Feb. 16, 2022

E212: How to Create the Family that you want with Elizabeth Hartke | CPTSD and Trauma Coach

In this episode, I speak with my friend, Elizabeth Hartke. We will talk about the negative impacts of entrepreneurship, what happens when you're not aligned with partners in relationships, what happens when you're raising kids as a business owner...
See show notes at: https://www.thinkunbrokenpodcast.com/e212-how-to-create-the-family-that-you-want-with-elizabeth-hartke-cptsd-and-trauma-coach/#show-notes

In this episode, I speak with my friend, Elizabeth Hartke. We will talk about the negative impacts of entrepreneurship, what happens when you're not aligned with partners in relationships, what happens when you're raising kids as a business owner entrepreneur, and how you change the cycle of communication from childhood into adulthood.

This was an awesome conversation. I learned so much today that I'm going to listen to this episode and take notes because I think the most important thing I'm always trying to do in my life is set myself up for success. And by knowing that I don't know everything when I have absolutely amazing people on, I love to go back and listen again, the same thing I've done with multiple guesses who's been on Think Unbroken because I know that it matters.

Elizabeth Hartke is an international Business and Leadership Strategist and Founder of the Luminary Leadership Company and podcast. She works to elevate successful entrepreneurs into powerful leaders to do work that matters.

Through her masterminds, mentorship, and signature programs, Elizabeth has shown thousands of entrepreneurs across the globe how to shift from just building a business to creating a legacy. She brings with her ten years of leadership experience and has built two growing and successful businesses.

So, I am very excited for today because this is the first time I've had a conversation like this, really diving into family and raising kids and kind of the mistakes we make.

Learn more about Elizabeth Hartke, visit: https://luminaryleadershipco.com/

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Michael: Hey! What's up, Unbroken Nation! Hope that you're doing well, wherever you are in the world today. I'm very excited to be back with you with another episode with my friend, Elizabeth Hartke who is an international business and Leadership strategist, and founder of the luminary, leadership company and podcast. Elizabeth my friend, how are you today? What is going on in your world?

Elizabeth: I'm thriving today and I'm pumped to be here with you, and I'm eager to just dive into the good stuff.

Michael: I love it. I love the idea of thriving. You know people they start, they go, I'm okay or blah, blah blah. And I'm like – you gotta have energy in your day because that's the only way you're actually going to create change in your life. I'm really curious as we get in and we get started for those who do not know you, can you tell us a little bit about your back story and how you got to where you are today.

Elizabeth: Yeah, I'd be happy to so. I like to lead with what our top priorities are in our home which are being present with our three little kids they require a lot of our attention and focus. I have a six-year-old, four-year-old and a two-year-old and I have an amazing husband that I'm doing life, in business long side, as we raise our babies, but we live out here in a farm on Wisconsin we have no freaking clue what we're doing as far as farming, but we're taking a stab at it. I also lead a company called The Luminary Leadership company as you mentioned and we are really focused on raising up entrepreneurial leaders and helping them to step into who they need to be so that they can raise leaders of their own and making that generational change. But as far as where things began, I was raised up in entrepreneurship so I know not all of your listeners are in that space, but I totally took it for granted, as a kid watching, both of my parents running their own businesses, my grandparents, my aunts and uncles so it was just kind of the nature and a way of life for us having that flexibility in our world.

My mom was always at every ball game and making dinner for us and putting us to bed so, I was really blessed in that regard, but I realized as time went on that my mom had this flexibility as an entrepreneur. So it lit this passion me to want to help entrepreneurs step from flexibility into freedom, which is a lot of what we do in our company because I have memories being, you know, four years old, five years old, getting up to go use the bathroom at maybe midnight or 1 A.M. and seeing the dining room light on and my mom's papers strewn across her, the table catching up for that miss time that she put into us as kids throughout the day. So that just lit a fire in me as I got older to want to help people elevate and grow so that they're not building their life around their business, but they're creating a business that really supports their life. So, that's my passion, that's what I'm on fire about, I just had someone out here at the farm, helping them do that as they welcomed their first child into the world, and it's just a gift, it's something that I treasure in everything that I do.

Michael: I love it. And for myself, I mean, I've been entrepreneur, I always say since I was eight years old and it comes very naturally to me but I know for many people, it doesn't and they see this lifestyle or this dream and I think often it's touted as like this, the next big thing like be an entrepreneur, but I'll say this, I don't think people understand first and foremost, until you can get to the point of freedom, which I love and I think I'd like to dive into that, just in general in life. But there are struggles, there is suffering, there is pain, there is failure like – I was having a conversation with someone just last night and I said, look the truth about entrepreneurship as we fell way more than we succeed but people generally only see the successes. And so where I'd really like to start off this conversation with you today is like, how do you navigate failure in your life? How do you navigate the hard aspects of raising the three kids, running a business with a partner, trying to impact and change the world, give people that freedom because I know I'm going to guess that you fell on the occasion?

