Thriving Under Fire & Emotions in the Workplace with John Faisandier

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GTF 279 | Thriving Under Fire


Have you ever wondered how you could better manage those moments when the other person is difficult and emotional?

They could be customers, colleagues, friends, or family. There’s always someone in your life that’s a challenge.

My guest today has spent a lot of his life researching, teaching, and practicing the skills that could help you to manage your own emotions and emotional people.

He’s taught these skills to thousands of grateful people in many countries and he’s here with me to share a little of his story as an author, trainer, and entrepreneur.

Please welcome John Faisandier from Wellington, New Zealand.

Listen to the podcast here:

Thriving Under Fire & Emotions in the Workplace with John Faisandier

We’re helping you connect the dots, see the blind spots and get unstuck so you can go out and grow your sales, profits, impact, leadership, and have an ability to make a bigger difference. Is that what you want? If that is what you want, then you are going to love our guest expert. He’s uniquely qualified to help you deal with thriving under fire, thriving under chaos. Do you think you might be able to use that right now? Do you think your family could use it, some of your coworkers and colleagues? When you look in the mirror, could you go, “I could use some help there?” How would it impact you managing your emotions at home, with your family, staff, and in your company? If that’s of interest to you, you are going to love our show. He’s somebody who has impacted hundreds and thousands of people all over the world. He’s coming to us from New Zealand. He spent a lot of time teaching, researching, practicing the skills we’re going to talk about thriving under fire. His name is John Faisandier. How are you, John?

I’m well. Thank you, Dan.

Feelings are contagious. What you feel affects other people. - John Faisandier Click To Tweet

I’m glad you could be with us. Thanks for making us part of your day. If you never want to miss an episode, go to You can find us on all the different platforms. It’s great to have you. We have to thank Kathleen Gage for getting us connected. We’re at one of the most fascinating times in history. Emotions are up and down by the minute. The stock market is this way, emotions are this way, and so on. You have a solution to help people thrive under fire. With that in mind, John, why are you doing what you’re doing now? Give us a little backstory.

My first career was as a Catholic priest. I studied for eight years and then worked for a living. I didn’t know much about myself and my emotions. A lot of these things got spiritualized. I started my own therapy during that time and realized what some of the drivers from my childhood were that were impelling me in this direction. When I started dealing with those, that got me going in this direction. I came across a particular method called psychodrama. Psyche is the mind and drama is to act out. Instead of talking about things, we were able to act them out, redo scenes from your childhood or from any time of your life so that you can have a corrective emotional experience. That got me going.

Once I qualified in that, I worked for about five years in a drug and alcohol treatment center. That’s when I needed to understand not only the emotions of the patients but my own emotions in response to them. That was a scary work. It was deep work. Fortunately, I had good training and good supervision in learning that. The funding for that whole program started reducing, then I was down to part-time so I had to leave that job. That’s when I set up my own business. That was years ago now. What I’ve learned there, the rest of the world needed it. It wasn’t just for alcoholics, drug addicts. Everybody needed to deal with emotions. Somebody invited me to come and do some work. It was in a bank because the bank tellers were getting abused for very minor things. I developed the program there.

GTF 279 | Thriving Under Fire

You don’t need to act on your feelings because it could lead to chaos and fire, which could become a raging inferno.


As you have worked with thousands and thousands of people and case studies, where do you see that most people struggle with their emotions? What are some of the common traits that you see or we see out there?

One of the biggest things is that people get overwhelmed by what they feel. They either judge themselves and say, “I shouldn’t feel like this,” or they’ve learned it even from their childhood, which I learned. I grew up in a family where there were nine children. Mom and dad could get angry and when they got angry, we got hit. I associated this anger with violence and hurt whereas ordinary anger, you don’t need to act on your feelings. This is where people get a bit tangled up that they think, “I feel like this. I need to let it out somehow. I need to let you know that this is what I’m feeling.” That triggers something in you because feelings are contagious. What I feel affects you. This then leads to chaos and the fire gets becomes a raging inferno.

