Tunnel of Transition

“When someone says ‘you’ve changed,’ it simply means you’ve stopped living your life their way.” This is an interesting quote that I read this week, and it got me thinking about life shifts and transformations. One of the hardest yet most enlightening moments in a person’s life is when they finally decide to leave their unhealthy comfort zone and change the things in their lives that are no longer working.

In one of my recent blogs, I shared that my “a-ha moment” and my personal transformation toward success started with a simple question, “So, how is that life working for you?” As I have explained in that post, this was a simple question that really required me to be honest with myself and address those things in my life that were no longer supporting my desired probable outcomes for success. No excuses and no blame necessary; just me agreeing to take complete ownership of my life, right at that moment.

What I quickly came to realize was that I was no longer pursuing my passions and goals, but instead found myself surrounded by unhealthy people (e.g., emotional parasites) that did not support me and who did not have my best interests at heart. I recognized that I was simply making excuses as to why my life went off course, while at the same time continuing to enable my own bad decisions rather than deal with my immediate despair. Let’s face it: I had a bad case of mood-poisoning.

When I first began to write my upcoming book, Growing Success: A Young Adult’s Guide to Personal and Financial Success, I had to ask myself a lot of difficult questions. It forced me to reflect on how and, more importantly, why I allowed myself to feel this way. Once I began to own the decisions and mistakes I had made, I started to re-claim my life. I soon began to realize that the awakening (e.g., the realization) phase of the transformation process was relatively simple. Through my own heightened awareness, I started to identify my bad behaviors including the negative programming and emotions I was feeling and projecting, as well as the re-alignment of my goals and probable outcomes. I did this by letting go of the people who had been unhealthy influences in my life and about my goals… It was exciting and reinvigorating. I was starting to become stronger as I felt things shifting. Then, as if I was running a marathon, I hit the wall. It was my tunnel of transition.

I define this “tunnel” as that uncomfortable phase of the transformation that resides between awakening and the new paradigm (e.g., the shift). And just like traveling through a real tunnel, at times it can feel claustrophobic. The darkness and uncertainty often trigger the anxious feelings you may get when you start to feel overwhelmed, especially when you begin questioning all the negative behaviors and obstacles you will have to overcome in order to break out of your current unhealthy comfort zone.

Despite these feelings of anxiety, I can assure you it is worth your efforts. As you enter your “tunnel,” you will need to remind yourself that you have chosen this new path for a reason; “your old life didn’t work anymore.”  If you choose to be patient, focused and disciplined, the discomfort you are likely to encounter on your personal transformation will result in your desired probable outcome of achieving success.

I am extremely fortunate that I did not allow fear and uncertainty to derail me from my new life. I had to persist until I found the light at the end of my tunnel. As a result, I was able to figure out how to re-align my future goals with my desired outcomes. I felt compelled to share the necessary steps you will most likely need to take if you choose to do this for yourself through these blog posts and in my upcoming book.

I hope I can inspire you as well to commit to growing your own future success.

So How’s That Life Working For You?

For anyone who has truly accomplished something important in his or her life, each person had to realize early on that ongoing success was something that did not come automatically, but rather something that had to be earned through a lot of tough commitments and hard work.

It is my personal experience that the true definition between a victor and a victim is simply one’s ability to own one’s mistakes and/or personal obstacles. Rather than acknowledging bad habits, decisions or mistakes, victims blame others for their lack of success and accomplishments. I am sure you have come across these self-loathing individuals that choose to blame the world rather than own their own crap, haven’t you?

I call these unfortunate people “the boggled and debauched” because they prefer to deflect their own negative self-worth issues by simply disclaiming others’ points of view, as well as intentionally diminish the success or character of others rather than deal with their own self-sabotaging issues. Unfortunately, unhealthy dysfunctional people often act as emotional parasites by either intentionally or unknowingly manipulating or using others for their own personal entertainment or distraction. In my upcoming book, Growing Success: A Young Adult’s Guide to Achieving Personal and Financial Success, I share a story about a frog and a scorpion and one’s ongoing need to be aware of others’ intentions despite inconsistent actions and words.

Luckily, successful people become acutely aware of unhealthy individual’s intentions, and as a result, ultimately learn how to engage and maneuver around them in order to protect themselves from potentially sabotaging outcomes.

In addition, successful people do not enable or make excuses for their own failures or bad behavior, but rather learn and grow from them. Recently I read a great anonymous quote, “Sometimes I win, sometimes I learn, everyone should replace the word loser with learner.”

As a life-long learner, my personal transformation for success started with a simple question that I had to look in the mirror and ask myself, “So, how is that life working for you?” A simple question that required no excuses, no blame, but simply a need to be honest with myself and my own fears. Yet despite its simplicity, this one question can elude and prevent the boggled and debauched from getting out of their own way and taking an honest look at themselves because it is easier for some to continue to live in denial and remain in their unhealthy comfort zone rather than accept their own shortcomings and disappointments.

