Why Your Past DOES Define Your Future -Episode 065

LFL 65 | Past Defines Future


Contrary to popular belief, your past defines your future because the past is all you’ll ever have. We make mistakes, but it doesn’t mean we have to be stuck there. Patrick Veroneau talks about how we should use our past as a guide in making better decisions for the future. We should not let it stop us from reaching our final destination. This episode explores how we all can make our past our ultimate power to become the best version of ourselves. Furthermore, he shares personal experiences that shaped the growth and learnings he acquired along the way.

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Why Your Past DOES Define Your Future

Your Past Is Your Power, And When You Leverage It, It Will Positively Dictate Your Future.

In this episode, we’re going to talk about something that I believe goes contrary to what we often hear. That’s around your past. We often will hear people say that your past doesn’t define you and I couldn’t disagree with that more. I think your past absolutely defines you. You want that to be the case because our ability to decide what that definition looks like is all about our past, whether it’s in the present or future. Let’s get into it.

It seems like I’ve been hearing a lot of different comments, whether I was listening to other podcasts or interviews, where people kept going back about their past. Somebody would say, “Your past doesn’t define you or don’t live in the past.” I would agree. You don’t want to live in the past, but I do believe that our past does define us because that’s all that we have. If you think about it, we have nothing else but our past to decide what we are going to do going forward. What I mean by that is whatever mistakes we’ve made, challenges, heartache, or hardships that we’ve undertaken, it’s understanding that what happened in our past will allow us to make different decisions going forward.

There are three things that are worth mentioning here that hopefully will help us understand. They’ve helped me to understand how I put this into context. One that I mentioned is the GPS. Before that, when I talk about your past as your power and that we need to know our past to be able to move forward, the analogy that I would often use is prior to GPS if you were to think about getting directions from somebody to go somewhere. You head out in your car and follow their directions, but you miss one of the streets you were supposed to go down. You go down the wrong street. You get turned around and get lost. You finally are able to get reacclimated and make it to where you’re going but it took you longer to get there.

The reason that’s important is because, let’s say, I have to go to that location again from my house. When I leave to go there, if I pass that same street that I made a mistake on the last time, I know that’s not the right street to go down. I don’t drive by that street thinking, “I’m so dumb. I can’t believe I went down that street again. I went down that street the last time. I’m not going to be able to get where I want to go going forward from here because I made that mistake. I went down that wrong street.” We don’t do that. We go past that street. It’s like a GPS. Now, we all have GPS on our phones. If we think about this the same way, we need to equate our brains or thought process the same as though it’s a GPS.

What I mean by that is if I were to leave my house to go anywhere and somewhere that I didn’t know how to get there and I plugged it into my GPS or I went down the wrong street, it would simply tell me to recalculate and it would put me on the right direction. If I then got to that next street that I was supposed to turn and miss that street again, it would simply say recalculating again and it would put me on a new path. The time that it was going to take me to get there would probably increase, but at no point would it say to me, “Why don’t you pull the car over? Put it in the driveway. You’re not going to be able to get to where you’re going.” It wouldn’t do that, yet we do that to ourselves.

Always ask yourself how you could be better going forward. It will miraculously change things for you. Click To Tweet

We make a mistake. There’s a roadblock in the way. Maybe we experience a traumatic loss in our lives and somehow, we get derailed and think we can’t get to where we want to go. If we think about ourselves as the same as a GPS, then it allows us to always look at the mistakes and all of those things as an opportunity to recalculate. “I know that wasn’t the right decision. Here’s what I’ve learned because of it and how I’m going to get back on track to where my destination is.” That provides us that opportunity.

The next piece I’m going to talk about is around antique furniture. Anybody that is familiar with antique furniture, a lot of times, what we know is that the patina, which is the dirt on this piece, is oftentimes where the value comes from. I’m reminded when I watched one of the episodes of the Antiques Roadshow. There was a couple on there and they had this beautiful dresser that they had refinished. The appraiser was asking about the history of the piece. They said it had been in their family for a long time and that they finally decided to go ahead and refinish it. It looked like showroom quality. The appraiser said, “In its current condition, it’s worth about $5,000.” They were thrilled. He said, “However, had you not refinished this, it would be worth 5 to 10 times that amount.” Their faces dropped when he said that. To me, it’s no different than our own lives.

After I saw that episode, I started thinking about, “How are we similar to antique furniture as it relates to patina?” I came across this quote by an auctioneer who said, “Patina is everything that happens to an object over the course of time. The nick in the leg of a table, a scratch on a tabletop, the loss of moisture in the paint. Patina is built from all the effects, natural and man-made, that create a true antique.” When I think about that, I think natural and man-made. Those are the things that have happened to me that I didn’t have any control over but also the man-made problems that I created for myself and my past. Both of those things create my value going forward. It goes on to say, “Patina is what oftentimes gives a piece of furniture or an artifact its value. The process by which people attempt to remove the patina from the furniture or to restore. It has the unintended consequence of reducing the value of the piece.”

I think about this so often. We make mistakes. What do we do? We want to hope that nobody notices that we made those, yet that’s where our value comes in or the struggles that we’ve had, the disappointments and failures. Those things provide us the richness and value of going forward. Those do dictate and define who we will become but it’s our choice. We choose how that’s going to impact us. We live in a social world that oftentimes skews that. We look at Instagram or Facebook, where the picture is taken six times before it gets posted and it has got three different filters on it. The person that we’re seeing oftentimes isn’t even recognizable because there are so many different filters. This is about taking off the mask and being transparent. That’s where our value comes in.

The last piece that I would like to mention as it relates to this idea that your past defines who you are is around the smoke detector. We generally all have smoke detectors in our houses. Most of them are probably hardwired at this point. The analogy that I will use is that if we had food that burnt on the stove. It was just burnt food on the stove. There was no real fire and the smoke detectors were going off saying that there was a fire. I don’t think anybody would run into the street calling 911 because you know it’s not a real emergency. You would simply go over to the smoke detector. You might wave a towel in front of it or unplug it for a minute until the smoke clears, but it’s not a real emergency.

LFL 65 | Past Defines Future

Past Defines Future: A traumatic loss could instantly be a roadblock in our path to the future, but that’s not where we’re going. We need to get past that circumstance to get to our destination.


Unfortunately, our brain does not operate the same way. Our brain is similar to that smoke detector. The difference being is that it always sets off the alarm. We can imagine it as though it’s hardwired to an alarm company. What I mean by that is every time there’s burnt food on the stove, the amygdala part of our brain would look at that as smoke on the stove might be something that somebody says that’s threatening to us or offensive. Maybe it’s a decision that we decide we’re going to make, a risk that we’re going to take or we’re going to do something out of the ordinary from what we would normally do. Our brain says, “Don’t do it. This is going to cause a problem.” It sets off the alarm. When in reality, it’s not a real emergency.

If it’s in your house and it goes to the alarm company, as anybody knows that has a system like that, if they burn food, what do they have to do? They’ve got to call the alarm company quickly with a code to say, “This is not a real emergency.” We have to do the same thing to our brains. We need to pause and realize that those things that seem the scariest to us that we want to go away from or shy away from, oftentimes, it’s our brain trying to protect ourselves from something that is not a real emergency. It’s just smoke from burnt food on the stove. That’s it. We need to quiet that and remind ourselves that this is not a real emergency. When we think of each of those things in terms of your past defining your present and future, we have that ability.

If we think about it as the GPS, we’re going to make mistakes, go the wrong way and do the wrong thing. If we take that as it relates to the GPS and recalculate and find a new direction, then we’re going to overcome that. It’s not going to be an issue. If we think about even after the fact we’ve recalculated, we’re back on track is then not to beat ourselves up because we went down the wrong way. We’re not going to be able to get there the same way to look at it as though it’s antique furniture and say, “That’s where our value is going to come from.” It’s from oftentimes the nicks, dirt, and the things that are not as flattering that we’ve had to go through. Those are the things that are going to provide us the real richness and value going forward.

Lastly is when we’re in places where we’re looking to break out of a situation that was safe for us or not making a decision that we aren’t sure what’s going to happen. We want to play it safe to know that oftentimes is our brain trying to protect us. It’s going to tell us all the reasons why we shouldn’t do this but it’s no different than smoke from burnt food on the stove. It’s not a real emergency. We need to push through that, convince ourselves and talk about all the reasons why whatever we’re going to attempt to do, we will be successful. Not that we can’t.

My own personal experiences deal with each one of these, the GPS, antique furniture, and smoke detector. It’s the GPS for me from the time I was a young kid. I gave a talk where I mentioned how I was smoking cigarettes in the third grade. I was stealing them with a group of kids in the neighborhood that I was in. I jokingly say that, fortunately, it didn’t last that long. I went cold turkey and quit the habit early on. I got that out of my system, but it went onto other things from there. In eighth grade, I was drinking. In high school, I was drinking a lot through college, the same thing. I look back on those environments now and the challenges that I went through in terms of, I lost both of my parents at 17 and 18 years old, about a year and a half apart from cancer. That forced me to recalculate with my GPS. Where was I going to go?

The past is all we ever have, so we should use it to bring positive value to our present and future. Click To Tweet

I come from a large family. I’m the youngest of ten with many caring siblings, but in many aspects, I felt as though I needed to figure this out on my own. I wasn’t going to be able to rely on other people for that. I had to navigate that on my own on many levels, even though I did have the support. We’re never self-made on things but you need to be self-motivated. That’s what I had to discover from that. From there, in my late twenties, I went through a painful divorce. I had a ten-month-old son that I had primary custody of at that point. Again, the GPS needed to recalculate. What was that going to look like going forward in each one of those?

From there, I lost my job back during the 2008 crash. That was a career shock for me, which fortunately happened because that allowed me to recalculate again and provided me with the opportunity to do what I’m doing now. That’s the GPS component of this. Each of those, whether it was the death of my parents, the problems that I got into as a kid, going through a divorce, or losing a job, all of those things from the standpoint of value have provided me so much positive value. Would I want to experience them again in that order? No, probably not, but I know how much benefit I’ve received from each of those things.

Moving on, looking at my life from the standpoint of the smoke detector, there were many times where I questioned my ability, the direction I was going to go in, and the chances that I was going to take. It was always the smoke detector in my head, trying to protect myself, saying, “Don’t do it.” Each time to overcome that, it required me to be able to say, “This is not a real emergency. I will survive this. This is my mind trying to protect myself from something that I don’t need protection from right now.” Each one of those instances, the past challenges of my life, I’ve defined who I become if it wasn’t for those things and me looking back, especially on the decisions that I made that weren’t very good decisions, was to say, “How am I going to be a better person going forward? What am I going to do the next time I’m in that situation to make a better decision?”

Learning about your past will help you get back on track to where your destination is. Click To Tweet

That’s what I’ve done and what I continue to do, whether it’s recalculating, trying to find the value in the struggles, and also keeping my mind straight in regards to understanding what’s a real emergency and what’s just burnt food on the stove. When I look at how this relates to the work that I do, both coaching individuals and advising organizations on leadership and team behaviors, my background and experiences allow me to connect on many levels with people that if it wasn’t for those experiences, I don’t think I would be able to do it the same way that I’m able to do this now.

I’ll challenge you going forward. If you’re in those situations, challenge yourself to be like the GPS. Simply recalculate. When something doesn’t go your way, say, “I’m just going to recalculate.” After you recalculate, challenge yourself to say, “I’m going to learn from this. There’s going to be richness and value that’s going to come from what this event has cost.” Lastly is to constantly challenge yourself when you’re reluctant to do something that’s outside of your comfort zone. Know that most of the time, it’s not a real emergency. It has been fabricated by your brain to try and protect you against something that, quite honestly, you don’t need protection from.

I hope you’re able to take something away from this episode as it relates to your past does define your future. If you know somebody you think could benefit from this episode or any other, I would ask that you forward it on. It would mean the world to me if you would go on leave a rating or comment as it relates to this. Until our next episode, I hope you’re able to go out there and not only lead like no other but also to rise above your best.

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How Karen Sweeting “Got Equipped” To Deal With Depression – Episode 064

LFL 64 | Deal With Depression


There is a lot of stigma around depression, making it that much harder for people to deal with it. So what is depression about, and what are ways you can overcome it? Patrick Veroneau sits down with Karen Sweeting, founder and President of The Optimum Life Academy, to discuss this. Karen had her own battle with depression. She bravely shares her story and goes into detail on how her faith in God saved her. Tune in as she gives some insights from her book Get Equipped: 7 Steps Overcoming Depression & Living the Optimum Life.

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How Karen Sweeting “Got Equipped” To Deal With Depression

There Are Many Approaches To Overcoming Depression. Therapy, Antidepressants And Faith Can Be A Powerful Combination.

If you haven’t experienced depression yourself, you certainly know at least one of the person who is dealing with it or has dealt with it in the past. My special guest is Karen Sweeting. From all outside appearances, here is somebody that was a standout collegiate athlete in basketball who went on to play professional basketball in Europe. From there, she went on to a successful career in hospitality and the biopharmaceutical industry. Yet along with that journey, she was dealing with some very significant bouts of depression. In this episode, she walks us through her journey in the best-selling book that she wrote, Get Equipped: 7 Steps to Overcoming Depression and Living the Optimum Life. This is an episode you’re going to want to read. Let’s get into it.

Karen, I want to thank you. I had an opportunity to read your book. Around the topic of depression, especially from personal experience, I know so many people that are either dealing with it outwardly or more are hiding that depression inside. I know people that have committed suicide because of their depression. Your story and approach here went to my heart. I was looking forward to us being able to have this conversation. Start first with your own experience. What prompted you to want to write this book?

First of all, thank you so much for having me, Patrick, and congratulations to you on all you’re doing with the Emery Leadership Group. I’m honored to be able to share my story. The reason I started to write this book was a homework assignment and it turned into a huge healing process for me to truly forgive myself. That’s why now I’ve started my own company, The Optimum Life, to help people learn how to forgive others, forgive yourself and be an advocate for forgiveness. It’s been such a blessing to have a number one Amazon bestselling book that I want to equip people to be able to live the optimum life. Truly that’s what it’s about. It’s about living the optimum life, being healthy in body, mind and spirit because they’re all correlated. That started as a homework assignment and ended up as a healing journey for me.

What was inspiring as I read that is if somebody else is out there, they may look at collegiate athletes, professional athletes and think, “They’ve got it all together. This isn’t the stuff that gets to them.” To read your story and/or imagine as it’s going on takes a lot of courage and frustration at some point. Being an athlete myself, not at that caliber but you always think you have control over this, “I can do this on my own.”

