Rob: Alright welcome back to our Becoming Your Best podcast, listeners. This is Rob Shallenberger here, and this going to be an awesome podcast. You know there’s one of those, two of those every once in a while that you come on that you say this is going to be amazing. Well, this is going to be one of those podcasts. So, we have with us today, actually sitting here in our office together, is James “The Iron Cowboy” Lawrence. And just a little background on him and then we’ll get into this and I’ll let him do most of the talking. Because really, truly an amazing person. World record holder, 50 Ironmans, in 50 states, in 50 days. Who do you know in the world that’s done that? He’s the one. The myth and the legend. And so, obviously so much wisdom and insight that he’ll have to offer us today and as we get into this, it’ll be fun because most of our listeners are familiar with the twelve principles. You know, these are high performance habits and principals that are very predictive of success. And James and I were just talking for a few minutes before we started and interesting to see how many of these principles he’s been focusing on and of course he’s become a champion because of that. And so, I’m excited to have you here James, welcome!
James: Awesome, thanks Rob. We have probably the best view, in the world. In the last two years, I’ve travelled through 48 countries and every time I fly back over these Utah mountains, I’m like yes this is unbelievable. And we’re sitting in your office and just a killer view. So, don’t take that for granted.
Rob: Yeah, no one can really see this right now, but we have a little bit of snow-capped peaks right now, we’ve got a blue-sky background and about 35 degrees outside.
James: It’s perfect.
Rob: It is just perfect and beautiful. Well let’s get into this James! Why don’t you tell our listeners a little bit about your background and who you are and your story. And then get into some of these lessons learned that you’ve learned through your journey and how it might apply to them.
James: Yeah, the quick version, I guess, is I grew up in Canada, in Calgary, Alberta, and just the winters there just got so cold. And once I moved out of Canada and moved to Utah, I was like man why do people live there? We, we just didn’t know any better. But I came to Utah to visit a friend and met my wife, here in Utah, and we’ve got five kids. Next month, we’re celebrating our 18th anniversary. But I grew up a wrestler, and I believe that was the beginning foundations of my mental training or mental journey. It’s a tough sport.
Rob: Yeah, I don’t know any sport that is tougher than wrestling.
James: Yeah, it’s tough both physically and mentally and you have to train anaerobic and be explosive and the other guy is trying to kill ya. And so, it’s pretty intense and you know the sports evolved a ton and there’s MMA and all the mixed martial. And it’s just evolved and become so sophisticated. So, I’m a huge fan of the fight game. I watch it and analyze those top-level athletes, they’re pretty remarkable. But about 12 years ago, my wife and I got into running together and I was a two to three-time a week gym guy, just trying to maintain some fitness and starting a small family and got a couple kids and she’s like, “Hey let’s go do this four-mile fun run”, and I’m like “Four miles…” I wasn’t used to the mile system yet, and I was like “Eh, it’s probably doable.” And I just hated it. My wife, you know I had a bad experience and my wife told me I was pathetic and all these things that happened. And she’s like, “You know what? I’m signing you up for the Salt Lake City Marathon. It’s in five months. Figure it out,” kind of thing. And I’m like, “Oh okay, sweet. If four miles sucked, 26 has got to be awesome.” And, just suffered through that, just hated it. But then I was like, “You know what? I’m not going, I’m going to not let this thing beat me or define me and I’m going to figure out a way how to become a runner.” And my knees were swollen and hurting. Most people at this juncture go, “I can’t run, I have bad knees.” And I’ve since learned that you have bad knees because you don’t run. And you have to, your body has to adapt a little bit and get used to that activity. It’s like the first time you go do a workout and do some squats, you can’t sit down on the toilet the next day, right? Your legs are sore. You haven’t adapted. You haven’t built those muscles and that structure. So, didn’t love running and had a friend who was doing sprint triathlons and introduced me to the sport and instantly feel in love with it. The variety, the community, the difference. Trying to become efficient and competitive in the three different elements of it. And then quickly realized there’s the nutrition element of it then there’s the recovery element. So, there’s so many facets to triathlon racing that it’s just not one-dimension. I mean to become top-level, you have to master many disciplines and then many more disciplines outside those top three thread; the swim, bike, run. And, so, I just, I loved the challenge. I loved the community. I loved the comradery that there was when we started. And just over the last twelve years, I just, I kept showing up and learning and realized that the power of the mind and the body are incredible. And if you give it the right tools and enough time and patience, I say a lot that the secret to success is doing a lot of little things consistently over a long period of time.
Rob: Yes, man, I couldn’t agree more.
James: And to become a master of the basics, I say from stage, a high tolerance for monotony is a decidedly underrated superpower. Because when things become the toughest, they should become the easiest because we’ve mastered those basics. When we’re backed into a corner, we’re beat up and don’t know how to do it. That first step is just the basics, right? And that’s how you get going. We’ve all heard motion creates emotion. And I do a bit in my presentation, when I found my breaking point in the 50 Ironmans that we did, to where it’s, can I be perfect for one second? Can I move and be perfect, execute, for one second? And the answer is yes. I don’t care who you are or how bad the depth of your pain and suffering is? One second. Can you be perfect, and then you build on that. The hardest thing to do, is the first second. And then it’s a process there.
Rob: Talk about, yeah that’s interesting you brought that up, the mindset and the power of the mind. So, one of our opening slides in a keynote, whatever we do in a seminar, is Becoming Your Best and then it says mindset plus skillset. And we talked about mindset a little bit in the beginning. I mean a person could have all the skill set in the world, right? But if we don’t have the right mindset, and I can’t think of very many things in the world that would test a person’s mindset more than like an Ironman. Let alone doing 50-50-50. So, talk a little bit from your perspective about mindset.
James: Yeah, I mean, you can only get so physically fit. You can only get ready to a certain degree. And at some point in time on any journey, your mind has to take over. And it’s interesting, one of the biggest questions I get is, “How amazing was the sleep got on, the 51st day? How was that?” And I was like “Well it wasn’t that great.” And the reality was is your mind takes over. And when my mind and my body were in sync, and there’s a lot more that goes into this statement, but my last 20 Ironmans were the fastest of all 50. And it’s because I pushed and evolved and adapted to a point, and I also realized what my purpose was, my passion and all those things. They were my 50. But when the mind and the body come into sync with each other, day 51, your mind is still telling your body that I’m going to get up and go do an Ironman. It doesn’t know the difference yet, right? Because it’s in the mode of “He’s doing an Ironman tomorrow, I have to get him ready”. And so that 50th night, my body’s busy trying to repair and get ready for an Ironman tomorrow. And then it realized, “Oh he didn’t do one on today,” and then, “Oh wait he didn’t do one, maybe he’s done”. And then now, that mind lets go. And it now lets you feel everything that it was masking for you, right? And now, now the real journey starts of figuring out how to recover, because the mind was so powerful and was allowing you to do these things. Or not allowing you but hiding from you what you were actually doing. And so, that really showcases the power of the mind and just because you wake up and you think you’re going to get rest, that’s when the next phase of your journey begins. But the mind is so powerful it was a shock, two or three days after I finished, and my mind went, “You are done. Now I’m going to let you feel everything that I’ve had the power to hide from you.”
Rob: That is interesting, isn’t it? I love the words that you used, when your mind and your body were in sync with each other, talking about that. Well let’s go back to the beginning of this journey. So, 50 Ironmans, 50 Days, 50 States.
James: Yeah, let’s define an Ironman.
Rob: Yeah, exactly, so let’s define an Ironman, talk about what that is, and then how this journey evolved.
James: Yeah, so Ironman is a brand. They get really, really touchy. It’s actually a long-distance triathlon. Ironman would be like a Kleenex. It’s not a tissue, it’s a Kleenex, right? They’re going to lose the battle one day, as far as being common domain. But a long-distance triathlon or an Ironman is a 2.4-mile swim, 3.8 kilometers. It is a 112-mile bike ride, or 180 kilometers. And then a 26.2-mile marathon run, full marathon, which is 42 kilometers. And that totals 140.6 miles or 220 kilometers.
Rob: So, I can just tell right now that anyone who’s listening to this podcast, their jaw is probably dropping. Because they’re saying, “Wait a second, that in of itself would be a Herculean effort, just to do that!”
James: Yeah, it’s a single day event. It’s considered the toughest single sporting, single sporting event day in sports. You have up to 17 hours to complete it. The professionals of the highest levels are coming in right around eight hours. So, you got to think, zone three, four effort for eight solid hours. I mean it breaks people down. People train years to do a single Ironman. Less than one percent of the population does a marathon. And it’s like .01% of the population that does an Ironman. So, it’s tumbling to being rare.
Rob: Oh, the discipline, the plan, the training, the vision that has to be there just to accomplish one Ironman. I mean a close friend of ours, a doctor in Heber City, where I live, we watched him train just for one. He went out to Kona, I believe, out in Hawaii. And he’s done a couple throughout his life, but man, to watch the training just for the one event. Like you said.
James: Yeah, it’s intense.
Rob: But let’s talk about your journey, now that we’ve defined that. How did this come about? That obviously just doesn’t happen overnight.
James: Yeah, no the journey started 12 years ago. And, so, 12 years ago, there’s no way, it wasn’t on the radar to even do an Ironman, let alone 50. In 2010, I was raising money for a charity, in our own quiet way. It was my father-in-law’s charity and they were building dams in Africa. And I was like, “Oh, I want to help. I want to do something.” And I’m like “How can I combine triathlon and fundraising?”, it was when doing sport and fundraising was becoming popular. And you’d get donations or pledges to do an event or a certain amount of miles. I remember doing it in elementary school, “Hey, 50 cents for every lap that I do!” And it goes to the school. And I was like “Well, I wonder if I can get donations and I’ll do as many as half-Ironmans as I can in a year.” And about half-way through that year, I was like, “You know, I wonder if there’s a record.” And so, then we got in contact with Guinness, ended up breaking that world record. And then I was like, “Wait a second. I don’t want to the be the half-Ironman world record holder. What’s the record for the full Ironmans?” Can we raise some more money there, too. And so, I did some research and found out it was 20 full Ironmans around the world. And then I said, “Okay, I don’t want to just do 21. I want to set a new standard.” And I went and did 30 full Ironmans through 11 countries that year. Second world record. And both of those by the way have been broken, which is awesome. That’s the whole point of why I do these types of things, is to motivate people to believe in themselves…
Rob: Yeah, it resets their mindset of what’s possible.
James: It resets their mindset, it’s crazy. And then I was sitting there, at the end of the year where we did 30, hardest thing I had ever done to that point. But I looked back and was like, “You know what, it really wasn’t that hard.” Because of the way the mind, when you’re doing something it’s hard but now you have that experience and that growth. And what was once hard is no longer, because it, you know, life experience. And so, I looked back and I went, “That was tough. But I didn’t reach my mental physical limits.” And then I was like, “What do I do? Who am I when I reach that limit? Like, do I quit? Or do I figure it out?” And I was like, “Well I want to know! I want to know what I do!” And so, I was like, “What’s the hardest thing?”
Rob: I just think it’s fascinating right here, just to pause, you’re asking yourself the questions about what you’re really capable of.
James: For sure.
Rob: And it’s these questions that are starting to plant a seed for this vision that emerges. So, what would happen if we never asked the questions, we just said “You know what, that was awesome. That was good.” Just ironic asking yourself these questions, and I just introspectively hope that all of us are asking questions that say, “What’s next for us?”
James: Well, right at the end of my keynote, I say, “Hey, I had a unique opportunity to have 50 really long conversations with myself on the bike.” Those are moments when you’re by yourself, and moments to reflect. And I go through a series of questions: Who am I? Who do I want to be? What type of father, what type of spouse? And you know, it’s those reflective questions. And one of the questions I asked, I say, do you know what your fears are and are you willing to face them? And most people, our fears paralyze us. And we’ve also all heard, the best version of you is on the other side of your fears. And so, you know, I had that moment. I was on race 27 of 30. And I was like, it was tough, but I want to know what I would do. Dean Karnazes, is a pioneer in our sport and in ultrarunning. And he did, long time ago and many people have followed in his footsteps but he’s the most famous because he did it first, and he did 50 marathons in 50 days in 50 states. And just blew people’s minds on what was possible and what not. And my whole career has been doing things with Ironmans. And I saw a shirt one day and it said, “Oh you’ve done a marathon, that’s cute” and then it said 140.6 right? And so, I was like, “Oh, he did it with marathons, that’s cute” just to myself jokingly. I’ve actually never said that publicly so no offense to anybody. Marathon is very, very hard and Dean is a total stud, I’ve had conversations with him and we’re friends. But I thought, “What would happen if I did that with an Ironman?” And I made the announcement, and I was super excited because I had just come off the 30 and my experience and perception and perspective was different. And then I was just shocked. Backlash. The negativity that was just flooded, flooded in on social media and friends and family they were like, “That’s stupid. Can’t be done.”
James: Sat down with doctors like “You’re going to die.” I’m like, “Sweet. Not talking to doctors anymore.”
Rob: That’s interesting that you get that much negative backlash for that vision.
J: Well it’s because, again, it’s perception. It’s where you are on your journey. And being three years removed from the fifty and my focus has been somewhere else and I’m still in shape but I’m not at that level of fitness that I was at. And I’ve been focusing on helping people get unstuck. So, we’ve travelling the world and speaking and got the book and the documentary and working on a movie. And it just takes a bunch of time and work and effort. And so, my fitness has lagged from that level that I was at. And somebody said to me, let’s say I had never done the 50 or the 30 and whatever, and someone said to me right now, I’m going to go do 50 Ironmans in 50 days, I’d go that’s stupid, you can’t do it, it’s not even possible. But for me to go into these mountains and do a 10-mile run I’m like “Whew, that was some work, son!” Like, like that’s challenging. Like for me to get in the water right now and swim two and a half miles, I’d be like no. Like, hard pass. Like, you lose fitness quick.
Rob: Yeah, for sure.
