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2014 Annual Review: Celebrations and Challenges

014 Annual Review

2014 was a whirlwind of new adventures, new frontiers, and new levels of consciousness. I’m think I’m still having trouble integrating all of it.

I took a look at my previous annual review posts and it makes me chuckle how much simpler my life was then (2011, 2012, 2013).

In 2011, some of my biggest life events were my birthday and exploring New York City. This year was a non-stop roller coaster ride of expansion and ascension.

Life is a series of celebrations and challenges. And here were my biggest ones from 2014.

 

Things To Celebrate

1. I Created The Conference For Men Out Of Thin Air

In September 2013, I decided to throw my first conference, nine months into my first year in business. I knew in my heart that the need was there, so I just decided to take the leap.

Seven months later my team and I delivered a powerful weekend that many men said was the most important weekend of their lives. I witnessed things in that room that will be forever be some of the deepest, most moving experiences of my life.

In addition, I got to deeply connect with some amazing men that will forever be friends, mentors, and brothers.

As someone who deeply cherishes community, this was one of the biggest wins of my life.

 

2. I Got Paid To Live In A Mansion For 10 Days And Help People

Kyle, Nicky and I decided to create a retreat for entrepreneurs who “knew everything but who had done nothing.” Which is a lot of people I know.

So we came up with EXECUTE.

Everything about it was a resounding Hell Yes. The entrepreneurs who signed up, the interns who supported us, our friends who flew in to support our participants, the family that we created in a week.

After the retreat was over, a bunch of us were sitting in the hot tub of an eight bedroom mansion looking at the cactus covered hills and I just thought, “Wow, we created this all from a single idea.”

 

3. I Lived In Thailand For A Month With Some Amazing Friends

So far it seems like the theme of 2013 was creating ridiculous experiences out of thin air. Thailand was another one of those.

In February I traveled all over Thailand with Charmaine Haworth, Lisa Fabrega, Sam Hershberger, Max Nachamkin, and Scott Brills.

We rode elephants, played with tigers, got a massage almost every day, and ate more massaman curry than any human should ever eat in a single month.

Just two months out from The Conference For Men, this was the perfect place to relax, unwind, and recenter.

Thank you so much to my Thailand family, you guys really helped me get through the year.

 

4. I Moved In With My Girlfriend

I ended my 31 month nomadic adventure by moving to the sweet spot of the universe, North County San Diego.

Liz and I moved into our friend Amanda’s condo, which was previously one of my favorite places to visit when I was traveling. It’s a nine minute walk to the beach, a fifteen minute drive to the yoga capital of the world (Encinitas), and a five minute drive to some amazing carne asada burritos.

Almost every day I take a walk to the beach to relax and unwind. The community of entrepreneurs, healers, mystics, coaches, and various assorted rockstars is both extremely high in quality and quantity. There is no shortage of things to do or people to connect with here.

Growing up, San Diego was always our favorite place to vacation to. My mom’s favorite thing in the world was watching the sunset on the beach in San Diego.

So to be living here now is unreal.

And to say that “I have a girlfriend” is even more unreal. And awesome.

 

5. My Blog Visited Every Country In The World

I wrote this little blog post after Liz and I had a discussion in our living room about anger.

It has now since become the world famous “Fuck You Spiritual People” post.

And by world famous, I mean over 185,000 people from 203 countries read that post. I didn’t even know that there were 203 countries in the world. But if Google Analytics says so, than I guess there are at least 203.

It’s not really the thing that I want to be world famous for, but it reminded me of the sad but true fact that outrage sells. If you don’t believe me, read Ryan Holiday’s fascinating book on media manipulation “Trust Me, I’m Lying.”

After publishing that blog, I received a shitstorm of negative energy headed my way. I guess I didn’t really think of that before I hit publish, but I basically gave the entire world a container to release all their repressed anger. Onto my blog and personal Facebook wall.

Which was pretty horrible for most of it, but it did make me even better at holding space for intense and crazy energy. Which is something that I do regularly in my work. So overall it was a great growth experience.

