WHEN YOU SHOW SOMEONE THEIR SOUL, YOU SET THEM FREE.

My Book List – Updated 10/4/21

By Books, LifeNo Comments

“What books have you read?” is one of the most common questions I get. So here’s a running list of them!

A note: all links go to Amazon, but please support a local bookstore if you can. I also didn’t include most of the fiction books I’ve read.

What I’ve read in 2021

“Recipes for a Sacred Life” – Rivvy Neshama

“Blue Truth” – David Deida

“Conscious Loving” – Gay & Kathryn Hendricks 

“Recapture the Rapture” – Jamie Wheal 

“The Happiness Trap (Illustrated)” – Russ Harris

“One Minute Wisdom” – Anthony de Mello

“Essentials” – David Whyte

“Green Lights” – Matthew McConaughey 

“The River of Doubt” – Candice Millard

“Intimacy with God: Introduction to Centering Prayer” – Thomas Keating

“Driven” – Doug Brackmann & Randy Kelley 

“The Hero Within: Six Archetypes We Live By” – Carol Pearson

“Everything is Spiritual” – Rob Bell

“Experiencing God Directly” – Marshall Davis

“Mary Magdalene Revealed” – Meggan Watterson 

What I read in 2020

“A Year with Thomas Merton” – Thomas Merton

“When Things Fall Apart” – Pema Chodron

“Resilient” – Rick Hanson

“The Comedians” – Kliph Nesteroff

“Love Wins” – Rob Bell

“Lamb” – Christopher Moore

“Skeptic” – Michael Shermer

“Be Here Now” – Rob Bell

“Time Off” – John Fitch, Max Frenzel

“Oneing: Liminal Space” – Various Writers (link goes to Center for Action and Contemplation)

“The Secret of Magic” – Deborah Johnson

“The Gospel According to Jesus” – Stephen Mitchell

“What is the Bible?” – Rob Bell

“The Hermetica 101” – Matthew Barnes

“The Lion Tracker’s Guide to Life” – Boyd Varty

“Reflections” – Hermann Hesse 

“Keep Going” – Austin Kleon

“The Art of Possibility” – Rosamund Stone Zander & Benjamin Zander

“Talking with Strangers” – Malcolm Gladwell

“Practical Mysticism” – Evelyn Underhill

“The Road to Character” – David Brooks

“The Art of Happiness” – Dalai Lama & Howard Cutler

“A Wrinkle in Time” – Madeleine L’Engle

“The Art of Loving” – Erich Fromm

“Selected Poems” – Walt Whitman

“Discernment” – Henri Nouwen

“The Coddling of the American Mind” – Greg Lukianoff & Jonathan Haidt

“Building a Story Brand” – Donald Miller

“The Dichotomy of Leadership” – Jocko Willink & Leif Babin

“Anam Cara” – John O’Donohue

“All the Light We Cannot See” – Anthony Doerr

“Misquoting Jesus” – Bart Ehrman

“Sex. Comedy. God.” – Pete Holmes

“Everything is Fucked” – Michael Manson

“Gnostic Philosophy” – Tobias Churston

“The Three Questions” – Don Miguel Ruiz

“This” – Michael Gungor

“Outliers” – Malcolm Gladwell

“Madeleine L’Engle Herself: Reflections on a Writing Life” – Lindsay Lackey (Compiler)

“To Kill a Mockingbird” – Harper Lee

“The Five People You Meet in Heaven” – Mitch Albom

“Illusions” – Richard Bach

“Start Finishing” – Charlie Gilkey 

“I Hope I Screw This Up” – Kyle Cease 

 

What I read in 2019

“Atomic Habits” – James Clear

“Smile at Fear” – Chogyam Trungpa

“Into the Magic Shop” – James Doty

“Proof of Heaven” – Eben Alexander

“Stillness is the Key” – Ryan Holiday

“The Three Marriages” – David Whyte

“The Molten Phrase” – ET Crisler (out of print)

