Posted August 3, 2020 in Podcast
Be Where Your Feet Are with Surba Tucker
What does it mean to work in a career that’s in alignment with you?
Maybe you find yourself working a 9-to-5 corporate job, and while it’s worked out for a while, you’re feeling increasingly burnt out. Getting up in the morning is a struggle, and you don’t feel motivated about anything. You get up, get dressed, do your thing at work, and then come back home to prepare to do it all over again.
Does this sound like you? If so, keep reading, because my guest today experienced the exact same thing. He used to hate his job and rush out the moment the clock hit 5 PM. But now, he’s in a career where he’s pursuing his passion and encouraging others to do the same.
Friends, I’m so excited to have Surba Tucker on the Reaching Beyond podcast to share his story with you all. He is an absolute blast! I have never seen anyone train the way he does and inspire his clients the way he does. In this episode, we cover a lot, including his pivot from the corporate world, how to avoid burnout, and what inspires him to live joyfully. Let’s get into it!
Who Is Surba Tucker?
Surba is a National Academy of Sports Medicine certified personal trainer. During his 15 years in the sports industry, he has trained a wide array of athletes including, NFL players, MLB professional golfers, Ironman competitors, and NCAA champions.
For each client he works with, Surba gives them specific nutrient requirements, caloric intakes, and expenditure. He focuses on improving core strength as a basis for achieving client goals, and his programs have seen massive success. His fitness programs are anything but boring — they are challenging, unique, and fun programs that keep his clients engaged and motivated to reach their fitness goals!
Surba is a man who talks the talk but also walks the walk. He’s competed in competitive cycling endurance races (ranging from 40 to 206 miles), and he’s also in tons of Spartan races that he does along with his clients.
I met Surba back in 2002 when I was working for the Mark Travel Corporation. I was 22 years old, leading a group of agents down in Cabo, Mexico, and I obviously needed some help, so the company sent in Surba — he and I connected instantly. He’s a deeply empathic person, which makes him a great coach and even better friend.
What I love most about Surba is the creative and joyful energy he brings to his craft. His passion is contagious, and it will inspire you to start pursuing a career that’s in alignment with your goals.
Pivoting from Corporate Life and Building a Successful Career in Fitness
Before becoming a trainer in the fitness world, Surba managed a call center at a travel agency (which is how we were connected in the first place!). During his time there, Surba would find himself telling his coworkers to pursue their destiny by finding out what they truly loved to do (even if that meant leaving their jobs):
“I would tell my several hundred staff members, ‘If you don’t like what it is that you’re doing, find your destiny somewhere else.’ And I meant that in like the most wholehearted way. The worst thing you can do is to wake up every day and really resent the fact that you have to go into that building and for eight hours collect the paycheck. So I found myself becoming a hypocrite.” – Surba Tucker
Even though he was telling others to pursue their passion, Surba wasn’t doing it himself. After a decade in the travel industry, he realized that his lifestyle had radically changed. He used to be the guy that would wake up at 5AM to go to the gym and be at the office at 6:30AM. Instead, he found himself getting to work right at 9AM and leaving at 5PM on the dot. He started taking longer lunches to avoid work. It was then when he decided he needed to make a change:
“I realized that I now hated my job because I was managing individuals that had no goals, no interest in self-improvement. So I had to pivot and ultimately ended up in fitness because I discovered [that] people would hire me to achieve a set goal — some sort of metric that they had three months or six months or a year that they created for themselves to get to. And I’m all about that. You can give me a goal we’re going to get there. So I essentially used my skill set that I learned in the corporate world and applied it to a passion.” – Surba Tucker
Are you in a job that you hate? Maybe you haven’t asked yourself this question yet, you’ve just been going through the motions, but if Surba’s thoughts sound similar to yours, it may be time to make a pivot.
What Success Really Means
Friends, success doesn’t mean having a high-paying job. It means having a job you love. I loved Surba’s definition of success, and I think it fits perfectly with his character:
“Success in my paradigm is going to bed stoked about what I did that day and then overjoyed for what I’m looking forward to the next day.” – Surba Tucker
In his fitness programs, Surba brings this attitude of joy, passion, and fun as an integral part of the routines. One of the reasons I love following Surba on Facebook is because I love seeing the creative, fun workouts he designs. In fact, Surba doesn’t like using the word “workout” — instead, he calls it “absolute play”:
“When you come from a place of joy, play is anything you make it. I often will go into a situation or a space and say, ‘I’m only going to use those two pieces of equipment, and what can I do? Or how can I play with it?’… [I] essentially view what most people view as a negative as purely joyful play … And therefore, when I’m in that space, creativity is something I never have to reach for and dig deep. It’s just as autonomic. It’s natural, and I can do it within a split second.” – Surba Tucker
When you’re in a career that you’re passionate about, going to work every day isn’t going to be like pulling teeth. Why? Because you’re doing what you’re meant to do. Surba found this to be true once he made the switch to fitness, and he’s completely redefined “success” in the process.
