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About Jason Abell

I was introduced to a form of Neuroscience-Based Executive Coaching & Leadership Development that not only helped me become one of the most successful mortgage bankers in the country (running a branch funding in excess of $500 million in residential home loans per year and lifetime personal fundings of nearly $1 billion), but also helped me go from 70 to 35-hour work weeks while being MORE productive than ever before.


About Steve Scanlon

More than 20 years ago I attended a conference that changed the trajectory of my entire life. When I listened to the speaker talk about coaching, it resonated with me on a deep level. It was like I had unexpectedly stumbled upon my life purpose and I knew things would never be the same again.


In this episode Steve and Jason discuss:

  • The weeds and grass analogy
  • We all need hope and positivity
  • Taking action and doing it now
  • Resources and mindsets useful for reducing stress


Key Takeaways 

  • Remember the weeds and grass analogy. Crowd out the negative thinking with hopeful, generative, positive ideas. Think about the possibilities, not only about what is but what could be.
  • We all need hope and positivity, real and honest positivity that acknowledges reality while still looking out for possibilities.
  • When’s the best time to plant an oak tree? 25 years ago. When’s the second best time? Today! You might be doing it late, but what’s important is that you’re doing it now. Take action.
  • A daily practice of meditation decreases stress, do it 10 minutes a day. If you think you don’t have 10 minutes, take a deep breath through your nose. When you feel something, don’t try to make it go away. Instead, invite it in and name it because if you can name it, you can tame it.


“The weeds are either gonna crowd out the good grass or the good grass is gonna crowd out the weeds - with our minds, it’s the same exact thing… If the weeds are crowding out the good things, then our actions are gonna be weed-like and the opposite is also true.” - Jason Abell


“If we can name it, then we can tame it… What we resist, persists.” - Steve Scanlon


Book Mentioned:

“Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die” by Dan and Chip Heath


Connect with Steve and Jason:




Listen to the podcast here


Jason and Steve: The Acronym Episode

This episode is different in a very good way. We've got some pretty neat things to talk about. We're going to title this episode The Acronym Episode because we've got some acronyms that we need to talk about.

There was a book written one time that I know many readers will have heard about. It was called Made to Stick. It is a great marketing book. It was Chip and Dan Heath. They've subsequently written other books, but Made to Stick is one of the books they wrote that spoke about acronyms. The irony of it was they made the point that they've done a lot of research or at least researched the research that acronyms don't work.

It is branding. It feels fun to do them, but I don't know if they work.

In Made to Stick, they were trying to find things that stuck. People like us think, "Here's our acronym." At the end of the day, people don't remember them as well as people think, but we continue to do them. We're going to do it again.

This is the acronym episode of the show. Let's dive right in. We've got some things that we're doing. We've even dropped a few episodes of a series called the What If We series. We've had some people say, "Thanks for doing that. That hit me in a particular way that I needed." You and I were talking about it. My first question to you would be, first of all, what is the What If We series?

The What If We series is a series inside this show. The show is already titled like this because we're trying to draw out insights from other people. It already had that. In a lot of markets and vertical industries we serve, it's tough going. One of the things that we noticed, and we get this in our coaching a lot, especially in good coaching, is we're trying to bring people towards something. For a lot of our clients come in and a lot of people now, the reality is reality. I want to point that out even as we talk about forward-facing things, looking forward to things, and all this positive stuff.

In good coaching, we're trying to bring people towards something.

I note that executive coaching is inextricably linked to positive psychology. Through the IOC or the Institute of Coaching, they're becoming increasingly linked. It happened when we were in a meeting because we do this as an organization. We come together and go, "What if we did this? What if we did that?" The What If We series is about generating ideas and thoughts. It has its derivation in positive psych because when we're doing that, we're noodling with mindset change ourselves.

The contrast is we can sit around and go, "Rates have gone up. The economy is this. Inflation is that. Cost containment is this." We're never about denying reality ever, but the truth of the matter is, can we also get back to being generative? It's the acronym session, but it's a bad one. It's not WIW. No one's going to remember that. It's horrible. It stood for What If We.

If you're a reader and you have a weekly meeting, maybe you take some time during that meeting loop to stop and be generative with your people. Let's skip back to some, "What if we did this? What if we did that? What about this program? What about that platform? What about this?" There are some cool things going on now because some people in the industries we serve are doing some cool What if Wes. We're seeing out of this some cool stuff.

