Mike Bledsoe is a veteran not only of the US Navy but also of the health and fitness profession. Pioneering areas of online coaching and podcasting he has helped transform the bodies and minds of countless others. In this episode he discusses the uncomfortable areas of personal development that truly holds people back from becoming their best versions of themselves and developing perennial businesses.
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Joe: [00:01] Alright, we’re here. Welcome back to the Cured Collective, everybody. Great to have you back. Today’s guest is Mike Bledsoe. Man, super stoked to have you here on the show. When I sat in your seminar there at PaleoFX, I had known who you were and known a lot of content you put into the world, but hearing what you’re up to today and really, in the Enlifted world and working on yourself, I said, “Man, I need more of this.” So, super stoked to have you here; super stoked to dive into some stuff that’s really in the forefront of my world right now.
Mike: [00:33] Rad, man. I’m glad you got to hop in and yeah, diving into things beyond physical fitness has been something I’ve been doing for a number of years and I’m excited to watch it come together in a way that it’s synthesized, that it can be talked about and packaged that it’s useful for other people.
Joe: [00:58] Yeah.
Mike: [00:59] There was a period of time where is was more of a lot of discovering and going ok, how do I explain this to people, I’m not sure I can. It took years and years and years of self-discovery before we could package it into something that makes sense.
Joe: [01:14] Yeah. What I’m really curious about is you’ve had a lot of success in several business ventures over the years – the Barbell Shrugged podcast becoming something extremely massive – and being able to see that and hold that, were you able to fully own that and live in it? And if so, I think that that’s an amazing thing, and I think a lot of successful people can do that; but I think that some successful people find themselves in a place where they achieved what they thought they were supposed to set out to do and then there’s kind of this unfulfillment, this unhappiness, and they’re kind of just questioning why, like I thought I had… I thought I have everything that I wanted. What else am I missing? Turning inwards, looking in the mirror is something that I think it hasn’t really been a topic of conversation on the mass, and I think that’s starting to explode more and more. But I’m really curious what the catalyst was into this world for you.
Mike: [02:28] You know, it was studying marketing, really. It was a huge catalyst for me. I mean, we can say that the first step – and I do like to talk about this – is the first step of personal development for a lot of people is fitness. It’s physical training, it’s seeing… what happens in personal development is being dissatisfied with the way I’ve been and the way I am and seeing areas in which I can grow and improve; and then identifying those areas and making improvements. There’s different levels of that, and it’s really easy to work on the physical body and say, “Ok, I want this to be different.” The trap is that we get – we’re very results oriented and that’s a cultural thing for sure. We could go through a long laundry list of reasons of how we’re training our kids and how we were raised in a way that was super focused on results, but what ends up happening is, is say in fitness, I get the six-pack, I’ll be happy, but of course, when we get the six-pack… I have the six-pack, but now I look scrawny compared to other guys, so now I want to get bigger. I want to get bigger but I don’t want to lose the six-pack. Then maybe when I get to 185lbs or 190lbs, then I’ll be happy. Then, of course, you hit that goal and it’s not enough; and then there’s that. So, for me, we can say that the first step in personal development and doing work on myself was on the physical body. Then, for me, it was… during that period of time, I was studying business and marketing and I discovered in trying to be the best marketer I could be and learning that empathy would be this really great tool. I did not have a lot of empathy naturally; I’ll say I was taught behaviors of not having empathy. So, in studying marketing, there was – I went to this conference in 2013, and we had to do an exercise where… and I’m an excellent student; I’m the guy in college who ruined the curve for everybody.
Joe: [05:10] That fucking guy.
Mike: [05:11] I mean, I’m a good test taker; you know, I’m blessed in that way. I always thought it was interesting; people go, “I’m terrible at test taking.” I go, “I don’t even need to know what the subject is. Just give me the test. I’ll be fine.” It’s not because I know a lot; I’m just good at test-taking for some reason. So, I’m sitting in this 7-day conference where I’m learning from my mentor with 500 other people, and we sit down and do this exercise on empathy and it crushes me. I can’t even put a word down on a paper. I’m partnering up with somebody, I’m getting frozen. Then, of course, my inner critic steps in and tells me how stupid I am for not being able to get this thing right that needs to happen. I’m also someone who sticks in the room no matter what, like I’m gonna soak up every bit of knowledge that I can. And I left for a half a day. I left this conference I spent $10,000 to attend and went and watched a movie, which was completely out of character for me. What had happened was I’d become emotionally triggered because there was something I wasn’t good at and didn’t know how to deal with it. So, that resulted in me trying psychedelic mushrooms for the first time. It wasn’t that frustration that led me to that; it was more of there was a peripheral message I was receiving of like try these things out. During the psychedelic experience I saw different perspectives and I saw where I was given access – I could go into the whole story of the journey, but I don’t know it’s nearly as important as what that gave me was. That was the beginning of a new journey. That was a new step in my personal evolution where I wasn’t simply not listening to other people. The result of that was there was a lot of personal responsibility; I started to understand I created my own reality. The step two of that experience was… I don’t listen to people. And I began getting curious. I began asking… I was married at the time, and I went home and I talked to my wife and I asked her a lot of questions about her day and her life, and she started crying during it because nobody has listened to her the way I was listening to her in that moment. So, it was rare. I recognized that the idea that someone even sits down and will listen to what you actually have to say is rare, someone being present with you. So, that was a big step in my person journey too. That really… that was the moment where I started looking internally. I’m going to go, ok, it’s not physical body, it’s this. Even though I was in this really massive discovery phase, I was still falling into the same traps. It was one of those things where I was on this journey where I was healing my relationship with my body and where so much of my focus was there, but what I had done is I had transferred all of what… all of my achievement – ok, if I have this, then I’ll be happy – I transferred that into business. I go, ok, now I’m happy with my body, and I was gaining more of that; but I was like, ok, when I hit 7-figures – when my business is doing a million, then I’ll be happy – and of course, we hit a million and I didn’t feel any different. If anything, I felt worse.