“You Are Not So Smart” – David McRaney

“The Gift of Fear” – Gavin De Becker

“The Book of Five Rings” – Miyamoto Musashi

“Biography of Silence” – Pablo d’Ors

“Leaders Eat Last” – Simon Sinek

“Meditations of the Heart” – Howard Thurman

“The Third Door” – Alex Banayan

“On the Brink of Everything” – Parker Palmer

“The Obstacle is the Way” – Ryan Holiday 

“The Artist’s Journey” – Steven Pressfield

“Ishmael” – Daniel Quinn

“Paths to God” – Ram Dass

“The Untethered Soul” – Michael Singer

“Care of the Soul” – Thomas Moore

“Sovereignty” – Ryan Michler

“New Power” – Jeremy Heimans & Henry Timms

“Book of Mercy” – Leonard Cohen

“Sapiens” – Yuval Noah Harari

“Educated” – Tara Westover

“Original You” – Thomas Moore

“Do the Work” – Steven Pressfield

“To Stop a Warlord” – Shannon Sedgwick Davis

“21 Insights for 21st Century Creatives” – Mark McGuinness

“The Antidote” – Oliver Burkeman

“The Discomfort Zone” – Marcia Reynolds

“The Way of the Superior Man” – David Deida

“Braving the Wilderness” – Brene Brown

“Hillbilly Elegy” – JD Vance

“On Writing” – Stephen King

“If Life is a Game, These are the Rules” – Cherie Carter-Scott

“The Inner Voice of Love” – Henri Nouwen

“Can’t Hurt Me” – David Goggins

“Plan B” – Anne Lamott

“Beneath the Wheel” – Herman Hesse 

“Rework” – Jason Fried & David Hansson 

“10% Happier” – Dan Harris

“Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” – Robert Pirsig

“Smarter, Faster, Better” – Charles Duhigg

“Man’s Search for Meaning” – Viktor Frankl

“The Prophet” – Khalil Gibran

 

What I Read in 2018

“Made for These Times” – Justin Zoradi

“How to be Free” – Joe Blow (Anonymous) 

