The Third Space with Dr. Adam Fraser

May 22, 2024

Embark on a journey toward peak performance and well-being with Dr. Adam Fraser on the Invigor Medical Podcast! Gain invaluable insights into bridging the gap between work and personal life as Dr. Fraser shares practical tips to thrive in your daily routines. Tune in now for an inspiring conversation that will transform the way you approach success and fulfillment.

Natalie 0:00
Hi, and welcome to the Invigor medical podcast, where we’re going to walk with you on your journey toward optimal health, performance and well being. My name is Natalie. And I’m Derek, and we’re going to be your hosts on this journey. And each episode we share insights from top professionals and physical, mental and emotional health. With that said, let’s dive into today’s podcast. Today,

Derek 0:21
we’re not joined by my lovely co host, Natalie garland, but I’m really excited for today’s guest. His name is Adam Fraser. Adam Fraser is a renowned expert in peak performance and well being. With his groundbreaking concept of the third space, he has transformed the lives of many by helping them bridge the gap between work and personal life today. He’s here to share his insights and practical tips to help us thrive in our daily routines. Dr. Fraser, thank you so much for joining us.

Dr. Adam Fraser 0:45
Pleasure. Great to be here from the other side of the world. That’s right, New Zealand,

Derek 0:49
New Zealand. How’s it how’s the weather down there? It’s your guys’s summer right now. Right?

Dr. Adam Fraser 0:55
Yeah, this summer, and it’s I’m looking outside. It’s very beautiful. That’s great.

Derek 1:00
It’s, it’s very different than it is over here in eastern Washington. But I’m really excited to dive in today’s podcast, obviously, you know, this topic of being able to transition from work to home life, work life balance, that’s something that a lot of people think about on a consistent basis. Right. And so, just to start off, like, let’s hear about your story, how did you get to get into productivity science? And what drove you to really think about this concept of the third space? Yeah, well,

Dr. Adam Fraser 1:29
it’s been a real sort of winding road. I, my degree was biomedical science, which is a blend of psychology and physiology, always had a dream to work with elite athletes and go into sort of an Olympic sport. And, you know, in Australia, our peak kind of venue or lab, around peak performances called the Institute of Sport in Canberra, went there for a while, really didn’t enjoy the world of sport that much. And then got a scholarship to do a PhD. So went back to university completed that PhD. And during it, businesses asked me to come in and present on some of my research and what I was finding, and I just kind of really fell in love with the world of sport and present us sorry, the world of business, and presenting, and it kind of went from there. So I started a consultancy, I started presenting at conferences. And so I continue doing research and partner with different universities around the world. But sort of disseminate that information through keynotes and workshops, as well as books. And we do large scale interventions as well. So that’s kind of me and my background.

Derek 2:45
That’s great. That’s great. And so, you know, that’s a big transition to go from, you know, optimizing elite sports to business, what would you say are some of the carryovers that you took from optimizing athletic performance to helping people optimize their work? Their work lives?

Dr. Adam Fraser 3:02
Wow. Yeah, it’s a big question. It’s a really interesting one, too. And I think, often we look at the parallels between sport and business. And there are many parallels, but we’ve also got to understand how different those worlds are, if you look at elite sport. And this is not an insult, they’re incredibly selfish, meaning they have to focus on themselves, it has to be about them. Usually, if they have a relationship, that partner has got to be very supportive. So I think the big difference with with business in sport is business. You know, you’ve got to focus on so many other people. And it’s a it’s a longer, it’s a longer journey, whereas sport, they tend to have a certain window of, I have to just commit myself and do everything to maximize this possibility of me being this high performer. So I think there are a lot of parallels, but there are also a lot of differences. So many of the things you carry over is just some of the fundamentals about psychology and physiology and how they apply. So yeah, I think it was a really good background that led me into business. But yeah, I’ve moved away from that world of sport. Yeah. Now,

Derek 4:22
you know, listening to your TED talks, which were very good. And I encourage any of our listeners that are watching us to to make sure that you watch those as well. But I remember during that you talked a little bit about the difference between because like, I think he’s we’re specifically talking about tennis players and, and how they’re very similar in a lot of ways, but there’s one kind of key thing that differentiates them. Can you dive into that a little bit?

Dr. Adam Fraser 4:46
Yeah, well, I mean, what I was seeing in my research is that high performers have this ability to rapidly transition from one interaction to the next so you Jim Lewis research within tennis was showing that the really elite players, they were very similar to the the top 100 in terms of their ability in the point, they could hit the ball as hard. They were accurate as agile as each other. But where the elite guy stood out was their ability, what they did in between the points, their capacity to get over a mistake, their capacity to compose themselves, and most importantly, get their mindset right for the next point. So what he talked about is the elite players were better at the transition, then the, you know, a player that’s ranked 100, or 200, in the world. So and I kept seeing this, and I saw this in even soldiers, I was doing some work with soldiers. And I said, What’s the hardest part about being a soldier and they said, are coming home? And I went, What do you mean, they said, Well, we’ve been away for six months, we come home, we find it very hard to slot back into our family life. And we tend to argue and fight with our family for the first couple of weeks before we settle in. And then some soldiers talked about, you know, they would actively think about that transition. So what kept coming up in my data and research was, how do we move from one thing to another, and if we can make that transition really effective, our performance is far greater in the next thing, we go into that,

Derek 6:28
that’s great. And so this is kind of how your concept of the third space came about. Is that right?

Dr. Adam Fraser 6:35
Yeah, very much like what exactly is saying this thing.

Derek 6:38
The third space? Yeah.