[09:03] So… one million, two million, three million, and keeping getting better; and then having conversations with business partners about how do we create something that can get to $100 million and… and being very aggressive about making it happen, and sacrificing a lot of myself, sacrificing some values that I had; and, in order to reach these goals, also aligning with business partners who had different values, and that was what was causing me to sacrifice my own values. I hit a wall with that. Then, after I hit the wall with that, I wake up and I go, “Ohh. Ok.” I was basing a lot of my happiness on – and my ability to feel fulfilled – on being really good at business… and looking good, really. I really got to stop and go, oh wow, no matter what I achieve – especially when I was building the business – so, ok, I got twenty-something employees; I’ve got all these… you know, I got twenty-something employees, I’m making this kind of money, and I actually felt worse because I was responsible for more, and the way that I viewed responsibility at the time was responsibility equals burden. Now, my view on responsibility is responsibility equals freedom.
Joe: [10:43] And you’re like… you’re speaking to me so intensely right now. I feel like you’re telling my story right now. But – so there’s going to be a lot of conversation around this regardless – but basically like, and you’ve said this in a post, is there’s a difference between being awake or aware and actually doing something about it. You were starting little pieces at a time. At a conference you were like that’s a little bit more awareness, that hurts, that’s scary; whatever it may be. I’m not performing the way that I used to. I just can’t do that. Then, you’re kind of just seeing it here, here, here, and here and it sounds like it’s just like this downhill spiral that you feel like maybe you didn’t have any – I don’t know if you feel like you had control of. And I’ll admit myself, I am a very, I have been a person that struggles with doing that. I always like to have control, and when you feel like you don’t have that, then you’re like well, what am I going to do? How am I going to show up the next day? I’m just curious what the awareness then led to and how scary – were those next steps really scary?
Mike: [12:04] Man, there’s always fear. The fear is a loss of identity. Anytime you want to grow you have to let something go. I have these conversations with people and they go, “Oh yeah, I can let it go.” I go, “You don’t know what you have to let go of.” You think you know what you’re going to have to let go of, but the thing you’re going to have to let go of is the thing that you’re most attached to. The thing that’s causing the most pain in your life is the thing, is something that you don’t even know that you’re capable of letting go. It’s so ingrained in your identity, and so the conversation I have with people, I go, “Look, how far do you want to take this?” Because I can coach you, I can give you tools that are going to improve your current situation, your overall happiness from day to day is going to be better, your fulfillment is going to be better, all of that. And a lot of people are happy with that. Then, there’s some people who say, I want to go all the way. I say, “You want to go all the way? Are you sure? Well, you gotta let go of everything. Everything, if you want to go all the way” And they say, “Cool, I got it.” So I say, “When I say everything, I mean your life. You’ve got to be willing to die.” And that takes people back at some point because the part of us that is afraid to die is the part that will die. One day. There are lots of pieces there that we get to unlearn along the way, so chipping away at who we think we are and pulling that out is a painful process. Now, the amount of suffering – suffering and pain are different – pain is ever-present in life; it’s just there. We get to have that until we die. But suffering only comes from having resistance. There’s a really cool equation by one of my mentors; he wrote it up on the board, and I go, that makes sense. Pain x resistance = suffering. The trick is to resist as little as possible. Even as I’m saying this, these are very conceptual, abstract terms, and I need to define what suffering is, I need to define what pain is, and I need to create distinctions between the two because most people – and when I say most people, I mean myself even 5-6 years ago – thought about pain and suffering as being the same things. I didn’t know that I could be with pain without suffering. I forget what your original question is now and I’m off on this track.
Joe: [15:13] Well, I was just saying when you started to become aware to all these things, and I think you were alluding to maybe the resistance behind having that awareness and then understanding that you needed to make a change. But it’s like shit, where do I even start and how resistant you might’ve been.
