Chip Conley: Midlife: From Crisis to Chrysalis

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January 30, 2024

Chip Conley: Midlife: From Crisis to Chrysalis

Chip Conley January 30, 2024

Midlife has a bad reputation, often paired with the word “crisis” or seen as the “over the hill” phase of our journey. As the founder of the Modern Elder Academy (the worlds’ first midlife wisdom school), Chip Conley is changing this negative narrative to one that reclaims our middle years as a time of incredible regenerative possibilities. In this podcast, Tami Simon sits down with Chip to talk about his new book, Learning to Love Midlife, and how those of us amidst this phase can activate our capacities for renewal and “let our souls lead the dance.” 

Tune in for a very honest and hope-giving podcast on: The phoenix phenomenon; the anatomy of transition; the metaphor of the chrysalis; cultivating a growth mindset; the components of high “TQ” (or transitional IQ); creating space for something new; the great midlife edit; the dark night of the ego; radically shifting how you want to live your life; vulnerability and accepting help; “dancing backwards in high heels”; developing a friendship with your body; letting go—but also welcoming in; the alchemy of curiosity and wisdom; goosebumps as a sign you’re on the right path; and more.

Note: This episode originally aired on Sounds True One, where these special episodes of Insights at the Edge are available to watch live on video and with exclusive access to Q&As with our guests. Learn more at join.soundstrue.com.

Chip Conley is on a midlife mission. After disrupting the hospitality industry twice, first as the founder of Joie de Vivre Hospitality, the second-largest operator of boutique hotels in the U.S., and then as Airbnb’s Head of Global Hospitality and Strategy, leading a worldwide revolution in travel, Conley co-founded MEA (Modern Elder Academy) in January 2018 in Baja California, Mexico. Inspired by his experience of intergenerational mentoring as a ‘modern elder’ at Airbnb, where his guidance was instrumental to the company’s extraordinary transformation from fast-growing start-up to the world’s most valuable hospitality brand, MEA is the world's first ‘midlife wisdom school’ and has a campus opening on a 2,600-acre regenerative horse ranch in Santa Fe, New Mexico in early 2024. Dedicated to reframing the concept of aging, MEA supports students to navigate midlife with a renewed sense of purpose and possibility. A New York Times bestselling author, Conley's 7th book "Learning to Love Midlife: 12 Reasons Why Life Gets Better with Age" is about rebranding midlife to help people understand the upside of this often-misunderstood life stage and he was asked to give a 2023 TED talk on the “midlife chrysalis.”

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Meet Your Host: Tami Simon

Founded Sounds True in 1985 as a multimedia publishing house with a mission to disseminate spiritual wisdom. She hosts a popular weekly podcast called Insights at the Edge, where she has interviewed many of today's leading teachers. Tami lives with her wife, Julie M. Kramer, and their two spoodles, Rasberry and Bula, in Boulder, Colorado.

Photo © Jason Elias

Also By Author

Chip Conley: Midlife: From Crisis to Chrysalis

Midlife has a bad reputation, often paired with the word “crisis” or seen as the “over the hill” phase of our journey. As the founder of the Modern Elder Academy (the worlds’ first midlife wisdom school), Chip Conley is changing this negative narrative to one that reclaims our middle years as a time of incredible regenerative possibilities. In this podcast, Tami Simon sits down with Chip to talk about his new book, Learning to Love Midlife, and how those of us amidst this phase can activate our capacities for renewal and “let our souls lead the dance.” 

Tune in for a very honest and hope-giving podcast on: The phoenix phenomenon; the anatomy of transition; the metaphor of the chrysalis; cultivating a growth mindset; the components of high “TQ” (or transitional IQ); creating space for something new; the great midlife edit; the dark night of the ego; radically shifting how you want to live your life; vulnerability and accepting help; “dancing backwards in high heels”; developing a friendship with your body; letting go—but also welcoming in; the alchemy of curiosity and wisdom; goosebumps as a sign you’re on the right path; and more.

Note: This episode originally aired on Sounds True One, where these special episodes of Insights at the Edge are available to watch live on video and with exclusive access to Q&As with our guests. Learn more at join.soundstrue.com.

