Smart Athlete Podcast Ep. 76 - Matt Mills - GET UNCOMFORTABLE

It’s sort of like when I talk with an athlete or someone who wants to jump up and maybe do a marathon for the first time. Training for a marathon, first of all, anyone can do it. So, I, sometimes when people say like, I could never do that, that’s total crap.

“It’s sort of like when I talk with an athlete or someone who wants to jump up and maybe do a marathon for the first time. Training for a marathon, first of all, anyone can do it. So, I, sometimes when people say like, I could never do that, that’s total crap. You know, anybody can do it, you just have to put in the work. But you have to get a little bit uncomfortable.

If you’re lifting, if you are trying to become more powerful, more fit, even if you’re trying to lose weight; whatever your goal is, when it comes to fitness, or with running or whatever it might be. If you want to achieve that new goal, you’re going to have to accept that there’s going to be a little bit of discomfort.”

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JESSE: [01:05] Welcome to the Smart Athlete Podcast. I’m your host, Jesse Funk. My guest today is a former NCAA runner. He has his RCA and UESCA certified run coach or certifications. He has his master’s in guidance and counseling. He’s a professionally certified Life and Leadership coach. He’s the founder of Coaching on the Run, and his new project has been live just for a few weeks now Run to Thrive.

You can check that out. He’s also a pop culture fan, which we’re gonna get into that. There’s a reason probably that he’s that because of his background, he also and we’re definitely touching on this, mix plant-based cheeses at home. Welcome to the show, Matt Mills.

MATT MILLS: Thanks. It’s great to be here.

JESSE: [01:48] I always like when you kind of give me a handful of things to say. It just kind of gives me a little way to start the show and be like, all right, let’s start buzzing this off. But also, it’s fun because I get to see and frame not just for the person listening to us.

But in my own mind, like who you are, and it kind of gives me a little bit of a nugget, so to speak on, like the journey that you’ve taken to get here. It’s not like you just woke up one day and you’re like, I’m gonna coach people.

MATT MILLS: Yeah, exactly. Yeah.

JESSE: There’s lots of time and process behind all of those things that I just went through.


JESSE: Before we get too deep into the running stuff, which I’m sure we will. Can you give me a little bit of background on where you came from? So, I listened to another podcast you were on. I heard you were in the entertainment industry before you– [crosstalk] the switch over to, I’ll say athletic endeavors.

MATT MILLS: [02:54] Yeah. And even to back up from there to put in a little bit of running. You know, I’ve been a lifelong runner. But professionally, and I talked about this I’m a huge pop culture fanatic. Love everything, absorbed it all; movies, music, TV. And so for me, my dream was always like, when I was a young kid, I was like, I’m going to be Steven Spielberg, I’m going to be a filmmaker.

And so I just kind of thought, it’s a passion of mine. I’m so obsessed with it. So, I’m gonna make it my career. And I was fortunate enough to have the ability to pursue that. Not everybody can. So, when I graduated college, moved out to Los Angeles, pursued a career in the entertainment industry. And my older brother had already been established working in it as well.

And it was just something where I kind of didn’t know specifically what I was going to do in entertainment, but I just knew, I loved it. And I wanted to be a part of it. And so that was really how I started my career path working in that industry.

JESSE: [04:03] So, what did you end up– I mean, were you doing multiple things? Or like, what kind of led you through that and then I guess, out of the entertainment? Because as you mentioned a lot of people think, hey, this is absolutely something I want to do, myself included. But not everybody has the opportunity or takes the initiative to pursue that.

MATT MILLS: Yeah, yeah. And I’ve always kind of been one of those people. That’s just when I want to pursue a goal, want to pursue a dream, I’m just like, all right, I gotta figure it out how that happens. I don’t know how I’m gonna get there, but I’m gonna get there.

And that was really how I started pursuing that career path. I worked for a talent agency and then I worked for a film director and worked more on the creative development side which basically all that meant was, I was looking for ideas for movies. I was reading a lot of books, reading a lot of comic books, reading a lot of scripts. And on the outside, it looked like I was living the dream, and was having a lot of fun.

[05:15] But really, what I started to realize was, it was not as fulfilling as I thought it was going to be. And I was working really long hours, I was busting my butt doing quote-unquote, everything writes that I thought I had to. And there was just something that was super unfulfilling about it. Not only that, but I saw what my career path was possibly going to be in the future.