“Think and Grow Rich” – Napoleon Hill

“Love Does” – Bob Goff

“As a Man Thinketh” – James Allen

“Steal Like an Artist” – Austin Kleon

“Scary Close” – Donald Miller

“The Zahir” – Paulo Coelho

“The Divine Dance” – Richard Rohr

“Growing Influence” – Ron Price & Stacy Ennis

“Inside the Body of God” – Karen Curry Parker

“Turning Pro” – Steven Pressfield

“For One More Day” – Mitch Albom

“Shoe Dog” – Phil Knight

“The Barbarian Way” – Erwin Raphael McManus

“Ideas, Influence and Income” – Tanya Hall

“The Power of TED” – David Emerald

“Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions” – Richard Erdoes

“The Artisan Soul” – Erwin Raphael McManus

“Discipline Equals Freedom Field Manual” – Jocko Willink

“The Heart of the Enlightened” – Anthony De Mello

“The War of Art” – Steven Pressfield

“12 Rules for Life” – Dr. Jordan B Peterson

“Iron John” – Robert Bly

“The Pilgrimage” – Paulo Coelho 

“Hardwiring Happiness” – Rick Hanson

“Steppenwolf” – Herman Hesse

“Conversations with God” – Neale Donald Walsch 

“The Tao Te Ching” – Lao Tzu

“Love YourSelf Like Your Life Depends On It” – Kamal Ravikant

“Wild at Heart” – John Eldredge

“The Devil and Miss Prym” – Paulo Coelho

“The Code of the Extraordinary Mind” – Vishen Lakhiani

“Born to Run” – Bruce Springsteen

“Extreme Ownership” – Jocko Willink & Leif Babin

“The Witch of Portobello” – Paulo Coelho

“I Heart Creativity” – Courtney Feider

“Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It” – Kamal Ravikant 

“Feeling is the Secret” – Neville Goddard

“The Gnostic Gospels” – Elaine Pagels

“The Daily Stoic” – Ryan Holiday & Stephen Hanselman

“Dinner with Buddha” – Roland Merullo

“Essentialism” – Greg McKeown

“Beyond Belief” – Elaine Pagels

“Attached.” – Amir Levine & Rachel Heller

“Breakfast with Buddha – Roland Merullo

“Living Buddha, Living Christ” – Thich Naht Hanh

“Loving What Is” – Byron Katie

“Christian Mystics” – Matthew Fox

“Tribe” – Sebastian Junger

“The Celestine Prophecy” – James Redfield

“Leadership and Self Deception” – The Arbinger Institute 

 

Previous Readings by Category

Personal Growth / Psychology 

“Unbeatable Mind” – Mark Divine

“Grit” – Angela Duckworth

“The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” – Mark Manson

“The Ego is the Enemy” – Ryan Holiday

“A Million Miles in a Thousand Years” – Donald Miller

“The Go-Giver” – Bob Burg

“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” – Stephen Covey

“Notes to Myself” – Hugh Prather

“The Power of Habit” – Charles Duhigg

“Believe It and Behave It” – Kate Harvie

“Phil the Logger” – Brandon Wright

“The Noticer” – Andy Andrews

Business/Entrepreneurism 

“Heretics to Heroes” – Cort Dial

“Start with Why” – Simon Sinek

“Tribal Leadership” – Dave Logan et al

“Play Bigger” – Al Ramadan et al.

“Traction” – Gino Wickman

“American Icon” – Bryce Hoffman

“Red Teaming” – Bryce Hoffman

“Pyromarketing” – Greg Stiesltra 

“Good to Great” – Jim Collins

“Make the Noise Go Away” – Larry Linne

“Made to Stick” – Chip & Dan Heath

“Switch” – Chip & Dan Heath

“The Complete Leader” – Ron Price & Randy Lisk

 

Spiritual/Mystic

“The Book of Joy” – Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, Douglas Abrams

“The Book of Awakening” – Marc Nepo

“Writing Down Your Soul” – Janet Conner

“Outwitting the Devil” – Napoleon Hill

“Awareness” – Anthony De Mello

“A Hidden Wholeness” – Parker Palmer

“The Power of Now” – Eckhart Tolle

“The Way to Love” – Anthony De Mello

“The Divine Arsonist” – Jacob Nordby

“Prayers of the Cosmos” – Neil Douglas-Klotz

“The Alchemist” – Paulo Coelho

“Warrior of the Light” – Paulo Coelho

“The Magician’s Way” – William Whitecloud

“The Last Shaman” – William Whitecloud 

“Siddhartha” – Herman Hesse

“The Four Agreements” – Don Miguel Ruiz

“The Fifth Agreement” – Don Miguel Ruiz & Don Jose Ruiz

“The Mastery of Love” – Don Miguel Ruiz

“The Mastery of Self” – don Miguel Ruiz, Jr

“The Art of Stillness” – Pico Iyer

“The Five Levels of Attachment” – don Miguel Ruiz, Jr

“A New Earth” – Eckhart Tolle

“The Fifth Mountain” – Paulo Coelho

“Treasure Inside” – Ron Price

Creativity/Innovation

“Blessed are the Weird” – Jacob Nordby

“A Whole New Mind” – Daniel Pink

 

History / Biographies

“In the Garden of Beasts” – Erik Larson

“Education of a Wandering Man” – Louis L’Amour


Other

“Markings” – Dag Hammarskjold

“Manuscript Found in Acra” – Paulo Coelho

“Adultery” – Paulo Coelho

“Letters to a Young Poet” – Rainer Maria Rilke

12 Negative Enumerations for Being

By UncategorizedNo Comments

“Negative enumeration” is sequential numbering and naming but from a contrary or negative position. Two of the most influential examples of negative enumeration are the 10 Commandments (“Thou shalt not …”) and the US Constitution (“Congress shall make no law …).

