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045. Breaking Free of Depression, Medication & Suffocation with Brooke Siem

By on March 5, 2019

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Brooke Siem is a true renaissance woman. She’s a professional chef (and Food Network Chopped Champion), world traveler (30+ countries), breathwork coach (more nasal breathing, please!), and grief/mental health advocate. Her broad range of life experience helps her to connect to clients while providing actionable tools that help them navigate the mental and emotional challenges of modern living. She believes in the power of using life’s triggers as a roadmap to healing, with self-awareness and self-compassion as the driving force for positive change.

Brooke had been prescribed antidepressant and anti-anxiety drugs at 15 years old after her father’s sudden death. An unexpected  opportunity for a life abroad sparked the realization that she had been heavily medicated for half of her life. She decided to make a massive change.

First, she booked a one way ticket to Malaysia. Then, she got off all the prescription drugs.

Two years and 19 countries later, Brooke’s primary focus is on advocating for mental health and wellness without the use of antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs. Though she believes that these sorts of drugs can have their place on the road to healing, her own experience has taught her that these medications are often poorly monitored by doctors, prescribed without thought of the long term consequences, and prioritize the notion of “existing” versus thriving. Brooke’s goal is to show that it is possible to live a joyful, centered life without the use of antidepressants, no matter how far down the rabbit hole we once were.

We get into the backstory that lead to being on medication for a decade and a half, the catalyst to come off them, the process of doing that (and what she discovered about herself through that very difficult journey), and how she’s lived her life since.


Key Points from the Episode with Brooke Siem:

  • Brooke had built a life in New York City around a bakery she found success at, but was also struggling with the demands of New York (and the costs of living there). Despite the bakery’s success, the cost of doing business in New York were so high that it made it hard to feel like you had real success.
  • She found herself struggling to fit in and find her path or her opportunities, and was judging herself for not being able to find them in New York – a place with so many opportunities abounding. Seeing people in successful paths only compounded that as she felt inferior to these other people who seemed to know where they’re going, and the competitive nature within her made her feel like she wasn’t winning in the path she had created.
  • When her bakery’s lease was coming up for renewal in 2017, her world changed. She got an opportunity through a program called “Remote Year” to travel around the world and work remotely with 70 other people in the program, and she went for it. The only trick was that her work – owning a bakery – wasn’t something she could do remotely. She figured she wouldn’t get accepted into the program anyway, so she didn’t let that stop her. She figured if she made it, she’d figure out how to make it work. And that’s what happened.
  • She felt she was at such a low point that she new she needed to get out of her situation and would regret not doing it if she could.
  • This all brought about another major change. When Brooke was 15, her father suddenly passed away, and she was subsequently put on a cocktail of drugs to manage the emotional impact. She went through all of life’s major, pivotal growth periods – adolescence, high school, college, entering the work world and becoming independent, without the drugs effecting her mind.
  • As she was turning 30 and looking at this nomadic existence, she realized she wouldn’t be able to get her prescriptions refilled reliably, so she suddenly realized she needed to find a path off of them, which also helped her realize she had been on them half of her life already and that got her wondering who she would be without them.
  • This sparked a very fast path to coming off the drugs so she would be clear by the time the trip came just six months later. As many of the drugs have long half-lives and withdrawals, this would be both tricky and intense.
  • When this all started, she described her feelings as misery, suicidal and essentially just waiting to die. It went so far that she found an online life expectancy calculator, got a date when it said she would die, and put it in her calendar. She actually quoted the time remaining when we were talking.
  • In the midst of this withdrawal, Brooke actually was chosen to compete on the cooking show, Chopped, which was incredibly hard in and of itself, but so much harder because of the emotional impact of the drug withdrawal. She actually went on to winning her competition despite what she was going through. She described seeing herself on the show as watching a twin who wasn’t her.
  • Brooke touched on her competitive side, which manifested in a competitive dancing background when she was younger, which obviously served her well on Chopped (and other things in her life).
  • She described coming off one of the drugs specifically, where her hearing became painfully heightened, making her hyper sensitive to everything around her (and NYC not being a particularly easy place to be that way). She described it as having all of these emotions and sensations bottled up for years, and then coming out all at once, which can feel unbearable.
  • She described the feelings she had through her therapy approach while coming off the drugs, and this feeling like her real feelings had been stifled and she had a dream where a rope was being pulled from deep in her throat, and that symbolized a freeing. It lead her to need to go outside one night and scream at the top of her lungs to physically release all that was inside, which was a pivotal, transformative moment for her in facing all that was inside.
  • Ultimately, the travel was a very clarifying thing for her because it helped her realize that the only constant in her life was her. She was able to completely isolate all of the variables in her life, which changed each time she moved to a new place, and found the way she could be the grounding center and could learn and grow in each place she went to. For example, with her heightened sensitivity to noise, traveling to Malaysia was incredibly difficult as the noise and bustle was even greater than in NYC. Had she not done that, she wouldn’t have gotten as good at dealing with the sensory-overload of life as she became after a month in Kuala Lumpur.

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044. Fighting Diseases of Ignorance with Howard Jacobson

By on February 26, 2019

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Howard Jacobson, PhD, is Chief of Behavioral Science (aka Chief Habit Nerd) at WellStart Health. He’s the host of the wildly popular (in his home) Plant Yourself Podcast.

Howard is co-author, with Josh LaJaunie, of Sick to Fit, and contributing author to T. Colin Campbell, PhD’s WHOLE: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition, and Garth Davis, MD’s Proteinaholic. His work has also been featured in Fast Company and the Harvard Business Review online.

Howard is lead instructor at the WellStart Health Coaching Academy, and co-author of the Coaching for Performance chapter of the American Management Association’s Book of Knowledge.

In his free time, Howard runs, practices Russian martial arts, gardens, and plays far-too-competitive Ultimate Frisbee.

Howard earned his BA from Princeton University, and his MPH and PhD from Temple University.

He lives in Pittsboro, North Carolina with his wife, and sometimes with his adult children. (Fly, kids, fly!)

