CHAPTER 11

Shift to Defensive Driving to Avoid the Four Potholes You’ll Encounter along Your Journey

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Most of the time, hitting a pothole in a car or truck can feel like a speed bump and does little to no real damage to your overall journey. However, hitting the same pothole on a motorcycle can cause you to crash and ruin your bike; it can even cause a fatal accident, depending on how fast you’re going upon impact with the pothole. Four main variables are what make potholes so dangerous:

1. They sneak up on you without warning or prior notice.

2. On first glance, you can’t determine how deep they are.

3. Sometimes you can’t tell how wide the hole is or how jagged the edges are.

4. You often don’t know the full extent of the damage they will cause until after you’ve already rolled through one.

What’s my point?

You must drive very defensively on your motorcycle to avoid the potholes that inevitably show up in life and business to derail your success. Over the course of my life, I’ve encountered many potholes. I’m sure that by looking at the cover of this book and reading my bio you may think that I’ve always been “successful” and can’t relate to potholes, but trust me, I’ve had many things attempt to derail my success.

As a child, I was labeled an “at-risk” youth and told I wouldn’t amount to much.

• As a preteen, my stepfather was extremely abusive, and I wanted to run away.

• As a teenager, I was inches away from a heinous hate crime that rocked our city.

• Also as a teenager, I witnessed my mother experience domestic violence.

• My twenty-year journey as an entrepreneur has been rattled with challenges.

• As an adult, I’ve experienced failure with a real estate business and a clothing line.

• As an adult, I’ve experienced the pain of divorce, having to heal from the brokenness it caused.

All of these things rocked my self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-worth and how I saw myself and the world. These were all different potholes along my journey. Some were just on the road, and some I actually created on my own along the way. Have you ever created the very potholes that have derailed your own success? We call this self-sabotage.

Take a moment and make a list in your journal of a few things that have happened in your life or career that have tried to derail your success. And know that even though our lists may look radically different, that’s not really what matters. Pain is pain. Failure is failure. Hardship is hardship. What matters is not the specifics of what we go through but how we shift so that we can enjoy the journey of life and business successfully.

While doing the research for this chapter, I visited several biking blogs recounting the stories of the massive accidents that occurred when motor-cyclists thought they were skilled enough to just “ride over” potholes, and of the horrific damage that both their bikes and their bodies experienced. Overall, the best advice from everyone in the biking community is to avoid potholes at all costs. Period. This takes maneuvering and constantly being on the lookout to ensure that the path that you’re riding down is one that is smooth and pothole-free.

I’ve been working with high achievers globally for the last twenty years through my live and virtual experiential keynote presentations and also through my annual conference, the Full Throttle Experience. From what I’ve learned along the way, I’ve determined that although there are many different types of potholes you can encounter along your journey, there are four types that high achievers specifically encounter; if they do not avoid them, these potholes can cause rim damage, blown tires, broken front and rear suspension, and ultimately a flying-over-the-handlebars accident that could ruin them personally or professionally.

As I mentioned earlier, potholes don’t give you much advance notice; they just show up on the road. You don’t have adequate time to react, and that’s why you must be constantly looking ahead—not just at the drivers in front of you but also at the road conditions. Each of these four potholes can just sneak up on you if you’re not careful. Keep your eyes focused forward every day and drive defensively on the motorcycle of life to avoid them.

The Pothole of Burnout

Are you feeling burned out? Be honest with yourself.

There’s no one else around, so you can be honest with me.

I want to take some extra time on this one, because it’s a huge global issue.

According to a recent article in HR Exchange, burnout cases have increased to the point where the World Health Organization (WHO) has officially recognized burnout as an occupational phenomenon.1 In fact, WHO has included it in its eleventh revision of the International Classification of Diseases. The handbook describes burnout as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”

In addition, Gallup recently surveyed more than seventy-five hundred full-time employees about burnout. Of those workers, 23% said they felt burned out more often than not. An additional 44% reported feeling burned out sometimes.2 In other words, nearly two-thirds of full-time workers are dealing with burnout at some point while at work.

Here are a few ways to know that you’re approaching or running into the pothole of burnout.

• Are you constantly irritable, hypercritical, negative, and jaded in your perspective?

• Do you find it hard most days to concentrate on getting a task done?

• Do you achieve things and feel lackluster about your accomplishment?

• Do you constantly use food, alcohol, drugs, or other means to self-medicate?

• Do you feel exhausted no matter how much sleep you get?

You could be at burnout. And this affects parents, entrepreneurs, and people from every professional industry, not only traditional nine-to-five employees.

Maneuver around the pothole of burnout when it shows up by trying the following:

• Practice regular self-care.