I'm thinking of two analogies. For the people that have yards and grass, you're dealing with your grass and weeds. That can happen. The weeds are either going to crowd out the good grass or the good grass is going to crowd out the weeds. In our minds, it's the same exact thing. We watch too much news and hear about inflation, recession, how interest rates are rising, or whatever bad news du jour is out there. It constantly is in our brains that can crowd out some of the hopeful thinking, the generative thinking, and the things that can be positive and forward-looking.

The opposite can happen also. The good thing is if you're talking about, "What are the possibilities? What if we try that? What about if we do some programs, some different thought processes, some different scripts, and some different morning routines?" It's not that you need to go out and do everything right away, but it does have the possibility of crowding out the negativity.

TII Jason and Steve  | Acronyms

Acronyms: Whatever bad news is out there constantly in our brains can crowd out some of the hopeful, generative thinking, and some of the things that can be positive and forward-looking. But the opposite can happen also.


In fact, the What If We series was the byproduct of saying, "What if we did this ourselves?" We could have kept doing the interviews, and we'll get back to that. We're going to be doing some interviews. I got to tell you. Check out the last 2 or 3 episodes because we've interviewed some cool people who I have specifically and tangibly asked, "Give me 2 to 3 good What If Wes right now." It is really tactical. It's not like, "We should be good." They were going, "What if we did this?" They gave me some tangible things. I want to invite the audience to go back and check out Kurt Reisig. All of them have been great so far.

I think about that. We all need hope. We all need positivity, not this toxic positivity like, "Everything is awesome all the time, no matter what." That's not what we're saying at all. What we are saying is if you are thinking about the possibilities or you hear somebody we interview talking about different ideas, maybe it's not that you take that specific idea and go for it. Maybe it is, but maybe it creates some thought process when you're talking to the people that you lead, your clients, or even at home with your families and friends. I know that I get that outside of work as well. I'm like, "What's going on with the economy?" We can talk about reality. We're not going to deny it. At the same time, if we can crowd out that negativity and spiral in a good direction, that's that.

That's the trick.

It's not easy.

I'm listening to you, and if I'm the reader, I'm going, "Do you mean to crowd that stuff out? Thanks." That's why we coach. We're able to listen to that. I loved how you said that. We never come in and go, "I don't want to hear about reality." That will make you dysfunctional quickly. The way you were describing grass and weeds, that's not even that far off of how dendrites and neuropathways go.

Our brain is the lawn of our lives.

If you have a habit and you're doing something, and you stop doing that for a long time, that neuropathway is always there. To give you a little neuroscience, when you don't use that neuropathway, in other words, you don't actively activate that habit, these things called dendrites grow on the synaptic exchanges. If you blew that up, it could look like weeds and grass. It overgrows it. That was a pretty cool analogy.

We have a choice as leaders of our teams and our organizations as industries on how our thought process is. You and I are in the business where we see that our thinking drives our actions. If the weeds are crowding out the good things, then our actions are going to be weed-like. That's how it manifests itself. The opposite is also true. If you're thinking about the What If Wes and you've got that good grass growing, then your actions will be good grass type of actions, not weed type of actions. There are some other acronyms. You've got a challenge you're running now with some of your clients.

We have a choice as leaders of our teams, organizations, and industries, how our thought process is.


A byproduct of What If We with one of my clients is we came up with the ASO challenge. The challenge had to do with the three months of August, September, and October. There are many industries that we deal with, and those are crucial months. Somebody could argue that February, March, and April are crucial months. Anyone could say that. These three months set up the end of the year. We've done some different challenges. We're always going to be pursuing the goals of our clients in any given month. We get to the holiday season.

I don't care how long you've been in business. It always seems to mystify people that things curtail in that season. It doesn't mean we can't be disciplined. It doesn't mean we can't have goals. We can do certain things to set up that season to end the year well and kick off the next one. Those are the months of August, September, and October. With some of my clients, we did a What If We session. I don't think I can take credit for it. It was one of my clients that had the idea, which was cool because it was their What If Wes. They put together a little three-month challenge or 90-day challenge. There is something very interesting about 90 days that you and I have discovered. Annual things are great. They're difficult to stick to because of how the world shakes and moves.

