Have you ever been in so much pain you’ve had to shut down emotionally? You stop allowing yourself to feel your emotions just so you can survive and keep going, because the reality of what you are facing is so painful you cannot even begin to allow yourself to walk through and acknowledge the truth.
If this sounds like you, then you don’t want to miss this episode with international CEO Andy Graham, father of a recovering cocaine addict.
Despite Andy’s many successes, behind closed doors Andy felt like he was falling apart. The trauma and failure of addiction residing in his own family proved to be too much for Andy, and he stopped allowing himself to feel.
Andy’s self-acceptance and new way of looking at life can help you on your road to self-discovery.
Take a listen to this podcast on learning how to feel your emotions again. You don’t want to miss this episode!
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Andy Graham: When the Outside Looks Perfect, But the Inside Is Shut Down
I am again joined by Andy Graham, who I came to adore and love. In our first interview, we had an amazing conversation that was born out of his and my journey and living in a world of Corporate America, and how getting cracked wide open can reinvent you if you show up to take the opportunity. I would strongly encourage those of you that have not read the blog to go back and read it because, as I have read it, again, it is a gem worth reading. I’m thrilled to have Andy back.
You are kind. I appreciate the microphone to share some of the things that are part of my story. Thank you so much.
For those of you who didn’t read the original episode, could you give the CNN version of your story? We are going to leap into the deep end.
I’m a farm boy with a Marketing degree from South Carolina. I grew up in dirt under my fingernails. I learned how to work hard. I came from a broken home. I learned how to fend for myself as a survivor. I started a career in sales in the technology area. I spent twenty years in the semiconductor industry. I started a not-for-profit that was reconciling industry standards. That was an impossible problem to solve. I got to rub elbows with a lot of sea-level folks doing that to create industry consensus.
I did a venture-backed startup, which is a completely different domain, early in the space of mobile phone applications and fitness. I sold that company to Adidas in 2009 and commuted to Germany for a few years with global brand marketing with that. I ran a consumer packaged goods company that sold high-end air purifiers for schools and businesses. I ran that through the pandemic, which was quite a challenge to run any business through the pandemic.
Along the way, I had three adult children with a wife of many years. She still likes me, thankfully. My oldest daughter is bipolar schizoaffective and has been for the last several years. Our middle son is a recovered cocaine addict and is on that journey. I became a grandfather for the first time in January 2023. I’m thrilled to death about it.
It is from my youngest daughter. She is an amazing thing.
We came together through a mutual friend who we both adore and love. We had a full-ranging conversation last time. What I’m interested in, in terms of diving into the deep end, is you self-identified through the course of this journey and yourself getting cracked wide open. You began to learn that you are sensitive. My experience in working with CEOs in C-suite, men in particular, is that a lot of them are, but they haven’t felt they have had permission to be themselves.
That is true. It is a scary curtain to come out from behind. On the one hand, it is a relational superpower because you have ground-penetrating radar when it comes to being around people, reading the room, and sensing other people’s emotions. You get a touch that you wouldn’t have otherwise. It comes naturally to you, but it is a scary thing because there are some stereotypes that don’t jive with that in the corporate world.
I’m imagining and checking in with you on this, Andy. When you begin to realize and own your emotional sensitivity out of how you had lived for many years, yes, it is scary, terrifying, and unknown. How did you navigate this? I finished the book called The Five Acts of Courage. The first act is to feel because I don’t believe our culture has given us permission. Most Americans can identify three feelings, happy, sad, and angry. I’m curious to know your journey in discovery for yourself.
We are told things like, “Boys don’t cry.” We get a lot of messages that say, “Put those things away.”
I remember somewhere along the way feeling hurt in a way when I was much younger and making a conscious decision I would lock those things away. They were painful, hard to understand, and dangerous to bring out because of how it felt.
As in the movie Apollo 13, I went, turned off the limb, and flipped all the switches off. It was dormant there for a long time. What you find is it is impossible to go back in and flip those switches on again. It doesn’t work that way because it creates voids like missing pieces that had to happen at a certain time. You are going to have to go back and recover that a different way.
