You Can Always Work On Yourself

A common theme that's come up with pretty much all my guests on The Midlife Male Podcast is that these are guys who continue to work on themselves; physically, emotionally, spiritually, professionally, financially, mentally. It's not drastic nor intense but rather with the notion, understanding, vulnerability and authenticity of simply trying to "Do a little better every day".

Some of us can do this on our own, some may need a little more help. I was the latter.

For a long time I was extremely reluctant to try coaching. I'm not talking about coaching in the gym, or even financial planning and I'm not talking weekly sessions with a shrink either. I'm talking about Life Coaching. I just wanted to improve my life. There was no ONE particular area or thing I could fixate or pinpoint; I just knew things weren't in balance, weren't as good as they could be and like many of my guests and guys that have become friends, confidantes and sources of inspiration I wanted to "Do a little better every day" too.

In the past I'd been resistant to any type of “therapy/coaching” as I think deep down I perceived this to be a sign of weakness. I don’t need help, a mentor, therapist, a coach...I know everything. I can figure it out. I’ve always been able to navigate, persevere and do OK....I’m the owner, entrepreneur, manager, producer, coach...Why would I need one myself? And pay for it? Boy was I wrong. I give much of the credit and am grateful for the 50+ podcast episodes worth of "Listenting" I've been able to do over the past year with helping to change my mindset and to continue to with my coaching.

My coach's name is Chris Bernal. He's been on the podcast as well and I've been working with him for over a year now. I'm happy to share any of my experiences with any of you directly if you're interested.

As part of our process Chris asked me to write a "Coaching Summary" recently...Kind of a review or check-in of our work and some of my takeaways. One of our focal points is to "Hold me accountable" and writing things down has been one way that's worked for me so this piece is an amalgam of that assignment. First, having a coach; a professional in any area of your life is a sign of strength, maturity and discipline.. Not weakness. Whether it’s Executive coaching, fitness, life, nutrition, career, yoga....Whatever you’re “Practicing”; a good coach will only help you and make you better.

There is never a wrong time to start either. It doesn’t take a midlife crisis, there was no singular trigger point and no “demand” that I do this. Things were just not working so well for me and they seemed to be working pretty well for a friend so when I asked him about it he mentioned working with a coach and it had been beneficial and just like that a little opening in my previously closed mind took place and I reached out and called Chris.

My experience with Chris has been extremely humbling. In the past it’s been really hard for me to open up, admit wrongs, weaknesses, be vulnerable, transparent and not get defensive (or become offensive). At the same time, I’m a pleaser by nature so I’m beating down on some people and succumbing to others while leaving little to no room for myself...Not a good combo.

One of the biggest breakthroughs in working with Chris is in my self awareness. I don’t think I was really aware of the actions I was taking, the way I was being perceived by others and the way I was perceiving myself (or more accurately I was operating in complete denial).

The first thing Chris had me do was provide him with a list of people he could talk to about me. Co-workers, investors, partners, employees, family...It could be anyone. This was terrifying...For one, it meant that people would know that I hired a coach and secondly, they could now say anything they want about me. I had to deal with the realization that this was necessary and that I was going to most likely read/hear a lot of shit that was gonna sting....I guess having this fear in advance just goes to show you how much I really needed this and how poorly I was carrying myself.

At the time I got to Chris I was spreading myself way to thin and neither my personal nor professional lives were firing on all cylinders. However, on the surface, I don’t’ think it appeared this way. It appeared as if I was a top producer at my firm, owned and founded a fitness studio, kept myself in great shape and had a great family life....Yeah, you could say that’s all of that was in fact true BUT I myself was a strained; tired, irrational, juggling obligations, commitments, finances, family and it was simply not sustainable. Not everything I was doing was wrong either. There was just enough going right so that I could continue to believe my own bullshit, while just enough was going wrong to make me question things in general....Everything was a battle...A battle I kept insisting that I needed to win. But as the saying goes, I was winning the battle but losing the war.

What coaching has really brought out is a change in mindset. The ability to figure out how to win the war! How to take the steps necessary to create a better future. And by providing the tools to help set a clearer path to a better future. By taking this step each day has improved throughout the process. No longer was I fighting every little thing, juggling, hurting. I started making better decisions, improving my communication and mindset and took steps (with Chris’s coaching) that cleared out what was no longer working in my life and brought clarity to doing Less, but with greater focus.

There are two books that truly stand out; but to be truly honest these two stand out not only because they have been life changing BUT because out of all the books recommended, these are the only two that I actually read....I told you I was a work in progress...

The Four Agreements

The Dip

Now, I’m sure that there are other great books out there and that the others that Chris recommended are stellar but I seriously have to wonder if I need any others at this point or if I can live the way I really want to just by following the principles in these two books and continuing with Chris’s coaching...I guess we’ll see...

The first - the Four Agreements. You could spend every day of your life challenging yourself to live and operate this way. It’s hard. I know. I’m trying....The agreements are:

  1. Be impeccable with your word

  2. Don’t take anything personally

  3. Don’t make assumptions/judgements

  4. Always do your best

See what I mean? Really simple stuff, yet really hard at the same time....

The second - The Dip. A very short book that packs a huge punch. Effectively, it talks about when to “lean in” to the dip and when to “lean out” of the dip. All businesses and relationships eventually enter a “dip” and that’s when the rubber meets the road. You’ve got to decide whether this is really worth it to you, or is it the smart/right thing to do to continue on and push to get out of the dip OR is it smarter and more beneficial to get out and move on, cut your losses. Quitting is not always a bad thing - tough concept for someone who’s super competitive and doesn’t like losing to relate to...

If you think that this type of coaching is intensive, it is not. It’s more about having a sounding board, someone to keep me accountable, on track and I can ask for as little or as much guidance and accountability as I want (or need).

One area of focus was that I was doing too much - over committing. Through coaching I began to realize what was really important, where I was lost and where I needed to cut back and where I needed to push forward with renewed energy. I stepped out of one business, recommitted to another one, free’d up time, energy and space and became far more productive and happy as a result.

I set clearer, more achievable goals. Broke things down into categories and really worked thru them “doing my best” instead of just “getting it done”. I launched my podcast as a creative outlet and personal brand project, I used my new found time and energy to become better and more proactive at my job/career at the firm, I spent more time connecting with my team and people I genuinely cared about and I revamped my fitness program so that it got back to building me up instead of breaking me down. This is an ongoing experience and just a few weeks into the new year I know that I have a long ways to go still but I can see, quantify and qualify how coaching and working with Chris has helped me to get a better handle on things, become more accountable, productive, truthful and of value. And that provides a greater sense of balance, peace of mind and opportunity to succeed. Good luck

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