Dr. Kathy Gruver is an internationally recognized speaker and motivational powerhouse. She speaks on topics such as transforming your corporate and organizational culture, enhancing communication, creating true leadership with practical presence, decreasing stress, personal and professional growth, and building a powerful team. Dr. Kathy has written 7 books, which have earned 12 awards, and has presented on 4 continents, 3 cruise ships, and a handful of islands.
Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?
I grew up in Pittsburgh. An only child. My dad owned a small paint store and my mother did her best to keep me clean and out of trouble. My mom got sick when I was about 12 and died when I was 18 so that shaped my life in multiple ways. One was, of course having the patience and compassion while she suffered through really painful cancer. The other was watching my dad be such an incredible caregiver. I think the combination of being an only child raised like I was already an adult and that experience shaped me into exactly the person I am now. I think also growing up in the time that I did, the 70s and 80s in a middle-class family in Pittsburgh was quite the experience. Now living in California in this generation it is such a difference. We were very humble, very down to earth and very practical. I grew up with a very fun-loving and funny dad but would always say things like ‘use your head’. I think we are a combination of our circumstances and how we shot out of the womb. I swear I was a 40-year-old at 10. And I’m just rediscovering how to have fun in my life.
What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?
That definitely goes with my previous answer. I was always incredibly serious. Things like a permanent record, I thought actually followed you the rest of your life. So I didn’t screw off in school, I didn’t skip, I didn’t take advantage of a lot of the things that “kids” would’ve done. I didn’t really understand kids my age and was more interested in conversations with teachers and other adults. I was very serious and very driven. I now realize that having more fun and playing, that balance is more important than anything. Also setting boundaries, leaving relationships or situations that are not good, and making different choices to make sure that your needs are being met. I have definitely grown into that in the last two years.
What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
Interestingly as I think about this nothing is coming to mind. I think one of the big misconceptions in the healing profession is that we should give away our craft. Because we are healers we don’t deserve to make a lot of money. I think that is a huge misconception and a really bad mindset to have. Putting other people above ourselves is also a huge habit of people in the healing professions. As a speaker I hear things all the time that are just myths like you have to have a book, you have to join this association, you have to do a certain PowerPoint style. I think for the most part the rule is there are no rules.
Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?
Interestingly as I look back through my life I don’t see many dark periods. Though I’m sure as I was going through it I would have a different opinion on that. I think it was probably a several-month period where I left my husband of 20 years and a few months after that my dad passed away. My dad was my best friend and though it didn’t come as a huge surprise it still was incredibly painful. So I went from the grief of losing a relationship to the grief of losing my dad. I felt after leaving my marriage I felt a lot of anger and resentment. Lots of emotions that I had to deal with. I think through both of those experiences I learned quite a bit about self-esteem, self-worth, standing up for oneself. To honor life and to enjoy every moment while you have it. It sounds trite but you never know when will be your last breath so live your life to the fullest now. And don’t let fear rule you.
What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?
It’s a weird combination of knowing what you want and then also following the breadcrumbs as things unfold in front of you. Everything I dreamt of for a successful life when I was a kid happened, just not in the way I fantasized about. I was an actress and didn’t think I’d ever step off the stage and now I haven’t but as a speaker. I knew I’d write books but thought they’d be novels, not nonfiction. I thought I’d end up on a magazine cover but I thought it would be Tiger Beat, not a health magazine. I think it’s a matter of believing, affirming, asking for what you want, and then saying yes. It is absolutely about saying yes. I’m incredibly driven and hard-working. You can do all the affirmations in the world but you still have to put work in.
What is your morning routine?
I typically wake up at 7 o’clock. No matter what time zone I’m in or what time I went to bed as the clock turns seven I typically wake up. Sometimes it’s because the cat jumps on me. I guess he has become my alarm clock. I lay in bed for a few minutes and then evaluate how my body feels and what kind of mood I’m in, then I grab the phone. I know everyone says not to do that but the reason I do is to know if I can lay around a little longer or have to leap out of bed and plan things. I glance through my emails to see if anything needs to be done. Then I get up and do the house routine of opening windows, filling water bottles, turning on fans, etc. I hold and pet the cat for about five minutes and then I jump on my computer and get underway. Thursdays have become my morning off so I lay around in bed with my boyfriend, go to the beach, go to breakfast and have a good time with him. I found that is my favorite morning of the week and also has been so good for my mental health and productivity.
And good for our relationship as both of us gets busier.
What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?
I don’t think mine has been a habit so much as an activity. I started doing flying trapeze eight years ago and it has been a huge part of my life. It has brought such fullness and richness. I am the strongest I’ve ever been. I have a community of people around the world that I’m connected to, and that’s how I met my boyfriend. Trapeze is a parallel for life. You stand at the top of that board afraid to take the next step. Finally, you get the bravery to leap off and do your trick. We have to remember that there is always someone to catch us AND at the very least there is a net. It’s also a mindfulness practice, which has been a huge part of my life and what I teach. If you are not fully present and what you’re doing whether it’s the trapeze or anything you are going to fall or fail.
What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?
I’m a Capricorn so this comes easier for me. LOL. I’m a huge to-do list maker. I love my to-do list. I write things out by hand. Also if I go to scratch one thing off the to-do list and I realized I didn’t put it on, I write it on to scratch it off. I know a lot of people do that. I also found a way to slow time down. I simply take a deep breath, put my hands flat on the surface in front of me and say, “I have plenty of time”. It sounds simplistic but because it stops our stress response it actually appears to slow time down. I also estimate how long tasks are going to take so that I really know how much time I have to devote. And I also decentrate. We spend so much time concentrating. I think it is important every once a while to stop and do something playful, unimportant, or silly, whether it’s funny cat videos or doing the dishes. It helps reset our brain so we can go back to the hard work a bit more refreshed.
What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?
I think as a healer one of the first books that were influential to me was Louise Hay’s book talking about the correspondence between thought processes in the mind and what is being exhibited in the body. Eckhart Tolle is a huge influence on me also, The Power of Now.
Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?
My favorite motto is ‘go for it’. It has been since high school, I even have it on my license plate. It fuels me in my adventure lifestyle and both personal life and in business. To me there are no limits to what we can accomplish and the more we experience the fuller life is.