Switched On with Compassion Accountability

Dr Nate Regier and Switched On with Compassion Accountability

During the pandemic, a new meaning came to Dr Nate with compassion mixed with accountability. This is even more valuable, and the work with clients is more important at that time, when compassion needs to be reconciled with accountability. Every day with Covid -19 opens a different chapter. The need for balance has never been more important as every day it takes on a new meaning.

Dr Nate admits that his personality is not naturally compassionate or naturally empathetic. “I’m self-centered. I want to work on things. I prefer to work on tasks than be with people by nature. So I’m a pretty selfish task-oriented person by nature, by personality. So it’s a constant journey of constant struggle. But I grew up around a family that had amazing values and showed me these things.” How he treats people depends on whether his compassionate switches are on or off. 

Sometimes they are off or dimmed when he is stressed,  feeling insignificant, feeling unproductive or needs to feel in control of his life.  It helps when he owns these emotions as his. The Six Kahler Personality types bring a healthy dose of self-awareness – thinker, persister, harmoniser, rebel, imaginer, and promoter.

“I don’t expect anyone else to charge my phone for me, I make sure it’s charged at night. But at the same time we live in community and when we care about the people that we’re with, we also reach out and attempt to send them battery charges.”  

Dr Nate Regier

Just turning the switches on changes everything. A handy tip to consistently treat people as valuable, capable and responsible. 

True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are (Brene Brown). Turning this lens to his role as a parent Dr Nate realises that he is not a parent to create a “mini me”, but to help his children to figure out how to become what they were made to be.

Each person needs different things. So as a parent, figuring out how to do that makes a huge difference in our relationships.  Our frame is to believe that the person we are with is doing the best they can and assume good intention – the discussion is to agree how responsibility can be shared.  


00:00:00 Paula: Welcome to “TesseLeads” with your host Tesse Akpeki and co-host Paula Okonneh. “TesseLeads” is a safe, sensitive, and supportive place and space to share, to hear, and to tell your stories and your experiences. In “TesseLeads” you will hear from top experts and top leaders, about the strategies and also tips and techniques that they have found useful in navigating a diverse range of challenges, difficulties, dilemmas, and how they went about creating and shaping these opportunities. We have a guest today, Dr. Nate Regier. Dr. Nate please tell me how to pronounce your last name.

00:00:51 Dr Nate: That’s fine. You can say Regier or you can get all French and say, “Regier” and be fancy.

00:01:00 Paula: Regier, Dr. Nate Regier.

00:01:02 Dr Nate: There we go.

00:01:04 Tesse: I love that. I actually prefer the French version.

00:01:07 Paula: Which I’m so bad at. I won’t even try it . I may butcher i t that way. And today, we will be talking about his personal story and why compassionate accountability means so much to him. I’ll tell you a little bit about Dr. Nathan Regier. He is the CEO and founding owner of Next Element Consulting which is a global leadership firm dedicated to bringing compassion into the workplace. He’s a former practicing psychologist. He’s also an expert in social-emotional intelligence, as well as interpersonal communication and leadership. He hosts a podcast called “OnCompassion with Dr. Nate” and he also writes a weekly blog contributing to multiple industry publication as well industry blogs. He’s also a regular guest on podcasts, and that’s why with all of that, I want to say welcome to this podcast “TesseLeads” Dr. Nate.

00:02:17 Dr Nate: Thank you, Paula. It’s wonderful to be here. And Tesse, it’s so great to know you and to be with both of you today.

00:02:23 Tesse: Thank you so much, Dr. Nate. I have a confession, I’m a super fan and I totally, totally love your work .But you know, as I hear about what you do and I read your books. I’m just super curious about what journey, what got you from there to here? What was that journey like? I like the kind of personal story behind the scenes, I’d say. Wouldn’t you say that Paula? Behind the scenes, I’d say.

00:02:52 Paula: I love it too.