• Cut your workday off at a certain time each day, and unplug afterward.

• Don’t check work-related emails and texts after hours.

• Take quarterly staycations, weekend trips, or small getaways to recharge.

• Get good rest each night—at least seven to eight hours.

• Spend the first and last hour of each day away from technology.

The Pothole of Loneliness and Isolation

Everyone talks about climbing the ladder of success, but very few people talk about the loneliness and isolation that often accompany that journey. Let me ask you a hard question: Do you struggle with feeling lonely or isolated sometimes?

According to an article in Occupational Health & Safety, more than 60% of Americans report feeling lonely, left out, poorly understood, and lacking companionship, according to a recent report by Cigna Insurance.3 Male and younger workers bear the heaviest burden—and workplace culture may be a major contributing factor.

I’ll be very transparent with you and share that at many times in my life, I’ve felt lonely and somewhat isolated. Most recently, I moved back to the Tampa Bay area after living in Dallas/Fort Worth for a few years. I relocated to a nice suburb in Tampa called Wesley Chapel. However, the majority of my friends and the “happenings” in town were about forty minutes away from where I lived. So, for the first two years that I was back in town, I felt lonely. I was very successful and very accomplished and in demand, but when I would come home, I always felt lonely. I lived in a great, safe subdivision, but I was one of the only single people I knew in my neighborhood. Everywhere I looked, all I saw were couples and families. I was a single dad and a busy entrepreneur who traveled a lot. (Footnote—traveling a lot can be very lonely also.)

We all are hardwired for connection and relationships. No matter how much we accomplish, achieve, and manifest—things and status can only get you so far. Friends, companionship, fellowship, and connections are essential for living life to the fullest.

Maneuver around the pothole of loneliness when it shows up by trying the following:

• Use MeetUp.com to find special-interest groups that do things you already enjoy.

• Use your NextDoor app to connect with people in and around your neighborhood.

• Use Facebook or LinkedIn to find networking meetings happening around you.

• Let your friends and family know when you have free nights and weekends.

• Let people in. When people ask how you’re doing, be honest. Stop covering up. If you want some company, companionship, or just people around you . . . say so!

The Pothole of Overwhelm

No statistics needed for this one! Here’s the cold, hard truth. Most high achievers struggle with overwhelm for one primary reason: we consider the word help a curse word. Yep, most of us don’t like to ask for help. We try to do it all ourselves. Have you ever been guilty of this? Many of us graduated from the University of I Can Do It All Myself. Overwhelm is a major pothole because when you try to do everything yourself, you rarely do a great job at the task because you’re so stressed and anxious about it that the negative energy of the pressure to perform bleeds over into the quality of the work.

We tend to become overwhelmed when we think about too many aspects of a project all at the same time; or too many components of a process at the same time; or too many elements of a problem, situation, or dilemma all at the same time—without the adequate mental, emotional, financial, logistical, or tactical resources at our disposal to effectively resolve the issue(s). Compounded with this is the pride that most high achievers carry; we don’t like to look, feel, or come across as weak or unable, so we do a poor job of delegating.

Delegating is one of the keys to maneuvering around the pothole of overwhelm. You can’t get better daily if you’re constantly overwhelmed, and you certainly can’t live life to the fullest that way.

A recent study out of the UK suggests that as much as 74% of professionals feel so stressed that they feel overwhelmed and unable to cope.4

Maneuver around the pothole of overwhelm when it shows up by trying the following:

• Let go of your ego’s need for control and allow others to assist you.

• Exercise transparency and vulnerability by allowing others in emotionally, so that they can understand the weight you carry.

• Break up all your big projects, assignments, and tasks into bite-size chunks.

• Take small, consistent daily action on tasks that move you closer to your goals.

• Reward yourself more for the actions and steps you’re already taking.

The Pothole of Rejection

By now you should be ready for me to stop listing potholes, because I know that on some level you can probably relate to most or all of these. Here’s the last one—the fear of rejection or just rejection itself. No one likes to get rejected. It’s not fun. No matter how it shows up, none of us actually enjoy the process of not getting chosen, selected, approved, accepted, validated, affirmed, and/or deemed “worthy.” And rejection can show up in every area of our lives.

• Your kids growing up and not wanting to hang with you as much

• Someone on a dating app not swiping right and matching with you

• Getting passed over for an important promotion at work

• Auditioning for a role, part, or opportunity and not being chosen

• Trying out for a sports team, band, dance group, or talent team and not making the cut

• People not signing up for your programs or services after an educational webinar

• Your significant other not wanting intimacy with you on a particular night

• Members of your family not inviting you to a family gathering

• Your spouse deciding they want to file for divorce

• Being turned down for the mortgage to buy your dream home this year

• Not getting approved for a major credit card or line of credit you need

• Approaching a perfect stranger who you think is attractive, and they dismiss you

• Entering a scholarship contest to win money for tuition and you don’t get chosen

Rejection shows up in a million ways in our daily lives all the time. We all experience it. Even the people who you think life always says yes to—trust me, somewhere along their journey, they have experienced massive rejection.