Mike: [15:31] Yeah, it’s mostly blind spots and the thing that I do well, the thing that’s really served me is being very curious. So, being very, very curious, and then, as my curiosity goes deeper and deeper and deeper, I start realizing I – and there’s levels to this, and I’m excited because I only know what I know – and what I realized is I don’t know what I don’t know. That’s where the gold is and what I witness in other people, and for myself for a long time, was that I would never seek a solution unless I knew of the problem. And here’s where people get trapped, is they have a problem and they think they know the solution, or they think they know where they’re going to find the solution or whatever. Einstein has that quote of, I’m not going to quote it correctly, but basically along the lines of you have to approach a problem with a new mind; you can’t approach the same problem with what got you there in the first place; you have to create a new way of thinking about something in order for that to happen. All too often what happens with people is we think, well, if we just do it harder; I’m not doing it good enough. I see this… this is a really easy one: people who are dieting. They’re on this diet and it’s not working for them, and they beat themselves up and they just tell themselves I’m not a good enough this or I’m not good enough at being paleo; I’m not good enough at being a vegan; and so it’s I gotta do this thing harder and harder and harder when the solution is likely something that is completely out of left field for them. The only way you’re going to be able to be exposed to new information that’s going to help you – it’s going to seem like to you and to people outside of yourself – it’s going to seem like he took a shortcut. It’s not a shortcut, it’s a new perspective. And the only way to get to a new perspective is curiosity and humility. Curiosity is having an open mind and really asking good questions and looking under rocks. Most people assume there’s nothing there. Then, humility in that – accepting I don’t know the answer here. Most people don’t choose humility. What they do is they get humbled. What’s going to happen in life is humility is a huge part in being a human being. And you can either humbled or you can choose humility, and I didn’t know the difference for a long time. After a while I go, wow, one of the greatest things I can do for my own personal growth is to choose humility. That means that I get to learn from a 4 year old possibly. That means that I may sign up for a leadership course, or I may go down to the jungle to ayahuasca or I might do something, and I actually don’t know what the answer is. I don’t know what I’m going to be presented with, and I get to be open to it and go, “Ok. Show me something I don’t know.” And I’m open to whatever it is that the message comes through, whether it’s in a conference or with plant medicine, whatever. I tell people a lot I got lucky in some ways and that through a series of events I realized that early on. I realized that early on and I started going ok, I’m going to experiment with things, I’m going to say yes to a lot of things, and then be curious and humble. When I did that is when a lot of surprising solutions started coming up, and things that are counterintuitive. And they’re counterintuitive because we’ve been living our life a certain way and we’ve been doing it this way, and we don’t realize how narrow our view is because the view in which we hold is our entire reality. So, of course it’s everything. But the truth is, it’s hardly anything.
Joe: [20:10] Yeah, I just read your post on that actually, and what you were saying was your truth is your opinion. And that’s what you have, that’s what’s been guiding so many people, and I would say that’s what guides myself. But when you can’t step outside of that perspective and you just stick with your opinion being truth, you just block everything out. You’re never going to learn from anybody else.
Mike: [20:38] I made that post because 3 times in 1 week I had people, all women, approach me with their truth. I run in some spiritual communities. I live in SoCal where that type of language is common; I’d say it’s less common in other parts of the country. It’s… it’s a problem, and when I would hear people say ‘my truth’, what I was recognizing is that they were putting a lot of importance on it, and somewhere they learned that their truth is really, really important. I’ve witnessed this in some trainings where people are using that language and at the time I thought, oh, this is good; it gets people to own their own experience and it does create empowerment. “Oh, this is my truth. I get to commit to this. I don’t have to consider what other people are doing or saying or thinking,” and that’s great. I want to replace ‘my truth’ with ‘my experience’ because I’m very careful about what I’m portraying to the rest of the world; because when we use the word truth, there’s a part of us that commits to that and says this is my truth, I can’t see anything else. So, that post that I made was, I was seeing the danger in the language, and I’m the language geek. I was seeing the danger in the language being used and I wanted people to know that what they were actually expressing was their opinion. It’s ok to have your opinion, but let’s state is as such. Let’s stay away from – another thing I like to point out is words ‘I believe’, ‘I think’ or ‘I feel like’ – there are all the beginning of something; when someone starts a sentence with that, they’re alluding to their imagination. They’re not actually… the words ‘believe’, ‘I feel like’, when I look at that, what I’m witnessing in somebody is there’s this putting a stake in the ground for what it is they believe or think or feel like and it’s dangerous. What I like to do is admit to myself and admit to the people around me that this is actually my imagination that I’m talking about and it’s flexible. A lot of where I’ve ended up today is being very careful with language because our mental space is made up of words and pictures, right? Our thoughts. We could clearly define what is the mind, what are thoughts – thoughts are mental pictures and they are words. When we use certain words, it creates certain pictures and it creates certain feelings. What I’ve begun doing is playing around – what if I replace this word with this word? Ok, this actually does this. One of the things I do is I try to make things as unimportant as possible. I try to make things not serious, make them playful – let’s keep it playful – let’s make it unimportant, because these things lead to unattachment. If you study any spirituality or psychology deeply enough, you’ll find that attachment is where the… having attachment creates resistance which causes the suffering. If we can use better language to be more accurate, we want to keep getting more and more accurate with what we mean because I can also… it’s important for me as a communicator to be responsible with my language to be as accurate as possible so that the people hearing me are receiving me in a way that is as accurate as possible, because things get lost in translation all the time. The other piece of it is I’m admitting to myself, I’m reminding myself this is my imagination. When I do that, all of a sudden I’m more open to suggestions from other people, seeing their perspective, and really speeding up my learning process.
