Nov. 4, 2021

#1: The Secret of Feed Your Tigers

#1: The Secret of Feed Your Tigers

Here it is! The first episode of Feed Your Tigers. 

In this episode, I pull off the gloves and get to the heart of the matter: the secret that underscores the Feed Your Tigers podcast. I distill the essence of my nearly three decades in India and the East down to a single lesson that every person must learn if they want to become the fullest version of themselves.

To explain the concept, I draw inspiration from the world’s longest epic, the Mahabharata, cutting right to the chase scene. Here, I narrate a portion of the story, from what is called the Bhagavad Gita—where the hero, Arjuna, stands on the battlefield poised to fight, but faces his greatest dilemma—a massive identity crisis.

Arjuna’s problem is representative of the same crisis each one of us faces at one time or another (and sometimes all at once):

  • Who am I?
  • What are my talents?
  • What is my purpose?
  • How should I act in a situation where everything is falling apart?
  • What decision should I make in my life and career to lead the best life possible?

While these questions are profound and require a lifetime to explore and understand, the Gita shines some light on where the answers lie: it explains how each of us has a unique Nature, and when we are connected with it, we thrive; however, when we’re disconnected from it, or misaligned, we suffer.

I connect these issues to the modern-day issues that each of us faces in a world that puts little value in personal development and more on external achievement—even at the expense of our physical and mental health.

The program ends with a definition of a Nature and an example of one of the 19-traits (tigers) that makes up a Nature, and an invitation for you to join me in a journey to explore your unique Nature, and how you can align so you thrive.

EPISODE LINKS


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ABOUT STEVEN RUDOLPH

Transcript

In 1991, I set out on a journey to understand the deepest secrets of life, purpose and human potential. It led me on an expedition to India and the East for nearly three decades, where I encountered an entire range of characters, seekers, seers, charlatans, presidents and prime ministers, billionaires, the impoverished, celebrities, criminals, and true heroes. 

In this first episode, I share with you the most powerful lesson I learned that can be boiled down to a single sentence. To extract this handful of words at times nearly took the life out of me. It required me to completely shatter my Western frame, and become bilingual and bicultural to embed myself fully in a foreign world. And to come face to face with my greatest fears.

So I could understand the lesson, the way it had originally been imparted thousands of years ago. When I first came upon this knowledge, I was so eager to share it with the rest of the world. But my mentor stopped me. "Wait," he told me, "this is not the time for you to teach. There will be plenty of time for that later. For now, study, learn, immerse yourself in this experience. You'll know when you're ready." That was almost 30 years ago. And now I'm ready. But what I really need to know is: Are you ready? This is the Feed Your Tigers podcast, a place where we explore the wilds of your inner world. On this journey, you'll come face to face with the power of your innate potential and discover ways of aligning your energy so you thrive. I'm your host, Steven Rudolph. And I welcome you on this adventure as we endeavor to feed your tigers before they eat you.

I'm glad to be here at the start of a new journey. So much lies ahead. And I'm grateful to you for joining me. Now you've taken the time to get here and I'm sure you're eager to know what our podcast is about and where we're heading. So let's start by making sure you're in the right place. 

This is the Feed Your Tigers podcast, the only show dedicated to disgruntled zookeepers worldwide. And in our... I'm just kidding. Feed Your Tigers is for you if you're feeling like who you are, and what you're doing is not in sync. Maybe you feel like you've got some talent that's not been fully realized. Perhaps things are stuck right now. Maybe you're feeling a little burnt out like you've been overdoing it in some areas, and you need a reset. So I know how it is. When you're feeling this type of disconnect. And you're super busy. With so many things going on in your life. You want to make some important changes. But life doesn't stop for you so you can reconfigure things easily and neatly. And it doesn't make it easier when you look for solutions and books or videos, courses or even in podcasts, all of which offer value but also require time to listen to them, to practice the ideas and methods that they share. And it can seem like an endless stream of content that becomes impossible to get a grip on. So I created Feed Your Tigers as a home base, a place to begin the calibration, or recalibration process for becoming more aligned; that is, getting what's going on inside of you to map more effectively to what's going on in the outside world. 