As a husband and a father, you have an idea in mind of what that should look like. As men, you want to be able to figure out what success and winning look like in those contexts. When the picture that is emerging doesn’t meet that, as in my case with what happened with my two adult kids, the fact that I had shut down myself down emotionally and treated myself like an object, you could call a classic case of burnout. It was hitting the wall over all of those things. My marriage, kids, and career, all those things in various stages, came to a grinding halt.
It forced me to go back and look at what was going on and what was driving me. That takes feeling a lot of layers to get at. It is not something that you go into a phone booth and figure out. The problem is, as men, we like to solve problems. This is one that has a complexity that is not rewarded by self-help, five things, reading Atomic Habits, a checkbook, and all the tools you would typically grab.
The difficult thing is there is no timeline for it. You can’t say, “It is going to be over then.” The nature of that uncertainty is a difficult thing. One of the things I strongly agree with Steve Jobs on in his Stanford commitment speech is that you can’t connect the dots by looking forward, only backward. When you have enough of a journey into that space, who are you? What was driving you? What were you thinking when you made certain decisions? Why did you make that decision?
Things start to emerge that, over time, you can start to put enough of the puzzle pieces together to say, “It is not enough to know it. Once you know it, you have to start trying that out and testing it out.” One of those challenges, if you are in a marriage relationship, is even with your marriage. You will find that the courage you have in your corner office is not the courage you have at home. That is where it will be tested. When you become the real you, it is going to be tested there first, and it will be tested in other places in your relationships.
Once I started to understand and embrace how sensitive I was, the people that were most receptive to that working that out were my adult children. I worked that out with and could have honest conversations with and help piece the puzzle piece together because they knew me in a way I didn’t even know me. That was a key entry point for me to get some feedback because if you are not connected to yourself emotionally, your feedback loops are broken. You don’t care. You are not listening. There is no there, there.If you're not connected to yourself emotionally, your feedback loops are broken. Click To Tweet
Your kids, when they become your adult friends and trust you, and there is a level of safety in that relationship, they will say things to you that you can receive that you couldn’t receive from anybody else. You couldn’t receive it from your boss or a board member. They have a level of access. It can be a friend. I have had friends that have a key to that lock and do the same thing.
You have to find someone you feel safe enough to fully confide in as a witness to what you are experiencing and give you feedback that is not judgmental, advice-giving, patronizing, or not get over it. At the bare minimum, it is witnessing you work it out with something because even the act of saying what you are saying takes courage to give voice to it.
I think about that through the lens of holding the space. It sounds like your kids held the space for you to step into this part of your life in terms of discovery.
There were other friends that I would meet with and do still do, going out for several years regularly, where the explicit objective is to understand more deeply the spiritual life. How deep does the rabbit hole go? In order to know that, you have to be incredibly vulnerable with one another as men. That has become a safe space for me and them to talk about that journey and what we are experiencing and discovering and starting to compare notes on that.
It is not like reading a textbook and going chapter by chapter. We show up without an agenda and go, “Here is what is going on.” The other two will listen to that and be prompted by what is coming for them to say, “This is what I’m seeing here.” You have to have those safe spaces and feedback loops at a minimum to develop the self-awareness you are talking about here.
It began with your kids and expanded to your men’s group.
I may have mentioned in the last episode that for the last several years, I have rebuilt motorcycles in my garage with a group of guys that show up every Thursday. It becomes another safe space where you can work out these kinds of things. There were a number of communities for me. Fortunately enough, I have a couple of mentors who are older than me. One of them is 80 years old now, but he is the busiest 80-year-old. I have another one who is 74. Both of them have poured into my life.
What happened is they started out as mentors, but they became friends. I began to understand that I was as much of a contributor and a blessing to them as they were to me. Through that circle and satellite of relationships is a number of spaces where I was able to go and get a better sense of who I was by the reflection of other people.
One of the top three reasons that we are mentally healthy and can navigate this planet is a community and to broaden your community. You are in the process of writing a book, which is about safe cultures, which I love because I can see how the steps might have been put together to create this book that you are on the journey of creating now. Psychological safety, community safety, and intimacy on a truth-telling level, I do think it’s part of the journey of this whole experience with addiction.