Joe: [25:15] Yeah. How did you give yourself the time and the space to be able to – so once you became aware – really explore this and dive into it? Because you said this very clearly in a podcast I listened to with you and Chase was it’s easy to… we can regurgitate things, right? We can hear things, we can repeat it, but what are you actually doing? So, what I’m curious about is what has the process of actually giving yourself the time and space to explore all of this that you learned through psychology in a way that’s actually going to play out in your life rather than just having the consciousness around it. I think that that’s a trap that I’ve seen myself, personally. I become aware and I see myself make the same mistake over and over; then I get into some shame spiral and it’s like, shit, I knew better, shame on you, then I just fall back into that same trap. I think it requires a lot of time and space for this.
Mike: [26:19] It does and everybody’s different. We get to grant ourselves that time and space or not, and most people refuse to do that.
Joe: [26:35] ‘Cause it’s scary.
Mike: [26:36] Huh?
Joe: [26:37] It’s scary! I think there’s a fear and a resistance around it.
Mike: [26:41] Yeah, it’s the same reason why people wake up, they rush out the door with coffee in hand, or their breakfast, and they get to their job and they work, and they go from work and they hit the gym, and they come home and they turn on the TV, and they watch the TV until they go to bed, and they start it over again. Most people are – it’s shocking how little time people give themselves. Shocking. For me, it’s a constant practice. And it wasn’t one day where I woke up and said I’m going to start meditating 30 minutes a day and I’m going to get to know myself better. It didn’t happen like that. I had a lot of failed attempts at meditation. I had a lot of failed attempts at a journaling practice. I had a lot of… I missed a lot of retreats that were offered to me where I could take some time away because there were more pressing matters. For me, and for other people, I think that we gotta be sick and fucking tired of where we’re at. We gotta go, “where have I been in sacrificing myself? Where have I been giving in?” And really being so sick and tired of it we make a choice to attend a retreat and get away from our typical day to day or put in an environment where we do have more self-reflection. Like I said, for me, it wasn’t a big swing; it was one day I go, “Oh, I can meditate for 5 minutes. Cool. I don’t even know what that means, but I’m going to sit here, be still for 5 minutes, and I’m going to breathe.” Then, attended retreats where there were teaching meditation practices. Oh, teaching breath work. Oh, ok. Then, I started attending leadership training. I started attending communication courses. It was bit by bit it was coming in and I got high; I got high off of it, every one of these retreats. I got high off of leadership training. It was having those epiphanies got me high. Having new awareness got me excited. I even had moments in time where I said hey, am I doing too much or am I integrating this into my life in a way that’s beneficial? I’ve seen both sides of the spectrum, people who are doing so much stuff that they’re just getting high off of an experience and they’re just retreat hopping and they aren’t actually integrating it into their life as a useful human being; and they’re having a lot of wake-up experiences but they’re not really growing up. A lot of people get satisfaction from the wake-up process. The wake-up process is the a-ha, the realization, the awareness. Awareness – and people get greater awareness and they pat themselves on the back, and then they’re like, “fuck yeah, I won!” And I’m like, no man, you just started. You just started because people think the awareness is the hard part. It’s the easy part. It may have felt hard at the time, but the truth is taking that awareness of how we’re being and creating a practice of making a change and creating a vision for ourselves of how we see ourselves in the future and start making those steps. It’s when I’m at home and when I’m working that I get to choose my practice. Yeah, a lot of what we teach is language and I’m always improving my language. There are concepts that are old to me, they’re years old of I know that instead of using this word, I want to use that word. Those words still slip out of my mouth at times, and I watch it happen; I have great awareness of it. I’m 95% better than I used to be and it’s still a practice. Then, I’m also discovering new stuff all the time that I’m integrating as well. I had a client just last night, we were on a call, and she goes, “Is this my new normal? Is this what it’s really like because life is hard and I’m not really sure I like this awareness. Now it’s work. I could’ve been just doing what I wanted to do.” I went on a 5 minute explanation of here’s the thing, is we have 4 stages of learning. I don’t remember who coined this, but it’s a common conversation around learning. Stage 1 of learning is unconscious incompetence. That means you’re not aware and you’re incompetent at the thing. Most people – the majority of who you are is in that realm.
Joe: [31:58] And it’s easy to stay there.
Mike: [31:59] Yeah, yeah! But it’s also everything. Unconscious incompetence is everything… everything that’s not in the following three. So, the next level is conscious incompetence. I have awareness and I’m aware that I’m incompetent at this skill. The skill may be how I speak, how I breathe, how I move, it might be a technical thing at work, whatever. Now we’re in the conscious incompetence. That’s where the reps come in. Ok, I’m going to start practicing being better at this thing. I’m going to remove this one word from my vocabulary. I’m going to stick to it and I’m going to stick to it. Then, you’re going to become consciously competent. I am now aware and when I’m practicing my awareness, when I am aware, I practice and I become competent. Then, you get to move into unconscious competence, and that means it’s now automatic behavior. It’s like driving your car down the road. When you’re 16 and you’re like, “Fuck, left, left-hand turn, signal, I gotta push on the brakes; now it’s the gas.” But now, 20 years later, I’m texting and driving and all sorts of things-
Joe: [33:22] Are you really?
Mike: [33:24] And it’s no big deal.
Joe: [33:26] I think we all are, unfortunately.
