90 Days to Do the Impossible
with Shannon Graham
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Kyle Gray: (00:37)
Hello and welcome to The Story Engine Podcast. My name is Kyle Gray, and today on the show we have Shannon Graham. Shannon is a coach who helps people do what they think is impossible. He has a really amazing process for getting you into a creative and powerful state of mind that really gives you new options and new resources that you never thought possible. He gives a couple of examples of that. Best of all, he says that this is possible in just 60 to 90 days. We chat a little bit about how you can make the rest of this year a total change in your life.
Kyle Gray: (01:18)
I hope you enjoy the show. Let’s hand it over to Shannon.
Kyle Gray: (01:22)
Shannon Graham, welcome to The Story Engine Podcast.
Shannon Graham: (01:26)
Kyle Gray: (01:28)
Now, it’s really exciting to have you here because you have so many different amazing stories and a lot of great insights for people to share. I’d love to introduce you properly by just asking you the same question I always ask my guests, tell me about a moment in your life that has defined who you are, how you show up in the world today, and what you’re really all about.
Shannon Graham: (01:51)
Yeah. A couple of years ago, actually more like five years ago at this point, I kind of had hit a wall in my business. I realized that I was unintentionally tapping my potential and my ability to produce value for the people that I work with. The short of the long of it is that I realized that I was getting paid to answer questions that I knew the answers to. That was completely based on my knowledge and my experience. Even when I was young, I remember this quote from Albert Einstein, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
Shannon Graham: (02:45)
I thought to myself, okay I’m currently getting paid to answer questions that I know the answers to. What if I got paid to answer questions in which the answers to those questions didn’t yet exist? That was an inspiring question, and the reason is because it forced me to utilize more of my creativity and my imagination and not rely so much on my knowledge and my experience. That catapulted my career into a level of work that was unprecedented, because I started taking on social impact challenges with founders that was unlike anything I had been a part of ever before.
Shannon Graham: (03:32)
The impact that I was able to make on the world was bigger. The value that I was able to bring to the table was bigger. Frankly, I was more self expressed in my work. My potential had a larger playground to come out. It was like a win/win/win situation.
Kyle Gray: (03:53)
That’s really cool. This is a really big paradigm shift, because I think in the world we live in these days, knowledge is very, very highly valued. Just to be able to step out of that and to really explore beyond what you know, and beyond what you don’t know and find the questions that you’re looking for is a really huge challenge. I think very few people are used to thinking in that kind of way. What are some of the ways that you have to kind of jar us into this much bigger, much more creative kind of thinking that you do?
Shannon Graham: (04:36)
That’s a great question. The one prerequisite for all of my clients is that they must want to do something that they believe is impossible. The reason for that is simple. If you know how to do whatever it is that you want to do, you’re not thinking big enough because if you know how to do it, then by default what that means is that the current version of you knows how to do it. That means that you don’t have to access the bigger, more resourceful, more powerful, more visionary, more creative version of you. So, you miss out on all of that. When it comes to goal setting, setting goals that you do not know how to achieve is where I like to start.
Kyle Gray: (05:29)
When it comes to a goal that you don’t know how to achieve, because you’ve worked with a lot of people from this so you actually maybe have some data around this, how long does it take on average to solve a goal that you don’t know how to achieve or that seems impossible? What does that process look like?
Shannon Graham: (05:54)
Typically, 60 to 90 days.
Kyle Gray: (05:57)
That’s a lot faster than you would probably expect, you know? I think most people would think, “Oh, that will take 10 years to do it, something I think impossible.” It’s impressive.
Shannon Graham: (06:17)
Figuring out how to do it takes 60 to 90 days. Actually doing it takes anywhere from three to 10 years just depending on the scope of the project. Yeah, so it’s relatively easy to figure out impossible questions when you create a scenario where you are able to access more of your potential and new ways of thinking because then you have access to solutions, and resources, and creativity that you just didn’t before.
Kyle Gray: (06:51)
Can you give us some examples maybe from your own story or maybe from people that you’ve worked with? Because I imagine some pretty big shifts. Once you’ve taken this problem that once seemed impossible, and now you’re like, “Oh my gosh, now I know how to solve it.” What are some of the differences in how they approach things, and what they do, and the choices that they make?
Shannon Graham: (07:17)
I’m not quite sure what you’re asking.
Kyle Gray: (07:19)
I guess I would explain once you’ve been working with somebody for 60 to 90 days, and they’ve come to the realization now, “Oh, this thing that I once I thought was impossible is now here.” I guess you mentioned they have more creativity. They have more solutions. What would they do? Perhaps somebody was approaching this one way, and then all of a sudden they started doing things very differently and they took this absolutely creative approach that we never could have expected from that.
