Episode Description

Brian Bogert, the owner and President of the Brian BogertCompanies, discusses with Scott Harkey why you need to realize your purpose.

Why is it that even people who make eight figures remainmiserable? The answer lies in realizing your purpose. Scott Harkey’sguest, Brian Bogert, the owner and President of the Brian Bogert Companies, takes usdeep into his childhood and reveals what led him to find his purpose. Discoverwhat gave him the confidence to take a big leap and left his well-payingcorporate job to create more fulfillment in his life. It’s all about the “who,”not the “what you do.” Tune in and realize your purpose!

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Episode Transcript

I'm freaking pumped because I got a good buddy of mine, a longtime homie, he goes back a long, Brian Bogert. You're doing a ton of things right now, which I freaking love. You’re one of my favorite people. You’ve helped me a ton in my career, my life, times that I've been down. Brian's been a guy that I've called to pick me up off the pavement. Why don’t you tell our readers a little bit about you? I know you're in a podcast, speaking, coaching, doing a ton of stuff. I'm going to butcher the story. Why don’t you give the readers your background, your story?

I'm going to start with a story and then we can hit on some things that I do. It's an interesting thing. I'm going to ask you in a second to bear with me. Anybody who's reading this, I want you to close your eyes for one second. I promise you, I'll tell you when to reopen them. I want you to imagine going to a store, having what seems like a successful shopping trip. You breeze through the checkout, you walk out the doors, you feel the sun hit your skin, the warmth of that, and the breeze blow through your hair. You start walking over to your car and as you go to unlock the doors, you turn your head and you see a truck barreling 40 miles an hour right at you with no time to react. Open your eyes. That's where this portion of my story begins.

My mom, brother, and I went to our local Walmart for a one-inch paintbrush. You probably aren't surprised by this. Anybody who knows me, I've always been excited, a lot of energy, and full of life. I want to get home and put that paintbrush to use. Of course, I was the first one in the car. This is back in the days before we had key fobs. I had to wait for my mom to catch up, put her key in the door, turn it so we'd get in the car and on our way. As we were standing there, a truck pulls up in front of the store. The driver and the middle passenger get out. The passenger to the right feels the truck is moving backward. He did what any one of us would do. He put his foot on the brake but instead hit the gas, so it revered backward.

The combination of shock and force threw him up onto the steering wheel, up on the dashboard, and before you know it, he's catapulting 40 miles an hour across the parking lot right at us with no time to react. We were parked in an end spot. He goes up and over the median in the end spot, up and over the tree, hits our car, and knocks me over. It runs over me diagonally. It tears my spleen, leaves tire tracks around my stomach, and continues to completely sever my left arm from my body. There I am laying on the pavement on a 115-degree day in the middle of August in Phoenix, Arizona. My mom and brother watched the whole thing happen. They look up and see my arm laying on the pavement ten feet away. Fortunately, for me, my guardian angel also saw the whole thing happen.

There was a nurse that walked out of the store right when this took place. She saw the life and limb scenario that was in front of her. I'm forever indebted to her for making the choice to go into action instead of turning her head and going home. She came over and she stopped the bleeding on the wound and saved my life. She instructed some innocent bystanders to run inside, grab a cooler, fill it with ice, and get my arm in ice within minutes so that my arm might have a chance to be reattached. Had she not done one or both of those things, I either wouldn't be here with you or I'd be here with you with cling up stuff. That's the reality. I know you were expecting it but I'm sure that nobody else was. You know my story deeply because we've talked about it.

How old were you?

I was seven. One sidebar before I wrap up that thought. March 6th, 2021, my son was the exact age I was the day of my accident. It’s a totally different perspective. I did the math. I've thought about it for two years. This happened. A sidebar on that because a whole bunch of crazy things have happened since then. I have a unique story. What I've also realized in all my time of doing this is that we all have unique stories. What's important is that we pause and become aware of the lessons we can extract from those stories and then become intentional with how do we apply them in our lives. We all can do that. We also all can tap into the collective wisdom of other people's stories to shorten our curve to learning.

I'm going to share two primary lessons that I've applied in my life and I’ll fast forward to where I am now. The first is I learned not to get stuck by what has happened to me but instead get moved by what I can do with it. The second, I didn't realize until far later. At 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 years old, I was the one having surgery. I was the one going to therapy. Physical and occupational therapy regained the use of my arm and feeling all those things. I was also being guided through the process. I was a little bit in a fog. My parents were not.

My parents were intimately aware of the unceasing medical treatments, years of physical therapy. The idea of seeing their son grow up without the use of his left arm was a source of great potential suffering for them. They willed themselves day in and day out to do what was necessary, what was tough, to embrace the pains required to ultimately strengthen and heal me. Whether intentional or not, what they did was ingrained in me a philosophy and a way of living, which was to embrace pain, to avoid suffering. When this is done correctly, that's also where we gain freedom.

It's these two concepts that I've applied to my life to not only overcome this unique injury, how my business partners and I scaled our last business to $15 million within the span of a decade, and now how I flipped that on its head. As a human behavior performance coach, entrepreneur, individuals, and organizations like you, like the people reading, become more aware, more intentional, and who they already are their most authentic selves. This is when the magic happens and the door starts to crack to perspective, motivation, and direction. That's where joy, freedom, and fulfillment can start to enter into our lives holistically.