If you are someone that finds yourself stuck or incapable of owning your own crap, STOP! Use this same unhealthy energy to become accountable for your own fears, decisions and outcomes. OWN IT!

If you want to be successful, take the time to look at yourself in the mirror, eye to eye, and ask yourself, “So how is that life working for you?”

Choose to finally be honest with yourself and ask yourself what steps can be pursued that will finally allow you to create your desired goals and passions.

What additional educational pursuits and/or authentic relationships are currently available to you that will help you achieve probable outcomes simply because you asked yourself an overdue question?

Most importantly, it’s time to stop projecting an unproductive victim mentality and the emotional use of others.

Right here, right now: it’s time to commit to fixing the problem, and not the blame. Start growing your future success now.

Back To The Future: My Successful Health Transformation

It is hard to believe that it has been a year since I made the decision to adopt a Paleo lifestyle. For those of you who are unaware of Paleo, it is short for paleolithic diet—also referred to as the caveman or hunter-gatherer diet. It is a modern nutritional plan based on the presumed ancient diet of wild plants and animals.

The Paleolithic era ended with the development of agriculture. As you can imagine, there is now a great debate between physiologists and nutritionists as to which is healthier: Paleo or the traditional four food groups.

This blog is not intended to convince you either way. My bigger lesson here is to explain how your perceived health may ultimately impact your overall success.  After all, how you look is definitely a direct reflection of how you feel—a mirror to your soul, if you will.

Sometime in your life you may have heard the expression, “You can’t always judge a book by its cover.” I want to tell you that this expression, as far as first impressions go, is false. In fact, 9 out of 10 times you most certainly will judge others based upon your first impression because humans are wired to respond to them. This is why your mother, father or teachers often told you, “It is always important to make a good first impression.” A great book I recommend reading with regard to first impressions is Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink. According to Gladwell, “Snap judgments are, first of all, enormously quick: they rely on the thinnest slices of experience … they are also unconscious.”

Last October 2011, I was at my heaviest weight (253 lbs.). I felt miserable. After walking the last five miles of the Long Beach Half Marathon, I had had enough. I realized that my obesity was really just a symptom of something bigger; I wasn’t happy. I needed to make a change, but I wasn’t sure how to do it at that moment, other than knowing that something needed to change.

I called my good friend and mentor, trainer/nutritionist Annie Mello, founder of FitChicLA and then I did one of the hardest things imaginable: I had to admit that I had a problem. Annie agreed to train and work with me, but she needed to know I was serious. She started to talk to me about a new book (at the time) by Robb Wolf called The Paleo Solution which discussed the physiological reasons why people tend to struggle with their weight.

Annie mentioned to me that she and her husband Chris had recently “gone Paleo” and had had amazing results. When I asked her what made this diet different from the others, Annie told me, “When choosing to live a Paleo lifestyle, you will not only look and feel great on the outside, but you will also maintain a healthy metabolism inside while reducing inflammation in the body. This nutritious lifestyle aids in supporting amazing body composition, energy levels, quality of sleep, and overall mood. It also helps you eliminate food cravings without becoming obsessed with calories. Instead, you can look at food as fuel to feed your body. With Paleo, you can truly feel the best you can and should feel while being your best!”

In addition to the Paleo diet, Annie began training me in CrossFit, which is very complimentary with Paleo, and I continued to see my desired results.

Throughout the past year, and those closest to me with tell you, I have strictly avoided bread, wheat, pasta, corn, rice, legumes, potatoes, soda, cheese, and desserts (that was a hard one!), but the results were amazing and obvious to me and my family and friends.

Since I committed to all three disciplines, I have experienced a tremendous transformation externally and internally. Not only have I lost 56 lbs. and now weigh 197 lbs.! But my doctor also took me off of my cholesterol medicine after 16 years!  I feel amazing!

As for my running, since that Long Beach Half Marathon where I walked to the finish line, my race times have reflected all of my hard work:

  • November 22nd – Malibu half: 2:38:13
  • December 5th – Las Vegas half: 2:34:55
  • February 6th – Surf City half: 2:11:34
  • May 20th – Pasadena half: 2:11:26
  • Sept 2nd – Disneyland half: 1:58:58
  • Sept 9th – Chicago half: 1:57:46

As for those important impressions I discussed earlier, an ex-girlfriend recently asked me, “Why didn’t you look this good when we were dating?” I told her, “Honestly, I didn’t feel this good!”

There are many options for achieving successful health. The important thing is to choose one, commit to it, and follow through to get your desired results.