And it just wasn’t something that lit me up. At the same time, I was discovering things that were exciting me and things that were becoming my passion. And that was actually mentoring, that was teaching, that was coaching others. And actually, it took me seeing a coach to really help point that out.

[06:05] So, it was kind of this mix of something that didn’t feel right with the career path that I was pursuing. And it was really hard for me to deal with because it was something that was a lifelong dream. I was like, no, no, this is what I thought I was always going to be doing, there must be something off about this career path that I’m going after.

And when I, fortunately, discovered something that was really calling me a little bit more loudly. Again, that coaching, that teaching, helping and working with others, then I started to really lean into that and just follow that thread.

And that’s something that I talk to my clients about is really when you kind of have that inner instinct that sparks something in there that you think might be telling you something, you really owe it to yourself to follow it.

[07:01] And so that’s what I did. And it led me to do a couple of cool things. I actually, from entertainment, I went to Tanzania for a year and taught English. And then realized I still wanted to continue to pursue teaching, coaching. And so I just went all in with that and never looked back.

JESSE: You know, as your kind of telling your story. It makes me think about how it had to have been a tough situation to be in, right? So, as you said, you feel like you’re doing everything right, and you are doing the thing that you thought you should be doing that would bring you that fulfillment, but then it ends up you know, kind of leaving a hole there.

It’s not quite where you want it to be. It reminds me when I spoke to former professional triathlete, Vanessa Raw, she raced for 10, 15 years professionally. And it was somewhat of a similar situation where like, she’s very good at sport. And there’s tons of work that has to be done to do it.

But it was like she felt a lot of pressure from other people who are telling her how good she was rather than [crosstalk] feeling that inner fulfillment where like she’s– She’s an artist by trade and that’s what she does now full time.

[08:27] It’s a tough position to begin, because the people that are, I guess I’m trying to be empathetic with you. Because the people that are envious of your position are like, “Well, Matt, like you have everything I could ever want. are you unhappy?” You know? And that’s like this compression on top of all the issues you’re already feeling and not feeling.

MATT MILLS: [08:55] For sure. Yeah. And you hit on. It’s also sometimes when we hear from other people, when we get that validation, or we hear from others when they’re defining what our identity is. And I heard a lot of that, too.

You know, I was working really hard and moving up in my career pretty fast when I was working in entertainment. And I had a lot of people telling me, “Oh, you’re really talented, you’re gonna have a really successful career, you’re doing a great job.” And then you think that that becomes your identity, what other people are telling you.

And so I love that example of that triathlete is that you almost feel like you are betraying that identity, you feel like, oh, my gosh, this is what everyone else is telling me that I’m really good at. So, what am I missing?

[09:47] And actually, you need to ask the other question of like, what is it that I want, instead of what does everybody else want from me? And that was– When I have that switch and started owning more of what was more in alignment with my integrity, and what it is that I wanted, it opened up a lot more. And that’s always the hardest step is to really acknowledge that it doesn’t have to be the way that everyone else thinks it has to be for you.

JESSE: [10:20] Right. I have to kind of check myself on some of this sometimes, because I’ve always had a lot of little ambitions. Like I want to do this, or I want to do that, and a lot of different interests and hobbies in various fields. And the truth is, you can only be really great at one or two things because you have to specialize.

But when I come with dilemmas like that it’s a little mccobb. But I always try to frame it in two ways. But predominantly thinking about the eight-year-old version of me like, am I going to be satisfied? If I continue down this path? Am I gonna be happy with the thing that I did when I’m on my deathbed? Am I gonna say that was a life well lived?

Or did I have another path, another purpose here on Earth, here in this life that I could have pursued that would have brought me greater fulfillment? Or, and possibly, or and, and or impacted more people?

MATT MILLS: [11:27] Yep. And one thing I would add to that is, it is okay to change. And you will. So, I talk a lot about values in my work, and how important that is. Not just with runners, but with other people who are trying to achieve more of that fulfillment and success in their life. And you might value something at one point in time.

But given whatever circumstances, maybe you have a family or maybe you’re living in a part of the country or you have a particular job, your value is going to change from time to time. There might be times when you value more of that security. Another time, you might value [unclear 12:10] more that challenge or that adventure.