Dr. Adam Fraser 6:40
And really, if we’re going to define that, if you think about our day, we move between different spaces. So the first space is what we’re doing now, second space, what we’re about to do, and the third space is that transitional gap. So I think about my day, woke up. Normally, I would exercise, but I’ve got the flu at the moment. So I wouldn’t do that. So first thing I did this morning was get my daughter’s fed, dressed off to school, then I had a meeting with my business manager, I’m talking to you now, as soon as I finish this, I have to have a research meeting. So if you think about our day, we move between these spaces, and what I talk about is how to use that transition or gap, to show up at your best to get the most out of what you’re about to go into. That’s

Derek 7:31
really that’s really fascinating. And so, you know, I can imagine a couple of these right off the top of my head of, and I think I think the one that most people resonate with is the transition of from coming from work. And you talked about this kind of in a larger scale with the military. But really, it’s it’s coming home from work. Transitioning from like all of the work thoughts that are going on, whether that’s kind of like a fast paced environment, or it’s a slow paced environment, but really dealing with the challenges that you deal with at work, and then having to go into more of a relational, very personal, potentially, and hopefully very, you know, uplifting and calm space. But like that might not be the case for everybody. And so can you talk a little bit more about that transition in particular? Yeah. So

Dr. Adam Fraser 8:16
obviously, we were looking at transitions in general, but the one that resonated with people the most, or the one that people said, I need help with this. One is how do I go from work to home, whether that is I commute from an office, whether it’s, I’m working at my kitchen table nowadays with people working in a hybrid sort of way. But yeah, they talked about how much they struggled with this. And what we found is too often, we take the mood and the mindset of the day home with us. And we kind of walk in the door where we’re finishing our partner sentence, because they’re not talking fast enough, or were yelling at the kids because they haven’t done their homework. And we kind of bring that work mindset home of things have to be fast, and things have to be done quickly. And it just creates a lot of conflict. So what we started to really embed ourselves in is how do we transition from work to home in a way where we show up in a calm space, where we’re empathetic, compassionate, mindful of the other person. So yeah, that’s been a big part of our research.

Derek 9:23
That’s great. That’s great. And so I guess a big question for this is how do you actually do that? Like, what are what are the some of the practical tools that you can actually use to make sure that you come home and you’re not dragging these work issues with you? Yeah,

Dr. Adam Fraser 9:38
well, what we discovered in our research, regardless of whether we’re going from one meeting to another or or we’ve just had a sales interaction, and we’ve been rejected, and we’re going into the next sales situation, that the concept of transitioning is quite universal. So, you know, particularly from work to home, what we found is this three key part, the first part is we call reflect. And that is, how do we shut down what we’ve just done. So, in that reflect phase, too often we think about the day and we think about, oh, gosh, I didn’t do that, or I didn’t send that email to that client, or she’s that meeting was a disaster, I have to fix that tomorrow. And our reflection tends to be really cynical or negative. So what we ask people to do is when they reflect, just to ask questions, like, what did I achieve, what went well, what was good about that. And what that does is just gets them to focus on progress in evolution, but also, and particularly at the end of the day gives them a burst of happiness. And the mindset they take home is much more optimistic. So that’s the first one, how do I reflect on what I’ve just done? The second piece is the rest phase. And this is simply the capacity to calm your brain. And be mindful. You talked about like that often our workdays really fast paced, and we kind of take that mentality home with us. So rest is just how do I calm myself? How do I be present. And if you think about the transition from work to home, some people say, well, that’s Suzuko on the bus, or reading a book on the train or listening to a podcast in my drive home. It’s, it could be exercise, it’s just anything that starts to calm the brain and gets it to focus on one thing. And then the last phase is called reset. And that is where we visualize and think about, what do I want to achieve in this next space? So you know, whether it’s thinking of I’m about to transition into the home, what kind of dad do I want to be? If I’ve got kids? What kind of partner do I want to be if I live on my own? When I get home? What do I want to do? Maybe I want to exercise or do meditation or connect socially with someone? And then thinking about, okay, so if that’s my intention, how do I have to behave to get that? Like, can I go home, you know, if my, my wife works as well, but if she’s had a day where she’s looked after the kids, or they, I might come home, and they’re driving a crazy, so I have to be empathetic, I have to be thinking about the fact that she’s probably had a frustrating day. And what I don’t want to do is walk in thinking, Oh, well, I’ve had a really hard day, and it has to be about me, and you’ve got to support me. It’s just thinking about, well, how do I get the best out of the environment I’m about to go into. And that could be sales, it could be a meeting with my team, how do I want to show up for that? So that last piece is basically how do I need to show up for this next thing. So yeah, reflect rest reset, is the optimal transition we can do.

Derek 12:52
That’s fantastic. I really love that. And I love how practical each step is. And really, they’re so universal. So they could be used. And like you say, it can be used in a business setting, or it can be used in a home setting. Or it could even like honestly, it can even be used in like a workout setting of like, okay, I just got done with this squat, like and reflecting. Okay, how did that feel? You know, what can I do better? You know, using that time to recoup and, you know, get ready for the next thing, even like in the example of the of the professional athletes, I think that’s great.

Dr. Adam Fraser 13:21
Yeah. And actually, just to build on that. I mean, that last phase of the reset, is, the parallels with athletes are they tend to visualize performance? So when I go into this race, say they’re 100 meter sprinter? Yeah, I want to, I want to be really alert to the gun, I want to be relaxed in my posture, I want to move smoothly, we want to do the same thing. So if I’m going into a meeting with my team, I want to be curious, I want to, you know, rather than tell them how things are going to run, I want to hear from them. Or say my team’s had a frustrating day, I want to validate them. I want to be compassionate. So yeah, I mean, it is a universal thing, whether we’re about to do a set of squats, and it’s like, Okay, in this set, here’s what I really want to focus on, or I just had a bad set. Okay, that’s a bad set. But the next one, here’s how I’m gonna get the most. Yeah, so it is quite universal. Yeah.