00:02:53 Dr Nate: Well, if some people know that I grew up a missionary kid. My parents were missionaries with the Mennonite church in Africa, and I grew up in Zaire, which is now the belt, the democratic Republic of Congo. And it was a very idyllic childhood. I ran around barefoot, playing in the dirt all day long. It was a blast. I didn’t know anything from anything. But I do remember a very formative experience where I got to see my father dealing with serious conflict. And I think it planted some seeds for me personally. As was customary in the village where we were, we’d sit around the fire and lots of things happened around the fire. My dad would often meet with tribal leaders or just members of the community, or we would have cook around the fire. I, probably three or four nights a week I would fall asleep in my mother’s lap around the fire, while people were visiting. And she would carry me to bed and I would wake up in my bed in the morning. Well, one evening, this was happening and I woke up, but it wasn’t morning. It was middle of the night and there was bright light outside my window, middle of the night. And I was scared, I went to the window and looked, and what I saw is where the embers of the fire had been, there was this raging Inferno. And I saw two figures moving around the fire, and one of them was throwing our Wicker chairs into the fire, and it was booming. And I realized what was going on, this was the town crazy person. This was the demon possessed person in the village. I know now he probably had schizophrenia. But in those days in that village, in that culture, he was possessed by the devil. And the other person around the fire was my father talking to him, working with him. And I watched my father interact with this man who was probably psychotic. They got calmed down and they both ended up sitting down in the only two chairs left talking, while the fire came down. And I was so scared in that moment, but also in such admiration of my father, for his ability to accept that person for who he was, see him for a human being that was valuable and capable and responsible, and then deescalate the situation. And I don’t think I ever talked to my dad about that. But it’s burned in my memory, and I think that’s one of the things I remember thinking I’d love to do that one day or be like that one day. So, I became a psychologist and now I work in conflict. So I guess I’m following my father’s footsteps. I don’t know that I’ve ever deescalated a situation around a fire like that, but that was a significant memory for me.

00:05:38 Tesse: Gosh, you know gosh. Campfires and that fire took a different meaning. But what is so powerful about that is, how your dad saw that person as a person, as valuable. And how your father treated him with respect and dignity. When it could have been so easy to be fearful and respond in a different kind of way. Paula, What are your thoughts on this?

00:06:03 Paula: I’m just thinking about how, now that we’re more aware of mental health, we were always aware of it. But mental health has now become something that we talk about openly, and it’s part of all conversations, actually. What has been your experience? Because we are talking about what compassionate accountability means to you. So what has been your experience, I want to say within the last year or two? And bringing your compassionate accountability skills to the world, how has that played out?

00:06:36 Dr Nate: Well, the world needs more compassion ,for sure. And when COVID hit in January of 19, right? when was it?

00:06:46 Tesse: 2020

00:06:46 Dr Nate: 20 that spring, when it hit. And the big chant was “we’re in this together, we’re in this together”. Everybody’s going through it, let’s band together.” And everyone thought that was compassion. But then time went on and it became difficult because now, who believes in vaccines and who doesn’t? Are you going to wear a mask or not wear a mask? And all of a sudden the conflict started. There started being division and politicization of this, and all of these blaming. And all of a sudden there’s all this conflict. And I asked myself, where did the compassion go? Now it’s really about accountability, about are we going to step up and take responsibility for the mess we find ourselves in? What are we going to do? And so, a new meaning to me came with compassion mixed with accountability. And so our work became even more valuable, and the work we were doing with our clients became even more important at that time, to reconcile these two. And as COVID has gone on every day is a different chapter in this whole thing. The need to balance these two has never been more important and every day it takes on a new meaning.

00:07:53 Tesse: It’s that combination getting that balance right, that becomes a challenge. And I love the bit about stepping up and taking responsibility, having seen things through a compassionate lens. So there’s something about the verb aspect of compassion that comes to my mind. But also the accountability, active accountability by recognizing that people need to be on the same page or aligned to do those things. I’m thinking about the benefits of accountability, what it makes possible, but along the lines of you being a human being. So I’m wanting to connect with Dr. Nate, the man who gets up in the morning and in the evening, has a barbecue. You go to work, you have your family, what’s that person like? You know, you always so well-behaved and so balanced in things. Give us the gist of what it’s really like to be in your shoes.