It is because addiction is a supercharged shame. You want to get out from under that in any way you can.
I am curious to take it to the next space in the way that I think about things. This has been one of the pieces to the puzzle of your self-care and doing your work as challenges you to do. I loved rehearing that, and it is powerful. I’m wondering what other things you do to take care of yourself in the midst of all this. How do you still, at this point in the journey, navigate the emotional, maybe ups and downs of this? Do you consider yourself in the thriving space now?
I do. Life is a gift, not about gain. I made that shift to every day as a gift. You see what life has unwrapped for you. It says, “Life is not happening to us. It is happening for us.” One of my lines in the book I say is, “The best in us among others will come out of the woods when the meadow is made safe.” The way I have done that for myself is, for one thing, if you have shut your emotions off and now you are becoming reacquainted with them, it is going to be strange. You feel things in a way and do not quite know how to put them on the peg board. You are going to feel a little crazy, like, “What is wrong with me?”
Cataloging or labeling your emotions about this is that. For me, a lot of those emotions are funneled down to hurt. Once you could say what is underneath the anger, sadness, depression, and each of these things, more often than not, it was some level of form of hurt. The thing is that we become complicit in hurting ourselves.
The problem with C-level executives is they have a bigger transmission than most people. What that means is they can grind the gears for longer further, and damage themselves even more than the usual person. That can flip on Netflix and not worry about tomorrow. It can be painful. I did that. I burned up the transmission.
One is you got to be able to find a way. I find a way to be patient and curious about what you are feeling and give yourself the space to identify what that is about and not to try to judge it too quickly because a snap judgment is almost always wrong when it comes to decoding emotions. They are more nuanced. It is having somebody to sound that out with and say, “Does that sound right?”
The other one is, and this is an odd one. The body always wins. I would keep going. I would ignore things like physical health. I started listening to my body more about what it was doing and what it was telling me. Where was it coming from? Was it chest pain or a headache? What was this about? I start to connect the dots more. I do things now I would never have done before. I will take a nap sometimes.
The other one is you have to have regular time to unpack things. If you are spiritual, you will call that a quiet time or meditation. You have to have a space where you can regularly, without fail, be able to go reflect. You build up debt if you don’t do that. It is a form of debt that has to be repaid if you are not doing that.
One of the things about writing the poems is it has become a big part of the reflective exercise on my part because I’m writing about whatever it is that is coming up to me that day. If you are going to write a poem, it is a little bit like doing the chess version of crossword puzzles. It requires you to connect a lot of different things and appearances from the past and present. What am I feeling? How do I put all this in? Hopefully, the soufflé rises. My point in bringing that is there needs to be some expressive outlet for it, whether journaling, writing something down, creating in some form or another, or some way you are codifying what it is now that I’m starting to feel.
There is a book called Thrive that Arianna Huffington wrote a number of years ago. That was born out of her experience of hitting her desk and waking up in a pool of blood. The doctor came in and said, “You are exhausted. There was no pill for that.” In some ways, we have created a culture that continues to lift up workaholism and grinding. That is deemed acceptable and successful until those of us hit the wall. She talks about the triad as great sleep, exercise, and meditation.
Sleep is at the bottom of any fitness pyramid. It has to do with how much you value yourself. If you do, you are going to do that workout, take care of your body and give it the rest that it needs. A lot of those things have to do with people who don’t like what they see in the mirror. They haven’t accepted themselves. They don’t understand or value themselves in a specific way. Let’s say you start an exercise regime and you do it for five years. You are habituated to this thing. You are going to look at a jelly donut in an entirely different way because you are going to say, “I have so much invested in this level of care for myself. No, I’m not going to go do this other thing.”
Scott was right about me. I said, “I hadn’t accepted myself.” I said that in the last episode, where I playfully asked him what my problem was after we became friends. I thought it was going to be this long-considered answer laced with respect. He goes, “Dad, that is easy. You don’t accept yourself.” I was like, “There you go. That is the problem.”
