Episode 1: Welcome to Growing as Grown-Ups
with Keith Eigel & Sara Musgrove

Just because you’re a grown-up, it doesn’t mean you’re done growing. We want to demystify the ways we keep growing as grown-ups by sharing with you what both science and experience has taught us. In this episode, we want to introduce ourselves to you and explain the formula for growth that you will hear referenced throughout the coming episodes.

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Episode transcript

Hi, friends. Welcome to Growing as Grown-Ups, where we believe each of us has the opportunity to keep growing in ways that can fundamentally improve our life effectiveness, leadership influence and our well-being. Through interviews, stories and practical principles, we explore how you can accelerate your growth and unlock your potential to make the difference you want to make.
And now your hosts, from The Leaders Lyceum, Dr. Sara Musgrove and Dr. Keith Eigel.

Dr. Keith Eigel: Here we are, everybody. Welcome to Episode one of Growing as Grown-Ups, a podcast about how we keep growing as grown-ups. You know, I am Keith Eigel, by the way, and I am here with Dr. Sara Musgrave. Say Hi, Sara.

Dr. Sara Musgrove: Hello, everyone. Keith, this is so exciting.

Keith: Now we are in our separate locations because as most of you may know, we are in the middle of COVID and none of that has changed yet. So we are looking at each other on a zoom call. But one of the cool things about this is it makes it easy to record this conversation. So not only is this podcast going to be available for traditional audio podcast, but you're going to be able to see it on our YouTube channel as well. I'll talk more about that as we get to the end of the podcast.

You know, Sara, I am asked so often what we do for a living, and the last couple of years have been saying, "We help grown-ups keep growing in the context of leadership." And so as we were talking about this whole podcast idea and I think we thought growing as grown-ups might be a fun name for the podcast. And so here we are.

Sara: Yeah. And I think before you go much further, I think it's important for us to share with our listeners what we think of as leadership, right. I think a lot of times people hear that and think about traditional roles of authority in an organization where somebody has a title or a position that puts them in a leadership position. And for both of us, leadership is not a position. It is about influence. It's about people who recognize that they have the opportunity to have influence with people on purpose, to move somebody in a direction on purpose. And so whether that is a corporate executive, or a front line supervisor, or a stay at home mom, everybody has the ability to be a leader in. The question is whether or not they're going to use that on purpose to move people in a way that they want to based on what's important to them and the people that they're leading.

Keith: Yeah, and it's the thing that I love about our definition of leadership, Sara - it is uni-directional. Right. I mean, it's like most of the times we think about having influence with those who we have some level of authority over. But how many of you all listening at home have wanted to have influence with your boss and a direction on purpose? Right. And so when we think about leadership in that way, it really broadens the definition and gives us all the ability to grow in those ways.

Yeah, let me just real quickly talk about what we do for a living and how we're here. Sara and I both work for an organization that started about 20 years ago called the Leaders Lyceum. We bring groups of mostly next generation leaders, but we work with a lot of executive teams as well to help them keep growing as grown-ups in the midst of the challenges and change and just things that they're trying to do in their organizations. Sara, and I both do a fair amount of one on one coaching as well, but really the bulk of our work has always been bringing groups of people together to create transformational experiences for people to just grow up, to keep maturing in their understanding of themselves and others and the circumstances they find themselves in, in ways that make them more effective. So that's that's who we are. That's where we're coming from as we start this podcast.

Sara: Yeah. And before we jump in, I think it's important to recognize that our listeners have so many different choices of podcasts out there. I think the last I heard, there were four hundred thousand podcasts. And so before we take any more of their time, I just want to put out there who we are creating this show for; who we thought about when we were designing the show to make sure that the people who are listening are in the right place. And so we thought through who our listeners are and who they aren't. And so who our listeners aren't--people who want a quick fix, who want everything to just be easy. They don't want to have to make any changes. They just think everybody else in the world needs to change when they've got it all together. If that's you, you may not like some of the things that we say on this podcast. And so you might want to find another quick fix podcast.

Keith: Hey can feel free to keep listening if they want to.

Sara:  They can, we would love for you to stick around. But the listeners that we really created this podcast for are those who recognize the opportunity that they have to keep growing. They see that they have more potential. They recognize that they have opportunities to have greater influence. But they're just feeling a little bit stuck. They're not quite sure how to take that next step. They aren't sure if they are even in the right place. Sometimes they feel like they're the only one who's struggling, that everybody else seems to have it all together. But at the end of the day, they are people who recognize that they want to make a difference in the world. They want to use their influence for good, and they want to keep growing knowing that it's probably going to be work. And so if you are one of those people, one of those leaders who recognizes that whatever sphere of influence you have, you want to make a difference. This podcast is for you to help you take those steps on your journey to become more of the person that you were created to be.

