They say that the first seven years of your life shapes you into the person you will become.
As many of you know, I grew up Christian Scientist.
While it caused me to struggle in some ways, it taught me that the mind is more powerful than the body.
From an early age I learned to create intentions to keep me grounded throughout the day.
I was also forced (in a good way) to constantly challenge my thought patterns and mentality.
For this episode, I’m sharing an interview by an old friend, Rob Murgatroyd, on the Work Hard Play Hard Podcast.
Rob asks me some great questions about topics that I don’t usually talk much about. We dove into my religious upbringing and mistakes I made in my youth that led me to where I am today.
It’s important to reflect on our past so we can understand our present.
Get ready to learn how my childhood has shaped the way I think on Episode 692.
Lewis Howes: This is episode number 692, The Mindset Of My Personal Life.
Welcome to The School of Greatness. My name is Lewis Howes, former pro-athlete turned lifestyle entrepreneur and each week we bring you an inspiring person or message to help you discover how to unlock your inner greatness. Thanks for spending some time with me today. Now, let the class begin.
Michael Jordan said, “I can accept failure, everyone fails at something, but I cannot accept not trying.”
Welcome to today’s episode. That quote by Michael Jordan is something that I have lived by my entire life. I’ve never been afraid to fail, and I think that’s one of the keys to my success. I understand that failure is just the foundation of creating a life you want.
It’s the founding blocks that you build your success on top of. It’s the lessons you learn through trying. Those failures, which is where you’re going to learn and grow the most.
And, I think, my entire life I have somehow figured that out at an early age. And in this interview, I actually went on my good friend Robert Murgatroyd’s podcast, which is called the ‘Work Hard Play Hard’ podcast. I recommend it out.
He had a powerful blog called Jetset Life, he and his wife would travel round the world, but he was also working really hard on a chiropractic business and wasn’t able to figure out the balance, until he’s now figured out this pivotal moment, where he decided to apply himself to mastering the counterbalance between the science of achievement and the art of fulfilment, with his work/life/family balance.
And that’s what he talks about in the Work Hard Play Hard podcast, and where that was born. And I just went on there, and I told him at the end, I said, “Man, this was really powerful for me!” He really allowed my to open up and share stories that I don’t think I’ve shared, ever! Or maybe not in a long time, in this way, at least.
What we covered was, really diving into the foundation of the way I think, how I think, and why I think. And we discussed my religion that I grew up in, and what it was like growing up in Christian Science, and how it became my secret sauce in sports in high school and in college.
And this is actually the same religion that Ellen DeGeneres grew up in as well. I no longer consider myself a Christian Scientist, like herself, but there were some powerful lessons that I learned, then, that I actually have come full circle now, which everyone talks about. Which is kind of interesting.
I also talked about my addiction to stealing, and why I overcame it. Now, some of you might not have known this about me, but I was a pretty big stealer. Pretty much every time I went into a store, I had to steal something, for about a couple of years. So, I talk about that and I open up about it.
I talk about the school that changed my foundation and mindset forever, how you can neutralise negative feedback. I also talk about my routine to feel more loving, calm, and relaxed throughout my life, because I wasn’t always that way, and also how I make myself stronger very single day.
Again, for me, I asked Rob if I could use this and put it on my podcast; and I get interviewed a lot, a lot of times I get interviewed, but this one I felt like I wanted to share. I couldn’t recreate it on my own and I wanted to share with you guys.
But make sure to check out the Work Hard Play Hard podcast as well, if you want to learn more about Rob and what he’s up to.
Before we dive in, I want to give a shout out to our sponsors, audible.com/greatness has some of the best books out there that are read by the authors, that you can listen to in your car, or when you’re out working out, or when you run, waking up, going to bed, whatever it may be. You can check out audible.com/greatness and have great reading material.
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Again, a big thank you to our sponsors, but I’m excited about this, because I really got to open up in a powerful way, and I hope you appreciate this as much as I do. So, without further ado, I’m going to dive in right now with some lessons about the mindset, and the way I live my life.
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Rob Murgatroyd: Lewis! Welcome to the show!
Lewis Howes: My man! Thank you!
Rob Murgatroyd: You know, what can I say? I am beyond blessed to have you in my life, to call you a friend, but more importantly, I get to dig in and ask you new questions today that I’ve never asked you before.
Lewis Howes: Yeah! Let’s do it!
Rob Murgatroyd: Right. So, thanks for making the time to do this. I think, today, what we’ll do is, I want to cover a little bit about your background that, maybe, people who aren’t completely familiar with you can fill in some gaps that haven’t been discussed, talk a little bit about the areas of your life that have nothing to do with work, sort of in the ‘Play Hard’ part of the show, and then I want to talk about something that we’re both excited about, which is the upcoming Summit of Greatness. Sound good?
Lewis Howes: Let’s do it!
Rob Murgatroyd: Alright. So a big jumping off point would be to talk about your religion. You know, they say that you should talk about religion and politics at every dinner you go to, so I figured we’d start with religion.
So, they say the first seven years of somebody’s life dictates a lot about their future, and you were raised in the Christian Science religion. For those that don’t know, can you describe for people what the basic principles are of that religion, and maybe even some misconceptions about it?
Lewis Howes: I think I had a lot of misconceptions about it growing up, because I didn’t understand it fully, all of the founding principles, but essentially, for me, the way I was raised was that our mind is more powerful than our body, and we are actually spiritual beings living a physical experience.
But my dad would always tell me that you’re spiritually perfect, there is no imperfections in God’s Kingdom. And so, therefore, your physical body can actually never get hurt. You can never physically have an injury, feel pain, get hurt, when you believe so strongly in the spiritual being, in the spiritual essence in mind.
And in one truth, that God is love and that we are all spiritual beings in His Kingdom. And so, that was what was ingrained in my mind over and over again. But, as a kid, when you start to have sexual urges and you start to feel this pain and you get hurt in sports, and I’m like, constantly conflicted with these ideas, for myself.