Mike: [33:29] Unfortunately. So, I like to point that out because most people, they’re in stage 2. They’re in stage 2 of learning and they’re patting themselves on the back. No, let’s get the conscious competence and then move it into unconscious competence. I’ve been at this long enough where I have people come up to me now and they start calling me a high performer. I didn’t see myself that way years ago, and people weren’t telling me I was a high performer years ago because a lot of things were hard, and I was working really hard at them. But what I did was I chipped away long enough, and even things like happiness, feeling my feelings, being with my feelings and accepting them for exactly how they are; most people are afraid of feeling a feeling so they avoid an activity, they avoid a conversation; what they’re really avoiding is a feeling. So, that’s a practice in itself. Some people are hearing this and now they’ve got awareness; they just went from conscious incompetence, or unconscious incompetence to now conscious incompetence. They go, “Wow, you know what? There are feelings that I’m afraid to feel.” Alright, now if you want to have the practice of being consciously competent at that is now create an awareness of what’s happening in your body from moment to moment throughout the day. What are those feelings that are coming up when you’re meditating? When you take 5 minutes to yourself, what are the sensations coming up in the body? Now you’re practicing consciously and you get to move into conscious competence. It may take years, and then at some point you’ll be unconsciously competent, and now that’s an automatic way of being. This is a great way of repatterning behavior. We all have automatic behaviors that come up in certain situations, and if we get really good at being with sensation and going, oh, I see how – I’m going to stop avoiding this, I’m going to engage with that, I’m going to embrace this – and then we get going and going and going and 5 years down the road, the thing doesn’t trigger you anymore, you’re a rockstar at it, the thing that is the most challenging you’re now one of the best at it and people start looking at you and going , “wow, you’re a high performer. What did you do?” And it comes down to it’s been a practice.
Joe: [35:52] Yeah. I think it’s interesting. I honestly… I spend a lot of time studying the, just the psychedelic world and the potential for therapy around and using psychedelics; and a lot of what is discussed is called or termed your default mode network. And just living in that, and that’s how you always show up. I think sometimes it takes something massive like a psychedelic experience to have that pattern interrupt, and actually then make that awareness come to your forefront. I’m curious how other people are finding breakthroughs in that because that really seems like – and that’s really living a lot and really big mental health issues like chronic depression and stuff like that – but I think that there’s different levels of it in how we show up. How do you help people become aware of, hey, that’s your pattern.
Mike: [36:55] Right. Psychedelics are cool because what’s happening, where you want to look at what’s happening in the physiology, you look at the nervous system, and lot of psychedelics, what they do is they make it easier for neural patterns to emerge. So, you may have been trying to learn something, but all a sudden, things are connecting in your nervous system that weren’t connecting before. That’s what’s creating that aha. So, a lot of it has to do with the nervous system. Another way that people learn new behaviors or unlearn old behaviors is through trauma. Somebody close to them dies, they get in a car accident and have a near-death experience, and it’s so traumatic that the body rewires right there. We’ve all heard these stories like, this thing happened and I was changed forever! Those can’t – I won’t say they can’t be planned – but they’re rarely planned, you know. That does happen and you can take like a Tony Robbins example; there are aspects of what they’re doing in those environments that create a high stress environment in some ways. They freeze people out, they keep up late, they’re things that exhaust the body; exhaust the body to the point that someone just gives up. They’re going to give up their story, or they’re going to give up a part of themselves; so, that’s one way to do it. Another way to do it is to down-regulate. Psychedelics do this too, which is it down-regulates the body, it slows the breathing, it slows the amount of message traffic going to the brain, it allows… a lot of what I do in my coaching is I have people slow down their rate of speech so that they can see what they’re saying and we can start making shifts. So, a lot of what I’m doing with my work is – take a breath. Take a breath through your nose, let it out. Ok, now tell me. Now you’re telling me what’s going on; slow it down. Slow it down. Alright, what if we replace this word with this word? It’s a slow, step-by-step process in the way that I do it. Another thing that I do is I have retreats. One I host very frequently – 6 days, 6 people – we take them out of their normal environment; it’s easier to repattern when you’re in a new environment. There’s a lot of novelty in the area. We do a lot of breath work to down-regulate people; we also do tremors. We have a lot of different methods for doing that. We’re having deep conversations. We’re digging in, we’re guiding people through their emotions, their feelings, their sensations, and it’s intense. It can be… we create situations where people have to face their demons, if you will. It can take two, three, sometimes four or five days – I’ve had some clients that are just tough cookies – and where it takes time. We’re in a cabin in the woods for days and days and days and we’re working 15, 16 hours a day on themselves. We’re looking at every area of their life and where they’re being dysfunctional, where they do they show up as a dysfunctional adult? Where are they showing up as a child instead of a nurturing, full-grown human? We have ways of identifying these and it’s easy to look at and go, ok, this is where I struggle. I mean, I can look at areas of dysfunction in how people show up in the world, and go, these are things that I’m currently working on; I’m currently working on setting appropriate boundaries and communicating them well. I’m working on my relationship with self and my self-esteem, and am I experiencing a lot of grandiosity? Am I experiencing, you know, is my self-esteem too high, or is it too low? In one area of my life I have low self-esteem, and another area of my life I have grandiose self-esteem. Always checking ourselves. But going into putting people in new environments is really good for that transformation as well; so, there’s different ways to access it.