That’s when I was working for ten years in the hotel industry. It was in October ‘99 that I went to the doctor and they diagnosed me with clinical depression. I was like, “I didn’t even know what depression was.” Many people don’t realize what depression is or if they’re dealing with a family member that has depression, it’s not a matter of, “Let’s pull yourself up by the bootstraps. What’s the problem? Karen, why are you allowing a job to get to you?” At that point, it wasn’t just about my thoughts or a job. It was about the fact that my thoughts were impacting my cortisol levels, which was depleting my serotonin, which then once you get into a real state of clinical depression, you don’t even want to get out of bed.

I’m going to touch on your question about suicide. My mom and dad left everything. They came from Montpelier, Vermont to San Diego, California. As much as I’m grateful that I have those kinds of parents that would leave everything but because of that, it’s the tendency in me to be a people pleaser and wants my father’s approval so badly. I’m the 5th daughter of 5 girls, and my brother was the youngest. That’s why my brother’s death was such a tragic thing for me. My dad came to my apartment. I wasn’t working at that time. I’m trying to get my arms around what is this depression thing and going through the multiple counselors. My mom and dad came to my apartment and were there for five months. One Sunday, they came and said, “Karen, please get out of bed and come to church with us.” I did not want to get out of bed. Clinical depression is paralyzing. It’s hard because I’m the most upbeat, optimistic person but when you get into a physical state of clinical depression, it’s painful for you to watch your family members hurting.

My dad came and they wanted me to go to church but I didn’t go to church. When they walked out and went to church, I was so sick of being sick. I took a handful of sleeping pills. That’s not even in the book. This whole thing of being completely transparent and taking your mask off is important. The more I’m doing it, the more I realize I’m helping other people be set free. Fortunately, my sister was communicating with a friend of mine. My friend had known that I’d taken the pills. Thank God, because I may not be here. My sister came, rushed over and took me to the hospital. I had to drink the whole charcoal nonsense. Depression is complicated and it’s not easy to look in from the outside and try to understand someone that’s going through depression. People are critical, judgmental or have any negativity to say about someone that potentially has either considered suicide. If you ever walked in their shoes, don’t go there. My dad came to pick me up after I was in the hospital and said, “Karen, you must be hungry. Let’s go get you a burger.” There wasn’t any like, “What were you thinking?”

One of my major mentors, Creflo Dollar, is a gentleman that was a Christian counselor. He got a habit of going down to the cafeteria in the hospital he was doing counseling at, and started eating a whole apple pie and continually dealing with people that were battling depression. Here’s a pastor who sat on that Home Depot bucket and turned upside down with a gun in his hand thinking, “How do I kill myself without hurting? If I do kill myself, will I make it to heaven?” If anyone wants to do any research on this topic, you look at Rick and Kay Warren who wrote the book, Purpose Driven Life. Their son Matthew who was battling depression, committed suicide. I truly believe no one is going to jeopardize their eternal destiny, whether or not they take their life or not. I pray to God that anyone that is on the verge of feeling hopeless would reach out to someone and share what’s going on because suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Click To Tweet

I wanted to touch upon that with suicide. If anyone is reading this and knows anybody or they are themselves feeling overwhelmed because of things that are going on in their lives, please reach out. Share with somebody how you’re feeling and get the help that you need. Professional help, medication or whatever you need to get back to truly living the optimum life, being healthy in body, mind and spirit. Depression is no joke and not fun. It starts with anxiety. That’s why I love what you’re doing. You’re helping people in their mindsets and look at their behavior.

As it relates to depression, it is unfortunate when you think of all the other diseases and ailments that we have, whether it’s cancer, diabetes or infection. Nobody says, “Snap out of it. Come on. Get out of bed and you won’t have infection anymore.” It doesn’t work that way.

That’s what I wanted so badly for people to have a better understanding. I almost wish, “Can I have a cast on my arm? They would have empathy for me because they see I have a broken arm. My brain chemistry is out of whack. They can’t see. I don’t have bandages around my head for them to see.” Literally, it’s the pathways in your brain. It’s the neurotransmitters. It’s all in the frontal lobe of your brain. It’s quite simple but it’s complicated because you can’t see what’s going on in the brain. When those neurotransmitters aren’t connecting, that’s what creates hopeless thinking.

It’s because you can’t see it like you can in a broken arm where I could say clearly, “You were injured. Your arm is broken. Rest up.” You would never say, “Karen, just think better thoughts and you are going to be fine. You don’t need that cast.” Don’t think that way.

The majority of the doctor’s visits are because of stress and anxiety. If you are sick and tired of being sick and tired, depressed or anxious, you got to think about what you’re thinking about because the battlefield is in mind and the mind influences the body. There is a spiritual connection to it. Why are you downcast? It is because you’re thinking hopeless thoughts. It’s catastrophic thinking. You start with 1 negative thought, 3 and 5 negative thoughts and before you know it, you’re homeless and living into the nearest bridge. You need to stop the first negative thought and say, “That’s a lie. That is not true.” This is where the word of God became important to me. When that lie would come to my mind, I literally would write the lie in my journal and find a scripture that would counteract it and say, “This is what the truth is. God has a good plan for my life and he can’t lie.”

This brings us to an interesting part of your journey in your book. It’s very much centered around your faith as a component to helping you but it’s not to say that you didn’t go through all of the other avenues. There were multiple approaches to be able to address this. There was one that stood out. It was around life’s challenges that we face that can be overcome by following God’s word. As people might be reading this and say, “What do you do when you’re in that place where you feel like you’ve been abandoned by God?” Also, through whatever challenges like you lost your brother and I lost my dad.

We live in a world where there are good and evil. That’s constantly the continual battle. Cancer or someone being killed by drunk driving. That’s the reality that we live in a fallen world. This is why I call myself a personal growth accelerator because we can’t control what happens to us but we can control how we respond to what happens to us. That is so critical. Like you, you lost your parents. You could have easily gotten angry at God but God didn’t want your parents to die of cancer. We live in this world where we can see the air we breathe and the water we drink. It’s like, “Why that happens?

LFL 64 | Deal With Depression

Deal With Depression: Depression is so complicated and it’s not easy to look in from the outside and try to understand someone that’s going through it.


Sometimes, even with my brother’s death, I could have easily gotten mad at God and say, “Why did you take my brother?” This is where the scripture verse that comes to my mind is Proverbs 3:5-6. We have to trust in him with all of our hearts and lean not on our own understandings but in all of our ways we acknowledge and he promises that he will direct our steps. He also talks about Romans 8:28. The fact that he does work all things together for good, not everything in our lives happens is good. My brother’s death was the thing that was a wake-up call for me to get my life on track. Even though we were raised Catholic, I believe there’s a step further and you need to have a personal relationship with God. Not to get preachy about it but God chose this. It’s like being a professional basketball player. You have the word of God. You can’t double dribble or travel with a ball. You’ve got your basic fundamentals. That’s what I believe the Bible is. It’s a basic instruction before I’m leaving Earth.

This shows you how to live life no matter what topic or what you’re dealing with. It’s the word of God. I can emphasize with people feeling abandoned by God. If you have to make that choice to say, “God does not want bad things to happen in our lives but we live in a world where there’s free will.” My brother-in-law said, “Karen, I don’t even remember a lot about that night,” other than the fact that he had too much drink and got behind the wheel of the car that killed my brother on July 14, 1988. Thank God that he is still married to my oldest sister. They had two boys at that point and proceeded to have four more boys but our family chose to forgive him. Forgiveness is even you saying, “God, I don’t understand why mom and dad are gone, but I want to make the best and most of my life until I’m reunited with them in heaven.” That’s the hope of heaven and our salvation to know that we’re all passing through here. Heaven is a place where we’re all going to end up. None of us are getting out of here alive. We can’t feel abandoned by God.

I remember I was at Jesuit High School. At that time, when bad things happen to good people, we were reading the story of Job. As my mother was sick, this was prior to my dad getting sick, I was trying to understand or relate to this. Even though my faith is certainly still there, I did go through that period. Right after my dad, I remember being in the hospital basically saying out loud like, “There is no God,” at that point. Looking back, it was more out of anger. It was not that I didn’t believe that. It was like a child to a parent that didn’t get what they wanted. The parent picks up the child while it is crying and kicking. As a parent, you’re holding onto your child saying, “It’s going to be okay.” That’s how I felt. I was angry and certainly made many mistakes after that as part of that process, but it is faith that allowed me to continue. In your book, you talked about getting into a routine and how important that is. We had a conversation about where our mind goes when we don’t have a routine. I was wondering if you could speak to that.

I have two sisters. They skipped a year, then me and my brother, so I was always hanging out with my brother and sports was such a big part of that. That is the blessing that came from being an athlete. You see the health that comes from having a good and healthy daily routine. That was the best thing my college basketball coach told me, “If you’re going to be a successful business person, you need a Franklin Planner and write out your weekly and daily goals.” The routine that came from getting well after going through this depression was starting getting up and watching Joyce Meyer’s Enjoying Everyday Life program and Creflo Dollar. Getting back to the gym and working out on a regular basis, eating a good, healthy, nutritious diet and getting back into a social. It’s finding that balance. It’s the optimum life. It goes back to being healthy and having balance in all areas of our lives. That includes our social lives, financial outlook and everything.

For all of us to be healthy and truly live our best potential lives, we need balance in every area of our lives. That was me getting back to that. That’s what happened. When I started to get sick in San Diego, I pulled back from all my social events and going to the gym. That’s what starts to happen. If anyone is reading and feel those patterns start to happen, you start to feel discouraged, anxious, lose your motivation, stopped doing social activities or hanging out with your friends, you need to stop, get professional help and medication. I was never a smoker but my assistant at San Diego CVB smoked so I started to smoke cigarettes. That even threw your body chemistry off even more. I took Wellbutrin to get my body chemistry reactivated.

I’m thankful that it was a situational depression that I’ve never gone back to that place since I overcame it after eighteen months of getting routine back. For anybody, routine is important. Not to be legalistic about it. You feel guilty if you didn’t like, “I’m supposed to work out scripture every morning or my little daily devotional.” It’s the 80/20 rule even with our diets. Have a routine but also give yourself enough grace. Life happens sometimes where you miss a day or your routine is off track once.

Routine is important in terms of occupying our mind because when it’s not active, it goes in places that generally don’t serve us. The talk is not positive. The more we can remain active in doing things and around people, it helps us to not get in that place where we spiral out of control. What’s interesting is you said, “I pulled away from doing things like exercise.” One of the studies that I will often use in terms of the power of exercise was done with a drug called Zoloft, an antidepressant. There were three different arms to this study. It looked at exercise alone, exercise plus Zoloft and Zoloft alone. These were patients that were diagnosed with a major depressive episode. What they found was after four months, the patients that exercised alone 30 minutes a day for 4 days a week did better than the group with exercise and Zoloft or Zoloft alone.

They followed it out for ten months. This isn’t to say that everybody that’s on an antidepressant will stop. What it does is it shows we can create many of these chemicals ourselves, dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine through exercise. When you pull back from those things and become more sedentary, you don’t build up your own chemicals to be able to deal with that. It’s something that’s interesting.

We can’t control what happens to us but we can control how we respond to what happens to us. Click To Tweet

That’s the thing with depression. Depression is a very complicated thing. Even with Zoloft or Wellbutrin, some people will respond well to medication or over with just exercise. There is no judgment and criticism. Whatever it takes to get you back on the right track with your mindset, do it. Each person is going to be different. That’s the basic fundamentals. That’s the way our bodies are wired. We truly need exercise, a proper mindset and a great book, Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer. It was a book that helped me tremendously. Also, the Purpose Driven Life because it gives you hope and purpose like, “Why are you even here?” That’s where people get discouraged, “What am I doing? Am I working to pay bills?” You have to have a purpose. What got me out of depression was going to serve people at a convalescent home like going to volunteer because I felt I had a purpose.

You bring up such a great point there which is very much in line with Viktor Frankl. That’s what he talks about. In these camps he said, “The people that often survive were the people that were doing things for other people or felt they had a purpose. There was more to life than themselves.” If you look at much of the research around wellbeing in income levels after a certain income level, what is it that makes people happy? It’s about a purpose. It’s not about yourself anymore. It’s about feeling as though you’ve got something for somebody else.

That’s why I love what I’m doing. It’s like I go tell my story and willing to take my mask off. If the things that have happened in my life can help your life better, that’s the scriptures in Corinthians. The God of all comfort comforted me and helped me get well so now I can turn around and help other people do the same. My assistant coach from UC Davis said, “I went through it. It was awful but you’ll get through it. I did and you will.” I believed him because he had been there. That’s where I’m here to tell anybody that’s going through anxiety or depression right now, “You will get through this. I did and you will too. I’m not a professional psychiatrist, psychologist or therapist but I can share my story and I can give you the tools that worked for me.” That’s what it’s all about. It’s helping other people.

When you talk about routine, what are some of the things that you do that you find powerful for you?

I read my Jesus Calling little daily devotional and look up the scriptures that go along with it. I’ve been doing this since 2006. My husband and I love to look at it year by year. Sarah Young wrote it. If anyone does not have a good daily devotional, it’s a quick one-page read. That is something my mom and my sisters all do every morning. Not to be legalistic about it. We don’t have the little cults or anything. We all like to be on the same page and say, “Did you read Jesus Calling?” That is one. I’ve been doing the Beachbody. It has videos that you can get. I worked out with Jericho in the basement. It’s 20 to 30 minutes quick. It doesn’t have to be a lot. Just simple but do it consistently. The biggest thing is being consistent.

My husband and I are trying to go more vegan. The research is showing more that our food has got bad and processed, even the chicken and beef. We still have our chicken and our burger but at the same time, we’re trying to be consistent about a routine of eating well and involved with the community or church. You got to have some down-quiet time to think about what are you taking on and, “What did I have on my to-do list yesterday?” If anything, the Jesus Calling, working out, looking at my to-do list for the day and you have to have a quiet moment to take on the day. Even as I go through the week, it’s looking at Sunday night of reviewing my week. That’s something that I started way back in the hotel industry. Looking at your upcoming week. Thinking about what you were going to accomplish last week and if you didn’t, then even looking at month at a glance and vacation time too. You’ve got to be intentional about carving out good quality time with your family.