Because I’m like, “Well, this feels painful, when I hit myself, and I just broke something, and that hurts, and I have these sexual desires and all these other things, so I feel like I’m physical, but I’m being taught that I’m actually spiritual. So, for me, it was a constant battle, not in a bad way, but in a good way, to challenge myself, to challenge my thinking, to challenge my mentality the way that I walk through life.
And, in some ways I struggled, because I was the only kid that had a permission slip, or a slip from whoever, that said I didn’t have to get shots, I didn’t have to go to the nurse’s office, I never did these things, because my dad wanted to, if I was sick, or anything happened, he wanted to make sure we focused on prayer and, essentially, thought.
Prayer that we talked about was thought, ideas first. How do we heal ourself? Through ideas and our thoughts. And it’s interesting, because the more I learn from a lot of psychologists and doctors and spiritual leaders and quantum physicists, they’re actually confirming the things that I learned in my religion at an early age.
I just had Dr Joe Dispenza on, and he’s always talking about, “the body does what the mind thinks, and says, and believes,” and you can change your physical make-up through thought alone, you can heal yourself through thought alone.
So, as crazy as a lot of people thought that was, when my dad wouldn’t take me to the hospital or things like that, or that we’d use prayer to try to heal ourselves, it’s kind of coming full circle to where all these people are talking about that now, and I’m like, “Yeah, that’s my whole life. This is what I believed growing up,” and saw almost miracle after miracle happen through myself, through my family, through other people in the church.
Because they were always talking about how they were healing themselves. And they weren’t taking medicine, they weren’t going to the doctor and things like that. Now, I ended up going to the hospital and doing things, because I ended up getting sick a few times, and my mom, who was not in the religion was like, “Screw this, if it ever gets too bad, I’m making sure that you’re going to survive and be alive.”
And I think that’s where the misconception, or the stigma comes from the church, or people thinking about the church, is that they’ve had some instances where kids have died, in the past, because parents didn’t take them to go get treated.
And that’s where they get, I guess, a bad rap.
Rob Murgatroyd: You know what’s interesting about this? I was just watching a documentary – for those of you who follow either Lewis or me on Instagram, you’ll have seen that we’ve just spent some time together in Greece, and when I was in Greece, somebody asked me about Icaria, and I was like, “What’s that?” And they were like, “Well, it’s one of the Blue Zones.”
And for those of you who don’t know what a Blue Zone is, it’s where people live the longest. So, apparently, Icaria is very close to Mykonos, and so I just recently watched a documentary about it. But, what I learned in that documentary, is that one of the Blue Zones, or the only Blue Zone that we have in the United States, is in Loma Linda in California.
And they attribute that to the Seventh Day Adventists who also don’t believe in medication and drugs.
Lewis Howes: Really?
Rob Murgatroyd: Yeah. And so, that pocket in Loma Linda, specific to the Adventists, are the highest living people in the United States, which I thought was really interesting.
Lewis Howes: Yeah, it’s crazy. I mean, the founder of the religion is a woman, who founded it back, I think, in the mid 1800’s. Her name is Mary Baker Eddy, which I also thought was pretty powerful.
She was actually very sick a lot of her life, and she had all this time, sick in bed, to reflect. To ask the question, “Why am I feeling this? Why am I sick? How do I heal myself?” And she started to become a student of the body, of the mind, of spirituality and of the Bible, and all these things.
And she wrote a book called, ‘Science And Health: The Key To The Scriptures.’ And it’s funny, again, as I meet with these doctors and spiritual leaders and quantum physicists, it’s like they all talk about modern day science, they talk about spirituality, and blending the two.
And so I think she was onto something a couple of hundred years ago when she started diving in. And they said, “Nothing’s perfect, there’s no perfect religion, and perfect ideals,” and things like that, but, for me, it was an incredible foundation that I believe, even though it was kind of different and weird, or whatever, it gave me a mental edge.
And I still use those founding principles from what I learned as a kid, to apply to my life. And I feel like it’s kind of my secret sauce.
Rob Murgatroyd: You know, it is. That was going to be my next question, which is: How do you think that the teaching has impacted you? Because you really do, if you look deep into your work, whether it’s the books that you’ve written, or the podcast, there is a mind over matter philosophy that is weaved into the tapestry of, I think, what you teach.
And I’m curious how much you would attribute to, either the religion or the upbringing, or however you want to hold it.
Lewis Howes: I think I went through a lot of emotional and mental trauma as a kid, just through family dynamics and I don’t think my parents were trying to cause that. I think it was more like, self-inflicted trauma and confusion and insecurities and things like that.
I just always felt alone. I always felt like no one understood me, no one got me, and I think every kid feels like that, “No one gets me. No one understands me,” but I left home when I was thirteen, because I was just, like, “I need to get away.”
I needed to get away and I actually went to a boarding school for Christian Scientists. So I actually rejected the religion early on. I never wanted to go to Sunday school or church, I was just bored. I was just like, a kid with ADD, and I wanted to go play.
I didn’t want to sit in a church for an hour every Sunday. And it was early, and I wanted to sleep in, and all the things that kids want to do. And it’s funny, but my dad would send me to a summer camp every year in Missouri, and I lived in Ohio.
And this summer camp was for Christian Scientists. And, you know, it was just like every summer camp; water sports activities and basketball and games and stuff, but they would have little, what they called, ‘Mets’, metaphysicals, before every activity.
We’d have five to ten activities a day, you’d go for an hour and you’d play basketball, you’d go here and you’d water-ski, you’d jump off a rope swing; you’d do all these things that kids do, horseback riding. But, before every activity, they’d have a mini church, like a little five minutes ‘Mets’, what they called metaphysicals.
And they would have us, essentially create an intention for how we wanted to live in that next hour and during that experience. But from a metaphysical, spiritual way. What is God? We would just kind of reinforce what is our beliefs. What are we looking to create here? How do we want to show up? Has something happened to you yesterday with a kid that you want to reflect on and talk about and work through?