Elizabeth: Yeah. You know, just once in awhile, or once every hour, I feel like when you choose, it doesn't happen to entrepreneurship. When you choose to pursue what is placed on your heart as a calling, or what's next for you, I feel like you are putting a target on your back for welcoming and more sacrifice and challenge and struggle, but it's such a blessing because that's where your crafted into, who you're actually called to be. So if you were to ask me that question, you know, for five years ago if I were being honest, I would tell you; I struggled with failure, I didn't like people knowing, when I failed, I wanted to hide it from my team, or my family, or just the people in my life because it was such a vulnerable thing. And now, it's not, I don't want to give this disillusion of, oh, yeah, bring on failure right it's such a joyous process but what I can say is, I feel like I've developed a tools and the mindset that when it comes, I understand and I anticipate it, I know that it's a part of the process in parenthood in marriage and anything that you're pursuing, that's not designed to be perfectly easy. But I also understand that I get to glean wisdom from it and it's a pretty awesome opportunity for me.

I know a lot of people will say things like – it's not happening to you, it's happening for you and I believe that to be true, but I also believe you have to have the right perspective to really that to be true. And when I encounter failures for me, my big way that I've grown over the years is that I no longer am reactive to them, I don't get any jerky when something happens. I slow down when a failure comes anyway, but I can glean that wisdom so that I can see, okay, what's actually happening here? How from a leadership perspective, whether it's in something that's going on with my kids or a health thing that I'm facing or something in my business? How should I be the version of myself it's going to move through this in the best possible way? And how can I take this new scenario and play offense instead of just being super reactive playing defense and not seeing the possibility in that failure or that struggle? I don't know if that makes sense but that's what comes to mind. I feel like I slow down more when a failure happens so that I can move through it in the best possible way. 

Michael: In a practical way like, what does that look like? I mean, I imagine you don't have a five step process or anything like that, but paint a picture, because I think what happens in my experience very similar to yours or were periods of time in my life where I would make a mistake or I'd fuck up or I fell and I would just be like (A) first and foremost destroy myself, which is nonsensical and then (B) probably more so, as I would hide it, like, I would sweep it under the rug, but I do know that didn't happen it doesn't impact me, it doesn't affect me. So and kind of, I guess if there is a practical way to divulge this, what does it look like to slow down and process and move through that moment?

Elizabeth: Yeah. So, I'd be lying if I didn't tell you this, I'm hot-headed by nature. I'm Italian, I'm Arabic and that's what I witnessed in and my life is like something happens and you just got to get that like pissed off energy out. So I allow that to happen but what's different is I don't keep it and linger in it and dwell in it like I used to it's like part of my process and I also don't take it out on anybody. So I remember being in the earlier stages of business or even when we first started having kids and it was like something would happen and for like, the next three days, my husband had to suffer the consequences of me being in a mood because I just had to walk through this failure. Now., it's on my own time, all right, if I'm pissed off, I'm going to yell about it, I'm going to scream about it, I'm going to get that energy physically out of my body so that it's not just lingering and kind of trapping me in this night of the space. But then what I have to do is not go into fix it immediately because that's where I used to go wrong is like you said, I don't have a five step process, but as you're asking me I'm thinking through, okay, what do you do now that's different than how it used to be?

So when we encounter something I want to back up from the problem and I want to focus on the vision or the outcome that I want has to be bigger than the problem. So I used to focus on the problem now, I focus on that vision of what's on the other side of it and then I just think through, what's going to get me there and what is not going to get me there? What isn't serving me?

So staying mad or staying stressed, or trying to hide it from everybody or not calling and help when I need it, that doesn't serve me in the process to getting the other to the other side of this thing. And I just look at it really strategically, even if it's not a business problem, I still look at problems in my home life as kind of strategic, all right, what do I need to get to this? What do I need to leave behind? What's not serving me in this? And then sometimes, if it's really complicated or it's something really stressful. I'm a very visual thinker so I have to put pen to paper almost like okay, what is it I need to work through here? But if it's something, just with the kids, I don't say oh sorry kids I can't deal with you right now, I'm going to pull up my journal and start exercising the ways that I'm going to handle you in a few minutes as they're, like, laying there with a broken leg, sometimes you have to move a little bit more quickly, but I'm saying more of the problems that aren't so urgent. It helps me to visually work through something on a piece of paper even if it's 45 minutes to just get the crap out of my head so that I can be in the right head space to handle a challenge. And then after I think reflecting back is the most important piece and the piece people miss their like, oh thank God, I survived that challenge, or I survive that shit storm and but they don't go back and say, or the gifts than that or what did I learn from that or what could I have done better? Or how did I do so much better this time than the last time that happened? Oh good; that means there's growth and celebrating those little wins. I think they they plow through it and they might do good pawing through it, but then they never see what good came from, it's not that it necessarily was a good thing. But what good came from it and how am I seeing that growth in myself? So, that's a big piece that I didn't used to do that I do now that serves me immensely, especially in parenthood.

