mean, you watch on social media, Dr Rhonda Patrick, another one that I follow? Do you follow her? Fantastic lady, you know, and you watch some of their feeds on social media, and they get slammed every day by people who pretending to be bloody more academic than her. That just makes me laugh, really. I'm just like, wow, they have to put up with all of that. The bigger your name and the more credibility you have as a scientist, the more you have to lose in a way. 

You know, even David Sinclair another you know, brilliant scientists who loves his work. And I love the fact that he shared us with, you know, all his, all his research in real-time, basically, you know, bringing it out in the book Lifespan, which you have to read, in getting that out there in the masses, rather than squirrelling it away for another 20 years before it becomes part of our culture, and part of our clinical usage. We ain't got time for that. We have to, we're getting old now. I want to know what I need to do to stop that now. Thanks to him, you know, I've got some directions to show them. Whether he's 100% there, and he's got all the answers? No. But he's sharing where we're at from the progress. Science by its very nature is never finished. We never have the final answer. Because if someone thinks they do, then they're wrong, because they're not, we are constantly iterating and changing, and that's the whole basis of science.

Craig: Well just think about the food pyramid. That was science for a few decades.

Lisa: Lots of people still believe that shit. That's the scary thing because now that's filtering still down into the popular culture, that that's what you should be doing, eating your workbooks and God knows what. This is the scary thing, that it takes so long to drip down to people who aren't on that cutting edge and staying up with the latest stuff, because they're basically regurgitating what there was 20 years ago and not what is now. 

Now Craig, I know you've got to jump off in a second. But I wanted to just ask one more question, if I may, we’re completely different. But I want to go there today because I'm going through this bloody shingles thing. Your mate Johny that you train, and who you've spoken about on the last podcast, who had a horrific accident and amazingly survived, and you've helped him, and he's helped you and you've helped him learn life lessons and recover, but he's in constant chronic pain. 

I'm in constant chronic pain now, that's two and a half weeks. For frick’s sake, man, I've got a new appreciation of the damage that that does to society. I just said to my husband today, I've been on certain drugs, you know, antivirals, and in pain medication. I can feel my neurotransmitters are out of whack. I can feel that I'm becoming depressed. I have a lot of tools in my toolbox to deal with this stuff, and I am freely sharing this because what I want you to understand is when you, when you're dealing with somebody who is going through chronic pain, who has been on medications and antibiotics, and God knows whatever else, understanding the stuff that they're going through, because I now have a bit of a new appreciation for what this much of an appreciation for someone like Johnny's been through. What's your take on how pain and all this affects the neurotransmitters in the drugs?

Craig: Do you know what?

Lisa: You got two minutes, mate.

Craig: I'm actually gonna give you I'm gonna hook you up with a friend of mine. His name is Dr Cal Friedman. He is super smart, and he specialises in pain management, but he has a very different approach, right? He's a medical doctor, but look, in answer to, I talked to Johnny about the pain a bit, and we have, we use a scale, obviously 10 is 10. 0 is 0. There's never a 0. Every now and then it's a 1 or 2, but he's never pain-free. Because he has massive nerve damage. And sometimes, sometimes he just sits down in the gym, and he'll just, I'll get him to do a set of something, and he'll sit down and I just see this, his whole face just grimaces.

He goes, ‘Just give me a sec.’ His fist is balled up. He goes, sweat, sweat. I go, ‘What's going on, mate?’ He goes, ‘It feels like my leg, my whole leg is on fire.’ 

Lisa: Yeah. I can so relate to that right now. 

Craig: Literally aren't, like, burning, like excruciating. I don't think there's any, I mean, obviously, if there was we'd all be doing it. There is no quick fix. There is no simple answer. But what he has done quite successfully is changed his relationship with pain. There is definitely, 100% definitely, a cognitive element to, of course, the brain is, because the brain is part of the central nervous system. Of course, the brain is involved. But there's another element to it beyond that, right. 

I'm going to tell you a quick story that might fuck up a little bit of Dr Cal, if you get him on. He has done a couple of presentations for me at my camps. He's been on my show a little bit. But he told this story about this guy at a construction site that was working and he had a workplace accident. And he, a builder shot a three-inch nails through his boots, through his foot. Right? So the nail went through his foot, through the top of the leather, and out the sole, and he was in agony, right? He fell down, whatever and he's just rolling around in agony and his mates, they didn't want to take anything off because it was through the boot, through his foot. 

They waited for the ambos to get there, and they gave him the green whistle. So you know that whatever that is, the morphine didn't do anything, he was still in agony. He was in agony. Anyway, they get him into the back of the ambulance and they cut the boot off. And the nail has gone between his big toe and second toe and didn't even touch his foot. 

Lisa: Oh, wow. In other words, psychologically— 

Craig: There was no injury. But the guy was literally in excruciating pain, he was wailing. And they gave him treatment, it didn't help. He was still in pain. So what that tells us—

Lisa: There is an element of— 

Craig: What that tells us is our body can, our mind can create real, not perceived, but real pain in your body. And again, and this is where I think we're going in the future where we start to understand, if you can create extreme pain in your body where there is no biological reason, there is no actual injury, there's no physical injury, but you believe there's an injury, now you're in agony. 

I think about, and there's a really good book called Mind Over Medicine by a lady called Lissa Rankin, which we might have spoken about. L-I-S-S-A, Lissa Rankin, Mind Over Medicine. What I love about her is, she's a medical doctor, and she gives case after case after case of healing happening with the mind, where people think placebos and no-cebos, people getting sick, where they think they're getting something that will make them sick, but it's nothing, they actually make themselves sick. And conversely, people getting well, when they're not actually being given a drug. They're being given nothing, but they think it's something. Even this, and this is fascinating, this operation, pseudo-operation I did with people where— 

Lisa: Yeah, I read that one. I read that study.