Derek 14:21
You know, I think that really, we’re a large portion of the power of that lies is in intentionality, right? Because it’s very much like if you’re just going through your life, and you’re just going through the motions, and you’re doing anything, where you’re just going through the motions, obviously, you’ve committed that to, to like muscle memory, more or less, right, where you’re like, Okay, I know how to do this. But when you are intentional, and you’re able to really focus on the finer points, that’s when it really becomes like, you know, our brains are very good at getting 80% of the thing done. But like if you really want to get that last 20% or last 5% Like you have to be very intentional about doing that and If you don’t, if you’re not intentional, then you know you might be able to get by. But like you in order to, to actually achieve excellence, you need to be able to be paying attention and actually be very specific about what you’re trying to achieve. Yeah, I

Dr. Adam Fraser 15:12
think I think you just hit the nail on the head with that. If you look at Erickson’s research around mastery, and you know, like, we’ve taken the 10,000 hours message, and we’ve got a lot of that wrong. Yeah, he was he wasn’t just talking about. It’s the amount of practice it’s the type of practice and when when we’re practicing, are we being intentional? And we’re thinking, like, Okay, here’s what my focus is for this next thing I want to do, I want to focus on this element of my leadership. And if you think about those three phases, what they really do, is the reflect makes us self aware. So what am I carrying? For what I’ve just done? Am I angry? Am I frustrated? Am I resentful about a previous interaction?

Derek 16:00
It’s like a self stick. What’s that? It’s like a self diagnostic. Yeah,

Dr. Adam Fraser 16:04
totally. It’s that check in with ourselves. The second part is, can I be in this moment, because so often, where future pacing, we’re thinking about what we’ve got to do at four o’clock, or what we’ve got to do tomorrow. And then that reset phase is exactly what you said, Here’s my intention. Here’s, here’s what I want to achieve. Here’s what I want to focus on. So really helps us be aware, calm and intentional. But also, something else you said before about what was it? You made a really great point before and I was going to build on it. So

Derek 16:39
I guess another big question that I have that I kind of want to dive into this, because obviously you’ve you’ve made this your life’s research, right? Yeah. So I guess what I’m really curious about is like, what is the actual science behind each one of these steps? And you know, obviously, there is quite a bit of science around like meditation. And there’s quite a bit of science about like visualization and all these things. They’ve ran these studies, I’m curious to hear more about what the specific science is between behind each of the different steps of your, of your third space.

Dr. Adam Fraser 17:09
Yeah, actually, I’ve just remember what I was gonna say, perfect. And that is that so often during the day, we get into autopilot. And we just kind of, as you talked about, we just from muscle memory, we just do things over and over, or we just we’re not even thinking about we’re so busy and consumed by TAs. So what, what the third space does is stops that I’ve just got into a routine. And I’m not really thinking about performance here. I’ve just got to get through this meeting. In terms of the science, I mean, we kind of touched on it that ability of can I be self aware and you look at if we talk about leadership for a moment, if you look at any piece of good research on leadership, what they talk about as self awareness is the bedrock of good leadership. Can I be aware of what’s happening? Can I articulate the emotion I have? Can I can I identify my thoughts? And it

Derek 18:14
sounds just very basic. Yeah,

Dr. Adam Fraser 18:17
but it’s so many people can’t do it. Like, so many people I work with, I ask them what emotion they have, and it’s kind of either good or bad. Angry, their emotional vocabulary is really, really poor. So they can even walk away from a meeting and go unmad Oh, actually, no, I’m not actually I’m hurt, or I feel judged, or I feel taken for granted. So the the greater that self awareness, just the ability to alter our behavior or, or respond more appropriately is far greater. I mean, in terms of the second phase, that mindfulness, that ability to be present. I mean, there’s so much data and it talks about how incredibly important that is. And then the last phase is about, you know, intention. What do I want to achieve? Having clarity in this meeting? Here’s my number one focus. Just, I mean, those three things are so universal and, and that’s the science behind them. And there’s, there’s so much data that reinforces both, like all three of those things.

Derek 19:31
Yeah. You know, the thing that pops into my mind the word you know, of the neurochemical is cortisol, right. of you know, when you when you’re at work you’re you’re constantly getting all these stressors that are pulling at you and are really triggering, you know, kind of like this either fight or flight response. You know, you might be talking to an angry customer on the phone or you might be dealing with a you know, like not getting a sale or, you know, dealing with difficult people or just Because difficult situation. And so really, I think that a big part of it is like how to deal with stress. So being able to utilize a system and have something a framework that’s pre established that you know, that you can fall to, and that the more you practice, the better you get at and you can use more quickly, really a good system to be able to implement so that you can recover from the stressful bouts. Because I mean, the evidence is also clear that that chronic stress is terrible for you. And so to be able to check that wherever you can, to ensure that the stress doesn’t become chronic, it’s it’s it’s an acute situation, you’re able to return back to baseline as quickly as possible. I think that not enough can be said about that. Hey,

Natalie 20:43
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Dr. Adam Fraser 21:23
you’ve just hit so many great points in that statement of it’s there’s an element of micro recovery to it as well, like you think about that rest phase, that rest phase might be three seconds, or it could be five minutes, where I’m calming myself, and particularly if the previous interaction was a really stressful one. It’s it’s about well, okay, I’ve just had a really, you know, conflict or challenging conversation with a client who’s really upset? How do I calm myself, so I don’t take that into the next interaction. So there is a micro recovery piece. And there’s a lot of good data, even Microsoft did some amazing research, looking at people working virtually. And if they didn’t have breaks between virtual meetings, how overwhelmed the brain became, but even if they had like a four minute break, where they were practicing being calm, the brain’s capacity, and the brain’s level of stress dropped hugely. So I mean, I think that micro rest part, and you talked about what you call it earlier, before we started non