It was just these little moments, and that set the groundwork for me to having these grounding intentions every single day of my life. Again, it created these habits and practices and rituals, for just being thoughtful and mindful of how I wanted to show up in my life during a session, an activity, a speech, whatever it may be. And I went to this camp every summer, as a kid, for a couple of weeks.
And I remember, when I was twelve, I went to this camp and I was just going through a lot – I think, again, a lot of kids go through a lot in middle school, so I’m not trying to act like I was different – but my brother had just got out of prison after four and a half years.
My parents were never happy, they were always arguing, or there was always just this tension, constantly, in their house, there was arguments. They had gotten in a kind of a fight recently, as this time when I was in the house and heard these loud slams and screaming, and it was kind of a traumatic experience, and I went off to this summer camp.
And, again, at the time, I really just didn’t have many friends, I started stealing a lot more. For about a year and a half I was stealing every single day. I went into a store, whether it be the grocery store, or the five-and-dime or whatever, I would steal candy bars, and ended up stealing jewellery, then ended up stealing more and more expensive things.
A lot of people don’t know this about me, actually. I don’t even know what that’s called. Is that a klepto or something? Where you just like, I became addicted to stealing.
Rob Murgatroyd: Yeah, that’s a klepto.
Lewis Howes: I became addicted to where it was a game for me. I could walk into a gas station or a restaurant or whatever and, instantly, I knew where all the cameras were. Now, this is back in, I don’t know, 1995, right? So, I instantly knew where the double-sided mirrors were, or windows, I knew where the cameras were, I knew where the employees were working, I knew where the hidden spots were.
One of my greatest talents in sports was vision. I could just see where the ball was going to be thrown or where I needed to throw the ball, where I needed to bounce the ball, I needed to go. I knew where the empty spaces were going to be. So I could always anticipate the play before it happened.
And it’s because I used to play all these games with myself as a kid. I was alone all the time and I would play these games where I would anticipate, throwing a ball against a wall, hit four corners, and know exactly where it was going to land.
And I would do this for hours and hours every day, because I was so bored all alone. And so I started doing this and applying this in the real world, and it became, like, “Let’s see if I can steal a pack of cigarettes,” and it became this scary thing.
Even though I didn’t smoke, I just wanted to do something that seemed like it was going to get me excited. And I would do more and more of this, and for a year and a half, I never got caught, until the day I got caught, which wasn’t even in a store or anything like that.
I mean, I was going into Walmart, I feel bad saying this, but I was going into Walmart and leaving with clothes on me, figuring out how, like, I put on two pairs of shirts and then take off one, acting like I didn’t want it any more.
I had this whole game down, where I was just like, “No one can catch me.” I would pick up four candy bars in one hand, three in the other hand. I used to wear this huge Starter jacket, and I would look at both of them, so that the camera could actually see me, and I would put one down while I’d still hide the other one in my Starter jacket, hidden from the camera, but then also take another one at the same time and look at that one, and be like, “Okay,” and then I’d always go buy something.
So the trick was never to leave without buying something, but it was just to show that… Like, what’s that called with magicians, where they kind of pick up two cards, but it looks like one? I was really good at this kind of slight of hand thing.
Until the day I got caught, my dad took me to one of his clients. My dad sold life insurance for, like, thirty years, and he took me to a client’s house, of his, which was in the farmlands in Ohio, about an hour away. He took me and a basketball team mate of mine at the time, like, eleven, twelve.
He took me there, we had just gotten done with practice, and my friend came with me, and we were kind of like walking around this guy, this farmer’s house, while my dad was doing a business meeting with him. And we were walking into all the different rooms and seeing if the drawers would open, and we went down to the basement. We were just kind of exploring the house.
And we were in the basement, and we opened up one of the drawers and there was $25 in there. And we both took, I took $5 and my friend took $20. And didn’t think anything of it. Didn’t think it was going to be an issue, ended up leaving, all was good.
At about 3am that night, I get woken up by my dad who is really mad, and he’s like, “Did you take money from so-and-so, my client?” And I was, like, “No,” I was terrified. I was, like, “No, I didn’t take any money.” And he goes, “This was his money to pay for the feed for the cows or the chickens for that morning, and he needed the money to pay for the food for his animals.”
And I was, like, “No, I didn’t take it.” And, again, I was terrified. My dad was larger than life, so having this presence wake me up at 3am, angry, I was just, like, “No,” because I didn’t want to get in trouble. Little did I know that he calls my friend’s mom and dad and then he admits that he stole money.
My dad is furious, he takes me back later that day. We had to drive an hour to go give this guy back his money, and I have to confront this person, who is so angry at me. I let my dad down, you know, my dad’s client, he’s making money off this guy, they’ve been working together for a long time, and I steal money from my dad’s clients.
It’s kind of that moment when I stopped stealing and realised, this is not the way I want to live. Bring it back full circle, I went to summer camp that year, in Missouri, to this Christian Science summer camp, and I was kind of rebelling from going to church, I didn’t really want to be in church any more, again, because I was doing all these bad things.
And I went to this summer camp and, again, my parents were going through this stressful time, I really didn’t have any positive friends in my life, I was just stealing every day to try to make myself look cool and do something exciting.
My brother had just gotten out of prison, my two older sisters were off at college, and I was going to be, essentially, the only one at home, and I just felt like there was no good path I was going to go on for the next five years, eighth grade and high school.
I just kind of had this feeling. And when I was at this summer camp, something switched for me. It was the right time of my life, where I met a few of these kids who just were so positive and so accepting and so loving and giving and joyful, and I just had a blast, for two weeks, I just had so much fun.
And this was the first two weeks of summer. And I got off the plane from St Louis, coming back to Columbus, Ohio, both my parents were there to pick me up and literally, the first thing I said was, “I want to go to this school in St Louis, Missouri,” and a lot of these kids, who were at the summer camp – it was a camp for Christian Scientists – and a lot of these kids were at this private school for Christian Scientists that happened to be in St Louis.
And I said, “I want to go to this school, because I want to hang out with these kids. These kids were positive and inspiring. I want to be around this type of energy.” And my parents were like, “Absolutely not, we’re not sending you away. We can’t afford it. We want you at home.” All these things.
