3 am

Ever find yourself restless in the middle of the night? *John raises hand* I usually resist/dread these early morning sessions but I’m slowly learning to embrace them. It’s the only time my hyper brain actually pays attention.

These sessions always start the same. I’m snuggled up minding my own business when BAM I’m shaken awake like the house is on fire. The rapid heart beat, laboured breath and swirling thoughts that follow SUCK. I used to blame late night alcohol and cheese but I’m starting to think there’s more to it then that. Like something or someone is trying to get ahold of me. It makes sense actually. I’m not the easiest guy to reach. If I was trying to get in touch with me, I’d likely choose 3 AM too.

I’ve come to learn that it is actually me trying to get in touch. Not the John Close I think I am but the Me that is who I am. In his defence, Me/ my true self tries to get through me during the day but because I have selected Do Not Disturb so the messages don’t get through. With nothing to distract me in the middle of the night, True Self knows I’ll be all ears. He’s right, but I’m also out of it and so his messages are often lost on me until I can manage to calm my mind, lean in and listen. In the end, I’m always glad we talked but that said, undisturbed sleep is important to me so I’m going to start making time during the day to connect in hopes that I sleep through the night. I’ll let you know how it goes.

 

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What Easter Means

When I was a Christian, Easter weekend was it! Although Christmas was more popular, Easter reminded us that Jesus Christ was crucified (Good Friday) and rose from the dead 3 days later (Easter Sunday). It wasn’t until I left that I understood Easter’s universal message. It turns out anyone can be inspired by the message of Easter.

As with all great art, I can only share what Easter means to me.

Good Friday reminds me that sometimes life goes to hell.

  • Our partner breaks our heart
  • The business deal falls apart
  • A parent shows signs of dementia
  • The test comes back positive
  • Our dream doesn’t pan out
  • The pain returns
  • Our confidence is shattered
  • Our addiction swallows us whole

Easter Sunday is a reminder that hell is not permanent. It is the place we learn to rise and begin again.

  • We begin to love ourselves
  • We begin our next business venture
  • We begin to savour time spent with our parent
  • We begin to accept the prospect of death
  • We begin to dream again
  • We begin to embrace the pain
  • We begin to believe in ourselves
  • We begin to face the world

Easter is a reminder that as bad as life can seem, we ALWAYS have the power to rise up from our situation and begin again.  And again.

Together.

Happy Easter everyone!

 

 

Too much of a good thing

This week has been bananas! April hit with a flurry of Lush calls/emails including a few days on the tools plus Andrew and I did 3 recordings in 6 days. As I lay in bed exhausted yet unable to sleep last night, old thought patterns crept in which didn’t make for a restful night.  Whenever the balance of life tips and finds me drowning in good things, bad things start to happen. It turns out there is something to the expression, “too much of a good thing.”

My wise podcast partner, Andrew Langford, often speaks of balance in everything.

  • Exercise is great. Too much exercise can damage muscle.
  • Business is great. Too much business can stress a company’s resources including the owner’s ability to manage those resources.
  • Doing what you love is great. Doing too much of what you love can take away from family time, work time and leisure time resulting in burnout. Yes, you can burnout while doing the things you love.

I am a passionate, in the moment, seize the day, go big or go home, likes to be busy kind of person and although it usually serves me well, when I’m not in balance , life hurls me into choppy waters where I struggle to breathe.

My fitness coach talks a lot about recovery as the key to increased strength and vitality.  My response to these reminders is often, “How can not doing anything be the key to everything?” I hate feeling useless. It turns out there is a HUGE difference between laziness and recovery.  When we’re lazy, it’s because we don’t feel like doing anything. When we’re recovering, it’s because we’re choosing not to do anything so we will have the strength to continue to do everything we love.

I’m still learning this lesson.

 

 

How to make the landing

Has it really been 12 days since I posted? Wowsers. My latest leap has been all consuming but I couldn’t be happier with how it’s going. In its first two weeks, our podcast is about to hit 600 downloads and has cracked iTunes top 10 in our category twice! We even cracked the top 5 this week. I never thought we’d be in this position this fast. As I sit here with my coffee on a balmy Saturday morning, I’ve been reflecting on why this particular leap landed. Not all do. In fact, many don’t.

When I started Lush Eco Lawns, I was as idealistic and naive as they come. I was going to transform the landscaping industry with electric mowers and zero weed control (because weeds are actually beneficial for the soil). The result was about what you’d expect. I lept, struck my toe and face planted. I limped home with the realization that mowing a half acre lawn with an electric lawn mower while charging by the hour is as impractical as it sounds and as “beneficial” for the soil as weeds are (weeds correct for soil deficiencies blah blah yawn) – it turns out, customers don’t want weeds. Weird. So that’s why they fired me. If I hadn’t altered my vision for what Lush could be (while still maintaining my values), my leap would have been fatal.