[12:12] So, I think it’s giving yourself permission to know that things might change. And it’s okay for that to happen. Just because that change does happen doesn’t mean that you failed in any way. Doesn’t mean that something’s wrong.

But sometimes we think that that’s the case because we look at others, or we’re not sure what the right answer is, and not to get too kind of philosophical about this but that’s what life is about. Nobody has the answer. Nobody knows what’s going to happen in anyone’s life in five to 10 years. And I think if you embrace that, it’s exciting and it can actually bring a little bit of relief.

JESSE: [12:57] I always feel like, this is a little bit of a sidebar. But I always feel like the realization that nobody knows what they’re doing, is when you really become an adult.

MATT MILLS: Yes. Yeah.

JESSE: Like that’s the moment. Whatever age it is [unclear 13:15] that’s the moment you cross over into the realization. And then the next step, which hopefully is freeing is that well, nobody else knows what’s going on, then I’m free to do whatever I want to do.

MATT MILLS: Right. Right. Yeah. And that’s a hard concept I think for people to accept sometimes.

JESSE: Right. [crosstalk] Well, we grow up with teachers telling us what to do all the time, right?

MATT MILLS: That’s right.

JESSE: That’s what we’re– Hey, go to this class, do this assignment, how do we break out of that?

MATT MILLS: [13:46] And that follows us into our working lives too. You know, I think that’s where– And even for me, that was a bit of a hard switch was going from this employee mindset. And again, like working really hard, showing up all the time to do for whatever somebody else has set out for you to do to that shift of an entrepreneur where really, you’re answering to yourself, and you don’t have those restrictions or parameters in place. So, I think that mindset, it can carry over to us for a long time.

JESSE: So, how did you make that shift? I mean, you had to go through it, and it’s not– I think I heard you on the podcast, I listened to you talk about the shift with COVID, where everybody’s at home now. And that’s a perspective where it’s like, you have to shift. It’s simply that’s the way things are versus as I understand it, your situation where you consciously made this decision to make that shift. So, how do you go through that kind of motion?

MATT MILLS: [15:00] Not to kind of equate it to what you hear with companies but it is that idea of pivoting. You know, a lot of companies, if something’s not working well, they’re not going to keep going and be stubborn about it. They’re going to pivot and they’re going to try new things, and they’re going to take chances.

And I did have when I was kind of going through that period of self-discovery when I was realizing oh, you know what, I think I’m meant to be doing something else, at least for now. It really was just giving into that idea of, okay, how can I not force, just like force how things are the way they are, and keep that status quo? But how can I pivot and lean into something that’s a little bit different?

And so I just, I was trying different things. And it’s still, it’s always a process of experimentation.

[15:57] Even in my business now it’s all of the time, it’s how can I just improve? How can I change? How can I adapt? How can I, you know, given the needs of what my clients are, given the needs of what my business is? You’re always pivoting. So, I think what happened with me was I started to just listen in to myself and listen to what felt right, and was more in my gut, rather than, again, what my brain was telling me.

And so how I made that switch was I just, I explored it. So, when I realized I had never thought of myself as like a teacher or a coach. But then when I got that bug and was starting to be more curious about it, I just followed that curiosity. So, I talked to teachers, I talked to coaches, I explored where I could express that more. And so that was really how I made that shift.

[17:02] And that was something that’s continued with me today. Where it’s just, instead of forcing something, it’s really exploring it and trying to see like, okay, for example, if I’m afraid of making a change in my business, let me get curious about that. And let me just see what that’s trying to tell me and where can I explore that and pursue that further? So, I think it’s really just like leaning into that curiosity and just trying it out. And knowing that you might hit on the right answer, it might be a dead end, but either way, it’s okay.

JESSE: [17:34] You know, you kind of touched on having a fear about that change. I feel like that’s the main motivator that holds us back from making that change is that fear. There’s some kind of nagging anxiety inside of us in our chest where we’re like, ugh, I’m more comfortable with where I am. I talked about this or asked a guest about this on occasion. There’s the, I’ll call it a parable, but about a dog that’s long on the nail, and he’s uncomfortable, but not uncomfortable enough to move. And that’s what I equate it to where it’s like, something’s wrong, but we’re afraid that it’s going to be even more painful if we go somewhere else.

MATT MILLS: That’s right. That’s right.