Michael: Yeah. And I love that because there are lessons in the reflection and when you get introspective because it also gives you self-awareness, and I think self-awareness really comes from when you fuck up. Like I really believe that because you have to have this moment of this really naked looking at your life, through the reflection of your own experiences and saying I did this thing, right? And I know that people will struggle with what I'm about to say, but I look at everything as my fault, everything top to bottom in and out all the time and that has helped me tremendously my life. And the reason that I do that is because it's given me the ability to take like this massive ownership over everything, both the good and the bad, but I have found I grow the most when I sit there with my journal, I look at my life, I go man I really screwed that thing up but also at the same time, when I go, wow, I really accomplished that goal. How did I do that thing that just took me seven years to do and I go through the process of trying to again be introspective look at it be and honestly, I'm biased about it, I'm like a what exactly did I do to lead me to this place.

One of the things I think happens quite frequently, whether it's entrepreneurship or people who are running a side hustle while they have the day job and now fucking covid and trying to be a parent and do all the things is like somewhere in there's like this aspect of there is a collateral damage where you're like, okay, wait a second, I'm doing all these things but over here I have so much suffering in my life because I'm not taking care of things the right way, maybe that's the way I want to phrase it. How do you incorporate your family, your partner, your community your values, like how do you put all of that into your life mission? So that you don't have outliers and people in your life who are like, you’re leaving me hanging, I feel hurt over here as an entrepreneur, a business owner, a mom, someone on a farm in Wisconsin like, how do you do that?

Elizabeth: To your point, I now do it based on all the ways I did it wrong for a while. So there was a period that I convinced myself that I was in business for my family. So let's just take that as the example of what was kind of allowing me to steamroll the people that mattered most of my life, I was like, oh, I'm creating this dream for the sake of my kids, and my family, and we're going to have this freedom and I'm doing it for you as the process of doing it was neglecting to show up in the way that I wanted. Like my kids don't give a shit, if mommy's creating this business that's going to give them freedom, if it means they had to sacrifice the 15 best years of their life, looking at a closed office door so that they could have freedom, they want more than anything, my presents, my laughter with them, memories with me, just five minutes on the couch of cuddling like, that's what my kids care about, they don't care about this big dream that I've manifested in my head, that I went and sacrificed everything that mattered to achieve it, under the guise of having done it for them.

So, in the early stages, thankfully, I had people that loved me that were holding me accountable to what I said I wanted and willing to call me out when I wasn't living in alignment with those values, but it was hard to do all in my head like I had in my head, the things that matter to, the priorities are the values but I didn't have them set in stone in a way that I could juxtaposed any decision I was making, opportunity I was looking at person that was coming into my life and say, hey does this align with who I am and who I want to be, and where we're going as a family, not just like where I'm going in pursuit of my dream like I don't have a spouse or like, I don't have kids that are directly being affected by my own choices and dreams.

So, my husband, and I sat with this and we're like, why do we keep saying these things matter but living differently in the granular of the day-to-day? Because a lot of people live up here, I'm a big, big picture thinker, I'm not a super detailed person, I live in the 30,000 foot view of things, which means I don't pay attention all the time to what the hours of my day look like, but life is a culmination of those hours it's not just some destination you get to in 10 years from hard work.

So we actually sat down and unknowingly created a process for our own family to stay accountable to what matters and to not steamroll the things and people that we want to honor most. So it started by kind of coming up with our values, but that didn't feel deep enough for us, now call a true north. We needed something that was kind of this guiding star and then we actually put pen to paper and started coming up with pages and pages this is over the series a long period of time. We started coming up with, okay, what are our values and how do we define them as a family? How do we know when we're living by them? How do we know when we're dishonoring them? You know, putting definition and meaning and examples to it and then we said, okay, well, what are our priorities in this season of life? And how do we map that out and ensure that there's room for growth and evolution as our kids grow up or as we change or as maybe want to work less as we get older or our health needs more of our energy or whatever it might be.