So, why did our Podcast land? The answer is not “because podcasts are super popular.” Yes, there are millions of podcasts but most are internet tumble weeds and fail within the first year. Here’s 5 reasons for our early success:

  1. It is a subject we strongly believe in. 
  • We didn’t start a podcast on a random topic. We chose a topic that was already close to our heart and frequently on our mind.

     2. It is a subject we are deeply passionate about. 

  • We were already living the message by challenging ourselves daily and striving to live more resilient lives.

   3. It is a subject that is relevant to everyone

  • Obstacles are part of every human experience. A podcast interviewing humans on how to overcome every day obstacles could potentially connect with everyone and our guests would be endless.

4. It flowed from our strengths

  • Although we have never podcasted before, Andrew and I have lots of experience in coaching and public speaking so it wasn’t a stretch to host a show where we interview guests and talk about their stories.

  5. It required a minimal investment

  • Because this is a passion project, we didn’t have to invest thousands of dollars to pull it off.  After investing in good quality mics and decent sound equipment we made do with everything else. Including our studio, which is in Andrew’s Mom’s house – in his brother’s *adorable* childhood bedroom 🙂  It’s also easier to land a new leap when you’re closer to the ground.

As you reflect on your own leaps, perhaps this is why they landed or didn’t. More importantly, perhaps these reasons can help guide your future leaps and help you land. Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

My latest leap

When was the last time you took a leap? Remember, a leap is any strong movement you make in your life that takes you from where you are (comfort zone) to a new place (mindset, habit, career, relationship, passion project etc) . On Friday, I took a large leap with my good friend Andrew Langford, when we uploaded our podcast to Itunes!!! Our podcast should now be available wherever you listen.

We host courageous stories of everyday people, as they share their process for overcoming obstacles on their journey to becoming the person they want to be. In other words, we interview leapers! We also share the latest science and research behind the importance of embracing obstacles and how to navigate them with strength.  We are three episodes in and will be releasing a new episode every 2 weeks! Please subscribe wherever you listen 🙂

Someone recently asked me, “is your podcast a Leaping Connection thing or a separate project?” Yes and No. No, it’s not The Leaping Connection podcast, Obstacle Course is a joint venture with Andrew, and its own thing. That said, Obstacle Course lies at the heart of The Leaping Connection’s philosophy, and as its Founder, it’s crucial that I keep my legs in game shape. If I’m not leaping, I break the connection. And it was a big leap! Having never been on a podcast before and with no experience in recording, editing, etc, this project has launched me outside my comfort zone many times. As with any leap, I have developed muscles I never knew I had and have been fuelled with generous pieces of humble pie. I feel a surge of pride in what Andrew and I have accomplished and big excitement for the hundreds of stories yet to tell.

When was the last time you took a leap? Life is too short not to leap. If you need a nudge or an experienced leaper to help you get suited up and talk you through the steps, that’s what I’m here for! Book your free conversation now! If your organization, business or group needs a speaker for your next event, I would love to come and light a fire.

Pink Shirt Day

In a recent survey, teens ranked bullying as their number 2 concern, right after anxiety and depression and BEFORE drugs, alcohol, pregnancy etc. You get the picture. It’s a big BIG deal. The movie, Eighth Grade, shows in excruciating detail the plight of the modern teenager and if you haven’t watched it, you need to, especially if you have teenagers.

I recall my teenage years. We had just moved from a small prairie town to another small prairie town, forcing me to start over in eighth grade. Not an ideal time. I was chum from the get go and spent the year getting shark attacked. Many a time I stumbled home crying after another day of being bullied.  The following year, I decided I was not going to be “that kid” ever again so I became the other kid. The bully. It was remarkably effective in keeping my own bullying at bay but the hollowing effect it did on my soul was undeniable. There was one kid, in particular, that I took out all of my fears, anger and aggression on and a few years ago I reached out to him on Facebook and apologized for being a profound asshole and making his life miserable. He responded graciously and my soul experienced some healing – but I’ll always carry the scar.

To this day, I am very sensitive to bullying of any kind. My gut response is usually, “I want to kick their ass for doing / saying that.” But let’s consider that approach for a moment. What good would that actually accomplish? We know that hurt people hurt people. Trying to stamp out hurt with more hurt only increases the collective hurt. A fire needs a specific kind of liquid to be extinguished as some liquids can actually make the fire explode with intensity.

