Before The TO-DO List

The problem with me is that I’m a driven performance-based perfectionist who doesn’t have an “off” button.

You might be asking “what’s wrong with that”. And on some level, you would be correct.

It has served my career and bank account well for several decades.

But living on the edge like that for too long WILL HAVE (not might have) catastrophic health, relationship and overall well-being negative effects.

And in my case, to the extreme. Burnout is real.

I knew I was getting more and more tired over the last few years, but the doctors, cardio tests, blood work, MRIs and every other test imaginable all showed I was healthy, really healthy.

Yet I was calling in sick every month, 3-day weekends, 4-day weekends, then starting to use up vacation time… just to recover to go back to work.

I had worked those kinds of hours my whole life and I loved my career.

So what’s the big deal?

The big deal came on August 10th, 2018 when I got home from an out of town job in my typical exhausted state. I told my bosses “I needed to take some time” and they were always all too happy to accommodate. The job was done and I “earned my rest”.

However, this time I never recovered.

Pure exhaustion consumed me, and I was in bed for weeks before even getting to a doctor to start running tests.

At the 12-month mark, we decided to terminate my leave of absence and I’ve been officially unemployed (otherwise knows as entrepreneurship) and considered disabled ever since.

And I’m still not getting much better!

I’ve got some strength back, and have made huge lifestyle changes that are helping, but my mind and body are still fried.

Every day feels like I’m waking up on a Saturday morning after a 70hr work week and I desperately need rest.

But I do rest, I rest a lot… or do I?

A Needed Shift In Awareness 

The reality is, I may be bedbound 50% of my days, but the other 50% I’m working on this new coaching business, and producing content through blogs and podcasts and going to counseling and doing as much light housework or exercise my body can handle, and still serving at church, and, and, and…

The reality is, my every day is crammed with anxiety over my todo lists.

Sure, the lists may look different than they did before I got sick, but I’m still the same driven workaholic obsessed with my todo lists and I suspect that is a huge contributor to why my body and mind aren’t resetting.

I’ve got to slow down mentally before I will get the peace and rest my body has been so desperately begging for over the last many years.

But it’s not intuitive, it doesn’t come naturally.

My therapist suggested I try things that used to be fun, or other ways to unwind and disconnect.

My Reset List

  • Picked up a childhood pastime of building model airplanes
  • Took online Udemy art classes and began sketching and drawing
  • Began doing mindfulness meditation and light yoga
  • Watching Netflix shows and movies

My Reset Results

  • model airplanes are hard and I suck at it. I spend hours and get frustrated on pieces coming unglued, paint being sloppy, not being able to see the tiny pieces. I’ve spent a hundred dollars on magnifying holders, sanding kits, special paintbrushes and dammit this just isn’t as fun as I remember it to be.
  • I can’t draw! My desire is for landscapes, to recreate vacation scenes or drive to the mountains and draw the beautiful vistas. My proportions are wrong, can’t get shapes right. It’s just an abstract cartoon looking like a hot mess, and it’s not fun! So take more courses, spend 100’s on better art supplies, still not fun!
  • Ughhhhh, who can lay still for 20 minutes and not have the mind wander for 19 of them. Practice, practice practice… spend hundreds on meditation apps and Muze headband. Still can’t shut down, not fun!
  • What, there’s nothing wrong with watching every season of Lost, Grey’s Anatomy and The 100 in a month is there?

Let me say that all of those things are awesome and I highly recommend all of them.

But can you see the problem? It’s pretty darn obvious when drawn out like that…

NO MATTER WHERE YOU GO, THERE YOU ARE

Perfectionism and obsession are born many times from childhood trauma, neglect or some form of ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) that writes false narratives on our soul which prevents us from being able to balance, to rest, to find peace or joy between the todo list action items.

For me, it became pretty clear through counseling

Where The Wheels Come Off The Bus

CHORES FIRST THEN PLAY

My dad grew up in the depression with 13 brothers and sisters on a farm in the midwest. As soon as a kid could walk they were put to work. It was a hard life and you worked to survive. It was a necessary mindset on many levels, and it was all my dad knew. And he passed it on to me.

I have very vivid memories as a young kid being outside pulling weeds (my most hated chore) and I would wander off chasing butterflies or something. That behavior was met with wrath. Dad was angry at life, and he took it out on me and mom. And the punishment was severe, always verbal and if it happened more than once the punishment became physical.

You simply had no time for play because there were always more chores to get done. And I can now see how that manifested in my adult life. As a field engineer fixing computers at grocery stores and gas stations, the pager was always going off. I wouldn’t each lunch or stop for the day until I was completely exhausted or all my work was done. Food and rest can wait. (Hello, self-care anyone?)

STOP CRYING OR I’LL GIVE YOU SOMETHING TO CRY ABOUT

Anyone ever experiences that one? My dad would punish me with the belt, leaving welts across my back, arms and legs and then tell me to stop crying. WFT?

But you know what, you can stop crying. It is either stuff the emotions or continue to get hit and yelled at. It’s amazing how resilient and strong-willed a kid can become for survival.

But what do you think that teaches? Emotions are bad, stuff them and for sure never talk about them or let them slip out.

Science has known for a while the physical toll high levels of stress, depression and “stuffing emotions” can have neurophysically. The mind/body connection is real.

Gee, I wonder what living like that for 50 years can do to a mind/body? Cause Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, facilitate a nervous breakdown, cause ulcers, cancer, and a host of other “unexplained” diseases?

Add to that addictions of all kinds and mental disorders. Stuffing emotions is an epidemic of global proportions, but we’ve all been trained well to not acknowledge or talk about it. Just man up, leave the past in the past.

Our bodies remember

UNSAFE, FEAR OF THE FUTURE

Another todo list nemesis. Each item on the list represents “failure if not complete”.