In societies, negative enumeration is less about telling people what to do and not to do and more about how an institution can not determine your intrinsic rights and value. Negative enumeration reminds you of what is inherently yours: autonomy, choice, freedom of expression.

In our personal sovereignty and growth, negative enumeration reminds us of what we don’t want in our lives, relationships, careers. For me, it has been a helpful reminder of my tendencies towards self-inflicted (and therefore, optional) suffering. Negative enumeration has helped me remember that I can always choose my perspective, that my ego-mind is rarely right and that a little contemplativeness goes a long way in dealing with head chatter.

Negative enumeration can also serve as a “Fuck it” List, which is the opposite of a Bucket List: an accounting of all of the things you DO NOT want to do. This helps establish boundaries and plan your life around what feels right for you, not social pressure or expectations of others.

In pondering this idea, I came up with 12 Do Nots that have guided my life in the past year and moving forward into the future.

  1. Do not mix truth and deceit. I did this for years. Although I recognize it was a form of self-protection, it also was highly arrogant and ultimately painful to myself and others. Now, I am consciously trying to practice radical honesty and micro-honesty.
  2. Do not approach your problems with passivity. The other version of this is “own your shit.” This speaks to being strategic, taking decisive action and not living life in a defensive posture. It’s ok to ask for help, but it’s not ok to assume that someone is going to rescue you from your problems.
  3. Do not feed your own insecurities. This reminds us that many of our insecurities are bolstered by the stories we tell ourselves. These stories produce habits or behaviors that make the insecurities even more intense. We all have insecurities but let’s not make them worse with our own behaviors.
  4. Do not put math before meaning. This is a reminder to see the proper value of things – and that no amount of financial gain is worth our soul and our dignity. It helps us think from the heart and feel our way through decisions and prioritizations.
  5. Do not apply force to things that require faith. Yes, be decisive and bold. But also trust the timing of things. You can’t make a flower bloom faster. For me, this has meant replacing striving with receptivity and helps me remember to experience things, not just endure them.
  6. Do not love the idea of someone. This has been a huge reminder for me. I’ve had the tendency to romanticize, idealize and idolize people – especially women. Consciousness helps you see the real person and love them – not the idea of what they represent to you. This is an essential element of conscious relationships. If you love the idea more than the person, you are not in a conscious relationship.
  7. Do not consume more than you create. This is a reminder to practice essentialism and simplicity. I practice this with clothing items. Whenever I buy a new piece of clothing or shoes, I give something away to Goodwill. It also reminds us that an essential part of every person’s mission is to create things.
  8. Do not make it difficult for others to do the right thing. This applies to stupid laws and policies. It also reminds us that we, as my business partner Emily says, teach people how to treat us.
  9. Do not have more theories than practices. This is a reminder that knowing how to do something and actually doing it are separate things. It also warns us to be aware of cognitive dissonance and hypocrisy.
  10. Do not become resentful and call it righteousness.  This reminds us to practice grace, nuance and discernment when dealing with others. It also reminds us that self-righteousness is caustic, destructive and distances us from our humanity and the humanity of others.
  11. Do not pose yourself as an expert in areas where you have no experience. This one is for all of the internet “researchers” – especially those who spread lies that lead to suffering and death. Or the bloviating arm-chair quarterbacks of any area of expertise.
  12. Do not minimize yourself to be accepted. Yes, be flexible. Yes, be adaptable. But as soon as we reduce ourselves, we lose ourselves and begin to participate in tyranny. Another version: do not modify to mollify.

There is a 13th one …

Do not worry about what other people are thinking when they read your stuff. But maybe that’s one that’s just for me. 🤓

Reminders + Reframes

By Life2 Comments

Hello friends!

This is a piece of bonus content that I wanted to share. It came out of several days of journaling. I hope you find it encouraging.

