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How To Be an Emotionally Present Parent
Episode 6Bonus Episode11th January 2023 • Roadmap to Joy: A Mental Health Podcast • Embark Behavioral Heatlh
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In this episode of “Roadmap to Joy,” Alex Stavros, CEO of Embark Behavioral Health, and Andy Maurer, CEO of Pursue Whole, discuss what it means to be an emotionally present parent. Alex and Andy dive into why parents may struggle to find balance in their everyday lives, and how to create a purposeful and joyful life.

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Have a question for our experts? We want to hear from you! Submit your questions to: askatherapist@embarkbh.com.

Guest and Host Bios:

Andy Maurer, Co-Founder & CEO, Pursue Whole

As a former therapist and professor of human and sports psychology, Andy has taken the best of cutting-edge neuroscience and performance research and paired it with therapeutic best practices to create the Pursue Whole® Coaching Model. His unique framework brings clarity, relief, and growth to the struggles leaders face on the inside.

Alex Stavros, CEO, Embark Behavioral Health

As the son of missionaries, Alex grew up in Peru working, playing, and living alongside the troubled youth and desolate orphans of Lima’s slums. Alex’s childhood shaped his professional and personal aspirations. Prior to joining Inner Change Programs, Alex lived in California and was the Managing Partner of an investment fund, which he founded, focused on acquiring and leading mission-driven businesses. Prior to Lia Capital, Alex lived in Boston and was the Associate Director of Firm-Wide Operations – working directly for the President and COO – of Cambridge Associates, the world’s largest global investment advisory firm to not for profit organizations. Alex also has experience in public service having worked at the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, a U.S. government agency that mobilizes private capital to help solve critical, global social and poverty challenges. And he worked on Capitol Hill in Washington DC for a Minnesota Congressman. Alex has also earned a Certificate of Public Management from Stanford University. And, while at Stanford, was a Rising Fellow at the Hoover Institution, a world-renowned public policy think tank. Alex loves the ocean and is a certified open water diver. He has served as a Board Fellow at one of the most enchanting Aquariums in the world, California’s Monterey Bay Aquarium. Alex spends his free time reading up on foreign affairs and international politics. Alex graduated with Honors from American University with both an Economic Theory and International Relations degree and he earned an MBA from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. Alex is on the Board of Peruvian Partners, a nonprofit established to connect North Americans in a real and significant way with Peruvian families that live in abject poverty. Alex lives in Phoenix, Arizona and is happily married to his wife, Maria-Paz, who has the most important job in the world, raising their two beautiful children.

About Embark Behavioral Health

Embark has been helping people overcome behavioral health issues that may be affecting their everyday lives for over 25 years.   

Conditions We Treat Include:  

The Embark team has some of the most compassionate and educated professionals in the industry. Its core purpose is to create joy and heal generations. Embark’s big hairy audacious goal is to lead the way in driving teen and young adult anxiety, depression, and suicide from the all-time highs of today to all-time lows by 2028. Exceptional treatment options, like short-term residential care, makes Embark the world's most respected family behavioral health provider.   

Check out our locations.

Transcripts

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Welcome to Roadmap to Joy. My name is Alex Stavros. I'm the

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CEO of Embark Behavioral Health. And today, I'm delighted to have

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Andy Mauer with me. One way that I like to talk about what Andy

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does is this combination of being a exceptional clinical

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therapist, and a great executive coach. And so you've started

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this new company that basically combines both of those, how

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would you describe what you do?