Key Points from the Episode with Howard Jacobson:

  • As Howard went through his career, he had a feeling that making money meant he was selling out, so he does a lot of things for free.
  • His podcast, Plant Yourself, has a huge following, and shares the vegan lifestyle with thousands of listeners.
  • WellStart Health – a digital platform and care team to reverse chronic disease. Can you use behavior change to lead to better health outcomes and get people to put those new habits into their lives in a meaningful and sustainable way.
  • Millions of people have tried and failed to do better, and Howard uses a really brilliant analogy to illustrate why. If a six year old who has never played the piano before sat down to play a complex concerto, they will fail. This isn’t surprising. Yet we are essentially doing that with totally different ways to eat where we go in without clear knowledge, guidance or resources and don’t seem to have the same understanding when we struggle. Instead, we go to a place of frustration and a mentality of, “This will never work for me. It’s too hard.”
  • In Western society, we carry trauma and push ourselves to just move on, which really means the trauma stays within us, stuck there. In other cultures throughout time, there were processes to move through trauma, whether ceremonies, rights of passage or forms of therapy so people could truly move on. We don’t do that, and the trauma continues to cost us as time goes on, and it compounds with each successive trauma. Howard has chosen to face his rather than deny them, and that’s part of the work they do at WellStart.
  • Howard went into a podcast episode he did during a water fast he was on, which lead him down a mental path that came from releasing a lot of inhibitions as he faced lots of feelings. The episode went through a lot of thoughts around his father, and losing his father to cancer when Howard was just 24 years old.
  • He said he was really angry about it, which came from losing his dad to what he saw as a disease of ignorance. He realized this after digging into the research when his father was sick to find a way to save his life.
  • What he learned was that there are many diet-based changes that could have prevented and could help fight the cancer. Lacking that knowledge is the driver of this feeling of the loss being unnecessary and due to ignorance.
  • The knowledge was out there, but it was relegated to a very small academic world rather than the norms of the world at large.
  • While he was angry about the loss of his father, he used the time to reflect on who his father was, what he meant to Howard, and the ways his father would have grown and improved as a person had he had the chance to.
  • We have all lost people too soon. We have all seen towering figures shrivel and die unnecessarily, as Howard put it. And it’s been decades since his father died, so we shouldn’t still be able to say that this is still happening from the same ignorance.
  • He would like to see all doctors trained in lifestyle medicine, which, essentially, none of them are today. And the doctors should be upset about this situation.
  • We need to get this knowledge to a place where it’s accessible to all, not just people in the small group who know today, or to those who live with access to the tools you may need, like a Whole Foods store.
  • He asked really pressing questions around the sustainability of what we are doing in healthcare and agriculture/the environment. Things have to change, but will they change because we change them before it’s too late or will it change because it comes crashing down and we have no choice.

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043. You Are Your Best Investment with Jenn Swanson

By on February 19, 2019

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Known to be a “pathologically positive” person, Jenn Swanson has been educating, encouraging and empowering others to succeed for more than 25 years. With a background in healthcare and education, a Master’s Degree in Public and Pastoral Leadership, and a passion for wellness in the workplace, Jenn brings energy and enthusiasm to all she does.

Her weekly podcast, Careers by Jenn, is heard around the globe, and her book, “What They See: How to Stand Out and Shine in Your New Job” has been a popular read for those starting a new job. Jenn lives near Vancouver in beautiful British Columbia, Canada, and is delighted to be joining our show today.

In this episode, we focus on what drove Jenn to be so positive, and, shockingly, it began with one of the least positive things a child can go through – a parent abandoning their family. Jenn shares her story and the amazing maturity, strength and clarity she showed as a young child that set her up to become the positive, caring person she is today.

Key Points from the Episode with Jenn Swanson:

  • At the age of 2, Jenn’s father left her mother, her and her as-yet-unborn brother. He did not just move out, but completely left them, with no contact for many years.
  • That lead to a feeling of being different on top of the struggle of getting by financially.
  • At the age of 12, Jenn’s father and mother reconnected as her mother sought help for some behavior struggles her brother was having, and that meant Jenn had to see him and this alternate life he had created.
  • What struck her was what a waste all of the feelings she had been dealing with had been – the pain, confusion, anger – all of it.  None of it was making the situation better or different.  So she decided to write a letter of forgiveness to her father, and wrote out 12 pages explaining what the impact on her his choice had been, what it had meant for her, and then actually put in the mail and sent it to him.
  • She wasn’t looking for a response, but more the catharsis of releasing the pain from her system so she could move forward. This is what struck me – you see this action in some people who faced what Jenn faced, but almost never until they’re adults dealing with the impact of their childhood experience. Jenn did this on her own as a pre-teen.
  • We dug into why that might have been, and it wasn’t something Jenn had thought about before, so we talked through it. One key thing growing up was that her mother kept things very open where you could talk about your feelings or express them. She would go on long walks with her mother where they talked a lot, did art projects and other activities where expression of your thoughts and feelings was encouraged.
  • She also had a strong sense of her faith and the idea that there is something bigger, which was a feeling that grew into her current work as a part-time minister.
  • The lesson she took from all of this is that the act of forgiveness is not about the person being forgiven but rather about the person doing the forgiving. We can’t control what the person who is being forgiven does with it, but we can control the freedom we feel when we forgive someone and let go.
  • The opposite of peace is fighting things, and you can’t fight reality. That fight would be wasteful, so Jenn asks what we could do with what we have rather than denying its existence.
  • Acknowledge that things happen, life sucks – something bad is happening all the time. So how do you manage, where is your resilience and where can you take your hope from so you can move forward?
  • She has found that the most insightful people with the greatest wisdom seem to be those who have been through the greatest hardship or struggle – if they have a gratitude mindset about where they are rather than fighting where they had been.
  • A common idea that my guests have often shared came up again in this episode, “It doesn’t happen to us, it happens for us.”
  • As a bit of advice, Jenn suggests people not write out all of their feelings and hit “Send”, but take a bit of time to think about it once it’s written and then decide what to do with it.
  • She spent time helping people talk about how someone else’s behavior made them feel rather than how they did this to them. “I felt this way about what happened,” instead of, “You hurt me.” It creates space for more introspection and reflection, and helps keep the other person from digging in with defensiveness, which can stop a productive discussion before it gets a chance to get off the ground.
  • Jenn shared a beautiful idea she’s been reminding people of a lot lately. She said, “You are your best investment.” Spending the time, money or both on yourself, being willing to do the hard work, prioritizing your need for rest and recovery all pay huge dividends. You need to invest in yourself and your self-growth.

