Jan. 27, 2022

Make Stress 💦 Your Superpower | Deb Lewis, Colonel USA Ret.

Make Stress 💦 Your Superpower | Deb Lewis, Colonel USA Ret.

Get Mentally Tough ➡️ Go From Stressed to Success
Imagine if you could choose to see stress as your 🦸🏿 your superpower🦸‍♀️
🎁Free Gift: www.mentallytoughwomen.com/freegift
Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.) ✔️ Makes it easier to talk about stress & strong emotions.

"Get mentally tough. Go from workplace STRESS to SUCCESS." - Deb Lewis, Colonel USA Ret.

If you are not immune, why not grow your opportunities turning stress 💦 into your superpower! 🦸‍♀️

What Inspired Me?

Stress 💦 used for your success can: 

  • sharpens your attention on what is possible
  • look beyond the challenges and into the present
  • create a culture of health 
  • enhances your wellbeing

What Challenged Me?

  • The American Institute of Stress reports in the Attitudes in the American Workplace VII study that 80% of workers feel stress on the job. Almost 50% said they needed assistance learning how to manage stress.

Knowledge Bomb

Workplace related stress 💦 can result in a host of physical and mental health effects ranging from:

  • depressing your immune system
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • heart disease

About the Guest

Deb Lewis, Colonel USA Ret. is a West Point Pioneer and Founder of Mentally Tough Women. 

About the Show

Podcast Host: Life & Leadership: A Conscious Journey with Dr. Michelle St Jane

A podcast for Global and Re-Emerging Leadership creating community/tribe, a circle of influence, transcendency of compassionate leadership in the world and wider universe. A unique destination for learning about Leadership + Conscious Stewardship + Legacy.

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Social Media Accounts

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Intro: You're listening to Life and Leadership: A Conscious Journey. The podcast that shares wisdom and strength. Join your host, Dr. Michelle St Jane's conversation on how to have a positive impact for people, planet, and the wider world. If you want to live a life of intention, to be proactive with your time and bring your vision for the future to life one today at a time, you’re in the right place at the right time. Let's get started. 

Dr. Michelle St. Jane: [00:00:33] Let's make stress your superpower. My guest today is a daughter, sister, mother, wife, pioneer. Retired Colonel combat veteran, Infinite-Win engineer, MBA from Harvard, author, speaker, community leader, and expert mental toughness. Let's have a conversation around leadership with retired Colonel Deb Lewis. 

Dr. Michelle St. Jane: [00:01:03] Who is she? Colonel Lewis joined the first class of women enrolled in the United States military academy at West Point, they graduated in 1980. Colonel Lewis went on to serve 34 years. 

West Point New York was established in 1802. You were part of the first class of women in the late 1970s welcomed into these hallowed halls? 

Dr. Michelle St. Jane: [00:01:26] How did you end up by choice or by chance? 

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:01:30] That's a great question I would say as one of the first. I have to thank you for having me here.

I know you have a strong historical background. You love history. The history is fascinating actually because it was conceived by George Washington and was created under Thomas Jefferson. They needed something. We were borrowing engineers from France and other places, not a bad thing, as needs arise and relationships change. They wanted homegrown engineers in 1802 and there wasn't a ton of change. When we women entered, my father had actually been to West Point, I had never visited West Point.

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:02:12] I knew the family and all the friends were from West Point. I knew a bit about it. I fell into it. It's both. I kind of fell into it and it was, I think, pre-ordained. It was meant to be because my parents moved around a lot because my dad was still in the military.

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:02:32] They moved on me in my senior year. My dad at the beginning, my mom was in the middle of my senior year in high school and I didn't want to graduate early. I said, “this is my senior year. You've moved me. I've already been to two high schools. Let me graduate.” They did. 

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:02:52] We found this lovely woman who sadly just passed away this year.  She allowed me to live with her. She lived right next to my high school, and she had two sons at West Point. They would bring their friends down. I had an old 65 Chrysler Newport, and I would drive, you could fit nine people in it. I know this. And so, we would drive around. 

Because I'd moved around, I wanted to be, I thought a doctor and go to the University of Virginia a state-supported school. They wouldn't accept me in the early decision because of my parents until six months. They changed this now six months after your 18th birthday. Then you can claim someplace different than your father. But I couldn't at that time. I'm thinking what, you're not going to accept me because of my dad. That was so upsetting.