Keith: Yes, Sara. Before you jump off of that point, I want to go a step further with it that we all have the opportunity to keep growing no matter how much growing we've already done. Right. I mean, it never stops. As a matter of fact, to people who feel like they've grown enough are maybe the most stuck. They just don't realize it. But one of the things that I ask groups of people a lot of times is, if you take a grandparent and a grandchild and ask them which one thinks they have it all figured out - I usually pause for a minute  - it's the grandchild who thinks they have it all figured out, not the grandparent. And they are the ones that are more measurably close to whatever this destination might be. And I think the destination is an unrealistic way to think about this. It's about the journey. And it's about how we keep growing. And so that's what we're going to be doing.

Before we get too far down the road, I want to talk about growth and what we mean by that. We talked about leadership and what we mean by that.
There are two significantly different ways that we grow as grown-ups. One of these we call lateral development, and it is really about the acquisition of knowledge, skills and abilities. Right. What are we learning? What skills do we need? What techniques? But with lateral development or lateral growth, it's the kind of thing that we can learn, understand, memorize and apply almost in the same day, right. So you could learn the five skills of conflict resolution and apply those and be doing that the next day and the next day. And if you're smart enough to remember it, boom, it's done.

There is also another way that we grow that we call vertical growth. That's really about our maturity and perspective. It's measurable, it's knowable, and we can figure out where we are on the journey. And where we are on the journey actually impacts what the most appropriate next growth steps are. And so this podcast, because it is in alignment with what underpins so much of the work we do, is really going to be more about the vertical growth piece. The maturity of perspective piece. And how we can be proactive on that journey. How we can get unstuck where we are.

Sara: Yeah, I think one thing that really helped me understand the difference between those two ways we grow is when I had just finished my doctorate degree. You and I both went to the University of Georgia and got our degrees in industrial organizational psychology. We had to take a lot of classes in advanced statistics and theories and research and application and all sorts of good stuff. And some of those statistics classes - not my favorite. And somebody asked me what was the most beneficial thing you learned in grad school. It was not any of those classes I learned and it was not any of the theories I had to study. It definitely was not the confirmatory factor analysis. It was me learning to take ownership of my own professional career. Because, if you remember in grad school, there's kind of an ordained path that we were to follow in terms of the types of internships to take, the type of research to do, how we were to spend our time in grad school etc. And it usually led to becoming researchers and professors and created this academic factory almost. And I knew from the beginning that that's not what I wanted to do. I didn't want to be a professor. I wanted to be out in the world helping people. And so I had to learn to navigate the politics of major professors and departments that were not geared for that and say, I know what I want to do with my life and I need to learn to stand up for that and take whatever consequences come from that. And it led me to a job that I love, getting to meet leaders that I love. And it was worth every battle. Whereas I feel like a lot of my classmates just kind of went along the path that was laid out before them and didn't end up in places that they really wanted to be.

Keith: Yeah, Sara. That's such a perfect example of the distinction between the lateral and the vertical. Right. It’s not the coursework and the things you have to memorize but it’s the lens changing ‘I see myself differently now and I'm the one taking charge’ kind of development. I mean, how many times have we heard that story? And so, as we start setting some expectations for the listeners so they can decide if they want to keep listening? Do they want to tune in? What we're going to do is invite guests in and have them tell us their stories of growth. We're going to talk a lot about challenges they face, how those challenges led to a new way of seeing the world. And, I think it's going to be inspirational to hear other people tell their stories of how they've gotten unstuck.

Sara: Yeah, I think it'll be great for listeners to hear that really amazing leaders have gone through similar struggles that they have and they found a way through. That can then be guidance for the people who are following them on the journey.

Keith: Yeah, yeah. I love that. I think what I want to do is introduce kind of the fuel for growth and how we grow, and what we're going to be trying to draw out of our guests a little bit as they come on the program. That OK with you if I go there? All right. So on this vertical journey of continuing to mature in ways that matter, vertical development for 95 percent of the people who are listening to this is about taking increased ownership of who they are going to be. Right. It's about increasing self awareness. It's about owning your values. Not just knowing them, but really moving to a place of what we call self-authorship. And there are so many effectiveness variables tied to becoming, what we call, inside-out on the journey.  And that is opposed to being outside-in on the journey where you're feeling like a victim, or you're feeling done to, or you're worried about how much they like me, or how much do they respect me, or all these things like where your understanding of yourself comes from the outside-in.