The pothole of rejection can be a very dangerous one because too much rejection can totally wreck your self-esteem, self-worth, and self-confidence. It can make you feel that you’re not good enough. Have you ever felt like that? I know 500% that I have.

Although I’ve had a ton of successes in life, I’ve dealt with a massive amount of rejection in my life also:

• Not getting into the fraternity I wanted in college

• Getting fired from a corporate job

• Being rejected for high-fee speaking engagements

• Agents rejecting book proposals

• My reality TV show not being selected by TV execs at a pitch conference

• Experiencing divorce from someone whom I cared for very much

• Feeling as though my speaking ability is viewed as a threat in many circles

One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned about rejection can be summed up in this statement:

Rejection is hidden selection.

What I’ve learned is that when life deselects me for something that I think I wanted, it is just God’s way of selecting me for what I really want and need that is for my greatest and highest good. When you’re not chosen for something or someone, consider it life’s way of helping you dodge a bullet and instead prepare something even better for you. Think about some of the many famous people who made it big after massive rejection.

Chicken Soup for the Soul got rejected by 144 publishers before it was picked up, and now it’s one of the best-selling franchises in human history.5

• J. K. Rowling was rejected by twelve publishers before Harry Potter got picked up.6

Steven Spielberg was rejected by the USC School of Theatre, Film and Television three times.7

• Walt Disney was fired from a local newspaper for a “lack of creativity, imagination and good ideas.”8

• Vincent van Gogh’s paintings were rejected throughout his lifetime; he sold only two pieces while he was alive.9

• Oprah was fired from a local TV station as a reporter because the management said she “wasn’t fit for television.”10

As you can see, if you’ve been rejected, you’re in great company. Obviously, the pothole of rejection is inevitable; how you navigate around it is what matters. Maneuver around the pothole of rejection when it shows up by trying the following:

• Separate the event/rejection from you as a person (easier said than done).

• Don’t give up or quit; keep trying and keep going after that which you desire.

• Every time you hear “no,” just think “next” and keep moving forward.

• Find the silver lining in the situation by looking for areas for growth.

• If the rejection is severe, consider seeing a mental health professional for therapy.

These are just four of the many different types of potholes that can cause massive damage to the motorcycle ride of your life and business. To learn about others, visit the Free Book Bonuses section of www.ShiftIntoAHigherGear.com. To succeed on your journey, drive to enjoy the scenery and drive to arrive, but also drive defensively by not only looking for the vehicles in front of and beside you but also inspecting the road conditions and leaning left and right as needed to avoid hitting the various potholes you will encounter. And listen: none of us are perfect. If you do hit a pothole, pull over immediately, inspect your bike for any possible damage, and keep on riding, but be careful and diligent, because what you cannot avoid you must be prepared for. And unlike a car, most motorcycles don’t come with a spare tire. If you get a flat tire, you’ll need to call roadside assistance. I’ve been riding for ten years, and thank God, I’ve never hit a pothole on my motorcycle, but I’ve hit plenty of them in life and business. And that’s exactly why chapter 12 is so important.

Five Ways You Can Shift Higher and Tune Up the Motorcycle of Your Life

1. The question is never whether you’ll encounter a pothole but how you will maneuver to avoid them. Unfavorable road conditions are inevitable. It’s how you handle them that really matters. No matter how strong, tough, and skilled you are, it’s always better to avoid potholes rather than riding through them.

2. The pothole of burnout is very real. Make a decision right now that you deserve some time off. Here’s a thought: use some of your PTO if you have it. If your career isn’t set up that way, create time for yourself to recharge. Every device that you use daily requires time to be recharged—and so do you!

3. Sometimes you struggle with loneliness because you’ve trained people to believe that you’re always too busy. We are hard-wired for human connection and relationship. Reduce your screen time, be safe, get out there, and connect with people so that you can avoid the pothole of isolation and loneliness.

4. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time! The best way to avoid overwhelm is to take every big thing in your life and break it down into small, daily baby steps. Also, find people to help you accomplish your goals as a team, because success is better together.

5. Remember that rejection is hidden selection. What one person hates, someone else loves. One person’s floor is another person’s ceiling. What one group of people discards, another group of people will esteem and honor. Rejection is simply life’s way of helping you dodge bullets and position you for the best opportunities to come your way with grace and ease.

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