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:03:41] Well, the guys who were coming down, said, “well, they just opened up West Point. You want it to go ROTC?” I had been thinking, I want to go ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Course) because it would pay for my college. The doctor's dream didn't work out. I wanted to have a lot of choices.

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:04:01] Maybe some of your listeners are like that. I like to have lots of choices. They said, “well, why don't you think about it?” Then they had a friend who did the act that really sparked me going. He said, “you know, you love horses, right? I'm on the riding team. I'll make sure you're on the riding team too.”

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:04:23] I thought, “Ooh, I think that was just the nudge I needed.” Then I went in. I did not realize I was walking into a social revolution.  

Dr. Michelle St. Jane: [00:04:37] There’s a theme horsepower there between your Chrysler and the four-legged kind. 

I really would love for you to share what made you smile during those years at West Point. Clearly, you've, let's hop over being part of a social revolution.

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:04:54] All of us grew up differently than moving around. Didn't seem tough at the time, but it was because then you didn't have the internet, you would lose touch with friends completely. 

I have one friend from my earlier years before where I graduated high school. I still have a ton of friends from high school because I was allowed to stay. But going and doing it that toughness and I had pretty much understood what was going to happen. 

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:05:19] First, I wasn't prepared for things that malfunction. We had some crazy malfunctions. It's one thing to have a malfunction, like our uniform. They thought we'd have these beautifully color-coordinated zippers on our pants, where the men had these very strong steel ones they've been using for hundreds of years. Ours was broke within the first day, 50% of the time at least. You can imagine you're taught; you can only say four things:

🪖 “Yes, sir.” They were all men. 

🪖 “No, sir.” 

🪖 “No excuse, sir.” 

🪖 “I do not understand, sir.” 

🧷 Nowhere in there, 

“Do you have a safety pin that I can use on my trousers?

Because they're going to fall down.”

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:06:01] When we do the oath ceremony, where I have to raise my right hand, there just wasn't any of that. I actually did pretty well the first day, not much sleep, but I did. It was the second day, really, I learned that toughness. I learned that I could dig deep, and it happened. I did it for 34 years in the military.

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:06:21] I don't enjoy running. It was running that was the big test for women. If you don't make the run, you shouldn't be here. You don't deserve to be here. 

Imagine the very first run where I think I'm prepared just like the first day, which I was the pretty well first event. I prepared.

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:06:47] I just have to say I was prepared for a mile and a half. I thought, okay, I'm good. That's a good starting point. I can go from there. 

The cadet in charge that morning said the run today is two miles. I just about lost it. That's like nine football fields more now to run. 

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:07:07] You run as fast as you can as far as you can. Then you want to throw up because you're just so exhausted. That's me at a mile and a half. He just said two miles.  I'm panicking, literally panicking. I know how important it is for the women of the world. I need to make this run. I want to make this run.

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.):[00:07:29] I'm not going to let them kick me out. I've got a pretty strong constitution I think because I’ve got to grow up with my dad who had gone to Vietnam and all these things. 

I didn't know where it came from really and then I looked over and there were two other women in my group of about 40 people in this formation running also it’s very difficult.

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.):[00:07:48] You have to be in step and I'm only five-five. My little legs don't stretch the same way as a six-foot-five guy would in my organization. 

We started off and immediately my new roommate, I had just known her one day, falls back within the first half mile and I'm looking over now really panicking. I go, I go, “holy crap. This is terrible. Oh, am I going to get all those terrible things” that you start thinking about when you're being challenged? 

Then I did the smartest thing ever. I looked over and I saw the other woman and what I did next after watching her, I made that run. I made every run. I won't say I loved it.

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:08:33] I hated it. I dread it. You get sick before the run, but I made every run that first year. That was a huge milestone because they didn't even know what women could do. They had to rate us on what they call a bell curve with data. They didn't know. I think at that moment when I made that decision and I looked over, the key was what was she looking like? The other woman was smiling.

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:08:56] I get back to your point, smiling it said “what! Something she knows. That I don't! But I want more of that! 