Embrace pain to avoid suffering.

It’s for these reasons that we're on a mission to impact a billion lives by 2045. If we can reduce the level of suffering on this planet, allow people to experience joy, freedom, and fulfillment holistically. That's also what's going to allow them to lean into the two things that are the glue that binds human connection, which is vulnerability and authenticity. When that starts to happen, people can not only feel confident and convicted to stand on their own two feet for exactly who they are but know that the world is not going to accept them but embrace them for exactly who they are. That's what's going to leave this world to a much better place for my kids, your kids, and our grandkids.

Go back to the pain thing. You have to embrace the pain to avoid suffering.

Let's first understand pain and suffering. Let's also understand the narrative that the world gives us.

It’s an emotional pain and physical pain. Have they done studies is emotional pain worse than physical pain?

I'm not going to say they have because I don't know or have one to reference but I believe they have. We know from the human experience side that's the case. We may have time to get to this or we may not right. There's a whole lot of elements to this. I shut off emotional pain when I shut off physical pain. I didn't realize it until I was in my 30s. There's a whole lot that's connected to that piece.

Did you have a process to be able to shut those off?

Some were intentional and some were unintentional. I've learned deeply the power of intellectual narratives and how much those can shape, even when they're not true, the way we feel because of their power.

I get that, too. I've done that. That’s one of the reasons I went to rehab. I got good at avoiding pain, especially emotional pain. I was like, “I got all these problems. I need to go back and feel this pain and go through this process.”

If you don't feel, you don't heal. That's what it comes to. What does the world tell us? The world tells us to reduce, eliminate, or avoid pain. By the way, it makes sense because it's a natural evolutionary response. We need to avoid pain for survival. It's only in the last 100 years that we don't have to contemplate pain as a death in every scenario. A cut could kill you 100 years ago. We need to change the narrative. The world is wrong. It's not about reducing, eliminating, or avoiding pain. It's about identifying the proper pains that are between where you are now, where you want to be, and starting to recognize those as stepping stones to your success.

Let's understand pain and suffering. Pain is defined as short-term, intermittent, a direct cause from something, and alleviated once that direct cause is removed. We, as human beings, screw it up like we do everything else. We throw adjectives in front of it, like acute and chronic. Acute maintains the definition but chronic inherently changes it because it implies that it's no longer short-term and it persists after that direct cause is removed. Let's stop calling that chronic pain. Let's call it what it is, suffering. We don't want to admit that suffering exists, particularly when it's a direct result of our choices.

The unavoidable precursor to change is acceptance. Until we accept the current state of things, we cannot alter them. Suffering creeps up on us oftentimes because we adapt to it slowly, sometimes until its effects are irreversible, whereas pain gets lots of attention. We can embrace the pain of hitting the gym for 30 minutes a day to avoid the suffering of aches and pains of a sedentary lifestyle. We can embrace the pain of a difficult conversation with a loved one or spouse to avoid the suffering of a loveless marriage that’s going to end in divorce or being stuck in a marriage when we want a divorce.

We can embrace the pain our kids are sure to throw by having to put down their mobile devices at the dinner table to avoid the suffering of years of lost meaningful connection and conversation we'll never get back. As business owners, we can embrace the pain of firing our top salespeople even though they're contributing the most to top-line revenue to avoid the suffering of stagnant growth and losing all of their top talents because they are the greatest cancer in our future. The reality of it is this applies to everything in life. We all must choose our pain or our suffering will choose us.

For me, the greatest growth I've had has been about enjoying the process that has pain, whether it's mountain biking, gym, tough conversations with my kids to teach them something, or vulnerable conversation with a loved one or a friend. Being okay with like, “This is the process of life. Enjoy this. This is the gift of life of having these experiences for growth.” I used to be all excited about what I would get if I would do X, Y, and Z. I've reprogrammed my body, mind, and spirit to enjoy the process of a video game life of optimizing it and having the confidence that you're doing stuff. Tony Hsieh from Zappos had a great quote, “Perceived growth in your life is what produces happiness.” If you don't have perceived growth, meaning you're not trying and going to the daily process then there's no growth.

Movement is life and growth doesn’t necessarily mean bigger or forward. Growth can mean smaller, backward, or a complete pivot. That’s the thing, too. You pay attention to it. Movement is the key. It’s about not staying stuck. It's about movement. Hopefully, movement in the right direction is calibrated over time. To your credit, you talked about that you used to numb. What numbing also does is prevents you from being vulnerable and authentic, so everything feels empty. If you can't be vulnerable and authentic, that means one big thing. You're carrying a ton of armor around. That armor that we build we think is protecting us but what's happening is the weight of it is progressively crushing us more over time and because you can carry it, it doesn't mean it's not heavy.

What you've done is you've leaned into who you are. You've leaned into recognizing that vulnerability and authenticity are what give you the feedback in terms of the human connection that you desire. Vulnerability and authenticity give you intimacy in relationships and I don't mean sexual. It's a real connection. Vulnerability and intimacy are closely correlated, both sexual and non-sexual, by the way. That is key. Vulnerability and authenticity are the glue that binds human connection. That's what makes us feel alive. You’re put in that work because the armor was to protect the wounds and you gave yourself the process to heal the wounds. You now can be vulnerable because you don't need the armor anymore.

What I crave is connection.

All of us do.