00:08:57 Dr Nate: Well, it’s probably Karma that I work in the compassionate accountability world. Because my personality is not naturally compassionate. My personality is not naturally empathetic. I’m self-centered. I want to work on things. I prefer to work on tasks than be with people by nature. So I’m a pretty selfish task oriented person by nature, by personality. So it’s a constant journey of constant struggle. But I grew up around a family that had amazing values and showed me these things. So in a way, a lot of this work I think, has been just necessary for me to balance out. Being able to have a family and be around people that I love and be available to them. And I struggle every day with this. And this idea of compassion is struggling with, and drama is struggling against. And it’s so easy to slip. Before when I used to go to the office, I remember a day when I came home and it hadn’t been a very good day, I didn’t feel productive. Some things went bad. I didn’t feel like I’d done a good job. And I was kind of stressed out and already at the end of my rope. My bucket had tipped. And I walked in the house, and the first thing I saw was a messy kitchen. Now, one of the most therapeutic things that I do is cook. I love to be in the kitchen and cook. It’s therapeutic for me. But the kitchen was a mess, so there I couldn’t cook, and I was just looking forward to cooking. And it just so happens that my youngest daughter, one of her chores is to clean the kitchen once a day, anytime, once a day. I walked in and the first thing I yelled from the entryway of our house is “how come the kitchen’s a mess?” and I yelled it in her general direction to her bedroom. And what I got back was “dad, I know I have to do it once a day, I’m going to do it tonight later, so back off.” And in that moment, what I realized is I am being so irresponsible for my feelings. My being stressed, my feeling insignificant, my feeling unproductive is not about her. The fact that I need the kitchen to be clean so that I can feel in control of my life, that’s not about her. She didn’t do anything wrong. She didn’t let me down. She was going to do it later. And so I stepped back and I thought, so what would it look like if I took responsibility for my feelings? And what would it look like if I treated her as if she was valuable and capable? So I went into her room and I said,” I’m sorry, my stress is my stress and that’s not on you. And I love to cook because it’s therapeutic for me. I’m curious if you’d be willing to make time to clean the kitchen before dinner instead of after?” and she’s like, “sure dad no problem.” And I said,” I promise I’m not going to get on you after dinner, even though the dishes are a mess, cause you only have to do them once a day, I commit to that.” So, in that moment, it’s so simple for us to lose touch with the fact that we are all responsible, we are all capable, and we are all valuable.

00:11:59 Tesse: That’s such a powerful story. It’s so practical in terms of the conversations we have and how we have them, but also recognizing when it’s about us and not about others, and linking into that. Very quick follow on question. I’m so enjoying this conversation. Another favorite subject of mine are the five love languages by Gary Chapman. And when it talks about words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, acts of service and receiving gifts. And I think that this actually sits alongside the co mpassionate accountability. Now that I’m in your presence, what are your thoughts on this?

00:12:39 Dr Nate: We are humans, we’re talking about personality and how different personalities need different things. And we all have a battery, a psychological battery that needs to be charged every day. And we are each responsible for arranging to charge our battery. I don’t expect anyone else to charge my phone for me, I make sure it’s charged at night. But at the same time we live in community and when we care about the people that we’re with, we also reach out and attempt to send them battery charges. Like you said from the love languages. The model we use is a little bit different. There’s six languages.

00:13:16 Tesse: Alright. Okay.

00:13:17 Dr Nate: But the theme is the same. The theme is the same about when we are in community with each other and we want our batteries to be full, we all function better, when our battery is full. And so knowing what we each need to fill those psychological needs and reaching out and offering those is so important. And as a parent, my children, my three daughters do not need the same thing as me. So if I practice the golden rule and treat them as I would want to be treated, I would be inviting their batteries to be empty every day. So as a father, I realized my job is not to create mini-me’s. My job is to help them figure out how to become what they were made to be. And that may be hard for me because that might not be who I am or what I like, or my favorite way of motivating people. But it’s what they were meant to be. You know, you buy an orchid, you have to treat it right. You buy a rose, you have to treat it right. You can’t make it grow like a corn plant. So each plant, each person needs different things. So as a parent, figuring out how to do that makes a huge difference in our relationships.