James: And so, it’s always perception. And that’s why you got to be careful on who you judge and what they’re doing because you don’t know their life experience, you don’t how great they are at something or how poor or where they are in their journey. So yeah, we just have to trust in people and hope they know what they’re talking about. And at the time, I knew what I was talking about. Um, I was the only one in the world that had done that amount, that level, that intensity. And I went into it half-naive, which is always a blessing, not knowing what the journey is going to look like, right? And then, then just with a ton of confidence, a little bit of swagger. Because of what we did and I just, for two and a half years I just attacked this concept, my vision was so strong. And I just started putting, slowly putting the pieces together. And trust me, I had no clue how we were going to do it. Like, no idea. I just knew that there was going to be a way and that we were going to figure it out. And I slowly just started to put pieces of the puzzle together. And then even when we started, got on the plane to go to Hawaii, took my family there for 10 days and we set up camp, even on the way out we didn’t have all the pieces in place. I still didn’t know how we were going to do it.
Rob: And just to go back, you said, so that that’s not lost on people, two and half years of planning.
James: Yeah. I mean it just, we talked a little about this beforehand, but I see a lot of, because I’ve, you know people contact me with goals and they want help and different things and they contact me and are like, “Hey what do you think of this goal? How can I accomplish it? What do I need to have in place?” And first thing I always send back is, “What’s the timeframe? When are you looking to accomplish this?” And they’re like in three months. And I’m like bro chill for a second like you have to give the goal the respect it deserves and that typically is a timeframe. And it’s a great goal! Like the 50-50 ten years ago would have been a great goal for when I did it, not for back then. And I mean, I couldn’t even conceptualize it back then. But yeah, to give it the respect that it deserves. But, here’s my thing on planning, and I know it’s one of the principles that you guys talk about, you have to have a plan, and you do. But then there’s going to be a point where you can plan your way to a failure…
James: And you eventually just have to start doing it. Because you can’t plan for everything.
James: And I’ve seen a lot of people fail because they’re too rigid with the plan on how they’re going to get there and they’re not willing to flex and bend and change with the seasons. Or individuals or circumstances. And so, we had as much of a plan as we thought we would be successful with and then in some point in time, like I could literally still be planning the perfect 50 today because there are just so many unknowns and what not. So, we had…
Rob: Paralysis by analysis.
James: Exactly. You could just continually break it down. And that, there is a thing where it’s like fear, I’m scared to start do I have the proper plan am I going to fail. At some point in time, you have to take a step back and go, “Okay, I believe in my team. I have a plan. My framework is solid. And there’s just some details that I’m not 100% sure on.” And it’s because, there are things that you don’t know are going to happen because of things and experiences during there, growth that happens. I mean the growth that we had during 50 days was something we, you don’t know where you’re going to end up or what it’s going to look like, who you’re going to run into, what experiences they can offer, what expertise they can offer, what holes and gaps they can fill for us.
Rob: Like for example, I just saw one of your Instagram posts and some guy in Florida, I think it was, running with an umbrella to keep you out of the sun.
James: Yeah, absolutely.
Rob: How do you ever plan for random umbrella guy?
James: Random umbrella guy. Or the guy who shows up and he has a hamburger and sweet potato fries for you. And you just say, “Hey, that’s awesome thanks!” Yeah, you just can’t plan for things like that and we didn’t plan to hit a deer in the middle of the night and take out our generator and not have air conditioning or a place to have food. That wasn’t in our plan. I didn’t plan to crash on day 18, you know you don’t plan those things. Hurricane Bill, what? That wasn’t in my game plan for three days, you know? Losing all of my toes and having the nerve endings exposed. I thought we’d have pain, but nerve endings exposed, like that’s something, I didn’t expect that, I didn’t know how to deal with that. So, we had to shift and evolve and make adjustments. And had we been so rigid, I mean, day number one, we were pulled over by the police in Hawaii, in the middle of the night and they said, “Hey, you can’t be on this road.” Huh, okay. That would have been the perfect opportunity to go, “Yeah, let’s go back to the drawing board. Let’s reset and go back to the drawing board.” And I was like, “No, we have to figure this out. We’re allowed to be here. Let’s communicate at a high level and figure this out and keep going.” I also say for on stage, if you’re tired of starting over, stop giving up.
Rob: Yeah, that’s a great saying.
James: We had a unique opportunity every single day to quit and give up and go back to that drawing board, right? Instead we developed persistence and resilience.
Rob: So, this is a good segway, and I can’t believe we’ve been going for 20 minutes already.
James: Could go all day. Buckle down people!
Rob: What are a couple of your biggest lessons learned. Through this entire process, I mean, you look back and you say, you’re in the zone, your mind and your body were in sync, you know you’re focused, you’re going after your vision, you’re executing the plan, you’re pivoting where necessary. With all of this, that you did along the way, what were some of your biggest lessons learned?
James: Yeah, it’s something, it’s something, it’s the truth. It’s something my mother always said to me is, “James, 10% of life is what happens to you. 90% is how you choose to react to it.” And it was just such a truth for me out on the 50 and out on the journey that we’ve been on is, where are you putting your focus and attention? Are you so busy seeking out the negatives and the problems? And that becomes your reality. Or are you like no, I found the good thing today. And I’m going to put my focus and attention there, and then build upon that instead of everything else that is distracting you and pulling you from what you’re trying to get. And so, for me, isolating and learning how to isolate that one beautiful thing and then that’s where you shift your focus. Because, it was amazing to watch just the science behind it. When I was riding my bike, and as soon as I found my thoughts going somewhere negative, boom, heart rate jumps, power drops.
James: And then as soon as I shifted that narrative in my head, heart rate drops, power goes up. And I was like, “Woah, wait a second here.” So, I have a choice, and that choice in my mind has a direct correlation to the performance and output that I’m putting out. I can be more efficient, with less effort and I’m happier. So as soon as I had that massive paradigm shift and correlate it with performance and output, I was like, “Okay, now I’ve got to really be conscious and present.” I also say that the power of being present, there’s only one time that’s important and that time is now. Because it’s the only time we have any power. So, let’s not focus about 10 miles from now or the 10 miles back when I crashed. Let’s focus on right now, and what we’re dealing with, right now.
Rob: So interesting that you say that, I’m just, my mind is just spinning with ideas. This morning, we gather our family every morning for a few minutes to read, to talk, and pray together. And one of the discussions this morning was let’s be extremely conscious of what we take into our minds today, and our bodies. So, you know, food, but really what we’re talking about is our thoughts. What’s coming through our eyes? What’s coming in our ears? And what thoughts are going through our minds?
James: For sure.
Rob: And let’s not allow anything in there that would decrease our energy or be a negative thought. Let’s change it and find, I love what you said, isolate the positive, if you will. And that was just fascinating to me what you said right there. The physical relationship to our thoughts of your heart rates goes up, your power decreases when that negative thought starts to creep in. And you recognize it and can immediately make that switch. And then the reverse happens: heart rate drop, power goes up. What an awesome lesson.
James: Pretty cool, huh?
Rob: It is cool! And I totally believe it.
James: Backed by science.
Rob: Research absolutely would back that. The court is all versus the endorphins, etc. So, what’s one more, if you had to say, with the couple minutes we have left, what’s another lesson learned going back and say you know this is one of the things that I shaped me coming out of that?
James: Um, nothing great is ever accomplished on our own. And it’s crazy I’ve been around the world speaking and trying to help people get unstuck, and we limit ourselves. At first, it’s a self-belief. But then it’s surrounding yourself with individuals that’ll bring you up. Everyone is like, “Hey, do you have a coach?” Absolutely, I had 10 coaches. I had a nutrition coach, I had a power-strength coach, I had a swim coach, I had, I knew my weaknesses. And I couldn’t have possibly been an expert in all things. And so, I surrounded myself with people that were smarter than I was. And it brought up my level of intelligence, right? And we’re in the day in age, I know people right now listening are going like “Agh, that’s expensive, I don’t have that…” I was dead broke. Five kids, wife in school full-time, we’d filed bankruptcy, we’d lost everything in the economy. They took my home away. I was on the street. So, we had no money. The internet is a beautiful thing, people. And there are so many free resources until you can surround yourself with another level of expertise. But for me, it was realizing that mankind is beautiful and there’s so many people out there willing to help and get behind you on your journey. Make sure your core, core around you is solid. Because if by chance you waver and your why or your purpose just isn’t big enough for a moment, those people need to be around you to bring you up and push you from behind.
Rob: Man, I can’t believe how in alignment we are with so many thoughts.
James: Yeah, I can’t believe it. I know, it’s crazy.
Rob: It’s just amazing truly. Because you know there’s the old adages, the five people you spend the most time with and you’ll be the same person in five years, Charlie “Tremendous” Jones. The point is, you’re exactly right. We have an incredible vision, you have your plan, we surround ourselves with the right people, we’re extremely conscious of our thoughts. And all of these things together, is what allowed you to do what people said was impossible. And having the coaches! I mean there’s no doubt. How many times does our ego stop us from saying, our could it stop us, is attempting to stop us, where we say, “You know, I’m fine in that area.” And it’s not what we don’t know, it’s what we don’t know that we don’t know sometimes.
Rob: I didn’t know the other part of your story, and this actually made it even better, is that, I didn’t know you went through that time in your life when you filed for bankruptcy, you know went broke…
James: I used to own a mortgage company. And it was the mortgage sector…
Rob: Oh, it’s true 2008.
James: But, total side note, best thing that ever happened to me. Where would I be today had I not lost everything?
Rob: Yes! It puts you in survival mode almost.
James: Yes, holy cow.
Rob: And what is the alternative reality that could’ve been?
James: I would still be writing loans and I would be miserable. I just, I certainly wouldn’t be here looking at this view.
Rob: Well, as a side note, I’m just trying to tip my hat to you because as I’ve followed you through the years, and this is the first time we’ve ever actually met in person.
Rob: But I’ve watched the influence that you’ve had on people. I’ve subtly watched comments, and there’s this line that we use in our seminars that says, “One person can make a difference.” When you start applying these principals, your vision, your plan, you focusing on your thoughts and you going out and doing this, I would daresay has influenced if not tens-of-thousands, hundreds-of-thousands. And the ripple effect has certainly gone into the millions. And that just can’t be understated because we’ll never know the end of that ripple effect.
James: Sure. I don’t think we’ve hit a tipping point yet….
Rob: Oh no.
James: …on our journey. On what’s to come and the influence. Somebody said to me the other day that this, and it resonated with me, they said this is the greatest endurance achievement of all time that nobody knows about. And I was like that’s a great compliment, how do we fix that. But at the end of the day, you know, I don’t want to be known for the 50. I want to be known for helping people get unstuck. And I look around and so many people have, they’re comparing themselves to the current standard of excellence. And that standard sucks. Right? And so, I want people to use the current standard as their starting benchmark. And then go beyond that. Salary caps are meant for professional sports, not for what we can accomplish and where we can take our minds and our bodies.
Rob: Yeah that’s interesting. How many of us are blocked by our own mindset and comfort? And this is actually interesting. You know, one of the things that I would suggest is that in many cases comfort is one of our greatest hindrances to progress.
James: I say that we’re creatures of comfort.
Rob: Yeah. And so, let’s take this theme that we’re on right now of health and fitness, you know we’re talking about the 50-50-50, and this point of helping people get unstuck. How many of us, we’ve all been there at some point, where we’ve had ambitions to do something, whatever it is, it could be health-related, you know go run a 5k, like you said, and just doing something is better than doing nothing. The art is in the start. You know this old saying they have? You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great. At some point, we need to go out and do something. And probably unrealistic for most of us, say we’re going to go out and do a 50-50-50. But I think you said something that was really valuable for all of us, and I’d tune into this, it’s not about comparing ourselves to James Lawrence. It’s about saying, could we be a better version of ourselves tomorrow, next week, or even owning the moment today?
James: Everybody’s heart is different. And that’s okay.
James: And that’s okay. As long as we show up, we’re facing some fears and we’re training to become better people.
Rob: I can’t agree more. Well, any parting thoughts? I can’t believe it’s been 30 minutes and I’m certain people going to love this. So, any parting tips? And then I’ll have you give your website and share where they can find you. Any last thoughts?
James: I love what you just said it’s just getting started. I love to say motion creates emotion. And then it is the fact that getting started, once you start it’s not going to be as big of a deal as you thought it once was. We’ll leave with this, that we will always be our toughest critics.
Rob: Oh yeah.
James: We will always be hardest on ourselves. And the way we look at ourselves is typically the worst version of what other people are seeing. And so, we need to believe in ourselves and start to see the excellence that others are seeing in us. And literally, my journey started with a four-mile fun run that I suffered through. I couldn’t swim, I was gasping for air on the side of the pool with a nose plug. And now we have accomplished something that was deemed impossible. And it started with the first step. The first step isn’t going to kill you and you just have to start.
Rob: That is such great advice. Well, how can people find you James? If they want to learn more about you?
James: I’m very active on social, mostly on Instagram, Iron Cowboy James, follow me there. On Facebook it’s Iron Cowboy. My website is ironcowboy.com. I’ve got a lot of cool things coming down the pipeline. I’ve got a book that’s doing really well, it’s the full story. It’s called Redefine Impossible. It’s what I believe we attempted to do, was redefine the impossible. That’s available on Amazon, you can check that out. And I don’t know when this is going to drop, and it might be too late, but for the next week or so, Amazon Prime has our documentary and it’s going to be shifting over to Apple TV.
Rob: And the name of the documentary is what?
James: The Story of the 50.
James: Yeah, and right now it’s free on Amazon Prime. So, if this drops in time, we’ve got about a week left. After that it’ll come down. And if not, I’m an open book. If you want access to other things and discounts and what not, just shoot me an email, email@example.com. I reply personally to all my emails and am happy to do that.
Rob: Yeah, that’s awesome. Well thank you for sharing that with them. And I’m flying to Hawaii tomorrow, so I have seven hours sitting on the plane, I’m going to watch this tomorrow.
James: Awesome. Good. I’m going to Nigeria, so I’ve got to find something to watch.