You mentioned journaling. Is that something every morning for you?

LFL 64 | Deal With Depression

Deal With Depression: The optimum life goes back to being healthy and having balance in all areas of our lives and that includes our social lives, financial outlook, everything.


Yes. What I do is I’ll write down the scriptures. I made the journals that go with my book, The Optimum Life Journaling. What I’ve been challenging a lot of people to do is the part of having gratitude, calling it a joy journal, thinking about things each day like what are you thankful for. It’s the reticular activation system with blood pressure meds. Whatever you focus on expands. You have to be intentional about writing down things that you are thankful for. What journaling daily do for me is like, “What’s going on that day? What prayer requests do I need? God, I need your help on this thing.” When I look back through, I have boxes of journals but what it does is increase my faith to say, “God got me through that.” It shortens my learning curve of, “That’s what I did when I got through that.” Even speaking things out loud like, “God says he has a good plan for my life. Let’s go take on the day. I could do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Speaking the word of God out loud is important.

There is a lot of power to writing it down than just thinking about it. A couple of lines that I remember Wayne Dyer used to say is, “Thoughts are things and words have a weight.” The point of that was exactly what you’re saying. We oftentimes get what we focus on. These thoughts are things. They will take a life of their own if we haven’t controlled what that thought is going to be. That’s important.

I have a vision board on my wall. It’s important once a year to do a vision board, “What is your upcoming year look like in all pockets of your life, personally, professionally, financially and physically?” It goes back to what you focus on. If you focus on all the things that you can’t stand about your job, spouse or the community that you live in, it’s only going to get worse but if you choose intentionally to focus on the things, “The strengths that my husband has, things that I do enjoy about my job or my career,” it’s all mindset.

Along those lines, somebody could say, “My marriage is terrible.” As opposed to saying, “Why is my marriage good? What are the positives?” We’re going to focus on those things. You will build off of those continually. Many of the things that you mentioned are things that I’ve tried to implement in a lot of the work that I do off of research by a gentleman named Shawn Achor. He was a Harvard researcher and did what was called The 21-Day Happiness Challenge. There were five things that he spoke about.

Gratitude was one of them. One of the activities was that participants had to write down three things every day that they were grateful for. What is interesting about that or how I have tried to push myself on that is, “Don’t just be grateful for the things that are positive.” As an example, if I can find a way to be grateful for a challenge that I’m dealing with, it takes away some of the negative power that that challenge has for me. If I think, “I’m going to be grateful for this because some way I don’t know yet, but I’m going to grow from this. I will gain something from this if I’m grateful.” That stretches our ability to be grateful for stuff.

You had to write down at the end of the day two sentences of something that went well. You start out and end your day in a great place. You have to do something for somebody else. During the day, either send them a note or call them to tell them what you appreciate. That’s the purpose of being for others. The exercise was one of the others and it was only ten minutes. The fifth one was around meditation. Find some quiet time. Minimum of two minutes a day. Those are the five things and you didn’t even have to do them every day.

I need to look at that gentleman. I love that 21-Day Happiness Challenge because there’s so much merit to that. It’s stopping to be intentional. My husband left me in on the coffee maker, “I can’t imagine my life without you.” I bought a Mr. and Mrs. package at Hobby Lobby but we try to be intentional because we both gets busy. That whole thing of The 5 Love Languages is also very helpful. Dr. Gary Chapman is the author of it. It can be for children, spouses or even doing it in the workplace. It’s either a word of affirmation, physical touch, acts of service, quality time or gift-giving.

It’s like if you speak French, in order for me to communicate with you, I need to learn how to speak French. If you speak German, I need to learn how to speak German. If I say to you in German but you only speak French, “I love you,” you’re not going to understand what I’m saying. It’s the same thing with my love languages words of affirmation. This helped my husband and tore it off out of the little coupon book. He’s not a word of affirmation person but that’s my love language. It’s learning each other’s language. Even with employees or children. Learning what makes them feel loved which is going to make them feel motivated. It’s the science of decision-making, getting the most out of optimizing people’s lives and behavior. People need to feel loved and appreciated.

Have a routine but also give yourself enough grace if you miss a day sometimes. Click To Tweet

Those five things to make it easier on you, I call them your POWER. Each one of those letters is an acronym for one of those behaviors. P is Praise. Those are gratitude and the three things. O is for Others. Do something for somebody else during the day. W is the Writing at the end of the day the 2 or 3 sentences of what went well for the day. The E is Exercise. R is Relaxation or that meditative part. You can ask or challenge yourself, “Have I had a POWER day? Have I done those things?”

If people would implement those simple types of things honestly, that’s powerful.

Back to a couple of other areas that I found fascinating and challenging in your book. It’s what you mentioned about forgiveness. You talked about it in terms of forgiveness of self and others, then being an advocate for forgiveness. The first two are pretty basic or clear in terms of how it feeds into depression as well as, “Forgiving myself or others for their past actions.” Could you expand a little bit on the last one?

In my challenge and journey of going through and overcoming depression, what I learned is that depression is anger turned inward. As far as forgiving others, that falls in the line of us having to forgive my brother-in-law and me forgiving myself of some mistakes that I’ve made in my past. Being an advocate for forgiveness, you and I both know as far as being raised Catholic, we’re all going to make mistakes. In our community, it’s a matter of we need to encourage and forgive each other. Unforgiveness is toxic and we think about it all wrong. This is why I try to get people to implement forgiveness, “Forgiving others and yourself.”

How many times are you having a conversation with your spouse, coworker or colleague and you hear some type of conflict? It aligns with conflict resolution. We need to be an advocate for forgiveness. That’s the whole importance of having a personal relationship with God and Jesus Christ, understanding that that’s why Jesus died on the cross for us to be forgiven. It comes down to more of a community level of our culture. Look what’s going on in our world. It’s polarizing. We need to come together on choosing to focus on what we agree upon and respectfully agree to disagree on the things that we don’t. If we get offended and we allow unforgiveness, bitterness or if someone tweeted something 25 years ago and we’re going to bring it back up, our community needs to embrace forgiveness.

As I read that, it was, “Forgiveness of self. Forgiveness of others.” This last one was like, “This is heavy. There’s a lot to it.” I agree with you. It’s easier said than done. It’s necessary.

It would make the world a better place.

LFL 64 | Deal With Depression

Deal With Depression: Faith gives us hope. Depression is hopelessness. When you don’t have hope, that’s the infancy stages of falling into that spiral of depression.


You go on to talk about hope. I had a question as it relates to hope versus faith. What is the difference for you?

“The hope of salvation,” is the verse that comes to my mind and there’s another verse that talks about hope being the anchor of our souls. Faith is the evidence of things hoped for but things not seen yet. You basically have faith that something is going to happen. As you and I talked about a little bit before, I was hoping something to happen. My mom and I talked about that HOPE is an acronym for Helping Other People Endure. Even the book that I wrote with Celebration of Womanhood: Celebrating Life With A Dose Of Hope. That’s what we’re supposed to do is to truly help other people endure. For me, hope is the anchor of everything that life is about, the hope of our salvation and knowing that we are going to spend eternity with God, not separated from God. That’s what depression is. It’s hopelessness. When you don’t have hope, that’s when the hopelessness sits in. That’s the infancy stage of falling into that spiral of depression. You have to have hope. It’s the anchor of my existence. I have hope. I’m hopeful.

That’s one of those words that I’ve always struggled with. I’m all about faith. Hope is one of those that as you searched, you first clenched up and went, “I hope this works out.” To me, it feels almost like a beggar when I hear the word help. The way you explain it certainly has more weight to it. One of the things that I once heard and have used several times is, “Know faith, no fear.” Just apply on words, “If you know faith, then you don’t have fear. Whereas if you have no faith, then you know fear.” I know for myself that it’s a continuous reminder of, “Do you have faith? If you have faith, then you will believe that even though you’re struggling right now, things are going to work themselves out.” I have to do the work. That’s not to say, “Things are going to work out, then I don’t have to do anything.” It’s the Law of Attraction, “I got to do the work too.”

I love this acronym, FEAR for False Evidence Appearing Real. When you think about what are you afraid of, that’s what God says, “Do not be afraid,” over 365 times in the Bible. It’s truly about taking every thought captive. That’s the other thing with the routines. In the shower, I have ten verses that I speak out loud over my day of like, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” That’s like all my shower prayers.

We’re programming our minds to be able to address this. I’ve heard the FEAR, False Evidence Appearing Real. From a positive standpoint, they said, “I’ve switched that to Face Everything And Rise.” You have several steps in here that you recommend and certainly, I don’t want to have you go through all of them. There’s so much here that’s worth of picking up this book and reading it themselves. If somebody is reading this that either they know somebody or they are going through this themselves, is there anything that you’d say, “Here’s a great first step?”

The front side of the book is about my journey of overcoming depression and truly living the optimum life. I’m honoring my father, who was such my mentor. I miss him so much. He died of cancer in 2006. He passed it at 6:10 in the morning. There’s a scripture in Ephesians 6:10, which talks about putting on the full armor of God. It was Paul who wrote 2/3 of the New Testament. He was imprisoned. When he looks at the Roman soldiers in the different books of the New Testament, he correlated the Roman soldiers’ armor with different parts of the helmet of salvation meaning, “Watch your thoughts, the breastplate of righteousness, guard your heart, the belt of truth, making sure you’re only believing the truth. The shoes of peace.”

My husband and I have done some medical and dental outreaches with Joyce Meyer Ministries. How beautiful are the feet of those who spread the gospel? The shoes of peace. The sword of the spirit is the word of God, the shield of faith. The second half of my book is all about walking through those different parts of the armor. As you said, “We live in a fallen world where there are good and evil. There’s no backside to the armor because God wants us always advancing in our lives. God has our back.” An honor of looking at where all we are because of the way my father handled the fact that my brother-in-law was driving the car that killed my brother, I want to give honor to my father and that legacy of he taught us as his daughters to truly, what does forgiveness look like here?

My father lost his only son and took the lead of our heavenly father who lost his only son. He wanted the good to come out of it. He could have easily gone on a very different route and we would all be in a very different place. In the second half of the book, I wanted to honor my father and that’s dad way of saying to us, “The scripture says in Ephesians 6:10, ‘Be strong in the Lord and the power of his might and put on the full armor of God.’” The thing about it is we need to never take it off. If someone is battling depression, you need to make sure that you have your armor on because we live in a fallen world where unfortunately, bad things happen and going to happen. Our biggest test is how are we going to respond to those bad things that happen and allow it to be post-traumatic growth versus post-traumatic stress disorder.

Depression is anger turned inward. Implement forgiveness. Forgive others and forgive yourself. Click To Tweet

Along those lines on the second half of the book was well laid out. What you didn’t mention was at the end of each one of these chapters when we talk about routine, this isn’t about, “Read this and hope it sticks.” There’s an opportunity for people to ask the first two questions, “What can I do today with what I read in this chapter?” Not, “What can I do next week?” The next question, “How will this help me?” The motivation is the why there. When we can say, “This is why this will help me.” You’re prompting people to put this into practice and believe that it will help them.

Every chapter has those three questions and part of this chapter would be, “What I share with others?” It’s that whole thing again. We need help. We’re all on this journey together. That’s why we need community. The most important part of people is to take their masks off because when you can share with other people things that you’ve gone through, it helps in your healing process. We can’t have secrets. We can’t have unconfessed sin in our lives because it’s important to share those things because it sets you free to move on and to know that no matter what you’ve done, you’re forgiven. You’re okay. There’s no measuring shit.

I heard Miles McPherson. He’s played for the San Diego Chargers and a pastor at the Rock Church in San Diego. He was preaching about sin. There’s a difference between a lie, someone having an adulterous affair or watching pornography. It affects your brain differently. There is no measuring stick to sin but there is a difference in the sin but they’re all forgiven. It’s a matter of you got to change your behavior but to not live in that secret or that hiding place of shame and guilt that will destroy you. All of it is correlated with living the optimum life of being transparent and take the masks off. Social media is very dangerous in that space. That’s why I love what you’re doing. You’re challenging people to take action. We need to make a positive contribution to this world that we live in.

Thank you so much for this conversation. It has been fabulous. I believe that somebody is going to read this that either it’s going to impact themselves or they’re going to share this with somebody needs to know this. That I truly believe. I want to thank you for taking the time to share some very uncomfortable things that have the ability to make such a difference in somebody else’s life.

I’m happy to do it. If I can help anyone, they could go to my website, KarenSweeting.com or email me, CoachKarenSweeting@Gmail.com. I’ll be happy to help anyone. Thank you, Patrick.

Karen’s story is incredible. From the outside, there is this stigma that we have toward people that have depression or anxiety. Because of that, it’s a secret stigma that prevents us from being able to deal with this out and be open. If you found this episode valuable and helpful, I hope that you will forward this to somebody that you think can benefit from this. My next request is when you go on and leave a rating, leave a comment because that’s how this message continues to get out there. If you want to reach out to me personally, you can do it through Instagam or Twitter, @CoachPatrickV as well. Until our next episode. I hope you’re able to go out there and rise above your best.

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Rosalie Puiman Discusses The Power Of A Mindful Approach To Conflict – Episode 063

LFL 63 | Mindful Approach To Conflict


We need helpful ways to move through difficult conversations in both our personal and professional lives. Join Patrick Veroneau and Rosalie Puiman as they delve into the power of a mindful approach to conflict. Rosalie speaks about her new book, The Mindful Guide to Conflict Resolution. Mindfulness is a powerful way to approach conflict and effectively deal with those involved in various scenarios. Rosalie discusses what a monkey mind is and why it’s hard to let go. In this conversation, we will explore the beautiful benefits of having a mindful approach to conflict and how it can help organizations to grow. If you have experienced a type of conflict that has been unproductive, then this show is for you.

Listen to the podcast here:

Rosalie Puiman Discusses The Power Of A Mindful Approach To Conflict

Mindfulness And Conflict Management Create A Powerful Combination For Effective Resolution

If you’ve ever experienced any type of conflict that maybe has been unproductive, then this is the episode for you. I’m speaking with Rosalie Puiman. She is a Transformational Leadership Coach and also an expert in mindfulness. In this episode, we’re going to talk about her new book, The Mindful Guide to Conflict Resolution. The conversation was awesome. She provides so many pearls, resources and explanations on a model that she’s put together called Pause and how that can provide such a powerful approach to how we effectively resolve conflict. I would go on to say that how we create better relationships with each other as a result of the behavior that she’s going to talk about. Let’s get into it.