Derek 22:37
non sleep deep rest, yeah. So STR

Dr. Adam Fraser 22:42
can transform our day. So and you also touched on a really great piece that, and this is what our data shows is, this is skill based, like you can get better at it, and you get better at really quickly. And one trial we did is we got 800 business leaders, so they’re all leading teams to practice those three steps between work and home. Now, we measured a lot of things, but mood in the home was one of them. So how happy was their home. And what we saw is over a month, we saw a 43% improvement in mood in the home, like their homes got happier by 43%. So what we learn is that we can we get better at this really quickly. And the impact of this is incredibly deep. That’s

Derek 23:28
awesome. That’s awesome. Yeah. To touch on another point of this, it seems like that these micro breaks these micro resets. You know, a lot of people think that growth happens in the grind that growth happens. You know, when you’re stressed, it’s like, well, you can’t, you can’t grow unless you’re doing something really hard. But, you know, if we look at specifically with exercise, but I think this is true in almost every other category as well, is this idea of like, growth happens when you’re resting not not when you’re being stressed. Not I mean, that’s the stimulus that causes you to be able to grow. But then where the actual growth happens is when you actually rest. And so for this reason, Andrew Huberman one of the big recommendations he makes when like, after a workout, once you’re done with your workout, he’s like, try, try ending that workout with just like a five or 10 minute non sleep deep rest or meditation or just laying on the ground and working on your breathing. Because he’s like, if you do that, you’re going from this high level of stress. And you’re immediately basically inducing your body to go into a recovery state very quickly. And if you do that, you’re able to essentially get to your gains, you know, take the take the initial trauma or stress that you need to go through to, to, you know, stimulate those gains, but then you’re able to go right away into the state of recovery, instead of letting that that stress drag out and become more chronic and something that your body has a harder time recovering from.

Dr. Adam Fraser 24:57
Yeah, I think gosh, I His, I think it was Amelia and Emily Nagurski talked about looking at stress, like it’s a tunnel that has a beginning, a middle and an end. And what they talk about is we rarely complete that stress cycle, like we rarely leave the tunnel. And you described earlier as we get in this chronic state of stress. And one of the things about the third space is if we take that time to kind of reflect on what we’ve done, to calm ourselves, think about what we’re doing next, helps us complete that stress cycle, and it helps us come out of that tunnel. And it’s just such a really important concept, whether it’s shoe Berman’s advice of well, how do I transition out of my workout? And his idea of doing that? That deep rest is that rest phase of the third space? Like, okay, I’ve I’ve reflected on my workout, what was great about it, how am I calming myself? Alright, now I’m going off to my next thing, how do I prepare myself? So there’s huge amounts of parallels. And, and I mean, what we’re seeing in the data and our research is you have similar patterns, similar findings that show that this ability to transition is such an important one.

Derek 26:18
I feel like listening to you talk about all this, that it’s like, this seems very intuitive. Right. And I was and I was just reflecting on like, what are some of the things that could essentially like, prevent these very intentional, you know, aspects of being able to transition? What are some of the things that act as like blockers and the first thing that popped into my mind is like, phones, social media. I don’t know if you have thoughts on on the specific effect that, you know, these types of technologies can have on intentional behavior and being able to transition.

Dr. Adam Fraser 26:56
Man, I’ve got a lot of thoughts. I just had a fascinating conversation with a psychologist recently had, he said to me, or talking about phones and children and all that. And he said, think back, you know, when you were a teenager, and you got your heart broken, say like a girl broke up with you. He said, What would you do after that? And I said, Actually, I can think of one where I laid on my bed and listen to Pink Floyd. Oh, my gosh, she just about up and what just happened? And I said, I was just sad. And I would reflect on it. And they said, that’s exactly what you should have done. Yeah. He said, The problem with kids today is they they never have time to reflect. They never, they’re never bored. They’re never. They’re not really exploring their internal world as much as what we did before we had technology because the moment I get bored, I pull this thing out. Right? And that entertains me straight away. So I think what we’re missing,

Derek 27:55
just out of curiosity, is that Pink Floyd was it. What was that one album of Pink Floyd, were you listening to? Oh,

Dr. Adam Fraser 28:03
man, I was a huge Pink Floyd fan, even though I was a massive metalhead when I was in my teenage years. But you know, whether it was Dark Side of the Moon, which, you know, is a classic, obviously, a classic. Yeah. Whether it’s comfortably numb. That guitar solo. Yeah, look, I mean, it allows that reflection piece. And I think what we don’t do today is reflect we’re not thinking about because as soon as we come out of something, whether they’re looking at the phone, or we’re straight into the next thing, other blockers is just the sheer pace of our lives, like, people are so stretched now. And I think one of the other blockers to the third space is peace people initially go. I don’t have time for that. But this can be such a quick thing. What project we worked on is we worked with triple o responders. So our emergency number is triple Oh, you guys have 911 So they’re the people that man the phones and oh my gosh, water. One amazing group of people and