For most adults, the growth journey is moving in a place of knowing who you are, independent of those outside sources, and you wind up becoming actually more effective in dealing with the outside sources when you move there. But the thing that moves us along this journey is actually the hard stuff that we go through. We don't grow when everything's going our way. As a matter of fact, why would we change what we're doing when everything's going our way? That's crazy talk, right? So what we want to do is pay attention to the thing that fuels us and that it's the hard stuff. But how many of us try and take the hard stuff and sort of sweep it under the rug or ignore it or do something to kind of make it go away? Right. And so this idea is what we've said in a sentence - challenge and contradiction over time - when we push through it leads to growth. And what we mean by challenge and contradiction is that everybody gets challenged. It's the things we can't figure out, the things that are hard for us, the things that don't make sense or when we don't know what to do. What we mean by contradiction is that we have a lens that we see the world through. Right. You, me, everybody listening to this has a lens that they see the world through and it’s how they understand themselves and others in the world. And the thing that makes a challenge a challenge is that the current lens can't make sense of it. So the challenge is contradicting the lens. Right? So that's what we mean. Challenge in contradiction over time if we push through it. And for those of you that are watching the video of this, you can see this formula on the wall behind me. Sara, a couple of seconds on that, maybe?

Sara: Yes. So one of the challenges that I think we all are facing right now is a result of COVID. And for those people like you and I who have kids that are at home or were at home early on because of academia, that's a big challenge. And as a process, I had to review all of my middle school math lessons, including fractions. So if you're looking at the equation, we have on top of the fraction, the numerator if you will - challenge in contradiction. And what I have been reminded through my math review lessons is that the bigger the number on the top, the bigger the product will be. The answer to the equation, right. So the more challenge that we're facing, or the bigger the challenge, or the harder the challenge, and the more it contradicts the lens through which we see the world, the more we have the opportunity to grow. And we are living in a time right now in history, unlike really any other, where we are all facing big challenges that contradict the way that we understood the world even six months ago. Right. We're about six months into this pandemic. And what we have the opportunity to do is to leverage this season in life for growth. But the beauty of this equation is that we don't have to wait for the really big challenges to come along in order to get us to grow. We can take smaller challenges, just things that we face on a daily basis - a difficult conversation we need to have, a new way of interacting with somebody, a new way of managing our time - and we can compress the time, make the denominator smaller, and by making that time shorter, by being intentional, taking steps, not putting it off until tomorrow, we get to have that same effect without having to wait for these big global crisis to happen. As long as we persevere through it, as long as we decide I'm not going to sweep this under the rug, I'm going to lean in, I'm going to take a step. I'm not going to try to make it go away. And when we can take those challenges be intentional in how we lean in, that is where we are going to realize our growth. We're going to become more grounded, more mature, more effective in the way we handle whatever is thrown at us.

Keith: Right. Right. Yeah. So you're saying ten over one is more than one over one. And we may not be in a ten over one circumstance right now, but man alive, does it feel like we're in at least seven or eight over one? I mean, it's that people have lost loved ones and just all the strife that's going on around us, at minimum, but I think for a lot of us individually, our lenses can't make perfect sense. The contradiction is there. And I think the thing is the multiplier, perseverance, if you can see the formula, we’re basically saying challenge and contradiction over time, times perseverance. If we zero out perseverance, it zeroes out everything, right? And we all know people have done that. So back to the podcast and our guests. What we're hoping for and what I believe is going to happen, because we've had so many of these stories one-on-one, is we're going to ask people to share some of the biggest challenges they've had in their life. How they plowed through the challenges that they're facing right now, and how they hope to continue to plow through those. Right. How they're going to persevere and how it's going to change their lens. And I think this will wind up being an encouragement to so many of us who are either not as far along the journey as the guests or maybe right on par with the journey that the guest is on.