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042. Coming Back from Tragedy As a Victor, Not Victim with Sandra Younger

By on February 12, 2019

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Sandra Younger lost her home, 12 neighbors and nearly her own life in a catastrophic California wildfire. Her best-selling book about the disaster, The Fire Outside My Window, is praised by Amazon reviewers and studied by top-level emergency professionals.

After the fire, Sandra discovered that personal resilience is both a natural strength and a skill set we can build like a muscle. Combining her own recovery experience with leading academic research, she developed The ComeBACK Formula™—a five-step system of powerful, commonsense practices proven to transform disaster into opportunity and loss into legacy. She teaches the approach in The ComeBACK Formula Guidebook.

Sandra now shares her resilience-boosting message as an international speaker, workshop leader and media guest. She’s appeared on NBC’s Dateline, ABC, CBS, PBS, CBC, Fox, the CW and more than 20 podcasts.

Key Points from the Episode with Sandra Younger:

  • Sandra Younger and her husband moved into their dream home outside of San Diego in 2003. Then one night, they woke up in the middle of what was the biggest wild fire in California history at that point (and for 14 more years).
  • The fire was set unintentionally by a hiker who was lost and set a signal fire to help himself get rescued.
  • She and her husband grabbed all they could, including their large Newfoundland dogs and their bird, and jumped in their car. As they backed out of their driveway, they saw that their home was about to be engulfed in flames.
  • They drove down the mountain they were on unable to see anything due to the smoke, with a bobcat suddenly appearing in front of their headlights, which acted as their guide down the mountain as it, too, tried to escape the blaze.
  • Interestingly, she made a point of steering toward the darkness, since the road was the only thing not burning. It was very significant that she was steering into the dark.
  • While she and her husband survived, their 12 neighbors did not. That got them the label of survivor, which she has actually never taken to as it labels you a victim and feels disempowering. Victim, to Sandra, is about not being overpowered rather than overcoming and triumphing. Instead, you can be a Survivor, who turn into Victors over time.
  • She ended up writing a book about the experience and being triumphant over it, which is called The Fire Outside My Window.
  • What she learned through writing it is that some people embraced the label “victim” and some did not. Those who did seemed to be looking for justice while those who did not use the label were trying to live their lives by moving forward.
  • What was more interesting to her is that the ones who used the labels were not the ones who lost the most. Those who lost family, friends – including some who lost their children – who refused to use the label felt that the fire had already taken enough, and they would not let it take any more from their life. The one who held onto the label “victim” the most lost a detached garage and its content, but nothing else. That is so interesting to Sandra and what it says about our ability to see a path forward and the choice involved in that path.
  • While we do not get to choose what happens to us, we get to choose our response, which Sandra calls, “Our story.”
  • Sandra’s book is really about resilience, which she discovered through the research she did in writing her book. What she found is that we can build resilience like we do a physical muscle through purposeful practices.
  • She boiled all the research down into five practices to change disaster into opportunity. She calls this The Come BACK Formula.
    • It starts with the word “Come”, which means, “Come from a place of gratitude.” This seemed to be a difference between victims and survivors – the former focused on what they lost while the latter focused on what they have.
    • B – be patient with the pain. No matter what the experience, there is a process to coming back, so you need to be patient through that.
    • A – accept help when it’s offered, and be tough enough to ask for it when you need it.
    • C – choose your story, your response. Man Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl is incredibly helpful in building this strength.
    • K – keep moving forward. It isn’t about just persistence but also detaching from this past that is no longer happening so you are free to embrace the possibilities and opportunities of a new future. That includes forgiveness of anyone who you think has a hand in the tough experience, including yourself.
  • She shared an example of someone who is a victor. Her friend Rena lost her son at a very young age. She decided to transform her disaster into an opportunity that has created a free screening program for other parents to check for the kind of abnormalities that took Rena’s son to try to help save lives going forward.
  • You can choose not to be a victim but to be a survivor and victor no matter what the situation is, whether it’s something as serious as losing a child or as (seemingly) small as being offended by someone. We have that power no matter what.

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041. Going from Why Me to What’s Next with Cornell Thomas

By on February 5, 2019

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Who is Cornell Thomas? That’s a question that even he wasn’t quite sure about until 2011. He is a former athlete, a speaker, an author, a thinker, an activist, but more importantly than any of those titles, he is a husband and father.

Cornell Thomas is the youngest son of Bobby and Tina Thomas. That sentence is very important in regards to who he is, as you will hear in the show. If not for his parents, he wouldn’t be the man you see today. His father passed away when he was just three years old, and although his time with his dad was brief, he learned through others the amazing legacy that his father left behind, as a police officer and community leader.

His father’s passing forced his mom to become he and his siblings’ everything. She was their main provider, mother, and life educator. She was forced to become an expert problem solver, and that skill was passed down to her children. Cornell’s mom raised her children on the old adage, “Everything happens for a reason,” and that one lesson out of the myriads she has taught him was never forgotten. It’s what he remembered when he suffered a career-ending basketball injury, and the first thing he thinks about when any adversity comes along.

In that dark times, his mom’s teachings served as his light. It was that ‘bounce-back-ability’ ingrained in him since his youth that has allowed him to find his purpose through the pain.

What Brought Cornell to The Do a Day Podcast?

That’s the question most people spend their whole lives trying to answer. He thought his purpose in life was to play professional basketball. In 2003, he received a contract to play professional basketball in Portugal. A dream he had since discovering the sport at 16. Two weeks before he was supposed to leave, he suffered a career-ending injury that reshaped his life, as he gets into in this episode. He was sickened by all of the negativity he was seeing online, and decided to start writing his own motivational quotes for his personal Facebook page. The quotes eventually led him to writing a blog, and the blog led to his first book The Power Of Positivity-Controlling Where The Ball Bounces.

In 2011, he realized what his true purpose is – to inspire and motivate others. He’s been fortunate enough to speak all over the world sharing his story with people from all walks of life. Daring others to say, “What Now?” instead of, “Why Me?” in the face of adversity.

