Jay Tiegs – Why HARD is the Key to a Great Life (316)

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Jay Tiegs is a Certified High-Performance Coach and transitioning veteran with over 25 years of military service. His mantra “Do Hard Things” has enabled him to overcome many struggles in his life and achieve success, from a directionless teenager who grew up in a fatherless home to a commissioned officer in the US Army, where he successfully commanded two units that specialize in leadership development.

This is an inspirational conversation about adaptability, transition, reinvention, and transformation. We talk about Jay’s 25-year career in the Army – how he narrowly avoided committing suicide – being raised by his Father’s ex-wife (who was not his mom) – how becoming part of a team made him feel something new – making amends with his birth mom just before she died – how combat engineers use SOSERA (Suppress, Obscure, Secure, Reduce & Assault) to remove obstacles in war – Why the military creates so many great leaders – How Jay’s purpose extends beyond his uniform – Why HARD (Health, Affluence, Relationships & Development) are the keys to a great life – and how the Do Hard Things Nation is teaching people the confidence and the courage they need to push through barriers and make amazing breakthroughs.

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Podcast with Jay Tiegs. Why HARD is the Key to a Great Life.


people, military, life, obstacle, army, running, officer, hard, jay, feel, started, confidence, easy, officer candidate school, college, leaders, years, led, thinking, ultimately


Mike Malatesta, Jay Tiegs

Mike Malatesta  00:04

Hey, everyone, welcome back to the show. I’ve got another amazing guest for you today. I’ve got Jay Tiegs on the podcast. Jay, welcome to the show.

Jay Tiegs  00:17

Yeah, thanks for having me on. It’s honor to be here.

Mike Malatesta  00:21

So I’m gonna label this one, a story that you’re going to hear of adaptability, transition, and reinvention. And you’ll find out why I label it that way. And maybe Jay will find out why I labeled it that way. As we go through, I do want to say right off the bat that if you’re watching this, or you want to watch it, Jay has an amazing t shirt on that says “dominate.” And the US flag on the right right-hand sleeve, short sleeve. So it’s a really cool shirt. And like, we were kidding before we went on, you know, if you wear a shirt like that, you better be ready to bring it. So Jay is definitely ready to bring it today. So let me tell you a little bit about Jay before we get started. Well, first of all, Jay is a certified high-performance coach and leadership speaker. He helps veterans, executives and entrepreneurs improve their time-management skills, develop courage and confidence — I want to dig into that for sure — and develop discipline so that they can lead more effectively and have more work/life balance. As I said, he’s a high-performance coach. He’s a transitioning veteran with over 25 years of military experience and service, both as an enlisted soldier and eventually commissioned officer. His mantra “Do Hard Things” has enabled him to overcome many struggles in life and achieve success, from a directionless teenager who grew up in a fatherless home to a commissioned officer in the United States Army, where he successfully commanded two units that specialized in leadership development. Jay is also the host of the “Do Hard Things” podcast, which I had the pleasure to be a guest on. Check it out. His podcast is a top 5% podcast, located on all global platforms. He’s also a running coach, the father of triplet daughters. God bless you. Yeah, yeah, he would be an outdoor adventure enthusiast. So let’s get into this. Jay. I start every podcast with the same simple question. And that is how did it happen for you?

Jay Tiegs  02:53

Yeah, how it happened for me. You know, we talked about transformation and, and just transition. I mean, for me, I would say a culminating event was the day that I wanted to end my life. How it happened for me was that wakeup call; I had this Springfield 1911, I kept having this thought of going back behind my house and shooting myself about 10 years ago. And like so many veterans, you know, I think we, we joined the military. I know, it was this way, for me, and it is a lot for my fellow brothers and sisters in arms is that we, we run away from something in our childhood looking for something better. Not everybody, but for a lot of us. So I had a pretty traumatic, physically and emotionally abusive upbringing. And then I joined the military to serve and, you know, my whole motivation was to find, you know, role models, find the father that I didn’t have, and maybe make something of myself because there wasn’t anything for me back home, and that broken environment. And then the army layers its trauma onto you with, you know, some of the experiences that they sent me on. So I had this like world of stuff to unpack, and it, it took me like, you know, wanting to kill myself before I finally realized that I’ve got to make some serious shifts in my life. And that was like, the light-bulb moment for me. And it was really, you know, choosing to live, that I ultimately didn’t want to end it all, because I didn’t want to leave my kids without a father. Had I had it not been for my daughters, I don’t know that I would still be here. And I chose to fight. And so how it happened for me was just recognizing I needed to put my ego aside and submit to the fact that I’ve got some stuff, I guess some demons, that I need to unpack that got myself in trouble, and I’m in therapy to unpack some things. What I realized was I think I suffered from a fixed mindset most of my life. And then I’m like, Okay, how can I change and rewrite the script? How can I change this? I can’t go on living like this. So what do I need to do to change and I started to inventory all the people that I just look to up to, how can they be incredibly successful and how are they happy while they do it? What are they doing that I’m not doing? And that led me down the path of personal growth and development, which ultimately led me to performance coaching. And I just found that when you are performing at a high level, there’s a lot of resiliency, that’s how the army does it, and it’s very defensive in nature. So if I do these things, I’ll be a resilient person. Well, I truly feel that if you’re performing at a high level, you’re clear about who you are and what you want, and you’re taking bold action, and you’re incredibly productive, you’re doing your life’s work, and you’re, you know, focusing on how you can influence people better. Like resiliency is like a byproduct, because you’re living life on offense versus this very passive, defensive nature. So I guess that’s a long way to say how it happened for me was, you know, trying to overcome, you know, me wanting to end my life. And now I feel like I’ve completely turned it around. And I want to help other people not feel the same things, there’s lot of people out there suffering in silence.

Mike Malatesta  06:03

You hear about that a lot. You hear about veterans, and active military who struggle. Suicide is, unfortunately, way too prevalent. And, you got help; you recognized your situation before it was too late. I’m wondering what can you, and you don’t have to go there if you don’t want to, but you know, where you actually mentioned the gun that you had, and you know, what you were thinking about doing on that day? What stopped you; you said it was your children, but you went back wherever, you went anyway, with the intention, at least, so what stopped you do, you know?