So we came up with this whole process of developing our true north and now it ended up being I work with a lot of 6 in high seven-figure entrepreneurs, by all metrics that the world seems to value are crushing it, but if you were to ask them how they feel, they're suffocating like you talk about mental health and things like – they are not happy, they're not fulfilled, they don't feel in alignment with their purpose to speak, having achieved so much. So now we use this tool to support them and saying all right, you got to come back to ground level, you're living life in the trenches, you got to make sure that your actions you're taking and the things that you're doing in the choices, you're making the things you're saying yes or no to line up with who you want to be and that's going to be found in the day-to-day. It's not going to be in this like what am I doing this year? It's what am I choosing this minute? So that's been kind of a grounding thing for us because now making choices, what podcast I say yes to; where I put my energy, what commitments I make or neglect to make, they're all in alignment of the greater purpose for our family and where our family is going as a whole and it aligns with me personally too because we're all individuals as well. So that's been pivotal for me because I felt like I was spit balling and guessing and when you're guessing and you don't have really this guiding light or guiding star, you're going to make wrong decisions more often and it's going to lead to more of those failures that slow you down or cause pain or whatever so that's been a game changer for us.

Michael: What was it like to come to the realization that your kids do not give a shit about your dream?

Elizabeth: It was humbling, but it was also like man when I think back to being raised by parents and who had these businesses and whatever, I don't know if it's a generational thing but if people from like previous generations are just naturally less selfish, I'm sure that's not the case but in my case, I felt like it was never about my parents dream, it was about the family, it was about moving us forward as in a way that was in alignment with everybody that was involved in the process. I feel like we live in a culture today that says like me, what do I want? What's best for me at the at any cost? And yes, I think you have to take care of yourself, I think overflow leadership is more powerful than positional leadership, meaning not just saying, I'm a leader, I'm a thought leader, and I'm doing the things and I want people to follow me, even if it takes a toll on my health and it takes a toll on my family saying, I'm going to pour into myself and evolve myself and grow as a leader so much so that the way that I guide my people in the way that I support people is a result of me literally overflowing with all that goodness, that makes me me, but I also think the culture lends itself to a lot of focus on yourself, what do you want but feels good in the moment. Don't sacrifice, you know go for what feels good now and ultimately it hurts people and it hurts ourselves to. So when Mike, you know, make it coming to that realization of like, oh my six-year-old doesn't care that mommy, has this financial goal or has a goal to write this book or whatever, I don't know, it just it brought me back down to reality it like put boots on the ground. Those things are aspirational, I think they're wonderful and I have every right to go for them, but maybe I'll change the timeline of how I go for them or maybe I won't follow the industry standard and try to do it like this person who main goal is to get on a best seller list, maybe mine is going to look different in alignment with the people that matter most to me are the memories that I want to create or the moments as to how I want to live. And it was a gift to me ultimately, I feel like it taught me a lot and now I make choices based on on that reality, maybe they'll care more was they get a little bit older but right now, my kids are pretty dependent ages.

Michael: Yeah, and you know, it's really interesting because like reflecting on my entrepreneurial journey, reflecting on building Think Unbroken, the multiple businesses I run, all the things that I do. The one thing that I've recognized probably most detrimental in this process was not being in alignment with the people who were most important to me, sacrificing relationship, sacrificing friendships, not being empathetic, my northstar being like, I'm going to move towards this no matter what, and sometimes people are going to get destroyed in the process. And I think, unfortunately that's something that we learn as you were on this journey, right? And I think it's because ultimately, you realize, oh, wow, the way I'm acting here or the way, I'm showing up here or like – realistically, it's important that you spend time with the human beings and your life that matter because the email you're trying to write, it's not going to change your life, but losing that relationship or that friendship or sacrificing your children's ball game, or whatever that thing is, like I feel like that carries a tremendous amount of weight. What I'm curious about is so sitting down, looking at your life, having this conversation with your husband, trying to get an alignment, build values around who it is that you are, it's really two part question.

One, was there a catalyst that led to that as opposed to like a light bulb moment? And two, when you did that because I want to try to make it practical for people because we do live in such a me first culture, it feels almost like an imposition to try to sit down and have that kind of conversation with someone. So, how do you do that?

Elizabeth: So to answer the first part of your question that catalyst moment wasn't anything catastrophic, but to me it felt that way. My son, he's three soon, so he was about two and a half now, he was an early talker and he's kind of an old soul. And I remember standing in the kitchen, and I had my phone and I always felt like – I had good boundaries around my phone, but this was kind of that moment that made me realize that I wasn't paying attention to that granular and I was letting things slip and other people being hurt by that. And I was responding to an email that was going to be my biggest consulting client I'd ever landed and that would have driven things forward for us, for our family financially in a huge way. So, in my mind, that justified stand standing at the kitchen counter with my phone, answering that email as my two year olds looking at the back of my phone and can't even see my face in his trying to tell me something because I'm doing it for him, right? Like the big picture, I'm doing it for us and he looked at me and he saying my name over and over, I'm like, yep, and I'm pretending like I'm talking multitasking, talking him as I'm typing but, you know, I'm typing, I'm just kind of like saying words because he's too, and in my mind, like, it doesn't matter. And he says, your phone is more than me like, that's the sentence that he came up with, I said, what was that buddy? And he's like, your phone is more than me; love your phone and I was like, oh shit, that's how he could say anything I wanted to try and convince him that this was for him. But all he's getting out of that moment and that scenario that is being imprinted on his little brain for the remainder of his days what she's doing right now, the choice she's making, is more important than me, it's outweighing me. And that was where I came to my husband, I was like, we need some kind of structure around phones, I do not want my kid ever fighting for my attention to a freaking device even if what's happening on that device, could be the catalyst for change in our whole future it's still not worth him having that imprinted into his vulnerable sponge-like brain, so, that was the first thing.

