Hello there! Perhaps for the last time…
Over the years, I’ve come to be known for my authenticity and passion.
However, I realized recently that what I have been sending out (for some time) has been less and less of the real ‘me’.
My intention was to share what I was learning as I was studying legendary people, to share my mistakes as I coached leaders and worked with their teams. Sharing less was never the plan. It just happened… both slow and very fast.
Some of you noticed and said something, others have unsubscribed because I stopped sharing and added very little to their lives.
I was mostly ‘offering’ you something, which is code for getting you to buy some shit. Most of you have not said anything and really didn’t notice anything in the fast-paced world we live in today. No one is holding their breaths, just waiting for my next email. So I just did MY thing and lost a bit of myself along the way.
I have an idea of why I stopped and will be sharing that with you in future posts, if you want to know more but I wanted to give you the VERY short story.
It started 3 years ago when we moved to Boulder, CO:
- My wife was diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease. She could not walk my daughter to and from school, about 2/3 of a mile. It was all she could do to get out of bed.
- The next month my soccer-loving, 9-month old boy – a dribbling madman from the time he could walk – looked at the soccer ball I kicked to him and zero idea what to do with it. He only started kicking a ball two months ago. Diagnosis – autism.
- One month later I realized my business revenue had dropped 90% in 3 months and it has taken 3 years to recover. Long story there… more later.
- Three months later my daughter was also diagnosed with Lyme. Same forest in Northern CA, bit by a tick.
- Two months later my mother began her 6 month cancer battle that she lost in the most amazing way (more on that later too).
My story is not unique. I know that. You may have a very similar story and/or know someone who is in a similar situation.
I crawled into my ‘shell’, giving as little as possible to conserve my strength. I know ironic coming from the guy who literally wrote about emotional strength with Stephen Covey and Brian Tracy. (Amazon link, but you don’t buy it unless you want a hard copy. Just email me and I will send you a digital version.)
I got hyper focused on my family, restructuring the business to be home more, growth and profitability. I was less focused on what I was giving back, what I was contributing and made me feel good. I have been surviving. I have been alive, just not living.
I have been in that place, not truly recognizing I was stuck there until just recently.
I will share more with you later, but I have come to call this ‘Plan A’. The ‘safe’ place, inside our shell, protected from outside ‘stuff’ that could take from me or harm me. This is the life we have been taught to live.
A few months ago, my life shifted with an answer to a question and it helped me leave my shell, abandon Plan A and live something else, what we call Plan Be (more on that below).
What answer? And what was the question?
I had been consulting for a worldwide company who was re-envisioning their top-level leadership development. I was part of the team to completely restructure the year-long program. As enthusiastic as I was, I realized after about 10 minutes that, in some respects, I was over my head.
Now, I know a thing or two about leadership and personal development but I swear there were moments when I literally could not understand what they were saying. As if they were speaking a completely different language.
After our second 4-hour video conference, I was feeling extremely insecure about my role. So I called and asked the question.
I was terrified even as I asked the question, “What value am I adding to you your team?”
It took all the courage I had to ask this question. What if I didn’t like the answer? What if she said your right, I have been thinking you don’t add any value either, ‘Your fired!’. This was my first step toward Plan Be.
She laughed and said, “Awwww James, are you feeling a little insecure?”
And then she said the most amazing thing…
“James, you are the voice of crazy!” Uhmm, what?! This was not even remotely close to what I was expecting. Some kind of safe ‘corporate’ speak was the best I hoped for from her.
She went on to explain that my value is that I am willing to push people FAR beyond themselves and into situations that are unfathomable for every other ‘professional’. My value was that I challenged this team of amazing experts to think beyond what they know and try things that are ‘inconceivable’.
It was a watershed moment for me and completely shifted the balance of my internal life.
She was right. The more I thought about it, the more I realized it was true. I had shackled myself to the image of ‘professional’, ‘consultant’, ‘coach’, ‘business owner’ – take your pick – and let these roles dictate what I said, when I said it and I was limiting my own value to everyone around me. Limiting my value to myself as I have been living a half-life of fear.
I had slipped back into my shell and was living Plan A. I was simply doing everything I could to survive and take care of my family. There is nothing wrong with that. I have to stop beating myself up for that. Hold me to it if we speak.
Yet, my singular focus on ‘business’ has been good. We have recovered stronger than ever and in a position to grow far beyond our previous structure. I don’t want completely ignore that but augment what is working for business and include more of ‘me’ back into it. I have missed the ‘me’ in me. 🙂
So, here is my vision – I will be 100% focused on Plan Be:
Plan Be is the live I intentionally choose, both personally and professionally. It is one with risk, mistakes but also complete awesomness.
Plan Be is actively choosing a life of great adventure, willing to fail, to take away the veil of being a ‘grown up’ and look at the work again with young eyes, to slow down and be still in our own minds and risk what may surface that we have long buried.
Plan Be is the life we were supposed to have been living until, when we were young, we created a shell to protect ourselves from criticism, failure and the one fear that is in all of us – that I am not enough. Not smart enough, not attractive enough, not fit enough, not good enough at (insert here).