Derek 29:15
an incredible

Dr. Adam Fraser 29:17
whenever I work with a group, I tried to get deep in their world, so I would sit on and listen to calls. And I gotta tell you, when you hear a human voice in true distress, it is a different sound like, I know actors try and replicate it in a movie. They don’t even get close. Like it’s very guttural. Yeah, visceral. Like when you hear a person that’s really distressed. It just it freaks you out. And their challenges. They’re trying to talk to these people, and they’ve got to be so focused that they hear the details. They calm the person. If they make a mistake and get a number wrong or a street wrong. It’s catastrophic. So Their ability to stay calm. But also, like, what was fascinating is they said to me, the hardest part of my job is I never find out what happened to that person. Like, I don’t get closure on that. And it’s like, it’s actually illegal for them to try and find out. So, you know, we had one call where a mum rang and said, My, my, my child’s not breathing, and you can, like, you can imagine how distressed she was. And we placed the call. And then the operator said to me, I will never know what will happen to that parent. And so their ability to let go of what they’ve just heard, but move into the next call, which is literally five seconds later, is so important. And we were teaching them the third space. And what they would do is rather like use this concept, but really quickly. And, you know, they don’t have a lot of time to reflect or rest. But what they do do is just bring themselves back to the present moment and think about, okay, how do I have to show up for this next call, which is focused, calm, intentional. So, I mean, you can use this incredibly rapidly in your day, it doesn’t have to be a concept that you have to drag out. And a lot of executives say, you know, I definitely use all three steps as I transition from work to home. But when I’m busy, I just think to myself in that gap, how am I about to show up? And they said, that’s the most valuable part, I think about what is my impact? What sort of state Am I in? Am I Am I ready to go into that meeting? Or am I really heightened dorema? In a mindset where I need to take an extra minute? So yeah, I think the blocks our technology, our perception that it has to be long. Yeah. And, yeah, this is something we can do so quickly. Well,

Derek 31:51
and it sounds like really, like if, let’s say, you don’t have a lot of time, you can kind of assess the situation and figure out okay, well, if I don’t have time to do all three of these, maybe maybe this time would be best spent reflecting on what just happened, maybe this time would be best spent setting my intentions for the next thing, maybe this time would be best spent just literally taking a deep breath in, and a deep breath out and moving on to the next thing you know. And so, you know, I love the granular nature of this and how expensive this can be like you could spend a whole hour you know, or you can spend as little as you know, 10 seconds, just resetting your, your breath and getting your heart rate down. And

Dr. Adam Fraser 32:27
what it is, is an incredibly portable and flexible concept. Like you said, I might go from one meeting to another, and I don’t have time for all of it. But I just have time to go. Okay, that was pretty full on. I’m just going to take 30 seconds to be calm. And then I walk into this next interaction. Yeah, I had an executive. He said, I sat in your keynote about the third space. And he said, What I realized is when I go home, I’m often on the phone, because I’ve got a global role. And he said, I walk in the house, I’m on the phone, my kids are trying to cuddle me, I’m pushing them away. Because I’m doing this call, my wife says Get off the phone and spend time with the children. I go be quiet. It’s the US. And he said it’s just a terrible, terrible interaction. He said, all I do now is I finish the phone call in the car, like I don’t walk in the house, on the phone. So I’m in the car, I finished the call, I shut it down. I calm myself. And I think what sort of dad do I want to be when I walked through that door? And he said, this is such a simple tweak. But it’s so incredibly powerful.

Derek 33:32
Yeah, you know, that just made me think we had a guest on previously, Dr. Esther Sternberg, who talked about the importance of spaces and the relation that physical spaces have to our mental health. And like I was just thinking about, you know, like, when you’re at work, there’s very specific associations, you have to work. And when you’re in your car, there’s very specific things that you have in association with your car. And when you’re at home, you have very specific associations, or like when you’re in your bedroom, like you hear it all the time, like the bedroom should only be used for two things, you know, the bedroom only be used for two things, sleep and sex, right? And that’s, and that’s pretty much it. And so, and that’s where sleep hygiene problems come up is when you’re watching TV in bed and your brain is associating, oh, there’s stimulation here. I want to stay awake. I want to stay up. And so it’s very interesting. I don’t know if you’ve had any personal experiences with this, of being able to intentionally shift how you associate different spaces to two reactions.

Dr. Adam Fraser 34:32
Man, I can’t believe that we haven’t talked before this conversation because it’s like you’re inside my head. I mean, some of the questions you’ve and observations you’ve made, like you’ve really done your research because there is a, a physical or spatial component to this. We’ve been working with paramedics, and I mean, they see stuff we kind of comprehend. And what I learned about them is one of the biggest things I deal with now is how much money Violence that they’re subjected to, from people they’re trying to help. But we taught this concept to the group of paramedics. And rather than be really prescriptive and said, you have to use it like this. We just went, here’s the concept. Here’s the idea. All right, in a couple of months, we want you to come back to us and go as a group, how have you used it? Now a group of paramedics in the rural area, I’ve got together talked about it, and they came up with the concept called Get out of the green. Now their uniform is green. And they said, often we get home. And if we’re a bit late, we have to run the kids to football practice or to piano and we stay in the uniform, because we don’t have time to get changed. But they said, what we’ve started to do now is we see, our third space is we peel the day off, we leave our boots at the door, and we peel the and they said that it’s almost ceremonial of I’m no longer a paramedic, and I’m taking the day off. Yeah, we actually this is cracker one, you’ll love this one. I presented this to a group of counselors, and their burnout rate for psychologists was really high. Yeah, because they take on people’s stress. And this guy called me following the presentation. And he said, I sat in your presentation. And what it made me realize is when I walk in the home, all my clients come with me, like, literally my clients from the day come home, they’re affecting my behavior in the home, they affect my mood. And he said, I just went, alright, I’m no longer taking them into the house. And he has a carport. So we parked the car away from the house, there’s a little section for the car. He said, I walked through the home and halfway along, there’s a tree. And he said, I walk up to the tree and I take the clients off my body, and I hang them on the tree. And I go, you’ll be there tomorrow, you’re not coming in the house. And he said I physically remove them. He said my neighbors think I’ve lost the shed, I actually take them off the my body and they’re on the tree. And they’ll be there for when I go back to work the next day, but they don’t come into the house. So yeah, I think your observation is such a great one of whether it’s some sort of ritual, whether it’s some sort of practice, but there is a spatial element to this as well.