As we think about this, you talk about the idea that the feelings are contagious to others and acting out on those feelings. That’s a huge problem. As you’re reading, have you ever found the positive side of it? It could be you being sad, depressed, angry, frustrated or happy. What are some of the positive ones that you’ve acted out on where you see these imbalances or you see these extreme highs and low? Speak about the idea of why people play in these extreme areas versus having a struggle of staying in and not acting out on the negative emotions and/or positive emotions.

I’m not sure why people do it but they do. Alcoholics used to say, if they were happy, they’d go and have a drink and if they were sad, they’d have a drink. If they broke their shoelace, that was the cause to have a drink. If something happened rightly, then they’d drink. For a lot of earthlings, as they would say, people are not particularly addicted. We also sometimes think that happy emotions aren’t so damaging unless we go, “I’m going to go and get plastered because it’s my birthday,” or something like that. That becomes damaging. Expressing positivity and joy, these things are contagious and that spreads to people.

We think of those as good emotions, but they aren’t necessarily good emotions. They’re simply emotions that we like. “I like it, therefore it’s good.” The other end of those emotions that I don’t like which I then labeled bad. Good and bad are not useful labels to use for the emotions. You think of business owners or an entrepreneur working and developing their business are worried about their cashflow in this time of the pandemic. Hopefully, the worst of it will be over. When somebody’s worried or they’re under pressure and they want things to happen, that’s when they act out. They may shout at somebody else. They say, “You make me mad.” It’s one of those phrases that a lot of people say, “Nobody makes me feel anything. My feelings are mine.”

If people could get there and realize that this is my feeling and it is neither good nor bad, what it does is it tells me about my values. If I’m stressed out about my business that it’s going to collapse or we haven’t got enough money to pay the bills, then I get all worked up and start shouting at other people. If I could pause and go, “What am I feeling? I’m feeling stressed, anxious, and worried.” Some of these feelings do reveal my vulnerability which is one of the other reasons why people find it hard to name those feelings whereas me being angry, “I’m a tough guy. Anger is fine. I could punch a hole in the wall or I could punch your nose but I’m scared of what might happen.” That’s the first step is being able to say, “I am scared, worried, anxious, and frightened by what could happen.”

As you’re reading, how would it impact you to recognize that judgment doesn’t serve you as it relates to your emotions? Emotions are neither good nor bad, they just are. If you could have a true acceptance of those emotions, how much more empowering would that be for you? How would it impact your personal relationship, business, family, kids, spouse, and more? On top of that, what would happen for you if you chose not to act out on emotion and rather accepted it as it was, then you had the certainty to name it and label it? How would it free you? How would it create space for you to be a more whole person, productive, empowered, and have more energy? It’s the transference of emotions and it starts with you, doesn’t it? Think about that. John will give us a handful of steps on how you can take action to start giving yourself the power and leverage to be able to thrive under fire, transfer, and transform negative emotions to positive emotions. What would that be worth to you?

John, we talked about the judgment of emotions. They’re neither good nor bad. We talked about the big challenges a lot of people act out whether it’s good or bad in these extremes versus having a role of acceptance, being able to name or claim them and be okay with it. With all your experience, there’s no way we can possibly cover all the scenarios, but what are a couple of strategies that our audience can take to transform the emotional burden and transform it into something that gives them energy and power to maybe transform negative energy and emotions to positive? Speak to that a little.

Good emotions aren't necessarily good emotions; they're just simply emotions that we like. - John Faisandier Click To Tweet

We were talking before about naming. There’s a good phrase, “You name it to tame it.” Name your emotions in order to tame them. Once you do name them, they will decrease because often when we do, especially if we think the other person has caused me this whether it’s one of your employees, partner, or children. When you name it for yourself, “I am worried,” it becomes more mine and it’s not so much for them. I had a strong experience of this myself. I was driving along and my wife was in the car. She was talking and I was getting more and more frustrated. I realized I’m a trained professional. I can try these things at home and anybody who’s reading this blog is as a trained professional as far as this bit goes. I say to myself, “I’m frustrated.” If I’d said it out loud, that would have caused a huge fight. I said it to myself.