And for today's episode, I have only one goal, which is to share with you the essence, the key learning of Feed Your Tigers that will be the cornerstone of everything we cover in our future episodes. It is the single lesson—in fact, just a single sentence that I distilled through my journey to the east that has so far lasted over 25 years—from years of studying Sanskrit, Hindi, Indian and eastern culture, philosophy, mythology. And what I will do now is narrate a small story that comes from the Mahabharata, which is the world's longest epic, written in India thousands of years ago. It consists of 100,000 couplets, which is more than Homer's Iliad and Odyssey combined. It is more than twice as long as all of Shakespeare's works combined. And this particular episode that I'm going to narrate comes from 700 verses of the Mahabharata, which is called the Bhagavad Gita. And this section is kind of like the the final battle. It's like the chase scene. Everything in this entire epic comes down to this one segment. And the lesson that I want to share is buried deep in chapter three of the Bhagavad Gita. And so let's get right to it. As I'm going to narrate a story, how about a little mood music to get this right.

Yeah, that sounds better. Okay. So this is the story of two families, relatives, who were fighting over the rule of the kingdom. And like any good story, you have the protagonist. In this case, it's the warrior named Arjuna, the strongest in the land known especially for his archery skills and of course, Arjuna is a representation of you and me, the hero on the hero's journey, representing the hardships that we face in our human condition. And the challenges that we have to face and overcoming those struggles our deepest, most existential struggles, not like when your Amazon deliveries are arriving late or when there's too much ice in your drink, and you can't get to the actual drink. Kind of inconveniences. Though those aren't the ones I'm talking about. I'm talking about like the, what the heck am I doing with my life kind of existential struggles, The Who am I kind of struggles. 

So the driver of the chariot was Krishna, the leading divine personality in the massive pantheon of Indian Gods. So Arjuna is God Himself, the most competent driver and strategic advisor you could imagine. Everyone begins choosing sides and the day of the battle arrives. Drums are beating, conch shells are sounding. The Army's assemble. Both sides are poised for battle and are awaiting a word to commence. Time stands still. And in that moment, Arjuna tells Krishna to bring his chariot up to the front line so he can see the enemy. Krishna obliges him in Arjuna gazes out across the battlefield at the opposing side. And what does he see? He sees his friends, many relatives, his own guru who he served dearly for years, and his beloved granduncle the great Dada Bhishma the most respected and revered elder in the land, all on the opposing side. He begins to tremble. His hair stands on end, his mouth dries up, he becomes dizzy, and he loses his heart. He drops his weapon, falls into a deep depression, and tells Krishna, I can't fight. I can't kill my own family members who I love. How can I live with myself after? What kind of dreadful legacy would I create? So here's Arjuna, looking for an out trying to find some way, some way to avoid this catastrophe. He thinks to himself, maybe I can just leave all of this, just run off the battlefield, become a renunciate go to an ashram somewhere in the mountains, and live peacefully. Sound familiar? Did you ever do that when the going gets tough? You know, you start fantasizing about living on a permaculture farm or doing your own startup or maybe going full out on Etsy. 

And suddenly, reality comes knocking on your door, family responsibilities, boom. And there's Krishna to wake him up from his daydream. Because everyone has their weapons drawn, they're ready to fight. And Arjuna just doesn't get to websurf his way out of this one. Krishna smiles, knows what's going on. And he tells him and this is where the lesson starts. He says, Look, everyone has a nature called "prakriti" in Sanskrit, or "swabhav". And he says no matter what you do, no matter where you go, you will be compelled to act according to your nature. It's in your blood. You can't escape it. Your nature Arjuna is a warrior. You're a fighter. You have an incredible physique. You've got an adventurous spirit. You're a protector, one who preserves and restores justice. This is hardwired into your core. So even if you lead this battlefield and you become a renunciate, living in some ashram somewhere, okay? It'll be nice for a while. But sooner or later, you're going to start itching for a fight. You won't be able to suppress it.

So he tells him, "Listen, there's only one thing for you to do: Act according to your nature. Act in alignment with your nature, and do so for the sake of good. Don't worry about the results, I'll take care of the rest." And there in is the lesson that no matter how bad it gets, when things just aren't going right, the way out or the way forward is to act in alignment with your nature, and every little thing going to be all right. So there you go, the entire Mahabharata—100,000 verses—boiled down to a single lesson into a single sentence: Act in alignment with your nature. So just like Arjuna, people today are disconnected from themselves. They're not aligned with who they are. And they're suffering as a result. This is causing them to face all sorts of crises. 