I used to crave stuff, alcohol, sex, whatever. Finally, I realized it was like, “I crave connection.”

Here's the thing, you bought into the narrative of the world. Think about it. The external narrative is a success. We’re born in the most bright and burning authentic light we will ever be. You have kids, you know this. When toddlers come out, they're raw. They're beautiful enigmas of pure energy. They’re pure, real, and they’re there. What happens? Parents, teachers, employers, and coaches start layering these things on, which is, “You should do this. You shouldn't do that. You should be this. You shouldn't be that. You should chase this. You shouldn't chase that. You should make this amount of money. You shouldn't make this amount of money.”

Realizing Your Purpose: We all have unique stories. What's important is that we become aware of the lessons we can extract from those stories and become intentional with how we apply them in our lives.

All these shoulds, all they're doing is putting layers which are external armor based on the narratives of the world. I did the same thing you did. I chased connection but I didn't know I was chasing connection so I chased the stuff, which by the way, the external layer of the world is what. What house? What car? What amount of money? What amount of success? What spouse? What lifestyle are you living? We're deeply ingrained to chase to what. It's not about the what. Who should be before what? That's one of the few times I'll use the word should because should is a shame-based word and it applies that whatever you're doing isn't good enough.

I had a counselor at Sierra Tucson when I went down and he was this old football player. He played football for Alabama, this old bass walks without shoes. I will never forget what he taught me. He said, “Don't should on yourself.” I have used that many times. I've talked to many young professionals. They'll come and talk to me and they’ll be like, “I should be doing this. I should be doing that. I need to be doing this.” I’m like, “Time out. I've been you. Don't use that word ever again. Don't take your name in vain. Don’t do that.”

It's automatically shaming yourself. You shouldn't be shaming yourself. What happens? You and I both wake up in our middle 30s. We've accomplished all the what. We're running with people making multiple 6-figures, 7-­figures, 8-figures, many of whom are miserable, us included. What I started to realize is it's because I chased the what and I didn't focus on the who. When I started to recalibrate who I am, which is the core of the work I do. It’s so hard. It's hard but it's not necessarily a question to answer. That's the thing that many people get stuck on. When you recalibrate the who which is what you've done, the what in your life becomes a manifestation of the who. You're not losing one or the other because then the what still happens.

The work that I've done and the work you've done, what I've noticed is when I went back and did that work and I was committed to that, relationships changed and some of them were some senses of loss. I'm not talking about divorce or whatever else but I'm talking about a lot of ways. It's hard. You're like, “Who am I? What am I doing?” We are, in some ways, a lot of water in our bodies. We’re an ever-flowing thing.

The pre-work of traumas, I did that. Now, what am I going to be? What do I want to be? As an artist, I get to create that every day, visualize that, think about who do I want to be, and what is the process of that looks like. That's the growth and the art of life of perfecting yourself and knowing you'll never get there but you can incrementally get better each time. What I've realized is like, “That's who I am.” I'm growing like a plant and Earth. I'm moving towards something that I want and I get to crap that and that's okay.

You're spot on. This is one of the narratives that we're trying to change. We have an entity that's called who before what. We're going to be launching some stuff. Think about it, when you meet somebody new, what's one of the first questions I asked you?

“What do you do?”

One, I hate that. Two, if you ask somebody who they are, 98% of people answer with what they do.

I do this, too. I noticed myself doing this all time and I've paid attention to it more recently. I'll be like, “This is Jeff.” I'll give my own little bio on Jeff. “Jeff has a house in Arcadia. Jeff owns his own business. Jeff's a great dad.” I put my own judgments in bios. I put them in this box and I explain them to somebody else. I'm like, “That’s dorky. I hate that.”

We're conditioned that way. If 98% of people answer with what they do and that's one of the first questions anybody asks, that's not any one of us screwing that up. It's a long pattern in a history of a system, a society, and a culture that has put values on the what versus the who. This is the era of who.

Do you think we are in enlightenment?

Yes.

There’s no awakening going on. What are the barriers? What do we need to do to make this happen?

A lot.

That’s a big question but I think about that.

You're going to get a privilege here because it's the first time I've dropped this on a show. I've been blessed because there's a group of people that are trying to figure that out. We have another entity that's called I am one billion. It's connected to this impacting a billion lives globally in a sustainable way. Not in one facet but there are multiple silos that have to be contemplated. We're in a position in this world where everything is polarized and politicized. It's in everything. Our world is starving for authentic leadership. They don't know who to trust because of marketing.

There are no media, political figures, employers, and brands to trust. There are some.

As a byproduct of that, there's a lot of people that are waking up to the fact that it's like, “The only person I can trust is myself and my inner circle. What am I going to do about that?” Many people operate from a position of feeling like they're a victim in life or life is fake. By the way, there are some facts to that. Our minds process eleven million bits of information per second but we're only consciously aware of about 40. We're largely led by the unconscious until we either go through a process to move the unconscious to the conscious, the unaware to be aware or something forces that on us. We're going to stay stuck and we're going to feel like we have no influence or control over our destinies.

The pandemic forced people out of autopilot. There's no surprise that people are being forced for the first time to face what their lives look like. Who's in it? What are the patterns that exist in it? What are the positive and negative things? That's why mental health, suicide, domestic abuse, and divorce are on the rise because many people have avoided the pain that has developed into suffering. All of a sudden, when they're forced to look at it, it's like, “Geez.”