I had this picture came to me of a filing cabinet and one of the drawers had frustration written on it. That drawer opened and I could see inside of it all the drop files. It’s almost like my life history of frustration. At that moment, I realized that somehow, whatever she was saying triggered all of these other feelings from my life. They all came there. Naming your feelings to yourself is one of the most powerful things that you can do to calm yourself down. That’s the first thing and it’s my feeling. Sometimes you might realize this is similar to what happened to me when I was a little kid. If you’ve got somebody that you can share that with, that’s cool. Otherwise, own it for yourself and say, “How interesting.” That moment, that little kid needs a lot of love and care. It’s about self-compassion and being easy on yourself to say, “I do feel vulnerable at this moment.”

Speak to this idea of being vulnerable a little bit, John, because there’s a distinction here. When you name it, it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to blow it out to the world, post it all over social media, tell your partner, friends, and the whole world per se. Speak to this a little bit about how to be vulnerable and own it in private where it makes sense. Whenever I hear someone say, “I’m vulnerable,” I have to put up a little skeptical thing, and possibly this is my own feeling is skepticism going, “Why do they have to broadcast it? Why can’t it just be?” Tell us a little bit the idea that you can name it to tame it and you can do that in private, not have to broadcast it to the world and still be okay. To me, when someone is broadcasting it to a degree, that’s acting out a behavior to a degree that is trying hard to elicit some feedback to get that compassion from an outside source versus being okay on the inside. This is an observation. It could be completely off. If it is, tell me, but I’m curious about your view on this.

The description you’re making when somebody says, “I’m vulnerable right now,” is there’s a bit of a hook in that. It sounds a bit like they could be playing the victim, wanting you to rescue them or even saying you have been the persecutor. I’m vulnerable partly because of what you’ve said to me. I wouldn’t promote that as a way. I’m noticing to myself even, I do feel vulnerable. A good concept here, especially if we’re doing business or we were doing whatever we were doing and I feel something. You can put this idea of the name it and put it on the shelf. Put it on the shelf for now but it’s not like putting it in a box and I’m never going to go there. I’m putting it on the shelf because now is not the time to address this particular feeling. We need to get on with what we’re doing and we’ve got to save the world or whatever we do but I will come back to it. That’s the part where you don’t need to act out. Even if it is, I do feel vulnerable at the moment, however, we’re doing this interview so I put it on the shelf.

I love that framing. Put it on the shelf, don’t suppress it.

Lock it up in a box, throw it in the ocean, and hope it will never float.

Let me speak to the elephant in the room. I found myself in my 30s and even early 40s where I learned later that what I had done is taken a lot of emotions and I had suppressed them a lot. I had a hard time expressing emotions as this hard-charging male-figure conquering the world and all these sorts of things. It was a process to learn how to name this. I had a coach who challenged me to start naming my feelings. I was drawing complete blanks on feelings. I was so disconnected in my opinion. It was a learning process and now I feel powerful that knowing how to name an emotion and label it, not from a judgment label but naming it to label it, your version of it, which is set it on the shelf or set it aside for later is a powerful tool. Can you give a couple of examples or stories of people that you’ve worked with where they transformed their life by the simple strategy we’re talking about? It’s so simple. It changed my world. As you’re reading, this could change your world. I don’t want to gloss over this. I don’t want you to underestimate the power of what gift that John is giving you right here and now to simply be able to put this into action. John, speak to that.