Derek 37:26
Yeah. You know, I think that a big part of that came from your keynote speech when he specifically talked about the guy, where you got the original idea for the third space of how we built an entirely new entrance to his home. Do you want to you want to tell that story real quick?

Dr. Adam Fraser 37:40
Well, just I mean, look, I was invited by a CEO over to have dinner with him and his family, because I was away from home. And they were wonderful people. But what I noticed about him is how calm he was in the home, how fun, funny and present. And I just kind of in this meal, I just went Ah, that’s how I wouldn’t be when I’m at home. And when I was leaving, I asked him how do you go from psycho businessman to Super Dad, like, how do you do that. And what he talked about is that he built a new entrance. So he parks the car, in the garage, he goes through this door into his bedroom. He’s not allowed to talk to anyone in the home is off limits. He said, I go in there, I take the suit off. He said, I kind of like that’s my armor, I take that off, I have a shower, I washed the day off me. And then I do a little mindfulness thing to come in. And he said, then I go greet the family. And he said, you know, it might take me 15 minutes, but that’s the most important 15 minutes of my day. And I walk out and I engage with the family. And this like, as I said before, right at the start, I just saw these observations. And that was one to go. Oh, man, this thing’s fascinating. This is important. So, you know, for him. It was like, I don’t actually walk into the house, I go straight to my room. I had that process. I have that ritual. And then I engage with people. Now. Not all of us have the cash flow to build a new entrance into our home. But whether it’s we do it in the car, whether it’s exercise, whether it’s I mean, even people working from home now say, Yeah, I actually get in the car and do a little commute where I’ll drive around the block. And that’s that’s my third space or one guy I was talking to set at the end of the day, I go to a park put a podcast in walk around the park and when I walk back in the house, I go, I’m dad, um, I’m a partner. So yeah, it’s that was one of the interactions that really sparked this whole thing.

Derek 39:46
That’s awesome. You know, some of the thoughts that I had when I heard that is it’s very much like, and I think that all the guys in the audience, especially ones that like hero movies, I think they’re all gonna relate to this. It’s kind of like when you when he walked into his room. It’s like Superman going into his fortress of solitude. It’s Batman going into the Batcave, Tony Stark going into his working den. And and just having that that space to be able to say, Okay, I’m going to take my armor off, I’m allowed to be to just be completely unguarded and to allow myself to return, you know, from the Batcave back to normal life and talk to Alfred and, you know, have whatever conversation and so I think I think that making those spaces and allowing yourself to say, you know, maybe, you know, obviously, you might have the cash flow, to build a door directly into your bedroom or to have a fire pole go down to a secret den or something as cool as that would be. But you know, you can, yeah, just like you said, utilize your car, utilize your bedroom, whether, you know, even if that just means going straight there or having some other special place like a park like and being able to have that association, I think I feel like the more you do that, the stronger that habit is the much more easier, you’re going to be able to fall into that. Yeah, and we gave a

Dr. Adam Fraser 41:00
lot of masculine examples there. But I mean, obviously, this is important for all genders. And for women in particular, they talk about, I walk in that door, and I’m straight into doing tasks around the home. Yeah, and but I’m in this like flurry of off, got all these things to do. And, you know, talking to women about this, you know, the most common thing they say is our man, I never think about how I transition because I’m so busy, and I have so much to do. And you know, men, if you look at it, that men and women living together, men have got better at helping but women still do most majority, like, men do not be delusional about that in any way. So you know whether I spoke to a woman recently who said, I pick up my kids from childcare, and it’s just three minutes down the road. So but she said, I realize I walk into childcare like this hurricane of, we’re late, we have to get to piano practice. Where are your shoes? Why don’t you have your bag? And she said, I just burst in like this hurricane of disaster. And she said, you know, all I do in that three minutes is those three steps and think about, well, how do I walk in karma? How do I walk in and be more composed? I’m just trying to think so many examples. A woman I spoke to recently gets to the bus home. And she said, I set up an alert in my calendar. And I’m she said I’m on the bus, looking at my phone, the alert comes up and asked me those three questions about my day. She said, I reflect on them. Then I’ve got a mindfulness app I listened to that’s my rest phase. So she said, I’ve already got my headphones on, and listen to the app, as I’m on the bus. And as I walk from the bus stop home, I think, what kind of mum do I want to be? What kind of partner do I want to be when I walked through that door? She said I’ve operationalize the third space, like, richly structured it. And I had a woman recently say to me, well, the third space is okay for men, but I have to go home and I start my second job, you know, where I got to do the cooking, the cleaning? And she said, I said, How does that make you feel? She said, I’m really frustrated by that. Like that, I’d never get a moment to myself. And I said, Well, you definitely have to have a conversation with the people you live with about mental load and sharing the load. And

Derek 43:33
that’s part of intentionality of saying what comes with what hard conversations do I want to have with my partner? You know, that’s, that’s all part of it. Yeah.

