Blog Post Cover: Inner Critic and Personal Growth

Inside each of us is the self-destructive internal narrative that repeats phrases like, “I’m such a loser!” when we mess up. Learning to silence the inner critic is one of the key requirements to experience breakthrough success. The best way to do that is through the three c’s for personal growth.

“Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchhill

Setting the Stage

Deep down, you know that failure isn’t final. Yet, it is an inevitable part of the struggle in life.

If you’re a parent, you’ve seen this countless times with kids. What would happen if, the first time my child tried to talk a walk, he fell over and I determined that walking must not be for him. I’d pick him up, vow to never let him fail again, and prohibit him from walking. I don’t want him to be a failure after all!

You’d call me crazy and think I’d be a bad parent … and you’d be right. When it comes to children, parents are keenly aware that temporary failure is a part of the learning process. However, parental insecurities also pass on to offspring and soon children internalize that failure is bad, and not acceptable. The first time I heard my oldest child criticize herself as a failure was kindergarten.

Let that sink in. Somehow, I taught my child before her fifth birthday, that failure was to be avoided because it was a bad reflection on her.

Ouch

All of humanity is embedded with the Inner Critic. Success happens, not just by battling the inner critic, but by overcoming it. Once you acknowledge it, you then want to dismantle the power it has in your life. How? Through the three c’s of personal developmentBlog Post Cover: Inner Critic and Personal Growth

Three Sources of Feedback

Competency

The first step in the process is competency. When I first started coaching, I labeled this as an individual’s calling. It was the answer to the question: what on earth am I here for? It’s a deep examination of you life, purpose, skills, abilities, passions, and goals in life. Your calling, as Frederick Buechner so eloquently put is the place where, “your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” You were put here for a specific purpose. You will only truly be happy when you are fulfilling that purpose. I’ve worked with entrepreneurs who were looking to start a business, stay at home parents, career professionals in a variety of backgrounds. Each and every one of them had a unique purpose and we structured our time together to help them achieve clarity in their calling. Then, they were called to action.

You are too. Your calling, your greatest competency, is a gift to bless others. That new product or idea, the time with your kids, your neighborhood involvement, it all matters. Your legacy will long outlive you in the thoughts and minds of those around you. The more effectively you engage your calling, the deeper the impact you make on the world, the more significant your legacy will be. By discovering your core competency, your calling, you embrace who you are and fix your mind on completing the deepest parts of your existence.

Compassion

The second part of the process is compassion. More specifically, self-compassion. You beat the inner critic by extending grace on yourself. Several times over the last decade, I’ve posted a simple question online: do you find it harder to extend grace to others when they mess or to yourself when you mess up? While no results are ever 100% clear, and Facebook obviously isn’t a scientific platform, the results are always heavily skewed towards a struggle with ourselves. The problem is that you know your own internal moral compass. When you don’t live up to that, it’s a frustrating and embarrassing failure. When someone we love screws up, it’s a forgivable oversight, when you screw up, it’s a violation of your own personal moral code and honor.

In spite of how hard it is, the journey towards self-compassion is a necessary one. During my master’s program, my wife made me a shirt that said, “Be Tender To Yourself.” It was a reminder that just as I have forgiven others, I must also forgive myself. I spent years in counseling unable to do so. It wrecked my life. While your own journey may not see you in counseling, I’m guessing you also struggle with it.

Here are two ways to begin the journey towards greater self-compassion.

The first part of the problem is to put yourself, more pointedly your mistake, into someone else’s shoes. I’m not saying don’t accept responsibility or blame someone else. The idea is to imagine that someone else committed the error. If Bill had promised you the expense report at 7:00 last night, but got distracted dealing with a sick child’s vomit on the floor, would you refer to him as a lazy, good-for-nothing, idiot? My guess is (my sincere hope is) probably not. Instead, you’d reassure Bill that everything is okay. Extend yourself that same grace. If you’re not bothered by someone else doing it, don’t be offended when you do it.