Key Points from the Episode with Cornell Thomas:

  • Cornell’s lost his father to cancer when he was just three years old, leaving his mother with five young kids to raise on her own. That set Cornell up to see what it means to never quit as his mother always pushed through no matter how hard things got.
  • In his teens, Cornell found basketball and fell in love (despite being totally uncoordinated).
  • He learned how to play thanks to a short, Asian man named Ray. That taught Cornell you never judge a book by its color (let alone its cover).
  • He made basketball his life, practicing constantly, including skipping the senior prom.
  • Cornell had a dream of playing in the NBA, but he did not fully believe in himself yet. But his mother did, and kept pushing him to go for his true dream.
  • After many years of intense practice, Cornell finally found his skills while in college and became a solid player earning accolades. The only reason he got there was sacrifice. He sacrificed other things for what he loved (basketball). But what he really loved was the idea that his mother wouldn’t have to work again because he was successful enough for let her retire. He stayed so focused on that, which is why he got to where he needed to skill-wise.
  • He earned a scholarship to play for North Dakota, and was now playing with NBA-bound college players.
  • His dream was taking shape as he finished school as he got an email from his agent that he had gotten a contract to play professionally in Portugal. He went home to tell his mother that it was really happening.
  • A week before leaving, he played a half-court game casually with friends, and heard a pop. His Achille’s tendon had ruptured, and he needed surgery.
  • After surgery, as his contract to play in Portugal had just been voided, his first real memory was his mother kissing him goodbye as she went to one of the three jobs he told her she’d never have to work again.
  • He went into big Why Me mode, and his mother called him out. She told him to get out of Why Me mode and get into What Now mode. That’s how she had been living since his father died, so she knew it better than anyone.
  • When you find yourself in these moments, focusing on what happened is not going to help you move forward. You have to look at what’s next rather than dwelling in what already happened that you can’t change.
  • He worked through his recovery, and was at about 90% when he went to a training camp where he left one night to go back to the hotel just as some guys came in with guns and shot at participants including killing one of them. This was a sign to him that he wasn’t supposed to be doing this.
  • Cornell soon was asked to coach a junior college team, which was the next sign. As a 26-year-old player, becoming a coach was almost throwing in the towel so he fought it. It took his mother telling him to go to the interview anyway for him to at least give it a chance. He ended up taking the job, and fell in love with coaching.
  • As he became a father, it kept building, culminating in writing a book and finding his voice as a speaker.
  • One thing he realized is that all the hours, skills and discipline he put into basketball can be translated to other parts of his life.
  • As a coach, he realized that he has to love his players no matter what. That means not holding them to the standard he holds himself to since that’s about him, his life and his goals. His brother reminded him that if the players don’t think you love them, they won’t play for you the way you want them to.

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040. Finding Clarity & Peace in a World of Turmoil with Sandy Vo

By on January 29, 2019

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Sandy Vo is a trained meditation teacher, visibility expert and transformational speaker.

She has faced major adversities including having depression and learned how to overcome them by practicing ancient holistic modalities.

She has experienced what many today can relate to and used these lessons to develop unique approaches to inspire others to lead an impactful and meaningful life.  Sandy specializes in integrating ancient wisdom and modalities with modern day living.  Her teaching and work stem from AMI Meditation, the modern link to the World’s Oldest Health and Wellness Tradition called Yoga Science. She has a national clientele base of students and professionals, including therapists, entrepreneurs, leaders, creative freelancers, holistic experts and individuals on the spiritual path of surrendering to their Highest expression. Sandy receives her training at the American Meditation Institute and studies from Leonard Perlmutter (Ram Lev), one of the world’s most knowledgeable and respected meditation masters and mind/body medicine pioneers teaching today. She is also the founder and host of the top-rated transformational podcast called Dear Self & Co.

As a creative, kitchen singer, yogi, storyteller, writer, and big believer in humans; Sandy is on a mission to teach holistic tools that help others work through and overcome obstacles while guiding them back home to their true Self.

In this episode, Sandy shares how her life spiraled out of control starting when her father abandoned the family when she was a child. She faced other loss along the way, and ultimately lost herself in drugs, alcohol and depression. At her lowest, she found Meditation and the path to reaching her Highest. She shares her powerful journey and the inspiration for you to find the same growth within yourself.

Key Points from the Episode with Sandy Vo:

  • Sandy grew up in a happy, immigrant household with parents who were very open about what they went through in Vietnam.
  • Her mother is half-African-American, half-Vietnamese, with her father being deployed in Vietnam during the war. Sandy’s mother never knew him, and grew up seriously mistreated because of her mixed-race and different looks – including by her own mother (Sandy’s grandmother).
  • Her father grew up in extreme poverty as one of 13 kids who barely had any food to eat.
  • Sandy’s parents worked incredibly hard to provide for their family, and built a successful business that fell apart in the financial crisis in 2008.
  • Her father ended up leaving to try to pursue better financial opportunity for the family, but instead he just abandoned them. This was crushing to Sandy as she was so close to her dad growing up.
  • Her mother, two younger siblings and her went to Washington to try to get their father to come back, and he refused, which was devastating.
  • Her mother relocated the family to New York, and Sandy connected with an older cousin who helped Sandy through this incredibly tough time as she was facing depression.
  • Sandy soon found out that her cousin was diagnosed with late-stage cancer, so Sandy went down to Virginia to help her cousin, who was able to live two years despite a prognosis of only six months.
  • This marked the second major loss in Sandy’s life, and she soon suffered the third loss, which was of herself. She stopped studying, starting drinking and doing drugs, eating terribly and was just overcome by stress and anxiety that was so bad that her hair started falling out. She gained 45 pounds, and finally looked at herself and realized she needed help.
  • She saw a school psychologist, who just prescribed her an anti-depressant. Sandy had seen friends take these drugs and become zombies, so she refused them. She felt like, at the end of the day, she wants to be here and be better, and not lose herself.
  • She started to fix her own life – she eliminated the things that weren’t serving her, including the alcohol, drugs, wrong foods and people. She ended up getting into fitness, but that became a new escape for her, so she started training intensely, including signing up for a body building competition.
  • Despite the success with her fitness, Sandy’s depression was actually growing and she became suicidal. She was living to exist, as she puts it, which felt like a form of suicide in and of itself, and she eventually went five days without sleep and lost awareness of who she was.
  • Her best friend’s mother stepped in to try to help, eventually bringing Sandy to a holistic, Ayurvedic doctor who spent three hours with her, asking questions she had never been asked before, and eventually directed her to meditation, and it just made sense to her.
  • The place he sent her was the American Meditation Institute, where she met Leonard Perlmutter, who became her teacher. Meditation brought her clarity, peace, equanimity, safety and comfort that she had never felt before in her life, and likened it to being in her mother’s womb.
  • She found herself wanting to answer the questions of who she was, where she was heading and how to do it.
  • She decided not to pursue the marketing path she was studying for and instead pursue meditation, which became her full-time path.
  • She realized that she is here for a greater purpose and bigger reason, and used that to find the strength to stick to the better choices she needed to make.
  • Sandy has recently reconnected with her father, which taught her that when you do the inner work and understand the meaning behind things, you can get through the darkest things in your life and move ahead.