Rosalie, I want to thank you. I have been looking forward to this in terms of your book. When we started talking about this, mindfulness and conflict don’t often seem to go together. To start out, I’d be curious, what was your decision in writing this book specifically around mindfulness with conflict?

Thank you for asking, Patrick and thank you for having me. I love your show. I’m happy to be here. I work with leaders every day and I’m surprised at how hard it is for people to have difficult conversations with each other, to talk about the things that truly matter. In mindfulness, there are beautiful benefits, for example, presence and the beginner’s mind that are helpful for people in saying the things that they truly want to say to each other without losing their connection to one another. If you can do that, working through a conflict or a difficult conversation makes it so much easier. It’s much more simpler and you get to solutions or ways forward that are a dozen times better than when you would go in a conflict or difficult conversation to solve it and get your needs met. Even though it may sound like a long stretch is straightforward when you think about it.

I had the opportunity to read this ahead of time, which I was grateful for. There were many different perspectives on it that I appreciated, but you hit on one of them that I’m hoping we can talk about and that was the beginner’s mind. What is the beginner’s mind as it relates to conflict and mindfulness?

The beginner’s mind is a state of being where you basically approach things and people as if you’re meeting them for the first time. In conflict resolution, that is helpful because so often we come to a difficult conversation or a conflict full of ideas about how things were and how things might be in the future and where they might need and our opinions about the other person. If we can adapt the beginner’s mind, however, we can shift our way of being in a conversation to one of curiosity exploring what is happening in the conversation instead of being in our mind all the time thinking about what we experienced before with this person or around this topic.

It’s interesting the way you say that because when I think of that, to me, it sounds like you’re almost hitting the reset button, which can be very difficult at times. As I was reading this, one of the parts that had come up around that, a lot of thought that I had was around work that I do as it relates to conflict is around unconscious biases that we come to situations already with predetermined ideas in terms of the way things can go or who we’re dealing with.

I understand. That is true. When we do that, the direction in which we say the conversation is more or less pre-setup already. By hitting that reset button, taking on that beginner’s mind, we can have a look at the person sitting in front of us from a more personal and more appreciative outlook instead of with stereotypes and things that we formed through all sorts of input like the media, upbringing, or whatever. We can be with the person we are having a conversation with. We ended up making so much of a difference.

It is so rewarding when we basically step into the undercurrent of a conversation. That is where our iceberg meets the other person's iceberg. Click To Tweet

You mentioned in the book the iceberg analogy, which I think speaks to this. I was wondering if you could go into that a little deeper in regards to how does that fits around mindful and conflict.

I say in the book that people are a little bit like icebergs in the sense that only a little part of us when we look at the research, only 10% of who we truly are, we show in a normal conversation with people. Our skills, behavior and knowledge and this is the level where we interact with people. Right below that level, there’s a second layer. You could say the first layer that is below the borderline. If you look at an iceberg, there are so many showing, then there’s a borderline. The level right underneath that is where we find everything that we think about other people or about ourselves. This is where we would find norms, beliefs and values.

You would also find your self-image there. This is a conscious level. This is what we could reach if you would think about it and then there’s the third layer. The third layer is much deeper down in that iceberg, much deeper below that borderline. This is where we find personality traits, deeper motives, and also those unconscious biases that you talk about. This is a level that is more related to what we want and need in life. As you point out, this is where we have our stereotypes and ideas about other people that are not necessarily grounded in facts or our rational ideas about it, but they are there and they influence us from underneath borderlines.

We must be aware of that in our complex and difficult conversations. All these three layers have an impact on the conversation that we’re having. Even our most unconscious biases are present in our conversation. The more that we work on ourselves, more self-development that we do, more of our underlying layers we basically uncover. The more conscious that we become, the more conscious that we are, the less unexpected influences we have from our layers in that water line.

It’s interesting when you talk about that too. Even that top 10% is oftentimes only the part that we want to show of ourselves. If we look at social media, that’s what it’s about. You look at Facebook or Instagram or any of these, nobody puts out there, generally, all the things that they don’t like about themselves. It’s always the best. It’s filtered through six different pictures, which gives us an unclear perspective on who the individual is. Self-awareness is important but difficult at times. It does take a lot of practice to be able to recognize that I need to look below the surface. Again, I love the analogy there of the iceberg is that if we think about it, icebergs are in cold water. To put my head under the water to see where others take work and also it can be painful.

You’re right. It can be painful. It is a lot of work. It does take an effort. On the other hand, it is rewarding. Basically, when we step into the undercurrent of a conversation, that is where our iceberg meets the other person’s iceberg. It’s almost like a superpower. If you are able to put your head underwater and live through that pain of investigating yourself and also investigating the other person, their needs, and being open to allowing them to share what it is that they feel about something or what they need in a situation. You are so present with them that you can almost start to feel what it is that they are feeling, you open up to solutions or ways forward, as I like to call it, your hardest challenges that you’d never expected. In the book, it’s called synchronicity. Solutions come up that you never even thought of before. Maybe there’s a win-win way forward that you never consciously realize was there. By being underwater with the other person, we can bring solutions or ways forward can come up and you become aware of them. That is beautiful.

You mentioned in your book the monkey mind. As you talk about that, I’m wondering, is that where the monkey mind shows up in maybe talking us out of being able to do that?

LFL 63 | Mindful Approach To Conflict

The Mindful Guide to Conflict Resolution: How to Thoughtfully Handle Difficult Situations, Conversations, and Personalities

The monkey mind is out of everything that it feels is challenging to us or maybe dangerous to us. Our monkey mind is a concept that it’s basically are chattering our minds. It can be chatter like, “I have to go grocery shopping, pick up my child or have a conversation with someone else about this or that,” while you were having with the person that you’re having. The monkey mind can be distracting us. It can also be that the monkey mind is talking to us from basically our deepest fears and our personal challenge is our most critical voice. Our monkey mind will try to focus on anything that is courageous and brave. It will do that. It’s not that hard to catch it. It is hard to let go of it. That is a challenge that we’re all facing. It’s one of the most helpful things to become aware of that monkey in your head. When we are listening to that voice of ourselves, we cannot be present, listen, find a solution or a way forward that is helpful.

The monkey mind is our way of self-preservation. To me, it sounds like that reptilian part of our brain that tries to keep us safe when it’s not logical anymore. I love the monkey mind and probably going to use that more now. I will often liken it to a smoke detector in somebody’s house. That, to me, is our monkey mind oftentimes. If a smoke detector goes off in your kitchen when you have burnt food on the stove, you don’t run out into the street calling for the fire department because you know it’s not a real emergency. Our monkey mind doesn’t do that. It will simply treat it as though it’s a real threat and there’s a real fire.

It definitely is the reptilian part of us and trying to keep us safe. It’s sometimes helping us on a level that we needed help. Oftentimes, when we were much younger and found ways to be safe even when we felt unsafe. It requires a lot of loving, kindness to work with our monkey mind saying, “I hear you. I see you. Thank you for keeping me safe, but right now, I’m not in danger.” It requires that adult sense of being a little bit outside of ourselves, not getting into that monkey mind.

One of the other things that you mentioned here that I see more and more of is the roles that we play and you go into detail in regards to what’s called the drama triangle.

Do your readers already know about the drama triangle?

No. I’d love to have you speak to that a little bit as well.

I love it too. It’s basically a role play that we would engage in our most drama, intense relationships. There are three roles that we can play in a drama triangle. The first one is the victim. As soon as somebody takes on a victim role, the victim being the one person who feels it’s all not their fault. They are always at a disadvantage. They feel they have no power to change the situation that they’re in. As soon as somebody takes on the position of the victim, there’s an immediate appeal to the other people involved in a conversation to take on one of the other roles.

The other roles are either the rescuer and that is someone who always offers solutions. They don’t only offer it. They sometimes even create a solution or they solve it for the victim. That’s the rescuer. The other position is the persecutor. They basically add to the already dense and smoldering situation by putting on a little bit of extra finger-pointing and attack. They are not helping right. The rescuer is helping, but the downside of the rescuer sounds nice. What the rescuer also does is reinforcing the idea of the victim but they don’t have the power to solve things.

Every time we listen to our team members, we raise awareness and appreciation. Click To Tweet

The problem with this drama triangle is that as soon as somebody gets into the victim role, the other people immediately automatically get into one of the other rules. As soon as people get into roles, as you can imagine, it’s not an authentic, conscious, aware conversation anymore where basically it’s almost cryptic. To be able to work through your challenges in a mindful way, the drama triangle is the exact opposite of that.

I almost find too, with the drama triangle, that the rescuer is somebody that is using the victim to deal with their own issues that oftentimes similar to the victim. “It’s not me. It’s this person who wants to talk about this,” when it’s like, “I’m the one that has the issue, but I’m going to use you.”

It’s quite funny. I’m a rescuer. That’s my preferred role to get into. I can speak about that a little bit. Many rescuers don’t understand that. However, it is true. Rescuers often deal with their problems through pushing or shoving solutions through the throat of the victim and making them more helpless basically.

When we talk about this, you mentioned in the book demonstrating vulnerability. You need to come to a place where you are opened up in a way that you’re making yourself vulnerable. That I think maybe at times what concerns people gives people the fear of, “If I demonstrate vulnerability, I’m going to be taken advantage of.” To me, it’s the opposite of that. I think it demonstrates tremendous courage and strength when you do that, but I’m sure that you see that. I’d love your perspective on that as well as how do you help people work through that?

It’s not an easy thing to work through, to be honest with you. It is deeply ingrained in our society that vulnerability is a bad thing. It’s something to be avoided. I think luckily, Brené Brown has done beautiful work on The Power Of Vulnerability. Vulnerability requires so much courage and personal strength. At least the way that I see it, you cannot be vulnerable and weak at the same time. People who express that vulnerability in a conversation with others have such deep personal presence. They are so connected to their inner being. They have this very strong centeredness about them.

Vulnerability when done in a sincere way and not as a trick because sometimes, I’m afraid that vulnerability can be seen as a little trick. I’m telling you something as manipulative that may seem vulnerable to you. I’m buying myself into what we could call a mindful conversation. That is not how it works because true vulnerability is, in its essence, completely sincere. When someone sincerely expresses their vulnerability, what they are afraid of or what they are struggling with is immediately searching for the right way of expressing. It lowers people’s guard. By being vulnerable, you invite others to open up as well, know where their guard and open their heart. From there on out, the rest of the conversation is much more beautiful way.

I will often challenge its even past vulnerability. I think when we demonstrate intentional vulnerability where I’m actively putting myself in those places where I’m going to say, “I’m sorry. I don’t know the answer. I’m scared. I’m frustrated,” whatever it might be. I think from a leadership perspective as well when somebody says that. Do I want somebody every day coming in saying, “I messed up again, I don’t know where we’re going?” That’s not the person that I’m going to follow, but certainly somebody that has the courage to be able to say that. What it demonstrates to anybody in that group is it’s okay to not have the answer. If this person can do it, I can say when I’m afraid or when I don’t have the answer or I’m sorry. All of those things.

That is where we need to go. That is the new leadership paradigm that we’re looking for.

LFL 63 | Mindful Approach To Conflict

Mindful Approach To Conflict: The monkey mind is a critical voice that’s chattering in our minds. It can be distracting, and it can be our deepest fears and personal challenges, and it’s hard to let go.


You mentioned in the book the skill of listening. To me, you mentioned the idea of a superpower. To me, listening is a superpower. I’d love to hear your perspective and as you’ve talked about in your book, the importance of listening. Again, I think listening is probably similar to when you talk about vulnerability and it being seen as a trick or as a manipulation tool. I’m going to pretend like I’m vulnerable, but I’m not. That can happen with listening as well.

Absolutely. People understand that they need to be stale and not speak when the other person is speaking. However, when we do that without understanding why we should be listening to the other person, if people are quiet, there’s a lot going on in that head. We talked about the monkey mind before. There’s a lot of monkey mind stuff going on when people are quiet and listening or at least try to be listening. Oftentimes, people start listening to their monkey mind instead of to the other person. It is a problem when that happens. There are many different types of listening that I talk about in the book.

This first type of listening is basically people are listening to reply. They are rehearsing in their head what they are going to say when in a minute, you are done talking. There are many different types of listening and they go from understanding the other people or the other person. It goes through connecting with the other person in this very emphatic way of listening. There is also listening that is focused on finding a way forward.

I think we are touching on that superpower that you speak about because when you start listening to what is happening for the other person, it’s even a step beyond empathic listening or listening for the emotions that you hear to what other person’s needs. What values or ideas about themselves are being hurt by what is going on here? You are on the deepest level of the iceberg at that moment.

You try to grasp what makes the other person think that is safe and then when you get at that level, there’s one more thing that you should be doing, and that is listening to yourself. That is one of the elements of listening in a conversation that is so easily overlooked. Listening to what is going on inside you is also a very important factor in solving a difficult situation. If you take all the sides of listening and especially that one where you find a way you’re disempowered a way forward, and when you are listening to what is going on inside of you, what you need, and what you’re picking up from what the other person is saying, then you get to listening as a superpower.

Along those lines, one of the things that stood out to me, and this was in the beginning of the book, is that you spoke about coming to conflict with the belief that both people can be right.

That is such an important paradigm shift. It is what makes all the difference. If you understand that from your perspective, you are probably 100% right about what you have experienced, what you see, want, and need. Also, from my perspective, I am probably 100% right. The thing is that both our rights can coincide next or can be their rights alongside each other at the same time. This is called the end stem. It’s a concept where you can be right and I can be right. There’s maybe an example that’s helpful. Let’s say a real-life example. My husband and I and our children are going on a holiday. I’m always a little bit stressed before we travel. My husband isn’t and invited some friends from Berlin to come over to our house for dinner. This is a difficult situation of the end stem. My husband says, “I haven’t seen these people for a year. They are in the Netherlands right now. They are in Amsterdam. I would love to see them.” That is completely 100% true.

We often deal with a lack of commitment, and through lack of commitment, you get to lack stability. Click To Tweet

I say, “Yes, but we have so much to do. There are chores to be done, the house to be cleaned. A lot, you name it.” I’m right too. Both of us are completely right at the same time. We could be struggling. If my husband would say to me, “Yeah but you’re overreacting and too stressed. Everything will be working out fine.” Do you think we would have an open conversation about what we both need? No, probably not because I will be getting to defense mode and say, “Yes, but you never are stressed about when we’re traveling and I have to do it all by myself, so and so.”