Again, for normal people, this can be easily navigated with a well-balanced internal compass. But for the rest of us…

We all know worrying about the future is a chronic problem with almost zero value. Our fight-or-flight part of the brain doesn’t recognize time. So thinking about a “possible” future failure feels like present time danger. And the neuro-cocktail of chemicals that flood the system when in danger (real or perceived) is another destructive life force.

For me, two of everyday fears almost always manifested.

If I upset my mom during the day she would threaten me with “wait until your father gets home”.

This was a big deal and terrifying. Dad always got home from work tired and usually short-tempered. Dealing with “that damn kid” is the last thing he wanted. And if mom went whining to him about something I did, it was a lock that I was going to get beat.

And the second scenario, it didn’t matter if mom didn’t complain about me, dad didn’t need a good reason to blow up and rage on me.

Life as a child was all about the eggshells, fear. Fear that I would do something wrong. Fear that dad might “think” I did something wrong even if I didn’t.

Even when things were great, there was no rest because it would never last. So even when having fun, it’s wasn’t fun because fun, happiness, and peace never lasts long anyway.

Talk about carrying crap beliefs into your adult life. Fear kills us from this inside far worse than any circumstances in our outside world could ever do.

NOT GOOD ENOUGH

This is another one where the todo list can become toxic.

I’ve noticed in me that every project that I take on I am miserable in the middle ground between points A and B. I want to go from 3rd-grade arithmetic to calculous overnight. I see the goal, let’s ge there already.

Necessary steps are an annoying delay to the prize. It’s a microwave mentality that creates mountains of internal discord and is the purest enemy to quality work. It simply wants the todo list done without regard to quality.

A good link to my childhood on this one was when my dad let me run the gas lawnmower around 12 years old. This was a big deal!

He even went in the house and let me do it all on my own instead of hovering over me yelling every time I missed a blade.

I was going to show him, and my inner perfectionist was born. I spent hours perfectly getting every blade, sweeping down walkways and edging around planters. This was the best the yard could ever look.

And when I proudly finished up every task, put the trashcans away, stored the lawnmower in the shed and ran into the house to get my dad’s inevitable approval over my amazing work, his response was spit out in a sarcastic tone: “I saw you went around the yard to the center and I taught you to go back and forth, you just never listen”.

And that was his only comment.

Even my perfectionism isn’t enough.

And all of these are only single examples of a few items. Amazed I survived quite honestly!

So What Is The Solution?

For one, lots of counseling!

Ok, I say that a little tongue in cheek, but the reality is we can only move forward by looking back.

We have to root out the faulty beliefs about where we fit in the world and destroy the negative thinking patterns that were created to fit within that false view of ourselves in the world.

“We can never thrive if we are too busy simply trying to survive” 

So, back to the point of this post, I have chosen to create a new kind of TODO list.

THE TO BE LIST

to-do-list1

This doesn’t mean that I have thrown out my todo lists, they are still incredibly valuable and necessary.

But, I spend time every morning committing to these foundations first before I even consider looking at my goals for the day.

THE SEVEN IMPERATIVES

1. BE IMPECCABLE WITH MY WORDS 

This is about character. What we say matters. If I say yes, then follow through. So I better make sure that I only say yes to the things that come up that I am 100% committed to following through on. I must learn to say no more often if I don’t want to feed my workaholism and perfectionism, and ultimately my guilt and shame when I ‘m forced to let people down.

2. SELF-AWARENESS OF MY STATES

I’m a huge fan of Tony Robbins’ concept of States. Although 95% of our reality exists in the subconscious layer in our primitive brain (fight-or-flight, amygdala), we still have the ability to train and strengthen our higher functioning thoughts (consciousness, pre-frontal cortex).

For some, the training began with healthy parenting early in life.

But if you experienced any kind of trauma or neglect, every minute of every day is literal survival and our fight-or-flight turns on nearly permanently. This is necessary as a young kid trying to survive, but living purely on emotional needs has killed billions of people prematurely, and it will continue to do so.

Few of us are trained at self-care, which can only take place with high levels of self-awareness.

The four primary areas I focus on every morning first thing to ensure my “States” are centered before anything else are as follows.

I do this in the form of affirmations through self-talk.

Of course, you should personalize these based upon your own beliefs and needs.

Centering Of The Four States

  • Mental – my mind is clear and sharp. I am focused and alert. My mind is stronger than my emotions and I am aware at all times what I am thinking. When I notice that I have begun ruminating, worrying or daydreaming I will gently return to what I’m focused on in the present. I am smart, creative, focused and whole. I love the way my mind works, I love my intellect and my problem-solving skills. Thank you, God for making my mind the way you have. I promise to care for my mind today.
  • Physical – my body is healthy, I’m feeling strong today. I am so grateful for this new day and new opportunities to find ways to exercise my body. I can almost feel the oxygen-rich blood pumping freely to my muscles and organs bring health and growth and new healing. I will not push my body further than it can go, I will not demand more from it than it can give, so I will remain aware of when I need a break, and when I can push. Thank you God for giving me this body, I promise to take good care of it today through nutrition, exercise, and self-love.
  • Emotional – I am feeling great, I am confident, I am safe, I am secure, I have choices, I have options, I have freedom. I choose today to embrace this day with grace and patience. I will be aware of when my mood changes and gently restore myself to exactly how I’m feeling right now, which is overwhelmingly grateful for this day and the opportunities that lay ahead for connecting with others, myself and God. Life is great and I feel great, and today I choose to thrive. No matter what I get done, it will be enough for today.
  • Spiritual – God I thank you. There is an uncountable number of people who are never born every day. But you chose me, you gave me life. You gave me a working body, mind, and soul. You kept me alive through the suffering years. You now have filled me with purpose and promises and joy. You never promised an easy life, but I know that with you I can do all things. I will lean on you today, even more than yesterday. I trust you with my life, my future, my past, and especially in my present. For today, it’s you and me. I humbly accept responsibility for the choices that I will make, and I trust that you will guide me in all my decisions. I trust that I will find not only purpose but rest in you today. Thank you, Father, you are a Good Father, you are my Abba Father and today I will be grateful for all that you have done, are doing, and the promises to come.