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Sure,

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well, I think if I wanted to describe it, I go back a little

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bit and give some context. So I'm a former licensed therapist,

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went to school practice for a couple of years. And one thing

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that I saw, which was a huge gap in the market, especially for

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leaders, which is a client that we serve, is that therapy

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provided a great service to them in some ways, but there was some

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gaps in what therapy had to offer the dual relationship,

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they can have relationships outside the office, and some of

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how they understood their role as an executive or as a leader,

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a lot of therapists and understand them, and a lot of

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ways it was issue context based, but it wasn't contextualized

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around leadership for them. So I thought, you know, then I

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started looking at executive coaching roles. And I realized,

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Oh, really great things there for these leaders. But they had

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a hard time dropping below the line on some of these

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subconscious issues that are going on, which really drives a

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lot of the functional issues above the line. So I saw two

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main services that were offered for executive leaders, both good

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but both incomplete for the life of this leader. So we bridged

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those two, I jumped out being a therapist and I became a coach.

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And then we started Pursue Whole, me and my wife, we co

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founded Pursue Whole in 2020. Right before the pandemic, which

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was opportune timing, because it just seemed like in that season,

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leaders needed a lot of support with all the chaos that was

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going on. So we are a coaching business, but we we are

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transitioning into a lifestyle brand that helps leaders pursue

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wholeness in their life, leadership and relationships.

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And we serve three primary leaders, we serve leaders in the

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business community, in the entertainment industry, and also

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professional athletes. There are some similarities between all

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those and some differences.

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So the name of the company pursue whole. Obviously, we know

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what pursue means. What is whole, why the word whole? Where

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does it come from? And what does it mean within the context of

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your work?

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Yeah, well, wholeness means completeness. And that word, if

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you look all the way back comes from the word shalom, which is a

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Hebrew word, which most people understand is peace. But

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actually, it means completeness, and not just completeness and

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family, not just completeness and business, not just

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completeness, financially, but kind of a whole rounded person.

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So when we talk about wholeness, there are really two parts of

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the leader that we're trying to integrate. And by integrate, I

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mean to bring together as one complete whole, they have their

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highperformance part, which is driven logical, linear, it gets

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a lot of stuff done, it drives the boat for but then they have

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their more emotional umbrella relational part, which is more a

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better at relationships and connection, it connects with

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their children, it connects with their purpose, their meaning and

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their why. So you have these two parts, and oftentimes, they

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operate very separate from one another. So when I sit down with

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leaders, they will describe that if they were driving a car, the

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high performance part is driving the car 95 to 99% of the time,

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they're just hustling through, well, that a more emotional part

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doesn't even get a seat in the car gets put in the trunk,

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right, they just keep pushing it down, pushing it to the side,

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because they see that as a problem to their performance,

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when really, it's one of the greatest assets to their

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performance. They just don't know that. So wholeness is

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really taking these two parts and bringing them together so

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that leaders can live a whole life one that's integrated from

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both their performance part, but also this more deeply integrated

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emotional part.

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Yeah.

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How do you live life with both of those parts? versus just

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having your high performer drive?

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Yeah, you know, I've I've definitely experienced that,

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that when I'm trying to perform well, or I need a certain

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result, there are certain things I need to turn off. And there's

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certain things I need to tell myself and it has to do a lot of

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it is about grit and resilience and withstand the pain and maybe

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feeling some emotions, but getting them getting over it

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really quick, because I have to when you talk about athletes, to

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athletes very much out of this way you can have right before

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the game some stress and anxiety, but when it's game

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time, it's crunch time, it's game, you got to be all about

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focus, and you got to remove all that noise. But often what I

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find is that may help in certain periods of time and sometimes

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longer periods of time to perform or achieve certain

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results. But there's a lack of meaning and purpose over time

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that starts to build and you start to feel empty. And then

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you start to get these achievements and these results

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and you're like, what's there and Part of it is because you're

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not bringing your full self, there are certain parts that

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you're just closing out that you're shutting down. And, and

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those parts are actually where all this purpose and meaning

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comes for why we're alive why we do what we do.

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Now, I would absolutely 100% agree. And I think what leaders

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are trying to do most of the time is they locked into that

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high performer and they achieve high levels of success. But then

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they lose the most important things in life on their on their

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journey to success, they lose their sense of purpose and

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meaning their their family connection connections with

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kiddos. So what we describe is, it's really normal natural

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stress is a very good thing we've talked about that before.

