Episode 3: GREATNESS 101
with Lewis Howes
In this episode Lewis reveals –
- The most important steps towards achieving greatness
- The childhood memories that shaped his life
- Freeing yourself from your past
- The transformative power of gratitude
- And why adversity is vital to achieving greatness
LEWIS HOWES is a New York Times Bestselling author of the book, The School of Greatness. He is a former professional athlete turned – lifestyle entrepreneur, high performance business coach and keynote speaker. And he is the host of a top Self Help podcast, The School of Greatness, which has received millions of downloads since it launched in 2013. (I’m a HUGE fan of his podcast, you should check it out)
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Excerpts from the podcast:
“At some point adversity happens in everyone’s life. It usually comes unannounced and it doesn’t arrive with flowers and candy. It takes different forms and hits each of us differently. But learning to address and overcome it, is all about bending, not breaking in the face of daunting situations it presents. It requires connecting your head and your heart to that deep well of energy within to push you forward in a positive direction.” So when we encounter adversity, what is the first thing we should do?” – excerpt from The School of Greatness Book
Failure is feedback
SARAH: When we encounter adversity what is the first thing we should do?
LEWIS: I think we should be aware of it. Be aware of it and acknowledge it. Because most of the times, we just get lost in the trap of it. We start reacting. We start becoming a victim of it. So take responsibility, be aware of it. You can write it down. You can acknowledge it to yourself. You can say, “Oh, okay, I’m experiencing adversity right now.” And I think that’s the first thing, just to have the awareness of where you’re at in your life. Because most people again, will say, “This is happening to me, and this is happening to me, and I’m frustrated,” and blaming, and pointing fingers. But really, it’s an opportunity for growth. It’s an opportunity to receive feedback. The adversity is feedback.
Where are the holes? Where are the gaps that are in your life that are creating this adversity? Or what do I need to learn here to move forward, to get to my next goal? Adversity again is great, because if you want to achieve anything great, you’re gonna have do something you’ve never done before to get to the next level. So there’s going to be a gap. And in that gap there’s a lot of lessons, you just don’t know everything you need to know yet, to get to the next step. So there’s gonna be adversity all through to getting to the next step. And then when you reach the ceiling that becomes a new floor and then if you wanna get to the next step you’re gonna have to hit the ceiling again. So there’s gonna be more adversity to get there. So no matter where you are on your journey if you wanna achieve anything great, there’s gonna be adversity, so just be aware of it, take it in and say, “What can I learn from this experience?”
LEWIS: it wasn’t until the adversity hit or the girlfriend situation was messy, I got in a fight, I wasn’t happy with my life, the adversity actually created incredible feedback for me to show me what wasn’t working for me in my life and a new direction to go towards. So I’m so grateful, as I look back on moving to LA when I didn’t want to originally, being frustrated, having a girl break up with me and being and essentially a little bit depressed for a while. I look back and it was like, “Thank God this happened because look at what I’ve able to create and how I’ve able to make a deeper impact than just what I was doing before because of this situation.” So that’s why I embrace the adversity, it sucks when you’re in it, I get it, but if you can be like, “You know what? Something great is gonna come from this and I’m gonna make sure of it. This isn’t gonna be for nothing, I’m gonna move forward in a positive way.” That’s when it becomes special.
LEWIS: It’s a daily practice, it’s a daily routine and ritual. I embed it in every aspect of my day, if I can. From the moment I wake up I say what I’m grateful for. I’ll either journal it or say it to my girlfriend or whoever the first person I talk to, just here’s what I’m grateful for. And I’m also asking people all the time, “What are you grateful for?” So by evoking gratitude out of someone else you’re not only shifting their perspective and their day, but you’re also creating the conversation of gratitude. Then on my voicemail when anyone calls me and they leave a voice message, the first thing I say is, “Tell me what you’re most grateful for and then I’ll call you back.”
LEWIS: So I’m creating opportunities throughout my day that constantly bring about gratitude and then before I go to bed I always ask the last person I talk to, “What are three things you’re grateful for from today?” My team meetings with my team, before we get into anything, everyone goes around and says what they’re grateful for today. So it’s just a practice, it’s a daily reminder because I can be negative and resentful with the best of them. I can be angry and frustrated and pointing fingers and all those things with the best of them. That’s why I practice daily to not do that. Because if I don’t practice it daily then I’ll easily get caught up in reacting or frustration. As opposed to being in the perspective of, “This is a great opportunity and look at all the great things that are happening,” as opposed to focusing on what’s not happening.
Chasing the ghosts of our past
SARAH: And another thing I thought was interesting is that you said you were driven by the wrong things in those early accomplishments. Can you tell me what those things were?