Today is Pink Shirt Day. This excellent visual is our world’s annual reminder that bullying is not ok and will not be tolerated.

If you are currently being bullied, you are not alone. You have millions of allies that are standing with you and there is help close by. You are MUCH stronger than you think.

If you are currently bullying, you are alone and you know it. Most importantly, you need help. Please stop the cycle of hurt by identifying your own and finding healing through professional help.

Having been on both sides, I know the truth of these statements all too well. The good news is better days are absolutely ahead. Starting with today.

“Teenage” Issues

This week, the New York Times released the results of a study asking teenagers to rank the major issues they are facing. The list of concerns might depress you but won’t surprise you.

Bullying, drug addiction, drinking alcohol, poverty, teenage pregnancy, gangs and anxiety & depression.

What may surprise you is learning that gangs and teenage pregnancy are the least of their concerns while bullying, anxiety and depression are at the top of their list. In fact, anxiety and depression rank highest with 70% of teenagers admitting they are the issues they are the most concerned about.

I’m not surprised at all. In fact, this morning I asked my 16 year old this same question and she didn’t even blink before blurting out, “definitely anxiety and depression.” Citing school pressure and pressure from peers, she concluded what I already knew, “it’s just hard being a teenager.” Later when asked, her older brother didn’t hesitate before answering the exact same way. It is hard being a teenager. The movie, Eighth Grade, shows this modern struggle in profoundly honest ways. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor and watch it. Better yet, watch it with your teenage kids. We did.

Anxiety has been around since the beginning of time and is a normal human emotion, but in recent times its grip has tightened. Although there are many reasons for this toxic anxiety, including poor diet and lack of exercise, here are three reasons that rise to the top.

Self Diagnosis: Google has become the go-to reference for our feelings and many people mis-label them accordingly. If it walks like anxiety and talks like anxiety, it must be anxiety. It could be. It also could be your body’s very normal way of preparing you to handle life’s challenges. A test, a new job, a new relationship. These are all big things and our body has a built in mechanism that readies us to embrace these normal challenges. The emotion feels similar to anxiety and many improperly label it as such, “I have so much anxiety about this.” This negative narrative leads to a feeling of dread and a desire to escape life when all that is required is a new label on what we’re feeling. “This feeling is the fuel I need to overcome this challenge.”

Connected. With over 90% of teenagers sporting cell phones, they are never without scrolling reminders that they live in a troubled world outside their control. They see it happening but are powerless to do anything to stop it. That, combined with social media apps rewarding them for their streaks of pretending everything is ok when it is clearly not, this 24-7 distraction has created a deeply connected, yet impossibly alone, generation. Teenagers, like all human beings, need daily doses of meaningful connection through face to face communication and honest conversation. Often they go from a long day at school, directly to a scheduled activity (sports, dance, work) with no break or meal in between crashing into bed later that night attempting homework before finally falling asleep having just been reminded by their phone one last time that the world is still messed up. They have barely exchanged a word with their parents, who, it turns out, are just as busy, distracted and anxious.

Helicopter Parenting.  Many modern parents over-estimate the obstacles facing their children while under-estimating their children’s ability to handle those obstacles. I believe these parents mean well but they don’t understand what they mean. They aim to help guide and protect their children but the subtle message that comes across to the teenager is, “I don’t believe you have the ability to handle life’s challenges on your own, so I’m going to handle them for you.” Guess how this story ends. When the child is inevitably faced with an obstacle their parents are unable to prevent or overcome for them, they are left exposed, with the realization that hey are un-prepared to handle their own life. This highly vulnerable state is a breeding ground for toxic anxiety and if left unchecked, can lead to depression. As parents, we need to let go and allow our kids to experience challenge and failure on their own. It’s the only way they’ll learn the life skills and develop the character necessary to become functional adults.

What’s a post on teenage anxiety have to do with adults? (I’m assuming only adults read this blog?) Also, why blog so much about anxiety/ managing our thoughts?

Two reasons.

  1. Adults are often just as anxious and distracted as their teenage kids. See our insane schedule and our anxiety-motivated helicopter style of parenting.
  2. Anxiety is the number one reason people don’t leap. They overestimate what could go wrong if they do, and underestimate their ability to navigate through the challenge.

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again. If we ever hope to take a meaningful leap in our life, we must start by leaping away from the limiting belief that say’s we can’t.

Why are our teenager’s so anxious and depressed? Perhaps they are following our lead.