That's from all the consumer behavior that I've studied, which is a crapload. That's my job. Many people are on autopilot. They buy the same things. They do the same things.

For the first time in our history, that was not only forced but it was forced globally. It's the first time in history as well that we've seen the highest of highest income earners have to be on the same level field as the frontline staff. Everybody is forced to interact via Zoom. Everybody is forced to have some picture into their home life whether it's a home office, a living room, a kitchen. It's for the first time that CEOs in a lot of organizations have seen how their frontline staff operate.

Until we accept the current state of things, we cannot alter them and suffering creeps up on us.

It's a whole different level of relationship, intimacy, and authenticity that was forced on us. It's waking up not the individuals in our world but our corporate world in a lot of ways. They're starting to recognize that quality of life is something that we'd completely lost. There's a lot of organizations that are starting to realize,Our people aren't numbers that help us produce a profit. Our people are people.”

As a CEO, I get to see them in their living room with their husband, wife, kids, dogs, and mess. There's a whole different level of empathy and compassion that’s being met with the highest level of awareness we've had systematically, at least in our lifetime. We have a real opportunity right now. That's what I am one billion, who before what, I am no limits, and a lot of the stuff that we're doing is geared towards. Everything that I'm doing at the moment is a vehicle to drive towards a billion lives.

I do want to say this, too. I told you that I wanted to talk about this before. I meet a lot of upcoming entrepreneurs. I meet a lot of business professionals. What I've realized is maybe part of my purpose and may be similar to yours is I'm not this cookie-cutter person that's got a college degree, done this, or done that. I have many flaws that are public. If I can even be some inspiration or vessel for somebody else that, first of all, probably has their life the other way better than I do, that's an opportunity in some part of this show.

I called you out, too. I was nervous for you. I'm a ballsy person. I'll do crazy things. You were making insane money, change your life money per year in your corporate job, and killing it. You were like, “I need to get out of this. I'm going to be a coach.” I'm like, “What do you mean? Can we do this on the side? Can we build this up a little bit before you leave this job? That's a mistake.” I was wrong. I was scared about that for you but you were like, “No.” It’s cool to see the growth. This was years ago.

When I told you I was leaving, the decision was made in September of 2019. I executed the buy-sell on May 31, 2020.

That's insane to me to see what you're doing, how fired up you are, and how it's aligned with your purpose. The other piece for me that I thought is cool is I finally figured out that my job and what I do for work is part of my service quotient, if you will. I can go work and help people. If I can tie that together and do that, then it’s integrated. Before, I'm like, “I go to work.” Now, I go to church and I'm going to do my charity work. It’s these different things. I'm like, “My work can help people. We do raise money for charity.” All these things can be the same thing.

That point you're making though is legitimate because that was something that I had to think through and break down my belief system on. I used to be structured in the way I viewed philanthropic work, the altruistic side of me. How do I fill that? What do I do? You know that I spent 30% of my time in the community on boards, leading and growing. That's something that I was deeply passionate about. That was one of the hardest things that I had to wrap my mind around when I was doing this. The only way to build what we're going to build is I had to have 100% focus on it. I had to pull back from stuff that I was deeply passionate about. I also had to redefine what you said.

Here's the thing, to impact a billion lives, I'm also aware that 99.9% will never pay us $1. I'm okay with that. The reality is those who are going to see it, lean into it, and invest in themselves are going to create all the resources we need to substantiate all that impact. To impact a billion lives, that is altruistic and philanthropic. Some of the stuff that we're structuring and some of the other entities is truly going to be that. We've got partnerships with two different drop shipping companies. A hundred percent of the proceeds are going to charity. I don't need to make the money in the tens of dollars here. Let's build the business and do it.

I wanted to hit on that point before I tell you the story of how we got to where we are. That point is very reasonable. Many of us view the world because of the way we structure it as rigid, fluid, and integrated. I've said for a long time that I didn't believe in work-life balance because you set yourself up for success there. Most people view balance in terms of the amount of time. Honestly, it's not about time. It's about attention. I've said for a long time work-life integration but it's more than work-life integration. I think it’s life integration. That's what you're getting at. You can do multiple things with similar efforts. It’s like killing two birds with one stone approach.

For me, as long as my purpose and company purpose are aligned. I want to get back to something. I've talked about this before. I’m taking off my spiritual hat and my professional development hat for a second and talking about Corporate America. Things have changed so much and people aren't talking about it. Brands, for a long time, are like, “We need to do charity work because marketing is a big deal. This is for real.” They're doing what maybe you and I were talking about where they take a percent of the budget and they focus on that. It’s doing okay but in this new world as media consumption, brand loyalty, and what I call brand love have changed so much, you can't be a brand anymore that does charity or influence people's lives or does good things. You have to be a brand that is that.

It's got to be embodied in your culture.

It’s everything that you do and that's hard. The traditional way we've done businesses changing before our eyes, media consumption change, consumer habits have changed, I've talked about that. This spiritual awakening that you're talking about is here. Brands almost need to be completely retooled in how they operate as a company within, which is hard to do as a publicly-traded corporate company with existing processes.

Realizing Your Purpose: The core of the work is to recalibrate the “who.”

Moving a big ship is going to be near impossible for some of the brands. We're going to see some major shifts in the future. The hard part about creating a big pivot is I'm not convinced that brands know exactly where to go.