JESSE: Whereas it’s more like, the rest of the deck that the dogs laying on is completely open. There’s no more nails if he just moved like [unclear 18:29]. Obviously, that’s not perfectly true. Sometimes you run into another nail. But it always just, I wish I could will people forward sometimes when you can see that they’re sitting on the nail, and they haven’t yet found the proper motivation internally to get off of it.

MATT MILLS: [18:54] Yeah. And I’ve always loved that analogy. And I sometimes use that with people I’m talking with is that the one that I use is a fly that you see. And it’s hitting against the wall, but they don’t realize that the open window is right next to where that fly is hitting into the window. And I also, the thing is, sometimes we do think we have to deal with the discomfort. And a lot of times people don’t change until the pain becomes greater than what they can tolerate.

But the thing is if you acknowledge that change and growth is going to be a little bit uncomfortable too, then you’re going to be a little bit more accepting into taking those chances. And so I think the one idea that I always kind of follow is like, you’re going to have to be comfortable getting uncomfortable.

[19:52] I even honestly, to tie it into running, it’s sort of like when I talk with an athlete or someone who wants to jump up and maybe do a marathon for the first time. Training for a marathon, first of all, anyone can do it. So, I, sometimes when people say like, I could never do that, that’s total crap. You know, anybody can do it, you just have to put in the work. But you have to get a little bit uncomfortable.

If you’re lifting, if you are trying to become more powerful, more fit, even if you’re trying to lose weight; whatever your goal is, when it comes to fitness, or with running or whatever it might be. If you want to achieve that new goal, you’re going to have to accept that there’s going to be a little bit of discomfort. But if the end result is more worth it, for you to step into that discomfort, you’ll put in the work, you’ll put in the effort. So, it really is just acknowledging and accepting that there’s going to be a little bit of maybe growth, discomfort, and pain.

JESSE: [20:53] The thing I always struggle with is how trying to get inside, like the mental mechanisms of people and trying to see and figure out where is that switch? Because as you mentioned, oftentimes, people aren’t motivated until the discomfort is great enough that they decide to move. But there’s also the times when people are motivated by a positive outcome, rather than avoiding a negative.

Although, I think we tend towards avoiding negative things versus chasing positive things. It almost seems mysterious or magical to me like what that turning point is for people, you know. I’m sure you encounter that in your professional life since you deal with these kinds of situations I would guess pretty frequently.

MATT MILLS: [21:54] Yeah, yeah. I think that’s totally true, is that the fears, the limiting beliefs, like those are things that’s even the most successful people who you think have all that together. Like, I loved how you were saying earlier, you’re just like when you become an adult, you realize nobody knows what they’re doing. And I just, yeah, that’s something like, when you’re really afraid of something, it’s like, everybody feels that. So, you have to acknowledge that.

JESSE: [22:30] Yeah. Do you have any good examples of not necessarily like, identifying information, obviously. But like clients, you’ve worked with that you’ve seen kind of struggle, and then you’ve helped them turn the corner or they kind of come to this point, where they say enough’s enough.

MATT MILLS: [22:49] Yeah, I think– So, I’ve worked with a lot of people, whether they want to improve something, or they’re in transition, and they really want to make some sort of positive change. And so, honestly, it’s a lot of my clients who are coming to me, and they’re just, they’re either stressed or burned out, they’re overwhelmed. I mean, burnout is a huge thing that people really deal with. And they don’t know where to start, they don’t know where it is that they need to make that change, like what it is that they need to do.

And so that’s why for my work, I help them get moving, really get them started with running because that is something– I think that’s why running is so great is it really helps you to get uncomfortable immediately, and know how to overcome that.

[23:40] So, it’s something you can actually prove yourself. Because sometimes our thoughts like overcoming those fears, overcoming those limiting beliefs, easier said than done. Those are things that you live with your brain all of the time. But if you can train yourself, if you can get a little bit more uncomfortable, physically and really trying to, I get more into that mindset of knowing, okay. I went out for a run, it felt really painful today.

But then the next day, it didn’t feel as painful, then it can apply to other areas of your life where you can feel like, all right, you know what, I was really, really scared to have that conversation with my boss or with my spouse or, you know, there was some– I was afraid to sit down and start writing this book. But again, it’s like if you’ve taken that action going on the run, you’re going to be able to overcome some of those fears, those thoughts and apply it to other areas of your life and work.