Jay Tiegs  06:56

it was the thought. So, I have experienced eight other suicides in my life. And it was the thought of, I’ve had people in my life that have taken their life and that pain is amplified, like, the order of magnitude of that pain is amplified far more than any other thing, like, as tragic as cancer is, as tragic as a car accident is, I kind of understand it and compute it better. But a suicide, I just can’t. And having firsthand knowledge of that, to give that gift of pain to my children, that would be the legacy that I would leave them behind. I just couldn’t do it, because I haven’t thought about like, maybe they wouldn’t be better off without me, you know, maybe they’re gonna get, you know, the insurance money. And you know, they don’t have to deal with me being an asshole or just not showing up. And it was just, it was just like, my thinking pattern was just so off. Especially if I look back, I’m like, I just wasn’t thinking right, my hard drive was just not processing information correctly. But that was really it, like I just needed. Like, I didn’t want to leave them with that pain. Because I remember that the pain that was left with me from the people that I was close to that had ended.

Mike Malatesta  08:13

I think that’s an I’m nowhere close to being a psychiatrist or psychologist or anything, but I feel like I’ve had people in my life or people that I’ve known, who maybe weren’t close to me, but you know, ended up committing suicide and I’ve always wondered that to myself, like, what’s their thinking that it’s going to be better for them and everyone else, presumably, if they’re not here, but I feel like oftentimes, there’s this feeling that it’ll just end and it’ll end for me and annoying for everybody isn’t really the reality. It just starts for everybody else. Because as you said, you can understand people can understand when you die, you know, through an illness or an accident or whatever they don’t understand when you just . . .

Jay Tiegs  09:07

And I would have been one of those individuals that it would have been a big surprise to a lot of people because sometimes you’re just like, wow, how did that guy do that? Because I was always, especially at work, you know, I put the military first and I was highly engaged and highly successful in all that I did. I just, I really suffered in silence because I you know, as an officer in the army, you can’t show a lot of weakness, you got to stuff that stuff away.

Mike Malatesta  09:31


Jay Tiegs  09:35

And I did a very good job of doing that. Now. I was kind of irritable at times, I was miserable. I think people like manic guys kind of grumpy sometimes they could see that. But then yeah, it was just was incredibly painful to bear that burden of, I don’t know, just being completely miserable. And the pain was so much, the barrel is a really dark, bad place to be.

Mike Malatesta  10:01

I can only imagine, but how could it not be anything? But yeah, right? Yeah.

Jay Tiegs  10:10

And so yeah, that’s, I don’t ever want to be in that place again. And I know that other people suffer in silence, and you just want people to know that they’re not alone. And that they can change the trajectory of their mindset, but it’s gonna take some work, it’s going to take work. And that’s kind of the movement and the mission of the Do Hard Things Nation — to help people start, you know, rewire that mindset and change the trajectory of their life.

Mike Malatesta  10:42

And when you mentioned at the beginning, I want to spend a lot of time on the 10 years since that. But I first want to go back to, you had mentioned when you answered the How’d It Happen question, how you grew up? And I think people are interested in, I’m interested in, what led you into the military in the first place, kind of what were you thinking as a kid growing up? How were you thinking about your future, I guess?

Jay Tiegs  11:22

Yeah. So I’m first-generation American. My father immigrated here from Germany, and my mother immigrated here from Holland. And my father was a child during World War Two. And, you know, to keep a long story short, the bottom line was all the men went off there, they were all you know, the parts of German were mocked and fought in the military, the women and the children stayed behind, the men never came home. And then ultimately, they were living in a village near Berlin. And when the Soviet Union came in, like they basically put my family on a truck to evacuate them to, to another village or camp or something. And my grandmother was holding my father at the end of the truck, but all his sisters and all the women of the family were on this truck, and it came under attack. And the only people that survived was my grandmother and my father. And he basically grew up in the rest of the reconstruction, you know, without a family, and ultimately emigrated here when he was 19. Now, with all of that, that trauma that he had, as a child, he struggled the rest of his life. And so he was, you know, he was incredibly emotionally and physically abusive when he met my mother in California, that was probably life number four, I believe. And there were more since then, and there were at least nine of us children, there’s five brothers that I know that I have that, that I never met. So that kind of paints a picture of, you know, he just went from relationship to relationship. When I was around him, he was physically abusive to me and my mother. And then ultimately, he ran off with another woman, my mother was incapable of taking care of me. And then he basically had started this relationship with this other woman. And basically, that relationship ended. My mother couldn’t take care of me. So that left me with them. They adopted me, but it wasn’t a good situation. And so it just continued with the misery, physical and emotional abuse. But throughout my childhood, like I knew that there had to be something better because I’m seeing these other kids at school like, man, their family seems like they’re really well put together, what are they doing? I just had this drive of like, I know, I can get out of this situation, I know that I can, if I can just survive this. What could I do? I was fascinated with the military, given the World War Two history of my family and the US Army. And I’m like, you know, what if I joined the military, you know, this seemed like, you get to be a part of something greater than yourself. There’s a lot of role models over there. They’re gonna pay for college, you get a skill that can just bridge the gap and get there. I’ll be alright. And so that was kind of like, what motivated me as a kid, and what really helped me. And so I’m passionate about the mantra “Do Hard Things” and running. I was a paperboy in a town called Clarksville, Missouri. It’s the highest point on the Mississippi River. And there’s a huge ass Hill and I would ride my bike, I started this was 12 years old, I would ride my bike, six days a week deliver newspapers, it was a way for me to you know, earn some money, and learn a little bit of grit and discipline that I was able to get out of the house every day. So as soon as I got home from school, I could just get on my bike and go ride my bike and it felt good to do that. And, and in that, you know, I developed a pretty good cardio base and pretty good fitness base. And I had met, we had a new social studies teacher who was also the new track and cross-country coach. I delivered newspapers to his house and he kind of befriended me and he invited me out to cross country and for the first time in my life, you know, through running cross country, I was part of a team. And we had some of the cooler kids in my class I looked up to with well put together families, these are like some good kids, there’s actually, I was able to kind of fit in with them as part of a team. And we actually had a winning team. And it was the first time in my life that I had like something to really look forward to like, man if I just do this hard thing. But just because running is hard, when you’re running competition, it’s hard. And it was running sub six-minute miles, you know, I was running through my fastest 5k was like a 1545. So I’ve thrown down some fast times. And it was hard. It was so hard. I’m like if I just do this hard thing. And that’s what kept me out of trouble. It motivated me to keep my grades up, because you needed to keep your grades up. So you could, you know, run track. That kept me from getting in trouble, because I was really passionate about running track and cross country. And it was a great segue to start my military career.  When I got in the military, you know, going to basic training, I was on the running team. And, you know, I ran to the army 10 miler for Redstone Arsenal, and I was stationed there, and I got into running and that led to mountain bike racing. And that led to other adventure sports, that was all really good for me. And so long, long story short, that’s really how I ended up getting into running cross country and track and why that was so meaningful to me and helped me bridge the gap to get into the military to close out that chapter of my upbringing.