They have no idea.

There’s no feedback or data that's giving them what that looks like. We also know there are some generational shifts starting to take place with consumers and how they are entering the market. It'll be fascinating to watch. I completely agree with you. By the way, I want to be clear with the big caveat. I love making a lot of money and the opportunity for people to make a lot of money. It's what we are doing with matters. I have to give that caveat because when I say this, I don't mean it to sound bad. There's a big portion of our society that has got tired of the profits over people and elements to how our society in some ways has operated.

I agree with that. I've run a business for a while. You have to do both. Sometimes, this altruistic attitude without any business sense and some nuts and bolts doesn't work either.

You and I are completely aligned. Anytime a pendulum swings to one side, it gets too far off. It’s like integration, harmony, or whatever you want to call it. We're on the tail end of this profit side largely. There's a lot of great organizations that have had it embedded. What we're starting to see is now that we see inside people's homes, it's like, “It's organizations.” By the way, when I say profit over people, I'm not saying do altruistic work. We're seeing changes in flex work approaches and the ability for people to get higher compensation because they see how their people are living and they're like, “We can't have them living like this anymore.”

We see a lot of generosity and charity between different income scales within organizations. That's starting to happen. A lot of inner stuff that's taking care of our own versus taking care of everybody else, we're going to see a lot more of that in the short run. It's like, “Let's true-up our stuff. Let's focus on our foundation and make sure our people are good.” I don't think that's a bad thing. It's no different than in a marriage showing up as who you are. You could be the best version of yourself but the marriage doesn't work.

We surveyed 1/3 of our workforce and everybody said, “We're not coming back ever.” I was like, “1/3 of our workforce said they're not coming back to work. That’s 175 employees.” There will be people that have earned trust and accountability and get it, and they’re going to be in a good spot. I'm not talking about our company, by the way. There's going to be some people that think that benefits and when you come to work, where you come to work, and where you work are going to be something that everyone gets. In my opinion, talking to a lot of business owners, that's not going to be the case. Look at you’re an entry-level. You might need to come to work every day. If you're mid to senior level, you're killing it, you got a ton of value, you're taking your kids, maybe you don't need to come in at all.

By the way, a lot of the examples I was talking about would be what I would call Corporate America. In the entrepreneur, business owner, small to medium-sized business type stuff, we're talking a slightly different game here.

They’re going to have policies.

You did say something earlier that I want to make sure that we hit on because I know you wanted to talk about this in here. It was this process of my transition. We got diverted with this integration thing. By the way, I'm right there too. I see shiny objects up there. I'm getting distracted. I deeply resonate with what you talk about. Here's the thing, I am as imperfect as any person who positions themselves to be perfect. I have many flaws. I genuinely believe that what we're doing is trying to normalize conversations around stuff that we don't talk about. A lot of suffering comes from what's left unsaid. I'm an open book. I dropped some bombs on some stuff that's real-time that we're dealing with. I want to share this story, this transition because it is something that people can learn from. It's not about me, it's about my partner. It's the dynamic that led to it.

I'm going to start a little further back. I've always been that guy that said that I never want to be the husband and father that provided everything for his family but woke up 25 years later and then we're there in the relationship. We had our son. Six months in, I realized that I was still burning the candle at both ends and I had done nothing to adjust my life. Providing everything for my family financially means nothing if I'm not there for leadership, love, security, empathy, compassion, structure, stability, strength, all of the above. It was the first time in my life that I didn't feel like I had the people in my life nor did I feel like I had the skillset or intellect to figure it out myself, so I hired my first coach.

Is this the coach I met?

Maybe.

What coach is this?

This was Ben Newman.

I did a conference with him early on.

I hosted one early on.

At that conference, I wrote a whole plan for my life.

Vulnerability and authenticity is the glue that binds human connection.

It’s good stuff. He’s a good guy. I ended up connecting with him because he had relevance and credibility for a whole variety of reasons. A month into working with him, he's like, “Bogert, you got to be doing this.” I was like, “What are you talking about?” He's like, “You need to be coaching and speaking.” I said, “What are you talking about?” He's like, “You build people and you build businesses. In your story, personally and professionally, you have relevance and credibility. Do it.” I was like, “Whatever. I'm paying you a lot of money. Tell me how great I am and then we figure all this other stuff.” He did. He helped. I'm forever indebted for a lot of the things that I've embedded in my life. He tripled it for about nine months. The world sent me a sign that I couldn't refuse. What I'm grateful for in there is he told me what I needed to hear and not what I wanted to hear and he trickled it despite the fact that I didn't see it in myself. He saw it in me and push.

Fast forward a little bit, I opened up the business. I was coaching and speaking. I had to cap. A number of coaching clients and speaking events every single month because I so significantly invested in time, energy, money, emotions, everything in the other business that we were building. This was one of those things where I was dialed in and it was set there. I had some other health stuff a couple of years back. I'm good now. I've squared away. After the tail end of that, my wife and I went away to summer of 2019. It was one of those weekends that mentally, emotionally physically, and spiritually. We were one. We were connected.

Where did you go?