Joe: [41:37] Yeah, it’s definitely a pattern interrupt for sure. I’m curious, because it’s actually something I’m working through right now, but I’ve heard you discuss your relationship with your dad; and we’re talking about childhood, in the way that we’re conditioned or way that we learn as kids, and how sometimes we get stuck in that childhood self even when we are actually grown-ups. What was your work around that, and what type of freedom or relationship shifts did you see? And you can dive into it as much as you want.
Mike: [42:13] Yeah, there was a lot of work around my dad. The first thing that I noticed with my dad that I… did not choose was, a little over 10 years ago, he committed suicide. So, I… in that moment, I had – I’d say it took me about a month or two afterwards – that I realized that a lot of the decisions I was making in my life were to make him proud. The way I was showing up in my business specifically was, he owned his own business, and I remember looking at the way he was doing business and going wow, I see holes in your game, I see where you avoid this. It was easy, and then having his child do that; then when I started owning my own business, I was avoiding the same things he was avoiding. I was behaving the same way even though I could see it in him. So, when he died, I noticed a shift where I started doing business differently because there was no longer that person to impress. There was a number of years… so that was one unintentional one. There was years later that – this was about 4 years ago – I attended a retreat and did some language work with a friend of mine and what ended up coming of that was I came with the issue that, in my company at the time, there was 15-20 employees, somewhere in there, and I noticed that people were working really, really hard, and hey, we’re in the health and fitness space, and I’m noticing that people are working sun-up to sun-down; it’s unhealthy behavior. I take this to my friend, in front of 20 people, or in a workshop environment, and very quickly in that session I realized they were working themselves to the bone because I’m working myself to the bone. I’m the one setting the standard in the business. The way I behave is how they’re going to behave. Then, he goes, “Alright, well, where did you learn about that?” And we dig into my childhood and me being on a construction site with my dad, and the way that we worked, the language he used, the energy he carried with him as he was teaching us young boys how to be, really ingrained in me that the answer anytime there’s a problem, the answer is work harder; you’re not doing it good enough; you could do better. So, what ended up happening is it created a situation for me that anytime I was experiencing any overwhelm, something wasn’t going the way I wanted it to go or I expected it to go, I would just work harder. And that wasn’t the answer. The answer was, let’s take a step back and get a fresh perspective; we can be smarter about this. But it was so ingrained in me that that was the automatic behavior, that was the default. I find this – it was really valuable for me to find that because most of my clients come from the fitness world in some way, a lot of former military veterans, which I am one, and there’s something that’s really common – it’s a blue collar thing. It’s a blue collar mentality. I used to hear blue collar mentality and all that growing up, and I didn’t think much of it, but the way I look at it now is a lot of us were brought up that way, was work harder. The people who are running things, doing really well financially, and, you know, all that – they don’t have that. That’s not a – some of them do – but when I notice people that’s like, wow, it’s really easy for you to make money. It’s really easy – we’ve all met those people – we’re like, “fuck.” What I notice a lot of people who are struggling, they love to say they were born with a silver spoon in their ass or they had some type of opportunity I didn’t have, and it’s true.
Joe: [46:47] It’s a cop-out.
Mike: [46:48] It is a cop-out because it’s taking the responsibility that I have for myself and it’s putting it outside of myself and I’m blaming and saying, “You know what? The truth is that it’s not your fault, but it is your responsibility.” The way you were raised is not your fault. The choices you made when you were 5,6, 7 years old, on choosing how you’re going to be and what you’re going to believe, it wasn’t really up to you at that time; it was largely on your parents, so it’s not your fault. But guess what? You’re an adult now and now it’s your responsibility, and you can make that change, you can have that awareness, and you can make that shift. So, for me, it was – it took me years to shift out of that work hard mentality and check in with myself and go, wow, am I working hard because I’m stressed or am I working hard because I feel a sense of purpose and I’m inspired and I’m taking action, and fuck yeah, let’s knock this out, I’m excited to do this? What I was finding is 99% of the time it was not inspired action, it was desperate action. There’s a different feeling in the body. I can feel when I’m being desperate and I can feel when I’m being inspired. These are very – I think everyone knows the difference – and most people are operating out of desperation. The inspiration piece is short and fleeting most of the time. One of my practices over time has been am I acting out of inspiration or desperation? A little over a year ago, I let my bank account get under $100 because I was so committed from acting out of inspiration; I didn’t work for 5 months because I didn’t feel inspired. I took a Sabbatical, I took no pay, and I still had some side revenue here and there, so I wasn’t starving to death; but there was a point where I go under 100 bucks. My wife at the time, we looked at each other and was like should we fast this week? Because I will fast before I take desperate action. The very next day a box of food showed up from a company that wanted to sponsor the show, and you know, all that; so I got to eat. Then I had money being deposited into my account because I had done some things out of inspiration that just hadn’t paid off yet, and this and that. For me, I had to have that level of commitment to acting out of inspiration and be willing to, you know, I might not be able to pay rent, I may… hittin’ the grocery store, buying gas might be tough right now, and from an identity perspective, I’m someone whose built a 7-figure business. I’m really popular on the internet and all this stuff, and I can’t fucking pay my bills. And I felt great about it. I looked at my bank account, it’s $100, and I go, fuck yeah, because I knew – I was like, I’m doing it. I am so committed to this I don’t give a shit. I’m going to be inspired no matter what and I trust that on the other side of this is going to be beautiful. And if it’s not, fine. I don’t want to be that person. That’s how committed we gotta be. If you really want to change, you gotta be so committed that I will sacrifice looking good, I will sacrifice whatever it is; I don’t want act out of desperation. I’m so done with that. Since then, I’ve behaved out of inspiration and now I’m running 3 businesses, which are very aligned with me. I’m inspired to be working in all of them, and they’re all profitable.