You know, while we're playing this game, Sara - it wasn't a game until just now - ok, but in your life right now, what's the biggest challenge you're facing?
Sara: Oh, well, I guess if we're going to ask our guests this question, I should be willing to answer it, huh? Get ready,  I'll ask it back to you in a minute. So one thing that's a part of what we teach and, you obviously know this pretty well, is that our personality has a lot of influence over how we interact with the world. And on one very notable element of personality, you and I are very different. I am a very organized, planful, like to know what I'm getting into person, and all of the predictability I will take all day long. And COVID has just thrown all of that in the garbage so it's really day to day, we don't know what's happening, right, I feel like it's settled down a little bit from how it was at the beginning, but, in terms of how we do business, right, we can't have groups in our facility like we're used to. So I'm having to learn a whole bunch of stuff about different ways we can deliver our teaching and our messages virtually. Right. So I'm having to figure out basically a whole new job for myself. I've got kids who are trying to navigate how to manage that they were in school and then they were doing school at home and now they're back at school. But they have to follow all these new rules that, not only am I having to learn to change and adapt and roll with the punches, I'm leading my to middle school and high school step kids through that same process and it is pushing me way beyond my comfort level, my status quo, nice little organized life. But the good thing is that we teach this model, right. So I'm able to look at these challenges and say, hey, if I don't give up, something really cool can come out of this and I'm going to be a person on the back end who appreciates the beauty that can come from the chaos, which is typically not me.

So what about you? Keith, what do you feel like is the biggest challenge you've been facing lately?

Keith: Ok. I will answer that. But I want to just emphasize for those who are listening that this change in the environment, this unpredictability that you just detailed really well, that's the thing your current lens can't make perfect sense of. And if your current lens could make perfect sense of it, you'd have a different challenge during this time. Right? And that's your point of stuckness, I think.

Now just so you're not left hanging out there with all the storytelling. My point of stuckness, what my lens is having the hardest time making sense of right now, and it's a surprise to me, honestly, is that I am having a harder time than I thought I would not having people that we’re investing in, in-person, right, I mean, we've had many groups, so many people come through the learning center here and it's worse than missing, and yet it's less than an identity crisis in a way, it's like this sort of in between. I don't know what to make of it and, I think honestly, I think doing this podcast is sort of a point of perseverance, it's a step to figure out what's it going to take to break that. Break that free to get me going back on the journey to understand myself in ways that I can't understand myself right now in the middle of this, does that make sense?

Sara: And knowing that you have committed your life to facilitating the development of others to become everything they were meant to be, right. That is your kind of personal brand legacy statement, the fact that you have had to figure out how to do that differently and that you haven't been able to do as much of it lately, really is a challenge for you. And I get that. And I think, you know, that speaks to why you were so excited to do this podcast. Right. So let me ask you, when you think about the opportunity that stands in front of us, if we can pull this off and make this podcast happen, what is it that you are most looking forward to with this new adventure we have?

Keith: Oh, my gosh. I mean, I guess what I'm most looking forward to is having an impact, potentially, you know, having an impact that is potentially so much bigger than the people that we could physically run through this facility over the course of a year. Yeah. And so I think there's an element of, you know, just maybe playing a transformational role in some people's lives who we may never meet. I hope we hear from them, but yeah, that's for me. that’s it.

Sara: Yeah, because the room that you're sitting in, which is where we do our sessions, can hold a max for 42 people. Right. And there is not a forty two person limit on our podcast.

Keith:  Sara for you, what is it you’re looking forward to most? About this new stuff we're taking.

Sara:  Definitely what you said, I would second that, but the other thing I'm looking forward to is that I know who is on our upcoming guest list. Yeah, and there are some really, really amazing people that we have in our network and people that are maybe one step removed from our network who will be joining us and. Their stories are awesome, and I think just the opportunity to sit down and talk to those people and pull out how that formula has played out in their lives and then share their stories with other people as a source of inspiration and encouragement, I think it’s really, really going to be fun.

Keith:  Yeah, we will be sharing soon enough who is on the guest list. But, Sara, what about who's your dream guest? Maybe someone will know them and they'll forward it to them. Who's your dream guest?

Sara:  Oh, it's such a nerdy answer, but I, I would love it if we could get Adam Grant on this podcast. He is an industrial organizational psychologist. I think he might even be younger than me. Don't quote me on that, even though I'm not putting it on a podcast.

But I feel like up until the last couple of years, nobody knew what industrial organizational psychology was. And Adam has figured out a way to make it relevant and interesting and hits a way a bigger audience with his books and his podcast ‘Work Life’. I just think he's doing really incredible work in this space, and he could have some really great insight and he just has such a great spirit that it would be fun to have him join us on the show. So what about you? Do you have a bucket list dream guest?