 

6. I Did Some Drugs And Woke Up

I thought about leaving this off of this year’s annual review, but it was easily one of the most profound shifts in my life. And by profound shift, I’m talking about the conscious use of psychedelics.

Through 2013 I did seven journeys on magic mushrooms and two on LSD. And each of them were extremely profound spiritual and emotional experiences.

Taking mushrooms for me feels like a reset. And taking LSD feels like my entire brain opens up and I know everything at the same time. It’s no wonder that many famous creators used it in their work.

In general I’m pretty anti-drug because I think life is pretty damn magical without any other substances. You can get pretty high just off of amazing conversations, breathing properly, being outdoors, or cuddling with someone you love. And most people use drugs and alcohol as an escape, which in my mind is dangerous since the core problem never gets resolved.

But I really think there is something special about psychedelics. I don’t even think of them as drugs. I think of them as medicine.

If you want to read some more about psychedelics check out Reset.me. They know way more about them than I do.

 

7. I Snuck My Way Onto A Billboard In Times Square

My friend Andrew from business school emailed me an opportunity that one of his friends at GQ emailed to him. Several months later I was in New York City for a video and photo shoot with GQ Magazine and Express.

A month later, this picture was all over the internet, GQ Magazine, and in every Express store all over the world.

Then in one of my ultimate random adventures in awesomeness, I flew to New York City with a snazzy new outfit from Express and co-hosted a party with GQ and Express.

And when I showed up to their flagship store in Time Square, I saw this handsome dude staring back at me.

Once you get on this magic carpet ride, you never know where it will take you.

 

8. I Went To Burning Man Again

I went to Burning Man again and this time I captured as many of the memories as I could in this blog post.

By now almost everyone I know has been to Burning Man, so it’s not that big of a secret anymore.

But here’s why I think everyone needs to experience it at least once in your life.

For one, it will make you a better person. No doubt about it. It’s like walking into a bubble of love for seven days. After going to Burning Man you will never litter again. Your preferred method of introduction will become a hug. You just can’t help but become a more open minded, loving person.

And two, it’s the greatest celebration of imagination I’ve ever walked into. It’s like you took the insides of someone brain and vomited it all out into the desert. The things that I’ve seen on the playa have shown me in a truly visceral level that anything is possible.

And that I am the Creator of my reality on a moment by moment basis.

 

9. I Wrote Another Book

I wrote another book in July. It’s a one-month memoir called “July,” just like August. Unlike August though, I’m publishing this one myself. Which is why it isn’t out yet.

The one month memoir model is something that I’m still undecided on.

The benefits of writing them are many. I’m a “published author.” Many people reached out to me and told me that the book changed their life. And it’s a fun thing for me to look back at.

Sometimes I wonder why I write, but then I remember that even if no one was reading these posts, it is such a valuable exercise in self expression.

And when I’m 100 years old I’ll be able to look back and revisit the days when I was galavanting all over the world.

 

10. I Teamed Up With A Company I Love

I’ve moved pretty slowly on joint ventures since I haven’t really met a lot of people or companies that I’m totally aligned with.

But when I approached en*theos on creating a world class symposium for men, we both knew that it was a perfect marriage.

My goal with this project is to create a symposium that I wouldn’t want to miss and so far the interviews that I’ve done are all nailing that intention.

Join me and some of the most amazing men I know in March for some amazing conversations that few men dare to have.

 

11. I Let God Back In

Again, this is another one that I thought about leaving out because everyone has such strong opinions on it. But it’s pretty damn important.

After leaving the world of religion in my early twenties, I threw out the baby with the bathwater and totally rejected anything that had to do with God, Jesus, religion, or Christians. In fact, hearing any of those four words would make me cringe.

When I was in Thailand, Charmaine and I were sitting at lunch and she asked me a simple question that unraveled a decade long blind spot.

“What’s your relationship with God?”

Shocked a little bit by the question, I closed my eyes and thought for a second.

Out came a myriad of reasons why I hated God.

She just smiled and said, “It looks like you have some work to do.”

