All posts in August 2019

  • The Soul Smoking Truth of Human Connection.

    As a kid, I sometimes felt sad and lonely. Perhaps, you can relate.

    Laying in bed at night, my brother sleeping under the covers next to me and my mom just down the hall, things never really made sense to me. And that ached.

    I remember wanting to be heard and understood. My five-year-old brain didn’t have a whole lot of restrictive programming, so I just started talking to God (and if you don’t believe in God you could consider I was talking to my Soul-Self).

    I came to understand early on that being human also involved this feeling of wanting to be loved and connected. We all yearn for that. Sometimes life provides that and often it doesn’t.

    What I also have come to understand is that this very longing is the greatest gift of all to human connection . . Why? Because those of us willing to embrace that feeling and look more deeply into it, are likely to discover a liberation that goes beyond intellectual understanding. It is knowing that loneliness is not real.

    Consider this: I know many people who are married, in community, leading teams and running companies who feel lonely, even though they are rarely alone. I know this because, for over twenty years, I have been listening deeply to people. I have learned to listen to a person’s Soul as opposed to just the content of what they are saying. Yes, content matters, but often a person wants to be heard beyond their words. I have wanted to be heard that way in my life. And if I have felt that way, then I suspect you may have felt that way too because you and I are not that different.

    Sure, we may look different, behave differently, have completely different beliefs about life, religion, politics, social norms or whatever, but deep inside, in our essence, we are very much the same.

    This is what I have learned in deeply listening to people for a lifetime. We are ONE and buying in to the illusion that we are separate is the greatest sickness on the planet today because that is what produces the feeling of loneliness.

    This has gotten so far out of hand that loneliness is considered an epidemic today. And while I don’t have any science to prove it, I suspect it’s pandemic in North America.

    I recently read a study put out by the Health Resources and Service Administration (HRSA) that concludes that “loneliness is more dangerous than obesity and as damaging to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day”. I think this puts into perspective that the trajectory of human connection as a world trend, may be going in the wrong direction.

    One solution to this, I believe, is found by exploring a more fundamental question: What does your Soul want? Pursuing this question requires courage. But authentic people can handle that. Being a Soul Centered Person means having a brave heart. It means venturing into the unknown, peeling back the layers of comfort and turning to face the destructive dragon of our own darkness.

    For example, I have learned, through listening to the hearts of others, that reaching goals doesn’t necessarily produce fulfillment. I have supported thousands of people over the years in accomplishing huge goals. Yes, often there is elation from great victories. And still, sometimes, that person has felt lonelier because they still didn’t have the experience of acceptance and connection they anticipated.

    However, I believe we can have both accomplishment and fulfillment. We are living in a time, when some of us are going out of our comfort zones to share the depth of our humanity with others. And as we do, we become more human, more available and, dare I say, more approachable as leaders; leaders in life to be certain and leaders in business.

    It takes courage to live from our humanity and I believe we can enhance our life experience as a result of doing it.

    And forgive me for the oversimplification, but I want to add some tangibility to a topic that is ethereal at best. What if you just give your Soul more of a voice? What if you were to allow the Soul, as opposed to the Ego, to guide you? One thing is for sure: you would probably live a life in acceptance rather than judging things through the filter of right and wrong. I say this because I believe the Soul is interested only in learning, growth, and advancement. So the tendency would be

    toward looking at things through the lens of acceptance, which allows the Soul greater expansion where judgment only produces contraction.

    Does that mean you don’t care? Hell no! It means you “care so much that you transcend care”. Human beings who understand this idea, are powerful people to be around because they don’t withhold thoughts, feelings or actions and they are also somehow detached from expectation as they go about changing the world. These beautiful, courageous Souls infuse everything with a ton of Love.

    Ultimately, love is what it’s all about. And I have found that being courageous and speaking the truth as I know it, whether it’s popular or not, does not create barriers between me and others as I feared it would. In fact, it does just the opposite. My authenticity opens the doors to greater trust, connection, and, yes, love. And that’s what, as human beings, I believe we’re all striving for because in the presence of love there is no sad or lonely.

    So, how can you put this into action? If you happen to feel brave today, this is what I encourage you to do: Get quiet. I don’t mean at the stoplight. I mean sitting somewhere where you will not be interrupted. Turn off your phone. Close your eyes. Just listen to yourself breathe for a minute or two. Then turn your awareness to the inner level of your being. When you’re still, ask the question: What does my Soul need from me?

    Then, listen. Do your best not to filter, judge or interpret. Just listen.