Keith: You know, if we stayed within the field, which we're not going to do very often, I can't leave Robert Keegan off of the list. He's one of my heroes and sort of mentors in some funny way, right? And he wrote a book called The Evolving Self, and it was really the life changing basis for the work that we've done for the last 25 years. I think if there's a dream guest that I think Andy Young. Ambassador Young would be just an amazing person to have to tell stories of challenge and contradiction and transformation and perseverance and change. And, you know, some of the people that we've already got lined up, folks are going to know. I'm equally kind of as excited about introducing some folks to people who may be in the shoes of the listener, but we know their story and what they've muscled through. And to be able to, you know, have them share that story on the podcast I think will be amazing.

Sara: I think it's going to be really great. So just to give the listeners a lay of the land of how our podcasts are going to work moving forward, at least in this first series that we're planning on, is that we are going to bring on these leaders and we are going to ask them a series of questions to uncover their growth story, the challenges they face, how they recognize they were holding themselves back, what they're working on right now. And then you and I are going to come back on the back end of those podcasts and really tease apart what they shared and pull out those growth principles, highlight the things that you and I as psychologists recognize in their stories, and then use those to give some some practical and applicable tips to our listener so that they can also continue on their journey. So I think it's going to be a really fun way to get both the stories and the insights from those stories in each episode that we have coming up.

Keith: Yeah, I can't wait. What else do the folks need to know before we sign off? They'll be able to log on almost immediately to our first guest, so we'll let that unfold as it does.

Sara: So, real quick, we haven't told them a whole lot about ourselves, so maybe they need to know who we are, if they even want to trust us to guide them on this journey.

I'll tell you all a little bit about Keith, so he doesn't have to do the awkward introduction. I hate having to introduce myself, so I'll introduce you and then you can flip it back. Keith has been running the Lyceum now for about 20 years, which is incredible, and has been doing this work for a number of years before that, along with a colleague who was the co-author of a book with you. So anybody who is interested in this developmental journey and kind of what it looks like, the progression of life, Keith has written a book along with Karl Kuhnert called  "The Map", we'll have a link to that in the show notes and on our website. You also are married to an amazing woman named Leigh. You have four kids, three who are out of the house, one who is a junior in high school.

Keith: Yeah, and our little mascot, she's a hoot. Not so little anymore. She's like 5’10” and driving herself all over town.

Sara: And Keith's research in this field has been cited in books and you are well regarded in the field as an expert in this area of adult development. So it is exciting to get to do this work alongside you.

Keith: Yeah. So kind Sara, and one of the things that's been so much fun about us working together is just your background in the field. Sara took a path where she initially went down the marriage and family counseling route, got her masters in that arena, and after she got in there, realized that that, you know, 24/7 sort of connected with some really challenging situations - some people can stay out of the getting sucked in but that wasn't your thing. But thankfully for us and for you guys, Sara went and pursued her doctorate in industrial organizational psychology, as we were talking about earlier in the show. I think the thing that's interesting about the combination of those two things is that it brings a different level of curiosity, and question asking empathy, that a lot of people who are just trained traditionally as industrial organizational psychologists, it's a little bit more mechanical and a little bit more statistics oriented and measurement oriented. And your love of the story, right, and your love of the journey and to be involved in that, we are so privileged to have you with us at the Lyceum and with these folks on this podcast. Sara comes from good people y'all. She Indiana, born and bred, married this wonderful man named Bryan about three years ago, I think. Sara, and she got to middle school kids in the deal.

Sara: Speaking of challenge and contradiction, that has been a journey for sure. They are funny kids and keep me on my toes.

Keith: So, guys, that's us. You'll hear more of our stories as this thing unfolds. We're hoping to do about a dozen interviews for the first season here.

Sara: Yeah, just going to say, if you want to make sure to catch these interviews and hear these awesome stories, please subscribe to the podcast. It's really going to help us get the word out early on that this is where you're going to be able to find good, helpful leadership strategies and inspiration. We will also have, as Keith mentioned earlier, these videos up on YouTube. We have podcasts in all the normal podcast places, and we have a website that is going to give you some resources that we'll talk about in the coming episodes. You can also find all of our episodes there, links to Keith's book, and a lot of really great resources. Go to and you'll get to all of this fun stuff.

Folks, glad you joined us. And we look forward to being with you on the next episode.

Keith:  And until then, lean in.

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Growth isn't easy, but it's completely within your reach.
Until next time, journey well, friends.