Since then I’ve been unraveling the layers of anger and fear that I had against God. I’ve been having many open discussions with friends about God, the divine, universal consciousness, or whatever you want to call it/him/her. I’ve also learned that it feels better in my body to choose Faith over Fear. I’ve also started to experience the divine in places that aren’t necessarily a church, some of them being in nature, with other humans, or in my sexual practice.

I’m by no means completely healed around God and the divine, but at least I’m open.

And openness is everything.

 

Things That Were Challenging

1. It’s Getting Really Intense

It’s getting really intense around here.

On an almost daily basis I talk about God, sex, death, religion, loss, money, and purpose. Most of my friends are all leaders in their communities, running their own tribes of changemakers.

Which means I’m always in the land of “deep and meaningful.” Which is a fun place to be for growth and expansion, but not all of the time.

The conversations that I have on a regular basis with friends are ones that most people never have and few dare to have even with their therapist. But we have them sitting around a bonfire or eating a plate of hummus at a potluck.

I need to find some fun places to hang out on the surface of the water, because I’m tired of spending all of it in the deepest parts of the ocean.

 

2. I Still Don’t Have Good Boundaries

In the second chapter of The Way Of The Superior Man, David Deida says, “Life With An Open Heart Even When It Hurts.”

It hurts David. It hurts all the fucking time.

When I meet someone I see things that most people don’t. I know things about them that they probably don’t even know. And I have a hard time not taking that stuff on.

I’ve done a good job of saying No in the past couple of months. I’ve been spending more time in nature or in community instead of working on other people’s priorities.

But I still haven’t mastered how to be out in the world with an open heart without it hurting a lot.

 

3. I Got Lost In My Shadow

I’m an explorer. I love to travel to new places, learn about new ways of thinking, and go to places that few men dare to go.

And I spent a lot of the second half of 2014 exploring my shadow.

Exploring my dark thoughts, my judgments, my anger, my past, my sexuality, my fears, and my blind spots.

And somewhere in there I got lost. Really lost. I went a little too far down the rabbit hole.

I feel like I just walked out of a cave for the first time in a couple of months.

This November and December was dark. Crazy dark.

Somewhere along the way I started to regularly focus on the bad instead of the good.

I’m done with that.

 

4. I Lost More Friends

In last year’s annual review I talked about how I lost some friends.

Well, it happened again this year.

In an attempt to reclaim some healthy boundaries in my life I really slowed down on being out in the world so much. I called friends less, I went out less, and I even missed a handful of important events this year that I wish I could have been at.

What happens when you see the world through the lens of Oneness?

What happens when you see every other human being as a brother and a sister?

What happens when you just pour your heart open to everyone who you meet on a regular basis?

What does being a “friend” mean then?

I’m trying to figure that one out myself.

 

5. More People Who I Love Died

In July, my soul brother Max Mendoza passed away unexpectedly in an hiking accident in Brazil.

It ripped me open and served as another reminded of, “Oh yeah, we all die.”

What scares me a little bit right now is that I have literally hundreds of people who I love dearly.

I’ve lived with at least a hundred different people in the past three years as I traveled the world. Every one of the men who attended The Conference For Men is like a brother to me. I could probably go through my Facebook account right now and find 1000 people who I would feel comfortable saying “I Love You” too. Lots of us do already.

Which means this is going to happen again.

Which means I have a choice.

Open or close. Share or hoard. Be seen or hide.

I choose to stay open.

 

6. I Beat Myself Up Like Crazy

I just wrote this email today to my friend Josh Barad after he wished me a happy 2014.

“Thanks brother. I really appreciate the message.

This has been a really difficult year where I felt like a “failure” for most of it. It’s like I know I’m awesome, but my relationship with Liz and my business have both humbled me a lot.

Probably because they are both two things that take consistent action. 

And I’ve always been a really great sprinter, haha.”

I’ve never worked as hard as I did this year. And I don’t like to work.

I suffered what felt like failure after failure after failure this year, especially in the final quarter of 2014.

And I really let that get to me and I started to believe thoughts like “I have no idea what I’m doing” and “I can’t handle this.”