The Best Ways to Avoid Burnout: Self-Care and Community
You may be thinking, “Can you still experience burnout in a career that you love?” Yes. You can definitely work yourself into the ground, even if you’re doing what you love to do. Let’s understand what burnout looks like:
“If you’re a … go-getter, someone that wants to achieve, [then] you’re willing to do whatever it takes to be at the top of your game, right? So in our corporate world … I [wanted] [our company] to be the best call center manager in the group, right? When I was on the phones, I wanted … to be the best agent … I wanted to be the best on the support team. And after that, [I] actually skipped being a supervisor and was given the position of managing the supervisors that were above me. So I was always wanting to do better and do more. So what happens after 10 years chasing, right? … I realized I’d [sacrificed my] personal life.” – Surba Tucker
For Surba, this meant not having a community. This is what burnout can do to you. If you’re working so hard all the time, you’re not going to have time for friends, family, or personal relationships. Then you begin to resent your work because it’s keeping you from all those things, but you haven’t realized that yet — all you know is you do not want to walk into that office.
So, how does a high-achiever like Surba keep himself from getting burnt out in his current career? Since Surba had experienced burnout in the corporate setting, I wanted to know how he keeps himself from feeling burnout in the fitness world. He gave me two essential tips that will protect you from burnout and keep the motivation flowing.
#1. Prioritize yourself as your top client. If you aren’t taking care of yourself, then you’re not going to be able to take care of others, and you’re going to get more and more drained as the days continue. Taking care of yourself looks different for each person. For Surba, it means exercising and playing with his dog, Toby.
“I’m my number one client. I take care of me. So that means that I need to get rest … [and] ‘Toby time’… I quite literally block those dates [or] those times of the day off. And I don’t schedule clients.” – Surba Tucker
Does taking a break mean that you’re going to get less done? Does it mean you’re going to miss out on a client or an opportunity? Surba doesn’t think so — in fact, he believes that by taking care of yourself, you call more abundance into your life:
“When you’re in play, and you’re joyfully living wholeheartedly, you attract more than you can handle in abundance, right?” – Surba Tucker
To sum up, the first thing you need to do to avoid burnout is to take care of yourself. It’s a simple rule, but it’s one that we too often forget.
#2. Find a community that will support you. This one is huge. When you don’t surround yourself with people that you enjoy and who build you up, then you’re much more likely to burnout. Surba created his own fitness community at the gym to help:
“From a fitness perspective, I probably have a dozen workout partners. … And I don’t necessarily want them as clients, but I want them as people that I connect with in a fitness environment. So I created a ‘Fit Squad’… and in a group, we’ll work out together. … So instead of trying to manage working out with a dozen people in a week, I put them together, and we create a squad, and they’re joyful, and they’re happy, and they play. So my point is, I’ve stopped trying to be solo in the endeavor of managing my time and my space and managing burnout – I’ve asked for help, and that help comes in the form of other people who have similar interests.” – Surba Tucker
Surba is totally right. Even if you’re a high-achiever, you can’t do everything yourself. Humans need humans, and when you’re isolated, you’re much more likely to lose motivation for the things you used to love. Once you’ve found what you’re passionate about and made your way into that space, make it a priority to find a community in that space that is mutually supportive. In some cases, you might even have to create this community like Surba did. But it’s definitely worth the effort!
Why You Should Listen to This Podcast Episode with Surba Tucker Right Now…
Guys, this interview with Surba Tucker is incredible — especially for those of you who are thinking about taking a pivot in your career. There are so many pieces of wisdom that you can take from this interview to increase your motivation, avoid burnout, and pursue your passion.
Before I end, I want to share something Surba said that really stuck out to me. I asked him what the topic would be if he had to give a TED talk on something he wasn’t known for. This was his answer:
“I lost my dad recently. He passed away [from] cancer/pneumonia, and we didn’t have a great relationship. In the past two years, I mended that relationship, and I’m very proud of the relationship that we developed over the past two years as he was struggling with cancer. So my TED talk would be on ‘how to be a father when you didn’t have one.'” – Surba Tucker
Surba doesn’t have any kids, but he’s been connecting with young African American men in his community who need a father figure. He works out with them, talks with them, and tries to be the best role model he can:
“As an African American, I’m a role model, and I recognize that. So I learned how to be a dad, to make the phone call … to say, ‘I love you,’… essentially to fill in those gaps of things that I never experienced myself, but always wanted.” – Surba Tucker
Surba is truly an incredible human being, and I am inspired by his intentions to joyfully serve those around him. If you want to connect further with Surba, definitely check him out on Instagram @utah_fit_tribe and on Facebook! As someone who has been following him for years, I can say that every post is positive and uplighting!
If you found value from this episode, he would mean a lot to me if you would take a few seconds and write a five-star review and maybe share it with some of your friends on Apple Podcasts. I’d be so grateful! I’d also love it if you would tag me, @kyle_depiesse, and Surba, @utah_fit_tribe, on Instagram with your greatest takeaways from the episode!
Cheers to your success! I’m rooting for you.