Much love,

JF

Reminders + Reframes 

Allow for happiness to be a possibility. Not everything needs to be a struggle. 

You determine your story. What happened, happened but it doesn’t need to determine your future. 

Only you are responsible for your thoughts, behaviors and systems. 

Allow for abundance. It’s ok to want wealth in all of its forms. 

Have dreams. Your imagination is more powerful than your intellect. 

Monitor your thoughts. Notice what percentage of them are about the past or the future. 

Keep walking into the unknown. Keep doing things that require faith and courage. 

Think with the heart first. 

Never, ever … Settle, reduce yourself to be accepted, stop learning, make decisions based on fear, be in relationships that require survival mechanisms. 

Death is inevitable. When it comes, make sure it finds your regret balance to be zero. 

February 2021 Recap

By LifeNo Comments

Hello friends!

I’ve made a number of changes to how I share content. I will only be posting content on my website on occasion. All of my weekly content has been moved to Substack. You can sign up to be a free or paid subscriber here. Paid subscribers (only $8/month) receive a weekly essay every Monday, plus private podcast episodes, tools, office hours, Q & A calls and more.

Via my website, I will be sending an end-of-month recap of things I’ve written as well as books read, new music discoveries and other nuggets that feel worthy of sharing.

As a reminder, my buddy Juan Kingsbury and I have a podcast called “I Might Be Wrong”. We are up to 16 episodes! Check it out here.

Essays:

Always something to work on.

Inner critique vs inner critic.

The real enemy.

All systems fail.

 

Favorite musing for this month:

“You are a divine being with a powerful mission and a set of unique gifts. The only way to fuck it up is to believe your insecurities.”

Follow me on Instagram for all of my musings.

 

Podcast appearances:

Luke Bricker’s “The Spiritual Nomad” podcast

Angela Hollowell’s “Honey & Hustle” podcast

Little Bird Marketing’s “Ponderings from the Perch”

Books I finished:

“Mary Magdalene Revealed” – Meggan Watterson 

“Experiencing God Directly” – Marshall Davis

 

Favorite new music:

Ian Munsick’s debut album “Coyote Cry”

Ian is a singer/songwriter from Wyoming with an incredible voice and great energy (and great hair!)

My Spotify playlist “Foster the Music” contains all of the new music that I’m listening to.

 

Business shout-out:

Are you a freelancer or have a side hustle? Check out Jolly. Jolly is a platform for promoting your freelance skills and offerings. Imagine if Etsy and LinkedIn had a baby. That’s Jolly!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Garden of Interdependence

By Creativity, Life, Self-WorthNo Comments

One of life’s many paradoxes is that we are each sovereign, unique beings while also being community-oriented animals. This paradox causes us to get twisted up in what we can only generate for ourselves and what we can only receive from others.

People more individualistically wired tend to play the part of the “lone wolf” or the “solitary woman/man”. Their ability to be alone with themselves can create a false sense of not needing anything from anyone. This can lead to isolation and walling off of the heart.

People more wired to be pleasers tend to play the part of the “helper” or “martyr”. Their ability to serve others can create a false sense that their identity and value are external of themselves. This can lead to codependency or being taken advantage of.

The metaphor of a community garden fits here. Each participant is expected to grow and care for their own crops while at the same time giving and receiving with each other the fruits and vegetables of their respective and collective labor.

In the spirit of “I might be wrong”, here are two sets of 5 traits or elements — one set of things we can only generate for ourselves and another set of things we can only receive from others.