Mike Malatesta  16:22

And you went through this pretty quickly, but I want to make sure I have this right. So your father left your mother for another relationship, your mother was incapable of taking care of you. And so then your father — you went to live with the woman who was the next wife or relationship of your dad’s. Is that right? Was he still in that relationship? I could pardon? Oh, he moved on. And so this woman is in his life for some period of time, and then you become, she becomes your guardian or whatever. She adopted you?

Jay Tiegs  17:08

adopted me? Yes. But I wasn’t her birth child. So Right. Yeah. But she did have two others, I did have a brother and sister. So half-brother and half-sister from my father. Okay. And I treated them different than she he treated me because I wasn’t her birth child. Yeah.

Mike Malatesta  17:26

Did she feel obligated to take care of you? I don’t. I’m just trying to figure out the math here.

Jay Tiegs  17:34

Yeah, she felt obligated to take care of me. But I wasn’t her birth child. So they did treat me different and this was like a very impoverished home. There was a lot of I don’t know, there was a lot of gambling and I’m talking like, kind of redneck-ish, like washer dryer on the front porch. The trailer kind of thing.

Mike Malatesta  17:57

Yeah. Okay, like,not a good scenario. Like the Lang Lang. What’s her name in Ozarks? I don’t know if you’ve watched that show.

Jay Tiegs  18:10

Yeah, yes. Yes. In fact, it was. I remember when we lived in Clarksville, we made a double-wide trailer, because we took two trailers that were not supposed to be together, park them side by side, cut a hole on the side to make extra living space. So we had, we had wood heat. And I remember one winter that we ran out of wood, and we’re chopping wood in the middle of the winter. So we could have heat for the home. I mean, it was it was bad. Yeah. It was bad. So I’m talking like, completely like land wars. Yeah, absolutely.

Mike Malatesta  18:42

And do you have a relationship with your mom with your birth mom and dad now or?

Jay Tiegs  18:46

No, I kind of cut ties with them when I was in the military, I just kind of shut that door. I kept in touch with him over the years here and there. She recently just passed a few months ago and Iactually went home to visit, I got to see her right before she passed and kind of made amends. And we talked about some things and over the years, I kind of kept touch but we weren’t close. It was just something in order for me to move on and be successful, I just needed to close that chapter. And it was one of the more difficult things in my life to do. But it was necessary.

Mike Malatesta  19:24

Do you think it was the right thing to do?

Jay Tiegs  19:27

I have some regrets. Maybe not keeping as close contact? I probably could have done better. But at the same time, I don’t know if that would have served me. I don’t know. When it’s family and there’s just a complicated dynamic.

Mike Malatesta  19:41

I don’t know. Well, I’ll give you credit for going home and seeing her before because I have a friend who had a relationship similar not exactly No, no relationships are exactly but similar with his father who and he didn’t do that. And his father passed away and he didn’t didn’t do that. And I think that that’s a really, it’s probably not something you want to do, you know, I’m thinking, Okay, it’s easy to just say, Well, screw it, that person has not been much to me in my life. But there’s something about being the bigger person at the end, you know, before the end. Yeah, that’s meaningful, I think, to the person. And certainly, you know, to the, to the parent, for example, in this case, or to you, it’s just like, it’d be the easy thing to do is be like, Screw it. Yeah. You know, whatever. But the hard thing to do is to go and,

Jay Tiegs  20:37

yeah, I had reached out because I knew she was, she was in hospice at home. So I reached out, like, Hey, I’d love to see you if you’re open for me to come by, you know, because I think I was presentment for me not keeping contact as well over the years. And when I went that morning, I left early, and I basically drove around town for a good hour or two, like, how’s this gonna go, and I just what that went down, like this complete Memory Lane before I even went there. And it was a hard day, it was a, it was a hard day. So I spent a couple hours driving around town going, like, you know, when I was in high school, where I’d kind of hung out, walk the track where I used to run track, and because I had been there such a long time, and just kind of really like, going back in time is how I felt and just taking in all the emotion and it was heavy, it was heavy, then I went there. And, you know, and I, I kind of apologized, and I painted the case for why I did what I did, and think we were both at peace and standard of the rest of the day. And, and it was emotional. I mean, remember, you know, leaving that I was I was in tears and the next day being very emotional. And then ultimately, she passed a couple days later. And it was it was it was hard. It was a very hard situation. But I’m glad that I went and took the time to say goodbye and apologize and everything. Yeah.

Mike Malatesta  21:57

I think that was that was neat how you sort of observed, you know, you sort of experienced everything from your childhood to you know, like beforehand, it’s sort of it’s a way to it’s, I guess it’s a way to, you know, go down memory lane. But it seems like as you were talking about, it was also a way to sort of gain some strength to have the, the interaction and a conversation with her.

Jay Tiegs  22:22

Yeah, I just I just felt like I opened up a door of my past, I had to walk in it a little bit, spend some time there and then close it. And it’s just, I don’t know, for me, it was the healthiest thing to do for my own mental health and my own perseverance, you know, to do that.

Mike Malatesta  22:42

Well, congratulations on that. I know that. Not an easy thing. So you get in the military, as and you enlist, right. So you you what’s the rank that you have when you first Colleen.

Jay Tiegs  23:01

So I joined when I was 17, I was in the Missouri Army National Guard. And I said that you won private. And I did that for a couple years. It’s you go to basic training between your junior and senior year of high school. So that also helped me get through my senior year of high school. And then when I turned it was, yeah, 17 to 19. I was in the Army National Guard, and then I went on active duty when I was 19.

Mike Malatesta  23:28

Okay, and when you went in, were you thinking of I mean, you had mentioned before about the college, you know, being able to get the military to pay for college and that kind of thing. Were you thinking that that was definitely what you were going to do. Like that’s part of the one of the main reasons you were there, or was there something else going on?