Rob: And just you know, it’s kind of fun as a side note, James and I have been trying to sync our schedules for what like six months, it seems like?
James: Yeah, it feels like forever. And we’re happy to be in the same continent, state, and city.
Rob: We’re so glad we were able to do this. Well, James, thanks so much for being on the show.
James: Thank you.
Rob: Such great takeaways from our listeners and you know as a reminder, this is not something that I hope that we just listen to and say you know that’s cool. I would hope that you can share this with someone else and be the catalyst in someone else’s life. Share this podcast, share this show with them and you be the person that makes a difference for someone else because all of us can do better as we apply these things that James has just shared today. So, thanks for being on the show, James.
James: Absolutely, man.
Rob: Appreciate it, brother.
Rob (outro): Thank you for listening! Would you like help to apply the 12 principles of highly successful leaders in your life, in your family, or in your organization? Call us today at 888-690-8764 to speak to a helpful representative to evaluate your situation and how we can help. Or you can visit becomingyourbest.com. Whether it’s a corporate training event, keynote, workshop, training certification, or personal coaching, it would be our pleasure to serve your needs. Once again, call 888-690-8764, or visit becomingyourbest.com today.
Welcome to our wonderful Becoming Your Best podcast listeners wherever you may be in the world today. At this special time of year, we would love to express our gratitude and thanksgiving for you.
We are inspired by the heart penetrating quote by Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
This has never been truer today, than in any time in the world’s history. This change in the world can be quiet, small and subtle good and worthy acts and the world is never the same again. Those small, quiet, and subtle good acts can grow to have an impact far beyond what one could have ever imagined.
An example of that are the simple, quiet and enduring acts of the Pilgrims and Pioneers of the world. Often, these were individuals that struggled for survival. One foot in front of the other. Wondering if they would even “make it”. By their thoughtful, committed passion for an idea and cause, they moved forward. Working to do what seemed right and good. Today we are the beneficiaries of these actions.
Recently I saw a moving account of the early pilgrims who arrived on the Mayflower in the new world on the “History Channel”. I would like to share parts of that account today.
It begins with a background of Thanksgiving by sharing that Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday in the United States, and Thanksgiving occurs on the 4th Thursday of each November. Where did this tradition come from? The best we can tell this is the background:
In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. It wasn’t until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.
Thanksgiving at Plymouth
In September 1620, a small ship called the Mayflower left Plymouth, England, carrying 102 passengers-an assortment of religious separatists seeking a new home where they could freely practice their faith and other individuals lured by the promise of prosperity and land ownership in the New World. After a treacherous and uncomfortable crossing that lasted 66 days, they dropped anchor near the tip of Cape Cod, far north of their intended destination at the mouth of the Hudson River. One month later, the Mayflower crossed Massachusetts Bay, where the Pilgrims, as they are now commonly known, began the work of establishing a village at Plymouth.
Did you know? Lobster, seal and swans were on the Pilgrims’ menu.
Throughout that first brutal winter, most of the colonists remained on board the ship, where they suffered from exposure, scurvy and outbreaks of contagious disease. Only half of the Mayflower’s original passengers and crew lived to see their first New England spring. In March, the remaining settlers moved ashore, where they received an astonishing visit from an Abenaki Indian who greeted them in English. Several days later, he returned with another Native American, Squanto, a member of the Pawtuxet tribe who had been kidnapped by an English sea captain and sold into slavery before escaping to London and returning to his homeland on an exploratory expedition. Squanto taught the Pilgrims, weakened by malnutrition and illness, how to cultivate corn, extract sap from maple trees, catch fish in the rivers and avoid poisonous plants. He also helped the settlers forge an alliance with the Wampanoag, a local tribe, which would endure for more than 50 years and tragically remains one of the sole examples of harmony between European colonists and Native Americans.
In November 1621, after the Pilgrims’ first corn harvest proved successful, Governor William Bradford organized a celebratory feast and invited a group of the fledgling colony’s Native American allies, including the Wampanoag chief Massasoit. Now remembered as American’s “first Thanksgiving”-although the Pilgrims themselves may not have used the term at the time-the festival lasted for three days. While no record exists of the historic banquet’s exact menu, the Pilgrim chronicler Edward Winslow wrote in his journal that Governor Bradford sent four men on a “fowling” mission in preparation for the event, and that the Wampanoag guests arrived bearing five deer. Historians have suggested that many of the dishes were likely prepared using traditional Native American spices and cooking methods. Because the Pilgrims had no oven and the Mayflower’s sugar supply had dwindled by the fall of 1621, the meal did not feature pies, cakes or other desserts, which have become a hallmark of contemporary celebrations.
Thanksgiving Becomes an Official Holiday
Pilgrims held their second Thanksgiving celebration in 1623 to mark the end of a long drought that had threatened the year’s harvest and prompted Governor Bradford to call for a religious fast. Days of fasting and thanksgiving on an annual or occasional basis became common practice in other New England settlements as well. During the American Revolution, the Continental Congress designated one or more days of thanksgiving a year, and in 1789 George Washington issued the first Thanksgiving proclamation by the national government of the United States; in it, he called upon Americans to express their gratitude for the happy conclusion to the country’s war of independence and the successful ratification of the U.S. Constitution. His successors John Adams and James Madison also designated days of thanks during their presidencies.
In 1817, New York became the first of several states to officially adopt an annual Thanksgiving holiday; each celebrated it on a different day, however, and the American South remained largely unfamiliar with the tradition. In 1827, the noted magazine editor and prolific writer Sarah Josepha Hale-author, among countless other things, of the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb”-launched a campaign to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday. For 36 years, she published numerous editorials and sent scores of letters to governors, senators, presidents and other politicians. Abraham Lincoln finally heeded her request in 1863, at the height of the Civil War, in a proclamation entreating all Americans to ask God to “commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife” and to “heal the wounds of the nation.” He scheduled Thanksgiving for the final Thursday in November, and it was celebrated on that day every year until 1939, when Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday up a week in an attempt to spur retail sales during the Great Depression. Roosevelt’s plan, known derisively as Franksgiving, was met with passionate opposition, and in 1941 the president reluctantly signed a bill making Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday in November.
It is likely that the Pilgrims were not the first to begin this tradition as many throughout the world thought to pause and give thanks.
Historians have recorded other ceremonies of thanks among European settlers in North America that predate the Pilgrims’ celebration. In 1565, for instance, the Spanish explorer Pedro Menéndez de Avilé invited members of the local Timucua tribe to a dinner in St. Augustine, Florida, after holding a mass to thank God for his crew’s safe arrival. On December 4, 1619, when 38 British settlers reached a site known as Berkeley Hundred on the banks of Virginia’s James River, they read a proclamation designating the date as “a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God.”
Thanksgiving’s Ancient Origins
Although the American concept of Thanksgiving developed in the colonies of New England, its roots can be traced back to the other side of the Atlantic. Both the Separatists who came over on the Mayflower and the Puritans who arrived soon after brought with them a tradition of providential holidays-days of fasting during difficult or pivotal moments and days of feasting and celebration to thank God in times of plenty.
As an annual celebration of the harvest and its bounty, moreover, Thanksgiving falls under a category of festivals that spans cultures, continents and millennia. In ancient times, the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans feasted and paid tribute to their gods after the fall harvest. Thanksgiving also bears a resemblance to the ancient Jewish harvest festival of Sukkot. Finally, historians have noted that Native Americans had a rich tradition of commemorating the fall harvest with feasting and merrymaking long before Europeans set foot on their shores.
I am grateful for those few thoughtful, committed citizens who thoughts to pause and give thanks, including my 9th grandfather, Governor Bradford, who continues to inspire me for so many good reasons.
How can you and I give thanks today? How can the spirit of thanksgiving be meaningful in our lives every day?
May I suggest three actions we can take that are thoughtful, that can change the world. At least, our world!
1. Always carry a spirit of humble gratitude and thanksgiving!
What things that you are grateful for? Here are a few that I am grateful for:
My creator and maker; air; health; family and friends; whatever success I have experienced; a warm home, food, security, the beauty of the earth, adversity, and I am grateful for you.
Every morning take a moment to pause and count your blessings!
2. Look for the good in other people.
Granted, good may be harder to find in some people more than others! However, look for the good in all people. Be patient! Try to bring out the good in all people that you encounter. Set a goal to make at least 3 compliments per day of things that you see in other people.
3. Regardless of what happens in your life, say: What a blessing!
And then think of a reason why it is so! This attitude will put you in a better place to handle all adversity and situations and to end up in a better place, with a better attitude.
May these three things, these three habits, be a focus that will bless you and others throughout your life. These are the thoughtful, committed actions that change a world. At least your world and those around you.
During this wonderful time of year, may you especially enjoy the spirit of Thanksgiving, while at the same time be committed to carry this spirit 365 days a year throughout life.
Happy Thanksgiving, now and forever. This is Steve Shallenberger, your host wishing you a Becoming Your Best day!
Rob: Okay, welcome back to our Becoming Your Best podcast listeners. This is Rob Shallenberger, hope you’re having a fabulous day wherever you are in the world. Today we have a very special, amazing guest, Gloria Mayfield Banks. And you know, I’ve got to give huge kudos to her in the spirit of total transparency. We’ve done like 160 podcasts over the course of time and never once has there been an issue. Well, we did this like two months ago and for whatever reason, it simply didn’t record. And so she’s so gracious, so kind that this is actually take two for this podcast and this just is indicative of who she is and her personality. You may be wondering, why listen to this podcast? Well you’re going to quickly hear her story and understand how much she has to offer. If this doesn’t say it all, then I don’t know what does.
She is ranked number one in Mary Kay in North America right now. You don’t just get there by accident. I mean, you have to be an amazing person obviously, to get to that type of point. She’s built an incredible team, she’s an amazing leader and she’s had quite the journey of her own and I’ll let her share that. She’s also written a book called Quantum Leaps: 10 Steps to Help You Soar. It’s awesome because it’s easy, it’s quick and very powerful tips that anyone can use to have a better life and really increase their confidence, their peace and everything that Becoming Your Best is all about. So with that being said, Gloria, welcome to the Becoming Your Best podcast again.
Gloria: I am so very excited, Rob. Thank you, thank you, thank you for making this happen again. You know, I told you before that, oh, don’t you just hate it when things don’t work exactly like you thought they should. And then when you do it again and you recreate it, it turns out better. And is that always the way life is. I love the title of this podcast, “Becoming Your Best” and I can promise you, all of us that have become our best is because we’ve done it over and over and over again.
Rob: Yeah, that’s exactly it. I do believe there’s reason. Who knows why but maybe it’s just a conversation we’ll have here that we didn’t have there and you simply don’t know who needs to hear that and maybe it’s just us that needs to hear it. If you don’t mind Gloria, what I thought was really beneficial last time and certainly is for anyone to get more familiar with you is could you just share briefly your background, some of your experiences and what led you to where you are today because the story in and of itself is a powerful story?
Gloria: Thank you Rob. I would love to share that. I want to share it in such a way that I hope to touch someone in some way. I always tell people, I’ve been doing a lot of this lately Rob is telling people to craft their story. All I mean by that is to tell the story because everyone has a story. Mine is one and I want to tell everybody I hope to connect with them on gloriamayfieldbanks.com, and I’ll give them my site as well again but I’m totally there, totally on Instagram and Facebook and would love to connect with them because I’m from Detroit, Michigan, born and raised in the Midwest. Grew up in a phenomenal house. My parents were just shy of 62 years when my dad passed. So we grew up in a home where my parents were very intentional about our self-esteem. And so therefore all four girls, am third of four, all of us are extremely successful entrepreneurs. It is sort of quirky. We’re in very different businesses but all of us are entrepreneurs.
I grew up always working hard and always having a good time. And then when I was in the seventh grade, they found that I was dyslexic. So I always had a reading disorder and I will always have reading disorder, but my lesson to people is embrace whatever good you’ve gotten and whenever you didn’t first define as good, there’s a blessing there if you dig enough to find it. Dig stands for “Don’t Ignore God.” It’s in there. It’s in there. The blessing is in there.
So I grew up dyslexic. I studied really hard anyway. Of course, when I was in high school, you do know Rob, I was a cheerleader. You do know I was the captain and you do know that we went to the championships and won. Of course. So that was my story. I went on to college at Howard University in Washington D.C., studied business and worked. I love working. I’m a self-proclaimed workaholic. I love to work.
So when people say, “Well, Gloria, can you join our sorority?” I was like, “Oh no. I like work too much.” I learned about people skills while I was working at the grocery store. So I can tell you a little bit about that. Then I went on to work for Polaroid Corporation in Boston. While I was there, I applied to graduate schools and I attended Harvard University School of Business and got my MBA. I left from there and I started selling for IBM and became a top salesperson in my division. I was very excited to be in, what they called at the time, the 100% Club. I did that and then I moved from there and went back to school at Harvard and while I was doing admissions work for Harvard, I started and built my Mary Kay business.
I just want to say this, Rob, and we can go deep if you’d like to, but I went from starting with the dream of making a little extra money for a gig on the side to a point where I am bigger as an entrepreneur than I ever dreamed because I had dreamed of taking the C-suite and working in corporate. So now, I am and all I do is train others about how to build a business, whether they want it small, medium or large, to take them on a journey called better.
Rob: Yeah, it’s fabulous. I love what you’re doing. So bring us up to speed on where it is now. So from there, what brought you then to where you are now? So you have obviously built this enormous robust team, you’re an incredible leader, bridge that gap there from where you were at Harvard up to this point now.
Gloria: Okay, I want to tell them that this morning I did an interview on the radio station and we talked about domestic violence. So when you go to Gloria Mayfield Banks and you read about me, you’re going to find that I was in 10 years of domestic violence. Once again, what I thought was a very dark, dark spot in my life which it was a very dark, dark spot has turned out to be something amazing that God has used because He’s allowed me to tell the story and inspire other people and I gained a lot of wisdom there. I tell you that because I really do believe, Rob, that it has been a huge part of my ability to build an amazing business.