Beware, trying to make the complex simple. Emotions are complex. They move at the speed of light, not like thinking. It will be in an emotional space faster than you can think about it. I tell people that if you are trying to tease that out or you are not used to being connected to it, insert a pause into what you are about to say or act on. Ask yourself, “What is that about? What is the messenger telling me?” Feelings are messengers. You say, “What is the message there?” Be patient with it until it comes. I’m not a Buddhist, but I’m fond of this statement. It says, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”
I’m a big believer in that. The notion of having an emotion show up and pausing for a lot of people is like, “What are you talking about?” For the most, the statistics are 80% to 85% are in reaction mode. To feel something, pattern interrupt yourself, pause yourself, and give yourself the space to think about what’s my next step, who do I want to be in this moment, or what is the message I am meant to receive because this is showing up for me, for a lot of people, it is a foreign concept.
One of the important things that the pause does is that, by default, we usually operate out of our lizard brain. Our autonomic nervous system is usually running to show on some form of autopilot with a few nudges here or there. The pause allows us to operate from the medial prefrontal cortex, where it is that little grape-sized spot right there that is resolving something important is called status. What is my status in the context I’m in? How am I to be in here now with what I’m seeing?
Getting past that is important because you are right about the reaction being one thing, but the reaction is a shadow of what my status is in this particular situation. What is that inviting me or calling me to do? Beyond that, when you can fully accept yourself and your sensitivity, you will be able to say things like no to things you would normally have said yes to. You are able to tell people without the incumbent emotional energy truth that is true about a situation. Your wife says, “Does this dress make me look fat?” You will say, “You might be onto something there.
I wouldn’t touch that with a ten-foot pole.
I’m joking, but you get the idea.
I want to go back to the notion of valuing yourself because I believe that for a lot of people, we have been raised to give our life force energy away to say yes, to be the ones that are fixing it, taking care of it, and providing service. It is embedded in dealing with addiction. Whether you are on the loved one side of the aisle or the attic side of the aisle, it cuts both ways in terms of valuing ourselves.
The addict doesn’t value themselves. What they are doing is they are trying to fill up a void with something that can’t be filled up with some substance. Faustian bargain says, “I want what I want without consequence.” They are not willing to do what it takes because the willingness to make a change must mean, “I own the fact that I’m a wonderfully made person. I have gifts. I have the redeeming value there.
For over a year, I poured that into my son every chance I got. What I have learned is it takes a long time. Once you become aware of a gift you have or some aspect of yourself that you value, it takes a long time to accept that and believe it. It is a recursive process and reinforcement. It is like working out reps. It is not this binary, “I got it now.”
My son was doing this interview for another job. He was nervous about the interview. I told him, “Scott, you are superb at the moment on your feet. You are good at improvisation. You are good on your feet.” I’m making an objective statement. He goes, “Really?” I said, “Yes, you are.” It is the level of reinforcement for yourself to say, like in my case, my primal question because of my family of origin upbringing is, am I wanted because I was not wanted? I was told that. I believe that in order for me to fit in any place, I had to perform and do things.
The truth is that it shaped me in a way where I value the presence or absence of real connection. I want real connections with people because I know what it is like to not have it. I can say about myself that what I’m good at is I’m good at connecting with people quickly and in a way that engenders safety and trust and brings people together so you can go off and be your original design. Everybody has an original design. When that is shepherded in a direction, powerful things happen.
I think about that in terms of my license plate saying, “Inspired.” It has for three states. I have always believed that we were born with light and in essence and a purpose. It is uniquely ours. We are talking about the same thing here. The world dumps a lot of mud, dirt, rocks, and all the things on it. Eventually, we get the opportunity to clear away the dirt and debris and begin to let our light shine and our brilliant shine. That connectivity you are talking about is to have a genuine, authentic conversation with somebody where the facades and armor are dropped, and you can tell your truth. It is a powerful place to sit, stand, walk, and talk.