There are many ideas that do come to mind as you say this, because it’s very similar to me, whereas I never knew what I was feeling. Learning to express those feelings, sometimes they do come out inappropriately especially when you start doing this with a coach, therapist, or in a psychodrama group which is where I learned how to do this. You do need to do it somewhere. You’ve got to break through those old messages of not expressing yourself. One exercise or activity is when you’ve got some strong feelings, you go, “How interesting that I’m feeling this.” I remember in a group, you could even put a chair in the room. You could do this on your own and see yourself as you are fuming and notice that your fists are clenched and your face has gone red and get, “How interesting that when I feel this, this is what my body does.” Get a little bit of David Attenborough or some other explorer or scientist and go, “What else is happening?”

You can treat it like almost objectifying yourself and saying, “How interesting that John feels that when he sits. There he is, he’s feeling wound up.” That can help you separate yourself from that feeling because you are not your feeling. You are a whole lot more than that, but in that moment when you feel strongly, it feels like this is all I am. Setting out something, and sometimes people can do this by drawing a picture of themselves or picking up a pen or pencil and drawing something like, “This is my anger. This is me when I’m angry.” Going how interesting that that’s what I look like or that’s what my feeling looks like when I make it into a drawing or a sculpture.

That would be one little technique that people could use for themselves. To get curious about how interesting that the delivery hasn’t come on time and here I am, my cheeks have gone red, my throat is going constricted, and my heart is pausing. What an interesting reaction to have. It’s about getting curious and being playful with it as well. I’ve seen that work with a lot of people where they’ve been able to do that and start laughing. The other thing incidentally about this is turning to gratitude and a lot of neuroscientists are finding the action of looking for something to be grateful for in the face of threats and heightened emotions. If you start being, “What are three things that I can be grateful for right now?” the very fact that your brain starts turning to look for those things even if you say there’s nothing, you’ll come up with three. At least come up with one. As you start doing that, that will help also the way your brain functions.

GTF 279 | Thriving Under Fire

Naming your feelings to yourself is one of the most powerful things that you can do to calm yourself down in that moment.


As you’re reading, how would it impact you to have this kind of personal power to express your emotions, serve yourself to serve others, and play a whole new ball game so that you can thrive under fire? How would that transform you, your family, personal and business relationships, and more? Here are a couple of strategies. Name it to tame it, give yourself self-compassion, put it on the shelf after you name it and label it, take almost a 360-degree view, and go, “How interesting. How fascinating. This is how I show up.” Draw a picture to represent how your feeling at that moment, observe and then notice how often that pops up. On top of that, how great would it be if you could simply stop yourself and go, “What am I grateful for? What are the three things I’m grateful for?” Transform those feelings instantly. These are a few of the simple strategies you can put in place starting now to help you thrive under fire because isn’t that what it’s all about? We’re all under fire.

John, I have a very unique question. Being an entrepreneur since I was a young kid, I started my first official business when I was 22 but I had other business stuff that I was doing like selling and so on in my teens. I’ve met a lot of entrepreneurs who have a certain type of DNA response that is operating under fire. What happens is, I’ll speak to me but I’ve also noticed this with a lot of entrepreneurs, we put ourselves almost intentionally in firefighter mode, under fire mode, almost on purpose to get ourselves into a state of rapid action, momentum, and a whole lot more to a place where a lot of people might look at it and go, “That’s not a healthy place to continuously operate 24/7.”

It had been in my life a very standard operating procedure. Have you noticed this with entrepreneurs and their DNA? Speak to this a little bit. What’s your observation and what can they do? If you were speaking to me many years ago which was that person like I was constantly intentionally putting me and my staff under fire to stretch the comfort zone, to stretch the norms, to challenge ourselves and the status quo, we lived there always. It was always a fire drill every single minute of every single day it seemed for years. What advice would you give to someone like me back then?

How often we do this to ourselves? As I get a lot older now, I think of that important question of why, that whole issue of starting with. Why do you want to do this? What is it for your life? What’s your life purpose? Linking it up with your life purpose.