Self-Generating

  • Worthiness — Others can remind you of your worth but you won’t really comprehend it until you see it for yourself. This is the first work of a spiritual practice. This is the pearl of great price and the treasure hid in the field that Jesus spoke of.
  • Courage — This is a non-transferable trait. No one can give you courage. At best, they can give you encouragement. Courage is not a feeling. It is an action. It is not thinking. It is doing.
  • Confidence — Similar to courage, confidence can’t be instilled in you by someone else. At best they can hold up a mirror and tell you the truth. Ultimately, you have to do the inner work of finding and accepting your gifts and the outer work of building skills and competencies.
  • Creativity — This one requires a bit of nuance. Creating something often comes from being in union with someone else (creating a relationship, creating humans, creating art are all joint-ventures between yourself and another being. But the energy of creating something is self-generated. That is creativity. While you certainly can and should be inspired by someone else’s creativity you must generate creativity for yourself.
  • Wisdom — Wisdom is received through revelation, not installation. At best, someone wise can point you in the right direction but they can’t give you wisdom. Further, there are depths of wisdom that can only be reached through time and struggle — both of which require us to be alone at points in the journey.

Receiving from Others

  • Affirmation — This is to be seen and appreciated by others. It is a gift that one human can give another. Neurologically, affirmation triggers oxytocin production. Which helps solidify the bonds made in the other areas below.
  • Intimacy — Certainly, self-intimacy with our own bodies, emotions, minds is important. But connecting with someone who is connected to themselves is an essential part of the human experience. Intimacy is experienced in many forms: platonic friendships, familial relationships, romantic partners, soul mates.
  • Perspective — No one can see the back of their own head. This is why we need people in our lives to offer different perspectives. And this is why it is important to seek relationships with people who’ve had different experiences and have different views than you.
  • Trust — Trust is the currency of conscious relationships. Without the giving and receiving of trust, we become either paranoid or fragile or hardened and nihilistic. Trust makes room for grace, forgiveness, repentance as well as risk, adventure and experiences.
  • Learning — Being “self-taught” is mostly an inaccurate phrase. While we all have the ability to be autodidactic, the transfer of knowledge still comes from an outside source. Whether it’s formal education, reading books, watching how-to videos, receiving mentoring, someone else generated that knowledge so that you can consume it.

Interestingly, the things that we can only generate for ourselves become sources of suffering when we seek them from others. And the reverse is true as well. When we try to generate what we can only receive from someone else, it can create mental anguish and a sense of disconnectedness.

Let’s look at these traits when framed through the spectrum of healthy to unhealthy:

  • Lack of worthiness leads to the hero/victim/villain cycle.
  • Lack of courage leads to being manipulated, used and a collapsing of boundaries and identity.
  • Lack of confidence leads to living life in a perpetually defensive posture (which is brutally hard on the nervous system).
  • Lack of creativity leads to the dullness of the senses; the numbing of life through external stimuli and distraction.
  • Lack of wisdom leads to low consciousness which leads to stunted emotional and spiritual growth.
  • Lack of affirmation leads to chronic insecurity which becomes self-absorption and narcissism.
  • Lack of intimacy leads to physical, emotional and spiritual atrophy.
  • Lack of perspective leads to dogma, narrowness, tribalism.
  • Lack of trust leads to paranoia and risk-aversion.
  • Lack of learning leads to ignorance which invites tyranny.

I want to wrap this essay with a spirit of possibility and optimism …

I fully believe that every human is capable of self-generating these traits and many other positive ones. And I fully believe that every human is capable of giving and receiving that which we need from each other. All of this is fullness of being — the union between the divine and primal within ourselves and with each other. The result of which is a life of joy, meaning and abundance.

Why Every Entrepreneur Needs a Therapist

By Entrepreneurism, Leadership, LifeNo Comments

I was 40 when I went to therapy for the first time in 2011. At the time, I had no idea that going to therapy would transform my entrepreneurial pursuits. I just wanted to gain some insight on my (at that time) self-destructive tendencies and caustic resentment about my childhood that I’d held on to for 20+ years. My work with that therapist opened my eyes to many aspects of my behavior and life. It was my first glimpse of sitting in the witness seat of my own being.