When a leader or a CEO does that, that can be powerful because they are the only ones that can send that signal to the rest of the organization. If you think about it, they got their job by navigating through politics and the various paths of doing a particular function in a domain. Once you become that role, things flip. Your job is not to go and create boundaries. Your job is to be able to go and give away what you were holding in. Before, you didn’t want people to see it. As a CEO, you got to be able to open the kimono and let people see that it is okay to be vulnerable about things because if you don’t, you are going to be telling your organization to keep wearing their fig leaves.
The way that I interpret having partly been through this journey with Sam and the whole addictive alcohol space is that it has challenged me to lead the way from that perspective. In a relationship, first-time conversations, groups, and from the place I want to experience, I want to have that connection with people.
If they don’t want to play, that is their choice, but that is what I want to experience in my life. That is not what I grew up with either. It has been learned. A lot of rewiring has taken place to get super comfortable with being genuinely authentic with people and being my true self. I’m curious about your thoughts.
You said a key thing. We have this false idea that the verdict on our authenticity must be unanimous. It is not for everybody. What you have to offer and your gifts, and what you have to share is not for everybody. That is okay. When we formed a group, my wife and I did a new group at our neighbors. We are doing a Bible study. We put something on Facebook and said, “This is not your traditional thing.”What you have to offer – your gifts and what you have to share – is really not for everybody. And that's okay. Click To Tweet
We had eight people there. I kicked off the sharing and said, “Here is my journey. By doing that, I set the bar. You don’t have to, but it is okay to go this far with what you share.” The level of vulnerability in three meetings has been shocking. People are waiting for the waters to be safe to dive in. Nobody is got to go first. One of the things I have learned is that even though I’m a flaming introvert, it is important for me to give back by going first once I figure these things out.
I spent a number of decades being like, “Seriously, you must be joking.” What I have found in the course of leaning in and being courageous, what has come back to me is I believe now that more people are hungry for genuine, intimate, and real conversations. They need permission. I believe that my work with CEOs, business owners, and execs is to give them permission to have those conversations. When they step into that space, they have permission to give permission to their employees and C-Suite. It begins to crack whatever has been holding us back from doing that.
I agree with that cascade effect. The caution I would offer there is you have to have people throughout layers and organization. They are your change agents and people you can talk to, irrespective of your title. You can have honest conversations about what is going on. These are the people who know what is going on, but they are not often talking about it.
The reason I say that is because it is a bit of a Goldilocks challenge as a C E O and when it comes to vulnerability. You want to be vulnerable enough to say, “I don’t take myself seriously in a way that I’m inviting people to show up and be yourself.” On the other hand, you don’t want to go so far now that people feel pressure that, “I can’t do that. You are asking me to do something.” I have been over that line a few times where I was like, “It is too much.” You need people assaulted throughout the organization who can say, “That was hot and cold. That was right.”
I have a coach that says, “Give people permission to make that step 10%. Soon, it will be 20%.” They are going to realize, “The waters are safe.” They are relearning how to advance and be safe. As Stephen M.R. Covey talks about in Smart Trust, “You can’t trust everybody. You shouldn’t trust everybody. It is learning how to trust smartly. Create safe places where people can come and come at their own pace.”
The word I would use there is elasticity. You have to be elastic enough to allow people the space they need to move at a different pace because if you think about it, I’m a bit of a psychometric geek, but on the spectrum of the level of the people’s patience, it is a wide spectrum. Some people are patient. Some people are not. When I go on motorcycle rides, I always ride to the smallest gas tank and the least amount of skill. You got to figure out what that is in your organization. It will take more time.
I read some research. It bears out in my experience. It only takes anywhere between 15% to 20% of the population in a community to make a significant change. You got to get to the people who are the connectors throughout that system and engage them in a way that is not hierarchical, but it is giving you a level of feedback as a leader to go and know how to communicate that without going too far.
You got to be able to strategically pick on people too. I had a finance guy one time. He always had bad news. At one staff meeting, I said, “For now on, your name is going to be Dr. Death. That is your name.” He and I had a good relationship. He changed his handle name to Dr. Death. The whole company knew him, Dr. Death, from that point.