Dr. Adam Fraser 43:40
And if you’re listening to this, and you live with someone else, like, after this podcast, think about, well, how do I talk to my partner about this? How do we, how do we take this concept and go, Well, how do we make it work for both lists? But if I go back to this woman who’s like, said, You know, I go home, and I start my second job, I don’t have a third space. If I think about my home, like one of the things I’m responsible is for food. So I do all the meal prep, the planning, the shopping, the cooking, so every day when I come home, my job is to cook the dinner, so I could walk into the house going around, I’ve had a stressful day and I’m tired and why do I have to cook for these people? Or I can walk in and go How do I make this a great experience? And what I do is get my daughters to help me they get to choose the music like so we play music while we cook dinner. So much Taylor Swift Oh my gosh. So but we kind of like be silly and dance around and play music and I’ll choose like, my eldest daughters in the Arctic Monkeys at the moment, like dad, like I love this refer I love this. You know bridge that Are we? It’s playful while we’re cooking dinner. And I use a third space to go, how do I be that guy? Rather than how do I go home and resent the fact that I have to cook for people? So, yeah, regardless of your dynamic, it’s about how do I show up better? Even you I spoke to a woman recently who said, I get home, I say hi to the family, I sit on the back deck, I have a glass of wine. I talked to a friend on the phone, I debrief my day, and then I come in, and I’m, you know, that’s my third space. Yeah. So yeah, it is very portable. That’s

Derek 45:36
great. You know, I have a lot of diverging thoughts. And hopefully, I can remember all of these. But one of the big questions I have is, obviously, we’re talking about how this applies on a day to day basis, or, you know, on an hour by hour basis, even. But I feel like this type of framework could even work on a much larger scale, you know, of like, on a week to week, month to month, year to year basis, you know, if you think about your three elements of reflect, rest, and, and setting your intention. Yeah, you know, it’s very much like, when you go, you know, I’ve heard of people and couples that like, go on on specific vacations, where they will say what we want to set goals as a couple. And we want to make sure that we are able to be very intentional about how we’re going to do things. And you know, they have this specific retreat, where they’re resting from normal life where they can spend a couple of days mulling things over and they can reflect on what’s worked for us in the past, and what has it and what do we want to do moving forward? Has your work with a third space? Have you dived into that at all? I,

Dr. Adam Fraser 46:41
I really haven’t. I mean, it’s such a great point. And I have heard, just over the years, I mean, the greatest thing about my job is I get to meet so many people, and I get to meet wise people. And I met this couple recently who talked about that they do that, like they will have a little mini break where they talk about how are we going as a couple, how are we going as a family are the kids on track? And they will actually plan out and and one of them said, you know, we have a monthly meeting to kind of go, how are we doing? Would we what sort of score would we give ourselves? So I mean, it can be this huge macro thing, or it could be, as you said earlier that our to our transition, but I think it just has so many applications. That’s

Derek 47:28
awesome. My other big question, and I think you’ve touched on this a little bit, but I guess specifically for people that are at home each day where the transitions are not so obvious. Where you know, the the lines are kind of blurred. How can people get better at being able to detect where those transitions are happening? And how to better address them?

Dr. Adam Fraser 47:51
Are you talking about people working from home? So either

Derek 47:54
people that are working from home or you know, you have like stay at home moms or you have you know, other people stay at home dads, yeah, exactly. stay at home parents, but or people that are working from home or you know, whatever life situation they end up at, but they’re, but they’re in one place for the entire day. But they may be shifting from activity to activity.

Dr. Adam Fraser 48:14
I think it just comes back to that intentionality of okay, I’m moving into this thing now, or I’m moving into that thing. Now. If, if they’re working from home, and they’re doing a lot of virtual meetings, I would get them to think about, well, how do I use that very quick transition? Do I get away from my workstation? Even from a muscular skeletal perspective? Do I get away and move? Do I assume a different posture? If that meeting was very stressful? How do I transition into the next one? Whether it’s different tasks, different interactions, I think it’s much more about well say, Yeah, I’m a stay at home parent. And, you know, I might have a series of tasks I need to do. For some of them, we can get into autopilot. But then thinking about, well, if I’m going to catch up with someone socially, how do I transition? If I’m picking up children, if I’m about to interact with my partner, what am I doing or even looking at the day going, have I taken five minutes, to be calm? To do something for myself? I think the key thing is to for people listening to this to walk away with the principle and go, Well, how do I need to apply this? I mean, for me, probably the biggest thing when I’m in the office with my staff, I just constantly ask myself that question, How am I about to show up? How am I going to affect them? What is the mood I bring to this meeting? Am I doom and gloom? Am I being optimistic? I think it’s that self awareness to look at our day going Yeah, that’s a transition I strike With how do I do it more even I was talking to a law firm recently. And what they were talking about is when they go into brainstorming, they said, Our people are really negative and tend to look at the downside of it or why we can’t do that. And I said, Well, what are they done before? Well, they’re contract lawyers. So they’re exploring. They’re looking at contracts for what could go wrong. And I’m like, well think about that mindset. That mindset is scarcity. How do we not get in trouble here? What could go wrong? They’re going to drag that mindset into this, like innovation brainstorming meeting. So I said, you’ve got to do something to help them transition. And it sounds weird, but we got them to do a couple of improv exercises. So people that do comedy, improv, have a series of exercises to get their mind into this creative state. We got the lawyers to do it. And it totally changed. What they brought to that meeting, they were more optimistic. They were thinking about possibility. They were thinking broader, rather than our man, we have to be careful. And we shouldn’t try this because we could get in trouble for this. Yeah. So yeah, the

Derek 51:11
scene that just popped into my mind, have you watched the office? Obviously, there’s the UK version. And there’s the US haven’t the Oh, you haven’t, there’s a scene where Michael Scott and the US version, he goes to improv class, and only does is like he’s got he’s got a captive audience. And he just, he’s like, bang, bang, and you just start shooting people like, Michael, you can’t just shoot people. Like, it’s kind of funny. But you know, I really liked that point of being able to like saying, okay, analyzing the type of work you’re doing, and saying, Okay, do I need to be able to loosen up? Do I need to shift my state of mind to another type of thing, but I think also that there’s something to be said about, like, analyzing, you know, both reflecting and setting intentions of taking, being taking a very honest approach to your situation of saying, Okay, well, maybe this is a very difficult situation. And, you know, something that I’ve learned, both through personal experience, and through examples of a lot of the leaders that are around me, that I admire a lot, is that a lot of the people that I admire, know how to deal with ambiguity, that they that you know, they go through this process of saying, Okay, well, maybe I don’t know the answer, but they have enough confidence that they will be able to figure it out when it comes. And I think that a big part of that is being able to say, well, I know I’ve reflected on my past, I know, I’ve been able to do this before, so I can rest now. And I can think about the problem. And I can set my intention that I am confident that I can figure this out moving forward. I don’t know if you have any thought specifically about ambiguity and dealing with things that are out in the unknown, unknown?

