The world we live in teaches us to achieve and achieve so that one day we will be “happy.” I challenge you to shift that. Why not “happily achieve” so that you’re not delaying the emotion you desire just for the sake of accomplishing a goal?
My mother passed away April 30, 2013, 5:30 p.m. EST at the ripe age of sixty-seven years young.
Her name was Olivia B. McNeal. She was far more than a parent. My mother was a mentor, teacher, coach, and advocate. By the time I was four years old, she had unknowingly started to groom me to do exactly what I’m doing right now. My mom had a remarkable gift for oratory, diction, enunciation, and pronunciation, and a very powerful command of the English language. That was my mother’s greatest gift. Anybody who knew Olivia knew that she was probably one of the most well-spoken individuals you could ever meet. However, my mother was never a famous internationally renowned speaker, itinerant preacher, or well-known international brand or icon. She was simply a sensational communicator. And anytime you asked my mother how she was doing, she had one phrase she would always respond with: “Aww, child . . . I’m blessed.” Those four words have been ingrained into my DNA for over forty-three years.
No matter what trials, tribulations, storms, issues, financial woes, relational disappointments, or uncertainties that came my mother’s way, anytime you asked her how she was doing, her response was always the same “Aww, child . . . I’m blessed.”
Unknowingly, my mother taught me one of the greatest lessons we can learn if we’re going to shift into a higher gear; that lesson is that we must master our emotional states.
I believe that the engine of the motorcycle of life, the heartbeat of life, is our emotions, and it’s how we master and manage our emotions on a daily basis that will determine whether we improve every single day, whether we shift into that next gear that we know is possible in any area of our lives, and whether or not we ultimately live an amazing, fulfilling, joyful life.
When I travel and speak, I ask audiences to do a simple activity to teach a profound lesson. I ask them to point to themselves, and all over the world, no matter whether the audience is five hundred people, five thousand people, or fifty thousand people, the number-one part of their anatomy that they always point to is not their head, not their skull, not their knees, not their buttocks, not their feet, not their ankles, not their abs (no matter how visible or invisible they are), and not their stomach. It’s their heart. No matter where I am, when people point to the essence of who they are, they all agree that who they are is at the heart level. This begs dialogue and dissection—we must understand that the true engine of our lives is not our intellect but our emotions, and if we want to live life to the fullest, we must master our emotional states.
Do me a favor: please list the top ten emotions that you experience on a daily basis. Don’t overthink this; just list them. Don’t judge them or evaluate them. Just jot them down—no matter what they are.
Nice work! Very good! Isn’t it kind of cool to see a list of the emotions that run through you every day? It’s helpful to actually see them rather than just feel them.
Did you know that there are basically eight core human emotions that we experience on a day-to-day basis? And countless variations and nuances of those emotions that we as human beings experience? The eight basic emotions are joy, sadness, fear, disgust, surprise, anticipation, anger, and trust. There are many different models and frameworks identifying the basic ones; this list comes from a scientist named Robert Plutchik, who also created a wheel of emotions to illustrate these emotions in a compelling way. The wheel illustrates the dynamism of emotions, such as what happens to an emotion when it’s left unchecked, is taken to the extreme, or is given too much wiggle room, and what you get when you combine two emotions, such as anticipation and joy.1
By definition, emotions are electrochemical signals that flow through us in an unending cycle. They are released in our brains in response to our perceptions of the world. I think that this is super interesting. Even though we often label them as good or bad, emotions themselves are inherently neutral. Their job is to give us signals on how to survive and thrive. The more enlightened we are about our emotions, the more we can learn how to appreciate all of them and the messages they are trying to send us, so that we can lead and navigate more fulfilling lives.
What navigational app do you use? I use the Waze app on my phone. No matter where I am, whether I’m on my motorcycle or in my truck or in a rental car, Waze can always navigate me back home. In fact, my home address is saved in the Waze app, so all I have to do is hit Home, and Waze navigates me there. With mathematical exactitude regardless of traffic, accidents, or construction, Waze always guides me back home. What’s my point?
I firmly believe that you and I will always find our way back home— emotionally. You’ll always find your way back to what’s most comfortable for you. Your emotional safe haven. Whatever your core, most-dominant emotions are, you will find a way back to those on a daily basis.
