Wider Worldview is a new podcast hosted by Color & Curiosity founder Megan Zink that explores the power of travel – how it can change the world: spark new ideas, foster different perspectives, catalyst curiosity and lifelong learning. Join her for interviews with entrepreneurs, educators and explorers and get inspired to tap into travel as an experiential learning and empathy building tool. Tara Grieb is an educational leader, speaker, author, podcast host of the Should Theory and so many other things. Read on for her best tips to stop procrastinating and do that thing already – how to go from ‘I should’ to ‘I can’.
Head over to this link to catch the full audio recording on Fireside with Tara Grieb – but in the meantime, here’s a snippet of the conversation. This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
Megan Zink: Tara, you’ve been in the education industry for over 20 years. You’re a mom, a wife, a speaker, a mentor – heck, you’re a hundred-meter dash record holder. You are also the host of a podcast focusing on people getting past their ‘should’ mentality and actually doing things. So, to get started, can you share a little bit about your background, how you got started and where you are now?
Tara Grieb: I grew up wanting to be a theater major – I had parents who were both educators and 30+ years ago, the options, the pathways, were a lot more traditional. So my parents were in those, what I’ll call golden handcuffs, have a good career with good benefits and health insurance while you’re doing it, plus a salary and retirement – that’s the path.
For me it was never ‘will you go to college’ – it was ‘where will you go to college?’ It was – you graduate from high school, you go to college, you get your masters, you get married so you can work for thirty years and then you can enjoy your life in retirement. And I have been following that path over these many years.
And always had this itch that there was something missing. There was something else. And as I have aged, what that something else has been or could been as sort of changed, as I’ve changed, but the nagging was still there. And I had a few moments of inspiration where I said, ‘you know, I’m tired of doing this. I’m tired of following the rules all the time.’ And so I started my podcast, mainly as an inspiration for myself because I was stuck in this ‘I should do what’s expected’ I should maintain my responsibilities and such.
And so I just had this moment when a pathway in my current job didn’t go the way I thought it was going to go, and it was just sort of the last straw for me, where I said ‘you know what? It’s time for me to start building a bridge to the other things that keep calling.’ And I’ve had a side hustle along the way, but for some reason, this has been different. And so here I am just sort of forging my path. And like I said, making a whole leap of faith. I’m still bringing in an income and still a leader in school. I started a consulting company. I’ve written some courses and I’m working on a book. I’m doing some public speaking.
MZ: Wow – I have so many questions. I’m so curious – so as an education leader, from an education perspective, are there any qualities that you notice that people who are more likely to push past that guard rail, so to speak, possess than those who aren’t?
TG: I think some of it has to do with parenting. What did our parents encourage and allow? So in other words, if obedience and the path that’s laid out for you was the expectation, then that tends to be where you’re going to be. A fear of getting in trouble, while healthy, can also be limiting. Parenting-wise, when I’m talking to families that are moving into adolescence with their kids, the parents who are most successful are the ones who have high expectations and open communication. Meaning the student, the child, they know what their parents expect from them. These are acceptable behaviors, and these are not.
People who have that trust – where they know they’re supported even if they want to change direction or go in a different way, and whoever loves them will help them work through it. I also think that people who have a more global perspective who expand their experiences – if they’ve had the opportunity to see places other than the backyard they’ve grown up in, then they’re more likely to appreciate and keep stepping outside and learning new things.
MZ: Open-mindedness has been a theme that has come up quite a lot in every episode. You made a really interesting point – ‘if they just see what’s outside their box.’ Is there any substitute for that?
TG: I don’t think so. I never traveled outside of the country, ever, until I was in my forties. I had the Eastern Seaboard down pat, and I had been to California, but not much in the middle. And through work, I had an opportunity to travel to China and I was scared to death – I didn’t even really want to go. But it was a free trip to China. And I said, ‘okay, here’s the deal, if I don’t go, I’m going to regret not taking advantage of this opportunity.’ And so I went. And a short time after that, I traveled with my daughter’s travel team to Spain for a tournament that they fundraised for for 3 years. And that was an amazing experience. And just those two things – they’ve been the most amazing experiences that I’ve had, really ever.
MZ: It sounds to me like you sort of took the first one and you ran with it – and then you went to the second one. And so now would you say that you would be more likely to potentially go overseas again?
TG: Yeah, absolutely.
MZ: There was something you said earlier – ‘I didn’t even want to go.’ I know that visceral feeling of ‘I don’t want to do it – I just can’t step over that line.’ Do you have any tips or recommendations for getting past it?
TG: I think it depends on what it is. I think it’s important to keep in mind that if you are having that adverse gut reaction, you need to examine why because, to be frank, sometimes the gut reaction of ‘no, this isn’t for me’ is accurate and you should listen to it. But I would say that you shouldn’t listen to it until you can really identify what your concerns and your fears are.
There’s a healthy fear of doing something new and unchartered that could end being amazing. And then there’s this other fear feeling that, like I said, is sometimes a really good indicator that for some reason this isn’t the right thing for you at this time. And so I think the key in that is listening to the gut feeling in the first place. And being able to articulate the difference between a true concern and nerves.
MZ: You are not the first person who’s said that, either, which speaks to your expertise. Kris Kosach was on this podcast before and said ‘you gotta listen to that little voice because sometimes it is totally valid.’
TG: There’s a book out there called ‘The Gift of Fear’ and sometimes fear is a good thing. It’s the thing that makes your hair stand on edge when you’re in a parking lot and there’s a creepy person near you. That’s what puts you on your toes. And that’s what makes you, you know, lock your doors and do things that are practical to keep you safe. So there’s a gift in there.
But fear can also be debilitating. And so I think the key – and this goes for travel, or any shift or new adventure that you’re contemplating is really drilling down to ‘what are the things that are inhibiting you?’. If it’s your judgement, if it’s your failure, yeah. I think you can still try to push through it. But again, if it’s – ‘I could lose everything I own, my family may never talk to me,’ these are things you have to consider.
MZ: Do you have any tips for getting through to the point of ‘what if I accomplish the thing? What if I do it?’
TG: I think a better approach is to remind yourself what you have already accomplished. I call it uncovering your data. Remind yourself of the things you already have accomplished, no matter how large or small. Use that process to remind yourself who you are. Take a minute or two to write down your accomplishments.
I think when we’re doing those things individually, we do them. We’re proud of them and we move on. We get them done. But we don’t really acknowledge what we’ve created or accomplished, and we move on to the next thing because that’s how our lives are. ‘What’s the next task I have to get done, what’s the next challenge that lies ahead of me?’ And we don’t often reflect and celebrate them individually, and we certainly don’t look at them collectively.
And so, when you make that list and you write it down, there’s this weird thing that happens where you look at it and go, ‘holy cow, my list is long.’ And as you look through that list and you see some things – try to look at it like it’s somebody else’s and if you can take yourself out of the picture and look at those accomplishments I guarantee that you will be like, holy crap. Look at what this person has done.
And then go a step further from that, show that list to someone whose opinion matters to you and be like, ‘what do you think of the person who’s done these things?’ And think back to when you accomplished them, what else were you going through? And if you can accomplish those things, what else can you accomplish? So, it’s really about building that confidence, reminding yourself who you are, and what you can do and what you have done.
About Tara Grieb
Tara has over 22 years of experience in educational leadership and uses her expertise to help organizations and individuals to help connect with their people, lead with vulnerability and improve their community. Learn more about Tara by visiting his website & social media!