Dr. Adam Fraser 52:50
That’s such an interesting question. That uncertainty is something we have to deal with constantly. And it’s something we struggle with. So most, so much. So I think even that self awareness around Yeah, I don’t have the answers here. And and even admitting that in meetings, like, am I showing up authentically going, Hey, we’ve got this problem. I don’t have all the answers. I need your help, or, or the reason I’m so stressed about this is that I feel I should be in control, but I don’t feel in control. So I think dealing with the fact that things are so uncertain today is a really important piece. We haven’t looked at it specifically but I think it’s just using those universals that self awareness that okay, I feel out of control. Can I be calm? And or what sort of approach do I need to have to this? I’ve just actually this thought popped into my head, I was working with a banking team within Australia, one of their big banks. And they were talking about how they when they meet their leader, they their meeting is after he’s had his meeting with his leader, and he often gets told, this isn’t good enough. That’s and they said, Oh, man, he walks into that meeting every week, and he’s in the worst mood and he kind of takes it out on us. And one of them was talking about how they could help him transition. And one week, one of the teams told him a dad joke. And and they said it was he just laughed so hard. And it totally reset him. And, and what they started to do is every week they’d be they’d start the meeting with who’s got the best dad joke. And they got one week they forgot to do it. And John, the leader went, why don’t why don’t why not. Where’s my dad joke. And it was just this ability to help him In transition into a more effective state, it was just one of my favorite examples.

Derek 55:04
Where were they all dads?

Dr. Adam Fraser 55:09
though? Yeah, no, it was a mixed team. There was single people. You know, both men women. Yeah, there were quite a diverse team, but they were just taught, like everyone can relate to a

Derek 55:22
dad. Yeah. And they tell the agenda. You know, what it’s called, was just

Dr. Adam Fraser 55:25
Yeah, it was just kind of like what is the corniest joke we can come up with and they would take turns, and they had to do research before they went in. But it was just such a brilliant example.

Derek 55:36
Do you know what it’s called when someone that’s not a dad? Tells the dad joke? Oh, no, it’s called a faux PA. Anyways, I do think that there is amazing power and laughter. I think you’ve talked about music, being able to use those to really shift and really guide our intentions. So I’ve really enjoyed this conversation. You’ve asked such great questions. And I think that there’s such amazing content here for our listeners to listen to and to really absorb and engage with. I wanted to share when I was listening to all your your keynotes talks, there was a famous quote from Viktor Frankl who wrote Man’s Search for Meaning one of my favorite books of all time, and I wanted to share it with you and kind of get your your last, your final reaction to this. And maybe we could wrap the pack podcast up with this. But the quote is, and I’m sure you’re familiar with it is between stimulus and response, there is a space in that space is our power to choose a response. And in our response lies our growth and our freedom. What are your thoughts on that quotes

Dr. Adam Fraser 56:40
ever? Yeah, I think it illustrates the third space perfectly, with much more elegance and simplicity than than I have on this podcast. So I think we’ve ended on a high look, actually, I will say one more thing. Yeah. Having spoken to so many people about this, the most. I get to work with really wise people. And I was working for a major investment bank in the US. And these are their global leaders. And they saw me present this. And at the dinner afterwards, they had a couple of glasses of wine. So they they let their guard down a little bit. There’s so many of them came up and said, I wish I’d seen that 20 years ago. And they said, I’m sitting in Utah. And what I realize is I’m proud of my success. But the people that meant the most to me, got the worst version of me. And work would get the best version. And I’d walked through that door and the people that I loved the most just got what was left over. And they said, If I had my time over again, I just wish I’d shown up better for those people. Because I just didn’t. And that’s what this concepts about whether you live on your own, and its people in your personal life, whether you have a partner, whether you have kids, it’s about how do I use that gap to show up for these people? That means so much to me?

Derek 58:15
Yeah, I think that’s absolutely, I think that’s absolutely true. Well, Dr. Frazier, thank you so much for joining us. Thank you so much for this conversation. I think that has been a wonderful conversation. I think there’s been a lot of amazing points that have been made. If people want to learn more, where can they find out more about you and your work?

Dr. Adam Fraser 58:33
Just Dr. Adam, as in Dr. Adam Fraser with an is where they can find me all my resources and work is on that website. That’s great.

Derek 58:45
And the third space, is that a book that you’ve written as well? Yeah, yeah, it’s

Dr. Adam Fraser 58:49
a it’s a book. It’s just been re, we re rewrote it in terms of we included chapters about well, how do I go from work to home when I’m working at home? So we’ve updated it, and yeah, you can get it on Audible. You can get it on all the websites in terms of where we buy books.

Derek 59:13
That’s great. Well, Dr. Frazier, thank you again, we’d love to have you back. Thank you for joining us. Thanks for tuning in to the Invigor medical podcast.

Natalie 59:22
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Derek 59:26
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Natalie 59:31
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Podcast Guests

Dr. Adam Fraser

Podcast Guests

Derek Berkey
Natalie Garland
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