Dr. Michelle St. Jane: [00:09:10] Mona Lisa introduced us to it. The mystery of a woman's smile is hiding a lot of energy that lifts beneath her wings. 

Deb, you're all about leading. When it comes to making stress your superpower. Clearly, you're in the right place. 

Dr. Michelle St. Jane: [00:09:25] Share with us about what leadership principles you live by. 

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:09:29] The leadership principle, I think I'll say first, I'll say my life ones is about: 

live life to the fullest, with love in service

Live to the fullest, with love in service. We want to love deeply, but there's a lot of things that get in the way of that.

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:09:48] Leadership is about loving people. You love people. I know you do. You love to be with people. 

If you don't love people, then leadership isn't really going to work. Knowing in service, if you put yourself at the center, I want Me, me, me, me, it's for me, me. Sometimes I use the “I” word in me and I'm like, Ugh! That's really not what motivates me.

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.):[00:10:11] You care about serving others and making life better. There's a whole lot of opportunity out there. Leadership really came about not because I was successful in the beginning. In the beginning, I was being judged by the cover. I was a woman in a male institution. I had to learn things differently.

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.):[00:10:31] Women are very good at that. I was reading about women who work with mechanics. There. are huge tires on those big vehicles. Well, some men probably shouldn't be doing this were hefting them with their upper body. Well, women can't do that, they have the lower body strength to match most men. They were able to use their legs.

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.):[00:10:53] You just do it differently. Leadership had to be something where something can disrupt you. In my case, I talk about trauma. If I had used that for negative, I would never have graduated.

There was one cadet that wouldn't leave me alone. Always yelling at me. Write me up. Telling me I didn't deserve to be there. All kinds of nasty things. Every day listening to this. When you hear them often enough, you listen to the voices, and you live into that. 

That first year was tough for a number of reasons. Then the crazy thing was,  one of my classmates came up to me. I’ve got to tell you that sometimes poor leaders do sometimes get the karma that follows, he was relieved of command, which is almost unheard of for the Corps of cadets.

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:11:44] You have to be really bad. He did a couple of things that got the noticed in the wrong way of the leadership. When he got relieved, I was never written up again. But that damage was already done. 

I know people have had people pick on them, bully them, and all that other stuff. But that damage he'd already done was that.

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:12:00] But then the coup d’état, I got my classmate. She was from Chicago. She came over and she said, “Yeah. Now this guy, he wants to know if you want to go out on a date.” 

You know what it reminded me of, it reminded me of the kids in the playground and young kids where the little, little boy or little girl, they liked the other one and they'll pull her pigtails, or they'll push them to the ground or do something crazy. That's how it felt. Then I thought, “Oh, that's how it works. People respond and do things, crazy things. It's not about me, but I want to figure this out.” 

I think that's why I led later into engineering. We want to figure it out. It's not judging it. It's trying to, you know, you say, “I don't want more of that.”

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:12:46] You may say that, but I don't have to say, “oh, he's horrible. He's terrible.” Well, at the time it felt that way. 

As a leader, human behavior is your key. If you have kids, you have an edge up. That's where I think men and women who have kids have a leg up because they get that logic doesn't always work, right?

Dr. Michelle St. Jane: [00:13:08] The word no is always left out of a kid's hearing. Never say “don't do that.” Say “do this” because otherwise they'd be doing the “don’t do that.” Right. 

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:13:18] You just touched on why? Years later after I started, it made so much sense. 

Do you know why neuroscience has found the mind will not recognize these negative words? You say “don't, won't, shouldn't, couldn't.” 

Tell a kid don't touch that. Walk away and see what happens. It is human nature to not to recognize those words.   

Dr. Michelle St. Jane: [00:13:46] Clearly when looking backward in the rear vision mirror, there is a lot about your training and mental toughness. Yet there's so much beauty in how you've taken the alchemy of turning it into useful strategies. 

Dr. Michelle St. Jane: [00:14:01] For example, you were talking about your very first and second day between zippers, sneakers, and endurance to actually finishing the course of about four or five years. 

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:14:16] Then spending 30 more years in the military, which, oh, by the way, had just integrated women. So, it was like Deja VU.

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:14:24] I had to do it all again, but yeah. 

