Lief Stories: Cody Dakota, using Lief to elevate leadership coaching

Lief Team
November 22, 2023 • 2 min read

Interview conducted by Divya Sharma. Note this interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Tell me about yourself.

I tend to think of myself as a regular guy. Over the past 7 years,  I’ve been fascinated with the study of leadership. Around 4 years ago, I came to the discovery that leadership development doesn’t work and has an 80% failure rate. I really wanted to know, why is that? Why do we spend $350 billion a year on something that doesn’t work? So, for the past 4 years, I’ve been doing a lot of research into that.

Outside of that, I’m a Christian. My wife and I just celebrated our 2 year anniversary about a week ago. I just like to live life to the fullest. 

How did you become interested in tracking your heart rate variability (HRV)? 

As I was starting to really dive into this question of why leadership isn’t working, I came to this finding that leadership development is a lot about skills of leadership. So it teaches you, “this” is how you approach “this” thing. 

As I started to really look at leaders and look at people who were successful as leaders and people who weren’t successful as leaders, I was starting to see this strange trend. Some people had all the training that you could ever think would be necessary, and they were failing horribly as leaders, and there were other people who had none of the training, who were succeeding at really high levels. And I was asking the question: why was there that disconnect?

What I ended up kind of discovering is that it has a lot to do with psychophysiology. It’s how the brain systems and the body work together or don’t work together. So, this led me down a rabbit hole of a bunch of different things, including HRV. I really started to get interested in HRV specifically as I learned about neurocardiology and how different hearts literally speak to each other. We create electromagnetic waves that can impact each other, and you can work on developing that through HRV training.

How did you discover Lief? 

I was looking at, “how do you track HRV, how do you develop it, and how do you increase it?”  (You can be a better leader through HRV, which is one of the many things that I do in my work.) I have heard of a lot of different great tools that are out there.

I was actually in a session with a group known as the Flow Genome Project, which is headed by Steven Kotler. They’re really focused on flow states, which is a psychological state where we feel our best and do our best work. The individual that Kotler was talking with discussed his favorite HRV device, which was LiefThis was the first time I had been introduced to it. Then I looked into it.

It’s a fabulous product. It’s extremely unique in that, as far as I’ve seen – and I’ve looked at a lot of companies that talk to me about different devices – it’s the only one that gives real-time feedback without needing any extra device.So, you could be in the middle of a meeting, and you’re getting real-time feedback, which is an incredible tool to have in your belt.

How has tracking your HRV with Lief helped you? 

There’re quite a number of things I’ve been able to use Lief for. One is just in my own health. Having that data to see, “When is my HRV high? When is my HRV Low? What kinds of things are happening in my day that impact my HRV?”

If I’m having an extremely stressful day, I can see how that impacts me. Just being able to track how various behaviors will impact my health has been incredible. When it comes to the leadership perspective, there’s kind of a twofold aspect to it.The first one is keeping myself in check when I coach a lot of leaders who go through some very high-stress situations. There are times when they bring those high-stress situations into the coaching session, so I have to be able to handle those situations as they come to me, and I have to keep myself in check.

Lief gives me an avenue to tell in the moment if I am in a good spot right now, or if I need to do something extra so that I can be in the right mental capacity to help my clients. Along with this, when you understand the neurocardiology aspect – if you are able to keep your HRV in a good zone, you can influence the HRV of your clients.

So, what I have the power to do is when they’re stressed out and they feel like everything’s out of control, I can keep myself in control. I can pull them into that calm with me. There is an extreme type of magic when you’re able to do that because leaders have to deal with some of the craziest things in life. To be able to bring them into that place of calm allows them to open up their minds in ways they weren’t even aware were possible.

What do you value most about the Downtime practice?

The ability to take time to stop and recover, which is part of what you’re doing within those Downtime activities is so amazing in terms of peak performance. Many people think that peak performance is all about, Go, go, go! Never stopping. And it’s really not.  When you start looking at the science of peak performance, you realize that it’s cycles, right?

It’s cycles of extreme highs and then it’s also cycles of extreme lows. So, you have to have these moments of recovery throughout your day if you’re really going to unlock your potential. Using these Downtime activities gives you a focused way to recover quickly to get back to those high peak performance states.

Can you share a brief example of how you like to use your Lief in any given day? 

I primarily use Lief just for work. I have it on me literally all day at work as I go from client to client, situation to situation. As I write, I wear my Lief.  I do a writing practice every single day, and so I’ve got like 300 articles now, it’s crazy. Having the device on you allows you to get to these constant states of calm and helps you kind of change your physiology without needing to focus on changing your physiology. 

There are a lot of tools, guides, and practices out there you can use to help you calm yourself. But there are very few of them that are constant and that you can continue to take with you throughout entire days, let alone 8-hour to 10-hour periods.

You mentioned that you are able to pump out an impressive number of articles. Do you think that Lief picks up on the mood you are in during writing? Are you in a calm state or a more ready-to-go, action-oriented state?

I get a mix depending on what I’m writing about. What you’ll find is if you get into a practice of writing consistently right, you have to figure out a lot of different things to write about. And you’re gonna have crazy, different emotions depending on what it is you’re writing about. One day you might be writing about something that you just find fascinating, so you’re just locked in focus, like, “Oh, this is so cool.” Then another day you’re really angry about something you want to talk about.

So depending on what that emotion is, you can see what you’re thinking about, and how it’s impacting you. It also allows you to choose: “How do I want to approach this?”If I am angry about this, do I want to sound angry about this, or do I want to calm myself down and choose a different state? Or if I’m too “Zen”, maybe I need to figure out a little more focus here, instead of “Zen-ing” out to the extreme ends.

It’s really amazing that awareness of HRV allows you to shift your tone and keep awareness of your tone as a writer. Has your use of Lief sort of evolved over time, or are there any tips and tricks you picked up along the way?

I’ve primarily kept it as a work device throughout my time of using it. Within tips and tricks, I would say that one of the things that’s been of most benefit to me is the coaching. I’m a fairly smart guy, but we’re all blind to things about ourselves.

Having a coach be there (Nicole’s my coach – she’s absolutely phenomenal) to pick out and see things that you might not be picking up on and to ask questions that you’re not asking, gives you a whole level of new insights that on your own you might not be aware of. So, I would highly recommend using the coaching aspect of Lief because it can open up completely new avenues.

Is there any other advice you want to give people getting started with Lief? And is there anything else that you’d like to share?

It’s an awesome device. I recommend it to people all the time. I use it every workday. I think my work has been dramatically improved with the use of Lief.

So, to anyone who is looking at this device, I would highly recommend using it because there is no other device out there that does what Lief does. And I’m one of those people that uses a LOT of different devices.

I’ve even had people come to me asking me about their devices, and how they could see different business aspects with it. From what I’ve seen, and from what I’ve used, there’s nothing like Lief on the market. 

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