00:14:25 Paula: I love how you bring your family into a lot of the work you do. As looking online at your webinar on Conflict without Casualties. You talked about your middle daughter and she wanted to go to the prom and you know, how you solve that problem. And now you brought up the story or you gave us an example of the time when you’d love to cook. I wish you could come visit me, cook for me, I don’t love to cook. I cook because I need to. It’s out there, well.

00:15:05 Tesse: I think UK needs Dr. Nate. London needs Dr. Nate.

00:15:05 Paula: But I loved how you solved that problem. You had, again, conflict without casualty. Because you understood that you were the one who was stressed, cooking is therapeutic, your daughter hadn’t done her job and you used compassionate accountability. You used value, you know, the whole concept, no not the whole, but the concept of value and capability responsibility. I love how you inculcate that into your life. You make that part and parcel of your life. And what I’m taking from this is that I need to start applying some of that to my life. Because my daughter is responsible for the kitchen, I work from my bedroom. And every time I come down the stairs, and it’s not like that, I’m not compassionate all the time. And since you said by nature you’re not compassionate, but you’ve brought these principles and made them part and parcel of your life. I need to employ that more. I love what you said. So we can’t wrap this up without asking if there are any other things that you’d like to share about your personal life? Because just this has impacted my life now, and I’m going to put things into play. Are there any other stories?

00:16:11 Dr Nate: Well, something pretty significant happened the other day that I’ll share. I haven’t shared this before .We were out of town for something, and while we were gone, there was a big wind storm. And the wind storm blew down a part of a fence and our yard. And it was a fence between us and the neighbors that we know pretty well, not very well. An older couple. And so we have to fix the fence. So I approached the couple and they said, oh, you know, let’s work together, let’s rebuild this fence and yeah, yeah, yeah, we’ll do that. I’m really busy, they’re both retired. But the man, the older man, I could tell he so bad wanted to help. And I’m stronger, I’m more capable physically, so I just wanted to do it myself. Because I would go out there to work and he would try to help. He would say, “can I help dig in the hole?” And I would give him the shovel and he could barely do it. And at first I felt frustrated, like I don’t have time for this. I have an hour, I need to go dig some holes, build some fence, get back in to get back to my work. And I would kind of complain to my wife and share the frustration. And she said,” you know, he’s doing the best he can”. And I went back out there and decided to turn my switch on, that he’s valuable and he’s capable or responsible. So, I asked him about how he’s doing and what’s going on with him, he told me that he has a pacemaker and he’s going in for a heart cath. And he said, “is there any way I can help?” And so we sat down under the tree and we started to talk about how could we share the responsibility of this fence? And he said, these are the things I can do. I said, well, these are the things I can do. And he said, you know, I have time and you have strength. And I said, okay, I’ll dig the holes and put the boards up and he said, “I can put the screws in and it takes a long time, but I have all day”. And I said, okay, I’ll put one screw in each board, and he says, and I’ll finish them. So we finished the fence together, we had a beer together. And it was a very special moment of, no why it’s very personal for me, but just turning the switches on changes everything. And we’re close. We put a gate in the fence, so we could go back and forth now, and our dogs got to know each other. They’re friends now. I got to learn about the family. It turns out that during this event, the older lady, her mother died. She was dealing with this the whole time. And so we have a gate now, so we can go back and forth between our yards and our dogs got to know each other and we got to know each other. So, it was a very special experience, but this is just a normal thing. And how we treat people depends on whether our switches are on or off.

00:18:57 Paula: I love it. I love it. You had mentioned to me or I read something about you saying, the switch means when the energy is flowing, and when it switches off, well there’s no energy, like we know. And what you just said, how we treat people sometimes depends on if the switch is on. We have to make a conscious effort.

00:19:16 Tesse: I love Dr. Nate that you shared that honest story. Because I know that because we’re human, sometimes our switches are so turned off, so dim. And I think when we get honest and hold ourselves accountable, and we are in the supportive relationship with others. For me, one of my others is Paula, she keeps me honest, you know when my switches off. And that’s what unconditional love is about. And thank you for sharing that story. I’m sure that all of us can relate to when we, our  bucket was so tipped it was just unbelievable. I think we need to be humble at those times. Just to remind me and remind our listeners, what are your six love languages?