Shannon Graham: (07:51)
Sure. I get what you’re saying. It’s not uncommon for them to radically change their business model or completely depart from the old one and create something entirely new. It’s literally the equivalence of a horse and buggy versus a car.
Kyle Gray: (08:12)
Shannon Graham: (08:14)
So you’re looking at the horse and buggy, and you go, “Well, we should probably get rid of the buggy, and we should probably get rid of the horse, and we should probably just make a car.” So, yeah there’s a new approach to how things are done, and that new approach to how things are done comes from a new version of them as a person. So, their identity changes. The “who” that’s operating the whole thing changes. At the end of the day, behavior is driven by identity. When you live in a world where you’re not tackling the impossible, you have a certain identity. When you decide to take on the impossible, your identity changes.
Shannon Graham: (09:10)
That’s honestly is where one of the biggest shifts is, is in the identity. The third thing I would say is that there is a big upgrade in a person’s ability to take ownership, their ability to take ownership for being the creator of reality. It’s a deeper level of ownership. It’s a level of ownership that they’ve never experienced as well.
Kyle Gray: (09:39)
That’s incredible. Maybe an anecdote or a story to put on top of that, but that brings it back to that horse and buggy analogy. I once heard that in the 1800s some academics were doing a study of New York. They thought it was only going to be able to get to 10,000 or 20,000 people, not a big size at all, because if the population grew beyond that there would be too much horse food to manage on the island because there would be so many horses and buggies roaming around the island. This constraint that was totally irrelevant to what actually happened, people who were kind of in their mind, saw it coming like that.
Shannon Graham: (10:30)
Kyle Gray: (10:31)
I think just the horse and buggy analogy, that struck me. I love that this is possible within 60 to 90 days, because right before we got on the recording you were mentioning you are really an expert at creating great results in these 90 days of the year, and you’re working people through a little bit of a program. I’d love to hear some of your suggestions on what it takes to make these 90 days
Kyle Gray: (11:00)
That’s the best part of your year.
Shannon Graham: (11:02)
Yeah. So, first of all, we have to start with the premise that you most likely have far more potential than you demonstrate on a daily basis. So if we agree on that, then we can pre-assume there’s a lot more that you can be, that you can do that you can have, that you can give. And if that’s true, then that simply means we just have to figure out how to tap into it.
Shannon Graham: (11:32)
And so, tapping into it partly has to do with the setting of the goals. Potential is a funny thing, it only comes out when it must. A professional athlete’s a great example, they are a peak example of athleticism because they have to be, in order to compete at the highest levels, you have to be in great shape. There’s no two ways about it. So the potential, they can run faster than most people. They can jump higher, they can do whatever. They have access to more of their potential than most people because they have to. Most people don’t have to. And so, part of the deal of making the last 90 days better than the whole rest of the year combined, is understanding that there’s way more potential for you to realize that in order to achieve it, you must set goals that are beyond you so that you can access more of that potential.
Kyle Gray: (12:30)
That’s powerful. That’s taking a big leap of faith. Those are the kind of where you’re either bringing on a new team member or changing your situation so drastically that you have to act. Because an athlete, why they’re forced into that is they’re competing and they’re forced into these kind of uncomfortable situations where there’s things that are kind of pushing their limits from the outside. And so, if we can put ourselves into a situation where we’re no longer so comfortable and we are challenged in new and powerful ways, that’s kind of what can actually create the results in the first place.
Shannon Graham: (13:14)
That’s right. No pressure, no diamonds, as they say.
Kyle Gray: (13:19)
Yeah. So, what would a starting exercise be or how can some people prompt themselves? Is this something that most people would instinctively know like, oh, this is the kind of thing I need to do, or how can we dig inside to find that problem or that situation to pursue and go for?
Shannon Graham: (13:42)
Well, a lot of it Kyle, really comes down to honesty. And that’s probably a little bit of a curve ball for some listeners, but it really comes down to honesty. There’s usually, with most people that I sit down with, there’s usually something inside of them really big that wants to come out, and they know what it is. They just ignore it. So, your business, your body, your relationship, it’s usually something like that. There’s almost always a difference between where people are and where they want to be, where they are and where they want to be. But they know what this is. They know where they want to be. They either just doubt it or they get comfortable or something to that effect. Typically one of the two.
Shannon Graham: (14:37)
And so, the first part is to just get brutally honest and say, this is what I want and to just own it and say, this is what I want. I want this type of business. I want to make this much a month, this much money. I want to have this type of body. I want to have this kind of relationship, whatever. And just get really honest and own that. And then, to think about, okay, in that world, how do I, most people are like, well, why don’t you start with small steps so that you can build your confidence. I actually believe it should be the opposite. You should make it so big that you’re like, okay, what’s the thing that you want? And then go to the highest level with it so it becomes so inspiring that you have to grow past who you are today to be able to even achieve it.