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Stress helps us lock into the zone lock into flow. It allows

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us to perform at optimum levels. But when that stress becomes

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toxic stress, when it overflows, and it becomes a lifestyle

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stress, it really deteriorates our ability to perform at

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optimum levels. So typically, for leaders, I'll say what we

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need to do is we need to have a Windows of high performance, but

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not a lifestyle of high performance, because you have to

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have both an active life, which is the pursuing great things,

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pursuing more pushing yourself beyond your limits, but you also

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have the passive life, which is the ability to slow down and

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actually have empathy when your spouse shares that they're

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having a hard day or being able to watch your kid and connect

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with your child as they play or engage with something. These are

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two different parts of the brain. And yeah, we don't create

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windows of rest, we create lifestyles of stress. And that

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is detrimental to not only performance, but also to finding

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a purposeful and joyful life.

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Yeah. So Andy, what got you into originally what got you into

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wanting to be a clinical therapist?

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Well, part of my expertise in this journey has been actually

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engaging in therapy my whole life. So I've had a therapist

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off and on for the last decade and a half of my life. And

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that's really helped me address below the line issues in a lot

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of really, really helpful ways. As a kiddo, you're just kind of

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running through life trying to have fun and play and there's

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hard things going on. And but as I got older, a lot of the hard

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things that happen in childhood started become more front, top

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of mind, I started to think about the more I started a

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process, the more and one of the difficult things that came up

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for me was I had a condition called hyperhidrosis. And about

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one to 2% of the population has this condition. And it's sort of

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my hands on my armpits and my feet would sweat profusely. And

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to the point where I would go to school and I'd have these huge

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rings of sweat my armpits, I'd have to take multiple shirts,

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you'd never wear gray, you always wear black or white,

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because sweat doesn't show on black or white. I had like all

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this in my head, socially to think about how do I become

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accepted in the circles that I'm a part of. And I feel like I

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never want to touch people, because as soon as I shake their

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hand, they go, Oh, that's really gross. So I just felt very

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ashamed about my body's natural response to stress and how it

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would sweat. And what was so frustrating to me was I didn't

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do anything to get that. It's like something happened to me.

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And I didn't get a choice on whether I wanted that to happen

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or not. And it's just my body's response. So what was really

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difficult about that, as I couldn't even do my homework at

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school, I had to constantly wipe my hands and kind of shake my

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hands. And it made me go really internal. I was a very social

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kid, I loved connecting with people, but I couldn't do it in

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the way that I want to. So as time went on, I had to really

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process some of the pain around that some of the social

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isolation that I felt and I eventually convinced my parents

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to go and get a surgery for this procedure that now I don't sweat

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on my hands on my armpits anymore, I still sweat on my

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feet. But that allowed me to really branch out and then find

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more connections, it was a really helpful thing for me. But

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as I branched out, I started to realize, oh, there's a lot of

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painful things for me in my past that I had to work through,

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whether it's relationships with family, whether it's views I had

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on myself, where there's different addictions that I had

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to address. And as I went through that process, the most

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helpful thing for me was being able to just have someone to

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talk to like these older wiser mentors that I could just sit

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with and process about what I felt, why I felt it and almost

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get it out in real time. And that was very helpful for me to

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have relationships in my life that helped support me and after

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that process, I thought, you know, I want to do some really

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impactful work in the world. So I actually went back to school

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to ASU got my exercise and wellness degree and I wanted to

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do personal training. I wanted to help people feel good in

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their body because exercise was a really great way for me to

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heal my relationship with my body. I know for a lot of people

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they have unhealthy behaviors around exercise for me it was a

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way that I could feel confident about my body as a way after all

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this hyperhidrosis it was a way that I could reconnect with my

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body after feeling like my body had betrayed me in away. So I

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went back and I became a personal trainer. And I loved

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training people, I started my own company, I learned about

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business during that time started training leaders and

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companies and their employees. But part of the breakdown there