Joe: [50:37] Yeah.
Mike: [50:38] And they cause me very little stress. I might have a day here and there and then check in with myself and go, “What’s going on here? What are you so afraid of?” It’s like, oh yeah, what’s the worse case scenario here? Yeah, ok. I’m good with that. Worst case scenario is I gotta fire everybody. Done that before!
Joe: [50:59] Oh fuck. Just did that yesterday. It’s never fun. Never fun. So, is this really where Enlifted was born? Because when I saw you at PaleoFX and I looked into Enlifted, I was like, fuck, this is dope. When you’re talking about cognitive fitness, you’re the fitness guy, right? But this cognitive fitness is, I’m actually logged into it right now… it’s something way different. It’s something way, way different. Is this where this was really born, of letting go of everything and then realizing, fuck, I’m inspired to do this?
Mike: [51:37] Yeah. That was part of it. All three companies were built during a period of time where I had let go of everything else and started behaving out of inspiration only. And all of them have been easy. I’m not saying I don’t work long hours; I definitely work some long hours.
Joe: [51:57] But there’s a difference.
Mike: [51:58] But they were exciting. They were exciting long hours. I teamed up with – oh, by the way – when acting out of inspiration, collaboration is way easier. When you’re in desperate mode – if you’re having a hard time collaborating with people, look under the hood and see if you’re being desperate or not, because if you’re acting out of desperation and trying to collaborate, it’s one of those things where people are trying to take as many for themselves as possible, and they’re afraid.
Joe: [52:26] It’s scarcity.
Mike: [52:30] Scarcity sets in. So, I ended up with quite a few collaborative efforts in 2018. One of them was, I had been hanging out with my friend Mark England for, at that time, about a year and a half. We were meeting up in different cities and having a good time, and we were doing some workshops here and there; and I was a big fan of his work, which is Procabulary, which is some language tools, language company. And I go, let’s take what you got going on with this and let’s make something specifically for the fitness market. We got chatting about that. We got chatting about what can we do in the fitness market, what can we do together? From the initial idea of what we would do to what it ended up being – generally speaking, it’s the same thing, but what we built goes well beyond what I originally thought. I was thinking we’ll create a course, and we’ll throw it out and it’ll make some money, and people, it’ll change their life, no big deal. Then, me, and Mark, and Adam, we meet up in this house in Palm Springs, California in the middle of the fucking desert, and I think we spent maybe spent 10 days the first run, something like that. We lock ourselves inside this house and we worked. We started putting the curriculum together, and two and half days into it, we were – the collaborative effort was exhilarating – and I go, you know what? I’m seeing… as we’re putting this together, I’m starting to see the future. This is not a product. This is a brand. This is something that the fitness market needs. This is – I’m looking at the fitness market, I’ve been in it my whole life, and there are some major issues. There’s a lot of things that over the years I’ve simply opted out of. I used to go to the CrossFit games every year. I won’t even go. Because I think, from my perspective, it’s a problem. For years, I’ve been opting out because I didn’t know what to do about it. Now what I’m seeing is I’m opting back in because now I have something to do about it. I have tools to come in, I have education, I have coaching, and I’m building a team of coaches right now to handle this internal dialogue that’s happening with athletes. From the soccer mom to the competitive athlete, we all have – it’s funny, you dig deep enough and the core issues start looking at lot alike.
Joe: [55:33] Yeah. You’re shifting a perspective. I mean, that’s one of my favorite things about just doing all my research on you, is… well, it’s just really inspiring me to fight the resistance. And we talked about that a lot, and that’s really where Cured was born out of, and now the CBD industry is something completely different than it was two and a half years ago when I started the company. I’m actually really frustrated with it myself; that’s why we’re doing stuff like this, doing podcasting and shifting this perspective on a lot of this stuff, and talking about mushrooms and releasing other products. But that’s the good fight. That’s the really good fight – changing people’s minds, shift your perspective, look at it differently. It might not click right away, but…
Mike: [56:19] Yeah, you said something that stood out to me. You want a language shift?
Joe: [56:25] Yeah, let’s hear it.
Mike: [56:27] You said fight the resistance. If you close your eyes and you say ‘fight the resistance’, what do you see?
Joe: [56:39] Myself fighting chains, trying to break free of chains.
Mike: [56:46] Cool. Now, instead of fighting the resistance, let’s accept the resistance. Close your eyes and say, “I accept the resistance.”
Joe: [56:57] I accept the resistance.
Mike: [57:07] What do you see there?
Joe: [57:11] I just see myself walking away from myself that’s chained up. Walking easily.
Mike: [57:18] Yeah. So, one of the things that we do-
Joe: [57:28] I was going to tell you when we ended this podcast, but I’m just going to say it right now, I need to call you because I need some coaching, I need to go on one of these retreats.