The second way to engage in self-compassion is through humor. When you screw up, learning to laugh at yourself is a vital and necessary step. Spilled your orange juice? Instead of criticizing yourself for being an idiot, make a comment on how far it got. “Man, this time I was able to get it on the floor, the walls, and the ceiling. I really am talented!” Shifting your perspective, and in the process finding a way to compliment yourself, destroys the power of the inner critic.

Community

The final piece of the puzzle is community. In community, you can discover who you really are. Friends, parents, coworkers, a spouse or life partner, a trusted boss, mentor, and former professor all have insights into what makes you, you.

Seek authentic feedback from others. What are your strengths and weaknesses? How can those who know you best affirm your calling? What does your support network look like? By examining the community you participate in, you can assess that you are on the right path. During coaching, you can also use that time to change or adapt your community. If you try to assemble your feedback team and realize that no one supports you then you need new friends! Having a well-rounded, supportive, diverse community is key to your success, and the only way to make sure you have one is analyze it! Community grounds and surrounds us in the difficult moments of life, giving us the energy and strength to carry on.

This is an excerpt of my upcoming Shift. To receive news and alerts about its upcoming release, subscribe to my newsletter.

To get help through coaching, contact me.

couple hugging

The only way you will reach your full potential is if you intentionally spend time fostering key relationships.

My wife and I have been married for fourteen years. Together, we have four amazing children. We met in college. Separated by a year, I had my eye on her stunning beauty even before she officially enrolled in the school.

You see, she stopped by on an official visit one week as a soon to be music major. She poked her head into the concert band I was a part of to check it out. I remember being captivated by her beauty the moment I laid my eyes on her. I even offered to help chaperone her around the campus for the weekend, but was told by the band director to go, “nowhere near her.”

Before long, she was at the school, I mustered up every ounce of courage I had, and attempted to talk to her. As an extraordinarily shy young person, I’m sure I was incoherent at best and downright possessed sounding at worst. But I had done it! I talked to the woman of my dreams.

From there, a blossoming friendship started, followed by dating, engagement, and marriage. Over the last fourteen years, we both completed our undergraduate degrees. I’ve also added a master’s and doctoral degree, started my own business, moved us from Kansas to California to Colorado and back to California. Every leg of our journey has been full of heartbreak and triumph, setbacks, and victory.

Building For Better

While I could write a book on how amazing she is, and the many ways she has sustained me in our years together, here is what is of most importance now: I truly believe that I couldn’t (or wouldn’t) be half as successful as I am without her by my side. Even as an introverted and fairly well-disciplined individual, I recognize and understand the necessity of vital and life-giving relationships.

It has been her unwavering belief and support in me that has gotten me through the darkest days of my life. It was her tenderness and compassion that got me through the most difficult work experience of my life. Surrounded and attacked by an unhealthy work environment, she got me through it and encouraged to keep pressing on. Feeling the weight of doctoral school and my growing thesis, it was Elise that reminded me what I had been called to do. Overwhelmed by personal failures and stuck in unhealthy mindsets, she encouraged me to change my thinking and alter my end destination in life. At every step of my journey, she has had the strength I lacked to keep me pushing on towards my goals.

Fostering Key Relationships By Sharing The Burden

If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together. This proverb gives us our final key insight into the Shift mindset: we must make this journey with other people. One big key to success is having someone else to share the burdens (and joys) of life with. In fact, research has shown that a lack of human interaction results in, “psychological and physical disintegration, and even death.” Anyone who faced the massive work from home transition during 2020 no doubt felt the reality of that.

During the COVID quarantine of 2020, my wife’s grandmother had to change skilled nursing facilities when one shut down. She was moved over the course of the weekend but then forced to self-isolate for two weeks because of the threat of the virus. When family checks on her two weeks later, this healthy and robust woman was near death.

What happened?