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was I was helping people physically feel good on the

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outside and look good, but internally, emotionally, they

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were still really struggling, you know, there's eating

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disorders going on, and there's lots of stuff coming up. And I'm

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like, Man, I don't think making someone look good on the outside

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is gonna resolve what's going on on the inside. So then I did

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some deeper work. And I went back to school and got my

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counseling degree because I wanted to do even deeper work on

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myself and others. And that's really what led me into therapy,

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to really make this deep seated change impact, because I saw,

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you know, especially in the leadership community, all

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they're fed is do more, do more, read this book, perform at

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higher levels, have this hack, be productive in this area, it's

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encouraging them to just do more, but it's not slowing them

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down to assess what's actually going on below the line. And

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oftentimes, I found that these leaders are really honest, they

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would say, I don't know what's going on below the line. It's

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like they're on a treadmill that's going 100 miles per hour.

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And there are team members and family members and board members

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who are pushing the speed up on the treadmill. So they keep

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running faster. And they run on it because they don't know

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anything better. But what they crave is to have someone tell

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them, you don't have to be on that treadmill anymore, you can

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come off, take a break, get set, and then go back on the

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treadmill and run with better intention and purpose and

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meaning.

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Yeah, yeah, I appreciate you sharing that. I think that

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there's a lot about work and leadership that is compensating

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for issues that we haven't resolved or addressed this in.

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So often. There are issues that we're not even aware of. And you

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took the time to start to explore these that just opened

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up this whole new world. And seems like that this is a gift

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you want to give back that I was able to do this work and this

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introspection to understand what was making me tick and what was

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driving me. And I see so many other leaders out there that

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haven't gotten in touch with that yet. And you can live so

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much more of a purposeful, meaningful and whole life, if

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you are aware of these issues, and integrated them more. How do

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you feel like that, for you personally, that journey has

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impacted the relationship with your wife with your kids?

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It's huge. I mean, it's it's everything. When I went through

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this process of healing, and I'm still in this process of

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healing, one area that I had to face was my need to define

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myself based on my performance that I did not feel. At times

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people wanted me for who I was as a person, they wanted me

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because of what I was able to produce for them. And as I've

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really learned over the last decade to unpeel those layers

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and really actually like myself and like who I am and feel proud

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about who I am and understand my unique abilities and how to be

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content, I'm able to be really present with my wife, I'm able

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to be really present. I think when she comes to me with an

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issue about me, I think before I would have been a lot more

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defensive because I was trying to say hey, look at all the

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stuff that I'm doing I'm What do you want me to do more because I

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was so much in my head around, I am my behavior, I am my

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performance. But now I can take a step back much more not every

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time. But I can take a step back and go, Okay, she's not

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attacking my identity. She's bringing up an issue in some of

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my character, my behavior that I need to address, and I'm willing

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to shift and address that listen with empathy and maybe

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understand what it's like for her on her side. For my kiddos,

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I think the biggest thing that I've learned is I stopped

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pushing them. And I stopped pushing them around their

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performance as a way to help them essentially feel good about

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themselves. So I think before I would have really pushed my kids

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to behave a certain way, or show up a certain way or be really

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good at certain things. And now I can just delight my kids a lot

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more. I can look at them. And I can actually learn to discover

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who they are uniquely. And it is a privilege. Like it's such a

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joy, to not care how my kids behave in front of other people

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or what they're struggling with. My greatest desire is that

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someday when my kids come to me which they will, and they talk

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about their pain in my heart of how I hurt them, I'm going to be

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in a position to say thank you for sharing that with me. I

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accept that I would love to learn how to love you better

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through this process. But if I don't do this deep work, I'm

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going to come off defensive or worse yet, I'm not even going to

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have a safe context and relationship with them where

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they feel safe to come to me and talk to me about their issues. I

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can't tell her tell you how many leaders I talked to who want

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deep connection with their kids and try to force that, like, sit

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down and talk to me what's going on? Well, part of the reason why