It used to just be a midlife crisis. But now, people aren't having just midlife crisis, they're having a quarterlife crisis, or even a teen-life crisis. And there are even early life crises to the point where even young children are stressed out and put on antidepressants. Life is becoming this series of multiple, endless crises. And this identity crisis is created by our education and social systems and economic systems that have put tremendous emphasis and value on things external to ourselves. What matters more and more is not what's going on inside of us, not our inward development, but rather an emphasis on our external achievements, even at the expense of our values, and who we are, and even our own health. 

And what makes things worse, is the speed of change, brought on by the industrial and post-industrial age, we face something, which is called "Future Shock", a term coined by Alvin Toffler in 1970, which is this inability to be able to keep up with the amount of change that's happening so rapidly. So in this state, with so much turmoil that's going on inside and outside, it's a near impossibility to find balance. And it's especially so hard around topics like work and careers, it becomes difficult to deal with the concept of career at all. You need to constantly keep up with the changes and keep reinventing yourself, not just decade after decade, but year after year, month after month. In the past, you used to be able to go to college, to graduate, get a degree, get a job, and even retire in that same job in the same company. That's no longer a possibility anymore. It hasn't been for years, there's no longer a feeling of security offered by your education, or by your job or by the company that you work for. There's a constant state of fear about what's going to happen next. 

And a recent survey, amazingly shows that 95% of employed people, at any moment are considering quitting their jobs, and mostly due to burnout. So the question is, what the heck do we have to hold on to anymore? The world around me is in chaos. I don't know who I am. And I've got a zoom with Tanisha and Robert at three o'clock. So let's come back to basics. Let's go back to the ages where there were sailors from long ago, before the days of GPS. How did they know where they were heading? How did they guide themselves? Well, they guided themselves by the stars. And that's because when you're out at sea, surrounded by shifting waters and wide-open skies and fleeting clouds, the one thing that stays consistent, that you can use as a constant reference is the stars. And in the same way, in the turbulent ocean of life, where companies are opening and closing and job responsibilities are changing on a daily basis. The one thing that stays relatively constant is your nature. And in the melee of life's chaos, you've got your nature to hang on to your innate talents, what I call your tigers. And here's why this concept is important. What's the other option? You could live in a way where you don't know who you are exactly, where you are. But then when you have to steer or navigate from a point where you don't know where you are? Where are you going to wind up. And I see this all the time. I'll give you an example.

Think about a situation where when you and what you're doing are disconnected. The work or the activities that you're engaged in, are not representative of who you are. For instance, a managerial position opens up and you go after it. But truth be told, you're not much of a people person and you can't really bring yourself to interact with others easily, it takes a lot of energy for you to do so. But you overlook that. You tell yourself, I can work on it, I can prove that, that aspect of myself. And truth also be told you're not really that organized. You're creative maybe fabulous with language. But when it comes to remembering dates and deadlines, you tend to be forgetful naturally. And you start your job and put up a brave face. And for the first couple of weeks, you really make your best attempt at it. But then after some time, like a rubber band that's been stretched out, you start to snap back to your steady state, which is not really all that administrative. Deadlines whoosh by and people start missing tasks, and then everything starts to blow up. And every day, dealing with people starts to become a grind, the check might be good, and the prestige that goes along with it. But it starts to become painful. And you're treading water. 

And I've seen other situations where people have a natural talent, let's say for healing. They can sense people's state of health or project themselves into people's bodies and identify blockages and intuitively know how to help them resolve those issues. And they've been doing it for as long as they can remember. But then, somehow, it's not enough for them just to be a healer; they want to own a chain of wellness spas across the country, which requires a totally different skill set that's not in line with who they are. And he had sounded really cool to talk that founder thing. And the next thing you know, it becomes an endless stream of email lists and online courses and SEO and crowd casting. And doing the needful is far from the healing part where this individual is gifted, and they've drifted really far from who they are. And they're not loving it. And they're not good at it. And it hurts. 