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039. The Power of Intention to Achieve Your Mission with Adam Schaeuble

By on January 22, 2019

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Adam Schaeuble, aka The PHD (previously heavy dude), is the host of the top ranked fitness podcast “The Million Pound Mission” (and the recently launched “Casting the Pod”). He reached a point in his life where he weighed 327lbs and was already having weight related health issues in his late twenties. He decided to overhaul his lifestyle and his fitness and ended up losing over 100lbs.

Feeling inspired, he took what he learned from his own transformation journey and created a bootcamp program that produced over 35,000 lbs of results in his home town of Bloomington, IN.

Now Adam has set his sights on inspiring over one million pounds of healthy results through his podcast, coaching programs, and the Million Pound Mission Bootcamp.

Key Points from the Episode with Adam Schaeuble:

  • 10+ years ago, Adam Schaeuble found himself in a place where he was overweight at 327 pounds, he was depressed, the woman of his dreams was going to move away and he was $40,000 in debt.
  • Friends kept pushing some personal development material in front of him, but he wasn’t ready for it until one day, he decided to watch a DVD of The Secret and the Law of Attraction. He realized what he was attracting in his life was contributing to his situation. That woke him up.
  • He followed the advice, and wrote out what he wanted his life to look like five years from that moment. The hardest thing about it was that he had to write it all in positive terms, like avoiding saying, “I’m debt-free” and instead saying, “I am financially abundant.”
  • His statement went something like this, “Today is June 17th, 2012, I’ve lost 100 pounds, I’m full of energy, and my business is abundant.” And he repeated the full statement every morning and every night for five years. This helped frame his day in the morning, and create accountability for delivering on progress toward those goals every day.
  • He was able to do it almost to the day (he was off by 1 week), having lost over 100 pounds, founded his gym, helping others change their lives, and marrying that woman who he as afraid he was going to lose.
  • As Adam says, he decided he as worth it.
  • The repetition and positivity made things that had been difficult or uncomfortable that he needed to bring into his life more comfortable, easy and eventually things he actually enjoyed. It created a reinforcing set of positive habits that have allowed his mission to grow.
  • He built his days around easy tasks that were bite-sized that he could do, kept his Why front and center through that statement he kept repeating, and he was able to make huge progress. It is a very Do a Day type approach of daily execution without pressure from before or after.
  • He teaches The Transformation Timeline, with three phases. We got into the first two (and then went off on a tangent):
    • Coachability – this is where most people get stuck. This is where the cycle of trying something new, losing weight, life happens, gaining the weight back, and going round and round again is. Being coachable allows us to handle those life moments so we can stay moving forward instead of getting caught in the cycle.
    • The Healthy Lifestyle – make a healthier lifestyle the norm through some rearranging things, getting to know your Why and identifying with it so you have the strong place to go back to when you need it.
  • He has started to focus on 90 day sprints now rather than five year timelines because so much is happening and he is seeing so much growth. This has helped him to understand how different timelines may be appropriate for different people or situations.
  • We talked about Michael Hyatt’s Best Year Ever, and the two types of goals in the book – achievement goals and habit goals. Adam believes we all need a big achievement goal to get us focused on a great finish line, while the habit goals are the daily things we need to shift to support our achievement goals. For example, if your achievement goal is to run a marathon, a habit goal would be around your daily training to support that achievement.
  • Adam challenged us all to write out what we want to achieve in the next month, and do it all in positive language. No “don’t” “not” or “no”, but also no negative ideas like debt, fat, pain, etc.
  • We talked about the idea many people have to just get through whatever they’re facing now before they try to make change or get a coach. In fact, that’s exactly when you need it most. You can’t wait for life to stop so you can fix things. It doesn’t work that way, so you need to get help when you need it, not when it’s convenient.
  • You, too, can be part of Adam’s Million Pound Mission by donating your weight loss to the goal at millionpounmission.com

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038. Facing Trauma to Allow for Growth with Mark Crandall

By on January 15, 2019

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Mark Crandall’s is a story of uncommon adversity and triumph. At age three, Mark was taken from his biological mother by the Department of Youth and Families and placed in the foster care system. He lacked the tools and supports to manage both his grief and his new reality in society’s margins. From the pieces he conjured stories about his own worth. At around age 12 Mark began contemplating whether or not to just give up.

Throughout his early childhood, Mark’s behavior stood out to others as being abnormal and aberrant. He began to engage in criminal activity, acting out his aggression at the expense of those closest to him and society at large. Years of counseling and various combinations of medications could not correct the feelings of inadequacy and separation within. Mark began to self-medicate with substances; thus began his spiral into painful, chaotic addiction. Mark found himself in and out of youth detention centers and other correctional facilities. He lashed out at those who would protect and support him. Though, even in his lowest moments, Mark recognized what others saw: There was greatness in even him.

In 2007, Mark found a spiritual program of action in which he began overcoming the many traumatic moments of his childhood. He also began the process of repairing the damage that he had caused others through his efforts to navigate life. Mark found freedom in an introspective process which informs his Transformational Life and Business Coaching and drug and alcohol Interventions. Mark is trained in some of the most powerful transformation practices available, all of which he uses in his work with others.