We went up to Savannah, up North. We did meditation stuff. It was all a spiritual experience together. We're driving back to pick up the kids and Ashley leans over in the car next to me and she says, “How would you feel if you didn't have to go to the office on Monday?” I was like, “That's a pretty loaded question.” I was immediately flooded with fear. I got goosebumps. I was like, “That's a loaded question. Why don't you tell me more?” She's like, “You let this last health stuff allow fear to enter into your world in a way that I've never seen you afraid. You've convinced yourself that we need the status, money, prestige, and financial security. I'm here to tell you that we don't. I don't care if we live in a cardboard box on the corner. What we need is 100% you and we don't have 100% you.”

She said, “I also know that as you've been coaching and speaking, that's where you're meant to be. I don't think you're even scratching the surface of your potential nor do I think you’re having the impact on the world that you want. There's nobody on this planet I'd rather take a bet on than you. We've already taken a big bet on you and it paid off. Why don't we double down on that bet and go all in? There's nobody else I'd rather do it with.”

I'm getting chills. I was terrified. It’s not a loss on me. The strength it took and the courage it took for her to push me. She was clear as day, way more clear than I was at that moment. She threw a dart and hit the bullseye. I had to go through a process over the next three months of unpacking, “What does that mean? What is the root of my fear? How true is this? Have I convinced myself that I'm here?” This was on the tail end of working through a lot of issues with my shame, which I didn't understand shame and how much that impacted me.

I'll give two quick things and then I'll wrap this piece up. Brené Brown outlines it best. It’s, “I'm not worthy. I'm not good enough.” When you shut that down, you're ready to go to battle and you show up in the arena and you’re ready. It's like, “Who do you think you are? Who are you to live beyond that limit? Who are you to go do something big?” Everything major I've ever done in my life, I felt the need to apologize for. I pulled the throttle back in my life because I didn't want to feel shamed by doing big things. I've always done big stuff. By the way, I've done a lot of big stuff that you know about that many people don't and will never know of. It’s cool stuff. I never felt I could celebrate that, own that, or lean into it. I was pulling the throttle back. I started looking at a few things.

A lot of people don't know that they can relate to that. I'll speak for me. I'm not afraid of failing anymore. I'm afraid to succeed. What does that say about me? Who am I? There are demons in my head that want to push me down.

That's why shame is damaging because it's the ultimate wolf in sheep's clothing. It hits you on both sides, from the bottom and the top. That's why most people don't see it because it shows up as fear, anxiety, stress, scarcity, perfectionism, and defensiveness. It shows up as all these other things. We put a label on it that it's not shame but shame is toxic. I had to look at that. Twelve months leading into that conversation, I'd lost six men I knew to suicide. I looked at this and I'm processing all these things. I look at my kids and I had to think through regret minimization theory, which Bezos popularized which is people on their deathbed regret the things they never did and not the things they did and failed. I knew what my life looked like in the other world. That was the easy button.

Is that Bezos’s theory?

I don't think it's Bezos’s theory. He popularized it. I didn't want my kids to see me hit the easy button. If I was in a position to change or save someone's life, what am I doing over here, schlepping insurance? If I believe that my gift, my calling is to help people in this way, and I've only discovered those gifts even more, the reality is like, “What am I doing? I was out of alignment. I didn't realize how out of alignment I was.” The further away I get, the more of myself I feel. It's also allowed my wife and I to see patterns that were created in our life as a result of years I spent on risk management insurance. We're now unpacking that.

Realizing Your Purpose: Our world is starving for authentic leadership because they don't know who to trust.  

I had to embrace the pain of taking a risk, chasing what it was to avoid the suffering of being stuck and not ever knowing what I was capable of. My wife and I are having to embrace the pain of unpacking stuff that we never saw of working through the process of patterns that weren't our fault but are certainly our responsibility. We have an opportunity to redefine what the rest of our lives look like. That's what we're doing. I haven't looked back.

I remember when you talked to me one time and I'll never forget this. It was a low point when I was battling some things. You said, “I want you to go in your bathroom. I want you to write on the mirror, ’I am worthy.’ I want you to take a picture.” I did that. It was horrible because I'm looking at myself in the mirror with this, “I am worthy,” and I felt like crap. I couldn't embrace it. I felt like a loser for doing it. I thought it would make me feel better. It made me feel worse. It helped me because I realize in some weird way that I don't need to have shame.

It almost stung me the other way because I saw this picture. I got out of bed. It was probably hungover. I took a picture of myself. I have my shirt off. I was like, “I am worthy.” I'm like, “What is this?” I've contemplated getting it tattooed on my wrist. Shame is sneaky. I've seen a lot of people deal with it. My group therapy has dealt with it. I've had friends who commit suicide over this. It does creep into you. I've never seen it creep in from the top down. For me, doing shows, I'm like, “What are you? Are you an influencer? You suck. Who do you think you are?”

That's the thing. It is unbelievably damaging. The reason I had to do that is that the words “I am” are the two most powerful words in the English language. Whatever follows I am, follows you. It's an answer to the who are you question. That's something I learned from Ben Newman. You can answer that question that says who you are or who you want to become. Both are equally powerful. I am statements are a big part of what it is because it helps you envision and embody states and traits about yourself that you know you need to have or who you want to become. It drives that behavior.