I could say to my husband, “I don’t want them to come,” but will that make either one of us happy? Probably not. If we accept that both of us outside and both of our needs are equally important, then we can come to a conversation. For my husband, it’s important to see his friends. For me, it is important that all organizational stuff is done by Thursday evening. What tasks can my husband take away from me to help me with the stress that I’m feeling and how can we make sure that this evening, together with our friends, is not intervening with packing? Maybe we can take an extra hour tomorrow morning to get us stuff. Do you see what I’m going there? We are both right. It saves so much time and energy if we don’t have to discuss about who’s right. We can move on to where we can find our way forward.

I totally am on board with that. When I read that again, to me, this is the world that we live in in terms of trying to create this. It was so simple when you look at it that way. That’s foundational in terms of how do I listen. If I take the premise first of we’re both right here, it does allow me to put my stuff aside because, let’s face it. If I think that I’m right and you’re wrong, I’m not listening to you. I could be doing the, “Rosalie, you got to calm down. This is not a big deal.” What do you do? Does that make you calm down? No, because you’re not listening to the other person in terms of what their needs are and what’s going on. I see this all the time as I’m sure you do within organizations. If somebody says, “They bring up that issue all the time. Every time we get into a conversation, they bring that up.” My thought and recommendation often is I bet they continue to bring it up because they have felt so far that nobody has ever listened to their frustration on this.

I’m sure that you agree that having a mindset of being curious about the other person, “Why are you upset by this? Why do you feel stressed?” In a situation in a company, “Why do you feel that this is an important way forward?” Being curious about that is such a helpful way of being and a way of listening.

I don’t think you can get to real conflict resolution or productive conflict if you don’t do that. As I would see it, I might get my way but if you haven’t felt like you had to acquiesce to me or given to me, then there’s going to be a sense of resentment because you never felt like I appreciated where you were coming from. The next time there is an issue that comes up, it may get even more difficult for us to come to a resolution because you’re still feeling those things of, “I wasn’t listened to last time. I got pushed into an agreement that I didn’t want to make.”

You often deal with a lack of commitment. Through lack of commitment, you get to lack of accountability. It’s hard to get results. Many people in the organizations are very focused on being efficient and creating effectiveness and getting to the results of the organization. If you don’t take the time to communicate in an effective way then you will never get there. If people are not committed and they lack accountability, how will you ever get the results?

We never even talked about, but you obviously are probably referencing some of Pat Lencioni’s work in regards to The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. That second dysfunction is around conflict. We need conflict and this is about how do you have it in a way that’s productive. If we don’t have that level of trust, which is around to me, the listening and feeling as though I’ve been heard, we never get there. It is one of the most elegant models in terms of describing what we see in most organizations that you and I probably deal with. That’s not a dysfunction of a team. It’s the five dysfunctions of relationships, whether it’s at home. Those same five dysfunctions play themselves out at home, too.

LFL 63 | Mindful Approach To Conflict

Mindful Approach To Conflict: Don’t lose connection to one another. If you can do that, working through a conflict or a difficult conversation becomes so much easier.


Absolutely true.

You create your own model in this.

I did. It’s the PAUSE approach. It’s super simple because it’s an acronym. The letter stands for words and I can explain them. If you forget all the words and you remember to pull in your conversation to pause and maybe the second step will be to be present, that might be enough even to start a difficult conversation or through to get through a difficult conversation. PAUSE is an acronym. It stands for five concepts that if you walk through these five steps, I can guarantee you, you will have a completely different conversation than if you don’t do that.

The first one is about Presence. Presence in my group is related to both being present, being in the moment, not listening to your monkey mind and being with the other person. It’s also about your energy, what you bring into a conversation. That would be related to your intention that you come in, that you take with you into the conversation. An effective intention would be to want to push your opinion through, understand the other person and find a way forward that works for the both of you. Your intention is basically reflected in your energy in a way that you are being in that conversation.

The second step is Acceptance. It’s the mindfulness tenets, accepting the way that things are right now. Instead of thinking, they should be different or why are we fighting about this again or trying to prove that you are right, as we talked about the uncertainty, all of these things are not going to help you move through your difficult conversations. Acceptance would allow you to take a breath and think into the fact that you’re having this conversation right now. That it’s not going to help you to try to avoid it or to shorten it for all the reasons that we talked about. To be in it and accept that you have this conversation and that there is a way forward at the end of the conversation that will probably lead you to a new future that is better.

The U is for Undercurrent. We talked about the iceberg system. I am an iceberg. You were an iceberg. In the undercurrent, underwater is where our iceberg meets. The undercurrent is an important concept in mindful conflict resolution because that level when you sense things in a conversation. You feel that something else is up or someone is distracted by something. This is where you step into your intuitive knowing or your understanding, and you make that part of the actual conversation.

When you allow yourself to tap into that undercurrent and take the information that you pick up there, you make it part of the normal conversation, now you can get to the S that stands for synchronicity. In respect to mindful conflict resolution means that unexpected solutions can come up, unexpected ways forward, and win-win solutions. They come up because you’re so open-minded, in the present moment, aware of everything that is going on with you and with the other person, you are connected to each other and yourself, and then unexpected ideas surface.

The more conscious that we become, the less unexpected influences we have. Click To Tweet

That is something that we so often lack to acknowledge. We see in mindful conflict resolution, that is where we find the gems to move forward. The E is for Exchange. The exchange is basically everything related to our actual speaking but also listening, especially our speaking. It’s the things that we say connectedness that we find in a way that we speak to the other person. The way that we bring into the conversation everything that we’ve picked up by being so present and acknowledging what is going on in the undercurrent.

I’m obviously a fan of acronyms. I use a number of them myself. This one to me, I love it as well because the word itself helps us to remember if we were to do that, to take the minute to pause.

It’s that simple, basically.

With that said, though, what do you do for somebody that might be reading and said, “Mindfulness seems like a lot of work or it seems hard to do this.” What would you recommend as a first step or somebody to be able to start applying what we’re talking about here?

I totally understand that question because it does seem like a lot of work. It isn’t, especially not if you start small. For example, take that PAUSE approach. What if you would take them one step at a time and you’d start in your next conversation. It doesn’t even have to be a difficult one. You practice with being present. Every time you notice your mind wandering, you pull yourself back. You’ve done that maybe once, twice, and you find yourself being more and more present in the conversation, being able to open up to the other person, then you can start practicing acceptance. Instead of trying to change anything about the fact that you’re having a difficult conversation, you lean into it and embrace it. From there, you work through all the five levels of PAUSE and take baby steps. In the book, I offer a lot of examples of what could happen. In many of those, the first step is starting and being aware of the fact that it can be different for you in a conflict. It doesn’t have to be so complicated and hard. You don’t have to struggle that much. Awareness is basically the first step.

We haven’t even talked about that. The layout of this book does such a great job of that from the way it recaps at the end of each of the chapters, but also giving real examples of what does this look like because I do think that helps individuals that read it to get an idea of how do I apply this? I do think that certainly does a great job of that.

Thank you so much.

With that said, I was able to go on Amazon. I saw that it is ready for pre-order on November 5th, 2020. I believe so The Mindful Guide to Conflict Resolution.

LFL 63 | Mindful Approach To Conflict

Mindful Approach To Conflict: Our most unconscious biases are present in our conversations. And the more that we work on ourselves, the more self-development that we obtain.


Maybe it’s nice when people order it right now. It’s a good idea. I would recommend it because you get all the meditation from the book as an audio file and also as a pre-order gif. I offer people a three-month membership to what I call PAUSE, an online coaching program that I’m introducing, arriving at the same time as the book. If people order it already on Amazon, make sure that you go to my website as well to sign up for those pre-order gifts.

What a great grouping of gifts to give somebody as they read through this. It has been such a great book to read through and I feel so honored to have it before it hit the streets, so to speak, to be able to get to it. To me, in regards to the work that I do and certainly for so many individuals out there, I think this provides such a powerful way to move through conflict in a way that’s very productive. I want to thank you for your time, Rosalie.

It’s such a pleasure to be with you, Patrick.

I hope you enjoyed this episode with Rosalie speaking about her new book, The Mindful Guide to Conflict Resolution. There were so many pearls, recommendations that I think are very easy for us to start applying that she mentioned in small pieces. She mentioned her model PAUSE and a couple of other things that stuck out to me. One is the simplicity of imagining coming to any disagreement that we might have with the belief that both of us could be right about what that does for us in regards to how we might listen better when that happens. If you know somebody that you think might find this valuable, I would ask that you forward it to them. If you haven’t already subscribed, please go ahead and subscribe to this. If you find this or any other episode that has been recorded valuable, I would ask you to go on and leave a rating or a comment because that’s how this message continues to get out there. Until our next episode, I hope you were able to rise above your best.

Important Links:

About Rosalie Puiman

Before starting her coaching practice in 2013, Rosalie Puiman worked as an interim manager in the Dutch government for almost a decade. In her many assignments in various ministries and municipalities, she worked alongside people with great leadership scope and huge influence.

This taught her invaluable lessons about courageous communication, integrity, and leadership. It also showed her that a staggering amount of very influential leaders don’t really have the skills or the courage to be authentic in their leadership and to speak and live their truth without alienating others. It became Rosalie’s mission to change that.

Rosalie has a deep inner drive to support people in stepping into their full potential and creating a life of purpose. She loves to work with passionate people who feel driven to positively impact the world. Her coaching helps them connect to their intuitive mind and grow into their personal power and true potential.

Rosalie holds an MA from Amsterdam University. She’s the founder of The Sovereign Leader, a certified Transformational Presence Coach and ThetaHealer. She’s also the author of The Mindful Guide to Conflict Resolution.

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Why Understanding Influence Is Not Just For Sales – Episode 62

LFL 62 | Understanding Influence


Understanding the science of influence is critical to so many areas of our life. Join Patrick Veroneau as he delves into how we could be more effective and will less likely be taken advantage of by understanding influence and how all of us have the ability to develop this skill. He will share the areas and principles of influence that you can use as tools to help you make decisions. He discusses important principles that Robert Cialdini provides in Influence, New and Expanded: The Psychology of Persuasion and gives us essential details like the areas of creation, reinforcement, modifying, or extinguishing. Let us understand the influence and the great impact it could make on our daily lives.

Listen to the podcast here:

Why Understanding Influence Is Not Just For Sales

Robert Cialdini Provides The Science In Influence And How Important The Principles Are For Anyone

In this episode, we are going to talk about why understanding how to influence is not just for salespeople. We all need to know how to influence and it’s something that we do every day, whether it’s at home, it’s in the community or it’s in the traditional sense of getting somebody to buy a service or product. Understanding how to influence is critical. That’s what we are going to discuss in this episode and how all of us can develop these skills. Let’s get into it.

As I mentioned, this episode is all about influence, whether I’m a leader, a sales representative or just a regular individual. Influence is one of those things that we all do or we all need to be able to understand how to do it. Oftentimes, we think of influence as a dirty word. That somehow, it’s going to be disingenuous and lack integrity. It doesn’t have to be that way. Certainly, if you are dealing with disingenuous people and lack integrity, then understanding influence and the principles behind influence can save your life. Maybe not save your life but certainly save your wallet or save you from making any decision that is not in your best interest because you understand how influence works.

When we’re trying to extinguish a behavior, we should start by trying to modify somebody's habit first. Click To Tweet

As I mentioned, I want to talk about two things. One is a definition of influence. Secondly, how do we help ourselves to understand how do we influence? What are the principles behind that? I had a great fortune years ago when I was working for a biotech company. They paid for me to go through a program where I was trained by two gentlemen, Dr. Robert Cialdini and his partner, Dr. Greg Neidert. It was in regards to influence. Anybody that is in this space would recognize that Dr. Robert Cialdini is probably one of the world’s experts in influence. He’s written several books. One is called Influence. One of his other books that I have found great value in is called Pre-Suasion. It starts to talk about the setup before you get into influencing. What are the things that you need to do to prepare for that?

First, when we talk about influence, I’m going to use a textbook definition. This was out of a textbook called Persuasion: Social Influence and Compliance Gaining. This is out of the third edition that I have. The gentleman that authored this textbook is Robert H. Gass. The definition he uses for persuasion and influence is one, about involving one or more persons who are engaged in the activity of creating, reinforcing, modifying or extinguishing beliefs, attitudes, intentions, motivations, and/or behaviors within the constraints of a given communication context. Now, I realize that it is a long wordy definition. There’s a much easier way that I think we can look at this. If you would to take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle, what we can look at in regards to influence is two things. One is when we are influencing, we are really doing one of four things. We are either creating, reinforcing, modifying or extinguishing.

If we look down the right side of the paper, what are we doing those four things? We are either doing it to beliefs, attitudes, intentions, motivations or behaviors. If we were to take just one of those, as an example, let’s take behaviors. If I’m going to create a behavior, say I am a leader and I’m working with a group. I’m trying to create a new behavior in this group in regards to what I want them to do. That’s part of influence. Now, this is for a new behavior that I want them to do. Maybe I want them to stick with something like, “This is working for us.” In that case, what I’m doing is I’m reinforcing the behavior. Maybe things have changed. The environment that we work in has changed and I need to have them do things a little differently. In this case, we are going to look to modify that behavior.

Lastly, if what we have been doing, isn’t working anymore, then my job at this point is to influence them in regards to how are we going to extinguish that behavior or stop doing that. We hit on all four of those things, creation, reinforcement, modifying and extinguishing. That can be done for each one of these. If I were to take beliefs, again, am I creating a new belief? Am I reinforcing existing beliefs? Am I modifying a belief or am I asking somebody not to believe that anymore? The same can be done for attitudes, intention and motivation. When we think of where we use this, if I’m interviewing for a job, I’m probably doing one of those things. Which is it? If I’m in sales, certainly I’m doing that.

I spoke to you about leadership but it could be a negotiation that I’m working with that I’m using one of those four areas, creation, reinforcement, modifying or extinguishing to impact one of those five things on the other end for action. Now we could look and say, smoking is an area that we are trying to extinguish a behavior or maybe to start, we are trying to modify somebody’s habit in regards to smoking. I know to extinguish it too much to ask but maybe I can find ways that we can at least modify and lower it.