Dr. Michelle St. Jane: [00:14:26] And rising to the rank of Colonel. That is no mean feat that must've been quite the adventure and I can, well, see how it leads into your work and the mental tough way. How do you like to model mental tough leadership? 

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:14:42] Okay. And I think that you have to recognize, I had to recognize when I graduated, I was now going into another social revolution, a very nontraditional, I think, where I really can help many people, but especially women who are in non-traditional roles.

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:14:58] I have helped someone go to West Point and be able to be known as the one with the best attitude. It's like, I wish I knew at that time because all I was doing was reacting and that wasn't always helpful. And then at the end though, they said women shouldn't be in combat women shouldn't be in the military.

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:15:16] I mean, I heard all the same stories again. Yet years later, as you mentioned, I was a combat commander of a $2.1 billion construction program in combat. In some of the worst fighting, they’d had at that time in Iraq. The Great Mosque of Samarra had just blown. We thought we were going to leave.

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:15:34] Not so fast. We going to stay now, how do you command in the hardest-hit area where all the explosions are? I was, I was in a building that was mortared. I was in the first convoy I was on; they were shooting at our vehicles. It's true. And yet I found out that the leadership that I gained and the way I translated it into, I need to bring out the best, no matter what's happening around me.

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:16:00] I want to focus on helping them, be my best. Have a good sense of that. 

We have a Hawaiian word called ‘Pono.’ I have a picture of an angry bull. That's not Pono when you're not phono. Every time I knew that I wasn't in a good place, I had to do something. 

Dr. Michelle St. Jane: [00:16:24] I know to put your book in the show notes. 

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:16:31]  I take people from being an angry bull to one working well with others, as say “bull in china shop.” The leadership piece of your question: as I go forward, I apply that and use it in mental toughness.

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:16:47] I had to come up with a way, resilience is a word widely used, in my perception of how that's used. It's more like I'm waiting for the next shot to hit me. Now I do prepare for the worst so I can enjoy the best, but I'm not looking for the worst. I'm looking for the best. And it's just like what I learned in anti-terrorism driver training when you're in a skid. The majority of people who have no training will look where you're heading toward a pole. Where will they look? They will look at the poll and they'll hit it. If you have the training, and this is where mental toughness comes in, you can get really good at this. And nobody understood. I have very few people who understand this.

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:17:31]  They either naturally got it. Their path brought them to a place of figuring out, Hey, these things don't work. But if you get trained, then you will be able to navigate that. You'll be able to negotiate any obstacle that comes. I think life is like an obstacle course and mental toughness is, and I have tools that are metaphors, but they also really clearly do.

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:17:55]  I have a shield because mental toughness is there are times like resilience where people are shooting at you and they don't necessarily mean to hit you, but the flaming arrows coming out, you, you need to make sure they don't land on you. A shield is really important. I talk about when people are yelling at you, it's like, I need the shield in front of me. So, I personally don't get injured or hurt, or traumatized. Like I could have been from my experience at West Point. 

The other thing I have is a sword. Some people look at that as an offensive weapon. What if it's actually for when people attack you personally, you use it to deflect things, so it doesn't land on you.

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:18:32] When the shield isn't enough, you may need the sword to keep things from landing on you because they don't mean to attack you. They're just in a bad place. But if you're the target now, so you need to do something right. 

Then the final one that actually is funny enough from a historical perspective, it's a helmet, it's Athena was the goddess of war and also the goddess of wisdom. She championed people who had a lot of wisdom.

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:19:00] The idea and leadership and mental toughness is it requires tremendous discipline, tremendous skill, and discipline. That when someone attacks you personally, not to mirror that, our mirror neurons are hardwired to mirror that negative. When you realize that you open up a whole lot of possibilities of really good options.

Then if you digress to what I will tell you is survival mode thinking fighting people, people today think fighting is the way to go from a, from a perspective of you'll live this 2,500 years ago, there was a man named Sun Tzu.

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:19:43]  Some people argue whether it was a team of people or an individual. This is attributed to Sun Tzu. He spoke 

“the greatest victory is that which requires no battle.” 

From a military guy who became a general. Exactly. 

Dr. Michelle St. Jane: [00:19:57] I usually agree a battle it's like going into the past, like that rear vision mirror, things are closer than you realize. If you're going into the past, then you're not, where I like to be, which is forward-facing and open to a better future.