Once I have a clear dream, vision, goal, in my mind, there is nothing that will stop me from doing whatever it takes to get it. Every single day I hounded them and just said, “I am going to this school. I will do whatever it takes. I will clean my room every day, I will do this…” You know?
And it’s funny, once we have something we care about enough, like the desire to do greater and to do anything at all, starts to happen. They’re like, “We can’t afford it.” And I’m like, “I’m going to write letter after letter to get grant money, to get financial aid, to figure out whatever it takes.”
They were like, “Well, you don’t have the grades. It’s a private school, you don’t even have the grades to get in.” And I was like, “I’ll take tutoring, I’ll do summer classes, I’ll do this,” it was like, whatever it took, I showed my parents that I was willing to do anything.
And I had to apply to get into the school. I had to write essays, I had to get letters from the church, I had to do all these things, and the last week I was like, “Okay, guys, I’ve got everything, will you please let me go?” And they let me go.
And that was the moment my life changed forever, because this school, even though it was strict and hard and challenging and all these things, gave me such a strong mental foundation and I definitely would not be here without making that decision to that school.
Rob Murgatroyd: What do you think that stealing the candy bars taught you? Why do you think that was put into your life? Or why do you think you created that in your life? Do you think it was purely just out of boredom? Or do you think that there was a bigger, cosmic lesson that you needed to learn, and you had to learn it by really letting somebody down like in the story?
Lewis Howes: That’s a good question. I think, you know, my brother went to prison for selling drugs to an undercover cop, and I think it taught me a lot about, “I don’t want to go down that route.” Like, if I kept doing that, I realised that I let my dad down, and not only did I let him down, but I hurt his client, the person that I was stealing from, I hurt his client’s family, I hurt his client’s farm, the animals.
The ripple effect of the decisions we make hurt more than just one person and can potentially hurt hundreds or thousands of people, if you make one wrong decision, to steal, to lie, to kill someone. It doesn’t just affect that person’s life, which is finally over, it affects the entire family, the community that that person impacted. The organisations that person donated to.
It affects such a broader ripple. I think that’s the moment that I kind of woke up, and was, like, “Oh, my actions can hurt a lot of people.” Even though I only stole $5, or whatever. But I was more on a stealing spree, and I realised I was hurting the business owners and the people that worked at these companies, and it just didn’t feel good, also.
It just didn’t feel good to do that, and to kind of live with this out of integrity feeling. So, I think it taught me a lot about integrity, and listen, as long as I’m breathing, I’m going to be out of integrity with something.
You know, I was two minutes late to this call, I’m out of integrity. I’m not on time for things, I’m not this, I’m not exactly my word 100% of the time, so, as long as I’m breathing, I’m going to be out of integrity, but the key is to be the best that I can, with my integrity, with my word, at all times.
Rob Murgatroyd: You know what’s interesting to me? Back at that time, when you were confronted with the candy bar – now I don’t know, I had no idea – but now, at this stage in your life, you’re so willing to be honest about what you’re experiencing that I think it’s, frankly, I think it’s one of the things that make you so incredibly relatable for people.
I mean, you have created, we’ve over-used this word, ‘raving fans’, but you have created raving fans. I mean, people are nuts about you, and I think a lot of that has to do with just how honest you’re willing to be about struggles you’ve had, things you’ve done, in an effort to correct it.
Where do you think that came from, and have you always been that way?
Lewis Howes: I’m not sure if I’ve always been that way, of like, radical honesty, or opening up. I think, five years ago, when I started to do a lot more emotional intelligence training and opening up about being sexually abused, for the first time, when I was five, and kind of going through that journey and process and healing stage, once I opened up about that, it was the scariest thing for me to let people know that about me.
I was terrified that people would not like me any more or make fun of me, or think I was less than, or it would hurt my business, or whatever I was afraid of. And when I realised, “Oh! People actually trust me more, and love me just as much, and still like me and want to spend time with me,” then the fears – that was the biggest fear, for me, to reveal my biggest secret.
And so, when people actually embraced me more, or fell in love more, or just the same, I was like, “Oh, okay, well then I can share anything, because this was the worst of all things, to share. So what, I mean, I stole some candy bars? Like, whatever, it’s no big deal.” That opening up, when I turned about thirty years old, and I started to open up about things, I’ve just been down that journey ever since.
It feels natural, it’s like I don’t know any other way, now, and so I just do my best.
Rob Murgatroyd: You know, it reminds me of watching Eminem in the Eight Mile movie, if you’ve seen it?
Lewis Howes: Yeah, he just puts himself down in a rap.
Rob Murgatroyd: Yeah, right. He’s like, “Okay, I live in a trailer park, my mom smokes crack, what are you going to do?”
Lewis Howes: Yeah, “My friend shot himself in the crotch,” this and that, yeah.
Rob Murgatroyd: Yeah, right! What did you think you were going to be, in high school?
Lewis Howes: Professional athlete was the only thing I thought about. I think I had a powerful mind, but also a limited mind, because I didn’t see beyond sports. So I wasn’t thinking about the rest of my life, I was thinking about college and figuring out a way to get paid to play football. That was the dream.
I also dreamt about being an Olympian. So, I was a decathlete and thought about that for a minute, but really, just like, “How do I make it into college, develop my skills as an athlete, so that I can get paid, after college, to catch a football.” And that was the only thing. I obsessed over it.
It was the only way for me, and so, when that was done, my identity was completely ripped away from me, and that was the biggest loss for me. Because I was, again, powerful in my thinking, but also limited in my thinking, because I didn’t have anything else I was thinking about, because I was just, “Well, this is all I know how to do, and this is my life and my identity, and this is the way.”
So, when ‘the way’ was no longer an option, I was like, “Well, who am I? What am I going to do? What’s my purpose? Why am I even alive?” And I think that year and a half on my sister’s couch of recovering from injury and figuring out who I was.
My dad was in a coma for three months of the year prior to this happening to me; he got in an accident, a bad car accident, hit his head, another car came on top of his car, the bumper his him in the head. They had to cut open the car, he was [taken] in a helicopter to the hospital and was three months on life support.