As part of getting somebody to stop smoking, I’m trying to reinforce good behaviors. The things that they are doing right. Also, in conjunction with trying to extinguish their smoking. I’m also trying to create a new behavior in that individual that helps them to replace smoking with something else. Maybe it’s exercise or whatever it is. Maybe it’s a stress reliever for them in regards to smoking or I’m trying to find other behaviors that we can create that will take that space. Whichever one those are, that’s what we are doing.

Some of you might be listening to this and thinking, “Influencing is really not that difficult or important for what I do.” What I always enjoy when I hear those types of comments is I think back to a quote by Dr. Cialdini in one of his books called Yes! and I think it speaks exactly to the difficulty that many people have when they think about what it means to develop the skill of influencing. He went on to say that, “Unlike the fields of economics, which require learning from outsiders to achieve even a minimal level of confidence, people believe they already possess an intuitive understanding, simply by living life and interacting with others. This overconfidence inevitably leads people to miss golden opportunities for psychologically informed social influence or worse, still to misuse psychological principles to the detriment of themselves and others.”

LFL 62 | Understanding Influence

Understanding Influence: Understanding how to influence is not just for salespeople. We all need to know how to influence, and there are so many resources available to learn that.


What it says is, oftentimes we think just because we live in this world that we understand how people operate. Oftentimes that works to our disadvantage. Look at how many people get taken advantage of because of that. Bernie Madoff, I think is a perfect example of that. When we look at the people, he was able to mislead, these were for the most part, probably not unintelligent people. They probably were very bright and successful individuals. Honestly, maybe that worked to their disadvantage because they felt like they were too smart for this. They wouldn’t have the wool pulled over their eyes and in fact, they did. Bernie Madoff simply used the principles of influence for unethical means. That’s all he did but they are still principles.

When we talk about the principles that Cialdini identified, there were six. One was liking that when we activate that in other people, we get them to feel comfortable with who we are. We can create an environment of influence. Another is around social proof when we are able to make people feel comfortable based on other people. Making similar decisions that it’s okay for them to make that same decision as well. We play on that one. Another is an authority in terms of a principle. We look to people that either have titles or what they might be wearing or driving. We use that as a reason to follow where they are going, to believe them or to let them influence us.

Another one that we would run into would be around scarcity. We are more motivated to avoid a loss and gain. We see this all the time, depending on where you live, for us in the North East, if there’s a snowstorm and you go to the grocery store the night before, the bread aisle and the milk coolers are empty. It’s interesting because if you don’t drink three gallons of milk on a regular night or eat three loaves of bread on one night, why would you do it when a snowstorm happens? There’s something about everybody going to that island taking one more that creates an environment where people feel like, “I need to get mine too.” There’s scarcity involved there.

The next principle that might come up is around consistency. We don’t like to be seen as inconsistent with what we are going to do. That oftentimes will bind us into decisions that we might make, that we feel the need to follow through on that. Lastly, the principle of reciprocity becomes a very strong influence tool. If somebody does something for me, the natural wiring in me is oftentimes to want to reciprocate, to want to pay that back. We see this all the time in terms of things that are given away for free but there’s an ask after. That’s all that is doing. It’s creating that environment for influence. We can use each of those. Those are certainly the principles of influence. There probably are some others we haven’t talked about. There are also resistors that we run into. There’s a model that I use called GREAT. I believe that we have to get through no, to get to yes. What that means is, when we are asked to do something, our first inclination might be to try and resist this. Those are five resistors that we run into called GREAT.

The first of those is around Goodwill. I might be asking myself, “Is that what you are asking me to do in my best interest or your best interest?” If I believe it’s in your best interest but you haven’t thought about mine, I’m going to resist. The next one of that GREAT model, is the R, which is around Reactants. It says I might resist just because of the way you have approached me. There is something in the way that you have approached me. Maybe you have come on too strong or you have asked too many times that I naturally want to resist.

The next one is around Expertise or Experience. Are you qualified to even tell me or ask me to make this decision? If I don’t demonstrate that, I have that through maybe a principle of authority, you are naturally going to resist me. The next one out of the GREAT model is around Apathy. That’s the A. That says, “Things are fine now. I don’t need to make a change.” We see this all the time, whether it’s in business or at home. “I don’t need to make a change now. I like the way my life is now. Why do I want to change?” We have been doing it this way for five years, this procedure and it seemed to have worked fine. Why do we need to make a change now?

The last of the GREAT model is around Trust, the T. It says, “Can I trust you on what you are saying?” When we think about this again, from an influence standpoint, it hits on each of those create, reinforce, modify or extinguish. I might say, “You are asking me to create a new behavior but is it just so that you can get what you want?” If that’s the case, I’m probably going to resist. I’m not going to want to go where you want to go. When we look at this from a standpoint again, whether it’s at home and we are getting somebody in our house to make a certain decision or in the community. Maybe it’s a board we are trying to get a decision made on that I’m a part of or it’s at work and maybe I’m on a team or maybe I’m a leader of this group. I’m trying to get people to go where I’m asking them to go, to say yes to my requests. All of those things require my ability to understand how influence works.

I would encourage you if you haven’t taken any time to understand what it means to influence or what is involved in influence, that you google it. Take some time maybe to watch a short video on what influence is and how it can impact you. To me, when you understand, this is not about trying to pull the wool over somebody’s eyes or acting unethically. I look at this from a standpoint that it’s a way to protect myself as well but I don’t do like people probably did with Bernie Madoff. They thought they were too smart to be taken advantage of. We know that that’s not the case. We very much will justify decisions that we make with logic but they are made emotionally for the most part. It’s important to understand the process because I see it over and over again.

As an example that I ran into. I was making a reservation on a flight with an online booking. As soon as I finished putting in all of my information, it asked me if I wanted insurance and I clicked no and hit next. Before it went on to the next one, it said, “Are you sure you want to risk losing your money by not getting on this flight?” Basically, that’s what it said. Not in those exact words. Here’s somebody I know what was going on. It was playing on scarcity. It was playing on that principle of scarcity to get me to decide to buy the insurance. I will tell you, each time I go on and book flights, I still find myself challenged of questioning, “Do I really want that insurance? Should I get it?” That’s how powerful this stuff is. That’s why I think it’s important, whether you think it’s about understanding influence so that you can get people to do what you want, it’s also about understanding influence to protect yourself from being misled by somebody that understands these principles.

Whether it's at home or it's in the community, or it's in the traditional sense of getting somebody to buy a service or product, understanding how to influence is critical. Click To Tweet

Whether it’s at home or it’s in the community, or it’s in the traditional sense of getting somebody to buy a service or product, understanding how to influence is critical.

I hope you found this episode interesting. I hope it provides some encouragement for you to look into influence on how you increase your own influence. There are so many resources out there. There are two that I find very helpful. One is Robert Cialdini’s book called Influence and the other is a book that’s called Influencer. It was written by five different authors who also wrote the book, Crucial Conversations. If there’s somebody you know you think would benefit from this episode, I would ask that, please forward it to them. If you haven’t subscribed, please subscribe. Certainly, it would mean the world to me if you would go and leave a rating or a comment on this episode or any other because that’s how this message continues to get out there. This is part of influence. Until our next episode, I hope you can go out there and rise above your best.

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Anyone Can Lead And Why Most Don’t – Episode 061

LFL 61 | Anyone Can Lead


Are true leaders born or made? Is it true that anyone can lead? In this episode, Patrick Veroneau discusses why most people don’t lead and what is needed for someone to become a leader. It’s all about beliefs and behaviors and Patrick tackles the necessary traits and beliefs that true leaders demonstrate. This is a great episode for leaders and people aspiring to leadership roles.

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Anyone Can Lead And Why Most Don’t

Leadership Is About Beliefs And Behaviors That Anyone Can Develop

In this episode, we are going to talk about how anyone can lead and why most don’t and we are going to break it down into two simple areas. One is beliefs and the other is behaviors. We have overcomplicated what it means to lead. We are going to talk about both of those and show you that anyone can lead and how you can start leading now. Stay tuned.

I’m excited about this episode. This is one of those questions I get tired of hearing, “Are leaders made or are they born?” Clearly, they are born. I look at this the same way as I look when I hear people talk about somebody being self-made. Nobody is self-made. You can be self-motivated but you are not self-made. I believe it’s the same thing with leadership. First, you can’t lead if you don’t have followers. Also, in terms of becoming a leader in the first place, you need to have been conceived to get here. When I look at the definition of leadership, there were a couple of things that stand out for me. One, it’s about actions and inspiration. The other components to it are our actions inspiring others to do, become, dream and care more. I believe those are the most important components for leadership or followership to inspire those people to want to follow us. Our behaviors come down to actions and that’s what creates the inspiration.

Demonstrating appreciation is recognizing the potential that others bring and helping them to draw that out. Click To Tweet

We all can develop certain behaviors that create this environment where followers want to do, become, dream and care more. I think the care more is really important. I have gone back and forth on this as it relates to an earlier quote that I would often use that has been attributed to many different people. It was around actions inspiring people to do, learn, become and dream more. I remember at one point somebody said, “What about Hitler? Hitler did all of those things.” I agree. For me, to try and eliminate that and make it clearer, I added to care more. Our ability to be able to do that for one another is important. Not to say that somebody could still twist that somehow to make a negative. I do believe that gets to the heart of what separates us. As a leader, how can we be for others and inspire others to be for others?

The two areas I’m going to talk about, one is around beliefs. If anybody can lead and most don’t, why is that? What is it that prevents us? First off, I believe it’s one’s beliefs that prevent one from leadership. Oftentimes, I think it’s because they think I don’t have the right background, I’m not high enough in an organization, I don’t come from the right family, whatever it might be, it’s our own limiting beliefs. We hold ourselves back in terms of thinking that we are not able to lead somebody else. Nobody has told us we are a leader. We have anointed us with that phony title of a leader. To me, leadership has nothing to do with that. I know people yawn when they hear that.

I believe it is not about a title yet, we hang on to that. When we introduce individuals that are high up in an organization, we will talk about them as a leadership team. That’s not accurate. They are in positions of high authority. Most of them probably are not truly leaders. After we can overcome our beliefs, we are all able to lead, inspire others, do, become, dream or care more. Once we get past that it’s about, what are the behaviors that create that? There’s a model that I often used called COACHED. It’s an acronym based on seven behaviors that inspire other people were to create engagement, motivation and empowerment of others.

The first one of these letters in COACHED is Congruence. Congruence is about integrity. It’s about walking the talk. When our words are in alignment with our actions, we are demonstrating a sense of leadership. Our actions are inspiring other people to do, become, dream and potentially to care more based on that congruence. The next is about Opinions Matter. What that really speaks to is our ability to listen. The behavior to develop in regards to listening is important for leadership to demonstrate to somebody else that you are truly able to listen to their perspective, where they are, show respect. There are four ways that I often talk about listening. One is with our ears, listening to somebody’s tone of voice, the word choice that they use, what words they stress, listening with our eyes, looking at their body language and facial expressions are important.

Listening with our mind in terms of thinking what might this person be saying. Besides what I’m hearing, what else might it mean? Listening with empathy. When we can listen empathically to somebody else, that is about listening to them in a way we would like to have listened to ourselves if we were on the other side of this conversation. When we can listen on that level, that’s leadership. That’s inspiring other people by our behaviors.

LFL 61 | Anyone Can Lead

Anyone Can Lead: Leadership is about action and inspiration. The other components to it are our actions, inspiring others to do more, to become more, to dream more and to care more.


Next, we move on to Appreciation, which is the A in this model. As a leader, demonstrating this behavior is about recognizing other people and the potential they bring, recognizing that, and helping to draw that out. It’s also about appreciating people for who they are and recognizing the contributions that they made. Again, when I behave in ways that I demonstrate appreciation for others, those actions, those behaviors are inspiring others. When we move on next, it’s around Connection. As a leader, when I can behave in ways that I create connection, another word is belongingness. I did an episode on this, The Power That Belongingness Has. When I can interact with somebody else in a way that makes them feel as though they are part of where the group is or where I am trying to lead us, that behavior on my part has created action and inspiration.

Moving on next to the H in this model of COACHED is around Highlighting Strengths. We all know the work that has been done by Gallup and Marcus Buckingham certainly has done tremendous work in this area, as he states, “Playing checkers is not the way to go. It’s about playing chess. When we play chess with individuals, it’s not to manipulate them. It’s to look at other people’s strengths and to identify those and draw that out in them to have them play their highest game.” When we do that, again, if I’m able to highlight somebody else strengths as a leader, those actions are inspiring certainly people to do, become, dream and care more.

The next one is we move on to the E in the COACHED model. It’s around Empathy. Specifically, when I talk about empathy, I talk about intentional vulnerability. Oftentimes, we will hear people talk about, “You need to be vulnerable.” I agree. I am all for that. Vulnerability is such an important action or place that we need to put ourselves as leaders. It demonstrates the highest level of strength. Those that can, as I often challenged, intentionally make themselves vulnerable. What I mean by that is to put yourself in places where you are saying, “I’m sorry, I was wrong. Maybe I don’t have the answer. I’m struggling.”

When we can confidently say those things to others, we demonstrate our own courage and strength. Don’t get me wrong. Do I want the same individual coming in every day saying, “Wrong again, I made a mistake? I’m scared again. I don’t know where we are going.” No. I certainly want the individual that is strong enough in who they are. They dare to be able to say, “I am scared now. I am sorry. What just happened? My fault.” That, to me, is the level of leadership when I can be in that space because it demonstrates and certainly, that type of action inspires other people to do, become, dream and care more.

Lastly, in regards to the COACHED model, it’s around Direction and Decisiveness. That’s the D in this model. Direction is really about setting clear expectations. What do I expect from other people? To hold them accountable. As part of that direction and clear expectations, it’s about being decisive or to be decisive if I need to. I would say that if there’s one behavior that goes back onto the belief side, it would be decisiveness. There are times where individuals, even though they could lead, they don’t because they question their own ability to be decisive. To make an impact when we all have that ability. It’s all about behaviors.

When I look at this COACHED model, I can ask myself each one of those things as I work with individuals on my team or in the community, “Have I COACHED? Have I been congruent? Have I listened to other’s opinions? Have I been appreciative? Have I inspired connection? Have I highlighted other people’s strengths? Have I been empathetic and demonstrated that in my actions?” Lastly, “Have I been clear in my direction and decisiveness?” When I’m able to do those things consistently, I’m able to lead. I was born with the ability to lead.