Jay Tiegs  23:45

I knew that I just wanted to be I just wanted the adventure. And I wanted to make something of myself, you know, saw these type A guys, I’m like, Man, I’m gonna go there and be a badass, you know, and maybe Airborne Ranger, you know, and do all these crazy things, maybe be special forces. Yeah. That’s what kind of drew me as far as college. No one in my family went to college, I didn’t think that I was college material. So I’m like, I knew that was an option for me. But I’m like, I’ll probably never go to college. And I just because no one had really pushed that onto me and hindsight being 2020 I could have completely went to college. If I could do it all over again, I probably would have pursued an ROTC scholarship. Or maybe we’ve gone to one of the service academies. I was I was smart enough. I just didn’t have the confidence and courage in myself. When I joined the military, I was I struggled to make eye contact. I struggled to use my voice. I was very timid, didn’t have a lot of confidence. And so I was just like, it was just I just want to get to basic training, and just go maybe, maybe I can get around these other people though. They could whip me into shape. That’s what I was. Yeah. Okay. But what I learned was in the military, even if you’re going to make a good career, you’re going to have to go to college. So I basically, role models encourage was me and pushed me to get my ass in school and I started chipping away at it. I

Mike Malatesta  25:04

did it. And I think it’s amazing that not only did you do that, but you also earned. I think he said two master’s degrees while you were in the military as well. Just to be clear, I think you’re you’re transitioning out of the military. You’re not out of the military yet, though. Is that correct? stolen? Yep. I’ll yeah. Okay. Next year, officially, March next year. Okay. So the, the, yeah, so college degree, master’s degree number one, Master’s degree number two, so you’re really doing more than most people? You know, ever do certainly not with a full time job. And you also become an officer. Like, so there’s that common by the way? J, is it common for people to move from? You know, coming in as an enlisted personnel? I don’t know, is that the right thing to say now enlisted? Is that still listed? Yeah. And becoming an officer?

Jay Tiegs  26:02

Yeah, it’s a very small percentage that actually, in fact, when they’re, they have officer candidate. There’s basically three different commissioning sources. You have the service academy. So you have the Naval Academy at West Point, West Point for the army. And you have you know, ROTC through your college program. And then you have Officer Candidate School. And Officer Candidate School is primarily for the enlisted. So there are individuals that if they had a degree already, and they joined, they enlisted to the army, they would go to basic training, and then they go to Officer Candidate School. Or if you’ve already been in the army for a minute, like I was a noncommissioned officer, you apply, then you go to Officer Candidate School. So that’s the way but it was a very small percentage that did that. So I went from E one to E seven. So I was a higher ranking noncommissioned officer before I before I went, and yeah, went to Officer cannon school, as honor graduate of class for Levin, and completely changed the trajectory of my military life, because it’s a different different type of work altogether.

Mike Malatesta  27:01

And who was the person or persons who sort of got you on that track? Yeah, I think you sort of sort of referenced that, you know, you had people who sort of encouraged you to take that track.

Jay Tiegs  27:14

Yeah, I had some just really influential officers throughout, throughout my years that I just, it just inspired me to, I mean, I had great NCOs are like, Hey, if you’re, if you’re gonna make something of yourself, while you’re in the army, you got to get your college degree. And if you want to accelerate, even on the noncommissioned officer side, I mean, you have to have a bachelor’s degree, if you’re gonna make like a senior enlisted rank, so I’m like, Okay, I just need to bear down and do this. In addition to know, it kind of, really, there are a lot of other people that are taking advantage of the college opportunity there. So when you’re around other people, it becomes like expected of you to do that. So I’m like, I’m gonna get myself in school, and I want to achieve that rank, and I want to push it so I can do this. And once I got into the rhythm of going to school, it wasn’t so bad. That was difficult. It took me 10 years to get my bachelor’s degree. But man, it you know, doing this in between field exercises, it’s, you know, being in the military and going to college in the evening, is probably the hardest way to go to college. But I got it done. And it’s the same way. You know, once you become a commissioned officer, you’re expected to have a master’s degree. And oh, by the way, as an engineer, they had this other program where you can pick up a master’s degree at the captain’s career course and like, so that it just kind of worked out for me. But it wasn’t the trajectory of what I thought I would do when I initially joined. And but But to answer your question, I just had some phenomenal leaders, some of the most amazing people physically, from just values based leaders that were just exceptional human beings, like those role models that we’re looking for. I mean, there’s so many remarkable leaders in the military. I mean, there’s so many countless people that inspired me, I think it’s like, you know, Colonel Sam Volkman, or Colonel Galinhas. They were all young lieutenants, majors and captain’s when I’d met them, but they have flourished. You know, all these remarkable leaders that just kind of encouraged like, you know what, I can do this, I had lots of like, you know, what, you carry yourself like an officer, and you’re intelligent. Why don’t you Why don’t you do that. And so, what happened to me was, I went to Iraq and oaf one. So the first in 2003. I was there. And when I had came back, I went on recruiting assignment. And it was in that recruiting assignment that there’s typically a three year tour. It ultimately became a six year tour for me because we have the triplets during that timeframe. And I was able to finish my college degree, which is requirements for Officer Candidate School, but also as a combat engineer. And when I was initially trained, we were trained to go out and you know, we in place obstacles or we remove obstacles. We’re the guys that go out and put in minefields or remove minefields. Well In Iraq, the IED threat the in the improvised explosive devices were, were really ramping up. And so my my job skill had completely changed significantly due to the IED threats. And because I was in recruiting duty, I didn’t feel like I had the skills, because I was gonna go right back into a leadership position. I’m like, this is a great segue for maybe me to pursue this path as a commissioned officer. Because I would probably, although I was accelerate, my career had been accelerated. Going back at that time, I probably would have been actually technically behind. For my technical proficiency. I’m like, this was a great segue for me to pursue going to Officer Candidate School. And it worked out great, I did that I excelled at that. And I became an engineer officer. So same career field, but as an awesome,

Mike Malatesta  30:52

so removing obstacles, that’s that that’s a that’s a, I think about removing obstacles in all different parts of life, right? So doing hard things, for example, just removing obstacles, whether they be in your brain or your body, or, you know, your geography or whatever. But tell me, I’m interested in like, you mentioned the IEDs. But what kind of planning goes into removing obstacles? In a war zone, for example, like, can you take us through an example of something you you’ve done and how you did it?