Very people knew I was seeing a therapist. I still saw it as a sign of weakness. That I couldn’t figure my own shit out so I needed outside help. This was also reflective of the conditioning of being part of a fundamentalist church where therapy was – at best – seen as corrective. The general consensus is that if you had more faith or belief, you wouldn’t need therapy.

Over the past 10 years, I continued with a variety of therapists and modalities. I became more vocal and open about therapy – especially for men. But it wasn’t until a few years ago that I began to truly see how therapy was benefiting me as an entrepreneur. I’ve now arrived at the conclusion that every entrepreneur needs a therapist.

Here is why …

Being an entrepreneur is a series of traumatic events and experiences. It is in direct contrast to the social conditioning of safety and stability. Even if you are not a trauma survivor, the stress and grind of being an entrepreneur can greatly impact your mental health. If you are a trauma survivor, the experiences of being an entrepreneur will inevitably be processed as trauma. In addition, the lens on yourself and your business is clouded by fear. And fear makes you either overly risk-averse and/or overly impulsive – both of which are detrimental to your business.

In my experience, the wired fear response of trauma manifests itself in your business in these ways:

  1. Seeing people as abstracts. If you have unhealed trauma, you inevitably have lower EQ and lower self-awareness. This means you are likely seeing the humans that you interact with as either threats or opportunities. This is the hero/villain spectrum being played out in who you partner with, what kinds of clients you work with, who you hire. This is also related to attachment theory (I highly recommend this book for all entrepreneurs) as well as internal family systems/parts therapy – both of which reveal that your wiring warps how you see and respond to others.
  2. Negativity bias. Trauma teaches you a worst-case-scenario mindset. It assumes that everything is negative until it proves itself to be safe. This is reflective of the wiring around threat assessments and forecasting failures. While a very useful tool for actual survival, it is a determinant to your business because it makes you miss that which is actually positive. It makes you blind to opportunities. It hijacks your imagination and turns it into a tool of projection.
  3. Inflation/devaluation. When untreated, the trauma pendulum swings between delusion and despair – often due to one compensating for the other. In my 30s and early 40s, this pendulum swung wildly between illusions of grandeur and valleys of gloom. I did not truly know my own worth, which made me in a near-constant pursuit of outside validation, legitimacy and identity. When you inflate your sense of worth, you still secretly feel like an imposter. And when you devalue your worth, you allow yourself to be manipulated and abused.

Doing the deep work of therapy reveals an important nuance for entrepreneurs: the difference between instinct and intuition. If you have untreated trauma, your instincts are going to be a faulty decision-making tool because these instincts were developed in response to emotional or physical pain. As you heal, you will access your heart and soul even more. When you do that, you will learn that your intuition is a much more accurate and powerful resource.

Ultimately, effective therapy returns you again and again and deeper and deeper to your core self. As I’ve written about, your core self is grounded in reality. It is the garden in which you grow compassion, creativity, clarity, curiosity, calmness, confidence, courage and connectedness. All of these are tremendous assets to being an entrepreneur. Any one of them can transform your business. So imagine the power of combining them all together! In my experience, a few magical things happen when you operate from your core self …

  • You attract healthy, whole people to your business – as clients, team members, strategic partners.
  • Your relationship with money is transformed and you have a much more healthy perspective on the financial aspects of your business.
  • You practice kindness with everyone. But you also take no shit from people that try to devalue you or use you.
  • You become more imaginative and innovative – with a steady stream of new ideas pouring out of you. Some will be wildly successful but many will fail, but you will have a healthy response to failure.
  • You will seek out feedback from others. And you discern the value of the feedback in a healthy way.

I continue ongoing therapy sessions. In fact, I had one this morning! Once you connect to your core self and learn to return to it daily, therapy shifts into more of a maintenance mode. It becomes more of a self-care practice than a healing modality. On-going therapy gives you a space to reflect on the influence of your ego, assess your behaviors and responses in light of current conditions, look for drift or exile from core self and much more.