Mark has re-written the story of his life and has dedicated his life to empowering others to accomplish the same. Mark obtained a Masters Degree in Social Work (MSW) in 2014 and became a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC) and Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW). Mark spent seven years working with disadvantaged youth and providing individual and family counseling. He has conducted many successful Interventions for families in his work and has mastered the art of Transformational Life and Business Coaching. Mark is a master of conducting interventions and empowering the intervened client and the family to heal from drug addiction.

Mark’s success as an entrepreneur has made him a highly sought-after Transformational Life and Business Coach. He and his carefully curated circle of Transformational Life and Business Coaches do not believe that anyone lacks motivation; what they may lack, instead, is vision. We recognize that with vision and the proper mindset, anything is attainable. Mark has proven this principle in his own life by building a six-figure company within five months of its start; by publishing his renowned first memoir Eulogy of Childhood Memories; by leading fruitful corporate workshops;  and by inspiring a following through paid motivational speaking events. Mark learned with help from a long line of coaches that his past did not have to define his future. Mentors taught him how to break through real and imagined barriers and access greatness that lies within each living person. Mark considers his greatest assets to be his learned and organic abilities to bring out the potential within all of his clients and to guide them as they achieve their dreams.

Key Points from the Episode with Mark Crandall:

  • Mark shared his story, one of trauma, addiction, felony and transformation.
  • He started with his first memory, when he was two and a half, was painfully hungry and asked his sister where his mother was. His sister told him she was at the diner, and he remembers feeling anger toward his mother, and why she gets to eat but he doesn’t. That feeling kept recurring anytime he saw someone else with something and he didn’t have it.
  • His mother struggled with drugs and his father left before Mark had any memory of him.
  • He shared various stories that shaped him early on while he was still with his biological mother, culminating in when he was taken away from her and put into foster care with people who would end up adopting him and his sister.
  • His feeling growing up wasn’t that the situation he was born into was broken, but rather that he was. He felt that something was wrong with him, and that was why he was getting dropped off at random strangers’ homes, going hungry, not having clothes that fit, being physically hurt and ultimately not being “wanted” by his biological mother, or not wanted as much as she wanted her drugs.
  • That lead to a very aggressive way to live, which his adoptive parents bore the brunt of, as he swore to never let anyone hurt him the way his mother hurt him. He would hurt them first or make sure they never got a chance to hurt him.
  • His biological parents were on his mind all the time, and why he wasn’t like other kids. Why wasn’t he like them, why does he have these two families, why didn’t one of them keep him and care for him, why did his mother keep promising to come and yet never show up?
  • He either spent all of his energy in relationships waiting for someone to leave or pushing them away so they leave anyway.
  • At 11, he tried beer after seeing other people looking happy drinking, and he wanted that. It didn’t stick right away, but after a few years, he figured out what did make him happy after he started smoking marijuana.
  • As a pre-teen, he had his first thoughts of suicide. He thought about what the world would be like without him and that no one loves him. That’s not common for a nine to 11 year old, and he didn’t tell anyone about it. But around that time, he started to act out even more. He started setting fires, killing and torturing animals and other things. He holds a lot of shame about what he did, and is still working through those feelings today.
  • He started to smoke weed daily, and started stealing regularly to support his drug habit or just because.
  • The way he puts it, at nine years old, he had all the traits of a serial“å9 killer.
  • He ended up in a group home at 11 years old, which actually made things worse as he was around really bad behaviors and learned how to do even more bad things.
  • He went to high school after the group homes now armed with knowledge of all these new drugs he learned about, how to get them and how to use them, he felt he was on a mission to get drugs and that defined his high school years. Truancy, intoxication, anger and bad behavior. He said he was on a daily mission to quiet the voices in his head about how much he hated himself.
  • We talked about whether marijuana is a gateway drug. While this is debated biologically, we both agreed that behaviorally, it is. When you break down the barriers and stigmas, your aversion to a darker path diminishes. And now you are connected to a world with access to more and more of these things, so you can easily go down that path. For Mark, that’s how he got into heroin. His weed dealer was out of weed, but offered him, “something better instead.” He obviously would not have been in a position to start doing heroin without having been looking for weed.
  • Mark described his first experience with heroin and how it was the first relief he ever experienced from the extreme turmoil and pain he felt inside. It also lead to his being thrown out of his mother’s house and the path that eventually landed him in jail.
  • He did a year in county jail, and did a lot of reading in there, including David Peltzer’s various books like A Child Called It and Lost Boy. He realized while in prison that he would one day be an author and transform lives. He just wasn’t ready to do it yet, but the seed was planted.
  • After getting out of jail, the pain got stronger and the voice of anger inside of him got louder, which eventually lead him to use again. Once he started again, he quickly spiraled out of control to heavy use and criminal activity with police chasing him regularly. Not after long, he was back in prison, and views his second time as rehabilitative. Interestingly, he was high the entire time, so he doesn’t mean it like that, but they forced him to get his GED, which was the first step to going to a court-ordered, year-long strict rehab program that saved his life.
  • In rehab, he was introduced to a number of tools that changed his life as he began seeking. He was taught about meditation, religion and various books by people like The Dalai Lama and Thict Naut Hahn. This is when Mark really began to transform into what he is today, and found the tools to help others do the same.
  • Mark shared why he doesn’t like the term, “Self-Help,” and prefers to talk about people needing empowerment. It changes the idea from being that you’re broken from being that you need to amplify your best.
  • Looking throughout history at the greatest religious leaders and teachers of enlightenment, you find consistent back stories of pain and suffering leading to great insight and inspiration.
  • Mark realized through this that he spent his entire life playing the victim. Being a victim is not the same as playing a victim. He is a victim, but that is very different from acting like one. Playing one is about blaming all future outcomes and reactions to life on experiences of the past. It’s the difference between, “This happened to me,” and, “This happened for me.”
  • You can’t make a choice if you don’t realize there’s a decision to be made. He had to have a wake up to realize that it wasn’t working. He said the worst place he can get to is one of, “I know.” Thinking that way blocks him from seeing what could be or how he can grow.
  • To grow out of your current thought patterns, you need empathy – the ability to see what someone else is seeing. You need different thought patterns to see other ways forward.
  • Mark said something that stopped me in my tracks, “The truth doesn’t need defending.” If he is defending something, then perhaps there’s something going on within him that the defense is signaling since if what he was saying was true, it wouldn’t need any defense. Defense is a signal to him that there’s growth to be had.
  • Mark gave a challenge to the listeners to pick a moment to advocate with themselves regardless of what they think the other people in the interaction will think.

