Your Stories Matter
This is the first in a series of blogs that I’m going to do to set the table for your future mindset experience.
I’m going to start by sharing my own story.
A story of accepting what it is that you are told to believe and resigned to believe, from your childhood.
As you grow up, you follow through a process of development, mostly stewarded by your parents, and your parents define for you what you will believe, or won’t believe.
You accept some of the information that they provide for you as truth.
This is often reinforced by your siblings, family members, or your local cultural connections and environmental connections. Whether those are people you are connecting with on a daily basis, your teachers, your coaches, or anybody who has formal or informal implications for your life.
So all of these people are contributing along with your experiences, and the challenges you undergo, to create an experiential fabric that drives your belief systems.
Sometimes you counterpoint those beliefs, you choose not to accept them as truths and do differently. And, sometimes you look at them as things that are true, and you don’t challenge them especially when you’re a kid when what you’re told to do is what you do.
I grew up in a family that was relatively well-educated. My father came from a very difficult set of circumstances, and higher education was his belief system.
He had been told that going to university was an important element of his own development. He grew up in the 40s and 50s, and getting a university degree was not common. To some degree, it still remains less common than one would believe. Regardless, he believed that getting a university education was high value, and that’s what he did.
He went to university, then became a diplomat, and was a successful diplomat. So, when my turn came to choose higher education, his viewpoint was that I needed to go to University.
Really, there was no sense of any other kind of excursion or opportunity in my father’s mind. You are going to go to high school, you’re going to graduate high school, and you’re going to go to university. You’re going to get a degree, and then you’re going to get a job, and that was really the story.
I was sold that story from childhood, I was told that story by the culture and the fabric of every influence that I ran into whether that was TV or socio-cultural influences, after all, my friends were all doing it as well.
We all went to university and we chose a future of expectation.
But before I enrolled in University, I had applied to do a college diploma program in radio and television arts. My inner voice was always telling me that I wanted to broadcast and express myself and to talk with people. I felt I had an affinity for conversation, I wanted to do talk radio, or talk TV.
But my father discouraged me from going to college and informed me that he would not help me with my schooling financially unless I enrolled in a University degree.
So I gave up on that aspiration and instead, discovered the world of therapy and performance, became a therapist and performance coach, and went on to create a wonderful career.
But all the time while exploring human performance, I had to find a reason for doing it. And it wasn’t really because I was excited about the idea of rehab or training. I like training, I lifted weights and had an affinity for it, and I was a strong kid. But it wasn’t my raison d’etre.
I was more attracted to human performance because it was an opportunity to stay in touch with sports, I loved sports. So I found a way, a vehicle to express joy for sport and performance sport.
I got into that world and it became my de facto purpose for being, to show people I was good enough to be there.
So I always focused on trying to live up to what I thought were the expectations of that industry.
But, in so doing, I always felt a sense that I wasn’t good enough.
What is Good Enough?
I was always seeking to find the next platform that would sociologically define me as having arrived, or been successful.
In the beginning that was to get a job at a major university, because at that time, that kind of role or that kind of responsibility was high value and well respected. So that’s what I did.
I also thought that working for my national professional organization and doing things from a political standpoint would again elevate me to a place of respect, and so I did these things to generate a sense of being respected as well.
I was always doing what I thought would allow me to feel like I was good enough.
After a while I became less excited about the work I was doing at the University, and realized I was not being fulfilled by the work I was doing.
I thought the next level, perhaps the National Hockey League or professional sport would be the place where I would arrive!
During that period of time, I also struggled with a couple of personal relationships. I had been a heavier kid and I had struggled with my self image and self belief, so again, finding the right partner, a partner that somehow made me believe I was good enough was a challenge. I ran through a few unsuccessful relationships and a lot of trauma and and challenge around that area of my life.
I realized no job or relationship was the secret antidote to my sense of self-image and value.
Finally, I got a role in the National Hockey League where I was able to work for eleven years. I started with the New York Islanders, then two years with the NY Rangers, and then home to Montreal to work for eight seasons with the storied Montreal Canadiens.
I could write a book on those eleven years as well but will hold on to some of those experiences for future blogs.
I believed I had arrived at the Montreal Canadiens at the pinnacle position in Canadian Professional sport. Now I was good enough, right? Wrong!
Well, I was eight years into that and still not feeling this sense that what I was doing was what I really love to do. And I was still not feeling a sense that I was actually good enough.
I also realized that 80% of the work I was doing was not fulfilling and only about 20% of what I was doing really energized me each day.