Chip Conley: A Modern Elder at Work

Chip Conley is an entrepreneur and the New York Times bestselling author of Peak and Wisdom at Work. He will present during Sounds True’s upcoming Inner MBA program, a nine-month training program for bringing your full, authentic self to your workplace and career. In this episode of Insights at the Edge, Tami Simon speaks with Chip about socially responsible entrepreneurship and the movement toward making workplaces into spiritually fulfilling spaces. They talk about the modern business obsession with short-term profit and why this attitude does damage to both our culture and environment. Chip and Tami also consider what it is to pursue meaning rather than profit, as well as how to create “collective effervescence” within a work culture. Finally, Chip explains his lifelong habit of journaling each week’s accomplishments and tells the story of the biggest risk he’s ever taken.  (73 minutes)

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This episode of Insights at the Edge features Tami Simon in conversation with Alexandra about her new book, Dare to Feel. Inviting us to walk the transformational path of the heart and embrace the totality of our emotional experience, Tami and Alexandra discuss: the emotions of relationship and intimacy; being a warrior of the heart; an overlooked—and wholly avoidable— source of emotional overwhelm; the “spiritual illness” of seeking numbness; the willingness to take risks to nurture and express love, especially with strangers; how contemplative practices help us stay with the full range of our feelings; the intersection of human experience and spiritual experience; pain as a portal to the divine; self-awareness and witness consciousness; emotional resilience and self-trust; practicing feeling; and more.

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Breaking away from the idea that there is one “right...

We live in a wild world with a wealth of information at our fingertips. This means we can read reviews, check forums, and see what other parents are saying about everything we purchase or do for our children. 

But that is not always a good thing. There is such a thing as too much research. 

I distinctly remember working with a client who had very high expectations around her child’s food. She was concerned with what ingredients were in the food, how it was prepared, how it was served—and anything less than “healthy” felt wrong to her. She was a self-proclaimed perfectionist who wanted the best for her child—she wasn’t going to “lower her standards” at the request of her partner or anyone else. 

As a result of her food concerns, she spent hours upon hours extensively researching topics related to food such as GMOs, toxins, ingredients, and safety. Through her research, she also read that stress could decrease her milk supply—so she shut down any conversations when her family tried to approach her about this or how it had taken over her life. 

This level of research was no longer about the food—postpartum anxiety was in the driver’s seat, pushing her to search for control. 

It’s also important to break away from the idea that there is one “right” way to mother. Just because we have access to information doesn’t mean there isn’t room for nuance. Take “healthy food” as an example. What constitutes a “healthy” diet has been a debated topic for decades and is often a wellness space filled with fads and extremes with each approach contradicting the next. There have been more rules prescribed to our food then I can count that cause people not to trust themselves and leave them seeing food as being good or bad. Food is not black or white. Our approach doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

In my client’s case, research had gone beyond just information-seeking. Sometimes, research is just research. But other times, research is:

  • Trying to find the “right” or “best” way to do something
  • Seeking reassurance
  • Grasping for certainty
  • Feeding your anxiety
  • An attempt to soothe your anxiety

I have seen this pattern play out many times with many of my clients. I believe that in many ways intensive mothering prevents us from seeing signs of anxiety. When we interpret perfectionism and the need to avoid mistakes at all costs as being a good mother, we have a lot of pressure to carry. It’s no wonder that so many of us find ourselves in the research rabbit hole.

Does that mean all research is bad? Of course not. But we need to learn the difference between when it’s helping and when it’s not. Researching should be used to provide you with enough information to make an informed decision. It should have boundaries—not be all-consuming. 

Excerpt from Releasing the Mother Load: How to Carry Less and Enjoy Motherhood More by Erica Djossa.

Erica Djossa

Erica Djossa is a registered psychotherapist, sought-after maternal mental health specialist, and the founder of wellness company Momwell. Her popular Momwell podcast has over a million downloads. Erica’s a regular contributor to publications like the Toronto Star, Scary Mommy, and Medium, and her insights have been shared by celebrities like Ashley Graham, Nia Long, Christy Turlington, and Adrienne Bosh. She lives in Toronto. For more, visit momwell.com

Judson Brewer: Ending Worry Addiction and Unwinding An...

Do you have a habit you just can’t break no matter how hard you try or how badly you want to? Renowned addiction psychiatrist, neuroscientist, and bestselling author Judson Brewer—or Dr. Jud, as he’s widely known—has helped millions of people find freedom from excessive worry, overeating, cigarette smoking, and many other challenging behaviors. In this podcast, Tami Simon speaks with Dr. Jud about his life-changing books—The Craving Mind, Unwinding Anxiety, and most recently, The Hunger Habit—and his compassionate and respectful approach to habit change. 

Enjoy this empowering and “aha!-inducing” conversation about breaking the cycle of anxiety; the process of negative reinforcement; fear of the future vs planning for the future; the three elements of a habit loop: trigger, behavior, reward; the pros and cons of distraction; distress tolerance—a survival skill for our times; changing the reward value of a behavior; karma and reinforcement learning; exploring gratification to its end; the brain as a smoke detector; recalibrating the nervous system after trauma; the concept of dependent origination; the superpower of interest curiosity; hedonic hunger vs homeostatic hunger; paying attention to your “pleasure plateau” when it comes to food; awareness as the key ingredient for behavior change; the mantra “What’s this?”; and more.

Note: This episode originally aired on Sounds True One, where these special episodes of Insights at the Edge are available to watch live on video and with exclusive access to Q&As with our guests. Learn more at join.soundstrue.com.

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