So I started this business to make some extra money. I had my first record breaking performance, like when I hit the company and blew it out of the water because I wanted to make a lot of money to support my life as a single parent. I wanted to go through divorce because I needed to because of domestic violence, but I didn’t want my children to suffer. So I want to tell people that it doesn’t matter what moves you as long as you get moved.
So I became someone who was very clear about what I wanted to create because I knew exactly the kind of money I wanted to make and I backed into it with that. So I earned the use of my car within five months of building my Mary Kay business. I then decided to move into the position of directorship after falling off three times, Rob. When I tell you I know how to teach people, not just how to get back up but how to change their mindset because I had to fix my mindset because the company didn’t change, the product didn’t change, the rules didn’t change. I changed. I changed my mindset and that mindset took me to a place where I’ve racked in millions and millions and I’m proud to tell people about that because I teach people how to make real millions not just how to be successful but how to make real millions.
One thing I talk about all the time is the short term sacrifice. Getting in my car, driving when others wouldn’t because they weren’t willing to be inconvenienced. I remember sharing the opportunity with people even if I thought they might say no. I shared it anyway. So it went from being an earner of a new car, to earning the pink Cadillac, to becoming what’s called an elite executive to the highest ranking, which is a national and then within the national position, you become an inner circle. Now I’m an international inner circle because my business is in the U.S., it’s in Mexico, it’s in Peru, it’s in Colombia, it’s in the United Kingdom and it’s in Canada. And so I built it in such a way where not only am I making millions, I’m most excited because I’ve helped so many other people make millions as well.
Rob: Yeah, and that’s what I love. That’s the essence of leadership. Is when you can help serve and influence others and help them achieve their vision when you’re achieving your vision. I love this definition that I heard a few months ago that we now use in our seminars and it’s this. How you feel about yourself, when you’re by yourself is how successful you truly are. And one thing that I love about you Gloria, is that you just love where you’re at in life. You embrace it. You have a passion about this financially, personally, across the board and you’re helping others do the same for themselves. So, if you don’t mind, what I love is…You know, clearly with this background you’ve overcome, and I shouldn’t say overcome, you still are dealing with dyslexia and going through that. You’ve overcome this domestic violence situation or this abusive, you know, at home that you dealt with for years and yet here you are.
So along the way, if you don’t mind, what would you say are one or two, and this is always one my favorite questions to ask because it takes a lifetime of experience to answer this question. And because we all have different experiences, rarely is the answer the same. So my question is, what are one or two lessons learned that you’ve learned along the way that have had a big impact on getting you to where you are now and helping you stay there?
Gloria: I do love that question. So I want to answer it this way. I want to tell your listeners, number one is life happens to everybody. So one lesson is, frustration is misplaced expectations. And so life is going to happen to you. It’s not for you to get disappointed when life shows up, good or bad. It is being always on purpose with navigating. I did go through a divorce. I did get in that dark place where I was wondering if a relationship would be my fate and now I’ve been with my husband for over 22 years. We have a phenomenal relationship. He’s incredibly, incredibly successful on an international basis as I am and he sits on the Federal Reserve Board and on the boards of John Hopkins and the University of Maryland and he does a lot with helping people invest in the U.S. on an international scale.
The reason I tell you that, Rob, is because another lesson that I’ve learned along the way is, no matter what it looks like right now, it will not always look that way. No matter what it looks like right now. And because I have always looked up and I’ve been completely aware of who feeds into me and how I handle what they give me, I’m very sensitive, Rob. I’m sensitive and I become sensitive to turning people off that are not feeding me what I want. If you can’t positively encourage me, then I can’t be in that space. And that’s what I mean when I’m completely sensitive to who’s around me because no matter what it looks like right now, it won’t look like this forever.
Rob: That is fabulous advice. Do you mind if I just share a couple of thoughts on top of that?
Gloria: Yes, please.
Rob: To be on this because I want to give you the bulk of the time in this podcast.
Gloria: No, no, please.
Rob: Two things on that. Number one, you know that we’ve been researching what sets apart great leaders and high performers from everyone else. And by leaders, we mean really everyone because at a minimum we’re leading our own lives. So this is a very universal approach to leadership and that there are 12 principles of highly successful leaders. Well, what’s interesting is, these 12 principles are very predictive of success and what I started adding in there is how much more powerful are these 12 principles when we also put ourselves in the environment where you have other like-minded people helping you work towards focusing on those types of principles.
Part of what you’re alluding to there is, if I understood you correctly and talking about your sensitivity to who you have around you in your circles, it’s not to say that, you know, we don’t help the people that need help or reach out to people in different ways. You know, you can serve whoever but when we’re talking about people who we invite into our close inner circle, our close friends, the people who we spend time with on a daily basis, they’ve got to be people who are helping us on the journey that believe, that are supporters of us rather than the cynics or the people that doubt and say, I don’t know if you can really do that. Our environment is very predictive of our success and that’s why you hear that old adage, you know, you become the five people that you spend the most time with or some variation of it. That’s one.
Then number two is you’re talking about how…And in whatever capacity, what it looks like today may not necessarily be what it looks like tomorrow. We just finished our signature two day conference about three weeks ago and there we had the president of a large bank. He’ll probably listen to this podcast and he attended our conference about a year and a half or two ago with his wife. Well since then, that was probably 15 or so months ago if I remember correctly…They were driving to their cabin and their back right tire blew and their SUV rolled two or three times and he looked over and his wife was unconscious and she really hasn’t woken up in about 13 to 14 months other than just very brief interactions with facial expressions and things like that, she’s been in a coma since then. That’s their prognosis for the rest of her life as it stands right now.
You just think that, you know, we have today and today looks a certain way but whether it’s in our business or our personal lives, things can change so quickly. It’s how we adapt to those changes that will determine our ultimate success or failure in life. You know, when you married your first husband, I don’t expect that you ever anticipated that it would be a relationship like that. And yet it evolved and then you came out of that. You could have let it destroy you, yet you faced it and it built you. So I don’t know if that captured the essence of what you were saying there but it’s just very powerful, a couple of those lessons that you shared and I hope that we all listen to that because at some point, they’re going to impact our lives in different ways.
Gloria: Absolutely. You know Rob, when you are telling the stories and you’re talking about the essence of what makes a strong leader. And when everybody listens to this or shares this, I think it’s very powerful that when we get a podcast that we like, that we share that with other people because you never know whose life you may touch. And so when you talk about leading yourself at the very, very minimum, you’re going to do that. One of the things I talk about and I’m very passionate about is that for years as I was building leaders and years as I was creating my success, my success was determined by how many other people I could help become successful. So I always was looking for what’s the it factor? What’s the it factor? I’ve come to believe its confidence. And that’s why I spend so much time teaching other people how to develop their courage so they could build their confidence, so they can expand their choices, so that when life hands you whatever it’s going to hand you, you are in a position to make the types of choices you need to make to take you to the next decision.
Rob: Yeah, I love that Gloria. So great comments. I can’t believe we’ve been talking for almost 20 minutes. I’m holding your book in my hand right here, Quantum Leaps: 10 Steps That Help you Soar. From that book you had these 10 steps and you just mentioned confidence which I see is one of them. If you had to choose one other that you said, you know, this could really have a big impact in your life which one would it be? It’s funny because when people ask me which of the 12 principles is the biggest, most important one to you? Well, every single one is important, it just depends on the phase of life you’re in.
Gloria: Right. Absolutely.
Rob: It’s a loaded question and I know that each one is powerful in its own right. What’s one though that across the board, you say, you know this one has a big impact. You just mentioned confidence. What’s one of the others?
Gloria: Okay, so let me pick this one. It may or may not be the most important just like you said but it could be the most important to the person who’s reading it at the time. And since we’re talking about becoming your best, I’m going to pick what I call the stem of Quantum Leap. Skill management, time management, emotional management and money management. These four things, Rob, I believe will either cause you to soar in an upward manner or cause you to crash under frustration. When someone comes to you and they’re very frustrated, you can ask them whatever it is frustrating you, do you believe it is because you don’t have the skillset to take you where you want to go. You haven’t mastered your time management to fit it into the crevices of your life. You, emotionally, don’t understand how to handle what’s happening with you or where you want to go. Or you don’t know how to manage your money or you don’t have enough money to manage to get you there. It’s usually those four things.
When you ask someone what causes them to soar, they can usually point to one of those four things as the primary thing. For me, I believe my primary gift is emotional management, of those four things. Because for me, managing my emotions has taught me how to handle money, has taught me how to handle my time and has taught me how to improve my skill. Different people use different things but that’s just one of the 10 steps that I have in that book Quantum Leap. I love the fact that you said that it’s an easy read because of course, since I’m dyslexic, there are no big words in that book. You know that, right? And they can get it at Gloriamayfieldbanks.com. They can get me at Gloriamayfieldbanks.com and that’s what I love about this.
Rob: You know, I just barely found something here. I’ll just say this book reminds me a lot of something that Simple Truth would do. And I looked at the back and sure enough, Simple Truths.
Gloria: Exactly. Exactly who did it. Came after me for four years. Four years he said, you gotta write a book! And I said no! I’m not writing a book. I’m dyslexic. The last thing I’m going to do is write a book. I’ve since written two books but he said to me, well, I’m dyslexic and I own a book company. I was like, “Okay dokey, I will write a book,” and that’s what happened.
Rob: Don’t you love it? Walt Disney said, it only seems impossible until it’s done and here you’ve done it. I didn’t know that the founder of Simple Truths was dyslexic as well.
Gloria: It’s that crazy. That crazy step.
Rob: That is awesome.
Gloria: Mac Anderson is crazy. He’s crazy and he is magnificent.
Rob: He is magnificent, and I love a lot of things that he’s done. So Gloria, I love the things that you’ve been talking about. You know, we’ve kind of hit a wide swath in just a very short amount of time. From the acronym STEM, which I really like that. I’ve never heard that said that way before. To confidence, to the circle of people that we surround ourselves with, our environment and being sensitive to who we allow into that circle of influence in our lives. This has been impactful because the truth is, if every one of us look introspectively at our lives these are questions that we need to be asking ourselves. Who are we allowing into our lives right now? Are our current circle of friends lifting us moving us forward or holding us back in a certain way? You know, where’s our emotional intelligence?
Part of this emotional intelligence that you’re talking about, really encompasses a lot of areas. I know that your background and experience has allowed you to become a master in this arena. How many times are there people that we are still holding onto this hate or anger for, we haven’t forgiven them and it’s only going to be a cancer inside of us? This is emotional intelligence. Or how can we blame others? You know, as soon as we start looking inward and not becoming the victim of our circumstance, then we can really start moving forward. That only can be done with a high level of emotional intelligence and the ability to set aside our ego.
Gloria: Oh my gosh, we can talk about ego and ego management forever. When I tell you forever and when people really understand…So glad you brought it up and I don’t think we’re talking about enough. You know, there’s waves of things that we talk about? And there was a time when people would talk about egos all the time. I think that we let it become a very quiet topic and we need to bring it back because when you really understand what ego means and where it can and cannot serve you, you’ve mastered something that’s very powerful and wise about how to live your life.
Rob: Yeah, where it can and cannot serve you. That’s well stated. I like the way you said that, Gloria because the truth is we all have an ego and there’s times where I like your confidence. You’re right, we could talk about this for a long time. You know, I was a fighter pilot for 11 years and as I looked at some of the very best pilots, they were high in confidence and high in humility. They knew that that jet could kill them at any given moment. That was a sobering humility that they always walked out to that jet with. At the same time, they were confident. The best fighter pilots were confident yet humble. The ones that scared me about flying with them, and there weren’t very many of these. I mean, you could say there’s a lot of ego, and there is some in the fighter pilot world, but when it came to the actual flying itself, it’s the humble, confident pilot that had the most trust in. It was the one whose ego was so big that it wouldn’t allow them to make the correct decisions in the air that scared me.
How many times does that happen to us in life where our ego, the unhealthy side of our ego, gets in the way, the pride? We don’t do things because we don’t want to acknowledge it. You know what, maybe I wasn’t right there. It just can be such an impediment to success for so many of us. It’s there for all of us. We just have to acknowledge that it’s there and then how do we tame that beast?
Gloria: Exactly, exactly, exactly. How to use it correctly and how not to use it correctly. You know, sometimes it’s the ego that allows you to speak to someone in a positive attitude when at first you didn’t feel like it. Like, okay, I’m just going to walk by this person. But the ego is also the one that reminds you that give joy to other people and be acknowledged for it. But if you use it too much to your benefit, it becomes a detriment to you because of that. So I love the way that you say that because it really can make such a difference for someone and it can also hurt you.
Rob: Well, here’s an example you serve. Principle 5 of the 12 principles is to live the golden rule. In other words, treat people right. Create a world class customer experience when you’re talking about business. Here’s an example of ego. If we’re doing something to simply be kind and help another with no thought of reward, with no hidden accolades or agenda behind it, it’s just simply to help another person get to a better place, that’s powerful. If we’re doing something with the intent of, I want some sort of accolade or reward for this, that’s ego driven and there’s always going to be let down because either the name won’t be recognized from the stage. They didn’t say thank you and thereby it was a letdown because it didn’t feed the ego. And it was the wrong motivation.
Whereas, if we do something with no…I’m just using service in this example. If we serve someone or help someone get to a better place with no intent or thought of recognition or reward or accolades, there’s nothing to feed, there’s no ego. It’s just you’ve helped someone get to a better place and there’s a feeling that comes with that. With the other side of that coin, looking for the accolades or the feeling, if it’s not fed the exact way that we want to be fed, there’s a letdown.
Gloria: And there’s no way for you to be open to see if the blessing is coming differently than you expected because you’ve blocked it with your expectation that it didn’t come the way you thought it should and therefore you can’t receive it at all.
Rob: Oh, that’s a good one. I like that. Well, I can’t believe we’ve been going for like 27 minutes. So Gloria this has been filled, funny and interesting but this has been a totally, like 100% different podcast than the first one we did.
Gloria: It’s that crazy.
Rob: Which doesn’t surprise me. So you never know why things happen. If you wouldn’t mind, remind everyone one more time, how can they find you? Any social media or website links that they could use to find you.