Shannon Graham: (15:32)
And so there’s a little bit, there’s an honesty component, and then there’s a big thinking component.
Kyle Gray: (15:39)
That is powerful and I think there has to be a first step within it. So what does it look like once you see like, wow, I have to get to way up here.
Shannon Graham: (15:52)
Kyle Gray: (15:52)
And now I’m carrying it out in these 90 days.
Shannon Graham: (15:55)
Yeah. So, the first step sometimes is the most important. It’s like a domino. The first domino essentially tips over all the other ones. And so, the idea is to create something that’s really big and then think about, okay, if I reverse engineer this, what is the first step? What is the first most practical yet needle moving steps. So needle moving means. The thing that’s going to move the ball forward the most, right? There’s a great movie called, The Pursuit of Happiness. And in that movie, Will Smith plays a guy who gets an internship at a stock brokerage. And he has a really rough kind of situation. He’s homeless, he has a son, he’s a single father and he’s really just trying to get by. And he lands this internship and his job is to call people at this company and pitch them these opportunities. But he gets to the office and he just doesn’t have time. He doesn’t have time to call everybody on the list. It’s a big list and he just doesn’t have the time.
Shannon Graham: (17:19)
And so, the list is created from top to bottom, meaning you have the CEO at the top all the way down to the janitor at the bottom. And most people start at the bottom and they work their way up the list and he just doesn’t have the time. So it’s this very iconic moment where he’s looking at the list, it’s really long, he feels overwhelmed and he just circles the name at the top of the list and it’s the CEO. And he calls him and he gets on the phone with him and he sets up a meeting and then they eventually end up doing business together. So, that’s what I would call a needle moving activity. So you take the big goal and then you reverse engineer it back to what is the most simple needle moving activity that I can do right now.
Kyle Gray: (18:03)
So, I love that example, and this calls to mind another story that I’ve heard you tell from the stage about a client doing a needle moving activity through the coaching, which I believe was increasing the economy of New Zealand by a substantial amount. Can you give us a quick glimpse into that whole process with him and-
Shannon Graham: (18:34)
Yeah. So essentially, we worked together on raising the GDP of New Zealand by raising the GDC, which is goes to domestic confidence. And essentially what we did, the solution that we came up with was a model of the four minute mile that Roger Bannister did. What’s interesting about mass collective consciousness and collective potentiality is that in order for it to upgrade, it only requires one person to do it. So for example, when Roger Bannister broke the four minute mile, he was just one person. But after he did it, that same year, a handful of other people did it and now high school kids do it for fun.
Shannon Graham: (19:24)
So, that’s pretty deep if you think about it. That means that all of the world can uplevel its consciousness or its potential, simply based on one person doing it. It’s not this long diffusion of innovation where it takes a certain percent of the population and then the consciousness upgrades, it takes one person. With 7 billion people on the planet, that’s pretty profound if you think about it. And so, we decided to model idea and we teamed up with a guy who was an inventor and we got his transportation technology picked up by India, who was on the lookout for new cutting edge technology. And so, that created a ripple effect in New Zealand where these other inventors and scientists looked at that and said, wow, no one’s ever done that before. I bet I could do something like that too. And so that sparked this wave of confidence. And now, the New Zealand economy is thriving. For the first time ever, technology is a major, major contributor to GDP in New Zealand and it’s speculated to be the number one contributor to GDP very soon. So, that’s an example for you.
Kyle Gray: (20:46)
That’s a really cool result. And you tell it crisply and simply like it was, we did step one, two and three, and obviously this. But, I think the magic happened in there is what you’ve been describing over the whole podcast. Be challenging yourself to, how could I ever even do something like this? And then being open to that and allowing opportunities to come that way. There was a lot of, there was a lot of really big leaps of faith that happened during the whole process that created the result.
Shannon Graham: (21:25)
Totally. I would agree.
Kyle Gray: (21:28)
Yeah. I think that that’s just, I don’t know, a phenomenal example of what the highest level is. What’s a couple of other of your favorite stories or maybe results that have come from making these last 90 days of the year, maybe people you’ve worked with before or something you’ve done yourself during one of these 90 day experiments that it’s really created a fun result?
Shannon Graham: (21:57)
Yeah. I mean, there’s just so many.
Shannon Graham: (22:01)
You know everything from people revolutionizing their marriages to doubling their business. Just people, people dreaming up plans to completely revolutionize the health care system when initially they just had plans of being kind of a normal doctor. It’s amazing how ambitious people get when they get a little taste of doing the impossible.
Kyle Gray: (22:32)
That is just fascinating. Is there something that you do every day or in the morning to get started to even like prime this level of thinking? You’re probably used to it now and are working it all the time. Is there a practice that can be put into place to create more ideas like this?