The ASO stood for August, September, and October. It was a way to come back and say, "How can we galvanize a team, bring people together, and do something even fun and generative by saying, 'How many calls can we make? Can we go out to our database? How much social media stuff can we get involved with and follow up with things?'" I don't know that the ASO challenge was creating some radically new stuff, but what it was doing was, at least, positive and generative. By getting into the challenge, people were then having meetings talking about, "What are you doing? How you're doing?" It was exactly what you were talking about. We're not talking about the weeds. We're talking about the grass.

One of the things that I like about the ASO is the fact that it's you running it as a challenge. I remember the last time you and I did an episode. We were talking about Growth in Scarcity. One of the topics that we brought up is what helps is community. The challenge piece of ASO is you're doing it in a community even if your community is this show and our voices where you go, "There are other people that are doing ASO? I want to do ASO. For the next 90 days, here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to sprint there."

One is the community aspect of it. Two, it is sprinting versus marathoning. The marathon for the year or the annual goals is great. There are a lot of things about them that work. When you can go, "For the next 90 days, this is what I'm going to do," there's something that happens between your galvanizing some effort around that short period of time.

We're coaches. I can't help but think as you were saying that about the Hawthorne Effect. You want to go look up and Google the Hawthorne Effect.

It is the HE.

You can go Google what the Hawthorne Effect is. Read that whole thing that happened. My recollection is it was in the '50s in Chicago, and the company called the Hawthorne Company studied these people making widgets on an assembly line. They changed the lighting because they wanted to do more of it. When they changed the lighting, people produced more. Scientific methods say if you want to prove something after you prove it, you disprove it.

They took the lighting down and put the old lighting back up, waiting for people to produce less. What happened is it went up 10% more with the old lighting. I'm sure it's much more complex than this. They studied it. They looked at it. What they realized was the people that were looking with the lighting knew what was happening. The Hawthorne Effect is this scientific effect that says what gets measured gets done when we know we're being measured.

This little ASO challenge can also trigger the Hawthorne Effect because you're at least looking at something positive. I know a lot of clients have done different challenges than this and that. If you've got something else, that is great. Create an acronym around it and go, but keep What If We-ing. There are too many people out there that are coming in, and for them, it's this reality, and it's true. The question is, is it generative? Is it creating? Are you pointing toward something? Is that a perpetual dose of reality?

People are going to hear this midway through August. You will note, "This happens all the time." Your brain's going to have 5,000 reasons not to do this. You're like, "August already happened. I don't care." Have a MASO challenge. That is Mid-August, September, and October. You and I will do a whole episode on why it's scientifically valid to start in the middle of August. The truth of the matter is that it's all we have.

The truth of the matter is the best time to start is now. It doesn't matter if it's at the end of August.

TII Jason and Steve  | Acronyms

Acronyms: The truth of the matter is that the best time to start is right now.


It could be the end of the August, September, and October challenge. When's the best time to plant an oak tree? Many years ago. When is the second best time? Now.

It makes me think of two things. I'm even taking notes as we're talking because I've got some things I'd like to start. One is you thinking about this is helping you. Take action. If you're reading this, it's not just about the thinking. It is about executing and taking action. It doesn't need to be these grand, huge steps. If you do the What If We with yourself or maybe it's your teammates, take action on something, even if it's these small steps.

It doesn't have to be perfect. It doesn't have to be whatever, but take some steps to execute something. That is a big, huge difference maker. It is a yes on the What If Wes and on the thinking, but I do want to encourage even you and me with things within Rewire. If you're reading this and this all sounds great, and you're not exactly sure where to start, I would say 1) Start now, and 2) It's okay to start very small.

If you're not exactly sure where to start: 1) start today and 2) it's okay to start very, very small.

I love your thing about action. We are mindset coaches. We talk about mindset, but the truth of the matter is that mindset, for mindset's sake, is to leave you in a cave thinking. One of my mentors calls it you becoming a naval gazer. What good does that do you? I've got my mindset dialed. If it doesn't lead to action, whatever. There are all too often people conversely wanting to move to action without thinking. Ask yourself. How's that worked out for you? It's a combination.

I wrote down 5 or 6 acronyms that we've talked about so far. Do you have any others that you want to throw us?