Craig: Amazing.

Craig: Oh, yeah, it's look, pain is something that even the people who are experts in it, they don't fully understand.

Lisa: Well, I just like, if I can interrupt you there real briefly, because I've been studying what the hell nerve pain, and I'm like, my head, my sores are starting to heal up right. So in my head, I'm like ‘Whoa, I should be having this pain, I'm getting more pain from the burning sensation in my legs and my nerves because it's nerve pain.’ So I read somewhere that cryotherapy was good. So in the middle of the night, when I'm in really bad pain, instead of lying there and just losing my shit, and have I now have been getting up every night and having two or three cold ice-cold showers a night, which probably not great for my cortisol bloody profile, but it's, I’m just targeting that leg. That interrupts the pain sensation for a few minutes. 

What I'm trying to do as I go, I'm trying to go like, can I—am I getting pain because my brain is now used to having pain? Is it sending those messages, even though there's no need, the sores are healing? 

Craig: That is possible.

Lisa: Am I breaking? And I can break the pain for about 10 minutes, and then it will come back in again. But I'm continuing on with it, that idea that I can interrupt that pain flow. Then of course, during the breathe in, the meditation, the stuff and sometimes you just lose your shit and you lose it, and then you just start crying, ‘Mummy, bring me some chicken soup’ type moments. But it's really interesting. I mean, I just like to look at all these shit that we go from and then say, ‘Well, how can I dissect this and make this a learning curve?’ Because obviously, there's something wrong, but I just, I feel for people that are going through years of this.

Craig: It's, yeah, I'm the same I feel. Sometimes I work with people, where I work with and as do you, I work with a lot of people who have real problems. I don't have any problems. I mean, they have real problems. And I'm, despite my appearance, I'm quite, I'm very compassionate. It's hard for me because I, it upsets me to see people in pain. I feel simultaneously sad and guilty. How do I deserve this? But it just is what it is. But people like John and a lot of the people that I've worked with and you've worked with, you know, people like that inspire me. 

I mean, they're— I don't find typical heroes inspirational. They don't really inspire me like the people we normally hold up as, I mean, well done. I think they’re great, but they don't inspire me. People who inspire me or people who really, how the fuck are you even here? How do you turn up? He turns up. He's actually in hospital right now because he's got a problem that's being fixed. But, and he's in and out of hospital all of the time. And then he turns up, he hugs me and he goes, ‘How are you?’ I go, ‘I'm good.’ He goes, ‘Now look at me.’ So I look at him. And he goes, ‘How are you really?’ And I go, ‘I'm good.’ This is the guy who— 

Lisa: Who’s dealing with so much. I've got a friend, Ian Walker8, who I've had on the show, too, so he got hit by a truck when he was out cycling, I think it was years and years ago. He ended up a paraplegic. And then he recovered, he didn't recover, he’s still in a wheelchair, but he was out racing his wheelchair, he did wheelchair racing, and he's part of our club and stuff. And then he got hit by another truck, now he’s a quadriplegic. 

This guy, just, he is relentless in his attitude, like he is, and I've seen him dragging himself like with his hands because he's got access now to his hands again. After working for the last couple of years, and he kind of, on a walker frame thing, dragging himself two steps and taking a little video of him, dragging his feet, not the feet out, working, they’re just being dragged. But the relentless attitude of the guy, I'm just like, ‘You’re a fricking hero. You're amazing. Why aren't you on everybody magazine cover? Why aren’t you like, super famous?’ Those people that really flip my boat.

Craig: Yeah. And I wish that, I'm with you, I wish they’re on the front of the boxes and the packages and the magazines. But hopefully we're moving in the right direction.

Lisa: Yeah. Craig, you've been wonderful today. Thank you so much for your time. I will have you back on again, no doubt, because you're just a legend. I loved hanging out with you. 

Craig: Thanks, Lisa. Appreciate you. See you, everyone. 

Lisa: See you mate!

That's it this week for Pushing the Limits. Be sure to rate, review and share with your friends, and head over and visit Lisa and her team at lisatamati.com.

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What listeners are saying

My favourite running podcast by miles⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

This is the best podcast for long runs. Lisa is just so relatable, honest, funny and inspires me to push my own limits. Awesome guests (I particularly enjoyed the podcast with Kim Morrison) and a wide variety of topics covered. Thanks for keeping me running, Lisa!
Jinni S via Apple Podcasts · Australia · 07/02/19


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Helps me get through my boring desk job. Absolutely love this podcast. Great topics and advice that has helped me to better myself and my approach to running.


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Always great guests, great insights and learnings that can be applied immediately for every level of experience.


Motivational and Inspirational ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

I am getting my mojo back with regards to my health and running after treatment for breast cancer, I connected with Lisa as I was looking for positive influences from people who are long distance runners and understand our mindset. Lisa’s podcasts have been a key factor in getting me out of a negative space where I allowed others limiting beliefs to stop me from following my heart and what I believe is right for me. After 18 months of being in cancer recovery mode I wanted to get out of the cancer mindset and back to achieving goals that had been put aside. Listening to Pushing The Limits has put me onto other great podcasts, and in the process I have learnt so much and am on a pathway to a much better place with my mindset and health. Thanks so much Lisa for doing what you do and always being you.