JESSE: [24:43] You know, the interesting thing is I– and maybe that’s how you arrived at where you are. Because I think we both started running at a relatively young age. You know, it seems like running is really a microcosm of all these other things that we do, right? These many challenges, good days, bad days, lethargic days, all these things have parallels in all of our other endeavors in life. Right? And so you mentioned this in the other podcasts as well, if you don’t like to run, don’t run.

Like I don’t think either of us would say everybody has to run. It’s [unclear 25:24]. But it’s like if you go through these motions and I don’t mean phone it in. But like you do these things, you’re really training yourself to be a better person, once you connect all the dots between getting up at 5:00 AM to run and overcoming other challenges.

Like doing things you don’t necessarily want to do for greater positive benefit for yourself. So, I mean, is that philosophy, thinking about that, where you’ve come from starting running at a young age to now; is that how things kind of came in? Or did you bring them all together in a different fashion?

MATT MILLS: [26:10] No, I mean, there’s always been these moments where I’ve faced these times when I’ve needed to really, when I– Again, where I felt maybe more of that pain and I felt like I needed to grow a little bit more. And running was just always something that was just part of my life. I didn’t really tie the two together. And then it was just at a point not that long ago, where I was looking back, just doing some self-reflection, and was wondering these moments like, when I was burned out and looking for a career change, or when I was trying to figure out the answer to something else in my life.

And I just recognized that I always turn to running in those moments, when I needed to really just be more of a clear of mind when I needed to push myself a little bit more. When I also just needed something to distract, or to get away from what it was that I was challenged– what I was being challenged by, I would always turn to running.

[27:20] And I did notice other people were experiencing that as well. And so that was really, I mean, how it all kind of came together. It was just something that I recognized it was something that a lot of people, I think they, especially those who are runners, they’ve experienced some sort of transformation themselves in that way. So, it really wasn’t something that just kind of came naturally.

I did have to really think about it. But it was when I realized like what was kind of everything that was tying together these moments when I needed to grow, needed to challenge myself a little bit more. And it was always running that helped me stay steady. And come through that.

JESSE: [28:11] It seems like you and I and many of the other runners I speak to you all have these kinds of common experiences with running. And it brings me back to the kind of fundamental question of running, Chris McDougall addresses in his book, Born to Run. So, I wonder, are we born to run? You know, you mentioned anybody can do it. If anybody wants to run a marathon, like they can.

And Chris makes a pretty good argument that we are all physiologically built to run. But thinking about Run to Thrive, you know, you’re not just talking about the physicality of it. You’re talking about the mental side, the spiritual side of it. So, I guess, I’ll ask you your opinion, are we born to run? Is that part of who we are as humans?

MATT MILLS: [29:07] That’s an interesting question. Are we born to run? You know, I don’t know. Not everybody is– that’s not like, are we born good, are we born bad? You know, it’s– or nature versus nurture kind of thing. You know, I don’t think everybody is. I think, look, running did not come naturally to me when I started. It was something– I was overweight. It was like the last thing.

I loved watching movies in my basement, playing video games, all that kind of stuff. It just, it really didn’t come naturally. I think we’re all born with a runner’s spirit. I think we are all born with the potential to grow into something bigger than we think we can be.

And I think running can teach you that on micro-level and that’s why I’ve really kind of tied that together. But I think the lessons that you can learn from the physical act of running is what can help bring you, bridge that gap to your ideal self, to where you are right now.

[30:20] So, I don’t know if we’re born or run. But I do think that everybody really is born with that innate spirit of a runner that they can use to have a really strong mind, I really have a deeper purpose, and then also just be in– have, like a really healthy lifestyle and healthy body.

And that can look a million different ways. It does not mean you need to be like a razor-thin marathoner athlete with six-pack and all that kind of stuff. So, as long as you have that spirit, you can do anything.

JESSE: [31:01] Yeah, I actually kind of just addressed that in a video I did for– I do a different show just about running where I talked about running and talking about should runners be skinny or is there like a perfect weight or anything like that. It’s like, no, maybe there’s an optimal weight for you. But there’s a lot of different ways that you can reach that like, kind of ideal place. But beyond– [crosstalk]

MATT MILLS: I will never not have a gut. I mean it’s not huge. It’s not, you know. But like I can’t get a six-pack to save my life. Nor do I need one.