Shannon Graham: (22:57)
I think the funny thing about imagination or creativity is it’s a muscle and so the more you use it, the better you get. And so I have what I call a fluid practice. There’s two types of practices static or a fluid. A static practice is you sit down for a specific amount of time.That’s static. And then there’s fluid, which is, it’s just happening throughout the day. Some people sit down for 30 minutes every day and they meditate and some people are just kind of in a state of flow and meditation 24 hours a day.
Shannon Graham: (23:42)
So that’s how I think of creativity. I do some static practice of creativity, but then I’m just fluid with my imagination so that that muscle is constantly being worked and I’m working it in two ways. I’m thinking about my clients and their goals and their and their legacy level visions and I’m using my creativity towards that. And then I’m just using it for fun because the fun side actually has a lot of really valuable stuff in it. And so the more you give yourself permission to bring that to life, the more that crossover begins to happen and you begin creating solutions that was a function of being really having flow. Yeah. Having fun.
Kyle Gray: (24:36)
I love that. This is actually something that I’ve been working on about myself for a long time working in marketing or startups and with businesses. I was always very much focused on bottom line, what’s going to create results. And I’ve had lots of creativity, in kind of my upbringing and my life beyond it. but I didn’t leave a lot of room for it because it was like, no, that’s not important. We’re just focusing on the bottom line. I really discovered that this, this kind of imbalance. And the more over this year that I’ve been allowing more room for just fun and excitement and expression to be built into what I’m doing. It’s influencing, you know, how I’m showing up and the decisions I’m making now, which are hugely impacting. I just love, yeah. I think there’s so much to be said to just allowing somebody to have fun and enjoy and get lost in that creativity too. So much more of your brain.
Shannon Graham: (25:49)
Yeah. Well, there’s two aspects to that that I can talk to that I think are really important. The first is if you’re not having fun in life than what’s the point? Like I know plenty of people that have quote unquote successful businesses that are not having fun and their life is miserable. I would not trade my life for them. There is for a minute. So that’s part one. You should just have fun just because it’s important to have fun. It’s, it’s good. It feels good. It makes you happy. Simple as that.
Shannon Graham: (26:28)
And it’s interesting because if you look at children, they love to play and then actually if you look at old people, they like to play too. They play a little differently than how young people do, but they enjoy playing. So children in their naivete value play and old people in their golden wisdom value play. It’s just somewhere in the middle we get lost. Now here’s the real kicker. The most intelligent species on the planet is the dolphin. If we’re measuring intelligence based on brain size, the dolphin is the most intelligent being on the planet. You ever notice how a dolphin conducts itself in the water? Dolphins primarily emphasize and prioritize play.
Kyle Gray: (27:25)
Yeah. You don’t see many dolphins, just straight lines.
Shannon Graham: (27:29)
Nope. They love to jump out of the water. You ever been in a boat and the dolphins will come near the boat. They’re not like tailgating. They’re not like trying to make their swimming more effective by getting into the slipstream or anything. They literally are just doing it for fun.
Shannon Graham: (27:52)
They’re the smartest creatures on the planet and they prioritize fun. So we may not be able to understand their language, but we can certainly observe their behavior and maybe take a couple notes.
Kyle Gray: (28:06)
That sounds good to me.
Shannon Graham: (28:07)
Kyle Gray: (28:10)
Well, Shannon, I think we’ve explored a lot of different aspects of really creating this greater level, this bigger level of thinking that leads to world changing results. And it’s been so much fun exploring a lot of these things with you. Do you have any closing thoughts for maybe along the lines of how we can make these last 90 days the best days of our year? And then where can we learn more about you?
Shannon Graham: (28:42)
I think what I would say is just just make a decision. I think sometimes people are afraid to fail, but I think if you don’t try, you already failed. I think it’s pretty clear that if most people get really honest, there’s that word again, about the quality of their life right now about who they’re being, what they have, what they’re doing, what they’re giving. Most people are just not happy with where they are. Like I said, everyone is like they’re here and they want to be here in some way, shape or form. And I think the decision to say enough’s enough. I desire expansion. I know there’s way more for me to experience and I’m committed to experiencing it. Just that decision alone will create some huge changes. And if people want to connect with me, they can find me on Facebook.
Kyle Gray: (29:37)
Awesome. All right, Shannon, thank you so much for joining us. It’s been a pleasure experiencing your wisdom today. I’m sharing it with everybody.
Shannon Graham: (29:45)
Thank you so much.
Thanks for listening to the Story Engine Podcast. Be sure to check out the show notes and resources mentioned on this episode and every other episode at thestoryengine.co.
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Thanks for listening, and I’ll see you next time.