Throughout this whole process, people are looking, “Is it safe to be me? What is my identity when that becomes the case?” Someone in the CEO position can move that along when they come up with what we call shop names for people, where they go, “You are describing a quality that I have that is true. I’m embracing that. Other people can see visibly that it is being embraced.” Dr. Death may be the wrong example to choose in that case. I have more positive versions of that.
I am curious, and this is a bigger question. While you are at several years into this journey, what has been one of the biggest lessons for you in this decade of the journey for you?
I’m going to go with a TS Elliot quote, “The end of all searching is to arrive where you have begun and know the place for the first time.” I would say the biggest thing I have learned all along the way is when I reflected earlier about why you make certain decisions, you go back through history and trace it back, my gut and my heart were always telling me something, and usually, I was ignoring it.
Archer from being my true self was when I ignored that. For whatever reason, I would ignore that. I have learned to pay attention. I’m a man of faith. That is still a small voice saying, “Here is what is going on. Regardless of what you see or feel, go with your gut and what is telling you about who you are. Don’t be afraid to do that.”Regardless of what you see or what you feel or what you know, go with your gut and what it's telling you. Don't be afraid to do that. Click To Tweet
The second thing I would say is carrying curiosity has an endless reward. Without that, I wouldn’t be where I am. I hope that for other people, it was like, “If you are not curious, you are not going to look. If you are not going to look, you are not going to see. If you are not going to see, you can’t be able to make any changes.” The level of resignation amongst people my age is high. This is the way it is. You hit the cruise control button. I haven’t thought about it in those terms, but that is a great question.
How about you?
One of them has been to change the definition of what my role is as a mom and to go from my job is to fix it, keep him safe, and keep him pain-free and suffering and to realize that my job is to walk beside him as he goes through that part of his journey in life because that is life. To continue to assure him that no matter what happens, he is always loved.
It will hold that space consistently and wholeheartedly has been part of my journey. It is to own the things I know I need to do to take care of myself and allow my light to shine. I am giving myself permission that I have a significant purpose in why I’m here. That is important to me to live out. The only way that is going to happen is if I take care of myself first.
Those two things are the ground I stand on as I move forward and so much of reinvention and redesign. I’m with you in terms of, “Yes, follow and pay attention to your gut.” I have always been curious. It has gotten me in hot water at times, but for the most part, it has served me well. Through the decades, I have met many people who would tell me things for the first time because I was curious and wanted to know. They got that sense that they were safe in telling me their truth. That has been an enormous gift for me to hold people’s truth with sacredness and reverence and to give them the gift of being able to speak their truth out loud and know themselves through their own voice.
That is a great answer. Thank you for letting me turn the tables. I asked Scott what he would say to me before we were friends and ostensibly to other people in the same situation as they were going on the path. He thought for a while and said, “Endeavor to understand what part are you and what part is them. Know the difference.” It sounds like you are doing that with your son.
Our kids are about a year apart from each other. This notion is that he is an adult. He has his own journey and purpose in being here. I don’t begin to know what that is, but whatever it is, I’m along for the ride to support the ups, downs, and sideways to continue to see the light that is his, despite the disease and what that looks like in ways that it is not enabling in the last couple months. My son did relapse.
When we got to the point where we thought he would be homeless, it was like, “You are resourceful. I know you can figure this out.” I’m holding the space for his next steps and what that might look like when you don’t know what might happen. In this space, we are in a life-or-death situation on many fronts. To hold that space with courage and conviction, and within a couple of days, he found a treatment center that would take him. Part of the learning is to hold the space, allow and trust whatever way it goes. It is okay.
Did I tell you the butterfly story in the last episode? It came up when you were sharing what you did. When my son was 6 or 7, he did this painting of a dog. He won this art contest for his school. They went on a field trip as a reward. The field trip took us to a place where they had butterflies and plants. I was watching butterflies be birthed. You have this big larva in a cocoon. What it is trying to do is struggle to get through a small tiny fiber ring. It is made out of fiber. It will not give. I sat and watched this thing. It was mightily struggling and wiggling. It gets tired and stops. It was making such slow progress. I thought, “How is this ever going to happen?” I had lots of compassion for myself. This must be difficult.