JESSE: I’m glad somebody else [unclear 31:36]. I definitely have a little bit of fat I can lose. But historically, I just can’t– I’ve never had a six-pack. Other guys I ran with in college they did, even though I would run faster than them. I say this jokingly, I don’t mean to be insensitive in terms of people that have body image issues. But I always say like I was the fat guy on the team. Because comparatively speaking, I carry more body fat than all the other guys, yet continue to be one of the fastest. So, I like to use myself in some sense as a case study of like, you don’t have to be razor-thin to be fast.

Nor do you have to just weigh very little. I talked about that in that episode. But getting too off track. I did want to ask you more about Run to Thrive because again, you’re focusing beyond just the physicality. We’re not just coaching on hey, how do you run a marathon.

Like, you can come to me, you can come to you, you can come to any number of coaches [unclear 32:43] help you figure out how to run a marathon. But you’re talking about addressing the mind just in the spirit. And I asked this question a little jokingly because I’ve been watching American Horror Story. But are you building a cult here? Like what is Run to Thrive?

MATT MILLS: [33:02] Yeah, it’s not a cult. But really, what it is, is it’s helping people become better leaders. So, I think running is one of the biggest acts of self-leadership. And really, one of the big philosophies that I believe is that you are a leader, whether by choice or by default.

And what I mean by that is you don’t have to be anointed, in order to be a leader in your life. You don’t need to be– have it in title. You know, everybody’s a leader. And everything that you do is an act of self-leadership. Getting out of bed in the morning, that’s leadership, that’s taking leadership.

So, that’s really what I’m trying to help people with is how to become better leaders in their life, how to become a better leader in their work, in their home, whatever it might be, and just really using running as the vessel in order to do that. And in order to really be that effective leader, you need to have that strong mind, body, and spirit, that deeper purpose.

[34:06] And I think when people find that they are taking more leadership in their life, then they’re living their life, they’re not living somebody else’s. So, it really ties back to that. It’s like when you feel like you are doing things because you think you have to or because somebody else thinks that you should be doing them or you’re comparing yourself to other people.

I mean, that’s what we see a lot in today’s world, especially in social media and just comparing yourself to other people. But when you break away from that, you’re like, I’m gonna just stay true to who I am, and go after what it is that I want, then you really become a leader.

[34:46] And so really what Run to Thrive, Coaching on the Run, what it does is it really helps people discover how to do that. How to have more of that fulfillment, that success that energy, engagement, enjoyment in their life. And in all aspects, not just as how to be a better runner, but you know, I really believe that when you do get started running, you are going to experience change for the better in all aspects of your life.

So, really, that’s the goal. That’s the aim for Run to Thrive is really just helping you have more of that fulfillment through being a better leader for yourself and for others.

JESSE: [35:29] Not to be too cheesy, but tying it back to the entertainment industry, it’s like being the lead character in your own movie, right? Instead of being– [crosstalk]

MATT MILLS: Yeah, that’s right.

JESSE: –a side character. Like you’re the star of your show and what you’re doing.

MATT MILLS: [35:46] Yeah. Actually, I was listening to a podcast. And his whole message was he was saying, “My whole life, I’ve been Robin seeking out Batman.” And he was not saying that as like, that’s what everybody should be doing. He was saying, you know what?

I’ve lived in fear and I’ve always wanted to do something– like I’ve always lived– made my decisions, and live my life based upon what I think is going to be the right decision wondering how it’s gonna make me look for others. But really, instead of being the Robin looking for your Batman, and this kind of ties into the pop culture, [unclear 36:21] Batman is my favorite superhero and I love all of that.

JESSE: You need to become Batman.

MATT MILLS: But you wanna be the superhero in your own movie. Because I actually believe that that’s one of the analogies that I use with running is you can become the warrior runner, you can become a superhero. I actually do believe that running gives you a form of superpowers that you can use. Which, if you want to call it being a better leader, or just being a superhero, running will do that for you.

JESSE: [36:51] Right. Well, it’s like in some essence, you can be like, you can write it off and say, okay, that’s cheesy. Like that’s just a weird guy. He likes comics. Okay. Who cares? But you know, different areas strike chords with different people. But the imagery, I think, is important because when you just say be a better leader, it doesn’t paint a picture, does it? Right?


JESSE: You know, when you say you need to be your own Batman or whatever. We know who Batman is like, we know the character arc. We know all these things. And it paints so much more of a vivid idea of who we should be or who we can be than just saying, be a leader in your own life. You know, be a superhero. That’s a big statement.