Mike: [57:40] Perfect. That’s a little simple one. As an example, our words create mental images, right? So, we’re fighting resistance, we’re actually creating conflict. The resistance is something that’s inside each and every one of us, we have resistance. If we fight our resistance, we create more resistance and more conflict. There is only a part of you that’s resisting. What we can do is we can extrapolate this out to all culture, right? So, what’s happening in an individual – and I’ll do that – but if I go, I’m fighting the resistance, I am now creating an internal dialogue where I fight resistance. If we then go, ok, I accept resistance. The thing that’s resisting is not all of us, it’s only a part of us that’s resisting. And it’s a part of us that is, that we’re not accepting. I’m going to fight this part of me because I don’t accept it, so what we can do is we can go, I accept the resistance, I accept the part of me that is resisting, and the part of me that is resisting is 5 year old Michael; and I look down and I go, hey, I know you don’t like this or whatever, but hey, it’s ok, I love you anyway. Give me a hug. Then, that part of us that’s resisting goes, I can relax and be safe. So, the same thing is happening in our culture, is people – there is a segment of the population… we’ll talk about America – it’s not all of America that’s resisting. It’s only a part of America that’s resisting.
Joe: [59:38] That’s true.
Mike: [59:39] And if we’re fighting those people, they’re only going to get angrier and angrier, and fire more shots and all that. But if we can go, wow, I have compassion for you, I love you. The part of you that is resisting this does not understand. It’s a lack of understanding, and that’s ok. You get to be you, and I accept and love you anyway. It’s really hard for them to fight that. Anyway, I wanted to bring that up.
Joe: [1:00:15] No, I love that. Thank you! Thank you. I’ll take the live coaching call too in the podcast. Because I’m aware and it’s just like ok, that’s the shift in perspective that – we all need some type of a shift. And that’s where the greatest work is.
Mike: [1:00:36] If we sat down and had a cup of coffee, you would say things like, “yeah, I love and accept those people.” It’s more of I’m trying to get information to them. You would explain it that way, but when you’re saying it, you create this little mental image, and now the energy that you hold around it is that of confrontation, even though you don’t mean it.
Joe: [1:01:00] That’s the default.
Mike: [1:01:01] Right, because your heart is there. Your heart is open, but the mind starts playing these little things that creates little fractures of the energy coming from the heart and starts fucking shit up.
Joe: [1:01:18] I know we’re a little bit time sensitive, so I wanted to just start to wrap things up. We discussed Enlifted, you got the Strong Coach, and then what’s the third business you got going on and how can people find out more about you and get to all these places?
Mike: [1:01:32] Rad. The third one is Training Camp for the Soul, that 6 day retreat I was talking about.
Joe: [1:01:38] There it is.
Mike: [1:01:39] You looked it up?
Joe: [1:01:41] Well, I remember you were talking about it and I saw it on your Instagram with your friend, and I was like now it all makes sense.
Mike: [1:01:50] Yeah, so Enlifted is a… we’re actually certifying coaches in it. So, if someone is a coach and they want to be certified into how to use language with clients the way that I just did with you, then they can go to enlifted.me and go through that process. It’s also – we also have the 21 day course I sent you – it’s 21 days, 10 minutes a day, and people get to go through… each day builds on a previous day, and they get language tools, little journaling exercises, only 10 minutes a day. So, that’s meant for athletes is what we really made it towards, anyone who works out, anyone who cares about their health. If you care about what you put in your mouth and what you eat, you will find massive benefit from that course. We actually – it hits pretty hard – we actually pulled some punches, we pulled some things back because we go, ok, there’s levels to this.
Joe: [1:02:47] It’s too much.
Mike: [1:02:49] So that, enlifted.me. Then, my other business is the Strong Coach, and that’s where I train coaches to build their coaching business. People who are – it’s a very entrepreneurial conversation – I teach a lot of business there, but there is, if people are involved in that, they’re automatically involved in everything happening with Enlifted, because the ability to coach somebody once they have language skills is – it’s a 10x factor. Then, Training Camp for the Soul, you can go to trainingcampforthesoul.com. There we have – we only take 6 people, every two months for 6 days, and we dig in deep. It’s the highest level of emotional intelligence training that I’ve ever been a part of. I went in as a client and I walked out a business partner in that particular business. Because it had such a powerful effect on me, I said A.) I know some ways we can make it better; and B.) I can get this to more people. We need people to be exposed to this because it creates a ripple effect. We get one person in here that can make an impact, it’s going to change the world. So, those are the 3 businesses. Then I have-
Joe: [1:04:22] The Bledsoe Show.
Mike: [1:04:23] Yeah, the Bledsoe Show.
Joe: [1:04:26] Cool, man. I feel like I could talk to you for hours, man; and honestly, to the listeners of this podcast, I hope you all got as much out of it as I did. Just, thank you Mike, because that was… I showed up for a podcast with Mike and I got a kind of a therapy session; it felt good, man.
Mike: [1:04:49] Right on, man.
Joe: [1:04:52] Therapy is necessary. Appreciate your time here. I really enjoy what you’re doing in this world. Thank you for everything that you’re doing and thank you for the connection, and look forward to watching everything that you do and staying connected with you.
Mike: [1:05:05] Yeah, thanks for having me. Appreciate you.