It is different now but can I tell you what I would have said if you’d asked me that in those states?

What’s your why?

Why am I doing this? It’s where I operate most productively.

Why do you want to operate that way? What is the why? What’s your big purpose and why are you here on earth?

I want to leave a legacy. Legacy is important enough to operate this way, under fire all the time to challenge myself and the status quo.

That’s the way of doing it as opposed to limit your why, the legacy. What is this legacy that you want to leave?

I want to build something big and special. I want to leave something for my kids and show them that you can do something amazing in the world and make a big difference. My view is how big it is matters.

Why does a big matter?

It’s because of small sucks. This is what I would have said if you’d asked me this.

You keep asking why. Why does a small suck? What is it about small?

This is a little bit now versus then but because when I grew up as a kid being on welfare sucked. I never want to feel that pain again, for me, my kids, and my family. I’ll do anything to help make sure that never happens.

That’s where the emotion drives you. Transactional and analysis talk about these drivers which are unhealthy. If you want to get out of poverty, for instance, and you end up in a different kind of poverty like poverty of time, emotion, or connection. If you can address the original issue of it sucks to be poor, and you’ve lived that or whatever it is that happened in your earlier childhood that creates those drivers, you can end up with more balance. I’m a lifestyle entrepreneur and I do this for the lifestyle. People say, “When are you going to retire?” “I don’t understand the meaning of the word. I haven’t retired for the past several years. I’m running my business. It’s wonderful.” I don’t get quite so worked up like that. Having lived for twenty ideas with the value of poverty as a priest, I’m used to the simple life. It is about asking yourself, “What is important to me. Are these drivers the things that I’m trying to correct from my early life? Is this correction helpful?” Being able to look back and say, “The feelings that I’ve got about my childhood suck,” it was bad. Being able to live and integrate that into your life now and move on.

You are not your feeling. You are a whole lot more than that. - John Faisandier Click To Tweet

Let me give you another example of this. As you’re reading, I hope through my story, my past and reflection of what John is sharing as he’s doing therapy with me, ideally for you, is that somewhere in here, you see how it impacts you. This isn’t about me, frankly. It’s about you, as you’re reading and ideally finding the distinctions that matter for you because that’s what it comes down to. It’s what do you want, which someone got me to get clear on years ago that shifted my way of being, my way of operating. Another example of me years ago would have been a scenario living and operating in this 911 firefighter operating system that I would have swore like, “That’s where you get the best of me.” This is the best and it’s the best. Now I know you can have both. You can have peace, creativity, and amazing results at the same time. You don’t have to give up completely everything to do it.

If it’s good now, it will be good in a year or two so you can have a certain pace. Speaking of pace, what I know about what I did with a lot of my team who were especially my core inner circle way back then is I completely crushed them at my pace. I used to get frustrated and angry that they couldn’t keep up with me. I would at times lash out at them about, “You don’t meet our core values. If you’re not willing to be whatever it takes kind of person, be on call 24/7, run at my speed. Why can’t you keep up with me?” I remember being at meetings or masterminds and going, “I’m so frustrated. None of them can keep up with me. It drives me crazy.” They were there and available. They showed up every day, they did their work and I demanded more and more. What advice would you give for someone who might be dealing with some of this or maybe living that way now in that space?

The title of your show, Growth To Freedom, is a wonderful title and it means many different things. Some might mean if I have multimillion dollars in the bank then I’m free, but the freedom is within. The COVID-19, the Coronavirus is teaching us a lot about what we need to let go of. The real freedom is if I could let go of everything that I’ve got around me, could I be free? How free in myself am I? The practice of meditation is very good for this even for 15 or 30 minutes a day. Being on your own meditating and letting go of everything else around you is one of the benefits of meditating. It frees me up from all the other things that are so important and that I enjoy.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy them. I’m not living in the desert with a sackcloth and heating dry bread. I live well but freedom doesn’t come from having more things. As I grow older, I realized that I get closer and closer to death, the longer you live, the sooner you’re going to die. I’ve got to let go of everything anyway. For me, thinking along those lines and then also being motivated at the same time, I still have to work to get things done and to create something. I’ve dedicated my life to helping people understand their emotions so that they can live better. I want to create world peace. That’s my big why and I’m working on it one little step at a time. Part of this interview is one of the things I do for world peace.