There are many ways to do morning priming, this is just a quick one I’m doing currently. I am also, as mentioned, a big fan of Tony Robbins. For another take on an outstanding morning priming exercise that I’ve done probably a hundred times check out Tony’s Priming Video. It’s more on the motivational success side of things, but super helpful all-around.

3. BE KIND TO MYSELF

This one should seem obvious and hardly warrant being mentioned, but you’d be amazed at the deficit much of the world has in this area.

The criticality here is that we can’t know how to be kind to ourselves until we discover how we have not been kind to ourselves. 

The easy-to-reach-low-hanging-fruit is the internal torture chamber of perfectionism, people-pleasing, workaholism, ruminating, negative beliefs and a host of other barely perceptible driving forces that keep us mentally and emotionally wired and fired beyond healthy limits.

This area of self-awareness takes a lot of practice though.

I found accountability is helpful resource here too. We must have a tribe of people around us who will notice when we are lost in our heads.

(see my post lost in the weeds for a deep-dive into this area of awareness)

STEPS TO BEING KIND TO YOURSELF

  • Not skipping meals
  • Taking regular breaks
  • Letting progress not perfection be the goal
  • Celebrating every achievement, big or small
  • Finding opportunity to laugh with others
  • Letting people do nice things for you like buying you lunch or running an errand for you or slashing your bosses tires (ok, maybe not that last one)
  • Having a cheat day – with limits! This one is dangerous for me. I use food or TV as medication and escape so I can make a whole chocolate cake and 3 fast food meals or bingeing TV an entire day my cheat. That is not self-care. My new motto is “no cheat days”… but I still give myself limited permissions here.
  • Take time to sing or dance. Getting alone might be tough, but when I put on some kickin worship music my soul soars. Do whatever works for you, but taking mini heart & soul breaks can do wonder for a mid-day reset.
  • Develop your own reset list (see mine above). When I’m in a good “State” then my reset list works great. Hobbies, meditation, yoga/stretching, go for a walk. Anything that lets you breathe in life. We can’t be serious ALL the time.

Obviously, this is another list that you should personalize. Take time thinking about the things that make you happy, bring you joy, give you a sense of connectedness to others, make you feel good to be alive. 

4. STAY PRESENT IN THE NOW

Much of what this list is already about is staying present. Rumination or stuck thoughts can rabbit trail me very easily. Being a writer I spend a lot of time in my head already so it’s hard for me to notice when I’m in the weeds again.

TRICKS TO STAYING PRESENT

  • The 2-Minute Awareness Check
    • Feel the materials and textures of items or furniture around you. Soft, rough, cold, metallic, etc…
    • Smell any smells you can notice around you or intentionally bury your nose in a flower or burn incense or candles.
    • Listen to all the separate sounds you can identify near and far. The hum of the computer or sirens outside, or the lazy coworkers gossiping down the hall (gee, ya think I’m still harboring some workplace resentments haha)
    • Look at the shapes and colors of objects around you or pick out tiny details as far as you can see outside a window.
    • Taste food or drink and pay close attention to texture, flavors, temperature
  • The Millisecond Jolt– wear a rubber band and snap it when you notice you are daydreaming or ruminating.
  • 30-second Mindfulness Breathing. I use a 5×5 box breathing.  Focus on your breathing and inhale slowly for the count of five, hold for a count of five, exhale for a count of five, and don’t inhale for a count of five. A few of those and I’m right as rain (whatever that means!?!?)

5. FOCUS ON SOLUTIONS

The benefits of this one should be pretty obvious also.

One huge breakthrough I had a few months ago was realizing how easy my career was yet relationships and other aspects of my personal life were a trainwreck.

When I sat down with intentionality to figure out why this was so, I found the answer!

In my career, failure was never even a consideration.

Maybe it was the perfectionism, but there was NEVER any fear involved or consideration of quitting.

For example, I had a huge project as an IT Manager where I was the only employee in the department (known as a One Man Show). We needed a new phone system. I knew nothing about phone systems. I did what anyone would do, I Googled “corporate phone systems”.

And the project began.

In my mind, I was going to roll out a new phone system and this was going to be awesome.

I ran into hundreds of knowledge deficits, procedural roadblocks, resource limitations, and timeline constraints.

But every step was simply “bring it” and “What’s Next”!

However, in my personal life, I’m riddled with fear, expectations, doubt, insecurity.

I’m the same exact person, but my beliefs about what I’m capable of is different.

The battle is in the mind. 

When we focus 100% of our attention on the end-game, then there are no such things as roadblocks or quitting, everything becomes a mere speedbump, barely perceptible as “the next thing to solve”.

This one is huge and staying aware of it is changing my life.

6. BE AWARE OF CHOICES

For me, this ties into my childhood trauma garbage again.

As an only child in an abusive household, my body remembers the horrifying experience of “feeling trapped”. And rightfully so.

But as adults, we have choices.

The problem is when a situation resembles those old feelings of being stuck in a situation that we didn’t have control, our primitive brain can say “oh shit, I’m stuck” and we become convinced we have no options.

Are you in a bad relationship? You’re not stuck!

Are you in a bad job? You’re not stuck!

Are you in a bad financial situation? You’re not stuck!

Do you have poor health? You are not stuck!

Believing you are stuck guarantees that you will be stuck.

If you want a deeper dive on this then make sure to check out my podcast on anxiety

We have to take ownership for our beliefs and behaviors and recognize that until we are dead there will always be some way in which we can improve or at least better endure our current situations.

And that begins with our attitudes.

Instead of saying: “I am stuck, and this is impossible.”

Say: “I feel stuck but my feelings don’t dictate reality” and “This will be hard, but it is not impossible”.