After she was moved in, there was no social interaction. Additionally, the staff couldn’t interact with her outside of handing her food at her door because of the quarantine. In their haste to get her isolated, the facility neglwedding bandsected to hook up her television or hang pictures on the wall. Her furniture was not set up in a conducive manner for her new room, making it difficult for her to use the restroom. She was socially isolated with no physical interaction of any kind for two weeks and found it physically difficult to move about in her own home for basic human needs!

No wonder the end of the two weeks found her near death. We immediately started preparing for the worst. Several family members took time off to be with her, in what we thought were going to be her last days. They set up her phone, television, and artwork. They gave her fresh meals, rearranged her furniture, and took her on walks. In less than a week, she regained her strength, physical abilities, and desire to live. That’s the power of human interaction with other people.

Finding,Building, and Fostering Key Relationships

I’ve recently become a fan of examining ancient cultures. What can they teach us about our modern society and ways to improve or existence? One of those areas of study has been the ancient Spartans. A formidable fighting force, their battles are legendary. These men, from age seven on, trained to do one thing: fight for Sparta. They ate together. Trained together. Went to school together. Slept together. Hunted together. The reason they were so good is that they knew their partners and those beside them in battle so well. It was built into their training.

Similarly, a sister city, that of Athens, developed a similar policy. However, as the Spartans focused on war and battle, the Athenians focused on government and society. In her book on ancient civilizations, Susan Bauer recounts how Athenians ate together frequently. It was not just expected and encouraged, it was demanded. They even had a policy in place that should you decide to eat by yourself before the community meal, you were to be ridiculed.

Ancient peoples knew, whether, through political necessity or societal continuity, that relationship mattered. In our digital world, much of this has been lost. As a society, we are increasingly comfortable in digital interaction. As a result, physical relationships have become an art. In spite of this waining of personal-physical relationships, they are still vital and necessary. Your success will always be limited if you don’t have others in your corner working alongside you. If you’re looking to build or deepen those significant relationships, here are three keys to success.

1.) Affinity. couple hugging

The easiest place to start and build the necessary relationships to sustain success is through affinity. Find like-minded people who are traveling the same journey. This is one reason I hold master-mind groups. These hour-long group coaching sessions pair people of similar professions and experience together for group coaching and accountability. While mine typically revolves around business owners, health professionals, and leadership development specialists, masterminds exist in all fields.

You can also plug into local networking groups. Many times these are less formal, less expensive, and provide another benefit. In addition to networking with like-minded individuals that can encourage and support you, you’re also expanding your network and potential client base. Your new clients are not only those in your particular group but all of their contacts as well.

Friends also fall into this category. Find another friend with an entrepreneurial spirit and hold weekly accountability. The financial investment in these is free, but it’s still a highly motivating factor. Schedule a thirty-minute session with each person getting fifteen minutes to share. In your fifteen, share the following: what your goals were for the week prior, how they went, what your new goals for the week are, and the consequences of not completing them. These consequences could either take many forms. On the grand scale, there could be the realization that if you don’t take action, you never will, and this business idea will die inside of you. At times, you may also need to make the consequences more practical and agree to by your friend’s lunch at the next meeting if you don’t accomplish everything on your list.

2.) Diversity.

Once you have your foot in the door with an affinity relationship, the next level is a diverse one. This is one far too many people miss. We’re so used to seeing like-minded people that we fail to see anyone different than us.

This is detrimental to your personal development. Ironically, after years of researching and writing on burnout, I decided not to write about burnout for my thesis. At least not directly. Instead, some of the job changes I was experiencing at the time caused me to shift my focus to this issue of diversity. I examined how a diverse culture affects community engagement and reception. Whether you want to look at churches, non-profit organizations, or business culture one thing across all spectrums of research is clear: the more diverse the team, the better they perform, the better they provide better user experience, and the final product is better in every way. In short, here is my 180-page thesis: if you want to make a lasting impact seek diversity.