“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run that outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”
Dick Lieder wrote a book called The Power of Purpose in which he interviewed hundreds of elderly people nearly the end of their life. He wanted to know what would you do differently and what wisdom would you pass along. The answers fell into three categories:
I would see the big picture
They were so busy living day to day and simply surviving then suddenly retirement hit and left them wondering where the time went. They spent no time reflecting on who they were and why they were here except in times of deep crisis. Then they got busy with life again. Sounds familiar?
I would be more courageous
In business, in relationships, in life they would have taken more risks to better friends, parents and at work would have risked sharing their creativity and finding work that was more meaningful.
I would make a difference
No matter how successful or unsuccessful people were, everyone wished to leave a greater legacy. They wished they understood earlier that the juice of living is to make a positive difference.
Plan Be embodies I want to embody these three principles of living a great life as part of my Plan Be. And I want to begin live our Plan Be’s together. Any journey is better when you are with people you trust. I am going to trust you and not hold anything back. I hope you will trust me too, leave your shell and join the journey.
I will be the voice of crazy.
You will hear more of my unfiltered thoughts, the less PC version of beliefs, my mistakes and lessons learned not only in business but in life. You will hear about some current challenges faced by leaders & their teams and what I am seeing that is working or failing.
You may not always like what I have to say or how I say it. I have been criticized for swearing too much. However, my goal is to push us to be more courageous, to see the big picture, to make a difference and to be better today than yesterday. That will always be my goal. If it offends you from time to time, it probably means I am hitting a button inside of you.
My information will usually fall into one of four areas. These are the areas that create strength and therefore, resilience:
When we are sick with the flu, we go to the doctor who, hopefully, helps us go from ‘sick’ to ‘not sick’. While we are laying in bed we promise ourselves we will start working out, eat better basically anything to ensure we don’t feel like THIS again.
After we get better, we return to a ‘not sick’ state. But we are not thriving and certainly not at a peak physical state, just not sick.
The exact thing occurs with our mental, emotional and spiritual selves. We find ourselves in crisis, ‘sick’, and then recover to a ‘not sick’ level. We need to get beyond ‘not sick’.
I am describing Plan A – playing it safe, not risking TOO much or setting goals TOO high, being ‘realistic’ in life and relationships. Basically, not following any of the Plan Be principles!
No too surprising, if I had followed what I knew to be true and what I wrote about in my book with Ken Blanchard and Deepak Chopra (Roadmap to Success link, again – email me for a digital copy), I would have maintained the right mindset to keep me out of my shell. We call this the Mindset of a Legend and is the mindset for every person who has ever achieved incredible results.
Make no mistake, I am not saying, ‘Be more like me.’ I want to share with you what I learned by studying amazing people achieving incredible results in the world. To me, the people I study are legendary.
I was previously surrounded by these amazing, ‘legendary’ people and when my business collapsed I felt like an utter failure. A failure to my family, to the people I worked with and to the amazing people who helped shape Be Legendary. I felt like a fraud.
Now that I have rebounded in business and reconnected with those people, they were there to support me all along regardless of my business success. I had secluded myself by going inside my shell. I was afraid they would see me for a fraud too.
This is an invitation to share my Plan Be journey with you and perhaps inspire you begin your own. I want to help both of us stay focused on Plan Be – the big picture, the ‘juice’ of life or whatever cliche you like best.
I will continue to focus on improving the world through personal, team and leadership development as the core. I may digress a bit but don’t expect for posts on the TOP 10 Must-Sees while vacationing in Bali.
However, there is a post coming about how I restructured my business, how it is working and what I would do different next time. People ask me about this frequently so sharing it makes sense as there are many entrepreneurs here.
Not every post will be applicable to you but you can expect 100% ‘me’ to be in it – authentic, transparent and more vulnerable than I have ever been.
This is a risk for me, no doubt. But as I have taken more steps in this direction, the more it feels right (and scary). This fear was the first clear signal to me that I had been living in my shell.
As an author and keynote speaker, one small misspoken word, cursing in the wrong spot or any other small error may mean an author or publisher won’t want to work you or a client won’t want you speaking to their group. Every post, video or tweet will be archived and can be found forever. My commitment to this means I may yet again lost 90% of my revenue.
You know what I think about that? So fucking what.
After all, the name is Be Legendary. Not “Be Just Good Enough” to get by. I am sick to death of living a half life.
Nothing legendary has ever been achieved in a safe place and I am hellbent on Plan Be.
I am excited to share this with those of you who would like to continue to hear from me. If you read through this and it is not for you, I appreciate you hanging in there with me!
In each post, I will link to the post on the website so you can comment and continue the conversation together.
Will I stop promoting the work we do? Absolutely not! I still want you to buy some shit from us! It’s great shit. The only reason I am running Be Legendary is to impact as many people in a lasting way as possible – I want to make a difference. This was definitely NOT the way to get rich.
I will also be publishing a TON on our DIY Team Center about how to create and lead teams that achieve incredible results. It is very exciting to finally see the Center begin to live up to the potential and possibilities we saw years ago.
If there is something you would like to hear about, suggest or simply comment, PLEASE do so on the post so we can all learn and grow together!
I hope you will build your own Plan Be with me.
Until next time,