And it was a very traumatic time as well, for me, because I was a senior in college, my senior football season, so he missed my entire senior season. And when he came back, it was just really sad. It was happy that he was home, and alive, and that he woke up, but at the same time, I lost my dad that day.
Because he couldn’t talk, he couldn’t remember anything, he was just a shell of his former self. And his former self was larger than life, inspiring, powerful, loving, all these things. Once he and my mom had gotten divorced when I was like, a young teenager, he transformed into this beautiful butterfly that was shedding old energy.
Same thing with my mom. I just think they weren’t the right fit for each other, and so when they both were separated, they started to fall in their own lane and figure out who they are. And he was the most incredible dad from thirteen to twenty-one, until he got into his accident.
And he’s still alive today, and I talk to him every once in a while and see him once, maybe twice a year, but his emotional capacity, mental capacity has never been the same. And he’s recovered and you can have conversations with him, and have a good time connecting with him.
But every time I see him he says the same questions, he says, “Where did you go to school again?” and, “Did you used to play football?” And it’s kind of the same story over and over, which is where his mind is limited to right now. So it’s very… The first three, four years, to see my dad, my hero, my friend, my mentor, the guy who was helping me through my dreams, guiding me into college and was going to guide me afterwards, to longer have that support was one of the most challenging things, for me.
But also, at the same time, one of the greatest blessing for me, which is weird to say. Because I also don’t think I’d be where I’m at today, if my dad was okay. And I think, in some ways, it was supposed to happen, and it sucks for me to say that, because it pains me to see my dad the way he is right now, and it’s really challenging to watch him physically deteriorate, and emotionally, and all these things.
But he’s happy the way he is, and he has a happy life, so I’m at least okay with that. But for the first few years it was really hard. We had to teach him how to walk and talk and go to the bathroom with him, and all these things.
Rob Murgatroyd: I remember, in my life – well, let me say this: you and I share a very similar story. I was probably, I guess I was in about seventh grade and we were getting ready to go to Disney World the next morning, and I woke up, all the bags were packed, my dad had a car accident the night before, he was drinking.
And my mom was looking through the house for pictures to take to the surgeons, to reconstruct his face. And I remember he was in a wheelchair when he eventually got home, and I remember, vividly, having a Maxwell House Coffee can that I had to give him, so that he could go to the bathroom, and then empty it for him.
So, I have very vivid memories, and I’ve actually never shared that with anybody, so thank you for sharing. And there’s a great example of how, when somebody’s willing to go forward, then it creates the space for somebody else to go forward.
Your podcast is all about greatness. You interview the best of the best about greatness, and I want to dig in, a little bit, to what you’ve learned and maybe even what you’re struggling with right now. Are there any particular teachers – and it could be a podcast guest if you want to use one, or it could be anybody that you can point to – that, if you had to – and I know you’ve interviewed hundreds of people, so this is a very difficult question to ask, and I know that there’s a lot of categories.
But if you had to think of just one, either a past guest or anybody else in your life that you can point to, that you can say, “This person has impacted my growth,” either first thing that comes to your mind, or somebody that you know, “This guy,” or woman, “has impacted my growth, the most.”?
Lewis Howes: I’m looking at my wall. I’ve got a Wall of Greatness, with all these people I’ve interviewed and with a lot of them I’ve have amazing relationships, and amazing connections and moments and times when I just looked at one person, as you were saying, that kind of stood out, and that’s Chris Lee, who I’ve had on the most.
I think he’s been on, like, twelve different times, on the podcast, and he was the one who facilitated this workshop five years ago, that got me to open up about the sexual abuse story. And I’ve just had a really close relationship with him ever since.
After that he was my coach, I hired him to be my coach and then we just became good friends. He’s always kind of looking out for me. There was a couple of years ago, maybe three or four years ago, where I was still overcoming a lot of challenges, even though I had let go of a lot of this past stuff, and was healing, and moving forward, and more positive.
I was still kind of like, defensive, online. When someone would leave a critical comment or review or something, I would always kind of try to reply back and defend myself and be like, “Well, this is why I did this,” and, you know?
And I remember he saw one of these comments that I did online, and he texted me and he said, “Never respond like that again.” He goes, “You’re giving your power away when you respond like that. Instead, just say, ‘Thank you for the feedback.’ Period. And leave it at that. When someone leaves you a critical response or a negative response, and you just say, ‘Thank you for the feedback,’ period, what are the going to say? They’re not just going to keep coming back. Right?”
Rob Murgatroyd: You’ve actually just taken them out at the knees!
Lewis Howes: Neutralised them.
Rob Murgatroyd: Neutralised, that’s the word, yeah.
Lewis Howes: It’s like, don’t respond, or respond, “Thank you for the feedback,” and move forward. And he said, “Look at it as feedback, don’t take it personally. Realise that you weren’t able to connect with that person.
“Maybe it’s someone that the message that you shared didn’t resonate with. So, look and see if the feedback is relevant in any way. If it is, how can you improve? How can you get better? How can you communicate in a way that does connect with that individual as well as with the millions? And if not, it may just be about them, and what they’re going through that day, and let it go.”
And that was a powerful reminder and he’s helped with a lot of different things throughout the years, but [he’s] someone who’s always got my back and looking out for me, I think he’s one of those people.
Rob Murgatroyd: Yeah, he’s great. I just did an interview with him a couple of weeks ago. Not only that, what you just described, but he’s also really funny, and he makes you laugh!
Lewis Howes: He is, he is funny!
Rob Murgatroyd: What are some beliefs that you have about life, now. Having done all of these interviews, what are some new beliefs that you have that you really think are helping you?
Lewis Howes: I think it’s more of like, the beliefs that don’t support me any more. I don’t know if it’s new beliefs, because I’ve heard a lot of these things before, it’s kind of reconfirming beliefs. But there is one belief, when I went to India, that was almost a year and a half ago, to do a two week meditation experience.