Diversity can have many factors to it. Race, religion, gender, educational background, and socio-economics are only a few. The more diversity you can bring in to your immediate sphere, the better you will be. This happens, because each person is better able to help show you your blind spots. If you assemble a team that looks and thinks just like you, you will potentially end up with a phenomenal product …. for no one but yourself. Instead, diversity allows different participants to share their points of view and create a stronger end product. Intentionally seek out a diverse team and ask them to point out ways for you to grow. You’d be surprised how much they point out, and how quickly you can make those changes.

3.) A Level Above.

The third area for those key relationships is what I call the “leveled up” relationships. These are people who in your eyes have leveled up beyond where you currently are.

Think about it. Do you want to take relationship advice from your uncle who has been divorced four times or from someone who has been happily married for fifty years?

Do you want investment advice from your broke friend who sleeps on their parent’s couch or from a millionaire?

Once you’ve identified areas for personal growth or new habits you want to make, finding those relationships can start with looking for those that have already leveled up in that particular area.

This is an excerpt from my upcoming book SHIFT. To receive a complimentary pre-release copy go here.

Prefer video lecutures? I’ve got you covered there too! SHIFT is available (with additional material) as my Elite Mental Academy. Sign up for my newsletter to receive special pre-release pricing and bonus offers.

Blog Post Cover with text overlay: "What Your Story?"

Over the weekend, my eight-year-old wrote a story. It centers on Kaid and Bob and their experience in a typhoon. Like any good story, it has a beginning, a middle, and an end. There’s conflict, dialogue, character progression, a climax, and resolution. In ten pages, all handwritten and illustrated, he took the reader on a pretty spectacular journey. 

He was so dedicated to it, he spent almost all day Sunday putting the finishing touches on it. After he read it to me, you could see the pride beaming from his face. He felt accomplished. He knew he had done something hard, and seen the positive results from it.

More than that, it was actually a really well-written story. He’s clearly got a good grasp of what makes a story compelling and has started the long process of mastering it ahead of him.

I’m extraordinarily proud of him.

It also reminded of something we often forget ourselves.

What’s Your Story?

You are in the midst of a story.

Blog Post Cover with text overlay: "What Your Story?"

Right here.

Right now.

You are telling the world something about you.

2020 has been hard. Devastating for many. A huge setback at best and the fear of final failure at worse.

But your story isn’t over yet.

You get to author the end.

It can feel daunting. I get it.

I know you feel overwhelmed. Totally understandable.

I know you wonder about your business, your relationships, your family. That’s what great leaders do.

But I also know …. you got this.

Reframing The Possibilities

Recently, I had several conversations with individuals exploring coaching before the end of the year. 

One, a young twenty-something female was worried about her kids. The other, a late-career professional staring at the end of his working career both began the same way: “Justin, 2020 really messed me up.”

One had their whole career in front of them. The other only had a few years left before retirement. Both were worried that 2020 proved to be the end.

It’s helpful in these moments to remember that you own the rights to your story. You are the star. In the main drama that unfolds over your life, you are the lead actor, executive producer, and director. You have an incredible amount of power to dictate where your life goes.

I hope you find that liberating. Far from being over, your story is only just beginning. 2020 is not the end, it is a new beginning.

In my son’s story, the friends were displaced from their homes by a natural disaster. By the end of the book, they were off trying to find a new place to live.

Your story may be similar. Your life, your business, your family, your income, your routine has been displaced. You are working from home where you balance kids, a spouse, work, Zoom, a distanced social life, walking the dog, chores, and some quality downtime. 

That’s why I firmly believe that now is the best time for you to seize this opportunity and do something great.

Do Something Great

So what’s your story going to be?

There are 13 weeks left in 2020.

87 days.

2,100 hours.

126,209 minutes.

7,572,500 seconds.

Each one of those is precious.

Embedded within each is the chance to reclaim your life. You now have the opportunity to seize this moment, do something great, and transform your life.

Your day is over.

This month has just begun.

Your story hasn’t ended.