Dr. Michelle St. Jane: I totally agree with what you're saying, and I love your approach.

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:20:15]  That is leadership and that is taking a look at what you just described absolutely. Is the forward view

 There's also a thing, a little trick that life doesn't tell you that I learned. This is something really, really important.

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:20:33] It's more important to be right, or to make things better? If you take what you just said is right, would say I saw something this happened. Factually you're right and it has no validity or any merit for looking forward. 

Dr. Michelle St. Jane: Exactly. And people end up self-authoring and yeah. Then they're the victims of their own stories.

Dr. Michelle St. Jane: I really like what you're saying, and I just think you're an amazing host and this space is very, very lucky to have you. I also know you're an ever-improving leader. What are you working on? 

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): What am I working on now? One is working on how to convey the message to people. Other people who don't know what we're talking about, you are well seasoned in understanding what I'm talking about. We speak a very similar language. Other people are in a very tough place. 

I just spoke to someone clinically depressed. There are some physical pieces, but our minds are such a beautiful thing that we can overcome any it's just like me running. I'd never run two miles before on that day I made it, it wasn't because of my physical capability.

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:21:49] It was because of that. Helping people see handling stress. Is probably their greatest skill. That's underutilized and underdeveloped, and they know it. They know that they're getting good at it when their day isn't filled with anger and their day isn't filled with frustration and they don't feel like they just want to run away or what the majority of people do.

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:22:14] They shut down. They're physically present, but they're not. That's how they're coping and that is no way to live life to the fullest. What I'm working on is one of these wonderful opportunities. Like you have provided Michelle to be able to talk about it. 

I also have this children’s book that came out of a presentation using cartoons. I like to make things fun. I had cartoons. If I wanted to pick somebody being angry, it's so much easier to pick the angry bull rather than an angry person that just doesn't resonate with me. I had an angry bull and a little girl in there. Her name is Kuleana. Kuleana is like that stewardship that you talk about.

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:22:59] It's, what's your responsibility. What do you do when other people are not in a good place?

📚 The book is called, Why Is Pono not Pono Today?: Bring out the best when someone is Stressed (2021)

Why is Michelle not Michelle today? She looks off what is going on? Let me find out. And that's what Kuleana is. Responsibility. Because their greatest dream is to live in the spirit, what we call Aloha the love.

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:23:23] I hope that makes sense. It's a triad. We want to be happy and live in the spirit of Aloha.

Unfortunately, we're human and those negative emotions can drag us down and pummel us. As I've experienced over and over. And then I work my way in need of help from others, oftentimes to pull myself out of that.

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:23:44] Or get tips or suggestions on, okay, you've done this before. What would you recommend? It doesn't take days to recover from something. The book is out on Amazon. It's been donated by a number of nonprofits to schools. I've done readings in schools. I actually created an online program for that.

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:24:04] I continue to do what I do really well. Like the young lady going to West Point. I have what I call laser focus sessions. I refined all this information, and then customize it for someone who's going off to do something very tough or they can't move past something terrible that happened to them. 

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:24:24] That was at work. Maybe they had this dream job in somebody's being mean to them. I've had 10,000 people yell at me and be mean to me. It's like, okay, if they're mean to you now. 

What are you going to do? 

How are you going to handle it?  

I'm also creating online courses. I have over 3000 people. 

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:24:44] I have two courses during the COVID. I created one on how to handle extreme stress and another one called stress basics. One is extreme stress because you have no stress skills will drive you deeper into depression or anger or whatever it is that is limiting your choices to just three.

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:25:05]  All of them make you. All of them make you sick. That's one course that is changed lives just by people knowing step one. 

Do you know about breathing the waterfall technique? People say, oh, breathing's natural. I would tell them, no, it's not.

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:25:25] Have you ever seen someone have a panic attack because of all the stress that’s landed on them. They can't handle it. Well, what if you never had to have a panic attack, but you actually could do what you needed to do and get through a tough time and actually enjoy it because you know, you can. 

Dr. Michelle St. Jane: [00:25:42]  Many don't realize that breathing, although it comes naturally. We may be habituated to do it very shallowly. 

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:25:50]  As a baby, we knew how to do it. Yes. Hey, 50% of the people only use 50% of their lung capacity. 

