If, in the morning, you wake up (and have to shake off a hangover, wondering what you said and to whom), behind schedule (so you can’t go to the gym), and you have to search for your socks (because you haven’t taken care of the basics), and your first thought is money …you’re in fight or flight before your feet hit the floor.
If I’m honest with myself, and if I look back over the last 2 years, I’ve done about everything possible to perform poorly and to slide into oblivion. Slide I have.
That it wasn’t worse was a miracle.
My relationship with my wife was rocky. I had unfathomable financial pressure. That led to isolation. My mental narrative was: I can’t maintain friendships if I have to make payroll and meet my obligations. Isolation led to an erosion of my sanity and social skills. Being lost in my own issues meant that it was tougher to have enough empathy for others.
The lack of empathy lead to self absorption which always leads to entitlement, depression.
A death spiral. All fixable.
I hesitate to write this. I fear the smothering sympathy from the concern trolls, “bro you’re really struggling.” We mustn’t always be killing it.
When the trolls come, I have engaged. Instead of having the efficacy to ignore, I rail at people: “I’ve had an exit motherfucker. I can bench 250, bitch, I’ll kick your ass.” What problems do those delusions-with-metrics prove?
It’s all too easy to slide into delusion, embellishment, fantasy.
If you’re reading this, let it be. I’m good now, and when things were dark I was still functional.
I talked about the virtue and the practice recently.
These are things I believe in, still. Things that sustain us when we don’t ‘feel it.’
But what more is there?
So much energy was lost because I was so frayed around the edges. I had to fight for everything. I fired my bullets fighting for survival, not on anything meaningful. This means you play small. When you’re frayed, any little thing hurts.
When you’re operating in fight/flight you aren’t thinking clearly. Anything can agitate you.
You come off as insincere. Your energy was used on small beer issues.
The comumute kicked my ass. I couldn’t bear to be in traffic in the mornings. From Troutdale to my office was 14 miles. But on certain days, that would take 90 minutes. There was tension there. So I moved into an apartment. After all, I’m worth much more than just sitting in a car, commuting.
This meant I was isolated from my family. On a self-important mission.
Yes, I made more money. Because I had more time. And it did lead to good things, a great house we love to live in. But…
I lost the grace to let things go. I was right, of course, the people around me were being unkind. They didn’t love me. I had to put every sigh on trial.
Live with someone like that, will you?
There was joy around me. And most of my life was spent in an alarmed, overwhelmed state. In fight-or-flight.
My kids loved me.
My wife had the patience and grace to stand up to my demons.
My business, when you really consider it, was remarkable. Started-from-nothing, serving hundreds, millions of people watched our videos, and I was paid to work with the likes of Brad Feld, Arianna Huffington, Seth Godin, Ryan Holiday, Mark Echo and many more. But there were issues, man.
Why so miserable?
I lacked a Foundation. How important it is to set up your life for success.
I realized this, in part, when I read Miracle Mornings by Hal Elrod.
I realized this in other parts by working with my mentor, Kevin Nations. He calls it the “four F’s. Faith, Fitness, Finances, Family. It’s an excellent starting point. But for me, a starting point.
Running on sand is much harder than running on solid ground. The loose sand saps your energy with every step. The sand takes it away, blunts your rebound. Having a life with no Foundation is exactly the same thing.
Even the Nazarene said to build on a rock.
If, in the morning, you wake up (and have to shake off a hangover, wondering what you said and to whom), behind schedule (so you can’t go to the gym), and you have to search for your socks (because you haven’t taken care of the basics), and your first thought is money – will you have enough?
You’re fucked. You’re in fight or flight before your feet hit the bed.
How can you be kind, connected, gracious? How can you perform at a high level?
A foundation is what you need. This is my *current* definition:
*The beliefs and practices that you have set up for yourself to be able to make your best contribution*.
I’ve thought a lot about this. And I think that you need to mentally check off the boxes. When some area is out of whack that’s your priority. That’s what you have to go out and do.
It will be very difficult to succeed when there’s not a firm Foundation. And even success may feel fleeting, may come and go. Becuase
**Faith**: What, actually, do you believe in? What will you die for? Where, exactly, are your limits? What are your values?
**Focus**: Do you currently have the ability in your life to do deep work, to sustain concentration on tasks for a long time? To solve problems? To work patiently towards both short goals and long? To slog through tasks with determination and confidence?
**Family**: Do you have a reserve of people that you love, and that love you? Have you got people that can pick you up, that can forgive you, who you can forgive? Who will be there till the end, bail you out of jail? Do you have
**Routine**: Do you have a schedule that works for you, that allows you to think, to work, to live? Have you established what you’ll be doing with yourself?
**Health** (Fitness): Are you phsyically healthy? Fit? Are you eeating Healthy?
**Habits**: Do you have habits that sustain a relaxed calm life? Are you practicing excellence, currently?
**Friends**: Do you have: someone to bail you out of jail, someone to go to lunch with someone to see a movie with, someone to cry with.
**Sex**: Do you know where you’re gonna get it next? Do you have a relationship that’s healthy, that’s expressive, that’s fun, and that you feel good about?
**Environment**: Is your environment clean, distraction free? Your car? Do you have things that give you pleasure, and remind you that things are good? Can you recal everything?
**Finances**: Do you know what direction you’re going? Do you have an idea of your overhead, your variable costs? How much do you have in obligations? Do you have a balance sheet that you know of?
This builds a foundation.
Your Foundation is where you are. What you’re capable of doing.
Your Practice is what you do. It’s about preparation.
Your Virtue is who you want to be. It’s about your legacy.
When you work hard on all three you are in position to have a life of meaning and connection and value.
When one leg of a stool is missing, however…