I learned a lot there, actually. I learned a ton about suffering and not suffering. And, really, what I realised was from this experience, it was called One World Academy, they taught there are two essential ways of being, suffering and not suffering.
And suffering, we are living in a state of anger or frustration or resentment, or fear or anxiety. That’s a suffering state of living, of being. And a non-suffering state would be peace and joy and passion and love and community and family and all these other ways of being, of coming together where it’s more of a relaxed state.
It made it easier for me to recognise any time I’m suffering or not suffering. Whereas before, I used to just think, like, “Well, this is who I am, I guess I’m just going to suffer, I guess I’m just going to be in this fear and stress and anxiety, until it goes away.”
But when I was able to realise that, if you look at these two states in front of you, suffering and non-suffering, and you see them in front of you, right? All you need to do is remove yourself from the suffering, the ego mind, the self-centric way of thinking, and when you’re living in anxiety, fear, stress, whatever it may be, it’s all about you, and your ego.
“Well, this hurts me. Someone said something nasty to me and it hurt me,” or, “I’m hurting here,” or, “I’m frustrated here.” But when we remove our ego, the thing that’s getting hurt the most, and we put it to the side, it’s like you’re grabbing your ego out of your body and you’re holding it into your hand in front of your face, and you’re looking at your ego.
That is the thing that suffers. So, when you look at it, you can have it in your hand and say, “Okay, this isn’t me, this is something I’m holding onto that is suffering. It’s my egoic, self-centric self. So when I remove this from my body and I look at it from the side, I can laugh at it, I can look at it, I can play with it, I can disassociate from the ego, where I’m not feeling attacked or hurt any more, it’s just my ego.”
And when I let it go, then I can move forward in a non-suffering way of being. A peaceful state, a joyful state, back to gratitude, back to respective, and that belief, for me, has supported so much over the last year and a half.
And just also having a continuous practice of meditation. It’s funny, because all these things come full circle, because when I went to these Christian Science camps, we’d have these ‘mets’, they called them metaphysicals. Before anything we did, we would ground ourselves. We would pray, we would set an intention.
And going to this meditation retreat really talks about the first thing in the morning, following through on this meditation, on this setting an intention for the day, of being mindful of not suffering and moving into a peaceful, joyful, powerful, passionate, state of being.
And so, again, it just kind of confirms all these things that I learned as a kid. But maybe I just needed to re-learn them in a different way that works for the times and for where I’m at in my life. But that was a powerful belief.
Rob Murgatroyd: Can you give me an example of when you caught yourself, recently, suffering?
Lewis Howes: Yes. For me, my big thing that I constantly work on is, when I feel taken advantage of, or abused, that’s when it can creep back in if I’m not prepared. If I haven’t meditated for a number of days, if I’m tired or exhausted, I can go back to that old way of being, that suffering state, where I’m triggered, I react, and I try to defend myself.
And then I get into this, like, “How can this person do this? Don’t they know what I’m doing for them?” and get this kind of like anxiety, frustration build-up, where it starts to consume my energy and take my energy away from me.
I give my power away when I go into that place. And then it bleeds into the rest of my day, it bleeds into trying to be present when there’s some celebrity on my podcast, and I’ve got this little negative, suffering mind, that’s fixated on something that happened whenever.
And it bleeds into working with my team, it bleeds into my workouts where I’m more tired. I affects me in a negative way, when I allow that to happen and I give my power away. And that’s why I talk about having these habits embedded into your lifestyle, where, for me, it’s like, waking up at 6am, working out at 6:30, although I haven’t been as consistent meditating lately.
Having that in, I always feel more loving, more patience, more relaxed, more calm state, and when I’m in that state, that’s when I flow more, and when we flow more, our dreams come to us, as opposed to having to work as hard.
And that’s what I think people get to remind themselves. It’s like, when we are living in anxiety or frustration or anger or resentment or hurt, whatever it may be, we’re unable to fulfil our dreams because we are so fixated on this suffering way of being.
When we let that stuff go, and we express it in ways so that we can move through it quicker, and we can let it go quicker, then we can get back into our most powerful way of being. We can get back into confidence, into poise, into presence, into grace, into mindfulness.
And that power becomes a momentum that is unwavering, that is just so magnetic, that when we live in that magnetic momentous energy, anything is possible for us. But when we have those anxious thoughts, those negative thoughts, that suffering way of being, it’s almost impossible to create something meaningful.
Rob Murgatroyd: You’re really good at that. I mean, I’ve seen a thousand people around you, and you’re very Zen. You’re very in the moment. You’re very present with whoever you are talking to. Certainly, if I’ve been one of the thousand people that are around you, you’re just very present. So, whatever you’re doing is working. So, I just want to give you the feedback.
Lewis Howes: Thanks!
Rob Murgatroyd: It really is super inspiring, I just have to say that.
Lewis Howes: Oh, thank you. Appreciate it.
Rob Murgatroyd: Yeah. What are some things that you do around success and greatness, that people disagree with, or think you’re crazy?
Lewis Howes: The first thing that came to my mind is, I don’t know if this is the main thing I do, but for whatever reason, the first thing that came to my mind is, I put my mission above anything. And I have a belief that my life is, now, currently, at least in this moment, that I’m here for a mission, and that mission is the most important thing.
And it doesn’t mean my friends and my family aren’t important. It doesn’t mean I won’t do anything for people, but, for whatever reason, I believe that my mission is more important than anyone, and I will pursue my mission over anything, because I believe I will regret and hate myself later in life, if I allowed a couple of people to hold me back from pursuing the mission.
That doesn’t mean I don’t want to have it all and I don’t want to do the mission and be there for my family, and be there for my friends, and show up in a powerful way for people. But I will cut out relationships in my life, if I don’t think it’s supporting the mission at the highest level.
It doesn’t mean I won’t have a conversation with those people and talk with them and figure out a way to make a win-win, but if it’s not creating a win-win, where I can do both, I will choose mission over people.
And I think that it may sound like, I don’t know, bad, or it may sound negative, or like I don’t have a heart, or something, but you know me, I care deeply about human beings, and I care deeply about other people, and their growth.