The plot may have shifted, but greatness is still in front of you.

Rise up, warrior, and seize this day. Reclaim your story. Rewrite your legacy.

Do something great.

 

To celebrate the release of my new book, I’m giving away copies for a limited time. To receive your free copy, plus my free 5 day course on productivity, click this link.

Blog Post Cover: Car Robbery with overlay text "deal with it"

Recently, my wife and I were enjoying some coffee in the morning when we noticed headlights pull into our driveway. This isn’t too unusual or a call for alarm as we live three blocks from her parent’s house. They will sometimes stop by in the morning to see the kids before school.

However, three minutes after noticing the lights, they hadn’t come to the door. Then, we heard the sharp screel of an angle grinder, followed immediately by our car alarm going off. 

As I ran outside, there were three individuals attempting to steal our catalytic converter and turn it in for recycling money. I found out from the cops that it’s a popular crime, and one hard to track. Most of the time, car alarms don’t go off. We were able to escape any major injury or damage to the car as we called the cops and they sped off.

However, one phrase has been a recurring phrase for us in the house following the event is: “Deal with it.”

Deal With It.

While they didn’t get anything of value, it was a huge invasion of privacy. Worse than that, there were two individuals I could plainly see, one providing lookout in the car and the other cutting away beneath our vehicle. What I couldn’t see, was the third individual lurking around the corner who charged me when I stepped out my front door to see what was going on. Narrowly escaping, I pushed my wife and kids back inside to the safety of our home and called the cops once we were alerted to the danger.

That night, I noticed that I had a lot of anxiety. Worried they would come back and attempt to finish their theft, or worse, left me unable to sleep. The next several days were all stressful as we tried to process not just the attempted theft, but the invasion of privacy and safety as well.

As we process the event and deal with the consequences and trauma of the event, I realize how many times in life we don’t “deal with it” when problems arise.

At Work

Work situations are ripe with circumstances and experiences that haven’t been dealt with.

  • A coworker makes an inappropriate joke or demeaning remark and is never called out for it. Instead, he assumes everyone agrees with him since nothing was said.
  • A manager ridicules an employee unfairly and abusively. The “leadership style is defended because “that’s just the way he is.”
  • A brewing team conflict is allowed to simmer because of the false belief that product launch and marketing execution is more important than team health.

At Home

  • A series of pet-peeves builds mounting frustration towards a full-blown argument where harsh words are used.
  • The pressure of increased sales at work diminishes the quality of life at home, leading to personal withdrawal and isolation.
  • The busyness of life limits personal connection time and family bonding, leading to a fractured family unit and unspoken angst.

You get the point. You’ve also likely been there. Perhaps you even are there now. But high performers know that you can only be as strong as your weakest area of life. If you’re struggling to deal with any aspect of conflict, drama, or trauma, your success will falter and your breakthroughs will be limited.

Instead, based on the experience of the recent attempted robbery, here are three ways to help you process conflict in your life so you can deal with it appropriately.

1.) Give your emotions space.

The first step towards healing for Elise and I was to give our emotions space. We first had to acknowledge what we were feeling: sadness, anger, fear, frustration, anxiety, panic, and worry were quick to come out. Blog Post Cover: Car Robbery with overlay text "deal with it"

Give yourself the emotional range to deal with difficult problems and learn how to overcome them.

Strong leaders know they need to raise their emotional intelligence. Through consistent and deliberate practice, they engage their emotions and learn to master and express them appropriately.

2.) Share in deep conversation

You can’t deal with problems if you don’t talk about them. Once we acknowledged our emotions, we shared a conversation based around healing. What did it mean for us to deal with this situation effectively? How could we overcome those negative emotions and find hope? What did the other person need? How could we support them?

Elise and I intentionally set aside time to listen, reflect, and engage each other at a deep level.

3.) Create a better tomorrow.