The thing is, you’ll never escape the shame. It will be an adversary always in pursuit. You have to be vigilant in those moments to start to recognize what happens. We talked about how many people think that they're stuck because of the wrong strategy or tactics in their life. The more work I do in this space, the more I definitively believe that is wrong. Strategy and tactics will only get you so far. By the way, strategy and tactics have played in my life, you played it in your life. We both had success. We both had lots of fun. We have both done lots of things. It will only get you so far.

What truly keeps people stuck is a combination of emotional triggers, behavior patterns, and environmental conditioning that keep you in that exact same place. You have to understand shame through all three lenses. You have to understand the root of shame, where it came from, where it's patterned in your life, where and how it shows up. What are the triggers? What are the things that make you feel shame? Behavioral patterns, how do I respond to those triggers? To be able to do that, you also have to be in your body and aware. You have to start to understand.

For example, I care deeply about being a great husband and father. Anytime that's in question, it sparks my shame and it sparks my defensive element of shame. My wife might say something to me and I can rattle off the last fifteen things I did in the last five days that I did for her and the kids, which serves no purpose because that's not what we're getting at. My defensiveness causes me to do that. It puts a little bit of oomph behind it, which causes an issue when there probably wouldn't have been one otherwise. That's an emotional trigger and behavioral pattern. My wife didn't create it and it's my responsibility to fix it.

Isn’t it amazing when you understand your triggers?

It's insane.

For me, I've realized it's not about getting rid of the triggers. It's about like, “Here's my trigger. It hit. I know what's happening right now. Now I can process how I can move forward and accept it.” I have abandonment issues. Sometimes, I have issues for whatever reason. This triggered and it makes sense. It's not about this issue. It's about some past crap that I have and that's okay. It's made me who I am. It's made me, in a lot of ways, great. The triggers come up and now you feel this. I don’t think many people understand what their triggers are.

This is where I started, I understood how shame would show up in my body. Meaning what was the visceral reaction I got? What were the external and internal manifestations of shame? They look a little different, depending on what shame is being triggered for me. I had to focus on being where my feet are, being in my body, and paying attention. Once you understand how it shows up in your body, then you can start to ask yourself the question, “Is it true?” You can understand, like, “Is my snapping a reaction because I'm getting crap about loading the dishwasher wrong? Is it because of how my grandpa looked at me when I was six?” It does start to help separate. You have to understand where you're at in your body. What starts to free people is to truly do the work long enough to get to the root of it.

Saying that you have shame doesn't matter if you don't know where it came from because it feels like you can't escape it. Once you start to understand it and understand the root, that doesn't mean you can fix it but it allows you to take judgment out of the scenario. One of the things you said is like, “I am worthy.” You immediately felt bad about yourself. Self-awareness is great, other than the fact that a lot of times, self-awareness makes people more self-aware of all the ways they should be judging themselves. We've got to be able to shift to future focus and objective around what can we do now that we know these things? I'll give you an example. This is a blind spot that I've become aware of. I've been angry for a long time because 95% of my world, anger doesn't show up because of the way I've built my world. I've recognized that because I'm dealing with some stuff that I've had to unpack that, it was a hard thing for me to admit.

How do you deal with an angry guy, yourself or somebody else?

I had to understand the root, first of all. It's no different than shame. How does it show up in my body? Where are my triggers? What environments contribute to it? Where and how am I able to have it be effective or not effective in my life? You have to ask yourself questions.

Don’t be ashamed to do big things that many people won't and will never know of.

What are you angry about?

I'm not ready to talk about that on the show yet but I figured it out in a matter of three days. I had a unique experience that concreted it for me that wouldn't have happened otherwise. It wouldn’t take longer.

Was it buried inside you?

Very deep.

You've done all this work and discovered this.

That's why I'm saying it because there is no final destination. It’s only a constant evolution of self. I believe anger is the last piece that's truly a negative emotion that's going to holding me back. It's not holding me back majorly but it's holding me back from some of the things I care most about in this world.

One thing you said that I've noticed I did and I've seen other people who have gone through is therapy and whatnot. Therapy is great. It helps you find root cause stuff. It sucks. I noticed I got into this pattern and I see other people get to this pattern of the victimization of that negative experience that you've found some root cause issues with and it's having triggers in nowadays life. How do you get past that? Is that okay to have some victimization and then it's a process you have to go through? Do you quickly need to think about like, “This happened for a reason. It's made me better who I am.” How do you emotionally process that as you find these root causes?

You can imagine that this is complex. It's extremely loaded. It's getting honest with yourself about what is true. That doesn't mean what is true from a stat perspective. What is my truth?

I'm glad you said that because I don't believe there's black and white, true and not true. I hate that. It's like, “Is this true? This Bible, is this not true?” It's all a matter of perspective. Is this a chair or not? I don't know. Maybe not.

Ryan Holiday in The Obstacle Is the Way has one of my favorite quotes. It's the way I view it but the way he says it is perfect, “There is the event that happens and the story we tell ourselves.” That's the truth. That's completely okay. That's why I say perspective points are what's important too. Oftentimes, seeking other perspectives helps us better understand our own. A lot of people have a hard time moving through it. What I'm starting to believe is there's a lot of folks who don't feel like they were ever able to own their truth in the time that the root happened. It’s suffering created by what was unsaid.

You're cycling yourself in suffering. Over and over again, there's this suffering that happened.