But to answer the second piece, having that conversation can be hard, because this is an example of one of those times where I was being reactive and not sitting with the mistake I made or the failure that I had in moment with my child and I was like, all right, phones, go away and everything has to stop and everything I was coming up my husband from this like attacking place. Like, well, I see you do that on your phone and it's affecting our kids and we have to change everything and it was just overwhelming and it wasn't strategic and there was nothing that felt good about it, it felt like we were kind of like punishing ourselves for being bad parents.

So, in retrospect, what the advice I would give to someone is one, if you're coming to whether it's your spouse or team member whoever it is that you're doing life with your kids, don't come it from it from at it from a really accusatory place, don't come at it from a spastic reactionary place, sit down and talk about what you want, paint the picture of the vision of the life, you want to live, and then identify the things that are holding you back from it from that vision. And for us in that vision, we didn't see us ignoring our kids, we didn't see us choosing our phones without any healthy boundaries around them over living life together. In fact, we constantly talked about how we were building this life, to be present whatever, but we weren't living it. So we just dialoguing and opening up, communication is so critical and but not doing it from this reactionary accusatory place and just chipping away at it became aspirational instead of a punishment, it was like, okay, what do we want? And what do we need to do and develop in order to get there? Not what have you done wrong? And how are all the ways you've done it wrong now, get rid of all of that and live, this life that's super structured and everything is restricted, no, that doesn't feel good either, and it's not sustainable, people try that and then they end up falling back on old habits. So it was a definitely a process but if I had done it again now, I would have been less reactive and a little bit more communicative and more visionary it because I'm such an aspirational person. You know, other two kinds of marketing it's like you can tell people how their lives are going to fall apart if they don't buy this product and then you can paint a picture of the vision of how awesome it could be if they had that product. I gravitate way more towards the aspirational but I was living my life trying to Market this as concept to my husband from the like it's doomsday if we don't do this, my son's going to be in therapy by the time, he's 5 years old, for the rest of his life because we've screwed him up. So I had to shift, gears a little bit.

Michael: Yeah. I think again that's a process of doing it and going through and having the conversations and recognizing like, I think especially in partnerships alignment is so important and we get lost in that very easily but then what happens is, (this is where I want to go with this, see how if you'll go with me) We'll have a conversation will be like, yes, this is the thing we want to do, will write down all the shit on a wall, will put on the fucking white board like this is it and then it's tomorrow and nothing changes. So in a practical sense, like when you have these goals, these dreams, these aspirations, these alignment, these values, the boundaries, you start building and putting together the life that you want to have. How do you actually show up into that life? Because it's one thing I think it's so damn, easy to write stuff down but the follow-through is where people often fail. So what does that process look like? How do you move through that? How do you actually in a literal sense, build the life that you want to have?

Elizabeth: That's such a good question because you're so right. You know, thinking back in those early days were writing those things down there were many months of us not living by them or kind of having the whole like New Year's resolution affect where we did it really well for a month, but then by the second month, like it was forgotten and it's like, oh, well, I can just answer this email really quick, or I can just do this really quick because it's just this one time and it turns into two and three, so I needed bumper lanes. I admire the people who have the willpower to just say something, do it live by it no matter how hard it is, but I realized that if I wasn't building in the support system to help me honor those things I was going to ultimately fall short. So, my husband and I came up with ways to gently hold each other accountable, not in accusatory ways, but ways where, when we felt like we were slipping from who we said that we wanted to be and we made those choices ourselves. He wasn't like, you need to be this and when you're not, I'm going to call you out or vice versa, it was me saying who I knew I was called to be and who I wanted to be as a leader, as a wife, as a mother, a daughter, all those things, and he did the same and we had to come up with ways that we were going to gently support each other. So one thing that we realized this is that hotheadedness, I'm like admitting this to all your listeners that I'm total come at it real fast, when he would try to correct me in the moment, so let's say he saw me using my phone or you know around the kids when we said we weren't going to do it or I made a commitment, I'm not going to do any business related calls after 4 p.m., but then he'd see something pop on the calendar that I was going to do at six, it's like that interferes with dinner and bedtime instead of calling me out in the moment because that felt always felt accusatory, it was after. We have checkpoints in our week usually Sunday nights after we'd get the kids to bed where we would talk about so, how'd you think it went this week? And here's what I saw and here's what I think, you know, here's a way that I felt like you said you wanted to do this, but I noticed this happen and allowing the other person to kind of take ownership themselves, instead of it being forced on them and then bumper lanes outside of that were commitments to the how.