You know what it's like, it's kind of like a pair of shoes. You know, you have one pair of shoes that's like your comfy shoes, the ones where you put them on when you want to go out and go downtown and do whatever it is that you want to do where you got a lot of spring in your feet and you're jumping around like Tigger. Well, that's kind of like your nature, those are the shoes that that really fit you and who you are. But then you also have another pair of shoes, the ones that you paid way too much for that look like really good. And they're a little bit too tight. And you go out to parties or events, and they're squeezing your feet, and they're pinching that they look awesome. And everybody's saying to you, Wow, beautiful pair of shoes, and you're saying thanks. But all you're thinking to yourself is I can't wait to take these things off my feet. 

There are other situations as well. Sometimes situations that are not of your own doing or making, you're working, doing something and it might be paying the bills, but it's just not who you are. It's not how you want to define yourself, you feel limited, you feel like you've got some other talents, maybe things you explored earlier on in life, or you couldn't figure out how to include those particular activities in your profession. Or maybe some things you started to discover later on in life some sort of natural abilities and can't figure out how to work them into your current situation, do you quit your job and start over, do you do a part time gig? Do you relegate it to a hobby or an interest? Whatever the case, suppressing that natural urge can be frustrating and painful. And so when this misalignment occurs, and this pain is occurring, from not being in alignment with who you are and with what you're doing, you need to do something to stop that pain. You need to do something to stop that agony from living in misalignment. And often what do people do? One of the first things they do is reach for some caffeine. How about a macchiato or a double macchiato, or a caramel double macchiato, or a bar of chocolate with your caramel macchiato, or an energy drink, or.. And it doesn't stop there. There's also social media to take your mind off of that pain. Perhaps little retail therapy, add it to the cart, feel so good. Free next day delivery. Buy yourself little online pleasure, just get out of that pain. Because what you're doing and who you are, are just not giving the pleasure.

And it can even go further than that. People taking pressure off with little drinks, or a big one or a few or a hit or microdose or whatever it takes. And the need to use such methods to reduce the pain of misalignment increases when other things in your life begin to implode. For example, when relationships start failing or when your finances are in the red. Or when you or your family members face health issues. In those moments, you will have little or no energy and reserve to push yourself into being something you're not. And that's where things often break down seriously and have the greatest health implications. 

And this is the lesson Krishna is imparting to Arjuna everything is falling apart around you come back to the essential, follow your nature, act in alignment with your nature. Because when you act according to your nature, you're internally balanced, you feel like yourself, you get extra energy for free. It's like free credits just for signing up. You've got a sense of clarity of who you are, what's to be done, what your natural abilities or your talents are, and how to engage them. This results in work or activities being pleasurable, you don't have to bribe yourself to do them. It results in a positive virtuous cycle that feeds you. You enjoy what you do. You make progress quickly, you develop skills, you get results for the efforts that you make your self-confidence increases, people begin to acknowledge you, you gain status and reputation. It's like a VIP pass right up Maslow's hierarchy. And you know what else happens? Your metabolism fires, you start burning calories, just doing whatever it is that you're doing. Because you're breathing. Your body finds homeostasis because you find pleasure in just being and doing, you're less likely to overeat. Or to stimulate, or to medicate or to intoxicate, we're engaged in wasteful harmful activities that cost money and eat your time. 

So more than two and a half decades in India, and in the East, brought me to this conclusion-- the main goal of life is to act in alignment with your nature. Now, that begs the question, what is the nature? How do I know mine? And how do I align it. So in Feed Your Tigers, we're going to explore exactly what that means and what it means for you. Because the fact is, you're unique, just like everybody else, what a nature means for you is not going to be what it means for the next person. Now, there are many frameworks that describe your personality. And some of them put you in boxes, and tell you that you're a limited number of types. I'm not talking about that, the model that we're going to be using can account for over 10 quadrillion combinations, which is more than enough, it's going to take some time to understand what your nature is and how to get aligned with it. And this is not going to be a how to hack your life in seven days, kind of thing. It's going to take some time. And while there will be challenges ahead, I'm here to remind you that becoming more aligned with your nature is achievable.

I'm here to remind you that you are enough, you have enough, the pieces are already there. And the challenge is more about aligning those pieces, rather than adding lots of new pieces that don't exist. And how do I know that? Well, to date, I've shared my tools with more than 150,000 people, I have trained over 150 guidance professionals in the techniques that I've developed. 

And in future episodes, we're going to be hearing directly from both individuals and practitioners who have put these concepts into practice, and who have become more aligned. People who were, in some cases, paralyzed by the chaos, people who've had breakthroughs in understanding their own capabilities, creating work contexts that are more in harmony with who they are, and sometimes as in the case of Arjuna, people who realized that there was no need to quit their day jobs, but just make some small modifications in their perspectives about what they were doing.