If you are an entrepreneur that regularly sees a therapist, I’d love to hear more about your experiences. If you are an entrepreneur that is currently not in therapy and are curious about therapy’s impact on your business, just send me a message. I’m happy to visit!

 

And Then …

By Creativity, Entrepreneurism, Leadership, Life, Self-WorthNo Comments

Photo credit: Me. Bear tracks on the trail in Alaska.

Like many words in the too-much-information age, we often reduce the meaning and power of words. Adventure is one such word. “Adventure” too often means a planned experience. Activities marketed as “adventurous” have agendas, itineraries, safety rules, insurance waivers, name tags. Of course, there are gradients of danger and risk that require these things. And there many experiences that could cause injury or death from poor preparation and planning and brash behavior. But most of the things that we’re calling adventurous are really just scheduled activities that provide a temporary jolt; a respite from boredom.

So what is an actual adventure?

I think an adventure is any experience where you can say “And then …” and have no idea or clue of what’s next.

There is a myriad of options to find these kinds of experiences in the world. The kinds of things that end up on bucket lists. And I want to do many of them! But most of the “and then …” adventures are right in front of us or within us.

Art is like this. You can have all the supplies and knowledge, but every artist knows that what actually becomes art is an enormous mystery. This is why most great art is made in experimentation, failure, iteration. Each piece of output is a blend of the mystical and the material. A real-time example: when I started this essay, I had no idea what would come out. And here it is!

Soulful connections are like this. You can have your preferences and interests and plans. Then someone can enter your life and completely change your trajectory or transform your perspective. Or you can feel a soul connection with someone and begin to craft some assumptions about it or plans for it — only to discover that the “and then …” is that they are experiencing the connection in a different way than you. I am certain most heartache comes from the creating of expectations that disintegrate on impact with mystery and timing.

Entrepreneurism is like this. Too often we use data and systems and plans to remove all the mystery from business. We are told that the unknown is a threat. Yet almost every great invention or lasting business was born in failure or struggle. I’ve been calling this ability to live in the known and unknown at the same time “mystical leadership”. I will be sharing much more on this idea in the next few weeks but here is a summation:

Mystical leadership is a philosophy that holds logic and faith as equally essential traits of a leader. It recognizes humility, compassion, moderation, intuition and wisdom as necessary leadership qualities. Mystical leadership embraces all the dichotomies and paradoxes of being a human — the divide between ego and soul. It acknowledges and accepts the natural volatility and uncertainty of life and leaves room for mystery and possibility.

Inner work is certainly like this. Someone that I was mentoring earlier this year expressed that he was terrified to do inner work because “of what I might find in there.” Here’s the irony … if we don’t do the inner work, life will appear only as fate or luck. When we go on the grand adventure of exploring our inner world, we find the parts of ourselves (the soul) that loves the mystery, that relishes the void. Inner work involves going on an expedition to find your soul and discover its pricelessness. Inner work involves understanding your mind and beginning to master it. Both of these are adventures unto themselves, but nothing may be more dangerous and riskier than going into the heart.

Here’s why: the heart feels what it feels and wants what it wants. And the mind (the keeper of order) has no control over that. When we begin to expand your heart, to operate from your heart center, you begin to see just how much we don’t have control over. That much of what we think is real and solid is, in fact, an illusion created by the mind to make us feel comforted and comfortable. Heart work strips everything down to what it is. It eliminates both wishful thinking and wishful feeling.

I believe it requires a certain level of mysticism to navigate life in a way that produces meaning and joy and growth. A mystic is someone that is in touch with Reality (the spiritual realm) and reality (the material realm) and knows how to create moderation and harmony between those two realms. This balance lets each part do the thing it was designed to do. The body is designed for sensation. The soul is designed to experience. The heart is designed to feel everything. The mind is designed to think and plan. When these four elements are working in equanimity, then mystery arrives as lessons and opportunities. “And then …” shifts from the mundanity of tasks to the magic of the ever-unfolding present moment.