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sometimes I feel like these kids don't want to talk to their

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parents is because these parents are not nice to themself, that

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kids can read nonverbal cues, they can read whether a parent

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loves himself as kind of themselves as compassionate with

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themselves. And if a parent is harsh with themselves and pushes

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themselves to perform, the kid knows, if I open up, my parents

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gonna push me. So you got to create a safe context. And the

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best way to create a safe context for marriage or kiddos,

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is for you to create a safe context inside of yourself with

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yourself do that deep inner healing work

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like that you said, you know that there's a period of time,

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it's still, there still is, I'm sure, just as it is, for me and

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all of us where our focus on our kids is about them, performing

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them, achieving them getting grades, getting, getting getting

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on the team, being seen as Don't make a fool of yourself in

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public. And I love what you said about versus delighting in them.

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Yes.

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And the reality is, is that when we delight in them, it's about

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What I also love about what you're sharing is, we're all we

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Yes.

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will often spend time with with our parents for programs is

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making them understand this idea of trying to eliminate any

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enmeshment, any of this idea that the kid doesn't know where

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the relationship or the person begins or ends. And like you

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said is they often won't go to you because they're already

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subconsciously realizing that you're overwhelmed, you're

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stressed, you're pushing yourself, you're you're tough on

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yourself. And so therefore I should be able to deal with this

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stuff. But when you're only 7, 8, 10, 12, 15 years old, you

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shouldn't, and you can't physically from a nervous

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system, from a brain perspective, deal with those

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things on your own. And your point is, is it's not about

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going to help your kid it's about helping yourself, because

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as soon as you're able to resolve those things, that kid

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starts to feel those things you start to, you're now more

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available, your issues aren't being placed on the kid on the

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on your child and you can, that gives you the opportunity to

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delight in that relationship more and delight in them.

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Because you've done your own work, you know, where you're you

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begin to you end. it's not that this idea of that if my kids,

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okay, and we'd like to talk about this right? If my kids,

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okay, I'm okay, if my kids happy, I'm happy, as this

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explanation of that's what a good parent does. Whereas a good

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parent really probably needs to create separation, to know that

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you be your healthy whole self. And if you're you're healthy

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house out whole self, that's the best parent you can be,

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you're talking a lot about identity and a lot of ways for

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parents parents place our identity in, leaders can place

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their identity in lots of different ways. But one is

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through their performance. The other one is through the size of

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their company, or how much money they make, or you know how well

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they're known. They also can place that in their family, they

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put an immense amount of pressure on their family to hold

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an image that they need for the perception that they want to

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have. And a lot of that is around a deep insecurity around

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their image of who they really are, they don't know who they

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are. So they try to construct that through having control over

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their environment, because they feel very out of control

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internally. One thing that can come up for leaders is when they

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feel out of control, instead of breathing and calming down and

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acknowledging man, I feel really overwhelmed right now I feel

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anxious or afraid. Instead, what they'll do is they'll push that

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down, and then they'll control everybody in their life, though,

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you know, clean their house, or they'll tell their kids to get

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an order or they'll tell their spouse to look a certain way or

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they'll you know, force their team members to be a certain

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way, all with this attempt to try to soothe something inside.

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And I think it does go back to identity because they they don't

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know who they are, where they're headed, why they're headed

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there, and what's purposeful and meaningful in life. And the

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them. And all that other stuff is about us, it's about our

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reason why that's hard to identify is because like we

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talked about at the beginning, those answers are built inside

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of that emotional and relational part of them

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that they're pushing it down.