So, I embarked on a mindset journey led by some mentors who helped me find my sense of self, and my purpose. I recognized who I was internally, through some valuable and insightful self-learning, and self-realization.
At my core, I was a connector.
I was somebody who had energy to explore what other people were doing. I was interested in connecting and conversing, pulling on the threads of the fabric of what other people were experiencing, and what made them who they were.
I learned about myself and learned about my connection centric life, and the person that I was, and my desire to express myself. It all came back to this idea of broadcasting. I realized that this new genre of expression called podcasting was something that could invoke or allow me to potentially express my true self.
However, at this point, I felt constrained by the “How” and the challenge of making that happen. For another four years I waded through that feeling, and then finally took the bull by the horns entering into a course to learn how to do podcasting.
Once I started podcasting, I knew I was somebody who wanted to explore and learn through other people’s experiences. I loved exploring through conversation on deeper topics and diving into the subject matter of human experience.
I still enjoyed helping athletes succeed and solving their problems, and my resume in that industry had grown strong enough that I was able to selectively choose the kinds of projects I wanted to do, I found resonance in my craft.
I also learned that I was somebody who had strength for teaching and presentation, so I began teaching. Sharing what I knew was deeply fulfilling as well.
Creating a fabric of life that allowed me to do all of these different and inspiring things was my definition of success, and the pursuit of this worthy ideal.
The overreaching story that I want you to recognize and connect with is that fundamentally, this journey of self-investigation needs to start earlier in your life.
The Essence of Self-Reflection
If you’re like most, you have not been encouraged to self-reflect. In fact, it’s often discouraged. Considered an older person’s thing to do. At 50 or 60 years old you try to learn more about yourself.
However, self-investigation and self-reflection should start way earlier in your life.
Beginning as early as your teens where you can start to self-investigate what you’re excited about what creates a passionate experience in you, and what you do to connect with yourself.
There’s nothing wrong with self-investigation and connection, and just recognizing what it is you’re capable of doing.
If you live in the world of human performance as I do, if you take this concept out of the context of an internal call to a spiritual or psychological investigation, and you put it into the physiological, you are constantly telling your athletes or the people that you work with that they should monitor what and why they’re doing what they are doing.
What is the effect that they wanted to create, did they create that effect, and how are they feeling after this stimulus?
What are their moods, and what are their energy levels?
Take, for example, nutrition where you want to know what macros you’re putting into your body, How much protein, how many carbs, and how much fat? What are the different types of food, and when are you ingesting those foods? How is your digestive system, what is the effect on you, all this information is stuff you’re telling your athletes to evaluate, investigate, and monitor, so why should it be any different with regard to your mental state, mindset, or growth experiences?
That’s self-investigation. That’s self-reflection!
Self-reflection is necessary when it comes to knowing who you are, why you do what you do, and what you’re excited about. And it doesn’t mean that you have to stop or constrain yourself by that investigation, but simply inform yourself through that investigation.
This first lesson in this series is that self-investigation and self-reflection are an important part of your life. And it’s something you want to begin doing very early in your life to recognize who you are, what you have an affinity for, what gets you up in the morning, why you’re excited.
If you can’t realize or answer these questions, that, in and of itself is a reason for self-reflection.
It means you need to do more homework. You need to do more investigation. You need to do more trial, and error. You need to feel and try things and recognize and validate the experiences as either successful or unsuccessful to you based on your own set of criteria for what is success.
Fundamentally, you want to start to discover yourself, and recognize that one experience was good for you, and another one wasn’t.
As you go through this ebb and flow of trial and error, you start to discover the things that you enjoy more and the things that you enjoy less and so your goal over time is to build a life that brings more of what fulfills you, and you enjoy, or adds value to your life through your own creativity, and curiosity.
Rather than feeling constrained by what everybody told you you had to do. You discover the world you are meant to do.
Growth is the End-Game
Going back to the beginning of this blog, the stories that people tell you, the beliefs that people set for you, the influences on your behaviors, the constraints that are put upon you by the society, culture, and fabric around you, these are all stories you tend to accept as truth.
You need to be aware of these stories, and understand that they are just stories, so that you don’t get hamstrung by, or constrained by those stories.
You simply want to recognize that all of what you have come to believe is a series of stories, and that you have control over designing and creating new stories, and in turn, your new life.
The more information you have, the more investigation, self-investigation you do, the more you grow, to learn about yourself, and make better decisions about what it is you can accomplish.
Try answering these questions to get started:
1 – What makes me unique?
2 – What makes me smile or brings joy when I do it?
3 – Who do I admire and why?
Never stop growing.