Gloria: I would love that. I would love that Rob because I want them to know that I’m open and I want to connect with them. So the first place that I always tell people is to please join me at Gloriamayfieldbanks.com. It’s easy to find Gloriamayfieldbanks.com. I’m on Instagram, @gloriabanks. I’m at Twitter @GloriaBanks. I’m also on Facebook, Gloria Mayfield Banks and I have a special group for women that want to be stronger, smarter and more successful and that’s called The Power Huddle. So I really look forward to working with them. I do two shows on my Facebook that I’d love to tell them about. One is called Secure the Bag, which we talk specifically about increasing their focus and their activity to increase their income and then I have a master class that talks to them about how to become super bad all day long. Super bad all day long, because I do not want them to miss an opportunity to be unapologetically powerful, and how to do it.
Rob: You’re awesome Gloria. It’s been an honor again to visit with you. I’m so glad we did this the second time because it was a totally different experience in content. I think our listeners will get a lot from you. And for those that continue to follow you, hopefully this will be the beginning of a great relationship. You know, ironically, with relationship, sometimes it can be very one-sided and you don’t even know people are following you and suddenly they kind of share something that you said or did that had a big impact. We’ve all been on both sides of that equation.
Rob: So thank you Gloria.
Gloria: You’re welcome.
Rob: Any parting comments or thoughts?
Gloria: I just want to tell everybody that this is the time to think about what they’re going to do in the next 12 months. My parting thoughts with everyone is, let’s take a short term sacrifice so when you look back on your life, 12 months from now, it will look totally different than it does right now. We don’t want to miss a moment, not one moment of changing in the direction of our dreams. Create your best self.
Rob: Oh that’s awesome Gloria. Well, as we wrap up, thank you so much Gloria for being on the show. As a reminder, to all of our listeners, if you haven’t already taken the Personal Productivity Assessment go to Becomingyourbest.com and right there on the homepage, you enter your email and that will take you into the 25 question assessment that gives you very specific steps on how to increase your score move forward and really increase your confidence, peace and happiness in life. So if you haven’t done that already Becomingyourbest.com. Take your Personal Productivity Assessment and that will start moving you forward towards doing the things that we’ve been talking about on this show. Thanks again Gloria, we hope everyone has a fabulous day and we’ll talk with you again next week.
Welcome to our Becoming Your Best podcast listeners wherever you might be in the world today. It is a delight to be together with you. This is Steve Shallenberger your host and we are going to talk today about an exciting, invigorating subject. It is, how to have a becoming your best morning. Now, this has been as good for me as anybody else, I guarantee you. I hope you likewise enjoy it. It’s really interesting as we think about this. As we think, well, what’s involved in a becoming your best morning? How long does it take? It starts when you get up.
Actually, it probably starts the night before, but it takes 30 to 60 minutes. And you might say, “Woah, that seems like a lot.” But when you really reflect upon how much time that is, that’s out of 1440 minutes in a day that we have. Or in other words, we’re taking just 2% to 4% of our day to create a highly successful day. A day that you feel excited about, you feel satisfied about and it brings happiness and joy of accomplishment.
This little process of becoming your best morning is the foundation of helping you become your best each and every day. And it gets you off on the right foot for a great day. We’re really talking about setting a routine, an exciting routine. Not just something that’s mundane for you, and you can find an order that works best for you and then let it contribute to your health and success each and every day.
So there are seven parts to having a becoming your best morning and let’s just talk about those seven parts and then we’ll go over each one. Step number one is to get, it starts the night before, get seven to eight hours of sleep and rise before the sun. Number two is, immediately drink at least 16 ounces of water with a lemon and really stay hydrated. We’ll talk about why and the research behind some of these. Number three is to quietly center yourself. Review your pre-week and daily plan, and we’ll get into what that entails but really get centered. Number four is to stretch. Number five is to exercise. And number six, take a few minutes to focus on your affirmations to really put yourself in a positive frame of mind. And number seven, don’t look at your phone or check your email first thing.
So there you go. Those are the seven things. So let’s jump right into these and start off with number one. Get seven to eight hours of sleep and rise before the sun. Now, what’s really interesting about this is statistics show that 4% of humanity can make it on four hours sleep. It’s just kind of in their DNA. They’re engineered that way and they wake up rested. I’m not one of those. If the rest of the 96% of humanity try to make it on four hours sleep, they are going to pay a price. So when you don’t have enough sleep and you end up with sleep deprivation, it can have multiple negative impacts on you, including contributing to chronic health problems, depression, exhaustion, increased risk of accidents, impaired cognitive abilities, bags under your eyes, headaches etc. Can any of you relate to any of those?
Well, take time to recognize these danger signs to your body and make it a priority to take corrective action and make regular healthy sleep a priority. That is really vital for our success and health. To pave the way for better sleep, here are a few simple yet really effective healthy sleep tips. So those include stick to a sleep schedule, even on your weekends where possible. Sometimes I travel. That’s a little hard, but I try to stay on a regular sleep schedule that’s predictable for me and my body can count on. Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual, whatever that might be. Of course, we’re going to talk about this other one, exercise daily. These things help get your body into a groove of good health practices. Evaluate your bedroom to be sure it’s conducive to sleep. So ensure ideal temperatures, sound, light, etc. And then sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows. I mean, if your pillow is causing you to really put your neck in a bad position, that’s not going to work. You’re going to be uncomfortable and tossing all night.
Be aware of hidden sleep stealers. Caffeine. I have a friend of mine, Dr. Mao that suggests that don’t drink any liquids three hours before going to sleep. This helps your body settle down. Fast 12 hours from your evening meal to your breakfast meal. This gives your body a chance to reset. Digestion is a huge stress on the body. So these are a few things that can really steal your sleep away. But by just managing a couple of those simple things that is helpful, and certainly turn off your electronics before bed. I have a friend that as we were talking about this whole thing he said, “You know, I’ve kept my phone right next to the bed. It’s a killer. I hear it going off during the night and occasionally I’ll get a call.” So just settle everything down the night before. Clear any important calls that you need to make in advance. And then be sure that your electronics are not near where you’re sleeping. If you feel that there’s going to be some type of an emergency that’s on the on the cusp out there, then try to make arrangements for it. But otherwise, arrange so that you can have a peaceful sleep and that electronics aren’t part of it.
So I think if you or your family members are experiencing symptoms, such as sleeplessness during the day or when you expect to be awake or you might have snoring or leg cramps, other symptoms that are preventing you from sleeping well, you should consult your primary care physician. There are things that you can do to help some of these things that are more chronic. In other words, we’re setting ourselves up overall to really get seven to eight hours of sleep. It’s going to be different for every person. If it’s a baby or a toddler or a teen we’re talking about, they need more sleep. So it really varies as we go through life but that’s a good rule of thumb. You’ll figure this out for yourself. That’s number one.
Number two, immediately drink, well, at least 16 ounces plus of water with lemon and just stay hydrated. Your body contains more water than anything else. It’s about 60% of your total body weight. Water helps regulate our body temperature, transports nutrients, helps remove waste and every day, we’re losing water from a number of different reasons from breathing, sweating, waste, etc., and so it really needs to be replenished. The question is, well, how much water do we need to drink? Although that’s a kind of a simple question, it doesn’t really have an easy answer because it really depends on environmental issues, physical factors that can change every day. It’s not just the water you drink, it’s about 20% of your water intake comes from foods that you eat. The remaining 80% comes from beverages, including water, and anything else, any other liquid.
So it’s interesting, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy reviewed years of research evidence based on adequate water intake and here are some general guidelines. Men, maybe about 10 cups of water from beverages per day. Women, perhaps nine cups of water. That would be seven cups from beverages. So you’re going to have other things that come along. Pregnant women, about eight cups from beverages, 10 cups overall. And breastfeeding women, 13 cups. That’s again about 10 cups from beverages. It just gives you a general thought.
Now, we said adding lemon. This is not really a footnote at all. This is an important combination of what you’re drinking. Adding lemon to your water affects your overall health, from boosting the digestive system, immunity, to encouraging natural cleansing. So not only that, but a simple squeeze of a fresh lemon is jam packed with potassium, vitamin B and C, calcium, magnesium, antioxidants and iron. These contribute to greater health. They help diminish inflammation. In fact, research studies conducted by Ohio State University linked lemon juice and lemon oil aroma to positive physical and emotional effects on the brain. So for instance, inhaling the scent of lemon increased all kinds of healthy things going on. And so it’s a feel good chemical that releases into the neurotransmitters which significantly boosted energy and alertness, as well as brain functioning, mental alertness and the general ability to focus. Also lemon, along with plenty of water, helps reduce urinary tract infections. Lemon is a natural breath freshener and leads to healthier, cleaner skin. So it’s really interesting as you look at the different impacts, they’re quite significant. All right, that’s number two.
Number three. Quietly center yourself. Review your pre-week plan and your daily plan. Just look at it and quietly ponder and reflect on what’s happening and get it settled so that you attack these things with a sense of confidence and peace and you’re directed of doing the right things. Ask yourself what can you do? What key actions can you take today that will make it a great day? Some of our listeners have heard us talk about chair flying. I love chair flying. Once you have your plan in front of you, you can close your eyes and just see yourself going through the day, making great decisions and seeing crisis and torpedoes in your day blowing up and you responding really wonderfully like a master leader of being in control, even though we’re not always in control, but of moving things around so that we stay generally on track. Consider the things you’re grateful for. This is so powerful, having gratitude and expressing gratitude enlarges literally your soul and your spirit. Express thanks in prayer. These are all things that quiet us down and give us great internal strength. So regardless of what the weather is like outside, you carry your own weather inside which is extremely powerful. Feel the power of peace and love and gratitude and focus. These things give us greater capacity as we deal with others, in our relationships, stressful work situations, and put us in a better position to succeed today.
Number four is to take time to stretch. Take a few minutes for some form of yoga, ergonomics and meditation. These really help. They reduce the risk of strained muscles and damaging body parts as you’re moving throughout the day. Very helpful.
Number five is to exercise. Even walking one mile a day is crazy healthy. It’s amazing. I had the opportunity, and some may have heard this, when we were in Singapore earlier this year, of going to a session and meeting. Dr. Fotuhi, he talked about longevity and health. And actually had a brain there and showed us where the cortex was, the wavy part on the outside of the brain responsible for the long term memory. And then deep down in the inner part of the brain is the hippocampus. He said, This is the gateway to longevity and health, body health, brain health. He said, When you turn 50, the hippocampus actually shrinks 0.05% per year, and the size of the hippocampus is what determines your health. He said, So the smaller it becomes, the more at risk that you are and the shorter the lifespan. He said, That’s even impacted more heavily if you have diabetes, traumas, high stress, lack of sleep. There are certain things that…Obesity…That really cause this hippocampus to even shrink more quickly.
He also pointed out there are certain things that you can do that once you turn 50, you can actually grow your hippocampus. One of those was exercise. As a matter of fact, walking one mile three times a week can grow your hippocampus 23%. I was blown away by that, astounded. So having just regular exercise really is transformational for you physically. And it comes together with these other thing. It doesn’t have to take long, does it? Personally I tried to, over the years…Dr. Oz is another one I had the chance to be together with this year. One of the things when he was talking about having a healthy diet in regards to longevity and health, he said, “Have a diet that you love.” In other words, enjoy the food so that you can sustain your diet. I think I would say the same thing about exercise. Have exercise even though it may not be always pleasant to do. Have an exercise that you like or even love. That you like what it does to your body and the end result.
So I have found a few that really work for me. Certainly, one of those is walking. I enjoy walking. I might do an occasional jog, but I enjoy walking. During the good weather I go outside and during the bad weather, we have a mall that’s reasonably close and we can walk there. It’s easy, it’s warm. And so you’re not subject to the conditions of the weather. So I, together with my wife, will walk two or three times a week. We walk one to two miles depending on how my schedule is, how we’re feeling.
One of my good friends is Ron Williams. Ron is a former seven time Mr. Universe, Mr. Natural Universe. He’s an amazing person as well, but he helped me really learn some great health practices. One of those is he has the Ron Williams Burn and Churn Workout. You can actually see it on YouTube. I do that one a couple of times a week since it’s a 45 minute one. So I really plan it out in advance, I know what’s coming. But it works all parts of my body.
And then the last one, I have a good friend by the name of Steve Price. Steve turned me on to a stationary bike called the peloton. It’s a virtual riding bike that links you with other riders all over the world. You can either do a live training or do one that’s past, but it links right in. It tells you where you’re at, it ranks you against them but also your previous rides. You can take scenic rides. Well, I do that one once or twice a week. So that’s my combination. At the beginning of the week when I do pre-week planning, I’ll actually sketch those out.
And so each day, when I work on having a becoming your best morning, I have one of these exercise modalities in mind and that’s the one I do. It is such an energizing time. If I’m out walking by myself, I always take something to listen to. Something that stimulates my mind. It might be a talk, a TED talk, or a clip of something. It could be invigorating music. That’s number five, is exercise.
Number six is take a minute to focus on your affirmations. People often say, well, where are my affirmations? Well, they can be contained in your personal vision and they reaffirm what you’re like. So for example, today will be a great day. I will treat all people I know with love in my heart. These are affirmations. They affirm how you choose to believe. And so what are you going to do today to make them a reality? Indeed, what you’re really doing is creating and maintaining a positive frame of mind, and when you have this positive frame of mind, it changes everything, especially in contrast to having a negative frame of mind. So what you really want to do is cast out all negative thoughts. Just be determined, they’re not going to be part of your life. It doesn’t mean they don’t happen, because they certainly do in life, but be determined that you are going to just be sure you’re in a positive frame of mind that you’ll maintain throughout the day.