Entrepreneurship is one of the greatest personal growth engines. Being in a conscious relationship with a powerful woman is another.

And I’m deep in both.

And that shit is no joke.

 

7. Maybe I Went Too Far?

I wrote about some interesting topics this year.

Drugs, sex, nudity, loving other women, and now, of all things… God!

I recently had a prospective coaching client get really turned off at something that I wrote on Facebook. So we aren’t working together.

At times I wonder if I’ve already shared more than I should have.

But the more I explore, the more I realize that the world is a grand, beautiful place. And the more that I explore things that are taboo or off the beaten path, the more I see that there really is no right or wrong. And that we are all just playing the greatest video game of all time.

And ultimately, you can create whatever reality you want.

Psst, this is all made up.

The news, the media, every movie you’ve ever watched, every religion, the schools you went to, your job, your identity. Everything.

It is all made up.

All of it, all of it, all of it.

Made up.

It all started from an idea. One idea.

So why are you taking it so seriously?

You have no idea how fucking beautiful the world is. How beautiful other humans are. How beautiful the very neighborhood is that you drive home to every day.

Open open open open your eyes and see that you can create whatever you want.

Then just create more Love in everything you do and everywhere you go.

That’s all you have to do.

I promise.

 

Looking ahead to 2015, there’s no slowing down. I don’t think I could stop this train even if I wanted to. All I have to do is get out of the way and keep showing up.

My three big goals for 2015 are:

1. Master my relationship with money

2. Consistently focus on what’s great

3. Co-create powerful communities both locally and for men globally

My word for 2015 is Penetrate.

It’s an energy that I’ve gotten away from in the past couple of years.

Penetrating through resistance, penetrating with my work, penetrating hearts with my love, penetrating the veil of illusion.

Yes, in 2015 I will have a whole lot of penetrating to do.

  • daisy

    Thanks for being so open all the time!! I really enjoy your posts and insights. Happy New Year Mike!!

  • TJ Nelson

    I know what you mean on being deep all the time. Past 3 weeks I’ve been working a lot and it is with depressed people. I’ve noticed that I’ve gone into the deep end for a bit too long.

    I tend to want to stay in one part of the water, either shallow or deep. When I’ve been playing shallow for a long time having light fun, I don’t want to go deep. When I’ve been in the deep end for a long time, playing shallow looks meaningless.

    At the end of the day, I got to go up and get some fresh air and rejuvenate. I need to go up and play light and take in some breaths.

    Going deep is good. Playing light is fun. The deeper you go, the more the playing light is fun. Every now and then we have to go deep and hold our breath in order to appreciate gasping for air.

  • Petr Klíma

    Thank you Mike for staying in the trenches, you are a great inspiration to many! Frankly, it’s easy for me to succumb to the surroundings and lose the sense of a larger frame. It’s easy to get caught up in my head and disconnect from my heart. It’s easy to become cynical… But then you show up and I ask myself: “What a hell am I doing in this numb, grey place? I want to get out!” You showing up and being open means a lot, it makes a difference.

    I wish you all to best in 2015. I’m holding my thumbs for you.

    Hugs, Peter

  • http://www.adriennemartin.com/ Adrienne Martin

    WHAT. THE. FUCK. I don’t know if I love you or fucking hate you for being so honest, real and awesome. I am sure you suck sometimes but all you say, write, do etc is pretty freakin’ great. Thank you for all of it. I follow a lot of women who are awesome and I really dig what they talk about, say, do, etc. BUT I haven’t found any that really resonate with me. I now know what’s been missing. Balls. Balls all hangin’ out and gross and awesome and smelly – the grittiness and realness is what is best about it/them. As a chick, I need some ‘balls’ in my personal growth and spirituality. Maybe it’s grounding? Regardless, thanks for giving that to us. Keep it up – keep it all up ;D. And keep those balls hang out and swingin’ around!

    • http://www.hrostoski.com/ Mike Hrostoski

      This is the greatest blog comment of all time. Thank you. :) :)

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