Imagine how important oxygen is for our thinking or clarity of thinking. When you start holding your breath, which is what happens when an incident or some trauma happens.

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:26:10] Your breathing is disruptive. I had someone who was actually having a heart attack and I didn't know it. I just thought I knew he was very, very uncomfortable. I said, whatever you do breathe, keep breathing, keep breathing, keep breathing, keep breathing 

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:26:26] I would say 95% of the people who have that kind, probably die. We were lucky enough to be near an emergency place where they could take care of them. A fire station was about four miles. 

Dr. Michelle St. Jane: [00:26:41] If you were in control of a different tomorrow, what would it look like Deb?

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:26:45] It would look probably the same. We have challenges because we always will have challenges as human beings. 

But it would be like our conversation here today. 

Of mutual respect. 

Of working together. 

Of sharing ideas.

And knowing that every single person out there is a special gift to this world.  

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:27:09] People judge people all the time by a cover: 

you're a woman, or 

you look like you're so nice. 

You obviously don't know anything. 

You know what? The nicest people are the ones who've been through the war and back because they choose to be happy. 

My perfect world is that we take all these indicators, which is why they've created all these government organizations that are dealing essentially with, we need to treat people with: 

💪🧠💪 honoring them, 

💪🧠💪 respecting them, 

💪🧠💪 engaging them and 

💪🧠💪 working well with them.

We've given them a layer of mental toughness 🧠💪. 

When people do dumb stuff, don't take it personally. Don't go off in some negative and tangent.

We say find a way to have a laugh about it. And it's funny that people say that because when people are angry, the last thing they think of is being angry about it. 

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:28:08] For example, we had a rule in the army. That if you heard someone start going in that negative direction, you could throw paper wads at them and get their attention. Now if it didn't work, you have to figure out what works for you. But in that particular job, one person had such a horrible day, he came in, he saw the bucket of paper wads. He dumped the entire bucket on his head. He said exactly what he wanted, which was completely unfiltered and negative, but we were laughing so hard that we could move on. 

We seem today to be ultra-sensitive. People would say I was sensitive. I'm sensitive to negativity in the room. That's true, but I am not sensitive in a way that someone says something that is negative.

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:28:49]  I go attack them. That is not leadership. That is just being reactionary and going to our base instinct of survival mode thinking.  I would say dumb stuff happens, but people are paying attention and they do something about it immediately. To address it and mitigate it at the lowest possible level.

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:29:09] Just like Sun Tzu said, “the greatest victory is that which requires no battle.” Now, occasionally I do have to say there is a time you have to fight, but not necessarily in what you think. You have to count the cost first. 

My fighting was standing up to someone who was obliterating everybody else. I now have more skills so that things don't land on me.

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:29:32] I don't mean that I don't get affected by negativity in the air or especially really corrosive negative. But I will make sure that my response to people if they respond from kindness and love, they will have one  

Dr. Michelle St. Jane: [00:29:45] I love the fact that you say, 

🦸🏿 “make stress your superpower.” 🦸‍♀️

I'll use the analogy of the largest island in the world. I was in Perth, Australia once. I landed in a desert and went to a conference that ran for four or five days. It rained the whole time. There were black-suited men running around with flowery umbrellas. 

Then we came out, we had a day off. We went out to see some of the amazing Australian highlights. 

And the desert had flowered. Surrounded by all these wildflowers in blue. It was just a carpet of them. 

I totally respect and appreciate that you bring this wisdom into the world: 

🦸🏿 “make stress your superpower.” 🦸‍♀️

It can be your friend or your enemy, and we're not promised that all are going to be well. Life is ups and downs and without the rain, the desert doesn't flower.

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:30:45] We in on the big island of Hawaii, which is where I am, we're 4,000 square miles. And we have 11 of 13 climate zones. What you described happens exactly in one of our climate zones, up a high on the mountain where it rains the flowers, bloom. You don't need to do a ton differently, maybe only 5% differently in thinking about how you're approaching everyday situations or people who you just want to run away from.

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:31:14] You know that they're important. Maybe they’re a family member. You have such power within yourself. And if you don't have it, I'll guarantee, you know, someone who can help you do it. 

