I started the Friday Exhale Newsletter as part of a 90 day challenge with a group of friends to publish one piece of written content per week. While the challenge is complete, my writing is just beginning.
Through the experience of simply writing a lot and thanks to your feedback, I’ve learned and/or reinforced some valuable lessons so far that apply to writing as well as life in general in the past 90 days:
Always use Inevitability Thinking
One of my mentors, Eben Pagan, taught me this concept to make it inevitable that I will follow through on a commitment.
Eben is one of the most prolific and pioneering creators of online courses in the world. At times in the past (maybe he still does this) he would get people to sign up for a course or live event on a specific topic before even creating any of the content for the course. He noticed that once people signed up, he had all of the motivation he needed to focus on and create the content.
I did this when I created a personal development course for our WAG staff members, and I used this same thinking with this newsletter. I had the accountability of the group and the consequence of having to buy them all a fancy dinner if I missed a week. I also told you about the challenge in my first email. The prospect of feeling embarrassed that you might realize I had quit kept me going as well.
Any time I create something new I try to make my execution inevitable by adding accountability and putting as much skin in the game as possible before even starting to create it.
I’ve learned a lot about what people connect with
- My shit
The more clearly and detailed I share my own struggles, the more people seem to connect with me and my writing.
My tendency is to want you to think I’m perfect and have it all figured out so you’ll like me more and think more highly of me. I’ve learned that that actually isolates me and makes me seem unrelatable.
A few weeks ago I shared the quote “what is most personal is most universal.” When I share my most personal stories and insights, it seems that people are able to connect with something more deeply in themselves through the writing which is valuable to them.
- My own experience
In the past, my approach was sort of like “Hey I tried this thing that you should try. Here’s how it works.” I think that was valuable for some but not many.
Most people don’t like to be told what to do.
In the past 12 weeks my approach has been to simply share my own experience with different concepts and tools without assuming it’s right for you as well as stories that demonstrate how I came by some of those ideas…because we remember stories more than anecdotes more than facts.
This same thing can apply to leadership, coaching, and mentorship. I’ve been practicing letting go of pretending to know what’s best for people. The more I assume strength in others and trust in their ability to find their own answers, the better results they get (and it’s pretty egotistical to think otherwise).
The more I’ve tried to be the same version of myself in my writing that I am with friends in real life, the more you seem to connect with it.
In the past I think I’ve been overly serious in my writing and podcasts.
In real life I am playful almost to a fault, I’m lighthearted, I have an insatiable curiosity, and I’m sensitive not to come across as “preaching.”
The more I’ve brought out the “real me”, the more I feel lit up by this whole process, and the more it seems to resonate with listeners.
It certainly doesn’t resonate with everyone. A few people unsubscribe each week.
However, just like in the rest of my life, I’m attracting people that resonate with me and what I have to say by speaking my truth and really being myself.
And when I don’t I’m attracting people that resonate with a persona.
Soul Searching Principles
I created a set of 12 Soul Searching Principles for my next Soul Searching Adventure in the Grand Canyon (which I’m on right now). Some of my inspirations were the NOLS expedition behavior guidelines, Burning Man principles, Navy SEAL sayings, and Native American talking circle practices.
Here are 2 of them:
- Listen with your heart
For the vast majority of my life, when I’ve been listening to someone I’ve really just been waiting for my turn to speak and rehearsing what I’m going to say next. I’m sure you can’t relate. 🤣
At Burning Man a few years ago, one of my intentions for the week was to treat every conversation like it was the most important one I could be in and to really listen to the person across from me. This brought out so much of my natural curiosity, and I noticed myself feeling connected to people so much more quickly.
On these trips I lead, a big part of the value is in the collective wisdom of the group. It’s learning from the experiences and insights of other men.
My invitation to people is to set aside the desire to rehearse what you’re going to say when it’s your turn to speak and to really listen to the other men in the group.
If I understand it correctly, the origin of the Native American talking stick went something like this:
The person holding the stick would speak. Then, they would pass it to the next person in the circle. Before that person could share something they had to reflect back what they heard the person before them say. This demonstrated that they were really listening to the other person speak.
The “heart” piece of this principle is an invitation to set aside the judgy part of their minds that is conditioned to nitpick and find fault in what the other person is saying. Setting that aside allows us to truly be impacted by what others are saying and to truly connect with them. To understand them.
- Be helpful, but don’t do the work for others
As a young strength and conditioning coach, my ego was so wrapped up in trying to come across as a competent and intelligent coach. It was more important to me that I SEEM like a smart coach rather than really paying attention to what served the athlete most.
This often looked like me giving a lot of constructive feedback and trying to give the person some sort of “aha” moment. Trying to “do the work” for them.
This did a couple things: It likely made most of my athletes feel criticized and like they weren’t doing a good job. It also robbed them of the opportunity to come up with their own “aha” moment which certainly would have led to more ownership of the idea and greater self-esteem.
Another thing I learned from Eben (mentioned above) as well as my own personal experiences is to “do just enough for people so that they can do it themselves.”
On these trips, I don’t put together anyone’s tent. I don’t cook their food for them. I give them the least amount of guidance and visuals possible so that they pick up the equipment, struggle with it, and learn how to do it for themselves.
I will, on occasion, wipe their asses. But only if they beg me.
This also applies to the emotional side of these trips. One thing I learned in rehab was not to “rescue” other people when they are experiencing challenging emotions or being confronted. Again, this robs them of coping with their own challenges and robs them of learning.
I am not enough
A coach I’ve been working with, Zachery Dacuk, and I were talking about envy the other day. He told me some things that I’d love to share:
He said that we tend to envy others that embody something which we wish to develop in ourselves.
I was envious of a guy in my life. When I really looked at why I was envious of him, it was my perception of his pursuit of excellence. His commitment to an extremely high level of quality in everything he does.
Zachery encouraged me to view my envy as sort of a flashlight pointing to something I value. That reframe allowed me to feel gratitude for my envy for showing me where to focus my attention and energy.
The rest of the conversation was about me feeling like I’m not quite enough.
He encouraged me again saying that “You get to swim in the pool of ‘I am enough’ after swimming in the pool of ‘I am not enough’ for some time.” He said that it’s essential to get clear about all of the ways we think we are NOT enough before we can genuinely feel like we are enough.
Then he said, “After a while of swimming in the pool of ‘I am enough,’ we graduate into the pool of ‘I am.'”
I don’t pretend to fully understand that, but I’ll keep swimming.
If you’ve been loving this blog, I would so appreciate it if you would share it with a friend or two. You can send them here to sign up to my newsletter which is where I send these posts directly to your inbox. My intention is to make this one of the best things you read all week. To make you think, laugh and hopefully leave you feeling a little more relaxed – like a nice long exhale.