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They're pushing down all the time. It's totally so they're

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tired, they're tapped out, they're exhausted. They're blown

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up at their kids and then they wonder man, why can't Why do I

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feel so depressed? Why do I feel not excited about life or not

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happy or what Does it feel blah? Well, because the part that is

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there to experience joy and happiness and connection is

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constantly like you're saying being pushed down. So this was

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way where we have to slow down to pump the brakes, to discover

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that this parts there and actually value it for what it

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brings to the table. One way, I described this as thinking about

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a company with two different co founders, you know, we use a

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model called Eos, which is a visionary integrator model,

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which is very helpful for us and our team to define different

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roles and how they complement each other. And me and my wife

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are co founders, and we have very different gifts. Now, if I

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went into the company, I said, I'm the CEO, my guests are

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better than your gifts, you stay in the background, I never want

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to hear from you. Well, a company would be really

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unbalanced and really unhealthy in ways. Same thing if she did

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that to me. So really, the best company is us coming together

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and actually seen each other's gifts and values. And then

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operating as a complete whole, to pursue overall success, not

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just access for one founder, the other founder is very similar in

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families as well with parents, but also internally with this

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high performer and this emotional part.

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So I think this is relevant because at Embark a lot of our

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parents, our leaders, our athletes, or leaders in

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government and business, and they're achieving they're

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performing. And for a kid, just the mere fact of a parent being

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successful. And performing puts pressure on them, yes, then the

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parent doesn't even need to say anything that puts this light on

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the kid. Whereas maybe they're not good enough, or maybe

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they're not loved or maybe they're not accepted. And often

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that achieving performing parent is in this, like you said, this

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mode, that becomes this lifestyle of achievement and

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performance that is everywhere. Yeah. So they go from wherever

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they are at work to at home, no second now in my family, you all

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need to perform and achieve. Whereas I as a kid am all

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already feeling, in a way not accepted. And what I need most

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from you is to come and just love me and be with me that

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provides that foundation, even though you may want the best for

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me, and you may want me to perform, and an excel and

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achieve. What happens is I don't feel accepted, I don't feel

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loved, I don't feel worthy, I feel shame, I don't feel

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valuable,

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which is things that are getting from the world all the time when

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they're out there. And I think one thing that I hear from

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leaders, Alex is that they want their kids to be, you know,

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they're these high driven entrepreneurs and leaders, they

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understand grit and tenacity. They've gotten where they are

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because of their action. And they want to instill that in

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issues. It's about how we're trying to compensate. And

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their kids, you know, they want to instill this survival, like

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push through, be gritty, do the hard thing. Listen, life has

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already given that to them all the time, all the time, what

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they don't have is they don't have a safe place to be known

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and whole and to be unconditionally loved. So if

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you're gonna bend in one direction or the other, the

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world is already pushing all that on them. Why don't you

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provide a safe context for them to come back to we call that

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home base? Provide a safe home base, which has everything to do

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with your ability to provide that for yourself? Yeah, so if

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you can't give that to yourself, how on earth are you going to

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provide us home home bases safe, unconditional love for for your

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children. But if I was to lean to one side or the other,

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provide that kind of context, rather than just always wanting

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to push your kids for more?

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Yeah, well, I think it's particularly relevant right now,

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where, as you mentioned, all of those, all that pressure and

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stress, there's all this comparison, because of all this

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information that creates this stress. So often, we'll go home,

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and our parents want to build more grit and resilience and

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want us to perform and achieve. And they're often not present,

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either because they're still stressed out and they're on

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their phone, or the kids don't have that base, that foundations

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to deal with all that stress that's coming from society.

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You know, it's so interesting, Alex, as you talk about the

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struggles and stressors of children, and you just name some

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of those things of the impact of social media and you know,

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everybody knows what grade you're, what grade you have, and

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the pressure leaders face the same things, but in different

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contexts kind of dawns on me this reality that what these

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adolescents in these children are struggling with adults face

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those same struggles. And I think that's a real beautiful

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way to enter into empathy with our children, is to recognize

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that oh, man, I know what it's like to be in a group of people

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where, you know, I'm trying to position myself having the best

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company or people know who I am or they know the pressures that

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I face are very similar struggles different contexts.

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And I think that can bridge this empathy to enter into those

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struggles with your children.

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Yeah.