Nobody is self-made. You can be self-motivated, but never self-made. Click To Tweet

It will be how I address my behaviors and my beliefs that will draw that out. It will draw that out of each individual that chooses to look at this and take this on. Every one of us can lead. The only reason we don’t is that either we don’t believe or if we do believe, we behave in ways that don’t inspire people to do, become, dream or care more. As you finish reading this episode, I challenge you, ask yourself, what do you believe? How have you COACHED those around you as a leader? If you do this right, you will lead like no other. I hope you found this episode valuable and you can take away some pearls in terms of how you can inspire others that are through your actions.

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Daniel Stein Is On A Mission to Help Those With Special Needs Become Stronger – Episode 060

LFL 60 | Special Needs


If you’ve seen the viral video of a young man with scoliosis walking for the first time in eight years, you might have also heard of today’s guest. Daniel Stein is a professional personal trainer and the founder of Special Strong, where he helps individuals with disabilities and special needs obtain healthier and happier lives through exercise. He shares his challenges after being diagnosed with ADHD and how his faith helped him overcome his condition and help others as a personal trainer. Daniel also talks about how he helps clients get fit, gain confidence, and develop in all aspects.

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Daniel Stein Is On A Mission to Help Those With Special Needs Become Stronger

Unless you have been living under a social media rock, you have seen the video posted by Daniel Stein showing one of his clients, Brandon, walking for the first time in eight years. It has been viewed over 100 million times. You are going to hear Daniel discuss how his own challenges growing up and his faith in God has led him down the path that he’s on, serving those with special needs as a personal trainer.

Thank you for taking the time to do this, Daniel. I appreciate it. Coming across your feed with Brandon, I believe it was cerebral palsy, correct?

It’s autism.

Watching that video of him walking for the first time was amazing in terms of seeing that. It piqued my interest to reach out to you. First, to connect and second, to ask you to be on the show for that exact reason. I went online and looked on your LinkedIn. You started Special Strong in 2016. What was the decision for you to go into the space that you are in? There are many personal trainers out there that take a more standardized route, whereas you became very specialized. I was wondering if you could speak to that. What was the decision to go in the route that you did in terms of who you serve?

LFL 60 | Special Needs

Special Needs: Never label someone by their condition or by the word “disability”. They may be someone who has autism, but they’re actually overcomers who are overcoming their condition.


A lot of it came from my own struggles and what I was always drawn to. When I was four, I was diagnosed with a learning disability called ADHD. With that diagnosis, came a lot of challenges in school. One of the things that my parents did to help that challenge is they’ve got me active. They’ve got me in sports, football, basketball and soccer. What they found was when I would participate in sports, my behavior and my focus were significantly better afterward. It helped my grades in school. It helped my behavior at home and in school. Naturally, I became very drawn to physical activity because I noticed how much it was helping me and I noticed that it made me feel better. As I’ve got older, I started to get into the anatomy of exercise and want to understand how it all works. I was doing it more as a hobby, something that I enjoyed and something that I was passionate about but I wanted to take it to the next level.

In high school, I started researching, reading documents, reading blogs, doing it on the side. All at the same time, I had this desire in me to maybe make it a profession. The only problem was, I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was four. Frankly, I didn’t think that I had what it took to ever get certified. I knew that I was going to have to study and I was going to have to take a hard test. I already had enough of a hard time in school as it was so the thought of having to do all that extra stuff was not appealing to me. As a result, I didn’t pursue it. What ended up happening is I’ve got a great job at a bank. I graduated high school and a couple of years later, I started working at a bank. Around that same time, I started getting mentored by a man named Rob. I had gotten saved and became a Christian in 2009.

In other words, I gave my life over to the Lord in 2009 and Rob starting to mentor me. It was what Rob said to me that caused me to specialize in the special needs population and become a trainer. I will never forget the day. It was November 11th, 2011. It’s easy to remember. It’s all eleven. Rob sat down with me. We always have meetings. We met at Starbucks to stay and he said, “Before we met, I had a vision. Here’s what I saw you doing in the vision.” He began to describe the vision that he said God gave him for me. In this vision, he saw me working with kids that had disabilities. That’s the vision that he shared with me. To be quite honest, I had gotten saved in 2009. I was a new Christian. Frankly, it sounded weird that this man had a vision. I didn’t know that God could speak that way. As a matter of fact, I didn’t even know God still spoke. I thought that the Bible was it and there was nothing outside of the Bible. I didn’t realize that he still spoke to people.

This was all a big learning experience. There was some skepticism when Rob told me this vision. The next day, I go to my mailbox and there’s a magazine addressed to somebody else. It came to my mailbox. It was the first time I’ve ever got a personal trainer magazine sent to my house. I was not the recipient but it came to my apartment mailbox. When I’ve got that magazine, it was confirmation for me. Maybe God did speak to this man and give him an actual vision for what I’m supposed to do. That’s what started my journey. It says, “To become a trainer.” I immediately got certified after that. I was convinced that it was God speaking. If God was speaking to me, I’ve got to do what he says. He had my attention.

The first thing I did was I’ve got certified through a small organization called NFPT. It was an entry-level certification for trainers. I was so excited that I passed the test. Honestly, if I hadn’t had that word from Rob, I would have never pursued this. I would have ended up making a career in banking. They wanted me to become certified to sell investments, stocks and bonds. That was the route that I was going. This is a big curveball to get this vision from Rob. It was truly a game-changer. That’s the short version of how I ended up getting certified and then ultimately deciding to work with this population.

So many people have said that they can’t do certain things. Somewhere in their life they believed that lie. Click To Tweet

Daniel, when I hear that story too in terms of your own struggles growing up, you had somebody there that believed in you, that mentor, that gave you the confidence that you can do this. As one of the notes that I had taken, especially with the population that you are dealing with special needs or individuals that have been told quite frequently more times of what they can’t do, as opposed to what they can, that’s something that must be important for you as you first start to deal with these kids, to give them that sense of expectation like, “I don’t care what anybody else has told you before you came to me. You can do this.” I wonder if you can talk to that.

Many people have said that they can’t do certain things. For those of you who have seen the video of Brandon who couldn’t walk for eight years and has been seen by over 100 million people, there’s one thing that Brandon would say to me in the gym all the time. I would say, “Brandon, it’s time to do a new exercise.” Before he ever tried it, he would say, “I can’t.” He would repeat that over and over. The reality is somewhere in his life, he believed the lie. The lie was this, “You will never do this. You will never be able to do this. You can’t do this.” What I have found is that I believed a lot of those lies for myself.

As I shared previously, my own belief was I can’t study to get certified. I believe that. It wasn’t until God gave a man a vision where my potential got unlocked where I was able to get certified and pass the test. I’ve got about 5 or 6 credentials under my belt. All of which, I passed on the first try. Whereas my friends failed when they took the test. Many of my friends took the same test and fail the first time. Here I am, ADHD learning disability didn’t do well in school, thriving all of a sudden. Why? It’s because Rob saw my potential. For the first time, when somebody believed in me, I started to believe in myself.

With Special Strong, that’s exactly what we do for thousands of individuals with different diagnoses and special needs. One thing you will know about our culture is we don’t like the word disability. There are a lot of reasons for that. I entered it from a medical standpoint. I understand the need to use that word. I can respect that. In our culture, we will never label someone by their condition or by the word disability. It’s not something that we do. Even if they have autism, that’s not who they are. They may be someone who has autism but they are overcomers who are overcoming their condition like myself. I may have been diagnosed with ADHD at age four but I’m an overcomer overcoming ADHD as an adult.

As a matter of fact, that’s something that Rob would always tell me. Rob passed away years ago from multiple sclerosis, MS. I’m going to try to not get emotional. It’s very emotional for me to think about it. He would always say this to me, “MS doesn’t have me. I have it.” He died in his wheelchair but until the day he died, he believed in full healing. He would always affirm that the condition didn’t own him, he owned it. That is exactly what we do in our culture with our clients. We see people like Brandon who society says will never walk again and society never believes that he would but that’s not the way we saw him. As a result, he walks again after eight years of sitting in a wheelchair.

The power of expectation is so strong. Even in the work that I do, it’s one of these things that people don’t fully appreciate how much power they have over where they can go because they allow somebody else to dictate where they are going to be able to go by the labels they have had in the past. We know all the research that’s out there. You happened as I would expect as most people that go through this rise above this. They have had other people somewhere along the line said, “That’s not you. Don’t believe that.” For you on top of the individuals that you work with directly, how do you help the parents? That’s another component to this too. I would think that there are limiting beliefs there when they come to you.

We don’t have to do a lot of coaching with the parents. What ends up happening more than anything is the person that we are working with has some kind of incredible transformation. All of a sudden, the parents see something in their own kids that maybe they thought was never possible. Without any kind of coaching, they start to see for themselves and they start to believe on a whole new level. One of the reasons our company offers a free seven-day gym pass to work with our company is because of one of the biggest objections we get. It’s not our price. Here’s what I hear, “I don’t think my kid could do that.” That is the number one objection. I’m using statistics from overworking with 1,000 clients. The number one stat is, “I don’t think he or she, my son or daughter could ever do this program.” We say, “We understand your concern. Try it out for seven days and see for yourself.” All of a sudden, you’ve got these kids who can’t go to a public restaurant for five minutes but yet when they get physical activity, they can stay in a loud, noisy gym for one hour. No coaching is needed for the parents. The kids do all the coaching for us.

Special Needs: You can truly tell is somebody cares about another person just by their body language. You don’t have to use any words.


What was interesting is on your site, you talk about certification. I find it more interesting because we have a good family friend whose son has spina bifida. He’s older than thirteen years old. He’s a rock star. He’s had two dozen surgeries. There’s nothing that seems to deter him. He has parents that are very supportive of this but when I had mentioned to her that I was going to be interviewing you, she went on your site and was very interested in that certification. What does that provide?

The first thing I will say for anyone reading who may be interested in the certification, the disclaimer is you do not have to be a personal trainer to benefit from the certification. Even on the website, one of the things that I put is there’s no fitness experience required. The certification is designed for parents, educators, service providers and also personal trainers. Anyone who wants to add a component of fitness into the life or lives of the special needs population, we are going to teach someone how to do that from the very ground level. Depending on the profession or the career that that person is in, it’s going to look different for everybody.

As an example, if a school RFA behavior therapist takes our certification, they may incorporate it into their own therapy at a different level than a parent who is not a behavior therapist. They may be doing two very different things but they are going to both be able to add components to make it fit their lives. We have had several parents with no fitness experience take our program and have greatly benefited from being able to add very basic exercises that don’t require gym equipment. You can do them at home but there are amazing exercises that are not only good for the body.

We think about exercise as weight loss and muscle. That is the standardized thought about fitness. If I’m going to look into a personal trainer or I’m going to look into fitness, for anybody, I’m going to do it because I either want to lose weight or I want to put on some muscle and feel better. There’s some truth to that but it is unbelievable the amount of data behind exercise and what it does for the brain. I’m reading a book called Spark. It’s a great book. It’s a bestselling book. The whole book is about the brain and exercise. It’s unbelievable how exercise is almost a miracle growth for the brain as the book describes. In other words, new brain cells, neuroplasticity, that the brain is moldable. You take that and it may help people like you, Patrick, maybe have a higher IQ and retain more information. It may help me do the same but you take it with somebody that has special needs that have more imbalances in their brain than you and I. You take that same exercise. You give it to them and it’s life-changing.

We have had clients in our program that didn’t have a job their whole life and then all of a sudden, they go through our program and they get their first job at the age of 30. Why? It’s because their abilities have been enhanced. Remember, they don’t have disabilities. We have just unlocked their abilities through our exercise program. Going back to the certification program, we teach those fundamental basics of how you do exercises that are good for the brain. What if there is a way you could do a jumping jack? We all know what a jumping jack is. What if there is a way to do that where you are crossing over the midline, at the same time you are doing the jumping jack and you have doubled or tripled the efficiency of that exercise for someone with special needs?

When I think of the exercise too, I think of the brain from a standpoint of wellbeing, of stress release. We know all the research that’s out there. There are ones that I cite often in terms of the work that I do when we talk about studies that have been done with patients, that have had major depressive episodes. These are diagnosed depressive episodes. They have done studies where they have combined it with exercise and pharmaco drugs and then exercise plus the drugs. What they have found is that most of the time the individuals that do just the exercise over the long-term, we are looking ten months out, do better than either the group that is on the pharmaco drug or the combination of exercise and drug as well.

To me, what better place to be if I know that I have it within myself to be able to create the chemicals that are going to create wellbeing? That’s why that research is so promising when you look at that. Not everybody knows but certainly, it speaks to all of the neurochemicals that get released in our brains when we exercise. I would agree with you. Exercise is not simply about, “I’m going to get stronger or healthier in that regard,” but all of the benefits that come along with that. I know myself. I’m a runner in the morning. On the days that I don’t run, I tend to get a little more irritated during the day. It doesn’t feel the same.

I joke with people all the time. It would have been nice if the Lord would have said, “You can exercise for a couple of months and then you will permanently keep those changes forever.” Sometimes he makes us work a little bit. It’s great for character development. It’s interesting because it truly is that longevity of consistent exercise that makes a big difference. Our clients are stuck in a state of fight or flight constantly. We may get on stage or whatever it is that’s going to pop up our adrenaline and we are going to have the butterflies and all that stuff. Most of our population that we work with are stuck in there from things that don’t bother you and me. They may come into a gym and hear a loud noise. You and I ignore that. On the other hand, they’ve got overloaded. They came in overloaded and they’ve got even more overloaded from a loud noise.

All of that produces an overload because of the stress hormone. We build up excess weight in the midsection. It’s this chronic problem. The exercise for this population helped you. You said you feel better after you run. It helps the body adapt better to stress. Some of those changes are permanent. In other words, you do exercise for a certain amount of time and those changes become permanent. Your body has permanently learned how to better adjust to stress, which is amazing for this population.

It is unbelievable the amount of data behind exercise and what it does for the brain. Click To Tweet

There’s work that I do in regards to stress management. We talk about cortisol, inflammation and all of those lists of negative impacts that those have on our system, that most don’t recognize how detrimental that can be to our health. As we are on this topic of exercise and wellbeing, I think of our family friend and their son as he’s getting older. He’s in a mainstream school but that presents its own challenges in terms of things around bullying and acceptance. I would think from a competence level as well what you do provide a lift for participants, as well in that age. I wonder if you could speak to that.

