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I was pacing the floor.
The clock on the wall chirped. Why I ever thought it was a good idea to buy a clock that sings like a bird, I’ll never know.
And right now it was a painful reminder that it was 3 am, my business was failing, family life was overwhelming, I was failing in my relationships as a father, husband and friend and I had lost all confidence in my ability to make decisions.
Worst of all, I was alone. Just me and my demons.
I poured a finger of whiskey and took two more melatonin. I had always sworn that I would never self-medicate. But this was the third night of little sleep.
As the bird lock chirped again I stumbled into bed and collapse in an angry, sweaty sleep. Someone was chasing me. And I was being forced to jump to my death from this bridge to the shallow river below.
There was no way out. They were closing in.
The other day while driving past Yakov’s show in Branson, I joked that if my generation of artists don’t stop killing themselves, there won’t be anyone for me to watch in Branson when I’m an old fart.
It’s so true it hurts.
Every second of every day we interact with a growing number of individuals.
Our every decision weighs in their judgemental balance.
The pressure of being a celebrity has killed many a person.
And now, the average individual lives out their lives as a “mini celebrity” in front of hundreds of people.
And just underneath the surface, our demons, our insecurities, are always threatening to break through.
I have always struggled with relationships.
My relationships have always been based on what I can give to someone – or what they can give to me.
It has gotten so bad that I don’t even know what “love” is. What is “friendship”?
When someone with Asperger’s explains to me that they don’t feel emotions and so they have to study them in an encyclopedia so that they can try to understand them, I nod in empathy.
“Maybe I have Aspergers,” I wonder.
Which is another insecurity to add to the mix?
The reality is, I’m lost. Doubting my every move because those moves brought me to the point of being lost.
I’m like Captain Jack Sparrow without his compass. Or Rum.
This is the biggest lie.
But we make it true.
I asked my wife her thoughts on an interpersonal situation I was facing. I wanted some insight on the background story, and why I kept finding myself in these broken relationships.
Was it me? Them?
The wife shook her head. “I’m not a counselor, honey” she reminded me “this question has haunted you for 8 years. Maybe it’s time you find someone to help you with it.”
Let me admit it:
I’m a guru-chaser.
I‘ve watched every Youtube video there is of Tony Robbins.
I can deliver Gary Vee’s rants from the heart.
And I knew who E.T the hip Hop Preacher was before he was cool.
Not to mention the thousands I spend on courses and training every year.
I want the certainty of success that having the right coach is supposed to give me.
When an ad for BetterHelp came across my Instagram feed, I didn’t hesitate.
Unlimited counseling for $35 a week?
What a steal!
Over the next 10 weeks, my counselor and I covered everything from interpersonal boundary-setting to money-handling to my dysfunctional fixation with guru-chasing.
Moment by moment, new thought processes were established.
New heuristics were formed.
Things the wife used to say that would accidentally trigger an outburst from me were now deflected with a slight touch from my mind.
I was Neo in the Matrix.
It really hit home the other night at 2 am.
It had been a long work day, and my brain was racing with excitement.
But as I lay on the back patio, looking at the stars, something felt off.
And then I realized it.
I no longer had anything to worry about.
No demons. No concerns. No past slights. No anxious worries.
For the first time, I noticed that the Constellation Orion has a little bit of gassy nebula cloud in him.
I’ve recommended BetterHelp to 4 friends or family members, now.
And none of them have had the success I have had.
They’ve had success, but not the life-altering experience.
Online counseling is new for everyone. No one knows what to expect.
So I want to lay down some quick tips for getting the most out of your experience.
- Don’t select every coaching option. When they asked me what I wanted in a coach, I selected “Christian”. That’s it. Sure, I could have given them more options and set their team down some E-harmony trail to find me the perfect match. But, for me, I knew that I needed to sort out some stuff that was closely related to my doctrinal past. And I wanted someone who could speak that language.