There’s some real strong research that supports this type of approach. The top 25% of optimistic people had 39% less risk of heart disease or stroke, and a 52% less risk of dying from an infection. I mean, that’s powerful information. And optimistic sales reps sell 56% more than their pessimistic peers. In a study of chronic complainers, they found that the hippocampus actually shrinks and that their significantly higher cortisol levels which leads to increased risk of heart disease and diabetes. So this is pretty powerful information in terms of the frame of reference that we have in creating a positive frame of mind that carries into a successful day. I’m just telling you right now, if you have a successful morning, a becoming your best type successful morning, it leads to a successful day very directly.
Here is the last. Number seven is don’t look at your phone or check your email first thing. So why? Why would we do that? Well, some of you are already laughing maybe together with me saying, “Well, I know what’s on there because I’m going to get distracted. I might get pushed off the course and I’ll never get back onto these other six things that we just talked about which is so amazing for me.” Or, “Think of all the negative news that I might see.”
It’s interesting. Well, while we may want to be responsible and stay abreast of important emails and information on our devices, let’s just be sure to use our devices when we’re in the right mindset to have a great day and be focused on dealing with the needed communication in what matters most. What things that really count most and that are at hand. This type of information, leadership and management helps to put you in the driver’s seat of being highly productive and having a great day, really every day and it’s nearly impossible to turn on the TV, open up a web browser, scroll through your device, whatever the medium might be, without being assaulted with notification of a new world disaster or two or three. Thanks to the 24 hour news cycle, alerts of shootings or plane crashes, unfortunately, beheadings and crime and war and human rights violation are absolutely nonstop and constant. And this incessant news of violence and destruction may be really messing with our heads. It just doesn’t help us to get to a right place. Well, the fact is, the world isn’t falling apart. Bad things happen, but it can sure feel like it is. And so the news can be really violent, depressing and emotionally charged and that is why we need to take charge, to put this in the right order and certainly not start off our day with that type of an influence in our lives.
So, those are seven things that you and I can do to really have a becoming your best morning which leads to a becoming your best day. Let’s just review these seven things that you can do to have that kind of a morning and a day. Number one is get seven to eight hours of sleep. If you’re one of the lucky 4%, more power to you, that’s great but be sure to rise before the sun. Early to bed, early to rise, goes the old saying. Number two, immediately drink, or at least sometime in the first 10 or 15 minutes, 16 ounces plus of water with a lemon and stay hydrated. Number three, quietly center yourself, review your pre-week and daily plan. Ask yourself, what can I do to make it a great day? Consider the things that you’re grateful for and express thanks and prayer and feel this power of peace and love and gratitude and focus as you kick off your day. Number four, take time to stretch. Just take a few minutes. It’s amazing. I’ve already done that part, and by the way, my exercise is coming right after this podcast today. I’ve already done most of these but exercise is next. It’s still pretty early in the morning. Number five is to exercise. Number six, take a few minutes to focus on your affirmations. What are you going to do today to make them a reality? And especially create a positive frame of mind. Number seven is don’t look at your phone, your device or check emails first thing. Wait until you’re in the right frame of mind to do so.
Imagine the impact that this is going to have on your life, on the life of those that you associate with as you carry out your various responsibilities. Well, this has been so wonderful to visit together. I wish that we could just be here right together. Remember, every single day as you work on these kind of things, you’re making a difference and it’s worth it. Every single day is worth making the best out of life. So I wish you the best in that wonderful adventure and I’m signing off today wishing you a becoming your best day.
Hello friends and welcome back to the Becoming Your Best podcast. This is your friend and host Rob Shallenberger and excited that you’re able to join us today, wherever you’re at in the world. This is going to be a pretty short and hopefully quick hitting and powerful podcast, because I know it’s something that applies to every one of us to some degree. And before we get into what I wanted to bring up here on this short podcast, just a couple of reminders and invitations.
Number one, if you haven’t already taken the Personal Productivity Assessment, make sure you go to our website, becomingyourbest.com, enter your email, and then take this assessment. It is a powerful predictor of long-term success. It shows you where you are today, specific ideas on where you can go and how you can get to the next level. It also shows you where everyone else is at, an average, and the top 10%, not that it’s a comparison. This is really about every one of us individually, yet sometimes it’s nice just to see where other people are at. So that’s number one. Take the Personal Productivity Assessment.
Number two is for your longer range planning, our next Breakthrough Leadership Conference is April 25th and 26th. And if you don’t already have plans to come out here or send a member of your team, we invite you to look at your long range calendar and make this happen. So maybe it’s sending a family member, a group of leaders from your team. If you’ve already been once or twice, great. Sometimes the best lessons learned and biggest takeaways happen on the third and fourth time when people attend. So I invite you to put that on your calendar and set that date aside.
Now, the intent of this podcast is to address a very real emotion that we all deal with to some degree, and that is fear. Yes, the emotion of fear. We all have it, it’s there, it’s real, we need to acknowledge it. What’s interesting about fear is, on one hand, it’s a protection mechanism to keep us safe. You know, we have a fear of heights. Well, that’s to keep our bodies safe. We have a fear of drowning, so some avoid the water. You know, there’s a fear of tight spaces. All of these are a safety mechanism. So the emotion is a real and quite powerful emotion. If you think about some of the things that you fear in your life or what would cause your palms to sweat, for everybody it’s something different. You know, whether it’s rational or irrational isn’t even the question at this point. And I know there’s been books written on this.
So I’m going to just share a different angle to this emotion, and how to overcome and conquer and not so much conquer because it’s going to be there. This emotion of fear doesn’t just disappear. So it’s not just overcoming and “conquering it”, it’s how to overcome it in the face of it. It’s going to be there. So how do you make fear irrelevant in moving forward and progressing forward in our lives? So I want to share with you before we get started three brief stories to illustrate how real and powerful this emotion is, and then I’m going to share with you three tips on what you can do and what I can do to overcome and push through this very real emotion.
So let me just share with you briefly these three examples. Just last week, we were down in Zion National Park in Southern Utah. And if you’ve ever been to Zion National Park, you know, it’s one of the most beautiful places on the planet. You have these massive red rock cliffs, and in this case it was a blue sky, so we had this blue sky background, even a little bit of snow up on top, because I mean these rise from like 3,000, 4,000 feet up to 9,000 and 10,000 feet in some places. Typically 8,000 feet will be the tops of most of them. So you’re talking about a fairly high level of elevation, and just this deep red rock canyons cut through these cliffs and it’s absolutely just stunning when you get out there. Well we’re hiking up this particular trail, it’s to an observation point, and as we’re walking up this trail…First of all, there’s some pretty fit people in the world. We got passed by a trail runner, and I thought, “Man, that guy’s a machine.” And there’s people in their 60’s and 70’s on this trail that I was so impressed with.
Well, anyway, we’re hiking on this trail, and we’ve been going for about 45 minutes and then see switchbacks. And on the switchbacks, if you could visualize in your mind, the trails are about five or so feet wide. And there are a few places along the way where on the one side of you facing the edge, it’s a steep drop. In some cases, 30 feet, 40 feet. Even a couple of places where it was a few hundred feet. Now, as we’re talking about fears, one of my fears is a fear of heights. It’s real, it’s an emotion. You may say, “Well, how can you be a fighter pilot and be afraid of heights?” There was a statistic done, and I don’t know where this research came from, that suggested that 60% of pilots have a fear of heights. So there’s something about that. You know, who knows, but it’s there.
And as we’re hiking up this trail, there was this one particular spot where we came up to a gentleman, and keep in mind, this is near the top. It’s not the end of the hike, but it’s when you go over the ridge to the top, and you can see that you’re really done with the steep ascent part of it. Well, as we near that summit part, and I look and there’s this one part where, yeah, it’s a pretty good drop off to the left, even to the point where my palms started sweating just a little bit. There was this gentleman in his, probably, mid-60s who was resting against the rock on his arm. He looked tired but it was more than being tired, and I guess that it was a fear of heights. So I stood there and I waited for our kids to catch up.
Then there was another couple behind us, one of them asked him, “Hey, are you all right?” And he said, “No, it’s a fear of heights. I just can’t go on, I can’t go on.” And at that point, he turned around and started walking back down the trail. Myself, my wife and my kids walked another hundred yards, and this was literally only like a 5 to 10 foot section where there was a little bit of a drop off there on your left, so we got through it quickly. And after walking about another hundred yards, we rounded the corner and we were at the summit inside this whole new canyon that was absolutely pristine. It was green, it was beautiful. It emptied down into a slot canyon on our left. One of the most beautiful places I’d ever seen.
It hit me like a ton of bricks really, this lesson. That here’s this gentleman who got so close to probably one of the most amazing, gorgeous places I’ve ever seen in my life and he turned around just as he was about to arrive there because of this very real emotion, fear. It’s not a slight against him because I acknowledge, it’s a real emotion. In this case though, he let it get the best of him, he turned around, and he will never have the experience of seeing that entirely new vista that he was so close to seeing. Now, maybe he’ll go back and do the hike again. At least in that moment though, he was so close to the prize and he missed it. And I just thought how many times has that happened to us in life? Where we get close to something, we’re almost there, we’re at the precipice of success in whatever area it is, and then somehow this very real emotion becomes overpowering to the point where in some cases even debilitating and we turn around, we stop, we quit, we don’t embark on the new adventure. And because of that fear, we never see what could have been. And that is a very real, powerful emotion. In this case, for me, that was an incredible lesson. I wrote that down in my journal, talked about it with my kids later on through the hike and just said, “You know, what a great opportunity to learn from this, from someone else’s experience.”
You know, the second one I experienced myself similar rock climbing. We were down in Las Vegas, it was this red rock garden area and it was about 100 foot cliff as you scale up. Same, idea as Zion, it was this red rock cliff. My brothers and I, as we are rock climbing, and they all love rock climbing. None of them have any issue with heights. I’m the only one out of the brothers that is bothered a little bit by that. So my brother Tommy went and set the ropes up above, dropped them down and they started telling me, “All right Rob, you go first, you’re up.” And I thought, “Okay, great, here we go.” So I jump up, I hook in and have my harness on and I start climbing up the side. Well, no problem on the first 10, 15 and 20 feet. That doesn’t faze me.
As I started to get to that 25 and 30 feet though, you know, that’s where you’re starting to get a little bit higher, where the stakes are a little bit higher. If you fall, you’re going to get hurt. Sure enough, the palms started getting a little bit sweaty and, you know, the heart starts racing a little bit. And anyone who has a fear of heights can relate to this, and whether it’s heights or water or, you know, whatever your fears are, you could probably relate to this. So as I’m getting to this point and I remember leaning on my shoulder and saying, “All right, this is good.” You know, “This is high enough for me. I’m going to turn around and go back down.” And they said, “No, come on, Rob. You can do it. A little bit higher.” I was starting to mentally check out and say, “No, I’m good.” And then my brother Steven yelled up and said, “Hey Rob, look up to your left about three feet above your head into your left there’s a nice little hand hold, grab that hand hold and you can pull yourself up.” Now ideally, you’re supposed to use your legs and push when you’re climbing, but at this point, you know, whatever. So I look up at the hand hold and I see it and I go, “Okay, if I go for that hand-hold, now, this is definitely not positive self-talk or anything close to it in here, I said, “I’ll probably fall.” So clearly not the right line of thinking. But that’s what my thought process was at the moment.
And so I thought, “Okay, well, I have a choice. I can reach for the hand-hold and pull myself up or I can just give up and go back down. And I said, “All right, well let’s go for it. I’m on the rope, I’m harnessed in, this will be good. Even if I fall, they’ve got me, the rope is tight. So I made this reach and this pull, I extended my arm, got my fingers into this hand hold, held on and started to pull myself up. And boom, I just went another three to four feet higher right there in that moment. And I felt like I just had this huge internal victory because now I was higher. I had a new view and actually a lot better handholds at this point. And for some reason, I had just in that moment, conquered that particular fear. And I thought, what would have happened had I not reached my hand and maybe even if I would have fallen? The harness could have had me. Maybe it would have hurt a little bit. I could have got back on the rock and tried again.
The point is, how many times in life do we not ever make the reach? How many times do we stop or say, “No, this is high enough?” And we don’t try to go any higher. It wasn’t until I climbed just a few feet higher that it was actually my favorite part of that climb and really opened up another vista that I couldn’t even see from just a few feet below. So again, there I was on the side of this rock face cliff, outside of Las Vegas, and it just dawned on me the power of this principle of never give up, and how it applies to fear and overcoming and pushing through a fear to get to what is so beautiful and amazing on the other side many times.
Now, this last story has been one of the most impactful in my life and I have shared it once before on these podcasts. It’s something that happened in high school and as I share this one, I imagine that most of us listening can relate in some degree or another. So this was in high school. It was about 10th grade and I was wrestling. I decided to wrestle and I had an okay year. It was an average year wrestling. I won some and I lost some. Well that summer, I decided to put all my eggs in this basket. Go all in and I had a new goal to become a state champion wrestler. Well, throughout the entire summer, my dad was able to coordinate a friend of his to help me out and he happened to be the number two ranked NCAA wrestler at the time in his weight class. And so we got out on the mat and we would wrestle three times a week. He would teach me all of these moves, these new tricks and things that you can do. Then I’ll tell you what, my progress in wrestling just skyrocketed over the course of the summer.
Now, this is back in the day when you didn’t have club sports, so you weren’t really doing things year round. You just would do the sport that applies to that time of year in high school. So at this point, everyone else who wrestled is taking the summer off and I’m down in this collegiate gym, just cranking it out on a daily basis by myself, and three times a week with our friend, Scott Eastman. So, roll around, fast forward the clock to November. High School wrestling starts again and just prior to it starting, I went out and wrestled a person who happened to be one of the best wrestlers on the team from the year prior and in about the 30 to 40 seconds I had lifted him, put him down on the mat and pinned him. He’s like, “Man, what in the world happened to you, Rob? You’re incredible.” All of a sudden, he started spreading the word and the coaches are like, “Oh man, you’re going to be a state champion.” And this was weird. This was a young 16, 17-year-old mind and I didn’t really know how to process this. Boy, I wish I would have known then what I know now.