Your temptation is to cut the ring. The people who ran the place were doing this as an object lesson, but they had done that. What happens is the worst of all things is it can never become a butterfly, but it can never be what it was. The ring is the force of fluid out into the wings so that it can fly. That is the purpose of the struggle. It is hard, and I applaud your courage to watch that process with your son. You did not cut the ring.
I love that analogy, and I love that you witnessed the struggle and know that the struggle is what serves the butterfly. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Sam struggles with all of this, birthing into the brilliant being he is meant to be. You have done the same.
I wouldn’t have chosen the path but wouldn’t trade for anything. I wouldn’t have the blessing of it. The bonus out of all this is through all this thing I’m talking about. My wife is watching me change. She was telling me how much I had changed and how much we had been married for years. It has helped our relationship because she is watching me do the same thing.
They can witness the transformation if they can hang in there long enough with us.
It is a deeper metaphor than it may seem because, in the process of becoming a butterfly, the larvae become almost 90% liquid. The sequencing of how that gets put back together is a miracle on the one hand, and on the other, it is a metaphor for how deep the change needs to go if you are going to embrace your true self. If you are going to be honest and accept things about yourself, it is a form of surrendering. You are, “I’m going to stop fighting it. I was fighting it for the longest time.”
Culturally, we haven’t touched on this, and maybe we can talk again about this, but there is a book called The Paradigm Conspiracy that was written in the ‘90s. It is supported by Hazelton. They compare and contrast to paradigms. One is power over control, which is the paradigm that we predominantly live in. The more power you have, the more control you have, and the more money you have, you win. It is compared in contrast with the soul-honoring paradigm, which was born out of the Iroquois Confederacy at the near annihilation of Northeast Tribes. That was out of the 1500s.
When I read that in the 1990s, I was doing a lot of traveling, I would go into bookstores and wait for a book to pick me. That was one of the books that picked me. It resonated with me that my work has been about soul-honoring. Each exec and C-suite group I work with is to honor their souls first and allow for their brilliance to rise and shine. It doesn’t always happen. I’m okay because the ones that do go through the chrysalis. I don’t know that it gets any better than that.
You are fortunate to have those connections and witness that transformation. It is rare in my experience. Broadly speaking, if we could get people to stop treating other people and ourselves like objects, that would be a huge change. There is an entire chapter of books about objects versus relationships. What is the difference? I’m jealous of your work.
We do need to wrap up. I would love to have you come back when you are closer to the book release because that is what your book is about. It is part of this journey. It is about creating safe cultures. We had to create our own safety first and move out of that space. You are exhibiting that disruptor, innovator, and change agent that is endemic to who you are. I’m excited about this book and what you have to say.
Thank you. I appreciate your depth of questioning. You have asked me a few questions I don’t normally get, but I have one last from you, and that is, what have you learned about me in this conversation?
You have continued to be who you were in the first conversation, which is immensely thoughtful and global in your thinking. It is all centered on the heart, and you care deeply about people. Now you have permission to walk that walk in a way that is extraordinarily powerful. I’m not sure that you necessarily know how powerful you are in this walk you are walking, which is why I want to keep having these conversations because you bring a level of life experience on many fronts that gives people permission to change and to step into the truth about who they are. That is an enormous gift.
I asked that question routinely. My wife hates it, but it is a depth-of-connection question. I can say that your answer has been affirming. You are right. I probably am not appreciating all that is there, but that is fine. Thank you so much. That is very kind of you.
I’m a fan.
I love talking to you. I don’t get to have these conversations very often, but it is great to get in the sandbox and be able to care about people with impunity.
I will wrap it up and deep gratitude. We will talk again later if you are on track. Blessings to you. Have a great summer on your motorcycle and all the things you got going on. We will talk soon.
Thank you. You take care as well.
- Andy Graham – LinkedIn
- First Interview – Past Episode
- The Five Acts of Courage
- Atomic Habits
- Smart Trust
- The Paradigm Conspiracy