Without a question, it for sure helps. I would be dishonest to say it solves the problem. Bullying is going to happen either way with or without the services that we provide. Bullying is still unfortunately going to happen. On the flip side, what we found is that one of the biggest benefits that the people that we have worked with see is that their confidence level goes up. There’s nothing worse than someone who has no confidence, no self-esteem and then they get bullied. There are a lot of dark stories of people committing suicide. There are these nasty stories. You turn that around and you get to work with someone in the gym setting. You get to build them up in a very inclusive and very accepting facility.

The way our company operates is we share gyms with other facilities all over North Texas. We have about fifteen gyms. In other words, any one of those fifteen gyms doesn’t belong to us but we can use them at any time. That means that other people also use them. We have made a big partnership with the corporation called Anytime Fitness. Their members have been so incredibly accepting. We have never once had any problems with bullying or anything in our community. As a result, these kids may not necessarily always feel accepted at school but at least they know they are going to be accepted somewhere. That often is what gets them through.

I published a show not that long ago on belongingness and the power of belongingness. There’s so much research that backs up that we need connections. That’s what I was imagining happening with these kids as well. They are all in a place where there’s a sense of acceptance. There’s a support group that we know how important that is for us in our own wellbeing. It goes back thousands of years. The worst thing you could do to somebody is you put them outside of the tribe. What happens to them? That’s a death sentence. It’s a different death that we die when we are pushed outside of a group and we don’t have that sense of belongingness. That’s where I see the work that you do provides that for individuals that may feel, “I’m not connected with anybody outside.”

I can personally relate to not feeling like I belonged. I did graduate high school with my diploma but I did not walk the stage. That was very intentional. The reason I didn’t walk the stage is similar to a lot of kids out there, I was bullied because of the learning condition I had and the behavior struggles that came with that. I’ve got made fun of a lot. I knew that if I walked the stage that I was going to get names called from the audience to that stage when I walked at the stage. I said, “Forget it. I’m not walking that stage. Mail me my diploma.” That’s what happened. Following high school, I fell into a severe depression. There was a point when I was suicidal. I graduated high school in 2007. When I was saved and met Jesus in 2009, I was on the brink of ending my life. As a matter of fact, the prayer that I prayed before the life-changing event happened was, “Lord, if you don’t show me you are real, if you don’t show me something, then I’m done.”

Shortly after that, somebody invited me to church from the gym and that’s where I gave my life to Christ. Over time, I was healed from that depression. I know what it feels like to not feel accepted. It is the absolute worst feeling. One of the things that made me feel accepted was starting to go to church with other like-minded people. Ultimately, Rob became my mentor. He’s somebody that truly believed in me, who knew the real me. We all at the church believe, “We are doing great. Everything is awesome in life.” That’s about 99.99% of churchgoers. The people that really know us behind the scenes and they know what we struggle with when they believe in you, that’s when you truly feel like you belong.

I say this quite often. We are like icebergs. People only see about 10% of us. Generally, it’s the 10% that we like to have them see. It’s all the other baggage that we carry that’s under the surface. It’s only those people that are willing to invest in us, that are willing to stick their head under the water and see everything else that goes on.

What’s funny about that is we think we hide everything so well but what everybody is not saying is they know the 90% we are trying to hide. They just don’t tell us to our face.

When you are telling these stories about expectation, I think of one of the things that I will often try and live by myself, which what I call living on the edge. Living on the edge for me is about one expectation. I have to believe in where I want to go. What you speak to in terms of what you provide for those that work with you is that expectation that they can get where they want to go but with that, comes the work. That’s the part that we often get fooled on. It’s the Law of Attraction but I don’t have to do anything to get there. Think good thoughts and everything falls into place. We miss the discipline part of that. That’s the D of that saying, “You’ve got to do the work. You’ve got to put the time in and expect certainly but also set goals. Feel the pain. Do the work.”

The next piece of that is about gratitude. It’s about being grateful for where you are, for maybe an advance that you made that’s small. That’s a dance that we live in. It’s between expectation and gratitude of being grateful for where we are. The last part of that is around what I call empathy. To me, it is about belongingness. It’s about concern and care for other people. When we live in that space, we are being for others in a sense. It’s your business but you see. I hear and I watch the deep sense of concern and wellbeing or goodwill that you have for those people that you work with. That makes such a difference.

Even though a lot of the people we work with are nonverbal, they picked up. They know a lot more than we think. We may think they don’t understand what we are saying sometimes. I don’t know the exact stats but I want to say that 70% to 80% of communication is nonverbal anyway. That’s something that my business coach constantly drills into me, body language and everything. You can truly tell if somebody cares about another person just by their body language. You don’t have to use any words. It’s all in the body language. Are they fully engaged with that person when they are working with them? They looked at them in the eyes. They are in the gym. When the TV is on, stare at the TV. What is it that they are doing? That speaks volumes. The person they are working with, in my case may have autism. They may not necessarily pick up things the way we think they do but they are always watching. Deep down inside, they know if the person cares genuinely or if they don’t care.

We listen on four different levels. One is we listen with our ears, the words, the tone of voice, which can tell a lot. We listen with our eyes in terms of body language, facial expressions, where the position of our body is. There’s a gentleman, Joe Navarro, who wrote a book called What Every Body Is Saying. He spent twenty years profiling people. He’s an ex-FBI agent. What was interesting and what you talked about is you can tell if somebody is interested in you by how their body posture is. He would say that the number one tell that they would watch for is what somebody was doing with their feet. What I mean by that is the direction of somebody’s feet. If they are interested in you, are they facing you or are they looking away? If they are looking away, not all the time but you would think, “This person is not interested in engaging in me. They are looking for the way out of here.” Whereas when we are fully present with somebody, our feet are towards them. It has a different feel to it.

Special Needs: Exercise helps the body adapt to stress. You exercise for a certain amount of time and those changes become permanent. Your body has now permanently learned how to better adjust to stress.


It’s funny you mentioned the feet example because I’ve got a great business coach locally and those are the exact examples he used. If you want to know who the leader is in the room, look at everybody’s feet and who they are pointed towards in the room. If you want to see if they are interested in your conversation, see if their feet are pointed towards you or the door right next to you. That’s a real quick indication. Are they in a running stance? They are trying to run out of there and get out of there as quickly as they can. Interestingly, you say that. I will check out that book as a matter of fact.

It’s a very interesting book and there are a lot of PDFs. There’s a PDF in there that goes through all of these. What to me is interesting about is it is mostly nonverbal, our communication. What this book speaks to is the autonomic nervous system, that these are things that we don’t even control ourselves. We can hide the eye movement from a standpoint or our facial expression but there are certain things that they bleed out of us. We don’t have control over them. They will take over to try and pacify us when we are in uncomfortable situations. It’s important to, I believe become a student of that stuff, try and understand because it makes us able to communicate on a more authentic level when we can understand where people are coming from.

I’ve got two kids. Another thing that my business coach teaches me a lot is mirroring. He said, “You want to see the best mirrors in the world? Your kids will copy everything that you do, even though there are no words involved. At a very early age, they were mirroring everything you do”. My mentor will tell me stories where he will go to restaurants and he will sit adjacent to somebody. Without looking at them directly, he will start. If they pick up their fork and eat a bite, he will pick up his fork and he’s going to bite it. If they get on their phone and text, he will get on their phone and text. All of a sudden, here’s what happens.

Without making any kind of eye contact, that other person will start gravitating towards him. On many occasions, what he said was once that person was finished eating, they would come up to him and say, “I feel like I already know you. Do we know each other?” I was blown away when he told me that. My mentor has taken hundreds of hours of mirroring classes. The good thing about it is I can’t lie to him. If I try to lie, within a minute, he knows my mind from body language. It’s like what you said, Patrick. We are not even aware of it.

That’s why it’s what everybody is saying. The idea behind this is we oftentimes try and pacify ourselves. That’s why in the work that I will do with individuals, I say, “When we are talking about trying to recognize people’s body language is going to who you know best. The next time that they are angry, watch what they do with their body or the color of their skin. Do they flush when they get angry?” You will start to see that there are tells that we all have, whether we are upset, frustrated, angry or happy that when we are in that state, we default to certain things. To me, that’s about being curious about what those are. Your story to me is so inspiring when I hear your own background. You had a mentor. You had somebody that said, “This is not who you are.” I’m wondering as well aside from that and certainly, your faith, which clearly is strong, what other things create the success in you or that you look to and think, “This is what’s made me or got me to where I am?”

As I said, I was saved in 2009. It didn’t take long before I feel like I’ve got what I would call my life verse. There are hundreds of thousands of verses in the Bible and through some prayer and reading, there was a specific verse that I felt was supposed to guide my life for me, especially with how difficult of a time I have had my whole life focusing. My struggle since I was born with ADHD was focusing on one thing and not getting distracted. My life verse is in a book called Matthew. It’s Matthew 6:33. The verse says, “Seek first the kingdom of God and all of these things will be added unto you.” I’m shortening the verse.

When I read that verse, it was like a light bulb went off because I thought you are telling me that if I just do one thing, that everything else will work out. That was a relief to me because my whole life, I have been trying to do all the different things. Anytime there’s a shiny ball, I’m running after it. That is totally my personality. I read the scripture in ’09 that says, “All I have to do is seek after one thing.” My life was transformed by that verse. My life became a pursuit of doing everything that I could to make God first in my life. That is a huge and lifelong process.

The reason I mentioned that is because my ultimate definition of success is seeking first the kingdom of God with character and integrity in everything that I do. That breaks down to look with my family. What does it look like to seek first the kingdom of God in my business and with character and integrity? That’s broken down in all those different areas but it starts with how I start my day. We have a family that believes in timing. We believe that’s biblical. We have always given the first 10% of our income to the church. We don’t give the last 10%. In other words, we don’t pay all of our bills then tithe. As a first fruit principle, we give the 10% first. Even if we don’t know if we are going to be able to pay our mortgage or our other bills, we are still going to give 10% first. That’s how I see God first with our finances. With my time, this is very personal to me. I like to spend about the first 10% of my day seeking God.

What I do is I wake up. I will have a cup of coffee and I come to the office that I’m in. I will spend time and solitude with God. It varies in length. It could be 30 minutes. It could be two hours. It depends on the day and how things are flowing. That is all ultimately what has brought me the most success. I love this verse in the scripture. I believe it’s also in Matthew. He promises that if we seek him privately, he will reward us publicly. I’m here privately when the sun is not up. Nobody is here in the office. Nobody knows I’m here other than my wife, who’s still sleeping when I do that because I get up very early. Nobody knows about it except for me, God and my wife. Knowing that he is pleased with what I am doing for seeking him first is my true definition of success. That’s what ultimately gives me success during the day.

We talked about the certification program. You asked about my certification program. Would you believe when I told you that one day when I was having quiet time in this office, God gave me the idea to do that? I never wanted to go public at all with our certification program. I was advised to not do it. One of my mentors said, “Don’t give away any of your trade secrets.” One day, I’m having quiet time in 2019 and God says, “I want you to go public with this,” and so I did. What’s interesting about that is I didn’t know we were going to have a video go viral a few months later. The video that went viral had hundreds of millions of viewers. All over the world have seen our certification program. What’s funny about that is if I would have ignored that advice from God or maybe not had time with him in the morning, I would have never have done that certification or if I did, it would have been later. We would have missed out on a global opportunity for this website to get exposure. That’s one of many examples.

You just never know that one thing could be the game changer. Click To Tweet

I will make it really practical about parenting. We haven’t been able to get my son Judah to stop crying. We have tried everything. I’m in my quiet time and I said, “Lord, what do we need to do to get our son to stop crying?” He said, “Right up to his face, play praise music.” When we went home, we’ve got the praise music going. Immediately, the crying stopped. We haven’t had a problem since as long as the praise music is going on. I haven’t even talked about money in the bank, by the way. There’s a part of the success that includes money but these are the real areas that make me successful, my family, keeping my priorities in order, seeking first the kingdom of God, as a parent, parenting Judah and stewarding my business, knowing that it’s not my business. It’s his business. It’s a loan to me while I’m on this thing on Earth.

We have this conversation before in terms of bringing up God on this. It was interesting. I consider myself somebody that has a very strong faith. I have my own rituals. I read from a book that has different passages in it. That’s how I get inspiration. One out of Matthew that I will look to often is about asking, seeking and knocking. That’s one that most will know about but there’s one of my signature tags, which is around Galatians. The whole idea for me is an inspiration. It says along the lines of, “Don’t stop toiling about doing good that in due time, you will reap it.” I believe that.

My faith is my faith. I don’t push it on anybody else but if somebody wants to talk about it, then I’m into talking about it. I try and respect. As you had asked me when we started this call, where are you on this? I won’t go anywhere. For me, I have had my own challenges growing up and struggles. I look back on all of those things. For me, faith in God, I couldn’t be where I am if it wasn’t for that. Personally, that’s my strength. I’m there with you on that. It’s important. That’s my piece. That’s nobody else’s piece.

I love the verse, by the way. That’s a great life verse that you’ve got tagged there in Galatians. It’s awesome.

It hits me about don’t give up. To me, it’s common sense stuff of don’t give up. When I read it that way, it’s like, “I’ve got to keep grinding on here.” It’s important. Daniel, I want to tell you. I appreciate you taking the time to do this, to have a conversation with me about all the great work that you are doing. I believe that our paths crossed each other for this reason. I’m grateful that you took the time to be able to share what you are doing and where you are going with me.

I’m thankful for the opportunity to be able to put a little foot on your platform. I’m excited about all the people that are potentially going to get to hear this. Even if I take away one thing, it was worth it. You never know, that one thing could be the game-changer. I’m reading a great book called The ONE Thing. It takes one thing, one focus. That’s it.

I’m sure you do public speaking as well. One of the things that I will do when I’m on my way to an event is I say a prayer that there’s somebody in that audience that needs to hear the message. I don’t need it to be everybody. Somebody in the audience needs to hear what I’m going to say. I ask that they would be open to that. That’s it. It’s not about me. It’s about them. I would think you are in that same light when you say that.

That’s how Billy Graham got started. It was exactly his story. I believe he got saved at a crusade. He was one of the greatest evangelists of all time. You never know the next Billy Graham or the next whoever it is. You never know the next creator of the next Apple Company. You never know what kind of inspiration can lead to those kinds of things.

I think of you in terms of somebody that might listen to this that’s in that dark place that’s struggling that says, “I’m not going there.” Thank you for that.

You are welcome.

Have a great day. I appreciate it.

Thank you so much, Patrick.

Thanks. Take care.

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