I started to get this weird line of thinking in my mind. And at 16 or 17 I started thinking this, man, there’s a lot of people here that are starting to cheer me on, what if I let them down? See how there’s the fear of failure that started to creep in here. Man, I’ll tell you, this was a real emotion for me. This was no joke. Everybody was, “Rob, you’re going to be a state champion. Man, you’re just killing it.” And there was some serious expectations that were being said and I thought, “I’m going to let a lot of these people down if I don’t become a state champion.” And so these weird thoughts started creeping into my mind about, well, what if I don’t wrestle anymore and then the rest of my life I could say, I could have been a state champion and I could always live in the what if, whereas if I press forward and wrestle, if I’m not the state champion, then it’ll be guaranteed that I wasn’t. See how weird that line of thinking is. But I’ll tell you what, it was very real to me at the time.
I quit and I went with option one and said, “You know, I’m just going to quit and say, ‘I could have been’ the rest of my life.” I remember my wrestling coaches pulling me out of class saying, “Get your fanny back in here and start wrestling.” I wouldn’t do it and I didn’t do it. To this day, as I look back, that is one of my top three greatest regrets in life because I’m sitting here living in the “What could have been”, “what should have been”, and really that means zero because it wasn’t.
So my son plays football now and my daughters clog and play soccer and we’ve had these conversations several times. And that’s why we’ve developed this model that when Shallenbergers start, we finish. Shallenbergers don’t quit. We can make smart adjustments but when we start we finish. And that’s our Shallenberger motto, and it all emanated from that 17-year-old wrestling experience that really, in the back of my mind, was just crushing that I didn’t finish that race. From that experience however, man, the lessons that were learned from that, “failure” because never again from that moment on have I started something and not finished it. I will see it through to the end now every single time.
The point in sharing that story is not so much in the never give up part of the equation. It was at 17, I went face to face with a very real emotion of failure, and this fear of failure. That fear of failure became so powerful to me that it caused me to get sidetracked from what my goal had been to become a state champion. So I acknowledge, having seen this in others, having seen it in more than 200 organizations that I’ve trained, that this can be a huge impediment to our personal and organizational success. So the question is, how do we overcome fear? How do we face it head-on, acknowledge that it’s there and then press through it? Well, there are three things that any one of us can do.
Number one is what you’ve heard reiterated over and over many times on these podcasts, and that is to have a powerful, personal vision that you know that is internal, that burns deep inside your soul, and it should be meaningful and give you direction. That’s what a powerful personal vision can do. Less than 1% of people in our population have a written, personal vision.
Number two, is to put yourself in an environment, surround yourself with people who can help you succeed. When you put yourself in the environment where success can happen, whatever it is, it can help you address your fear or help you achieve your vision. You basically fast-track the process. Let me give you an example. How many times have we wanted to lose weight or eat more healthy? I think that encompasses most people with those two. How many times has it actually happened? Well, for a handful of people, it works out. For most people, it simply never leaves the intention phase. Yeah, I know I need to lose weight. I know I need to eat better. And that’s about where it stays throughout the rest of our lives. So the question is, once you have a personal vision that is powerful enough, surround yourself with the people who will help you succeed.
Let’s just take this one that we’re talking about now: weight. It’s one the most people can relate to. So if you want to lose weight, if you want to eat healthier and feel better about yourself, start by finding a couple of friends who are where you want to be. I mean, just this morning, my wife and I were at CrossFit and a good friend of ours is healthy, lean, fit and she was talking about her diet and we said, “Hey, why don’t we have you and your husband come over and you can share with us what you do.” That doesn’t mean we’ll incorporate all of what they do and how they eat, but we’re going to learn some lessons that we currently don’t have. That’s the idea. Is to surround yourself with the people who are where you want to be.
Let’s just stay on this topic, weight. Find out when they work out, how they work out. So at CrossFit, that’s an easy example whether you like it or not, doesn’t really matter. Take whatever it is and substitute with CrossFit. If they go to a CrossFit gym, ask what time they work out. “Hey, would you mind if I came at the same time?” “No, of course, come on.” See, all of a sudden, you’re surrounding yourself with the people you want to be like in certain ways in that aspect and it becomes easier and easier for you to face that fear. The fear of the start or the fear of the journey. And consider joining them in whatever they’re doing. You know, again, whether it’s CrossFit or running or biking. The point is that you’re surrounding yourself with people who are going to help you get there.
Maybe it’s starting a new business. How much fear is there surrounding that? How many people have never started a business because they were scared to do it? You know I came from the fighter pilot world and it was interesting. Again, it’s very real emotion. There were a lot of people when I got out of the Air Force at 11 years said, “Man, you’re crazy. What are you going to go do?” It was really an irrational fear because there’s an incredible demand for leadership out in the world right now and there’s so many opportunities for fighter pilots. Yet when you’re in that world, you know, the fear is, what happens if I leave? What’s going to happen to the pension and what if I do that? Now, there’s some people who justifiably stay in because they love it and they are going for the 20 years plus and that’s awesome, that’s going towards your vision. But when we don’t move because we’re paralyzed by fear, that’s a different story. So find someone who is where you want to be, put yourself in that environment, attend a conference, learn how to do it. Learn how to do things that you’re currently not doing. These will all help us push through this real emotion.
The third and final thing is very simplistic yet very powerful and that is to start. Simply start. Do something. Doing something is better than doing nothing. If you want to start a business, well, start by allocating one or two or three hours a week towards developing your business idea, your execution plan, your business strategy. At least you’re doing something moving you forward. As soon as we have a plan, as soon as we start to have a way forward, it’s amazing how it paralyzes the emotion of fear. And we’re like, “Wait a second, we can do this.” I was with an individual this week, great, great person. You know, kind of at a tough point in his life right now. And as soon as we had mapped out a plan together, he’s like, “Wait a second man, I see the way forward. I can do this.” So simply having that plan and starting and doing something suddenly starts to paralyze the fear that was paralyzing us in the first place.
So I hope this podcast has been helpful. It was a quick 20 minute podcast acknowledging this real emotion that we all deal with to different degrees and levels and how do we overcome and push through this fear and make it irrelevant in our lives. It will be there, we acknowledge it, and then we set it aside and continue to move towards our vision, surround ourselves with people and the environment that allows us to overcome and conquer that. And then simply start and do something today that will help us move the journey. So if it’s weight, what can we start doing today that will start moving the needle? Anything is better than doing nothing. So hopefully, this podcast has been helpful to you in some form or fashion. If you’re driving to work, make your car a university. You’re probably listening to this somewhere in that form or fashion so congratulations to you. You know, you’ve got 20, 30, 40 minutes in your car each day, why not make the best of it and learn something along the way.
So thank you for taking the time to listen to this podcast. It’s because of you that we do these in the first place. We would love to continue to hear your feedback. So just like I started the podcast, remember to take this Personal Productivity Assessment, it will help us see the way forward and then really consider attending this conference on April 25th and 26th out in Utah to jumpstart your success forward no matter where you’re at. It really doesn’t matter where we are today, whether we’re ultra-successful or whether we’re just coming from rock bottom. This will help take our good and make it better because these 12 principles are very specific, high performance habits that are great predictors of long term success.
So I’m going to finish with this quote that I love. If you’ve been in a seminar, you’ve heard me say it and that is this, “One ship sails east and another west. By the self-same winds that blow, ’tis the set of the sails and not the gale, that determines the way they’ll go.” We all have the same wind at our backs and the question is how will each one of us choose to set our sails and will we catch the wind or will we not.
This is Rob Shallenberger, hoping that you have a fabulous day and great week. Wherever you are at in the world, take care.
Rob: All right, welcome back to our Becoming Your Best podcast listeners. This is your host Rob Shallenberger today and welcome to the Becoming Your Best show. This is going to be a fun interview today. We have a person who has been a good friend through the years. He helped coach the soccer team of my sister, so we’re excited to hear some of his insights. His background is fascinating. Born in Haiti, and really just a life full of incredible experiences that may not be easy for a lot of us to relate to. So he’s going to bring an interesting perspective and insight into the show today.
Just before we get going in this interview, if you haven’t already taken the personal productivity assessment, this is a reminder that this is a powerful 25 question assessment that you can take for free that can really help you increase your confidence, your peace, your prosperity. It’s very research based assessment. So this is something that can really pinpoint specific things you can do in your life right now to help you find those things that you’re looking for, whether it’s health, better relationships, better finances. To do that, simply go to becomingyourbest.com, and right there on the right hand side of the page you’ll see the assessment link and you’re welcome to take that for free. So I just wanted to remind our listeners about that, and if you haven’t taken that, take it and feel free to share it with some of your friends and family.
Okay, so let’s get into this interview. So first of all, Illens, like I mentioned, from Haiti, has had a fascinating life in coaching both from the professional sports side as well as now on a higher level coaching executives and teams around the world. He recently completed our Becoming Your Best trainer certification program and has been using that to really accelerate his results. We’re going to hear some of his thoughts on this, but before we get into that Illens, tell us a little bit about your background so that our listeners can get to know you a little bit better because you are a humble, amazing leader and it’s just an honor to have you on this show.
Illens: First of all Rob, thank you so much for this invitation and I am so delighted and appreciate the opportunity to share some thoughts with you and share a little bit about my background. So first of all I was born in Haiti in a very small town, even a village, a long time ago. If I give you the name and you Google it, this is what you will say, “Illens you’re blessed and you’re lucky that you’re from there.” But in addition to that also, I was blessed for having wonderful parents who taught me at a very young age some key principles in my life. My mother was one of them, my father was always a teacher, a friend, a mentor to me.
Just quickly, two years before my mother passed away, she was still working on developing herself. You know, doing some wonderful things in her own environment. Her goal was to live until she was 100. So the way she approached life was that, “You know I have nine more years ago.” She didn’t focus on the fact that she was 91. She kept saying, I got nine more or eight more. She passed when she was 92, a wonderful person, wonderful leader in my life. I’m lucky also that my father is still living and is still a great mentor and a great example in my life.
But simple upbringing. They were farmers, but they taught me great principle in life. One of them is to always, always work on yourself and better yourself, and continue to educate yourself. Do that so also you can have an impact on the community where you live and help other people to listen.
Rob: Yeah, that’s a great insight right there. When did you come to the U.S.?
Illens: The first time I came, when I was in Haiti and I joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I first came here in 1984 to go to the MTC for preparation. Went back to Haiti and served a mission there And then we moved back to Utah in December of 1986. So it’s going to be 32 years since my wife and I we’ve been in Utah, this wonderful state.
Rob: So you’ve been here for a long time and it’s interesting, I was just on an interview with Alan Taylor on our last show that just went out last week. He’s just an amazing person as well. He’s involved with Entrepreneur.com. He does their weekly radio podcast. He’s interviewed, I mean, literally thousands of people. It’s interesting that he started the same way you did. He started talking about his mother and his father and the impact and influence they had on him. I just think that’s fascinating. I’ve heard this a lot lately. It’s just as an insight for me as to what type of fathers and mothers are we being if that’s something that applies to us right now in our life. I hope we caught that.
Now Illens, one of the reasons for doing this podcast is because you went through our Becoming Your Best certification program about a year ago. I don’t know how many of our listeners are aware that there is a certification program where people can actually come and get certified to be a Becoming Your Best facilitator or trainer. You get the PowerPoint, the Trainer’s Guide. You get all of the materials that you need to go out there and teach this to organizations, to groups and it’s an awesome experience.
So I’d like to ask you, from your perspective, having gone through this, why did you do it and what is your long term vision for you as a certified trainer? This isn’t something that we often talk about and it would be nice for the people listening to this to hear from a different perspective.
Illens: And I appreciate also as you prepare for this question, you explain the opportunity that you and your father and the members of Becoming Your Best offer to other people like me to be certified. But the reason that I decided to do it, first of all, that as you mentioned at the beginning, I’ve known you, I’ve known your father, Steve Shallenberger, and all the members of your family for a long time. Always have great respect and appreciation and admiration for everyone in your family. Your dad has been a great mentor to me, I look up to him. So when I when I knew that he wrote a wonderful book, Becoming Your Best, that book was introduced first to my son and he shared that with me. Well, I get very excited and as you know, if it’s something coming from Steve it’s going to be great.
So this is how I do things in my life. I look at the person, the character of the person. Is it someone that I can trust? Is it someone that can I can follow? Is it someone that I can have in my life as a mentor? And then all these questions have already been answered with my relationship with your family. And then I look at the content. Before I became a certified member, I attended the two day conference. Great material. I was extremely impressed. I learned so much. I love the concept. But at that time, I didn’t know that you had a certification program. So when I was introduced to the certification program, it was a no brainer for me. It’s something that I had desire to do, I just didn’t know it was there. And when that opportunity came, I just jump and went back and be certified.
So the reason for that is that, number one, I know it’s a great organization with great leadership and great content. And the book, Becoming Your Best, and also the Transformation Challenge. By the way, almost 10 days ago, I did a great presentation in front of 50 high caliber business owners from eight states and then using the topic of the Transformation Challenge and the Six Steps to Planning and Execution, it went so well.
The goal is that number one, so I can continue to improve myself in all areas. In a personal leadership, and also working with the teams and other people and the way that I live my life. So that was the number one reason. Number two also is to help other people, is to add value to other people, and to have the right tools and the right materials so I can serve my clients and the people I associate with. As you mentioned, as a certified member, the resources are just immense. You know, great videos, great support from the team, and having great mentors and coaches in you and Steve.
So it’s something that I will encourage not only for those who want to grow and be coach or trainer and speaker, but also those who want to improve themselves and also improve the members of their teams, whether it’s in their home or in the community or at work.
Rob: Yeah, you brought up an interesting point and that is, we’ve had people who want to just simply get certified so that they can teach their family these principles and use these tools and processes. You know, up to large organizations such as Patricia with Equifax and many others. Part of your vision, Illens, is to take this to so many different people. You’re going to lead a cruise here soon, and you’re going to facilitate a seminar on this cruise and you’re doing some amazing things.