When you take ownership of your future and change your self-dialogue, your feelings will change from hopelessness to hopefulness, from dread to eager anticipation.

And when that happens, creativity and drive have the opportunity to flourish once again.

7. BE CONNECTED TO MYSELF, OTHERS AND GOD

We can’t do this life alone.

When we are “feeling” overwhelmed or stuck or struggling to get by in any area of our life, the hardest thing to do is ask for help.

I recently had a therapy session where I was describing a situation that I felt trapped in and my therapist chose the NLP route (of which I’m a huge fan!). She asked me to describe what my situation “felt” like.

I described that it felt like having my arms wrapped in a rope, around and around a dozen times and I couldn’t reach the knot no matter how hard I tried.

She offered the standard NLP solutions, “what can you do to the rope?” she asked. “Can you disintegrate it, turn it into something else, can your arms turn rubbery so you can reach the rope”.

NLP is a lot of fun for us creative types, and it’s freaky how well it works. 

But this time I couldn’t do any of that.

I replied, “no, this is like Wonder Woman’s Lasso, I am powerless to even move”.

She then asked me a question that surprisingly freaked me out and I violently reacted mentally and emotionally (my fight-or-flight triggered big time).

She asked, “can I untie the rope?” 

This one question led to changing a big part of my life. 

When she offered, in my mind’s eye I leaned over towards her in a submissive, “OK, let’s try”.

But the second I even considered letting her help to untie the ropes my mind screamed:

NO, IF YOU LET HER THEN YOU WILL NEED HER TO UNTIE ALL YOUR ROPES. YOU’VE GOT TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO UNTIE YOUR OWN ROPE OR YOU WILL BE DEPENDENT UPON HER. 

EUREKA, WE’VE STRUCK FAULTY BELIEF!!!!

It was at that moment that I realized, as a kid who was all alone and had to figure out how to survive on my own, I came to BELIEVE that people aren’t safe, nobody can help me, I must figure everything out on my own because people will leave you and if they were important to you, they will leave a huge hole.

A host of lies came pouring out, and I realized I NEVER ask for help. Asking for help is a sign of weakness and dependence. And I have suffered my whole life because of that belief.

And this plays out in every aspect of my life. Even with God.

I came to Christ nearly 9 years ago. But I am now recognizing more and more that I only give him pieces of my life that I’m ok with if he screws it up because I can take it back and fix it through my old behaviors of food or porn or other ways to “escape or medicate the feelings”.

This act of surrender and trust is huge and still really difficult for me. 

But I have found that as I begin to ask for help and trust others that my sense of connection to the world, God and even myself is growing exponentially.

Every person on the planet has their own stuff, and two can carry a load much easier than one.

We’ve got to lose the Lone Ranger mentality if we are ever going to thrive in this life.


Conclusion

I believe this is a crossroads we all face every morning. We can choose to almost maniacally pour ourselves into our todo lists and maybe make progress, but at what cost?

I now know that self-care must always be my highest priority.

When we stop taking care of the essentials of proper sleep, nutrition, mental and emotional wellness and spiritual wholeness through maintaining healthy and valuable relationships, the road ahead will likely be much shorter than we had hoped or planned.

So find ways to take care of yourself. Heed some of the warnings from my own life and grab hold of some of the suggestions and make them your own.

And don’t forget to join the conversation in the comment section below.

We all grow together when we share the insights we gain in our mutual pursuits of Life Mastery. Be encouraged, your words could change the life of someone else.

And if you saw yourself in any of this stuff, don’t hesitate to reach out for a FREE CONSULTATION.

I’m happy to spend an hour chatting with anyone, even if it doesn’t lead to a coaching relationship. Just click the link and scroll to the bottom of the page and fill out the simple form. I will get back to you usually within 24 hours.

So what do you think, ready to tackle the day?

Me too, Let’s do this!

canon podcast image 2

George Crone

Certified Life Coach & NLP Practitioner
Founder of Nikaos Strategic Coaching
Developer of The Life Mastery Project and Life Mastery Series

Copywrite © 2019 Nikaos Strategic Coaching | The Life Mastery Project

How To Extract Life-Changing Takeaways From Any Experience

Mental and Emotional Mastery is a critical foundation of Life Mastery. Here is an example of what this looks like in my own life.


Psalm 26:2 (AMP) Examine me, O Lord, and try me; Test my heart and my mind.

wisdom

If we are intentional in looking for it, God will always provide an epiphany – A Golden Takeaway from any significant experience in our life.

When that happens, it leads to a new set of options, choices that we can utilize in the future to grow and achieve greater levels of peace, wholeness, and connectedness to others, ourselves and God.

It is through a new awareness that we gain new perspectives.

When our patterns of thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors start to make sense we can then choose to change (or more accurately surrender our dependence on) the thoughts, feelings, and beliefs that no longer serve us well.

What follows is the way in which I “work things out”.

It is how I attempt to discern “what is God trying to tell me here” and “what I am supposed to do with it”.

So what do you say, you interested? Great, let’s do this!


The Process of Processing 

  1. What happened (the situation)?
  2. What were my motivations, emotions, and spiritual condition (called States)?
  3. What does God want to reveal (post-reflection)
  4. How have my new perspectives and awarenesses changed (take-away)
  5. What can I do differently next time (action plan)

What follows is an example of how that exact process plays out for me. This is a very real situation that just slammed into me within the last 48 hours.

It is a compare and contrast from two similar events in my life that had polar opposite driving forces and outcomes, and the emerging awareness of why one worked and one didn’t have the potential to be life-changing for me.

And who knows, maybe for someone else?

CASE STUDY – THE TWO TRIPS


STEP ONE – What Happened

This all revolves around 2 separate road trips that I’ve taken in the last year. I’ll call them Trip #1 and Trip #2 (creative eh)

TRIP #1

This took place soon after I first got sick when I was forced into a medical leave of absence over a year ago.