So when we'd say things like we want boundaries around our phone, well, can you define that better? Because if it's fluid and it doesn't have clear lines, it's really easy to just do that one more thing.  So we made it super simple when we're done, we both work from home, like when we're done working on the business, at for the phones, actually stay in the office so that's not even in our field of vision and we can stay accountable to that. And I asked for my birthday, a house phone because I wanted my parents and my family to be able to rich me in an emergency so I didn't like the idea of putting my cell phone away and not touching it and being like well if someone has to reach me they can't. So we got a house phone and only gave that number to the people we wanted to have it.

So did things to really support it but I think checkpoints are huge because the reality is that even when you build in bumper lanes were all human life happens we enter into different seasons, there are different needs and if you set this goal or this vision, let's say in the start of a year in the middle of your whatever and you're just making the assumption that you're magically going to live this way by these values and never fall short, and never fall off track and you're not going to even touch it again for another year or two years or whatever and then wonder how you've drifted so far away. So, for us every week, we had a time where we were coming together and just talking about, hey, let's look at our calendar doesn't really align with how we want to live like, a big thing for us is, we don't want her eight for ourselves and our kids in any aspect of our lives. But when your calendars reflect how you're jumping from one activity, to the next, well, we're not really living in alignment with that, what can go, what can come off and how are we going to make sure next week, doesn't look like the mistakes you made this week. So it's leaving room for those failures like we talked about but then not just letting them go by and not seeing what you can learn from them so, you can Implement differently the next time.

Michael: And I think there's something really practical about systematizing the conversation, right? And having that weekly check and having that conversation making sure you're in alignment on values, but I think one of the things that happens quite I know from firsthand experience, especially in relationships, it feels like it's a simultaneous, like prost for who's gonna be the leader in this relationship, right? Who's gonna be the one to take the charge? How do you do that? And I've come to find actually really has to be symbiotic well, you both have to be willing to show up in the moments day-to-day, but in the beginning like is their kind of this sway, back and forth, is there a way to step into it? Like, for people listening right now and for me, because I'm listening, who are like, okay, wait a second, I'm in this relationship where I'm in this partnership or where I’m this thing, we got the kids, we have the sports, we got the whole nine, we want the life, we want to do the check-ins, I feel like I should do this, but they feel like they should do that and because that happens, we never do it like, how do you step into leadership so that not only it reflects the life that you want to have but you also impact your children in the people around you?

Elizabeth: Yeah, that's something we struggled with a lot. Both my husband and I are alpha type personalities, we're very different personalities, but we both like to lead. We've taken a bajillion personality test and although we differ and our passions and our strength leadership is always a front face are so we used to butt heads, we'd go at it and he'd say something and it was almost like that scene in bridesmaids where the two bridesmaids keep taking the mic from each other because they want to say the last word and that's kind of how I relationship felt, he would give input or a thought on something and I'd want to one-up them and then I'm one up and maybe like, yeah, but I think this. So now this is not an easy thing for me because I come from a family of really loud Italian, so everybody just talks over each other naturally, if you haven't gotten through your just not talking loud enough and it's your fault and that's just how the nature of it and he comes from like a really soft spoken family, that's really respectful and actually waits till someone finishes their sentence what a novel idea. So that was something that we had to bring into our marriage. I had to compromise on my want and desire to be more like my upbringing of no, I'm going to interject when I want to interject and we actually gave each other time to speak and in that conversation, we intentionally said no rebuttals.

So if he was bringing something to the table to want to lead us in the direction that we've agreed on, this is why that true north is so critical because if you guys aren't on the same page as to where you're going, you'll go back and forth all day. Once we had that foundation and we agreed, this is what we want for our family and for our lives in this is what it looks like to honor that if he was going to bring something to the table, he'd bring it to the table and I would absorb it and listen and there was not going to be a rebuttal, even if it meant biting my tongue, until I sat with it for at least 10 minutes and then I could come back and say, okay, this is how I see it and then we could come together in the solution. I think when there's that back and forth constantly, and I want to lead, no, I want to lead it because it can become a little toxic or just counterproductive, you just aren't getting anywhere because you're spinning your wheels. So, that was a big piece, it was like learning to communicate you'd never think that would be something in your 30s that you have to figure out how to do. But I was like, man, we both bring our childhoods into how we learn to communicate and we also both want to lead but now the other thing is really leveraging each other's strengths.