I don't want to violate the very principle we were talking about in terms of staying light. I did want to point out that with What If We-ing, when we begin to do this and think generatively, we also, from a neurobiological perspective, begin to reduce cortisol. We've probably said this so many times. You've probably interviewed me on this. I know our clients and people have heard this. The truth of the matter is you can't hear it enough because cortisol, the stress hormone, is so prevalent in our world. Especially you get into seasons like this with what you're reading, seeing, and hearing others think.

There are people who even come sometimes to coaching that they have stress, anxiety, fear, worry, and fret. Pick a word. I'm sure those have clinical differences between them. Here's the question. Does it increase cortisol? The irony of that is if we have a lot of cortisol present, our prefrontal cortex is hindered. It's not completely offline because you wouldn't even be able to walk down the street, but it's hindered. That's the part of our brain we need to do What If We. Think about that. If your team is stressed out and you pull them in and say, "In this state of stress, I want us all to create and be imaginative," think about what it's like to be simultaneously stressed out and imaginative.

They don't go together. It doesn't work.

Isn't it imagination, thoughtfulness, and creativity that is the very vehicle that helps us with the What If Wes? Those are the things that move us through these seasons well. That's why I'm saying. If you're talking even in the mortgage business, there are programs and products that are coming out because somebody sat around and was like, "What if we did this?" There are realtors doing, "What if we did that?" from a marketing perspective. There are some cool What If Wes. Those come as a result of a stilled mind.

TII Jason and Steve  | Acronyms

Acronyms: Isn't it imagination and thoughtfulness and creativity that is the very vehicle that helps us with the “what if we’s” and those are the things that move us through these seasons?


We can do a whole episode on this because it's a little bit of a catch-22. Can you do a What If We if you're stressed? Do we work on how we learn to relate to the stress response differently and mitigate some of the stress in our minds so that we can use our prefrontal cortex? I know that's a little bit of a catch-22, but I want to point it out. Maybe there are some ways that you can work with your coach and some other people to mitigate the stress response so that you can get to the What If Wes and some of the generation.

With the time that we have left, let's talk about that. Rarely on the show do we go super tactical and say, "Do these steps. Do this thing." That's why we're doing the What If We series. We do want to throw out some ideas. My wife, the health coach, has a saying that says, "When emotions are high, logic is low." You can substitute the word cortisol for emotions. When cortisol is high, logic is low.

What are some things that people can do? Let us brainstorm for a minute or two. What are some things where if people reading this are going, "That's great. You want to sit around and talk about What If We stuff. I can't think straight now because I'm so stressed or so anxious. We know the cortisol's high," what are some tangible steps that people could take to lower their cortisol?

First of all, I will give you some, but I will say that if those steps were super easy, we wouldn't live in the world we live in.

We're humans. This is complicated.

Look around you. Almost everyone you see and encounter could be a person who stays home with kids and is stressed. I don't have a lot of evidence for this. Maybe there are people that do this research, but stress, anxiety, fear, and worry in our modern world, I can almost assure you that it's not decreasing. There is some evidence suggesting that it's on the increase. I want to first point that out. I will give you steps, but I first want to recognize that it's not like, "Do these three things, and you won't be stressed anymore." It doesn't work. If it worked like that, we'd live in a very different-looking world.

Here are some things that I believe you can do. Call it an oldie but a goodie. There is absolute, unbelievable, and unequivocal evidence to suggest that a daily practice of meditation helps reduce stress. Do that for ten minutes a day and get calm, get insight time, and get head space. That is a tangible practice for ten minutes a day. We know the effect it has on the insular cortex, which is the part of the brain that's near the amygdala or the fight or flight response. Ten minutes a day of that is a tangible, tactical step. Does it cure you? No, but it is very helpful.

There is absolutely unbelievable and unequivocal evidence to suggest that a daily practice of meditation helps reduce stress.

It is why Daniel Goleman and Richie Davidson wrote that book called Altered Traits. If you're the person that wants to read a whole book about that and see all the research, read Altered Traits. They're doing all this research. I know it can sound fluffy. Maybe there are readers going, "I'm going to hum on the ground." It's science. That's one tangible step that people can do.

If you are reading and going, "There's not another person telling me to meditate," I will say this. I've floated in and out of meditation seasons where I've been good at it, not so good at it, or it's been effective. If that sounds weird to you, impossible, you don't know where to start, or the word turns you off, one thing you can do that takes 30 seconds or 15 seconds is take a deep breath.