Jay Tiegs  31:28

Yeah, so we have this, we have this thing called so sir ace, and it’s basically a reminder of the steps that you would take because when the obstacle is in place by the enemy, they’re expecting you to be there. And in fact, you know, when you when you maneuver to an obstacle is probably one of the most dangerous places on the battlefield. Because the enemy is, there’s obviously there’s usually a natural obstacle. And so that there’s when you’re, when you’re looking at how to get from point A to point B to attack the enemy, you know, that you will look at terrain. And obviously, well, there’s a mountain here, it would be better for us to go up the valley, okay, well, that’s where the enemy is going to put all their opposite, let’s we’re gonna put their minefields because they, they know that you’re not going to go up the mountain, you’re going to come right into the valley, right? So they’re gonna put their obstacle there. So what we want to do is you want to suppress the enemy. So we have this new monocle Sosa array. So you’re going to suppress the enemy, you want to fix them in place, they’re going to be shooting at you. So you want to overwhelm them with fire, so they stop shooting at you. And then you’re going to obscure the objective with smoke, because you’re going to maneuver to the objective, but you’re going to need to put some smoke there. So as you’re shooting at the enemy, you’re keeping their heads down. You want to put smoke out there and obscure your maneuver to the the the obstacle so you can reduce it. So suppress, obscure, secure, that’s you getting onto the obstacle, like okay, we’re here now, but we need to because there’s going to be enemy nearby want to make sure that the reduction force is going to be safe enough to remove the obstacle. So suppressive secure, secure. Now we’re going to reduce the obstacle, if it’s mines, we would use, we would use a line charge, called a MC like a mind clearing line charge. It’s like an explosive device or we would use a C for or if it’s a wire obstacle, we would use Bangalore’s torpedoes we’ve seen like Saving Private Ryan, where they’re on the beach. And they’re like putting in these these long piles of explosives and blowing up the wire, stuff like that. Or, you know, maybe it’s just slipping the wire. But however, whatever means to basically punch a hole through this obstacle and clear it, reduce it, and then we assault through, then we then we punch through to the other side. And so this, this whole procedure that we do with these elements have to be in the proper sequence. Because if you don’t, you’re going to lose a lot of combat power. Because like I said, the obstacle is where the enemy knows that they’re expecting you to be there. So that’s where they’re going to have all their guns and they’re going to try to inflict as many casualties as possible. Example of this just recently would have been like I forgot the river that the Russians just crossed, but they just had a an abysmal river crossing. And a real thing is an obstacle. It’s the same fundamentals. Well, they didn’t execute, execute these principles. And they lost I think, a whole like, I think, a battalion size element trying to cross this river that we look at, it’s like, holy cow, they didn’t execute any of these principles, and they got their ass handed to him. Well, it’s like 73 vehicles. It’s crazy. And do you?

Mike Malatesta  34:28

Is it normal to have time to? Well, I shouldn’t say that. There’s probably times when you have time, you’ve got intelligence, you have time, you can sort of plan your way through this. And there’s probably others when, like, in the case of an IED that you didn’t expect or something where you you encounter it and then you have to, you know, so far a like on the fly sort of thing. Yeah, yeah. Accurate

Jay Tiegs  34:53

and the principles still apply. You just do them in rapid succession with what you have. Okay, so that’s One thing that is like this, so serais is like what they dislike and like all combat engineers know what this is. It’s a battle drill that you practice over and over and over again. In fact, it’s such a I remember, like, when I was a young Trooper like, we would we it’s basically like a football play. We would actually like part of our we would do PT in the morning and the petite certainly, okay. We’re gonna we’re out on this feel like, okay, here’s the obstacle here, let’s run through the play and just kind of talk through it and run through it even while we were, we didn’t even have our equipment, we would just kind of talk through it like a, like a football play like a dry fire kind of thing. It was so ingrained in us. So when, when something does happen, like okay, so sorry, okay, we know that we need to do these things. Because the thing about being an engineer is that these obstacles come in a variety of different shapes and forms and we never know what we’re going to encounter, but the principles have to be the same. And that’s how we’re going to survive. Yeah, okay. What’s the battle?

Mike Malatesta  35:54

It kind of reminds me of like, cyber, you know, the, that’s the way cyber is right. cybercrime, you know, you always gotta stay ahead of, and everybody’s always trying to lure you into something that they think you’ll go into, right? Because there’s, there’s trap, except Except, you know, you’re just like physical, physical cyber, like, here’s a bomb. Or here’s where all of our tanks are waiting to, you know, attack you or whatever. Okay. All right. Well, thank thank you for taking us through that. You mentioned, you mentioned when I asked you about, you know, mentors and stuff, the incredible leadership in the military, and it made me think, to ask you, leadership, you hear that leadership is the one thing that’s everyone craves, but it’s so hard to find. And it made me think while you were talking about that, how does in your, in your estimation, at least how does the Military College is so successful at either attracting? You know, leaders, born leaders, or whatever or creating them? Yeah, what do you think?