There's this quiz that I wish I was affiliated with because I recommend it everywhere. It's called The Working Genius Quiz and even if you're a stay-at-home parent or you're not an entrepreneur, you're not working in a traditional career, it's a really powerful tool even in a marriage or a relationship or partnership or whatever because it breaks down where your strengths are in a really simple but I not like a disc profile where you end up with 30 pages of content and you're going through it, it's just really outlines what that person's strength is and where they should be leveraging that strength. Ever since taking that, it's been a couple years now, we just flow way better. So, for example, one of my key strengths is invention, I can create something out of nothing, that's like torture for my husband, but one of his strengths is, he's a closer, he wants to bring whatever you say, you're going to do home, that's my worst nightmare, I'm an inventor.

So now instead of us both trying to invent and clothes on everything. O often, will come together and be like, oh, we need to do this, I'll be like, all right, let me go to the drawing board and then I'll bring it to you and you help me, figure out how we breathe life into that and actually, make sure that it happens because I'll come up with a hundred ideas a day that never get completed. So leveraging each other's strengths and really respecting each other for strength because sometimes our partner’s biggest strength is the thing that bothers us the most about them until we understand it's a strength and then we start to honor it and were like man, life's a lot easier because they have this strength that I didn't have and now I'm actually leveraging it for good instead of bitching about the fact that they do something different than me and I want them to do it my way.

Michael: Yeah, that's called letting go. And that for me is one of the things like I've had to learn how to apply that in business and leadership, leading teams, leading events, working with people, relationships, my brother's, my sister, like everything, it's so interesting to me, like you get to this place where you go, you have to let people fucking exist as who they are and the more you hold on tightly and you try to bend them or shape them to the idea of who it is that you believe that they should be the further away they get and worse I think it also impacts you in this way where you're holding on so tightly, it's like you're white-knuckling life and one of the greatest things I've ever done and I'm still doing and hopefully I'll continue to do is just be like, it is what it is, just let people fucking exist and that's been really practical for me. What I'm curious about is as you're in this and so, you're building this life, you're looking at this, you have children, right? And you have these little human beings that you're trying to Foster into great adults and being a person who's entrepreneurial and strong-willed and alpha like a leader, I reflect with so many of those things. Now, at this moment, I don't have children, don't know that I ever will, but how do you not brainwash your kids to be you, but still give them attributes that allow them to step into leadership or be the person that they want to be?

Elizabeth: Yeah, that's a tough thing. I think one of the toughest things is a parent is teaching your kids, how to think, and not what to think because it often means they might think something that you don't want them to think. Now, granted my kids are still young so we're not running into those teenage years where maybe that becomes more elevated and and more critical or whatever, but we want to raise critical thinking kids, with a strong set of values. Now, of course, we're a family unit, we have our values that we believe are going to help them grow up into successful independent, good-hearted leaders, they might offshoot that as they grow up, they might bring in some other values, they might let go of some that we've tried to instill but the values we've chosen aren't ones that indoctrinate them into being certain person it's becoming who they're called to be with the right support to do that. And I think that's a fine line and it gets blurred sometimes because when you become a parent, it's such a biological thing that you want, literally nothing more than your child to be happy and healthy and to thrive and you will do any and everything just innately to do that even if it means shutting down a belief they might have, or thought they might have that you think could hurt them. What I'm learning is even my kids being so young because of how we're raising them to ask questions, which I will tell you, set you up for far harder parenthood, when you teach your kid to be a critical thinker, they questioned every effing thing that you do and you're like, why the fuck did I do that? Why did I tell them to be little Minions that follow everything I tell them? Like my parents did when they say, because I friggin said, so don't ask me questions and I'm like, man, I should have taken that route but it's also beautiful when you don't take it personally and you leave enough margin for you to have the time and space to answer those questions. We've always talked to our children like they're adults, not in the sense that we talk about adult things that don't allow them just to be kids, or we don't tone down to be more gentle with a child. What I mean is we don't treat them like they're dumb, like my daughters two and I have full-on conversations with my daughter explaining things out of kid level so that it's something that she can absorb, and understand and doesn't overwhelm her, but I'm not going to treat her like an idiot and be like, oh, you don't need to know that if she's asking me about something or wanting to learn something more I want to make sure that I'm living life where I have enough margin to sit down and really cultivate that curiosity and give her the space to do that. We also, this is personal opinion listeners might not agree. I think we have one of the toughest jobs ahead of us as parents right now in this generation with the rise of Technology, I'm not anti-technology, I have to phone sitting on my desk right now. The reason I have two phones though, is so that one is personal, the only thing on it is text messaging calls, and that's what's on me personally but right now I'm sitting in my office so I also have my work phone that has things like Instagram and email on it.