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037. Using Disaster to Unlock Wellness with Josh Perry

By on January 8, 2019

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Josh Perry is a former professional BMX athlete, motivational speaker, and certified holistic health consultant that’s fighting 4 brain tumors. His strong motivation for living his best and healthiest life stems from a brain tumor diagnosis & surgery in 2010 followed by 2 additional diagnoses. After overcoming the surgeries & treatments, and realizing he most likely has a genetic predisposition to accumulating tumors, he immersed himself in research on how to enhance the health, performance, and longevity of his brain. Since choosing to change his life and follow a ketogenic diet & lifestyle, the growth of the tumors have stopped and he feels better and more fulfilled than he has ever before. Today, Josh has left competing to start his health coaching business as a way of exploring his passion for helpings other improve their brain health and become the most successful versions of themselves. Josh also teamed up with the Athlete Recovery Fund to start raising awareness and funds for a non-profit BMX/Wellness event focused on raising direct funding for direct patient care through education, sport, and faith called the Brainy BMX Stunt Shows

Josh shares what really helped him take back control of his life. Vision & goals are what helped him overcome adversity and become successful, still living with 4 tumors today. His tools are Gamma Knife Radiosurgery, a ketogenic diet/lifestyle, and leaving the competition side of BMX to pursue his wellness-focused purpose purpose, Brainy BMX. Josh feels strongly that health is internal and we all have the same choice in our life and that’s our perspective.

Key Points from the Episode with Josh Perry:

  • Josh has taken a step back from his pro BMX career to focus on sharing his story across podcasts, public speaking and his health coaching work. And he’s doing that all with four brain tumors that he’s managing through a mix of the Keto diet, the right mindset and medical intervention when needed (mainly Gamma Knife technology)
  • He hit on the hidden transition in his retirement from the pro BMX circuit around a loss of identity. His world has been Josh Perry the BMX rider, so aside from not riding in competitions, he’s faced the question of who he is today. He still rides at an incredible level because he loves it, but he isn’t actively competing.
  • His dream was just to be a professional BMX rider competing, but didn’t realize what he’d be exposed to all over the world through the travel he’s done, for example performing for the troops in Afghanistan.
  • In March 2010, he was training a jump he was working on. He was worried about under-rotating and ended up over-compensating and over-rotating, which resulted in a crash that landed him in an urgent care center to get his head scanned.
  • As a background to this crash, he had been having intense headaches for a year with pain so severe it made him nauseous. Whenever he went to the doctor about the headaches, the doctors sort of blew it off since he was so young, and just gave him pills for the headache pain.
  • But when he got the scan after his crash, the news the doctor shared was not something he expected at all. He was told, “There’s something in your brain that isn’t supposed to be there.” And after that, things became surreal and he was almost detached from his surroundings. He called his mother to tell her the news and couldn’t even speak.
  • He felt complete broken and out-of-body.
  • The urgent care doctor told him he not only would never ride again, but probably would never walk again, either. That was what really set the shock in.
  • He sound learned that he had a large tumor on top of his brain that had wrapped itself around his optic nerve, which was causing his headaches and vision issues. It was so severe that, in a month or two, he wouldn’t have woken up again.
  • After his surgery, which took over six hours, he was riding again after five weeks, and was competing again seven to eight weeks after that.
  • His biggest struggle coming back into competition was just around confidence and whether he was ready and able to do it. He worked on that actively and got himself back to where he was before the surgery. It was very much an action-oriented approach.
  • He found inspiration from his mother’s battle overcoming colon cancer and also reading Lance Armstrong’s book and recognizing how he won most of his victories after he had cancer. That helped him realize he wasn’t done yet.
  • He learned so much through this experience about himself and what he can do that he believes he wouldn’t have learned without going through this experience with the first tumor. He doesn’t think everyone needs to face something so dramatic to learn these lessons, but he feels he did.
  • I questioned whether the fast movement to action helped him be positive and overcome it, which isn’t something he’s thought about before, but he does believe this is a crucial part of the puzzle. Had he sat longer before the surgery, he would have had more time to ruminate, worry and let his mindset slip.
  • He talked about how worrying can lead to bad choices, like when he crashed. He was worried about under-rotating when he flipped, and he ended up over-rotating and crashing. Worry about going too far left can mean you shift too hard right, and fail. Mindset and fear can lead to the outcomes we’re fearing in the first place.
  • Two years after coming back from his first tumor and surgery, a routine MRI found two new tumors that were not operable. He was told he could try radiation, but that didn’t sit well with him, so he researched other options, and found the Gamma Knife, which uses targeted radio waves done on an out-patient basis, which is what he has been using to fight his tumors since finding it.
  • As he was getting fully back into BMX competition, he blew out his knee at a competition, and rode with it that way for two years with it in a brace because he didn’t want to stop riding to get it taken care of.
  • His girlfriend, who was a trainer who he met through working through his recovery, pushed him to address his knee problem by getting surgery, and eventually he agreed to do it, timing things around BMX events. Recovery was expected to be six to eight months long, but his recovery went much faster, which he credits his physical fitness and diet with.
  • He came back into competition and got up to 10th in the world and then, during another regularly MRI scan, they found two more tumors, and realized he has a genetic condition that predisposes him to develop tumors in his brain and spinal cord.
  • Since then, he has used a Ketogenic diet to stop the growth of the tumors and promote brain health, and so far, the tumors have not progressed. As this episode comes out, he will have had his second annual scan to see if the tumors have stayed the same size or even shrunk, so we’ll all be thinking of Josh as we listen to this.
  • He shared some of the science behind why the Keto diet is so helpful, which is about providing alternative fuel sources to brain cells that are damaged, for example by concussion (which Josh obviously has dealt with given his profession).
  • Ultimately, Josh’s goal is to inspire change in perspective to help people see their lives in a more positive outlook but ultimately to prioritize the health of their brain. He shares his story to help inspire that in others, and has started to share more mindset pieces than anything.
  • He’s using his health coaching to help make this impact, as well as public speaking to try to touch large groups.
  • He’s not looking to just inspire people, but inspire them to take action and change.
  • He’s also working with the Athlete Recovery Fund to create the Brain BMX Stunt Shows, which are wellness BMS events to educate and raise funds for brain tumor and injury patients to provide direct funding for them. Josh and his family benefited from the Fund when he got his diagnosis, so this is a way to give back.
  • Books we mentioned: Buddha’s Brain and The Ketogenic Bible

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036. How to Make Time with John Zeratsky

By on January 2, 2019

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John Zeratsky was a designer in the tech industry who became obsessed with the idea of redesigning time. He is the bestselling author of Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days and Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day.