There are times during the day when I don't have ten minutes or don't think I have ten minutes to meditate. Maybe a certain conversation or situation happened, and I will take a deep breath. I'm telling you. There are things that happen neurobiologically. When you take a breath, you are oxygenating. You're getting oxygen into your lungs, blood, and mind.

Breathe in through your nose, as weird as that sounds. You were talking about small steps. When you breathe in through your nose and take that big breath, you send your hippocampus and amygdala a signal that things are okay. That makes sense. If you see a bear walking down the street and it's near you, you don't breathe through your nose. You will open your mouth. When you breathe through your nose, it's a signal sending to your brain that things are okay. Does it cure the problem? No, but that's a good first step.

It can help. Take a deep breath. Do meditation and take a deep breath. What are a couple more?

We work with people in the practice of metacognition. Metacognition is this big fancy word. Maybe we can do a whole thing on metacognition. It's thinking about how you're thinking. There's a great neuroscientific saying that says, "If you can name it, you can tame it." When we're in a state of stress, distress, or whatever, some people's natural response is, "Don't feel that." We stiff-arm the feeling. People that are getting better at reducing stress don't stiff-arm the feeling. In a weird way, they invite it. They name it. They're like, "It's anxiety. It's fear. It's anger."

TII Jason and Steve  | Acronyms

Acronyms: It’s really thinking about how you’re thinking. If you can name it, tame it.


In fact, it might have been Travis Bradberry. I don't know if I was reading his work or not. One of the ways that we grow in emotional intelligence is we grow in our emotional vocabulary. That's a tactical thing. Don't stiff-arm negative feelings. Say, "It's that." If we can name it, then we can tame it. If you try to get away from it and can't even tell why you're feeling what you're feeling, you might get your butt kicked by something you couldn't name. Sometimes, naming it allows us to tame it. That would be another thing that you can begin. Do it now. Name it and tame it.

I remember the simplicity of Fred Rogers or Mr. Rogers. I remember watching the movie a few years ago. He has the same deal, but he says, "If you can mention it, you can manage it." It's the same exact thing. I love the simplicity of that because even if you're reading this and you don't know what the heck metacognition is, and you did a great job of explaining it if we can have some vocabulary around our emotions and we're saying it to ourselves, like, "I feel angry. I feel fear now," or we can mention it to somebody close to us, that has the effect of starting to settle it down.

It's such a powerful thing. We use it with what we would perceive to be emotions that are not words. I'm reticent to say good ones or bad ones because emotions aren't either good or bad. They are what they are. They're all there to teach us. If you can name it, you can tame it. We don't have any more acronyms around this, but there's another saying that says what we resist persists. If you're sitting around going, "Don't feel that," you're going to keep it with you. Naming it and taming it and what we resist persists are pretty simple steps we can begin to do.

I want to bring it back to why we even got to where we got on this episode. If we can name it, we can tame it. If we can get better at reducing our cortisol, we can have more effective What If We strategies. Instead of talking about the vicious circle of cortisol, then a prefrontal cortex that doesn't work, and then a resulting lack of generation and imagination to get out of it, that's a vicious circle. The virtuous cycle is that we're doing things to manage cortisol and have less of it in our minds. Our prefrontal cortex works more. The next thing you know, you're going, "What if I did this?" You'll have an insight. It is back to that. That's what coaching is all about. It's helping people have good insights. That's why we have this show.

Here are the acronyms that we have. Let's see if you can name them all. What does WIW stand for?

What If We.

We had the ASO challenge.

That is August, September, and October.

I wrote this down, the IOC. You mentioned the IOC.

That is the Institute of Coaching.

What is HE? It is the Hawthorne Effect. We had MASO, which is Mid-August, September, and October. Those are all the acronyms we have for this episode.

We didn't even try to make an acronym around naming it and taming it. That one's clever enough that it doesn't need its own acronym. This has been great. It's fun doing this with you. I'm more energized thinking through these things than I would be like, "Let's do a whole episode on the reality of inflation in our world and what Vladimir Putin's going to choose to do next." Those are real things. We don't deny them, but I would get to the end and feel wonky.

I feel better, too. In the What If We series and at the end of every episode of the interviews, you're feeling good, and I'm feeling good. Maybe we had some insights along the way, but it doesn't matter what our insights are or how we feel. What matters is, dear reader, what were your insights? How are you feeling?

What are your What If Wes? We'll see you next episode.


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