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Susan David: How to Thrive with Emotional Courage

The Maliheh Paryavi Podcast

Release Date: 04/28/2019

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“How we deal with our inner world drives everything.  Every aspect of how we love, how we live, how we parent, and how we lead.” - Susan David


Susan David, Ph.D. is one of the world’s leading management thinkers and an award-winning Harvard Medical School psychologist. She is the author of #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling book, "Emotional Agility," and her TED Talk, “The Gift and Power of Emotional Courage,” went viral with over 1 million views in its first week of release.

By the time I discovered Susan David’s TED Talk, I had spent years engaging in research, self-exploration, and lots of trial and error to learn how to manage my inner world and befriend my emotions. As I heard her speak, I kept thinking, “Where have you been all this time?” I started following her work and when I decided to launch this podcast, I knew it was critical to feature Susan’s message. I reached out and feel so grateful that I had the opportunity to speak to her. We had an enriching conversation about how we can all learn to heal and manage our inner worlds, develop emotional courage and agility, and empower ourselves to thrive. From beginning to end, this episode is packed with powerful life and career-changing insights and inspiration. I hope you enjoy it!


Episode Breakdown:

  • 00:57 - What does it take, internally, to thrive in the world?
  • 04:38 - Why trying to “be positive” could be undermining your wellbeing and success
  • 08:35 - Why avoiding difficult emotions devalues your mental health, wellbeing, and ability to reach your goals
  • 12:14 - How to deal with and move through difficult emotions
  • 16:39 - What are your emotions trying to tell you?
  • 17:49 - Importance of being self-compassionate
  • 19:08 - The power of labeling our emotions
  • 21:07 - Embracing discomfort to have a meaningful life
  • 24:17 - How to strengthen your emotional courage and raise emotionally agile children
  • 29:30 - How to promote emotional courage in the workplace
  • 32:09 - How to model emotional courage and lead by example
  • 34:15 - The importance of learning to be with yourself and your emotions
  • 37:15 - How to connect with your intrinsic wants and sustain your goals
  • 40:52 - How to make small changes to transform your life
  • 45:54 - How to free yourself from limiting beliefs and stories
  • 50:26 - How to continue exploring your inner world


More about Susan David:

Susan David has a PhD in psychology (clinical) and a post-doctorate in emotions research from Yale. She is on faculty at Harvard Medical School and is co-founder and co-director of the Institute of Coaching at McLean Hospital, a Harvard Medical School affiliate. She has been awarded many prizes and scholarships for her academic work.

Named on the Thinkers50 global list of the top management thinkers, Susan has a passion for keynote speaking and management consulting, and is a renowned executive coach, who applies her knowledge of emotions, human motivation and change to individuals and organizations. She frequently works in the areas of personal leadership, culture, engagement, and people strategy. 

Susan has been an advisor to numerous leaders faced with difficult situations, including mergers and acquisitions, leadership transitions, and strategic revisions. She routinely consults at the most senior levels of Fortune 500 companies, and with other global organizations from industries as diverse as financial services, information technology, healthcare, utilities, pharmaceuticals, and mining. Her world-wide client list includes Ernst and Young Global, the World Economic Forum, the United Nations Development Program, BHP Billiton, JP Morgan Chase, GlaxoSmithKline, and Nestlé, among many other multinational firms.

She edited the definitive Oxford Handbook of Happiness with a foreword by His Majesty the King of Bhutan – the first country to measure Gross National Happiness (Oxford University Press, 2013). She also edited Beyond Goals: Effective Strategies for Coaching and Mentoring (Gower, 2013). She is a frequent contributor to the Harvard Business Review and her research has been featured in TIME, Fast Company, the Wall Street Journal, and Inc.com, among other major publications. Susan’s article Emotional Agility stayed on Harvard Business Review’s “Most Read” list for months. In a short time, nearly a quarter of a million people had downloaded it, and it was named by Harvard Business Review as an “Idea that Shaped Management” and was the winner of the Thinkers50 Breakthrough Idea Award. Its popularity was the impetus for her book by the same name, published by Penguin (Avery) which was named a #1 Wall Street Journal Best seller and has been translated into multiple languages. Susan’s TED Talk on the topic went viral with over 1 million views in its first week of release. She is a frequent contributor to the Harvard Business ReviewNew York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and guest on national radio and television.

Susan is a global citizen who loves to travel. She backpacked across the world for nearly two years and has lived in South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and now, Boston, USA. In December 2016 she will co-lead the first all-female expedition to Antarctica – it’s aim being to increase the influence and impact of women in science. In her daily life, Susan enjoys spending time with her two young children, Noah and Sophie, and her husband Anthony. She finds happiness in the small things while also managing a busy academic and working schedule.