But if someone is just trying to be negative, to take my energy away, then I’m not allowing that person to be in my life. Again, after we talk, and after we figure out a way to make it work, but if they’re not willing to make it work, then I’m not willing to just sacrifice my energy for my mission, for one person.
Rob Murgatroyd: That is absolutely the answer to the question that I was looking for. That is a polarising statement, and it’s a controversial statement, but I know the place that it’s coming from. I mean, I have a thousand things I want to say about it, but I’m not going to say anything.
You know why I’m not going to say anything? Because your assistant told me that I have exactly 59 minutes with you, or I’m going to turn into a pumpkin, and I don’t have the time!
Lewis Howes: Well, here’s the challenge – and the reason I try to say it that way is because so many people are all about family, family, family, and I am as well. I love my family, some of my family works with me, I pay a lot of things for my family, I’m there for my family, I’m there for my friends. I care deeply about human beings, that’s who I am, but I left [home] when I was thirteen.
I’ve been on my own since I was thirteen, essentially, as well, and I’ve been on this mission driven life at an early age, and I always felt alone. I was the youngest, everyone was older than me, no one really hung out with me. I felt alone, and it was just like, “Okay, I’m here for a reason. What’s the mission? Let’s go pursue it.”
And I just want to know, at the end of the day, that I fully pursued that mission to try to make the community, people’s lives, better, the world better, whatever it may be, and know that I was an example an was a symbol of an example of how to live a good life.
And it doesn’t mean I don’t want to spend a lot of time with my friends and family and be there for everyone, but it’s just, if someone gets in the way of the mission, where they are unable, after years of communication, and going through workshops together and therapy and all these kinds of things, I will cut them out, and that’s just where I’m at.
Rob Murgatroyd: I got it, I got it. We’re going to do a podcast, too, and that one, because I have some thoughts.
Lewis Howes: Sure.
Rob Murgatroyd: I want to talk to you a little bit about the Play Hard part of your life. You and I just got a chance to do some play together in the Greek Islands.
Lewis Howes: Yeah! That was a blast!
Rob Murgatroyd: We had a great time! But let me just give you this pre-frame, before I ask this question. Entrepreneurs like yourself, really set themselves up in such a way that work and play is kind of blended, in a lot of ways.
So I want you to kind of filter the questions that I’m asking you through the lens of having nothing to do with work, if that’s possible. If you can spend a month anywhere in the world, and why? And it could be somewhere that you just want to go back to, like, “I was there, I was in Italy, and I loved Italy. I just want to go back to Tuscany.”
Is there anything that comes up for you, like, “I just want to spend a month there.”?
Lewis Howes: I think there are a lot of places that I have a lot of fun, so, for me, it’s hard to be, like, “I only want to go to this one place, and spend a month there.” I haven’t been to Japan, and I keep hearing about Japan, and there’s this deer city, where all these deer just roam, and you can pet deer, and hang out. And I know there’s just so many cool things with the culture there.
So, I think I would love exploring in Japan for a month. Yeah, just all the ancient wisdom there and their culture, and all that. So, Japan.
Rob Murgatroyd: What’s the thing that’s rocking your world now, that has nothing to do with work, but you’re like, “Dude! This is great!”?
Lewis Howes: I really love taking care of my health, and even though, maybe, that’s partly for work, but it’s just for myself. Like, I would want to do this anyways, even if it wasn’t like I needed to look fit on camera or something. But I really love, kind of, again, taking a full circle back to my roots, practising food as medicine, and thoughts as medicine.
And seeing how far I can take my body, with the pain that I feel, and how far I’m able to take my mind, every single day, by showing up, putting in the work and seeing transformation, both internally and externally.
So, I love the body-mind connection and pushing myself through pain every single day, just to see how much stronger I can get.
Rob Murgatroyd: I love that! That’s a perfect answer! If you had all the time and money in the world to pursue a hobby or some recreational activity, what would it be?
Lewis Howes: I don’t know. I had a dream of travelling to the greatest Salsa clubs in the world and doing a TV show, like an Anthony Bourdain of Salsa dancing and the culture and from my perspective. But I kind of do that. Every time I travel, I’ll go and find the best clubs and dance and experience it. So I feel like I’m doing what I want to do.
You know, I would probably start a sports league. I would start a professional handball team, or league in the US, because it’s something I’m passionate about, because there’s no pro league here. And I would spend the next ten to twenty years building the next premium sports league in the US, that actually gets attention, that actually gets traction.
You know there’s really like, what? MLB, there’s NBA, there’s football, I guess the NHL, but that’s kind of like the main things, and the MLS, now, that’s starting to pick up a little bit more. But there’s not really any other big major sports leagues in the US, that have taken off, that are real, iconic franchises.
So, I think, creating an iconic sports franchise and building a movement that’s already big, globally, but then making it big in the US. That would be fun! It would just take a lot of money, time – it would take twenty years – and a lot of money and building grass-roots programs through every elementary school in America, in middle school and high school.
And infiltrating a new sport into – kind of like what soccer tried to do twenty-five, thirty years ago, in the US, and it’s still taking a long time to pick up. So I think that would be a fun legacy/hobby to build.
Rob Murgatroyd: Love it! They say that we are the average of the five people that we hang with. How do you approach reaching out to people who you would want to be in your tribe. People who look at you are like, “He hangs out with the biggest athletes in the world, the biggest celebrities in the world, the coolest online influencers in the world.”
But I’m sure that you’re always searching and reaching and trying to up-level your tribe. How do you approach reaching out to somebody who is not currently in your tribe, but that you want to be in theirs, or you want them to be in yours?
Lewis Howes: Humbly. I focus on becoming the better version of myself that people would want to be around. I focus on, “If I was them, would I want to hang out with me? What do I have to offer them? What makes me special, unique, different? How can I solve a problem for them? How can I add value to their life? How can I never ask them for anything, or bug them, but how can I be a person that they want to spend time with, or would love to meet up with.”