I first drove to meet a friend and we camped for a few days but instead of turning south from the campground to go back home, I ended up turning north on an impulse to just “see where it leads”.

It was a spectacular 10-day journey of prayer, journaling, sight-seeing and soul-searching throughout the coastal areas and mountains of Central and Northern California, complete with an endless stream of Divine Coincidences

TRIP #2

This happened yesterday, nearly a year after the first trip; and although the original intent (on some level) was similar to trip #1, the outcomes couldn’t have been more radically different in every aspect.

This trip started out as me just wanting to clear my head (similar to trip #1).

But what manifested as was an 860-mile round-trip from Los Angeles to Cedar City Utah in a 22-hour waking nightmare.

Same person, same car, same intent/desire, but insanely different experiences.

Why did they turn so different?

Gratefully God can work with those kinds of questions!

Mark 12:29-31 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” [my emphasis]

STEP TWO – What Were My Mental, Emotional, Spiritual & Physical States

1 Thessalonians 5:23 (ESV) Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I have found it critically important when trying to discern why things go right and why things go wrong, what part of it was “up to me?”

It comes down to self-awareness which is never intuitive. And it is likely the most critical life-skill that is never taught. 

95% of our thoughts, feeling and actions are driven subconsciously from our mind/body past experiences.

It’s an auto-pilot and without recognizing the survival forces at work (fight or flight response) can drive us to live reactionary lives. We say, do and feel things not based on current realities but largely on past “take-aways”.

So I always start by asking myself: What were my “states” before and during the encounter?


TRIP #1

Mental – I believe I was clear-headed. I had a sense of adventure, of wanting to explore. I was feeling like I was a free spirit who could do whatever I wanted (which is not normal for me).

Emotional – I was in a pretty good place. I was apprehensive about the impulsiveness of the decision but I was expecting a really neat experience, even though I had no idea what to expect.

Physical – My health condition was a serious consideration, but I theorized that laying in a hammock on the beach watching a beautiful fire-red sunset was better than laying in bed at home. So I was alert to my physical limitations and believed this was a reasonable act self-care. 

Spiritual – Here is the secret sauce. Every step of the way from the second I turned my car north away from the direction of home, I took a stance of nearly excited faith. “This is crazy Lord, but I trust you”. 

I won’t share all of the DIVINE MIRACLES that took place on trip #1 but the very first one will blow your mind, at least it still does mine.

Were there Divine Appointments?

I drove north wanting to go to Big Sur campground along Highway 1 in Central California. It is the exact place where I gave my life to Christ some 8 years before then and being that I wanted “get with God” on this trip, where better to go?

big-sur
Highway 1 Big Sur, California

The problem is, Limekiln Campground is a small-ish campground in one of the most spectacular regions of the California Coastline, and reservations are made a year in advance. You NEVER just drive up there expecting a spot. And this place is remote, if camping isn’t available here you might be homeless. No cell service, and no services for many miles.

What I was doing was CRAZY. Yet this was a different kind of crazy in this trip versus trip #2 as you will soon see.

So what happened? I went there on faith. And long story short, not only was I ultimately able to get a spot in Limekiln Campground, the ONLY spot available was the EXACT SPOT that I gave my life to Christ at 7 years earlier.

That is an impossible outcome, but easy for God. And the entire trip went that way.

Every campground was “impossible to get into” yet by some miracle, I got in… for 10 days straight hopping from campground to campground I was met with miracle after miracle.


TRIP #2

Mental – The premise of this trip was a trainwreck from the beginning. If you’ve been following my blog in the last week or so you know my counselor has been uncorking some childhood trauma stuff. I haven’t wanted to go there but I also believe God said: “you are ready”. So I’ve gone fearfully but willingly.

On this day I was having a really rough time, I was stuck ruminating on past events, and as they say, what you feed grows. And this was feeding my emotions.

Emotional – Again, trainwreck. What was uncovered was long deep and buried shame, self-hatred, and rage toward people who have treated me terribly throughout my life and I just “let them do it”. I’ve been passive, insecure and fearful all my life but most of the vile of poison was outside of my awareness in the 95% subconscious fight-or-flight regions of my brain. Fight or flight was alive and well this day!

Physical – I was not healthy. I hadn’t been sleeping well the last few nights and with the emotional exhaustion, my body was not doing well. But I was also filled with fight-or-flight chemical flood as the pain and anger escalated throughout the day. I was worn, and my bed would have been the safest place for me, but I had to run.

Spiritual – Here is where I believe the takeaways are going to come from. I’m somewhat processing this live right now as I type this so this is an organic exercise. So I was in prayer all day, but the emotional state and ruminating thoughts seemed stuck. My motivation on this trip was not “I’m moving towards God”, it was “I’m running from this house”.

Were there Divine Appointments?

I believe there were Divine Appointments on this trip also, but many different kinds. I left at 5pm physically worn and drove with no direction from God, instead just “where do I feel like going”. I drove to the mountains and didn’t “feel” better so I drove to the desert and didn’t “feel” better so I drove to Las Vegas and still didn’t “feel” better so I kept driving east until 2am, completey exhausted and nearly hallucinating on the road.

Again, what I was doing was CRAZY, but this time truly cray-cray!!

no hotels
not what you want to see when looking for hotels at 2:30am

One of the reasons I kept driving, there were no hotels available for hundreds of miles!

And when I finally stopped driving out of necessity? Still no hotels! I ended up sleeping near a dumpster behind a restaurant in my car in 37-degree temperature for only 3.5 hours. When I woke up I had the (rational) thought, “what the hell am I doing here” and pointed home and started driving.

I believe the Divine Appointment was that there were no Divine Appointments. This was all about me and my feelings and God wasn’t going to bless this trip. He kept me alive, but my entire experience was miserable.


STEP THREE – What Does God Want to Reveal?

I could have just had the thought, the first trip was great and the second trip sucked and leave it at that.