    What do you think you might hear? What might you do with that, information?

  • Potato Chips and Crying!

    I am a very ordinary man.

    And never in my wildest dreams did I think I would ever write a letter like this because, to me, it’s obvious how ordinary I am. Apparently, though, it’s not so obvious to some other folks.

    I had a very meaningful conversation with my friend Carolyn Freyer-Jones yesterday. She pointed out to me, that some “people” may have a perception that I do not struggle.

    I know that is not all people and, more to the point, most people could give a rat’s ass about what I am doing each day anyway. Yet, somehow the illusion is that my fitness level, my leadership business, and other things I do in my life just move along without a hitch and do not require much effort from me.

    To be clear as a wind chime, I have all the same challenges we all do.

    As some of you know, I believe 60 is the new 40 and I intend to do my part to make that a reality for those interested. While I feel better than ever, I work at it. Maybe it looks effortless because people don’t see the early morning breathwork, the consistent calling in the Light, or the diving into an icy river at 6:00 AM to relieve inflammation. It’s hard work to stay vital. However, to me, the hard work is worth it.

    The same is true for my business. I had a corporate job once that was so out of alignment for me that I left some big money on the table and went back to waiting on tables. When I figured out what I really wanted to do, it took decades to fine-tune the nuance in my business. I believe that any of us who have built an enterprise would likely say something similar. Running a leadership company isn’t easy, but I wouldn’t trade it for a date with the whole Swedish Bikini swim team. It truly has rewards beyond description.

    Of course, I have had disappointments in my life. A few of them literally took me to my knees. I have been divorced twice and I did the deep emotional work to alleviate a ton of self-judgment there. Was that hard? Yes, it was very challenging.

    For me, the path of a successful life is one of acceptance, willingness, and gratitude. Nothing new here, except that talking about it is one thing and getting those frequencies into your bones is another thing entirely.

    To be willing and able to maintain my sanity, my health, my fitness, my business—my life—during these times required tremendous faith and unceasing vigilance. Every day, I chose to find gratitude and to surrender to God as a way of moving forward. The point for me—and I think for all of us—is I am very ordinary, yet I have been willing to persevere and bolster that with tremendous faith in Spirit. We all have a spiritual curriculum and as a dear friend pointed out to me, there are no apples in a hardware store. That is, you won’t find what you’re looking for in the wrong place no matter how much you want it to be there. Accepting that isn’t easy, though it does limit the struggle.

    Further, on a more practical level, I feel hard work is unpopular. Every day we see people hoping for great wealth and fame without providing much value. While it is not for me to judge these people, I feel

    deeply that creating something valuable takes hard work—and making hard work graceful is the greatest secret of all.

    I am responsible for only my thoughts, my feelings and my chosen level of success. Once, I shared with Gina Murdock, founder of the Lead with Love team, that hard work is good for us. She liked that and we laughed about the audacity of thinking that everything should be easy all of the time. As you all know, the real grunt work happens in the spaces in between: late at night when nobody is watching, or before or after meetings when I serve someone who needs help. Or when I’m feeling scared shitless of another’s personal reaction and I say the truth anyway.

    Do all of these things get easier over time? Maybe. Maybe not. Regardless, I believe they grow us into human beings that are adept and resilient in the face of the complications of life. Then, even if these things still scare us, life can become easier. And, as I used to say in every seminar I taught for ten years, “avoiding never works”. So why put off the hard stuff when we inevitably will have to do it.

    Lastly, yes, I eat potato chips when I am stressed. Yes, I cry sometimes from feeling like a total mess or feeling alone in my home at night. Yes, I am bummed when my programs don’t go well, or people disappointment me. However, here is the thing: If I have become accomplished at anything in my 57 years of life, it is that I am really good at letting go fast. I am good at limiting my downtime. I let myself eat, cry, whine, blame, gossip…but only for a wee bit. My teacher John Morton taught me that. He showed me how to lose it and come back fast.

    Seinfeld Chips GIF - Seinfeld Chips Eating GIFs

    If there is anything that you may take from my brief rant here, it’s this: When things go south in life, which they will, then I suggest you limit the amount of time you go south with them. Come back to yourself and your purpose and your inspiration as fast as you can.

    I welcome any insights you may wish to share about your life journey. What are your key learnings?

    To me, we are all in this together and none of us is exempt from struggle. I am grateful that from the outside looking in, it appears I have it together all the time. But rest assured, I am struggling alongside the rest of us. However, I have also found keys to enjoying the heck out of my life. And I’m willing to share them.