So I just think about those things and adding value, not asking for something, and just seeing how I can be of bigger service to them in any way possible.
Rob Murgatroyd: Alright, and the last two minutes we have left here, this is the “Ask-Me-Anything-You-Want” round. Let’s change it up. What one question would you like to ask me?
Lewis Howes: Why are you afraid to go after your dreams?
Rob Murgatroyd: Why am I afraid to go after my dreams? Wow! That was a good one! That shot a Drummond right through both my hands! I think that it is pure fear of failure. I think that it’s just old school, 101 afraid of failing.
And I think I’ve spent most of my life very protected after I got out of chiropractic school, in that I had and have, a very successful practice that has provided a great life for me, and it’s put me at 72°, it’s never been amazing, and it’s never been horrible.
I’ve pretty much been able to do whatever I want with it, so I’ve never been willing to go through the pain of failing at the level that I should. You know, when you’re doing a start-up and you’ve got nothing to lose, you’re like, “Screw it, I’ve got nothing to lose! Let’s go all in, let’s put all the chips on the table.”
And I’ve never done that, I’ve always played it safe, because I’ve been afraid to fail. But that’s not something I’m doing any more. I’m going all in.
And that was a really good question!
Lewis Howes: Yeah. I love it! That’s great.
Rob Murgatroyd: That was a really good question. Now I’m going to have to think about that all day long.
Let’s talk about The Summit of Greatness!
Lewis Howes: Yeah!
Rob Murgatroyd: Tell me about why you did this thing, and what your vision is for this next one coming up?
Lewis Howes: Every year, I try to take on something new that scares me and that challenges me. It’s, again, something that I learned early on in sports. It’s kind of my philosophy for life, that if we want to grow, we have to do the things that scare us the most.
And so, every year I think about that personally, for my health, but also for my business, my career, things like that. And a few years ago, I remember everyone who was listening to the podcast was like, “We want to meet people in person, and we want to form a community. When are you going to start doing meet-ups and events?”
And so, I created this experience for my community, because they were asking for it. And I remember saying to myself, “I don’t want to do an event just like all these other events that I go to. I want to create this unique and different. But I don’t really know what I’m doing. So I’ve got to figure this all out on my own and hire people who do know what they’re doing. And try to kind of reinvent.”
And I steal very well. Again, I told my story of stealing, and I steal from not inside the industry, but outside the industry, I find things, in other passions of my life, and I feel what gives me that warmness in my heart, those goosebumps, those chills, that excitement. And then I try to steal that experience, that idea, that format, and recreate it in my space.
And so, that’s what I tried to do with The Summit of Greatness, and this will be my third year. I really liked TED Talk format, but I was like, “I don’t want to copy that, because it’s in my industry. How can I recreate something in other spaces and bring it to this space.
So, it’s really kind of a TED Talk for the heart and soul and body, where, in the morning we do workouts with world class athletes. We’ve got Olympians leading workouts, we’ve got some world champions leading workouts, to activate the body.
And then we have world class speakers throughout the day where we activate the mind and the heart, and then we have awesome experiences at night to activate the soul, and community. And, for me, it’s all about creating an experience to just add value, again, to my core audience, the people who listen to my podcast or who are a part of my community the most; to give back, to meet up, to hang out, to have fun.
And that’s what we’re doing for this time, October 4 through 6.
Rob Murgatroyd: For those of you who have not been to this, I’m just going to make it really simple: Just go. Because it is, by far, I promise you, I know that people who listen to this podcast, you’ve been to a bunch of events, you’ve been to a bunch of seminars, what’s the difference? It’s just going to be another speaker.
It isn’t. It isn’t. This event has Lewis’ thumbprint all over it. From the moment you wake up, until the moment you go to bed, it’s a family. And I have a Summit of Greatness family now.
Lewis Howes: You’ve met a lot of people from there, haven’t you?
Rob Murgatroyd: It’s unbelievable! I mean, it is unbelievable. I can not tell you how many people are in my life from this event.
Lewis Howes: Really?
Rob Murgatroyd: Oh, my gosh! It’s crazy! I mean, just really, really close people that I get messages constantly from. So, thank you, thank you, thank you, Lewis!
Lewis Howes: I appreciate it brother! Thank you!
There you have it, my friends! I hope you enjoyed this one. If you did, please share it out with your friends, lewishowes.com/692. You can tag me on Instagram story, you can message me on Twitter, on Facebook, and let me know what you think about this.
Again, I haven’t shared a lot of these stories, and I’ve shared a lot before, but I haven’t shared a lot of these stories, and in this way. And I give a big thank you to Robert Murgatroyd from Work Hard Play Hard podcast, for allowing me to open up in the way that I did and asking those questions in such a unique, powerful way. I appreciate you, buddy.
And, again, let me know what you guys think. Send me a message on Instagram, @LewisHowes, follow me there. Leave a review; you can tell me how you felt about this by leaving a review over on the podcast as well, over on The School of Greatness on iTunes or Apple Podcast, on your podcast app, and let me know what you think.
Again, a bit thank you to our sponsors, audible.com/greatness. Again, I love audible because you can get thousands of different books and you can listen to it while you’re working out, you’re on the treadmill, you’re in the car, you’re waking up, you’re going to bed, and you can switch it on devices.
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Again, I want to reiterate what Michael Jordan said, in his quote at the beginning of this episode, “I can accept failure. Everyone fails at something, but I cannot accept not trying.”
And there are so many of you who reach out to me, who talk about the fears of your life, fears of your dreams, the fears of trying something, and I’m telling you, if you stay stuck in your fears, and you don’t at least move towards something, and at least take action with fear, you may never leave the fear, but at least try, at least do something while you’re afraid.
That’s when magic happens, that’s when you start to develop a mindset of belief in yourself and you can not do anything great without believing in yourself, but you must be willing to take the actions necessary to build that belief.
Thank you, guys, again, for being a part of this journey. We are almost at 700 episodes! This is blowing my mind! Again, if this is your first time here, click the subscribe button, leave a review.
And, as always, you know what time it is: It’s time to go out there and do something great!
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