Be healthy, my friends, so you too can keep growing your success.

Mood Poisoning Affects Your Success

Recently, my half marathon races have sent me all over the country: Los Angeles, Chicago, and more. During my travels, I realized that not only were the places I encountered starting to affect my mood and demeanor, but the people were too.

It was truly amazing! I could literally feel my entire physical and emotional being change, as if I had contracted a bad case of mood poisoning. The more I stopped to look at how people were dressed, the way they ate, and especially the way they communicated back and forth with each other, it really started to wreak havoc on my central nervous system.

As I have mentioned in my earlier blogs, I recently moved back to Indiana because it was a place that I believed I energetically resonated with. I also recently started reading William Bloom’s book Psychic Protection in which he discusses that “atmospheres, primarily your current surroundings, can dramatically affect how you feel and behave without your being conscious of them”.

This all started making sense when I recently stayed at a “less than stellar” hotel in Los Angeles when I was co-teaching stock option classes. Each morning while waiting for my co-instructor to meet me in the lobby before heading over to the trading school, I would be negatively overwhelmed by both the other guests and the energy of the hotel itself.

It then got me thinking: what would happen to me if I had to stay in this environment for any prolonged period of time? What would be the long-term of effects of this so-called mood poisoning? Maybe it would start to play on my self-esteem, my ability to motivate myself, or even worse, impact my own self-identity.

It may sound silly, but what if I started to believe that this is who I was, or even worse, where I was supposed to be? My doctoral professor, Vance Caesar, once told us: “Happy high achievers make it a habit to associate and hang out with other happy, high achievers.” Maybe I wasn’t crazy and just maybe I was starting to feel uncomfortable because my energy was not in sync with my surroundings.

So, the next time you start to feel out of sorts, take a moment and ask yourself: is it really you? Or are you currently living in a place that cannot help you achieve your goals and success? Are you compromising yourself? Perhaps you’ve discovered that you’re living somewhere that you refer to as a “holding pattern” or “transition place”. You need to be careful that this “transition place” does not turn into some long-term prison sentence, as one of my prior LA apartments did for me a while back. It was a place that I initially vowed would only be for one year, yet I wound up staying for seven.

You also want to make sure that you associate and surround yourself with people that provide you with support and positive energy. Unfortunately, a lot of people in our society are not pursuing their dreams. As a result, these same people are incredibly bitter and negative.

There is an old saying: “Misery loves company”. You need to energetically avoid these people if they do not resonate with you in a positive way.

This past June, I decided to move back to Indiana because I wanted to re-charge my batteries. So what are you going to do to reverse the effects of your so-called mood poisoning?

What Would You Do If You Weren’t Afraid?

That was the question my Pepperdine University Leadership Professor, Vance Caesar, asked me and my fellow doctoral students during one of our classes eight years ago.

I recently put that question to the test this past June when I dropped everything and moved from Los Angeles, California, to Bloomington, Indiana. For the past 22 years, I was fortunate to have created a successful career in the music industry; however, I was not following my true creative path.

Seven years ago, I became restless. I knew I was ready for a new challenge, but I didn’t want to leave my job and have to start all over again somewhere else after so many years. That is what I told myself, but the truth was: I was afraid. I had spent so many years doing things that never made me happy, while at the same time completely letting go of my creative pursuits which was why I moved to Los Angeles in the first place.

Last October, my frustration came to a head when I found myself overweight, under-utilized at work, and completely unhappy living in Los Angeles. It was Mark Twain who once said, “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” I had finally had enough.

When I started to work on my exit plan, I began to think about ways that I could use both my long overdue creative talents along with my acquired leadership skills to help others. I started to really focus on my strengths and what I wanted to do next. I began seeking the help and advice of friends and professionals.

Within six months, I lost 50 pounds, guest-lectured at Indiana University, ran 2 marathons and 6 half-marathons, left my record company job, and made the decision to move back to Bloomington, Indiana, where I went to graduate school to pursue teaching and consulting opportunities. It would be the perfect way to merge my creative and leadership abilities.

When I sat down and took the time to reflect on what I really wanted, I quickly came to realize that my true passions lie in educating young adults on topics such as leadership, self-esteem, goal-setting, personal finance and investing.

When I moved back to Bloomington in June, not only did I feel calmer, I was more at peace. In the past two months, I have met with several interesting people at Indiana University about future teaching and consulting opportunities—just as I planned., I got my old DJ job back at 92.3 WTTS-FM, and I am about to release my first e-book on investing, as well as publish my first educational book for young adults entitled Growing Success: A Young Adult’s Guide to Personal and Financial Success.

So, what would you do if you weren’t afraid? Are you following a path that makes you happy? If not, what could you do right now to change?

Go ahead! Take some action and make that change today!