I’m very intentional in my prayer life, and I know and expect that when I go to God with feelings of hurt and confusion that He wants to give me peace and rest through the types of comfort and revelation that only He can provide.

So when I asked God “what the hell was that about?” (yeah, we have a pretty casual dialect, He gets me) He was quick to respond.

Clearly, the Divine Appointments were off the charts different. In the first, I met with blue skies and blessings beyond measure. But trip 2 was dark and met with resistance and tension the entire time.

This was my Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde struggle that I battle with, and they each took their own version of their perfect trip.

Obviously, mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually, I was not the same person on both trips.

God was reminding me that my battle is not with “unfair or difficult circumstances”, it is always within myself.

STEP FOUR – The Perspective Shift

So what is my take-away?

Before making any decisions in life I have to make sure that The Four States are in order first. If any is not in balance, then getting them there becomes my highest priority at that exact moment. If I don’t they will overshadow everything I do.

And if all four are out at the same time, I’m at grave risk of making decisions that can physically or emotionally harm myself or others. It is not a rational place!

In the case of mental or physical illness (depression, chronic illness, etc…) I do not need to make excuses or feel guilty when saying “I can’t”.

If people don’t understand that I am doing what I have to do for me and are disappointed and take it personally, then that’s on them and not on me.

It comes down to self-care. What were my states?

Trip #1 – clarity of thoughts, emotionally stable, physically aware of self-care boundaries and spiritually consulting and trusting God with every risk-filled decision. This trip took place during the daytime – in the Light

Trip #2 – ruminating thoughts, emotionally unstable, physically exhausted and spiritually disconnected from God (and therefore susceptible to Satan’s influence on my decision-making processes). This trip was overnight – in the Darkness

If I had been more SELF-AWARE (and especially God aware) I would have realized that my desire to re-experience last year’s trip, albeit good, was entirely impossible in my current condition.

Not just one, but all four States were extremely out of balance and I should not have been on the road in the first place. Saved by Grace for sure!!

STEP FIVE – The New Action Plan

  1. SELF CARE MUST TAKE PRIORITYI should not tackle any activity or make a critical decision if all 4 states aren’t well balanced. I shouldn’t feel guilty or compelled to meet other’s expectations if my 4 states aren’t well balanced.
  2. IF I AM STUCK IN ANY STATE – ASK FOR HELP!Spiritual – find someone to pray with mePhysical – find someone to help me
    • Emotional – find someone who cares enough to sit with me in it
    • Mental – find someone to process with me

As obvious as those may seem, I don’t do them well, and I don’t do them consistently.

In fact, this whole exercise has given me a greater perspective of how when I let my emotions guide me I will almost always make bad choices.

I’ve been dragged around by my emotions my entire life and driven by a sense of shame and obligation when selecting the things I do. Many times the outcomes are not good, I have truly been my own worst enemy.

In many cases, I may have “looked like” I was a great guy, but many of my actions were in fact just manipulations so that I “looked good” to others in the hopes that I might “feel good” about myself. (hard to admit that)

I believe this is what God talks about when He talks about the condition of our hearts.

Proverbs 4:23 Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.

Matthew 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.


Well, what do you think?

My desire is to help people discover how the places of hurt and brokenness from our past traumas or childhood neglect has tricked us into believing things about ourselves, others and God that just simply aren’t true.

Pain, shame and blame are not from God.

Through greater self-awareness, we can become masters of our own inner and outer selves and thereby serve God and others with a pure heart where everyone wins.

For those of us who have experienced childhood trauma or neglect, the process of self-care is not intuitive. In fact, the road ahead is hard.

But both God and Science agree: we can be transformed by the renewal of our mind!


I’m not selling anything here. I’m just a new startup trying to get off the ground. Any comments or feedback is welcome, good or bad. 

You can also find other free resources at:

 

George Cronecanon podcast image 2

Founder of Nikaos Strategic Coaching

Certified Life Coach & NLP Practitioner

Developer of The Life Mastery Project

 

Copywrite © 2019 Nikaos Strategic Coaching | The Life Mastery Project

One Man's Journey of Redemption

Psalm 26:2 (AMP) Examine me, O Lord, and try me; Test my heart and my mind.

wisdom

If we are intentional of looking for it, God will always provide an epiphany – A Golden Takeaway from any significant experience in our life.

When that happens, it leads to a new set of options, choices that we can utilize in the future to grow and achieve greater levels of peace, wholeness, and connectedness to others, ourselves and God.

It is through a new awareness that we gain new perspectives.

When our patterns of thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors start to make sense we can then choose to change (or more accurately surrender our dependence on) the thoughts, feelings, and beliefs that no longer serve us well.

What follows is the way in which I “work things out”.

It is how I attempt to discern “what is God trying to tell me here” and “what…

View original post 2,542 more words

When Is Weakness Not Weakness?

strenths

Could that be any more counterintuitive?!?!?!

I’ve been kinda struggling the last couple days.

I’m still all-in with the dream of breaking free from fulfilling someone else’s vision (corporate jobs) and living for greater impact through sharing my experience, strength, and hope with the world (entrepreneurship).

But those old tapes, no matter how much we fight against them, seem to still have a voice.

  • You aren’t doing enough
  • You aren’t doing the right stuff
  • Who are you to compete with the big boys who have been doing this for decades
  • It’s too hard running an entire business by yourself
  • Your goals are too lofty, bordering on unreasonable
  • (add your inner-sabotager here)

I say it over and over; until we become self-aware of our negative beliefs and unhelpful thinking patterns we become prone to letting the feelings; those nay-sayers; to take us out.

