What Are You Withholding?
I’m so stuck right now.
I’m sitting on a plane from San Diego to Chicago. I’ve been staring at my laptop for several minutes now, hands resting on the keyboard.
I’m just going to start, even if nothing good comes out.
Here it goes…
I want to write something that:
- Allows me to speak my truth about The Conference For Men
- Motivates men into signing up
Sigh. This sucks.
I used to enjoy blogging.
It was a fun way to share my stories, failures, successes, and key takeaways from life. All for the sake of giving the world a little glimpse into one man’s life who is doing his best to grow a little bit each and every day.
Now it feels like a chore.
The biggest stumbling block to my writing is trying to sell these tickets. I’m used to sharing everything and anything openly on this space. But now the pressure of creating words that will move men to sign up is stunting my creativity.
Something about it doesn’t feel genuine.
I’ve learned a little what parenting feels like from this experience.
Because for most of it, I’ve felt like that father who’s been working 80 hours a week just to put food on the table and keep a roof over his family’s head. And then when he asks his son to grab some milk from the store and he completely ignores him he completely loses it.
“Do you know how fucking hard I work every day to keep you and your mother and your sisters off the street? Do you think I like working two full time jobs just to keep this family from falling apart? And then I ask you to drive two minutes to the fucking convenience store and you ignore me because you’re too busy to look up from your Angry Birds game?!?”
I get it now. Damn, I have so much respect for the fathers of the world. They are the real heroes. Making a commitment to show up every day. Doing the best they can and failing all the time. And continually pushing forward.
But just like that overworked father who’s on the verge of breaking down, I’ve been operating from that place for much of the past six months.
From a place of fear instead of a place of love.
Wow. It feels really good to get that off of my chest.
In fact, it feels really good to be me 99% of the time. Except when I’m trying to sell tickets to this conference.
This past weekend I spoke in front of an audience of 400 magical human beings at the Martha Beck Coaches’ Summit. I debuted a speech called “A Life Without Secrets: The Truth Will Set You Free.”
It was the best speaking engagement of my life. I knew it from the minute that I walked on stage because for the first time I felt grounded and dropped into my body. There was no wobble in my voice. I didn’t forget my material, because my material was me. I just spoke my truth.
I talked about my journey from being a pathological liar who lied, cheated, and stole his way through his early twenties to becoming a man who thrives to be impeccable with his word in every moment. I talked a lot about shame and how the minute you share something, the shame often disappears.
As I looked into the eyes of some of the attendees I felt them saying, “Oh my god. He’s right. All I have to do is stop lying.”
It’s true. All you have to do is stop lying. Stop lying to your partner. Stop lying to your boss. Stop lying to your friends.
And stop lying to yourself.
So much of your suffering comes from lying.
I do this exercise with clients to get them unstuck or with friends to create a deeper connection between us. I do it with my partner when I can feel any kind of barriers or blockages between us.
It’s a simple question.
What are you withholding?
Here, I’ll model.
In this moment I’m withholding how hard this has been. I’ve had nothing but a streak of successes in my life and I’ve always told myself the story of “everything I do is easy.” So when this conference turned out to be way harder than I thought, a huge part of my identity died. And at times I felt like I was dying. I felt like I was going to have a complete mental breakdown. I thought I was going to get cancer or an ulcer or end up in the hospital. And I’m so glad it happened. I’m so glad I killed the hotshot, straight-A student in me. He was holding me back.
I’m withholding that we’ve sold 22 tickets to the conference so far. I was so afraid for months, that I kept dragging my feet on redoing our website. If I’m honest with myself, we’ve really only been marketing this event since March 1. But there is a momentum that is building around this event that feels like an avalanche. I’m excited to see how many men make it to San Diego in five weeks.
I’m withholding that I’ve completely let go of the outcome of making any money with this conference. My goal was to make somewhere around $50,000, which felt more than fair for six months of my life’s work. But even if I lose that much, which might well happen, it has been the greatest education I’ve ever gotten. Yes, I’ve swallowed the possibility of the worst-case scenario and I’m pressing on knowing that whoever shows up is going to be massively served.