So, technology is amazing, I leverage it constantly but I see a lot of kids losing that critical thinking, losing that curiosity for life, not knowing how to be bored, because they have access to high-level quality entertainment constantly. And I have so many memories as a kid of my mom, like kicking me in my cousins and my siblings out and being like just go outside like when it's dark, you can come back in and as a result of that, we came up with the most amazing things we use our imagination, we made friends in the neighborhood and now kids are just not living that way. So we're also trying to create that's part of the reason we moved to where we moved was to give them that space to create and cultivate and come up with stuff on their own that's not just fed to them by us or what's on a device. So it's going to be different for every parent, that's not mean knocking how people approach stuff, I do think it's important to be conscious of it, no matter what you choose because I think it can be leveraged as a tool for good or a detriment. But more than anything we're committed, as much as it might give me gray hairs that I have to die every six weeks, to allow our kids, to ask questions, to think critically, but they're also little and their kids. So it's my job to keep them safe, it is my job to give them boundaries because literally don't have that ability in their brain yet. So it's a little bit of a balance and it will also change as they get older and maybe we'll be this podcast and five years, and I'll be like, why did I do it this way? But this is where we're at right now and I also don't claim to be an act or either this is so learning as you go, you're not even funny I tell my kids all the time if you aware that you're literally an experiment because we have no freaking clue what we're doing.

Michael: Yeah, I love that and it's so true. You know, we're all having a human experience, I try to just convey every single day like you and I we've never had this conversation before, we don't know what we're doing, we're figuring it out on the fly all the time and I think that there's a sense of peace I've discovered in that because I'm like, we're fallible, we're not going to do all the things all the time, nobody's great, nobody's perfect, go look at everyone that you ever admire in the world and they're screwing up every single moment of the day. I promise you. And I think you're right about cell phones and technology and children, that's a battle I do not face because I do not have them, but I can see definitely like I'm cheering on all of you parents right now because I probably wouldn't even have a TV in my home, no cell phones of like you guys got like even this is what's interesting to me and it's a quick tangent, but growing up and being in a situation where I did grow up in a volatile household, all The Unbroken Nation they know this. My mom would still be like, get the fuck out of the house that's probably cause she didn't want to deal with me, which of respect I get it but like realistically, from the moment we woke up till the lights came on like we were not allowed to be in the house and I think that made me adventurous and it made me one my question things I got me in a lot of trouble so I want to be very clear about that but ultimately I think that it was one of the best things that happened. Elizabeth this conversations been absolutely incredible before I ask you my last question, my friend, can you tell everyone where they can find you?

Elizabeth: Yeah, the best place to connect because this will keep us connected going forward if they want to utilize that free workbook I talked about for True North, they can go to luminaryleadershipco.com/truenorth and that will put us in connection. I'm also over on Instagram @elizhartke, and I actually really do like connecting with new people I know a lot of people say that, but I ask for grace because I don't live on my phone and I do put it away. So, I usually take a little bit longer to respond, but it's such a cool opportunity to get to come into other people's amazing communities, and then meet all these new people so don't be afraid to reach out and connect.

Michael: I love it. And my last question for you my friend is, what does it mean to you to be unbroken?

Elizabeth: That's a powerful question. And to me, it's a sense of thriving, it's not this tangible thing I can't define it. If you check these boxes, it means you're unbroken but I think it's a feeling and a trust that you're being guided to the life that you're called to live and it doesn't mean you don't have some cracks in the surface along the way. I picture unbroken literally being completely apart but to be I don't know, just to have this sense in this feeling of I know I'm on the right path and I know I'm working towards whom called to be and I'm choosing to thrive even in the good and the bad.

Michael: Brilliantly said, my friend.

Unbroken Nation, thank you so much for listening.

As usual, please, like, subscribe, comment, share.

Tell a friend.

And Until Next Time.

My friends, Be Unbroken.

I'll see ya.

Elizabeth HartkeProfile Photo

Elizabeth Hartke

Leadership Strategist / CEO / Founder

Elizabeth Hartke is an international Business and Leadership Strategist and Founder of the Luminary Leadership Company and podcast. She works to elevate successful entrepreneurs into powerful leaders so they can do work that matters.

Through her masterminds, mentorship and signature programs, Elizabeth has shown thousands of entrepreneurs across the globe how to shift from just building a business to creating a legacy. She brings with her ten years of leadership experience and has built two growing and successful businesses.

Her expertise has been featured in media outlets including Forbes, Entrepreneur and Fast Company, and on stages throughout the world.

Elizabeth and her husband live on their hobby farm with their three children in Wisconsin.

Michael UnbrokenProfile Photo

Michael Unbroken


Michael is an entrepreneur, best-selling author, speaker, coach, and advocate for adult survivors of childhood trauma.