That's the simplistic nature of my anger. I'm not going to give details on what it is. It was stuff that I felt that went unsaid. Why? I don't need to talk about it right now. The point is that's what most people don't do. They don't ask that additional question. They don't understand like, “What is my truth? What is truth?” Being able to recognize that we don't have to have our emotions tied up in it any longer. What we need to do is to shift from trying to understand why this happened and where and how it shaped us. That's where we have to go future-focused and determine what we are going to do about it. That's why I say I learned not to get stuck by what has happened to me but instead get moved by what I can do with it.

The reality is transferring my pain into purpose allows me to process. Part of the reason is it's also easy for me to be an open book. It’s part of processing. It's a part of me owning my truth and fault. Part of it is accountability, ownership, and living on our truth. For me, the last thing I ever want is for anybody to believe that anything I do is fraudulent, misrepresented, and not authentic. That means I've got to own my gifts. I've also got to own my worst things about me. Genuinely, we are all a complex mixture of good and bad. We've all done a lot of bad things but that doesn't mean that who we are is bad. Our world tells us otherwise.

As I'm hearing this, that's why community is important, as I learned about the twelve-step and the process of why it's been the most successful thing for people to overcome addiction. I have some form of a community group that I meet with monthly in a twelve-step process. YPO, for example. Every month, I have nine people I meet with. We talk about intimate detailed stuff we wouldn't tell anybody. It's a way to empathize, to connect, and to find solutions to your problems or somebody else's problems that are showing up in some similar way.

I'm such a big advocate in some community groups that you meet with, that you share deep things with, and that you learn from. I've had some form of that. You and I had a group like this before. I challenge everybody, whether it's a formalized group like YPO, EO, a twelve-step group, or a church group, anything, this could be one big way we can change this world. It’s supporting each other through community.

I couldn't agree more. We're hardwired for connection. What the community does as well is it allows people to simultaneously get a push, pull, and feel permission. What I mean by that is so much suffering comes from what's left unsaid. Many people don't know necessarily what needs to be said. Even if they do, they don't have the words for it. Hearing someone else say something that they relate to, something that resonates for them, gives them a push, pull, and permission because it puts words in reality to how they feel. It gives them permission to vocalize it if they know they can. Those are ways that we start to restore. That's where we also get a connection. That's where we can start to move forward. The problem is we don't say a lot of what needs to be said.

Realizing Your Purpose: Many organizations realize our people aren't numbers to produce profit. Our people are people.

I've had moments where I've been nervous to say something. This could be a great sales tactic for anyone in sales. If you ask permission for something to say something vulnerably, you say, “Can I ask a crazy question?” That’s been a sales tagline forever. It’s like, “Can I be vulnerable?” It's true. It's authentic. I say the elephant in the room and it changes the dynamic of a meeting. It could not only be a salesroom but it could be in a one-on-one situation. It could be in a dating situation. When I was dating, I was like, “Can I ask the question I'm not supposed to ask? I want to get this awkwardness and this barrier to connection out of the way.” It works well. Even other stuff, I'll say things we're not good at. At times, there are things that we struggled with. People are like, “You're not trying to sell me something.”

When you own it, that's real. We had a meeting with a CEO of a credit union for a multiple six-figure coaching and engagement opportunity with the organization. She's proper. She’s been at the organization for over 35 years. She's this small, unassuming but powerful, strong woman. I love this woman. I felt this connection immediately. She says what it is. She’s from the East Coast. She’s hard-charging. I show up in a t-shirt, mohawk, and mustache. I'm the only one that isn't a “formal corporate executive coach.” I did that in quotes. Hopefully, some people will understand why I did that. The point is I will coach but I also won't coach in certain scenarios. My biggest thing was I went in and asked all the questions to figure out who receives it. I qualified her before I even went into asking a question, which she appreciated. She's like, “Everybody else is trying to sell us.”

You're trying to match make.

I was like, “I'm not sure I'm the right guy for you and these are all the reasons why. I need to understand this.” Once we started to work through it, saying what needs to be said, she wants us to work for them. We also happen to be the most expensive. She's waiting for the longest for us because we don't have a capacity for a month and a half until they can get started. We may not get the deal. We're going to but the point is I didn't go in there with an agenda to sell anything. I went in there to figure out if and how I can help. I wanted to know, “Is this in alignment with me? By the way, is this going to help or hurt us impacting a billion lives in the next 25 years?” Anything that's potentially going to take away from it, anything it will take away time, energy, attention, and resources, we're not going to do it. We've already stepped over several other opportunities like this because they didn't.

If I were to learn this at 25, it would have been a game-changer for me because I wanted every deal. I would try to make things work.

Scarcity versus abundance.

I 100% agree with you. I want to leave people with that. That is awesome. Thanks for joining us. Thanks for coming on. I know we’ve been trying to do this for a while. Congrats on all your success. I’m going to continue watching. I love you like a brother. I was excited for you to come on and share this moment with me.

I love you, too. Let’s do it again. It's always fun. I love doing stuff with you. Thank you for creating a platform for me to put good into the world and pour my soul into your audience. That's what it's about, changing lives. I know that's what you're all about.

Thank you. I appreciate it. If you like this, tune in, share it, do whatever you do on social platforms. Thanks for reading. I appreciate you.

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Scott Harkey

Entrepreneur & Podcaster

Scott leads a stable of marketing agencies and services offering the world's biggest brands speed, value and results. OH is an independent agency built to serve today's brands through consumer-centric marketing and strategy.