LEWIS: I was driven by achievement and acknowledgement. I think as a kid, I was the youngest of four, I didn’t get a lot of attention and I didn’t get attention by my peers. I was like the dumb kid in the special needs classes. I didn’t get attention by my parents and my siblings, or at least I didn’t feel like I was getting the attention. I knew they loved me and they were there but I didn’t feel like I was getting what I needed. And I didn’t get any attention from women. I didn’t get any attention from girls either. So I was like, I was just always alone as a kid, playing by myself. Always alone. I was really driven to prove people wrong. I was like, “You’re wrong about me. I am special. I am great at something. Let me just train myself to beat everyone so you have to recognize me.”
LEWIS: And there was a time, it’s funny, ’cause there was a time, third or fourth grade where I was picked the last on a dodgeball team. We had two captains in the class and we played a recess dodgeball game for our class with 40 students or something. And there’s two captains and they went through and picked all the guys first, then they picked all the girls, then I was the last one. That they just like “Default” I was on the last team, right? And I remember just like, “Man, I just felt like this sucks. I’m so unacknowledged in my life.” I was driven to prove everyone wrong. I was driven to beat everyone, to be number one. And I remember I achieved everything I wanted essentially. I was achieving everything along the way in my teens and my 20s, and I remember feeling very unfulfilled when I would achieve these things. I was like, “Why am I so… I just got everything I wanted, now I’m unhappy.” I was more unhappy than ever before.
LEWIS: And I think it was ’cause I wasn’t coming from a place of love, I was coming from a place of anger and resentment and frustration. And it wasn’t until I became aware of it, probably when I was 29, 30, I became aware of it. And I was like, “Wow, I’ve been doing everything for the wrong reasons. I’ve been getting the results that I want on the exterior but the interior result is not what I want. So how can I shift my way of thinking and come from a different place?” And since then, I’ve been coming from a place of really just loving myself, no matter what. And doing something that I love to do that can serve
Freeing yourself from your past
LEWIS: I just said, “I’m gonna unpack everything from my whole life. From my brother going to prison, from my parents getting a divorce, from feeling bullied as a kid. I was sexually abused as a child as well.” And I just started to uncover all these reasons why I was so defensive and guarded and not vulnerable and I wasn’t willing to show my vulnerabilities. When I became aware of it and started to forgive myself and forgive others for things that happened in my life, that’s when I created freedom. The forgiveness created the freedom for me, to move forward in a vulnerable, loving way. And that was a game changer. And that was a few years ago.
LEWIS: So it shifted my life, it shifted my business, my relationships with my family and my friends, my girlfriend now. And it’s just been incredible. I think a lot of people hold on to things. We hold on to our past. We hold on to things that people did to us or didn’t do for us and we get resentful, and we maybe don’t express it verbally but it comes out in other ways. And I’m still not perfect. I still get triggered sometimes but it’s a constant awareness of being, “Okay, here’s why I’m reacting. That’s not me. That’s my ego talking. I’m sorry,” and I move forward in a loving way. As opposed to this, “I need to be dominant, or I need to win, or I need to prove that I’m right and you’re wrong.” This is a very unhealthy masculine approach to life that doesn’t serve me or other people.
LEWIS: And it supported me in achieving certain goals and being driven and moving forward but there was a cost to it, that there was a negative effect to it as well. There’s unfulfillment. There’s challenge in certain relationships, this fight that came about, there’s these negative reactions to it as well. So once I started to really understand and uncover those things, it shifted my life forever.
Being of service
LEWIS: Having a clear vision of what you want your life to be is I think the single most important thing. And then, being in service is the second most important thing, because we’re here to connect. We’re here to relate, we’re here to build community with each other. We’re not here to just do it all on our own and just achieve our dreams. I think the goal is to pursue our dreams and in that pursuit, serve the maximum number of people around us.
LEWIS: But I just think that’s why we’re here. We were given so much as kids growing up through school. So many people supported us without us even knowing it. I just believe it’s a responsibility for us to continue to give back in whatever form we can. It doesn’t mean you have to give your money away, or all your time away or whatever, but finding ways that works for you to serve your family, your friends, your community, the world, however best you can do it.
Sarah: What do you think creates the deep fulfillment that we’re looking for in life?
LEWIS: I think a vision that is bigger than ourselves, a vision that is bigger than just our accomplishments or making money. And that’s why my vision is to serve 100 million people to show them how to make a full-time living doing what they love. ‘Cause I believe when we figure out what it is we love doing, then we can make money around that. Just make an income, it doesn’t need to be millions but make an income around doing something that lights us up so much. That is going to give… We’re gonna be happier individuals because of that, we’re gonna feel more fulfilled, we’re gonna take care of our bodies more, or take care of our mental health more and we’re gonna be nicer and kinder to people.
Your dreams matter and it’s the most important thing you should be focusing on. If you’re not pursuing your dream, then why are you alive?