The good news is that we are all okay. The better news is that we can work for a better tomorrow. This experience provided us with the opportunity to look at our house in a new light and discover what made it a good target. Poor outside lighting contributed to the criminals picking our house. So too, did several other factors. We were able to see those, remedy them, and create a safer environment for our family.

In life and work, we can do the same. Interpersonal conflict doesn’t have to be the norm. In fact, it shouldn’t be. In his book Thrive By Design, Don Rheem tells us that we are wired to perform better in teams. Those around us should make us better. If they aren’t, we have issues to address. By addressing them, we make the team better. When we make the team better, we get better. When you get better, you can attain peak performance. By reaching peak performance, you can skyrocket your success.

It is inevitable that conflict, disagreement, and discord will arise in life. However, we don’t have to live in it constantly. Instead, we can rise above it by giving our emotions space, engaging in deep conversation, and working towards a better future.

National Small Business Week 2020 Blog Post Cover

It’s National Small Business Week 2020!

To register, go to the SBA website. The event is free and designed to help you grow your small business.

National Small Business Week 2020

To help celebrate this week, and the vital role small businesses play in the local economy, here are some stats for you:

I got my start as a small business owner somewhere around age 10. I wish I would’ve known then how much I loved it. My mom’s boss needed help around his yard and I became his yard person. Every Saturday I’d rake leaves, mow the lawn, chop wood, and clean up debris. 

My next small business came working at a tractor salvage yard working alongside my dad. From age 15 to 21 I worked every summer and most weekends helping farmers get their equipment running. 

I’ve also spent time in franchise-owned small businesses, nursing home facilities, and owning my own LLC. My entire career has been in and around small businesses and their owners. Their commitment to not just meet a need for their family, but their community has always inspired me.

Recently, was having a conversation with a small business owner around some of their plans for future growth and expansion. The ingenuity, creativity, and innovation from the heart of this individual energized me. The world needs more of this, especially now.

Which is why 2020 has hurt so many people.

Planning for Quarter Four

There are, at the time of publication, 100 days left in 2020. Many of us, if not all of us, have had the craziest year we’ve ever imagined.

Celebrate! You have survived more than you ever thought possible.

Rejoice! You have found a new level of creativity, clarity, and calling.

Commend yourself! You have discovered grit, tenacity, and mental toughness much greater than you originally gave yourself credit for. National Small Business Week 2020 Blog Post Cover

And I want to encourage you to keep going.

The world needs you, your voice, your passion, your experience, your expertise, your product, and your smile.

With the next 100 days, you have a choice.

Quit now, with all you’ve already gone through.

-OR-

Push through and find extraordinary success.

Two weeks ago, one of my clients recently made a goal for 2020: to grow their business by 25%. They are clear and focused. We identified necessary tasks, potential obstacles, and the daily habits that would be necessary to make this happen.

Last week, when we checked in on that goal, they had already made significant progress.

Plant + Preparation = Success

A plan, plus the proper preparation, equals success.

Will you reach all of your goals in 100 days? Probably not. In fact, I hope not. Otherwise, your goals are too small.

But what could you accomplish in 100 days?

To lose one pound of fat a week (seven days), you must be in a calory deficit of 500 calories per day. This means that in 100 days you could lose more than 14 pounds. How much more energy would you have without 14 unnecessary pounds weighing you down?

If you sent three email requests for an introduction, in 100 days you could have up to 300 new contacts on your phone.

If you woke up thirty minutes early to read a challenging book, in 100 days you would spend an extra 50 hours in personal growth.

Each of these on their own would speed up your path to success. Combine some, or complete them all, and 100 days from now you will hardly recognize your current self.

Whatever your goals are, you get there by creating a plan. If you want help speeding up that plan, or have questions on which way to go, I’m here to help.

If you’re already on that plan, stay the course. Voices will start to creep in telling you to slow down, veer off course, or distract yourself with the next shiny object. Ignore those voices. Use them as fuel and motivation that you’re on the right path.

Plan Ahead.

Think Boldly.

Act Courageously.

Live Successfully.