Jay Tiegs  37:08

I wouldn’t say that I was like a natural born leader in any way, shape, or form. I mean, people that know me from when I first joined, they look at me now like, holy cow, like who are you, I had no idea that you would, you know, be this confident in this, this successful given all of the situations that you had as a child. And when I look back at, like, for what happened with me, you know, the army instills the the Army values in you from from day one, loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor integrity, because we all come from different walks of life. And we all have, we come from different socio economic backgrounds, different races, different genders, different sexual orientations now, but none of that matters in the military. None of that matters, you wear the uniform, you, you, you, you know, you live up to the Army values. So from day one, they’re instilling that in from a leadership perspective, I mean, there’s still people that join the military that don’t want to be leaders, they come in, and they, you know, they are in lower ranks, and they get out after four years. But really, if you’re going to stay in, every at every level, every rank, you have to go through some form of education. They take you through some form of school, but even even in your unit, like, they’ll identify the people that that you know, want to step up, because you’re only in the army for maybe, you know, for most people, it’s only 20 years, so the turnover is actually pretty quick. But we’ve got to develop leaders rapidly. So it’s like little things like okay, hey, private, you’re gonna be leading PT today. And it’s like forcing that individual to get out in front of his squad. And like, Okay, you’re gonna lead pt. And, you know, one of my biggest fears was always looking like a jackass in front of my work from from my squad mates, you know, so that was like, really, the drivers not looking like a fool, because they’re gonna make fun of you, you’re never gonna hear the end of it, but you would have that squad leader or that, that Sergeant there that would be like kind of coaching you through it. And that gave you courage and confidence to do it again. And through that repetition, forcing you to get out of your comfort zone, and having that coach or mentor there to force you to do the repetition. And and I think that’s why the military does it so well is because they take people before they think they’re ready, and push them into those positions, and then force them. So when I was when I was the commander and I was instructor at the engineer, Basic Officer leadership course. I was an instructor there and then I became the commander. So we basically trained every engineer Lieutenant that came, United States Army had to go to the engineer Basic Officer leadership. And we had to basically train them and baseline them to be engineer leaders. And when they left, you know, there were young lieutenants that were going to leave here in in they were still in combat rotations in Afghanistan. You know, they’re gonna lead a platoon of 4050 You know, engineers into combat, so we had to make sure that they were ready. And these are, you know, 20 to 23 year old men and women and And so in a very rapid, short amount of time, we had to basically take them and just push them hard, like just put them into positions, and give them proper coaching and guidance. And, and, and, you know, get them out of their comfort zone to deal with these things. I think that’s why the military, no, because we’re actively, we’re constantly doing that, whether you’re right, you’re not, Hey, it’s your turn to get up and lead this thing, we’re gonna put you in this position to, you know, execute this project or do these things and always trying to rotate people in and cycle them, because leadership development is so incredibly important to the military, to replenish that, that, that leadership and have that environment where we’re constantly turning leaders. And that’s one thing that I really appreciated about the military. Yeah,

Mike Malatesta  40:44

and the way you said it, there was really interesting because you weren’t, so in the military, they’re not waiting for you to raise your hand and say, I’m ready, I’m ready to take the first step. They, they, they realize, I think that most people aren’t going to just raise their hand because they don’t want to look like a fool because they don’t think they’re ready. Because whatever. So instead, we pluck you, we, we pluck you and we put you there, and we say we think you can be a leader, let’s get started. Yep.

Jay Tiegs  41:16

And that’s one thing that I’ve learned about the military is that every because you switch positions, so quickly, by the time you get something figured out, you’re already in the next role. And then by the time you get that one figured out, you’re in the next role after that. And so what I’ve learned over the years is like, cuz I used to be very nervous and self conscious about myself. And I’m like, you know, what everyone that I know is dealing with the same thing, they’re just now trying to figure out who they are. The colonel is in his position, he’s only been there for four months, he’s still trying to figure out his bearings. Now he has confidence from his previous positions. But in his current role, he’s still trying to figure it out. So everyone is in this constant state of trying to figure out their current role. And when I realized that and like, okay, it made me feel a bit better if I screw something up, or if I fall short, you know, you know, you’re gonna have some grace with people because other people are doing the same thing they know.

Mike Malatesta  42:04

And so two things you said there that I think a really important one is that it reminded me of like, the entrepreneurial journey, right, like you have to put on new hats before you’ve got them figured out. But you have some confidence or your past is sort of given you hope that you can do the do it in the future. And then the other thing is, the older I get, the more I realize that there are very few people who actually know what they think they know, or know that, like, the older I get, the less I’m sure that I know, everything. And I think that’s wisdom, right? Because you get to a certain point, you don’t have to fake it anymore. You can just be real with people. Like I’m really good at this, this and this, and you know, I don’t have this figured out yet. So I need some help figuring that out. Or you can’t rely on me to figure that particular thing out. Instead of like, oh, yeah, I got it. I got it. You know, I’ll do it. And, anyway.

Jay Tiegs  43:06

Yeah, I think it’s putting that ego aside, eventually you get some Yeah, it’s like, okay, you figure out like, okay, most people don’t know all the answers. That’s okay. Right. So at least you’re not bullshitting someone or tap dancing around something like it’s okay to not know. And find out. Yeah, yeah.

Mike Malatesta  43:20

Right. And that makes it a lot easier to to step into this. I don’t want to be a fool. And put that thinking aside and go, Well, everybody’s a fool.

Jay Tiegs  43:29

So that goes back. That’s, that’s that fixed mindset. And yeah, I will say this, the military, for the most part, is a fixed mindset organization. But I’ve learned as I broke through, like having a growth mindset, and finally breaking through that like, okay, it made the military a lot easier. And it’s made life a lot easier, because like, Okay, I don’t know everything, but I do have the capability of learning things, and figuring it out. And like, it’s okay to, like, put my ego aside, I think, I think that’s all a mark of having a growth mindset.

Mike Malatesta  44:00

So let’s, let’s, let’s talk about this. So, you took us through the how you were feeling 10 years ago? And you know, you got help and you said you had a fixed mindset at the time now you’re talking about a growth mindset. And we I mentioned at the beginning, you know, it’s a story of transition and reinvention and and then you add a transformation to it, which I should have had in the first place. What’s What’s that chapter of your transformation story? In like, because it seems to me like you made you had this horrible low, I caught you know, being at the bottom of the valley of uncertainty and call that day. And you you started climbing back out of there, and now you know, 10 years later, you’re you are getting ready to leave your you know, your your military sir Chris and be calm, the do hard things person. And I feel like there’s a lot of people, whether they’re in the military or not who go through a period of time, like 25 years you’re doing it. And maybe some of the hard times that you’ve mentioned. And instead of being excited about reinventing themselves or transformed, continuing to transform, and impact a lot of people, they start thinking, Well, what am I going to do now? Kind of thing? Yeah, 2008? Well, yeah, I’m gonna get out of the military, then what, and you aren’t doing that? Why