I think our listeners kind of get the idea of the power of being certified as a trainer is you have access to a lot of these resources, videos, you know, PowerPoints, training guides. All of these things that most people don’t, and it would save them and you thousands of hours to do this. So I want to shift gears. I mean, I don’t want spend all the time on the certification. That’s great for those who may apply to it and I know there’s some who are interested in that. If so, you know, we welcome you into the trainer certification program. Go to the website and I think the next opportunity is in April.
But I would like to shift gears a little bit now, away from that and focus on some of your life experiences and lessons learned that can apply to our listeners. Because really, what you’re doing now is, you’re taking the things that you have in the trainer certification course and you’re really amplifying your ability to facilitate groups and do all these things based on your life experiences, at least from your background that’s very unique. So as you’ve had the chance to go around the world, you came from Haiti, you been here for almost three decades in the U.S., you’ve coached soccer at a very high level, you’ve met with business owners from all over as you mentioned, so if you don’t mind sharing, Illens, what are two or three big lessons learned along the way that have had a big impact in your life and that you feel like could have a big impact in the lives of our listeners?
Illens: So the first one, let me share an example of an experience that I had when I was at the end of my high school here in Haiti. Prior to that, due to the fact that I had great parents, great teachers in my life, I always knew the importance of working hard and spending time preparing for whatever you want to accomplish in life. But one thing I didn’t want to do with my background in Haiti, I never was interested and public speaking. At the end of that time, the high school year, I had a wonderful friend who was going to the Academy, the Military Academy in Haiti. He was a close friend, so therefore I was asked to prepare a speech, a farewell speech for him, because I knew him very well, we were close friends. And then I said, “Oh, that’s wonderful.”
But I knew that public speaking wasn’t something that I was interested in. So I prepared this speech very well and I was very comfortable with that and I found another friend whom I thought was going to be a great speaker for that audience and then I assigned my speech to her.
Then the moment came, it was a beautiful evening, a lot of people gathered together and then she was nowhere to be found. I never knew that. I thought I was the only one who had that problem. I never knew that she will be in that situation. And at that time, by default, I became the person to deliver the talk. And as a wonderful speaker as you were, Rob, you know very well that there is a difference between preparing it on paper and prepare yourself to deliver it. So I was ready to do it and ready to sit down and, you know, relax and watch someone else do a wonderful job but I was not really and I did not prepare myself for that time to be the one delivering the speech.
And then by default, I did it and I tell you, I did a very, very bad job. I knew it, the audience knew it. But you know, I did not blame her. It was a great opportunity for me to learn. It was at that moment I told myself, “you will always be prepared for whatever situation that may come your way.” Prepare in advance. So one of the insight that I’ve learned in life and also in coaching is that you need to prepare. Preparation is crucial. One of your quotes that I love so much is that, “Transformational leaders makes time.”
Rob: Yes, absolutely.
Illens: It’s very central and it’s very powerful. For preparation, you have to take the time, make the time. With coaching soccer, how to prepare myself, take the time to prepare for the practices, take the time to prepare for the games and take the time also to be ready and learn. In life and also in sport, we learn that sometime we win and we will win a lot of games and sometime we lose. My approach in life is that sometimes you will win, you got to prepare for that. But the key for me is that you have to be ready to learn all the time. Learn when you are succeeding and even learn from your defeats. And also win with humility and also embrace defeat with kindness and compassion.
Rob: Ooh, that’s a good quote right there. Win with grace, embrace losses or setbacks with kindness and compassion. That’s an awesome quote. You need to write that one down and put your name next that one, Illens.
Illens: Thank you so much, I’ll do that.
Rob: You said something interesting there though, Illens, and that is that you just simply can’t be the person who refuses to quit. Part of what you’re talking about is having a vision sufficient and powerful enough internally, if I understood you correctly, that allows us to win with grace and humility, I love the way you said that, and when we get knocked down, when things happen that we don’t expect, which they will to all of us, that we can have the fortitude to get up and keep going and get back on the path towards accomplishing that vision. And if we don’t have a vision, and when we get knocked down, because I say when because it will happen to anyone regardless of money or background, whatever, when we get knocked down, if we don’t have that vision, it has the ability to potentially keep us down.
You’re obviously very familiar with the 12 Principles of Highly Successful Leaders. These are high performance habits that are very predictive of success. Number 12 is never give up. Number two is to lead with a vision.
Illens: Never give up, yes.
Rob: As you shared this lesson learned and insight, I’m just reinforcing it with all of us. You know, one of my good friends is Rudy Rudiger from the movie Rudy. You think about the power of his vision and how many times he got knocked down at Notre Dame and yet he just kept getting up, he kept getting up. He would make adjustments. So we don’t just keep hitting our head against the wall, we make adjustments and we look for the door and a better way. The point is that when we have that vision, we get up and go after it. I’m going to remember that quote, and when things don’t work out, that we can lose with kindness and compassion.
And then when we win and things do go our way, that we can do it with grace and humility. I love that Illens. You’ll probably have some more nuggets here but that’s one of my takeaways already from this podcast. So what’s another lesson learned along the way that you’ve experienced and really fortified within yourself over the past couple of decades?
Illens: Another one is to know yourself and to know also the players, the members of your team, the members of your family, the members of your communities, and also to know their strength and their weaknesses. You know, sport and life really it’s a team activity. You got to know yourself and know the members of your team. Let me share an example with you. One time I was coaching a team, and just before the game, and we were playing in our time, we were playing against another team that was really high caliber, high class. You know, when they walked on the field, it was like, it was sponsored by, you know, Nike, thing like this. We were a fantastic team but we are just humble. My players, they were just having great time there, and it was a girls’ team.
The other team, they were doing the drills and things like this and a thought came to my mind. And we had drills to do just before the game, but they were just connecting with one another. I went to my team and I said, “Guys, look at the other team. We got to get our mind in the game.” Then one player, and I’m grateful for that, and she knew me very well and we had a great connection and she looked at me and she said, “Coach, don’t worry. When we’re just talking with one another like this, we are getting ready.”
You know, what I had to do is just tap out and go back and wait for the time that we needed to do our drills knowing that, you know what, they have their own ways of connecting with one another. They’re going to play for one another, I didn’t have to worry. So in life, as a leader, as a coach some time, you give the vision, you clear the way, the best thing to do is to step out.
Another example was that, it was a younger team, I think it was like under 10. They were nine years old. It was a boys team and they had a goalie. He knew all the techniques and during the first half of the game, I watched him playing a different way. I taught him to cover the angle and he was leaving an open space where all they had to do is cross the ball and then they would have scored us. The parents, especially mothers of goalies, they get really nervous and then they were nervous and I was nervous as well. But I looked at it and observed that he was making the right plays. Even though the technique, the fundamentals, he was not using them, but he was making the right plays. So I told the parents, you know, it’s okay, just relax, he’s doing their very best. Then during halftime I say, he’s doing his very best. I wanted to make sure that he understood that the fundamentals are very important.
So I went to him, I pulled him aside, one on one, and I said “you know what, you are doing great job there, you make a lot of saves, but I realize that you are leaving the back side open. All they had to do was to cross the ball, they would have scored on you.” And he looked at me, being only nine, he say “Coach I knew, but this is what I know, I learned that if I go right in front of them, 9 out of 10 times they will kick the ball right at me and I’ll make the save.”
So he used a very high level of technique. Something you cannot coach is the intuition, is his own creativity. He knew the basics, but also the high level is that you know what, I know what they’re going to do. My job is to make the save. I know what they’re going to do. So what I learned from that, you know, even when he gets older, by using his intuitive gift he’s going to adjust and make the right play. There are times that you lead, you give the vision, step away and let the players do the things and accomplish the goal, and step out of their way. So you have to know them and you need to know their strengths and weaknesses and see their power to identifying strengths and weaknesses of the members of the team and also the strengths and weaknesses of the opponent.
Rob: And that’s good really in any walk of life, isn’t it? I mean, we’re talking about our home, we’re talking about our children, our teams, our employees, where that’s applicable. I mean, you’re talking about helping establish the vision, give them the direction and then, you know, get out of the way and maybe call it shadow leadership, where from the side you’re helping them so they don’t fail greatly, but small failures are okay. You know, there’s this term helicopter parent or the helicopter manager, and they’re always hovering right over the top of the person so they can’t even fail in small degrees and learn the lessons that come from that. At least that’s one interpretation from what I got from that. When you’re talking about knowing someone, if we’re always hovering over the top of someone, whether it’s our children or employee, if we know them well, we’re not giving them the chance to grow and blossom. And it’s only when we can step out of the way that you really give them a chance to fly a little bit. You know, to leave the nest, to jump out and spread their wings.
That’s a good reminder for all of us. What’s the vision? Put them on the path and then step out of the way and let them move and innovate their own ways to get it done. Like you said, that goalie, she found a way and it wasn’t necessarily the way that maybe we thought it should be done but she found a way and it worked.
Illens: Yeah, and our job is not to kill that skill, right? It’s to create that environment where they can work and do their very best. And that leads to, if we have time for that, to another insight.
Rob: Yeah. How about one minute on this one?
Illens: Yeah, is to create an environment and a culture where members of your team and the members of your organization can perform at their highest level. One quick example on that. We were playing a game and then it was during the tournament season, is win, you move on and then lose, you go home. As a coach and also as a father, I always put the players first, always first. I look at the situation and they were very…The members of the other team, the players of the other team were extremely aggressive against our players.
I pulled one player and I say, “You know what, just slow down, I don’t want you to get hurt.” And then she looked at she say, “Coach, the only way I know how to play is to give it all my best. That’s the only way I know how to play.” I just stepped aside and I said, “My dear friend, go ahead and play your game.” You know what, she did not hold back and we won the game four to three, she scored three goals out of the four goals.
Just create that environment for them where they can perform at the very, very best. Put them in their zones of strength and protect their weaknesses and guard that and just allow them to blossom and that’s a wonderful thing a leader and a coach can do for the members of his or her team and for his or her followers.
Rob: Yeah, that’s a great one. You know, there’s an analogy that we’ll use in some of our seminars, and you know this, you’ve heard it, of tomatoes. And we’ll ask people, who in here has grown tomatoes and some will raise their hand. And say, “Okay, let’s say that we wanted to grow world-class tomatoes, not just average tomatoes, world-class tomatoes, what are some of the things that you would need to do if you were the gardener? Or what are some of the things that need to be present to have a world-class tomato?” So you hear sunlight, you need to fertilize it. You know, keep the weeds out, keep the bugs away. Keep it protected from the wind, all these. Some even say, you ought to talk to it.
The point is, after they come up with this list of things, we’ll ask, so if you do all of those things, can you guarantee a world-class tomato? Of course, the answer is no. You say, well why not? Well, because there’s things that are outside of our control. So what are we doing as the gardener? We’re creating the conditions where these seeds can grow and thrive and become a world-class tomato. We create the conditions, we can’t guarantee it. The follow up to that is, where’s the life? Can you give life to the seed? Well, no. The life is already in the seed. So we ask, can you kill the life in the seed? Yes.
Rob: And it’s similar to leadership, where’s the life? The life is in the person, just like you said, the player. We can kill the motivation. We can’t necessarily change someone’s mindset on our own, we can’t control that 100%. What we can do in our homes and in our businesses and with our teams and even in our own lives, is we can create the conditions where people can grow and thrive and flourish just exactly like you said, which is such a great observation. And then, we can’t necessarily guarantee that’s going to happen. In many cases it does. Where we have 100% control over, however, are creating the conditions and the culture where people can thrive.
So Illens, it’s been fabulous having you on the show. What great thoughts and advice. I’m excited to see where you take this content and the people that you train and I love hearing your success stories. If we don’t wrapping up, what’s one of your favorite quotes?
Illens: I have several great quotes. So the one that I’m going to share with you today is the one that I’ve been thinking about, that had a great impact on me, actually, it’s coming from your dad, Steve Shallenberger. It is from the book of Becoming Your Best. The quote is, “An inspiring and well-articulated vision will transform your life, an organization and even the world.” My good friend, Rob, I believe in this so so passionately. I learned some principles from my parents and then having a clear vision and that’s how I love to lead my life.
Rob: That’s almost like we pay you to say that there, Illens. No, that’s very nice of you to share that and thank you for highlighting my dad. I love him, he’s an incredible person and I believe that I’ve seen it in his life. So thank you for sharing that quote Illens. Any parting comments for our listeners. We’re going to wrap up any parting things that you want to say? How could someone find you? Everyone should know that Illens also has a book. Can you just tell them where to find you? Maybe website and the title of your book, so if they would like to get it, they know where to find it.
Illens: Yes, the book is Thinking and Acting with a Compassionate Heart. The book, you can find a copy on Amazon. The eBook is also on Amazon and doing very well. Or you can go to my site at illensdort.com or you can send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and you can either get a copy from me that I’ll be glad to sign, or you can go to Amazon and then go to author and then look for Illens Dort or Thinking and Acting with a Compassionate Heart and wonderful thoughts there and a greater principle and processes that you will learn.
Quickly let me share this. I love the feedback that I receive from the people who have read the book. One of them is a person who is 84 when he read the book and then he called me and said Illens, at age 84 right now, after reading your book and I’m coming out of retirement because I’m going to focus on my passion and my compassion and find ways to continue to serve people in my community. That was way kind of him to share that impact.
Rob: Well, that’s great Illens. Just in case to our listeners didn’t catch it, it’s illensdort.com. So I-L-L-E-N-S-D-O-R-T.com, illensdort.com and get a copy of his book, read it, it’s awesome. Illens is amazing. I wish everyone had the chance to meet Illens face to face, talk with him eye to eye because he’s truly an amazing human being who radiates goodness, light and he’s having an impact on a lot of people and a lot of businesses around the world and I have a feeling that this is just the beginning as he really goes out there and has a big impact.
So I hope you’ve gotten something from this podcast today. We wish you a wonderful day wherever you’re at. And for those who do have interest like Illens to get certified as a BYB trainer, you can go to our website and click on trainer certification to get more details about how to get certified and when that will be. We would love to talk with you about that if you have any questions. So Illens, thanks again for being here. To all of our listeners, we hope you have a fabulous day wherever you’re at in the world.
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