00:19:58 Dr Nate: It’s a slightly different structure. My most developed part of my personality is promoter, which is much more kind of charismatic out there. I mean, I love to do these kinds of things. My next floor is Thinker, which is all about tasks and getting work done. My next one is Rebel, which is about having fun and playing and being right here in the moment. You probably experienced my rebel just now, because the rebel just let’s it out. Harmonizer is next, which is the compassionate part of me, but it’s my fourth floor up. And then Persister, which is the believer, the part that has the convictions. And then last is the Imaginer, which is the much more reflective introverted part of me. They’re all part of me. They’re not all as well developed and the more I can live in the different parts of my personality, the more of the world I could see, and the more I can appreciate the diversity around me.

00:20:46 Paula: I love it. I’m going to diversify a bit. But I couldn’t help but think of this, love. We talked about love language and I’m thinking love handles.

00:20:58 Dr Nate: That’s why the screen only goes to here.

00:21:00 Paula: where did that come from? love handles.

00:21:09 Tesse: You’ve definitely got some kind of.

00:21:14 Dr Nate: I like that. We can make a cartoon out of that.

00:21:17 Tesse: Yeah. But you know what, even as you say the love handles, you know, I was talking about the skill. But I think love handles for Dr. Nate’s six, it’s coming, manifest in different ways and different things coming in and out. I really liked that.

00:21:30 Dr Nate: Can I steal your idea and write a blog about love handles?

00:21:33 Paula: You can! Absolutely. Just give me some credit.

00:21:37 Dr Nate: I think its a great idea.

00:21:38 Tesse: It’s kind of like, because it’s kind of like those different things coming down. And the promoter and whatever, all love handles going in and out. And you need them all. And some, as you said, better developed than others, but I love it. I really love it.

00:21:59 Dr Nate: That’s great.

00:21:59 Tesse: I really love it. Yeah.

00:22:01 Paula: So, we have to wrap this up.

00:22:06 Tesse: I think we enjoyed ourselves too much Paula, don’t you?

00:22:09 Paula: Absolutely. so, love handles rhymes social media handles. Where can we find you online, Dr. Nate?

00:22:17 Dr Nate: The best way is our website, “next-element.com”. And you can find me @nextNate on Twitter. I’m not as active as I should be, but I’m very active on LinkedIn, and you can find Nate Regier on LinkedIn. And we make it very easy on our website to connect with us.

00:22:35 Paula: Okay. That’s awesome. So, I’m still laughing at love handles. Our listeners. Thank you so much, Dr. Nate. Is there anything else you’d like to share in terms of PDF or something that, well, this is your personal story, you may not have anything personal to put it out there as a PDF or as a gift.

00:22:58 Dr Nate: Well, we try to be having free things all the time. So every week we do a free workshop that presents a topic. My blogs are sometimes professional, sometimes personal. But I blog once a week and you’re free to follow that. Also on our website, we have a media page and all of the articles that I’ve published in industry journals and all of the podcasts that I’ve been on, they’re all there. So you can go look for a topic that feels just right or an outlet that you’re used to and listen there.

00:23:27 Paula: Absolutely. We put that in our show notes.

00:23:29 Dr Nate: Yeah, thanks.

00:23:31 Paula: That was Dr. Nate Regier. And to our listeners again, your precious stories and lives matter. Please share them with us. We encourage and nurture whatever stories you may bring to the table. But more importantly, we would like to ask that you head over to Apple podcast, Google podcast, spotify or anywhere else that you listen to podcast and please click subscribe. If you find “TesseLeads” helpful, please let us know in your reviews. And if you have any topics or questions, you’d like us to cover, send us a note. Last, but not least, if you’d like to be a guest on “TesseLeads”, please head over to “www.tesseakpeki.com/tesseleads” to apply. Thank you so much, Dr. Nate for being a guest on “TesseLeads”

00:24:27 Dr Nate: You are welcome. It’s a joy. Great being with you.

00:24:30 Tesse: Thank you Dr. Nate. You’re awesome .