Jay Tiegs  45:37

I stayed in the military for a long time, because I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I grew up. Okay, and the thought of going to work for corporate America kind of scared me, because I wanted to do something where I served, I continued to, because I felt just part of this noble profession. And there’s a certain level of comfort with a two because I know the army culture. I know, the army, you know, once you get in the groove of it, yes, it’s a hard lifestyle. But it’s also very easy. I don’t have to figure out what I’m going to wear today. I know if I’m here at this time. That’s 70% of it, you know, just do what you what you need to do of getting paid on the first and the 15th. There are a lot of things about the military that just make it life easy. But you have these hardships because you’re away from home, and you do stressful exercises. So it’s kind of this weird dichotomy of like, a lot of things are easy, but a lot of things are hard. And I didn’t know what I wanted to do for the longest time until I hit the value of uncertainty. And I had that epiphany. And that climbing out of that was, it wasn’t easy. It wasn’t easy. And it took me putting my ego aside to getting myself in therapy. It took me changing my habits, changing my my friends, my friend pool, it ultimately led to a divorce along the way. And a lot of uncertainty, because when you’re still transitioning from the military now, like I feel like I’m shedding a big part of myself. However, having this new mission of being a performance coach and helping other people, I had to really tap into my purpose and realize that my purpose wasn’t tied into my military service, and that could serve beyond the uniform. And when I had reached out to some mentors, a lot of a lot of my military mentors was like, You know what, you should just stay in the army, you could stay in probably a full bird Colonel, you could do 3035 years, you’re because you’re bright officer, you’re, you know, you still have a bright future. But I had one officer in particular that’s familiar with my coaching and familiar with what I’m doing. He gave me he basically gave me permission like Jay you’re gonna be able to do greater things with coaching. And with with this movement, that you have this lifestyle brain of doing hard things that you then you ever will in the military. And so it’s okay to leave, you can leave the service at one, we’re all going to have to take the uniform off at some point. And you know, and he kind of, I felt like he gave me permission and kind of gave me the confidence I needed to like you know what, I can’t I can’t hang it up because I I thought long and hard about you know, going to I leave the Command General Staff College, he continued to stay in. And I still was still a part of me that’s like, what what would my life be like if I if I continue down that path, it’d be awesome to be a battalion commander, it’d be fantastic to be a brigade commander. But I close that chapter, I put in my retirement paperwork, and I’m now I’m going down the entrepreneurial path and trying to go in this this route. And I feel that sense of purpose and mission again, and I feel driven and I feel like I said I don’t want anyone to ever feel like I felt before and I want to help people live a better life. And so I’m excited about

Mike Malatesta  48:50

that. How to did it, did you this retirement paperwork and I have to ask them to do did you make the decision and then just do it? Or were you like, was it sitting there sort of on your desk? Like, I gotta get that? Okay. All right, no, sit

Jay Tiegs  49:06

there. It was a lot of conversations. And in fact, I was selected the top 50% of officers because every every time you get promoted, there’s a leadership school. So my next school was to go to Fort Leavenworth it Command General Staff College. Well, if your top 50% You get selected to go so I was selected to go, I had to go to my first general officer, my chain of command and basically like, ask them to write a letter for me to let me go from this release me from this, which is ultimately saying that I’m basically quitting the army essentially. Because if you don’t go if you’re hand selected, you don’t go well. It’s not going to get promoted again. So that paperwork sat there for a good month, and I had lots of conversations and I want lots of runs and just man, what am I going to do wringing my hands over this thing? And then I finally made the decision. It was basically after that conversation, that was the conversation that I needed from respected like okay, you It’s okay to let go. Why am I holding on to this thing? Because there’s still aspects of the army that weren’t serving me. I mean, one of the reasons that I wanted to kill myself because I wasn’t feeling like I was like, I just just some aspects of the army that I’m kind of over you know, I love it. But it’s a it’s an abusive relationship. I need to let this relationship go. And once once I realized that, like, I can continue to serve at the same capacity and have purpose beyond Yeah. Then that was it. That’s all I needed.

Mike Malatesta  50:31

It’s like the next hill at Clarksville, you know, with their Yeah, with your paper out, you know, now it’s time for your next

Jay Tiegs  50:39

site for the next thing. Yeah, I’m excited. So, Jake,

Mike Malatesta  50:44

you help you help people develop courage and confidence? And how I’m wondering like, how do you go about that? Because that’s a i, that seems hard. Yeah. How do you so tell me how you are how you people that you work with that you help them develop courage and confidence. How do you do that?

Jay Tiegs  51:10

Well, there are a lot of fears that that that holds us back. It’s the fears that we fear. And there’s so many people that have lofty goals, they have a vision for themselves, but they get stuck in the day to day grind, they get stuck in these ruts. And they they fear if they embark on something, they’re fearing the judgment of other people. They also fear the hardship that they might endure if I quit my job to go pursue this entrepreneurial endeavor. I may, what if I don’t make it? What if I can’t make ends meet? Maybe there’s a learning curve there, that and so there’s hardships that people have to embody to do this thing? Or what if I do all these things in the grass isn’t greener on the other side, okay, I go through this whole process. And and things aren’t better. So we tend to stay stuck with our, our familiarity, what we’re because we’ll endure that, because we’re familiar with it. A lot of people get stuck. And so I find myself as a coach, like helping people like, okay, let’s identify specifically what you want. And let’s like, what are the legitimate fears? And then how can we help some of these things. And one of the easiest things that I help people with with confidence is just really sticking to like simple goals. If I want to build confidence with someone to help them, it’s identifying simple goals, and just starting to complete them seeing them through to the finish, because so many people start something, whether it’s a health and fitness program, or maybe it’s a financial goal, or maybe it’s your relationship goal, they they’ll start down the path, but then they get distracted or unfocused, they don’t see it through. And what I’ve learned over time, is that your subconscious keep score on these things, the more things that you leave unfinished, the more that that rattles your confidence in your ability to do things. So it’s simple answer is to just start to see things through to the end, commit to things, identify why it’s important and how your life will benefit from it. And how and visualize how your life will change. And then let’s see this thing through all the way to the end. In the there’s five stages of emotional change. Have you ever seen that it’s in the 12? We hear Brian Moran talks about his book tour we hear I think about the the Valley of uncertainty because stage three is the valley of despair. Anytime that you start anything I think about like New Years, right? Everyone’s at the gym. Right? Sure. New Me, we’re working out. I’m committed to this 90 day p90x workout, but then about 30 days into it. Like it’s not fun anymore, it starts to suck. We have our old habits creep in. Well, they get in that valley of despair. It’s like, well, you know what, I’m gonna throw this this out, you know what I’m gonna try. I’m gonna order the peloton and try that program. And I’ll commit to that for a little bit. And I get tired of that. And I go into this other thing. I’ll do the ketogenic diet, maybe some other you know, so people are constantly in the cycle of not finishing things, well, that wears on your confidence. And so that’s usually one of the first places we start, let’s, let’s find something that you want to do. And let’s stick to it. Yeah, as a coach, we’ll hold you accountable to that. Like, let’s see this thing through to the end. Let’s get some reps in on that and get confident with completing things. And then once you get more confident with that, then you can take on bigger things, and you start to see things through, because that’s the one thing that I’ve learned. It’s grit, fortitude, and focus. Those are the three fundamentals of the the three valleys that do hard things nation if we can, if we can face courage and see things through when it gets tough. And if you can, you know, Angela Duckworth talks about it in her book grit, right, it’s passion and perseverance and seeing it through when it gets hard. That’s where people make the biggest impact. That’s where the breakthrough happens is seeing it through when you want to quit, and getting laser focused. Because right now we live in a society was too much distraction. There’s too much entertainment, there’s too much going on. But if we can get singularly focused, you put those three elements together, you’re going to start crushing through goals and you’re going to become more confident.