Have you ever known someone who is self-absorbed, narcissistic, and all about themselves? No matter what the topic of conversation, they always find a way to make the focus somehow about them? Have you ever known someone who is always angry? No matter how great a day they have, no matter how awesome work is, and no matter how great their kids behave or how much money comes in that day, they find a way to find something to be aggravated, annoyed, disturbed, or pissed off about? I certainly have encountered such people. This happens because that person’s emotional home (or, if I can quickly borrow a baseball analogy, their emotional home plate), is anger, and if that’s where their primary emotional home is, no matter what happens in their day, no matter what journey they take on the motorcycle of their life, it will always bring them back to the address of anger.
Conversely, have you ever met someone who is just a radiant, vibrant, and beautiful light? No matter what happens in their day or what happens in their life, they find their way to joy. They find a way to see the silver lining around the cloud of doubt. They find a way to see something good in the situation. They find a way to always see the glass as half full rather than half empty. That person’s emotional home is happiness, joy, peace, contentment, and balance, and because that is their emotional home, they are always able to find their way back to it.
What am I trying to say to you? You will always find your way back home. The question is, what’s your address? Is your address resentment, ecstasy, fear, exuberance, elation, fun, excitement, doubt, dread, exhaustion, annoyance, disappointment, feeling marginalized? Regardless of what you call it, every one of us has an emotional home that has been programmed and conditioned into our subconscious mind.
Daily, regardless of how your day goes, consciously and subconsciously you will find a way back to whatever your dominant core emotions are, whether they be (by your definition) good emotions or bad ones. A footnote to consider: most therapists and psychologists agree that all emotions serve us in some way and that there is no such thing as a bad emotion. There are emotions that put us in high and low vibrational states. However, most therapists agree that emotions are meant to signal us in some way, shape, form, or fashion. What if you stopped labeling your emotions and started leveraging them? If something makes you upset, ask yourself why you are upset. Figure out how you can be curious about the message that the challenging emotion is sending you.
Let’s do another quick activity to actuate this concept. Until now, what would you say have been the top five emotions that have been your emotional home? List the emotions that you tend to find yourself going home to metaphorically on a daily basis.
OK, great! Now that you’ve shared yours with me . . . here are mine. These are the top five emotions that serve as my emotional home on a daily basis.
• Can you see how a global brand that influences people all over the world can come from such an address?
• Can you see how raising two beautiful daughters could come from such an address?
• Do you see how touching the hearts of millions through the power of television can come from such an address?
My mother’s emotional home was always “Aww, child . . . I’m blessed!” It was gratitude. No matter the doctor’s report. No matter the financial concerns. No matter the news she got from family or friends. She just had an engine that kept purring to gratitude!
So the question becomes, do you like your emotional home, or is it time for you to move? Do we need to call the movers and bring over some boxes, tape, and a U-Haul truck so that we can change your address? Moving can enable you to shift into a higher gear emotionally and move into a much better neighborhood. You’ll have much better neighbors (which we’re going to talk about in the next chapter), you’ll have a chance for your kids to go to better schools, and you’ll shop at better stores and get higher appreciation on the equity in your home.
If you don’t like the primary five emotions that you tend to come back to on a daily basis—if you want to change your emotional address—the time to do so is right now. Let me ask you a question: What are the ideal five emotions that you would want to experience as a part of your new emotional home?
Earlier in this book, you learned that great leaders do three things:
1. They see things as they are.
2. They see things as better than the way they are.
3. They make them the way they see them.
Now that you’ve identified your current emotional home and identified what your emotional home could be, you now have to make your emotional address the way you see it. What are five actions that you can take right now—what are five imperfect action steps that you can take today— that will begin to shift your emotional home address so that regardless of what happens in your day, you always come back to the five emotions you just listed? What are five actions that you can take to proactively relocate yourself emotionally?
Action step 1: ____________________________________
Action step 2: ____________________________________
Action step 3: ____________________________________
Action step 4: ____________________________________
Action step 5: ____________________________________
1. Practice radical self-care. Pour more into yourself than you do into others, and you’ll keep yourself safe from outside negative influences.
2. Choose not to participate in conversations and dialogues that are of a low vibration. Conversations about drama, gossip, strife, and discouragement just don’t belong anymore.
3. Minimize the time you spend with people who don’t share your new mindset and heart set.
4. Practice mindfulness, meditation, and journaling about your day each day.
5. Use music to instantly shift your mood. It’s the world’s number-one atmosphere setter.
6. Consider taking the right supplements, such as ashwagandha and others, that holistically help keep your mental and emotional states strong.