Gratefully I’ve become pretty good at noticing them, so I can counter them pretty quickly

  • I AM making progress, there is no such thing as “not doing enough” unless I place that performance-based burden on myself
  • I AM doing the right thing If I am spending time in ANY area of my life that needs attention, which could include a Netflix binge – the definition is up to me
  • I AM taking my life to the next level and not competing with the big boys. Impact and success are they byproducts of consistency and creativity; leave the rest up to God
  • If my goals aren’t lofty then they aren’t big enough. We shoot for the sun and if we hit the moon, how awesome is that!
  • (list your counter-attack here)

But what happens when the internal dialogue comes up against something about yourself that doesn’t want to let go?

For me that looks like:

  • The “what if…” rumination can send me down a negative spiral for hours
  • Wanting to be “more social” yet always leaning toward introversion keeps me feeling disconnected
  • An OCD type behavior that runs really hot or really cold on projects
  • Driving other people crazy because I believe EVERYTHING has meaning and connection; even silly and seemingly insignificant things which make me feel like an outsider
  • Struggling at small talk and sometimes making people feel uncomfortable because I’m only fully-engaged in deeper more meaningful and personal conversations
  • (insert some character traits that you seem stuck with)

But there is good news

That list (and several more) has always been my nemesis, the enemies within that I believed I had to change or grow out of and fight against to be the best version of myself.

What I discovered however through Myers-Briggs and Clifton Strengths Finder is that those are key personality strengths that make me who I am.

So often we fight against our core personality and it makes us miserable, it robs our peace, our self-confidence and can make us feel broken, defective, different.

Again, my entire life’s message revolves around confronting those negative self-image items that reside under the surface and out of view from our conscious mind.

Through those self-awareness tools I discovered that:

  • Being an INFJ (Myers-Briggs) and being STRATEGIC (Clifton Strengths Finder) means that being in my own head is where I thrive, it’s where great insights into what makes me and the world tick comes from. It’s what allows me to solve problems, connect the dots and visualize solutions.
  • Discovering what makes me tick also allowed me to see that obsessively focusing on a project and losing myself for hours if not days in a task at the sacrifice of other areas of my life, including self-care, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. That is what it looks like when I’m “in the zone” or “in-flow” or “in-state”. I can get a month worth of content created in a matter of a few days. Granted I need to be warry of balance, but this is not a valid self-condemnation character trait. Quite the opposite, it is something that if I manage and balance properly should be celebrated; it is another aspect of what makes me who I am.
  • Again, both Myers-Briggs and Clifton Strengths Finder confirm the same things, and me believing everything is connected and has meaning is an amazing encouraging tool. It is how I can make meaning out of even bad things, I can give others hope, encourage them that it seems dark now but that hardships not only open new doors but sometimes shove us through them and force us into becoming greater versions of ourselves. God intends for us to thrive, He wants the best for us, and us being challenged in greater ways is wonderful; oftentimes comfort is not our best friend for it breeds complacency.
  • I also realized that not being comfortable in large crowds or being comfortable with small talk is not a bad thing either. My core mission, gifting and calling is to have an impact on the lives of others; to become the best version of me and use that to help others. It again is what makes me tick. Something in my character disarms people, and they are many times very comfortable in only a few minutes and I am able to plants seeds of grace and encouragement in an incredibly short amount of time. There is nothing wrong with small talk, but at my soul level, it is a waste of time when there is an opportunity for impact. What a beautiful thing huh?

Hopefully, you can see the point. So often what we may think is a character defect or flaw because we believe we “should be like everyone else” or “more normal” is, in fact, the very thought process that becomes self-condemning and self-limiting leading toward self-sabotage.

We have to learn to love ourselves, embrace even our perceived weaknesses, discover how they can actually be our strengths, and then move forward with even greater confidence, empowerment, and boldness.

Do you have a strength that you believed to be a weakness at one time?

What tools, similar to Myers-Briggs or Clifton Strengthsfinder, have helped you discover more of who you are?

Join the conversation, add your voice to the comments section below.

My desire for LMP (The Life Mastery Project) is to create a fully-engaged community of overcomers who share their experience, strength, and hope with each other

Let’s Do This!

canon podcast image 2George Crone

Certified Life Coach & NLP Practitioner

Founder of Nikaos Strategic Coaching

Developer of The Life Mastery Project

Copywrite © 2019 Nikaos Strategic Coaching | The Life Mastery Project

Growth Requires Acknowledging Weakness

self-awareness

I am happy to share I have really been enjoying my new found empowerment and freedom.

And it has been reaping rewards: the checklist is looking great:

  • completely overhauled my diet and eating habits
  • established healthy sleeping patterns
  • developed powerful morning and evening routines
  • fighting back against my chronic fatigue Syndrome and getting more exercise while maintaining new push/crash boundaries
  • and of course the big one; leaving my 30-year corporate IT career to start my own coaching business. 

That’s nuts, right?

I Have Arrived

Have you guys noticed this? It seems like every time I start thinking “I have arrived” I am soon after humbled by the realization that there is ALWAYS a “next thing”?

Allow me to explain

Part of my morning routine is to set balanced and reasonable expectations for the day, and my evening routine looks back over the day to make sure I stayed true to that plan.

However, over the last several days, I have been solely focused on my new business, from early morning into the late-night hours. I’ve been “in the zone” cranking out tons of content on The Life Mastery Series program.

So much so, that my morning and evening routines have been truncated or even skipped completely. Each morning I moved straight to the keyboard,  painting my thoughts onto blank white canvas, turning them into grand masterpieces (in my mind anyway) and being so tired each night that I would hit the pillow completely spent. 

A younger man could likely maintain that level of… commitment?… obsession?… drive?… not sure what the right word is there… but being in my 50’s and still working towards undoing the physical damage that decades of poor self-care manifested; I can’t.

But I have learned that a key component to Life Mastery is Self Mastery.

And a key component of Self Mastery is Self Awareness.

And a key component to Self Awareness is Self Acceptance.

Gone are the days of Self Condemnation, when I would look at some mistake or lack of action and spend the nightly recap being Self Critical over falling into old patterns or “wasting the day”.