Mike Malatesta  54:59

Right. Okay. Yeah, well, I’m glad you took us through that. Because that as you were talking, I was thinking like, okay, so a lot of times for people imagining going from A to Z, it’s just too big of an imagination, right? Going from A to B isn’t. So instead of focusing on A to Z, let’s focus on getting you from A to B. And then BSc in right, and you’re building conflict. Oh, I can do this. Right? Yeah. And like the getting in shape thing reminded me like you can you can pound px night, px 90, whatever it’s called. Till it sucks, right? And but if it starts to suck more, when you look at yourself, and you go, nothing’s changing. I’m still the same. And, and then you go, Oh, well, you know, you’re still eating, you’re actually eating more. Because you’re saying you’re telling yourself well, I’m doing you know, I’m doing this workout every day. So your, your, your habits beyond that the workout habit, for example, there’s Yeah, is actually impeding your progress,

Jay Tiegs  55:57

which is why it’s so important to have accountability, like people around you that are going to the program with you, or an outside perspective, a coach or someone to call you out on it, just to see what you can’t see. Because sometimes you just can’t, you can’t see the forest from the trees, because you’re in it. But there’s some things that you’re doing that are glaringly obvious to other people, but you don’t see it yourself.

Mike Malatesta  56:17

Yeah. So how do people for whom the do hard things nation is resonating? What how do they? How do they get a hold of you, Jay, what do you Who are you looking for, you know, to be in your community? And and, and what can you promise that?

Jay Tiegs  56:35

Yes, I’m looking for growth minded people that are wanting to just they just want they know that there’s something better for them and get and creating this tribe of people at heart actually has a meaning. Do means take action. Hard is broken down into four key lines of effort in your life, your health and wellness. So being intentional every day about your health and wellness. It’s your affluence and wealth, it’s your being able to create financial freedom for yourself. So you have the freedom to do what you want and give what you want, continue to give back. R stands for relationships, so pouring into your partner pouring into your kids and your community and your friends. And then d is your development. If you’re not developing yourself, if you’re not growing, Tony Robbins talks about those if you’re not growing, you’re dying. And so having balanced in these four key lines of effort in your life, and then the things doing hard things means doing things that actually matter, are you doing your life’s work or you focus on the things that truly matter. And so it’s supposed to serve as a reminder that I can do hard things. And usually if you look at the things in your life that are worth a damn. Usually, with something that’s difficult, overcoming an obstacle, it’s, it’s pursuing that thing. That’s, that’s not an easy endeavor. But that’s usually where fulfillment comes from. And that’s usually where things that you remember in your life, anything that that you remember, in your life that was worth anything, usually is tied in with doing something that challenged you as a person. So I get people a ton because we’re doing the the apparel, you know, people wearing it, they’re like running their first 5k Or maybe they finished their first marathon or if people like, you know what, I went to a funeral today and underneath my clothes, you know, I wore this do hard things shirts, it was a reminder that I can do hard things. It’s basically, you know, just developing a resilient mindset, a life on offense, I think about Jordan Peterson like becoming a monster, he talks about being a monster. It’s like be the person at the funeral that yeah, you can you’re not going to fall apart that people can lean on be be that person be the doesn’t mean that you don’t have emotions, but don’t be the one that’s falling apart, right? Be the person that’s strong. And that takes a different type of strength. And I truly feel that if you if you can find opportunities in a controlled environment to strengthen yourself, that when life happens when suffering inevitably happens to Mueller’s hardship comes into your life because it will, that’s the one common denominator between all of us is that we have suffering, you’re going to be able to handle it but and ultimately encourage people to step up to be the role models that our society desperately needs right now our society’s void and leadership. So if you make yourself better, you can step in to your family stronger, and hopefully, you know, encourage you to be a role model in your society. So we’re looking for men and women that or you know, it’s a lifestyle brand actively pursuing difficult things a lot of its health wellness based because that’s the easy thing is you can you can exercise every day. And I do one on one coaching workshops. I’m going to be offering retreats here pretty soon I want to take people out and do like this physical engaging activity, but you know, we’re doing some high performance coaching along the way. I’m doing group workshops, and when I see for the do hard things nation is maybe a bench have coaches mindset coaches that are pouring into the community and creating this tribe of people we’re going to start hosting like, running events and things like that to challenge people. And I want to also, we’re going to start to do hard things Foundation, where we specifically work with veterans and law enforcement, and bring in coaching and retreats specifically for them to help them maybe find their next mission after their service. So those are all the things that I’m working on, but people can get a hold of us that do hard things nation.com and jcp.com.

Mike Malatesta  1:00:34

And its JJYT i e, t s.com. Sir, and yeah, so if you like what you heard, check it out. Check B if you want to become part of the do hard things nation it sounds pretty cool. Yeah. And you want to and you want to engage with Jay can set up a meeting with him and you can tell he’s, he’s ready to go. So set up a meeting with him. And yeah, learn more. So Jay, thank you so much for being on the show today. It’s been great thank you for taking us through so many different parts of your life. Both hard parts and and the inspirational while they’re all inspirational, I suppose, but hard parts and and growth parts and transformation parts and adaptability parts, all the parts thanks to

Jay Tiegs  1:01:25

appreciate why thank you.

Mike Malatesta

Mike Malatesta

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