7. Move your body. Emotion follows motion. You will be amazed at how quickly you can shift your emotions simply by shifting your motion. The word emotion is made up of the word motion. Shift how you move your body and you’ll shift how you feel instantaneously.
One of the most powerful things that I learned to do a few years ago was to personify emotions that I wanted to experience on a more regular basis. Maybe this is something that you can try and see how it feels for you. It has made a major difference in my life and the lives of many of my friends and colleagues who practice this method. I learned to be emotions that I wanted to actualize. In other words, I learned to stop wanting the emotion as if the emotion were some outside entity. I learned how to begin to embody and visualize the emotions that I desire to experience as dwelling within myself. So rather than wanting to experience love and having to go find love as if love were down the street and around the corner somewhere, I simply became love. Rather than having to go find joy, what if I said that joy dwelled inside me? Rather than having to go find happiness as if happiness were in a different state or a different country, what if I embrace the reality that happiness is within me now?
I began to practice this, and it permanently shifted the engine of the motorcycle of my life. In order to manifest this new way of being, I began to write what’s called “I am” statements every single day. I got up each morning, grabbed my journal, and wrote statements like these:
• I am love.
• I am joy.
• I am powerful.
• I am enough.
• I am clear.
• I am confident.
• I am certain.
• I am consistent.
• I am in demand.
• I am well-respected.
• I am ecstasy.
• I am sexy.
• I am intriguing.
• I am provocative.
• I am genuine.
• I am integrity.
• I am character.
• I am substance.
• I am depth.
The moment I began to locate the emotions I wanted to experience within myself and to consistently affirm them on a daily basis with passion, conviction, and consistency, I eventually became the very emotions that I previously thought existed elsewhere.
I believe that we as human beings are blessed with one singular emotion that has veto power over all the other challenging emotions that we experience. That emotion is gratitude.
It is almost impossible to experience the emotion of gratitude—true, deep, sincere gratitude—and any negative emotion at the exact same time. You don’t have to believe me; just try it yourself right now. Think of something that maybe you’re angry about; let’s say it’s a credit card bill that seems to never go away. OK—have you got that in your head right now? Good. Now I want you to flood your mind and heart with gratitude, authentic gratitude. Try now to hold space for how mad you are about your credit card bill and at the same time how grateful you are for something you purchased with that card. You can’t, right? Here are some other combinations that are nearly impossible to maintain:
• Grateful and jealous
• Grateful and pissed off
• Grateful and envious
• Grateful and hateful
• Grateful and spiteful
It’s very difficult to hold space authentically for both types of emotions at the exact same time. Gratitude always wins. So I want you to begin to live a life of daily gratitude. Each morning, I want you to make a list of eight things that you’re grateful for at the top of your day; and at the end of your day, I want you to make a list of eight things that you’re grateful for in terms of how the day went. Let that gratitude be the last thing that you feed your mind and your heart before you go to bed. If you begin to “bookend” your day with gratitude, you will shift into a higher gear like it’s nobody’s business. You will get 1% better every single day, and you will live life to the fullest. The engine of the motorcycle of your life will purr like a kitten and provide you with many miles of amazing rides in this journey, this adventure, this experience, this symphony that we call life.
As we wrap up this concept, remember that rather than focusing so much on what you do, which is task mastery, focus rather on why you do it—the emotion and the heart behind the action—and you’ll always find your way. Imagine how much more personal and professional productivity you will experience as a direct result of shifting from task mastery to emotional mastery. Your quality emotions are the engine of the bike of your life, and with quality emotions you can accomplish anything you put your mind and heart to. Why? Because “Aww, child . . . you’re blessed!”
1. On the motorcycle of life, your emotions are the engine.
2. We all have an emotional home. You will always find your way back to your emotional home. No matter how amazing life is, if your emotional home is toxic, negative, and self-defeating, you won’t live life to the fullest on your terms.
3. Don’t just let emotions come and go. Capture them. Write them down and get curious about them. Ask the emotion why it came to visit you and what lesson or signal it’s trying to leave with you.
4. The word emotion is 95% made up of the word motion. Your physiology will determine your psychology. Motion determines emotion. Want to change how you feel? Move your body more. Go for a walk, run, swim, or workout. Remember that the more action you take by rolling the throttle, the more you release power to the engine of your life to propel you forward.
5. Bookend your day with gratitude for what you do have, what is working, how good things are, and who is in your life, and you will attract more of whatever you’re grateful for.