GTF 279 | Thriving Under Fire

COVID-19 is teaching us a lot about what we need to let go of.


We’ve scratched the surface. How would this impact you if you put some of what John’s been sharing me? John, if people want to connect with you, if they want to learn more about how you help people thrive under fire, how you help them transform negative to positive emotions, give them some strategies to put in place, create more peace internally ideally, also shows up in their family externally and create their own world peace in their family and communities, where can they connect with you?

The best way is through my website. It’s If they do, there’s a short eBook on The Power Apology, making an effective apology because we all screw up all the time and being able to repair these relationships easily, you can do it through that. I have a special focus for people who work in the veterinary sector and they can get something at Others can look at it too. That’s the Thriving Under Fire Academy. I’ve got a whole program there for vets. I’ve got online learning that everybody can do as well. They can get that through my other website.

John, it’s been amazing to have you with us. What are 1 to 3 action steps you hope our readers take as a result of our time?

When you’re in this difficult moment, just breathe. Take your time, slow yourself down, get curious about yourself. Secondly, name your emotion and own it for yourself without judgment. Accept it and go, “How interesting that I feel like this.” Put it on the shelf, then let it go for now and relate to the person in front of you or to the situation. It’s about calming yourself down and dampening the fire in that sense. Attending to the impulse later when things are a bit calmer. That’s what I would want people to do. I’d love to have people contact me.

How would it impact you if you put that emotional elf over on the shelf? What would that do for you? Put that elf on the shelf next time. It’s later today or tomorrow depending on when you have an emotional flaring, we’ll call it. Look at it like an elf, picture it like the little elf. You’re going to set that elf over on the shelf and you’ll come back to them. You’ll come back and say, “What’s up?” Imagine how powerful that will be for you. That’s one strategy John shared of many. John, what should I have asked you that we didn’t cover?

Looking for something to be grateful for in the face of heightened emotions will help the way your brain functions. - John Faisandier Click To Tweet

The greatest folk can ask a question that the wisest man can’t answer. I reckon we’ve done well. I’ve enjoyed my conversation with you. I look forward to people putting this into practice. I’m very happy for people to contact me. Hopefully, this message doesn’t apply but stay at home.

John, thank you for your time, contribution, and sharing your vision of world peace. You can be an instrumental part of that world peace and it starts with you. It starts with inner peace, doesn’t it? It starts with you putting in some good practices to create freedom and peace internally, creating an emotional state of calm. How would that transform your business, life, relationships, and a whole lot more? I encourage you to take action with what John has shared with you. As a gift, if something here connected with you, share John’s interview with someone you care about. Share John’s message with someone you love. Share this message with someone who’s running a business, an entrepreneur who might be able to relate through our stories. Maybe you’ve got a boss or you work for someone who’s nuts like me to a degree and they need to hear what John shared about how to navigate that a little bit better. At the end of the day, you can have a great business. You can do amazing things and do it by having a high quality of life at the same time. There you have it. I encourage you to take action, seize the day, and make it a great week.

 Resources mentioned in this episode:

About John Faisandier

GTF 279 | Thriving Under FireHave you ever wondered how you could better manage those moments when the other person is difficult and emotional? They could be customers, colleagues, friends, or family.

There’s always someone in your life that’s a challenge. Well, my guest today has spent a lot of his life researching, teaching, and practicing the skills that could help you to manage your own emotions and emotional people.

He’s taught these skills to thousands of grateful people in many countries and he’s here with me to share a little of his story as an author, trainer, and entrepreneur.

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