I’ve been in the trenches of growth, transformation and scouring the Earth for the ingredients of a life well lived —one that brings us to our knees with gratitude.
Some of these adventures include:
- Showing up in nondescript strip malls in Salt Lake City to train with those who built the Adonis of the movie 300.
- Enrolling in a men’s transformation group resembling Fight Club; black eyes and torn ACL’s included.
- Staring into people’s eyes so far past the point of discomfort we had tears streaming down our faces.
- Visiting random cabins in the woods for emotional work and spending time with Buddhists, monks, guides, shamans.
If there was even a scant hope of transformation, I was all in.
And today I wanted to share 25 hard-fought, real lessons from growth and transformation.
I share these lessons from growth —with the hope —that they will resonate during your journey:
1. You and I don’t get to choose how we grow and sometimes the messy path is the right one.
I’ve studied what compels someone to change and as much as we’d love to use motivation for change —it is pain that is the ultimate catalyst. Oddly enough, the avoidance of our pain robs us from change.
2. You can experience a breakthrough, but do you have the courage to follow through on it?
We live in a world of insight gatherers who know how to live an optimized life, yet live in their parent’s basement watching Game of Thrones all day.
3. The fastest way to change behavior is to shift environment.
Environments are the ultimate test of adaptation —by throwing yourself into an environment, you have no choice but to level up or quit.
4. Amplifying today’s problem is an incredible catalyst to change.
Since adaptation is our superpower —we can adapt to a shadow life that is causing emotional distress and still not change. If you wake up in three years and nothing has changed, how does that feel?
5. Running from problems gets old —this is where being pulled by a magnetic vision comes in.
While pain is a fantastic motivator —running from it 24/7 is exhausting and leads to burnout. At some point, you must be pulled by a vision from your future self.
6. Reaffirm your vision daily. If you have time for social media, you have time to create your life.
No, once a year, quarter or month is not enough —this is a daily practice that creates deep clarity and alignment. Otherwise, you’re sending the world a message.
7. Enablers are toxic and tend to agree with your excuses —there’s also a benefit for them when you stay the same.
Do you have real friends or people who are comfortable with your growth until it becomes a threat to them? Audit your relationships and be careful about those who gave up on their dreams telling you to do the same.
8. The Law Of Diminishing Intent is real.
Execute as soon as you get the idea —otherwise —every moment becomes a chance for fear, overwhelm and excuses to take over. Do it messy and don’t let overthinking win.
9. Get comfortable expressing your “negative” feelings.
There is no such thing as a negative emotion —it is our responses to these emotions that cause erratic behavior. Emotional flow in life is success.
10. Emotions can either be used as leverage to create or fuel to destroy. Use wisely.
We all have the capability to create or destroy —and the pain of untapped potential leads to soothing through destructive habits. Use your creative energy wisely and put it use, or as Neil Gaiman said, Make Good Art.
11. There is no ‘right’ time and you won’t feel ‘ready.’
Perfect timing and readiness are mechanisms of the ego to keep you stuck and exactly where you are today —without making the change you need to.
12. Who cares if someone doesn’t approve?
You’re the only person who has to square off with the consequences of your decisions every day. The right people will always come around; the wrong ones will get off the bus.
13. Most people don’t care as much as we think.
As David Foster Wallace said —they’re all consumed by what others may be thinking of them. Understand that people are lost in their own head, and nobody cares.
14. Most people don’t invest in themselves because they don’t believe in themselves.
Until we put money on the line towards our dreams, we are still living in the land of dabblers. While money isn’t everything with transformation, it signals readiness.
15. On-your-knees moments are painful. But they also create the ingredients for radical transformation.
The bitter divorce. The crippling health ailment. The lost money from the failed launch. These are hard, but guess what? They contain the ingredients for your future success.
16. Distraction is an avoidance mechanism —usually for a lack of fulfillment and purpose.
Living in distraction is a sign that you’re either in emotional distress or lacking priorities. Limit your inputs and be careful being seduced by information designed to rile you up emotionally.
17. Solitude, quiet and reflection are the best ways to get re-connected.
When people tell me they’re lacking clarity, I ask a simple question —how much time have you spent alone, unplugged, in the last week? Start there and get comfortable stepping away from the noise.
18. Growth is hard, but regret is too.
I won’t sugarcoat or lie to you: growth can be hard. But guess what is even harder? Waking up at 79 years old knowing you missed your goddamn shot.
19. Be a finisher. Train yourself to seek completion even with the small things.
The amateurs and dabblers all start projects, accumulate domain names on GoDaddy and work on logos —but never take them to completion. Celebrate finishing.
20. Confidence is created by facing resistance head on, leaning into your edge and taking the next step anyway.
The only path is straight through. Resistance is the catalyst to more resolve, confidence and belief in yourself. Do the hard thing. Stop avoiding the action you must take.
21. Keeping your dreams a secret is a safety mechanism —if the universe has no idea what you want, how will it give it to you?
I talk to a lot of people who dream in secret —they know what they want, but are unwilling to express it —and then they use “lack of clarity” as an excuse.
22. Our brains are designed for efficiency towards getting what we want.
We are hard-wired to notice anything and everything that can assist us in getting we want. I call this the Test Drive effect; you test drove your favorite car and now you see it everywhere. What changed?
23. Surrendering is not giving up. It’s letting go and a form of allowing.
You can’t out-hustle, out-grit, out-Gary Vee timing. Sure, work ethic matters —but so does patience, the process and honoring what I call divine timing.
24. 88% of change is emotional —and only 12% is tactical.
I call this the 88/12 rule —that any result is much more about navigating the emotions of growth, success and failure than strategy, tactics or hacks. If the actions aren’t working, look under the hood.
25. Love the process, because it is not a means to an end.
We’re conditioned to see the process as a means to an end —more money, growth and results. But what if the process was that very end? That the end state is actually an emotional one: presence, abundance, freedom.
Well, these are some of the biggest lessons from growth.
The path of my transformation has been intense in the best of ways.
I feel blessed that at 21 years old I took a shot in the dark and enrolled in a Buddhist retreat, which opened my world forever.
An older man in his 60’s turned around while we introduced ourselves and said:
“Young man, what I would do to have discovered this at your age.”
And it was at that moment —that I realized —I was onto something.
And I’m still only getting started.
Which one resonated with you?