MATT MILLS: [37:46] I totally agree. And you know, what people always and for anyone who loves and follows superheroes, they know that superheroes are flawed. Superheroes are flawed and they have these journeys where either they had a tragedy that they had to overcome. Like, honestly if you think of any superhero movie or any superhero story, it’s not just hey, I was born with these powers, and everything is great. Or I was bestowed these powers, now everything is great and amazing.

They always have some sort of adversity, and they’re usually inner demons and outer demons. Or inner villains or outer villains, whatever the case may be. And so I completely agree, you’re right. It’s like it leaders aren’t perfect. And so to equate it more with being that superhero, it’s more appropriate because it’s going through some– knowing that you have some of this, the struggles that are inside of you, and just overcoming it to help yourself and for others because that’s what superheroes do.

JESSE: [39:00] Yeah. Yeah. It reminds me too, you know, as you’re talking, it reminds me of Joseph Campbell, who I don’t know if you’re familiar. Yeah.

MATT MILLS: Oh, yeah. The hero’s journey, yeah.

JESSE: Right. He talks all about the hero’s journey. And it’s like– So, if you listening is not familiar with Joseph Campbell, I know Netflix for a time had his whole like lecture series on there. I don’t know if they still have it but you can find it online.

And the great thing about Joseph Campbell’s kind of lecture series all on the hero’s journey is that he’s talking about us living our best lives through allegory stories, parables, all these different like stories humanity tells over time, that regardless of culture seem to mimic each other and try their best to explain our condition as human beings and how to return potential.

And you know, in our case, currently with pop culture superheroes have kind of taken the forefront of being that literal hero’s journey to become the best version of ourselves.

MATT MILLS: [40:13] Yep. Yeah. Yeah. Totally. And I love– I talk about that too on Run to Thrive, and I talk about that it is about the hero’s journey. And same thing, the hero’s journey, you can’t have a hero’s journey without obstacles in your way. You can’t get to blowing up the Death Star without going into the Sarlacc pit. You can’t beat Thanos without half the world getting snaps into oblivion, and then having to figure that out.

So, it’s just like, there’s always going to be those challenges that are in your way. And so it’s just how willing are you to use your own powers. And that’s what I love about the superhero analogy with runners too is everyone has different powers. Everyone has different strengths. And it’s not just physical. It is really that on the mental side, on the spiritual side, all of that. And so it’s how are you going to tap into those strengths to overcome those challenges?

JESSE: [41:30] Okay, Matt. So, you don’t run late on your next appointment, I want to ask you– There’s a question I’m asking everybody this season. And because of what you do, it seems particularly poignant for you. I’m asking everybody, what do you think the purpose of sport is?

MATT MILLS: [41:50] It’s a great question. What do I think the purpose of sport, I think it’s– I’m going to speak this on an individual level. Because I think sport, we can think about, like the purpose it serves for watching it or whatever. But for me, obviously, I’m an active participant, I’m an athlete. I coach people who are, whether they admit it or not any runner is an athlete, whether you go out for once or not.

JESSE: Agree.

MATT MILLS: I think the purpose of sport and particularly for something like running it is to discover something else about ourselves, and that we might not see otherwise. And so really, the purpose is for us to be able to grow personally, to discover those powers, those superpowers. And also to push ourselves to live life to the fullest. And so that’s why I say it’s on an individual level, I think the purpose of it is really to help us become a better version of who we already are.

And for me, I believe running can do that. I believe a lot of other sports, whatever it is for you, that’s what you should do. But I think having that sport and really embracing it, and also engaging in it, it can teach you more about yourself than you ever thought possible.

JESSE: [43:25] Great answer. Matt, if people want to get in touch with you, see what you’re up to, connect, any of that kind of stuff, where can they find you?

MATT MILLS: [43:34] Yeah. So you can go to, that’s the name of my company. On there, if you sign up, you can get a whole jumpstart, your running toolkit, which has a running plan, a running journal, a guided run. It’s a really cool package that you can get. Also, Instagram at CoachingontheRun, Facebook at CoachingontheRun. And then also listen and subscribe to Run to Thrive. That’s on all major podcast platforms.

JESSE: Sounds good. Thanks for hanging out with me today, Matt.

MATT MILLS: It’s been great. I appreciate you having me on.

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