John’s writing has been published by The Wall Street Journal, TIME, Harvard Business Review, Wired, Fast Company, and many other publications. John has appeared on stage more than 100 times, including at Harvard University, IDEO, and the Code Conference.

For nearly 15 years, John was a designer for technology companies. At GV, he helped develop the design sprint process and worked with close to 200 startups, including Uber, Slack, Flatiron Health, Pocket, Foundation Medicine, One Medical Group, and Nest. He was also GV’s in-house copywriter, editor, and content strategist; he created and edited the GV Library, which has attracted million of views since 2012. Previously, John was a designer at YouTube and Google, and an early employee at FeedBurner, which Google acquired in 2007.

Originally from Wisconsin, John and his wife Michelle have lived in Chicago and San Francisco. Today they split time between their sailboat “Pineapple” (currently in Panama) and their home in Milwaukee.

Key Points from the Episode with John Zeratsky

  • John has been in the startup space for years, having been part of the team at FeedBurner when it was sold to Google.
  • At Google, he started to work at Google Ventures, which inserted him into companies they invested in to help those companies scale toward success.
  • Through those experiences, he learned a lot about productivity, and decided to dive head-first into it to find ways to become even more productive. He was focused on efficiency so he was making the most of his time while working. He saw this as a good thing, at least at the time.
  • Until he realized you can’t just keep pushing productivity as, eventually, you burn out. That inspired him to look for something more sustainable. This is what lead to the journey to his current book, Make Time.
  • The trick to making time, if there is one, is to spend less time on the default behaviors we fall into so we can focus more of our time on what matters.
  • Mindfulness is a big piece of this approach, but it’s not the only aspect as finding yourself doing something mindlessly might suggest you need to try harder and use will-power to stop doing that. John does not see will-power as a long-term strategy, and I agree with him.
  • Instead, he says we should make it harder to get distracted. We need to create the space to become more mindful with the time we have.
  • It starts with the idea of self-responsibility, since no one cares about you more than you do.
  • Rather than focusing on grit and execution, we should focus on structure that helps us succeed. Instead, we would see ourselves as failures or incapable if we don’t succeed.
  • Make the path to success the path of least resistance. As he says, if you are a compulsive gambler, you don’t live next to a casino. Make choices in the structure of your life to make it easier to get to where you want to be.
  • He shared the basis of his first book, Sprint, which is about bringing software engineering design sprints into making teams more productive. It was an experiment with redesigning time for teams. Some of what they learned became the framework for his new book, Make Time.
  • Speaking of which, what is it? Make Time is a book, but also a strategy for how to make time for the things you want to be doing. It is filled with 87 concrete tactics, but it boils down to four daily steps, which are in a daily loop. They are:
    1. Highlights – what is the highlight of your day that you want to see accomplished, and then build your day around that.
    2. Laser – make the structural adjustments to your technology and physical environment to cut back on the activities you get into mindlessly that you don’t really want to do, like, “Today, I want to spend three hours lost in my Facebook feed.” It’s about adding friction and barriers back oil so you make better choices.
    3. Energize – you can’t make good use of your time if you’re tired, don’t have energy and are worn out. This is about concrete ways to build energy for your body and mind through different things you can do to take care of yourself. These are simple, concrete things you can do in a given day. For example, he shares small ways to bring movement into your day like walking to work at least part of the way (which brought up a convo about my idea of #CUYOP – Commuting Under Your Own Power), or not ordering online but going out to a store to get what you need.
    4. Reflect – look back on your day and note what went well and what didn’t, and think about what you can do differently the next day.
  • We talked about a lot of pressure from “Musts” in our life, especially around exercise. You don’t have to workout for an hour to get benefit, and some is better than none, so do something. He cited some research that shows that the majority of the benefit of an hour of cardio comes in the first 20 minutes. And he shared other insights that, if you aren’t doing anything now, try to do just 15 minutes a day, which is a great start, builds consistency, and will start to have impact. You don’t have to stare at a huge effort and cower in front of it and end up doing nothing (that is, Do a Day!).
  • John is all about breaking down the big things into small things we can do today. It may not get us where we’re going today, but will get us going towards it, and if you don’t start, you’ll never get there. Looking at something that’s 60-90 minuets seems to be a good place to start. It’s long enough to be a big deal that you have to make time for purposefully, but not so big that it’s impossible (like an all-day effort).
  • We also talked about the idea of Someday vs. Today. It’s never “Someday,” but is instead always, “Today.” This is central to Do a Day, so of course I loved it. If you focus on “Someday,” you will never start since it’s always in the future.
  • This is really useful for New Years Resolutions, especially. Break down those “Someday” goals into “Today” actions.
  • We always know that there is something that we want to be better at, but we don’t always know quite what that would look like if we haven’t started. John talked about the idea of treading water. You know you want to get to land, but you can’t really see around you to know where to go or what getting there would entail. Sometimes, you need to start, get your head above water, and as you get going, you will see more clearly where that goal point is.
  • John shared a personal story of doing exactly that. While he and his wife were living in San Francisco and were busy, they started to find that they were having trouble finding the space for what they wanted to do. They started (the key!) to create space for doing just that, and used it to get into sailing, which they enjoyed. The more they did it, the more they were able to make time to do it, and over the course of years, this turned into a complete change in their life. They moved out of San Francisco and onto their sailboat, and cruised their way down to Panama, where their boat is today  and they spend their summers (and they are in Milwaukee, WI the rest of the year). They didn’t start with the plan of doing any of this, but made time, and the goals started to come together toward their current life.

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