Psychologist Julia DiGangi on Moving Past the Pain of Mistakes, Including Her Own

Psychologist Julia DiGangi on Moving Past the Pain of Mistakes, Including Her Own


Check out all episodes on the My Favorite Mistake main page.

My guest for Episode #191 of the My Favorite Mistake podcast is Julia DiGangi, the founder and CEO of NeuroHealth Partners, LLC.

Dr. DiGangi holds a Ph.D. in psychology and has worked in the field of neuroscience. She has published extensively in the scientific literature. She is known for her engaging, funny, and relatable communication style, which allows her to help others think about how the brain’s “wiring” affects workplace behaviors such as motivation, performance, and relationships. 

She has also worked extensively in U.S. politics, including on presidential campaigns and at The White House Press Office, so she is accustomed to helping people gracefully navigate fast-paced, high-stakes professional environments. She has also given a TEDx talk on the relationship between our brains and stress.

In this episode, Julia tells her favorite mistake story about the very painful mistake of leaving academia. When did it feel like a mistake that “ruined everything” and how did she reach the point of “post-traumatic growth”? We also discuss her expertise in how the brain and the body react to mistakes and how we can go from “avoiding pain” to “choosing the most powerful pain.”

We also talk about questions and topics including:

  • You talk about overthinking, overworking, etc. — Did you “OVER” in your academic work?
  • Was there a time when it DID feel like a mistake?
  • “Leaving the pain behind??” – “the brain is a pain detection machine” – the brain will generate pain
  • How did you end up in politics? This was before academia
  • What happens when you make a mistake — reaction in your nervous system?
  • Perfectionism — fear of mistakes
  • How do we move forward from those feelings?
  • Leadership & emotional intelligence are key themes
  • Are we OVERcomplicating E.I.?
  • Understanding others vs. understanding ourselves?
  • Upcoming book — tell us about that
  • “From Pain to Power….” her future book

Scroll down to find:

  • Video of the episode
  • Quotes
  • How to subscribe
  • Full transcript

Find Julia on social media:

Watch the Full Episode:


"I think everyone who's a leader can relate to what I call the overs. So the overs are overworking, overthinking, overdelivering overanalyzing, overgiving, overpleasing, I mean, over, over, over, over, over." julia digangi
"So the more powerful heuristic for your listeners is not 'how do I avoid pain?' Because the brain will always detect pain. The more powerful question is 'how do I choose the most powerful pain?'" julia digangi
"The mistakes that bother people are always when there's some painful emotion. It's the energy of humiliation. If there's shame, humiliation, inadequacy, embarrassment, again, all those things that you're thinking about the brain, they're the same." julia digangi

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Automated Transcript (Likely Contains Mistakes)

Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. His latest book is Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. He also published the anthology Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus. He is also a Senior Advisor and Director of Strategic Marketing with the healthcare advisory firm, Value Capture.