- Use Email. Once I was matched, I launched directly into my goals. “Hi, I am struggling with guilt, productivity and anger. I was raised extremely fundamental Christian and I’ve lost my compass for making life decisions.” I was going to get naked in front of this stranger, so I may as well get on with it. There is a video coaching option available, but I never used. Email meant that we worked in 2-3 complete exchanges a week, and we were able to move quickly through my personal challenges.
- Start easy. For myself, I chose to start with my concerns surrounding productivity. We quickly discovered that I felt guilt for working, and we established the cause of the guilt and then removed it while also working with my wife to establish reasonable goals for good work-life balance. That first discussion took 2 weeks and it provided me a solid basis for launching into more personal issues.
- Continue the Coaching. I only went for two months. But I expect to return this winter when work slows down, and take advantage of at least a weekly conversation. Having someone who was intimately connected to the human mind gave me a shortcut to figuring out what roadblocks slow me down.
Our brains can be our biggest enemies.
I’ve come to the conclusion that I am not likely to get more time, so I need to be able to get the most out of every second.
Which means my brain needs to be on its A-game.
I need it to be twice as fast as the next guy.
By the time we wrapped up my counseling, we were dealing with topics like mental toughness and procrastination.
It’s amazing the breakthroughs you can have in these areas when you are dealing with a trained counselor.
It is truly like bringing a bazooka to a Pinata Party.
Ain’t nobody getting candy.
(Ok, so maybe a bad analogy.)
Business Coaching Versus BetterHelp
I’m not going to say that your business doesn’t need coaching.
But what I quickly discovered was that many of the bad business habits I had were directly related to mental insecurities.
As we purged those problems, the business problems began fixing themselves.
Furthermore, I discovered that there were pathways of thought processing I hadn’t been able to access in years due to the clash it created with my perception of past events in my life.
As we removed that “trauma”, I was once again able to use heuristics available to “normal people”.
I don’t know if this makes sense, but it was as if part of my brain had been unlocked.
From weeks 7 to 10 we tested more strategies for business growth than I had all year.
Between weeks 9 through 10, one sales channel jumped by 11%. I took the same technique to a client and increased their channel by 17%
The wife and I are now implementing these changes across the entire business.
The answers had been there all along.
I just couldn’t see them.
Eight years ago, my wife and I eloped.
She was the preacher’s daughter, I was the bad boy…
It’s like a country song without the pickup trucks.
Every anniversary for 8 damn years I’ve relived the emotions of that day.
We were literally shunned by many lifelong friends. (To this day only one of them has come up to say they support our marriage.)
Bitter? I was.
And I found myself waiting — year after year — for their approval.
This neediness transferred to other areas of my life.
I wanted people to approve the car I drove and my choice of career.
Through my counselor, I finally understood that each one of us as individuals are powerful. And capable. And surprisingly well-equipped for this life.
And we don’t need other folks’ approval.
As an entrepreneur, you are in uncharted waters.
You’ll be shunned.
And this is where the mental game will break you. This is where men sabotage their businesses – and even their lives – so they can get back to a life that feels “normal”.
There’s a valid reason why they say “It is lonely at the top.”.
There’s a valid reason why drugs and alcohol and suicide are rampant.
There isn’t a business coach in the world who can talk you through it.
You need a professional.
Very few people can get out of their way and find success.
Even fewer can keep it.
Without a doubt, had I not found BetterHelp, I would have lost everything at some point.
2017 turned out to be the most challenging year of my life.
The business reset to under $3,000 per month, forcing me to expand my freelance business and simultaneously move the family to a smaller house.
The coaching I received from BetterHelp had mentally set me up with strong hooks to be able to mentally win in this challenging chapter of my life.
Most noticeably, it has helped us in our marriage. Financial strife causes divorce. We were able to avoid a lot of needless anger and stress by using the tools I gained during my coaching with Betterhelp. It’s one of those things I hope to repeat once a year.