I had some people say, “Hey Deb, before you send that next email out, when someone sends you a negative one, call me, I don't care if it's two in the morning or whatever.” I personally thought I had done my job and taken all the emotion out.

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:31:38] They say, “I don't have enough time to clean up your mess.” I'd say, “okay, sure. I'd like that.” 

That's what I do. I have people in my inner circle who I am constantly with. Then I have a much broader circle that is saying, “Hey, this is your area of expertise.” 

We all need help at some time. We also can help others when they need it and pay attention to it.

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:31:59] I love doing it. I have stress tools on my mentallytoughwomen.com. On my stress tools, you can find links to get to the free courses. You can find out what other things that I'm doing now are going to be constantly changing.

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:32:20] Right now is an exciting time. Sadly, we have a great need. We have a lot of people wanting to address the individual hurts. I would caution the people who are doing that to say, “you need to work with others to find out no one has a lock on being treated horribly. No one has a lock on being targeted.”

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:32:41] This has been going on for centuries. If we don't come to a common ground and work together, we know what's going to happen. It's going to keep getting worse, in all those major areas. And it takes people like you who say let's give a voice to help people understand something that they may not have.  I look forward, let's be a chorus together. 

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:33:03] Make beautiful harmony together. How about just love life, live life to the fullest, and love and serve others. That's where the joy comes from. 

Dr. Michelle St. Jane: [00:33:16] It can be as simple as a smile. I'm one of those people who always smile. I smile at strangers. That's my superpower is my smile. In the pandemic, I've realized how much struggle is out there behind the masks.

Dr. Michelle St. Jane: [00:33:32] I make a point of smiling when I'm driving. Smiling, even behind my mask so that my eyes will light up. A small as a great place to start, you know, we're human. 

Deb, as we wrap up any last words. I will have all of your details in the show notes. 

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:33:54] I love music because I think music reaches the soul.

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:34:00] When you understand leadership in this way, you touch people. They want to be with you. 

There's a song that came out during COVID that was led by Thomas Rhett and others like Reba McEntire, Hilary Scott, Chris Tomlin, and Keith Urban about being light.  

I think I want to lead people to say in a world full of war, be peaceful because people were fighting. Be the peace, be the unifier, bring them together and in a world full of hate. 

Be alive.

We were born to shine.

We were born to love life and to be happy.

If you can't find that joy, then figure out how to do it.

Like an engineer, figure out what brings you joy, because if you don't come from a place of joy and love, the rest, doesn't really matter much.

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:34:48] That's what mental toughness gives you. Mental toughness gives you that when the flack and the garbage is landing on you, you flick it off. You don't let it stay in the reside and take up space in your brain and your body, which will only, as we know, make it harder for you to survive. People, get diseases, people feel sick, people lose, they cut off relationships that have been so meaningful over a topic, a single topic.

Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.): [00:35:15] We are more, so much more than that. Be a light. That's what I want and be mentally tough. Go get what you need to be mentally tough. And when you learn how to be mentally tough, all the rest will fall into place. All those dreams that you wanted to achieve, those wonderful relationships that you couldn't hold on to because you know how to approach them, especially when the going gets tough. As the saying goes the tough get going.  

Dr. Michelle St. Jane: [00:35:44] Much wisdom in your words, Deb. I really appreciate the massive contributions you make in the world as you lean into a legacy of making stress, your superpower.

Outro:  Dr. Michelle St Jane is a conscious steward as meaningful leadership in the world and the wider cosmos. Tune in for real talk around life, leadership, and your conscious journey. Be ready to create and cultivate your dreams and wholehearted desires. Your support is valued. Please follow, subscribe, leave a review and a rating. More importantly, share with your connections.


Reach out.  I am interested to hear from you. Do you have a topic you'd like to explore? It would be great to have your feedback.

Dr. Michelle St Jane

TEDxWoman Speaker |  Author  | Video, Podcast Host: Life & Leadership: A Conscious Journey 

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Deb Lewis (Colonel, USA Ret.)

★ Founder of Mentally Tough Women ★ Author

Daughter, sister, wife, mother, West Point Pioneer ★, retired Colonel, Combat Veteran,
Infinite-Win Engineer, MBA from Harvard, Author, Speaker, Community Leader,
& Mental Toughness Expert.