So to be able to get more aligned with your nature, let's talk about natures. What is the nature. A nature is a collection of your unique personality traits. It's the whole that emerges from the sum of its parts. And to understand the whole better, we'll look at the parts, the unique traits and how they affect or impact each other. Now, I'm not going to go into too much detail today, but I'm going to mention that we're going to be looking at 19 personality traits, what I call my MN framework in the Feed Your Tigers podcast, 19 personality traits, consider them like characters in a story. Now it might sound like a lot but your average book or movie has 25 to 30 characters, so don't worry they, they each have names and distinct personalities. And what's more, you already know these characters. They've been living inside of you for years, driving you, sometimes driving you mad or to greatness. Some will be super obvious to you. But others might come out and surprise you like, whoa, you've been hanging out in the shadows there all this time, and I never even knew you were there. Don't believe me? 

Alright, let me share one with you. The entertaining nature. We'll call The entertaining Tiger for now. It's a tendency, that's the tiger that loves to draw attention and to amuse others. You know, you might have seen it. People who have a strong entertaining Tiger are often the life of the party, they can easily get on stage and speak impromptu. They're fabulous presenters, storytellers, joke tellers. How's that tiger for you? Is it a big one? Medium one? Small one? You see, you know what already. And what you're going to be doing with me from week to week is finding out about each of these tigers, and how to take care of them, how to identify them, and then how to align them. And my aim with Feed Your Tigers is one thing, helping you act in accordance with your nature. Of course, it's going to be up to you to try this out, to sift through things and to see what works. 

And I will make one disclaimer that these are not all the tools that you'll need to be happy or successful in life, I'm not going to make a wild claim like that. Feed Your Tigers is a fabulous starting point. There are many tools and frameworks and theories that have value out there. And I encourage you to explore whichever ones make sense to you. But the ones that I'm going to share with you this specific set of tools, which you'll hear me refer to as Multiple Natures or the Feed Your Tigers approach, they happen to be really good ones. And for me, and for many others, they are primary "go to" tools when trying to get a grip on life and trying to get a recalibration going on. And why. What are the benefits? Why does it work? Number one, they're easy to understand.

They're time tested, the ideas that I'm sharing with you come out of 1000s of years of practice, and even my own experience my own practice that I've been using for the last two and a half decades. They're practical. They're actionable. And they're fun. I mean, after all, they're tigers. They've got a wide scope of application, you can use them across the span of your life. We've used Multiple Natures and the Feed Your Tigers ideas with young children. We've used it with students in school, with people in midlife for life balance, even people who are in their golden years trying to figure out what they want to do in their retirement time. There's been a space and a place for these concepts. So it's compatible with everything else that you might do in your life. And you don't need to change anything, you're not going to need to do any particular yoga or meditation or anything like that, whatever, whatever it is that you're doing in your life. It's like adding a turbo boost to that. 

And I want this to be an ongoing and an interactive process for you. And I'm going to invite you to share your experiences with me when things work out from the information that you've gained from this podcast. And when they don't work out as well. Let me know through the Feed Your Tigers website, www.feedyourtigers.com. And there you'll be able to send me a message, there's even a place for you to leave me a voice message. I'd really like to know what kind of challenges you're facing, and how the podcast will enable you to address those issues. So you can become more aligned in your life, and you can thrive. 

So go to www.feedyourtigers.com. Leave me a text message. Leave me a voice message there as well. I'd love to hear from you. We've got a great journey ahead of us and so many possibilities that we're going to unearth and uncover so you can thrive in your life. And in each of our episodes, I'm going to share what knowledge I've gained. And I'll be looking forward to your active participation in the process. It's essential, the more you bring yourself to Feed Your Tigers, the more you and I will also get out of this experience together. With that, I'd also like to remind you to check out the show notes. I've put some references in there that you might find helpful and I will encourage you to subscribe to the Feed Your Tigers podcast in case you haven't done so already. And this brings us to the end of the first episode of Feed Your Tigers. I'm glad to have had you along for the ride today, and I look forward to catching you in our next episode. So until next time, I'll remind you to Feed Your Tigers before they eat you!