Instead, I now choose to frame everything in life as “knowledge gained” and with that, the sense of wholeness, contentment, self-worth, and inner-peace has had fertile soil to flourish. 

We are always only discovering what works and what doesn’t.

Heck, other people are human and will make mistakes and let us down; and so am I… and so do I… welcome to the human condition.

That is easy to say, but I had that play out in an unexpected way.

I sat down two nights ago and looked over my Life Balance Checklist and this is what I found.

  • This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is red.jpg Health
  • This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is red.jpg Relationships
  • Business
  • This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is red.jpg Finance
  • Growth
  • This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is red.jpg Spiritual
  • This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is red.jpg Recreation

Clearly, not much balance there, and I found myself starting to get self-critical.

But here is where the magic happened. and why I had to share this with you guys.

Because of my difficult childhood and gaining the false belief that no matter what I do it is never enough; I realized early on that my ultimate priority is NO SELF CRITICISM. 

But yet, here I was, living out of balance. Clearly, I lost vision right, I’m obsessing in one area and the other areas are suffering, I’m blowin’ it, right?

Wrong!!!

Rebalanced Living Begins With A Rebalanced Focus

I had to get off the self-criticism train before I could recognize that the last several days have been HUGELY successful. I was experiencing a season of massive productivity on the new program that I’m working on. 

I was writing more than 5000 words a day, I converted each lesson into a podcast, laid down intro and outro music tracks on each and then uploaded into the program database and wrote page content for each lesson. 

What the heck, that is Superman status in a writer/podcast world. I did 4 complete entries in 4 days, from initial concept to editing and posting. That is nearly a full month of publishable content productivity in a span of only 4 days…

… and I’m being self-critical because I’m “out of balance”??!?!?!

It wasn’t until I got my weekly Grammarly update which stated I was more productive than 99% of other Grammarly users, that I realized my expectations were what’s out of balance, not my productivity focus! 

That Life Balance Checklist should have looked more like

  • This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is red.jpg Health
  • This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is red.jpg Relationships
  • Business
  • This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is red.jpg Finance
  •  Growth
  • This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is red.jpg Spiritual
  • This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is red.jpg Recreation

Under my original perspective, all I saw was a sea of red boxes, a 75% failure rate; what I failed to see was that the green checkmarks were HUGE.

I was devaluing my progress. I was intentionally sabotaging my wellness by searching for some criteria to criticize myself. 

Another aspect of growing in our Self Mastery in pursuit of Life Mastery is to make sure we are trying to solve the correct problems.

I believed that not only was a balanced life one of the keys to a successful life, flipping that meant if I wasn’t living a balanced life then I’m not being successful. 

The problem was, my view was too narrow and my precepts were wrong

Having properly identified the areas of life that are important to me, I felt I needed a green checkmark next to them all, every day, with few exceptions.

I have disagreed with the huge philosophical movement that says having a balanced life is a myth.

I maintain that life balance is absolutely critical if we want to experience a deep sense of wholeness and fulfillment. 

Many times the problems are not that we are missing out on success, it is that we define success improperly. 

Being that I made huge progress on my business in such a short amount of time now means I can focus on recreation and relationships for a couple days. 

This is an entrepreneurial mindset that I never realized existed; that time management when working in corporate America is very different from time management when you are your own boss. 

If you are working 60+ hours a week for someone else then you are forced to cram in the rest of your life in the margins, evenings and weekends. And with such little time left it is critical to ensure that in the few hours you have you need to hit on all cylinders of your balance worksheet.

That does make balance a misnomer because working for someone else makes time a mostly non-negotiable commodity… they own you.

The Good News – I Am Still Balanced

So sure, it was 4 days of manic OCD type behavior, but that is wonderful. To be “in-state” or “in-flow” for 4 days in a row and knock out so many needle-moving activities is spectacular! 

I will now take the needed time to re-incorporate the other areas, no harm, no foul.

So what does this have to do with exposing weakness? Great question!!

Without an intentional and honest assessment of what isn’t working, we simply can’t develop an effective growth plan, either personally or in business.  

My growth this time came in the form of humility. I had to admit that my weakness was not life imbalance and just trying harder.

My issue was my old nemesis self-condemnation and perfectionism; it was listening to the voice that says “you may be doing a lot, but you aren’t doing enough” or “you aren’t doing the right stuff”

That’s bullshit!

The bottom line is, the verify definition of growth or pursuing success is that “we make progress”. That’s it! 

If perfectionism is still a struggle for you, know this: the only outcomes can be giving up because you can never achieve it, or burning out and dying miserably. 

Pride, fear, ego, control, expectations, limiting beliefs, unhelpful thinking patterns like living-in-the-extremes… these are all character defects that try to re-define success by setting the bar juuuuuuust outside of our reach; therefore making us feel defeated when we are actually being successful. 

Recognizing those faulty beliefs or reframing unreasonable expectations and getting back to loving ourselves and staying the course is what facilitates growth, and it is an indispensable ingredient of success. 

Success is not something we are chasing, it is something we live out daily

My success came in recognizing that my OCD served me great when channeled into business or health or relationships, but it serves me poorly in the area of self-critique because it feeds my disease of perfectionism.

So, instead of believing my growth was temporarily derailed by living imbalanced and dropping the ball, I now believe I grew personally through gaining greater self-awareness and I’m thrilled about my business progress.

It’s a win-win. I didn’t have to change my gameplan, I just needed to change my perspective. 

Can you relate to this topic?

How do you leverage your weaknesses into next-level strengths?

Join the conversation, add your voice to the comments section below.

My desire for LMP (The Life Mastery Project) is to create a fully-engaged community of overcomers who share their experience, strength, and victories with each other

Let’s Do This!

canon podcast image 2George Crone

Certified Life Coach & NLP Practitioner

Founder of Nikaos Strategic Coaching

Developer of The Life Mastery Project