I’m withholding how messed up my beliefs around money have been. I didn’t even realize that they were a blind spot for me until the conference. The fear that kept me paralyzed for months was the fear that I was going to run out of money. I’m attacking my money beliefs head on now, working with coaches and reading books on money mindset. I’m almost to the point where I can say with absolute certainty, “I Love Money!” Once I do, the ceiling on my business will be lifted and I’ll be able to welcome financial abundance into my life. Because the only thing keeping most of us from making more money is our relationship with it.
I’m withholding how rocky my relationship with David has been. I’ve been trying to learn how to be a brother to him instead of being his father. I’ve been learning how to let him fail, for the sake of his own development. But I might have done it too swiftly, which caused a deep divide between us for the past several months. We are better again, but clumsily learning how to be brothers for the first time. Tonight we got off the phone with each other I said I Love You and really meant it. We didn’t do that for months.
I’m withholding how much it hurts to be me sometimes. I regularly get emails or Facebook comments that make my heart hurt. I’ve done a great deal of work around this, but sometimes I get something that is so nasty that it ruins my whole morning. I get it though. I write about sex, money, death, purpose, and integrity. Of course people get triggered. I’m glad it’s getting easier though. And I’m grateful for the resiliency that I’m building that will make me a better husband, a better father, a better leader, and a better man for years to come.
I’m withholding how I’m financing the conference. I signed up for a bunch of 0% APR credit cards. I might have to liquidate one of my retirement accounts and just take the hit on the taxes. It’s been pretty stressful keeping it all together. But again, I’m getting an amazing lesson and being stretched in ways that I have never been before. And for that I’m grateful.
I’m withholding how powerful the weekend is going to be. I met with my core team on Monday and worked on creating an interactive experience that will move, stretch, grow, and expand the minds and hearts of the men attending. You develop competence by reading and you develop mastery by doing. I’d love to share what some of the exercises are going to be, but that ruins the surprise. But all I know is that those men are going to walk out of that room feeling a foot taller.
I’m withholding how magical my life has become. Miracles occur on a regular basis. Stuff that is so out of the ordinary that I’m afraid to write about them. But the fact of the matter is that the world is waking up at an exponential rate. People are starting to choose love over fear. And when you operate from a place of love and openness, the world reflects that back to you. And what was once impossible becomes possible.
I’m withholding how much I used to drink. I’ve been arrested twice for alcohol related incidents. I’ve ruined relationships. I’ve spent weeks at a time going out every night, drinking 10-12 drinks a night. There’s something in my DNA that makes me want to be the best at everything. Including drinking. That desire for achievement is quickly dissolving though. And so is my desire to drink. In this moment, I’m thinking I might not drink ever again. Who knows? For now I’m very comfortable operating in this world without alcohol.
I’m withholding how much I think about having babies lately. For most of my life I told myself that I would never have kids. But now it’s on my mind constantly. I think it’s a result of me getting my fill on partying, travel, sex, love, and adventure. It feels like the next big edge for me is to have children. But that’s one thing I’m definitely not running into without being completely grounded first. But the fact that I can say, “Yeah, I’m going to be a dad someday,” is a huge step forward.
I’m withholding how bad I’ve been at keeping in touch with my friends. I’ve had multiple friends write me lengthy emails on how I’ve changed or how I’m not showing up in our friendship. One of my mentors recently told me, “Mike, you’re one of the most relational people I’ve ever met.” Which is a skill that rapidly grew my business over the first year. But now that I’m not available in the way that I used to be last year, some of my friends are upset that I can’t be there like I used to be. Which hurts a lot. So I’m thankful for the ones who are sticking around. The ones who know I’m just doing the best that I can.
I’m withholding how much I dislike blogging now. I’d rather spend that same two hours connecting with one of my friends, moving my body, or sitting in stillness. I’m really starting to enjoy stillness. Being with myself. Being present to the world around me. Being present to my own experience. It’s a far cry from how I was showing up in the world last year.
I’m withholding that despite everything that is weighing on my shoulders right now, I know with absolute certainty that I’m going to be ok. No matter what happens over the course of the next two months I will walk away better because of it. I will always be able to create value in the world and therefore I’ll always be able to create money to support myself and my family. And that’s the greatest feeling in the world.
Life feels a little like riding a dragon right now. I thought I was steering him, but he’s steering me.
So I’m letting go of control, knowing that he’ll take me exactly where I need to go.
Everything is happening just as it should.
And with that, I’m out.
Wow, that worked. I got words on the page. Thank goodness.
So, tell me…
What are you withholding?