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And then and just knowing that children's children don't have

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the neurobiological capacity to deal with the same amount of

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stress and adult us simply because our nervous system and

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brain has developed. I think the other thing that's interesting

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is that I'd be curious to know is, to what extent when we

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talked about that child who's at home, who wants nothing more

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than their, their father, mother to delight in them, but instead

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of comes home to put to to have expectations about achievement

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and performance? And they start to feel shame and not accepted?

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because I don't want my kid throwing a temper tantrum at the

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To what extent do you see in your leaders, that their

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performance, their pursuit, for achievement, actually, deep down

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comes from that same experience they had with their father or

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mother or parents, where they didn't feel love and feel

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accepted? And they feel that by achieving and performing is what

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makes me feel better, or even just just like drugs may or

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alcohol may cover up that hurt? Yes, that if I continue to work

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hard, I'm always busy. And I'm going to, I don't need to deal

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with that underlying pain, that I just don't feel accepted, and

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it comes from, so they just simply are repeating what they

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experienced? How often do you see that in your coaching with

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leaders?

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Man, I see that a lot. And it doesn't mean that every parents,

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you know, devastated the life of these entrepreneurs. But

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parental dynamics are absolutely huge. They shape our brain, they

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form our brain at an early stage on how we think about ourselves,

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you know, let's take drinking and alcohol. For example, if you

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have a parent who's an alcoholic, they're notoriously

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never going to be attuned to your emotional needs, right?

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They're always going to be checking out through alcohol to

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numb and to go to that escapism, so they're not going to be

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present with what you need as a child or who you are. Well, it's

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interesting, because a lot of leaders who have parents who are

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alcoholics, what do they do to themselves, they neglect their

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own needs. They turn away from their own needs, they don't know

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what they feel, they don't know what they want. And they're so

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focused on achievement or other people that if you sit down with

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them, and you say, how are you doing today? What do you feel

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like you need in life that like I don't, I don't know what I

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need. So in some ways, they're parenting themselves the same

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way that they got parented. And I think for leaders, what I want

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you to do is to sit back and reflect how was I parented? And

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how am I parenting myself the same way? And then how am I

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parenting my children the same way? It's rare if I sit down

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with a leader, and I asked them, Did your parents help you

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understand what you felt? Why you fell to? And where you could

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connect that in your body? No hands go up. Okay, no hands go

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up. And yet children, and they're like, oh, that's normal

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that, you know, my parents weren't attuned emotionally.

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Well, I'm just letting you know that for children. That's not

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that's a non negotiable need. Okay, that's part of emotional

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development, that's not a nice to have, that's a have to have

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in order to develop and not having that as what we would

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define as emotional neglect this ability to not have that

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attunement, or that emotional regulation. So part of that is

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to just step back and go, Oh, my gosh, what if I didn't get that?

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How am I going to give that to my family and my children? You

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can't pass downstream what was never upstream. So you have to

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stop and do this hard work of going wow, how do I now?

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Identify what I feel? Is it sadness is a fears anger?

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Where's it in my body? It's in my chest. My chest is racing.

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What is it? Oh, that's anxiety, Oh, my stomach is churning Oh, I

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must be afraid. Just simply naming that city with that

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feeling that is a way to retrain those centers of our brain, and

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then you know, what's going to happen? You see your children,

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and he's acting out. And you can see beyond just the behavior and

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you go, Oh, I see. You know, they're frantic. I know, they

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restaurant, is because I don't want people to look at me and

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have a big day at school tomorrow. Sit down with them.

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Are you a little bit nervous, buddy? Yeah, I'm really nervous.

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There's this, there's this bully as Oh, okay, I can tell that

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you're trying to move that out through your body, you're trying

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to get it out all that anger. So you help them connect with what

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they feel that really calms their brain. So now what you

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did, you didn't get it, but you can give it to yourself. And now

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you can give it to your children and create a lasting impact

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relationship, Joy connection. And guess what, your children

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are going to be able to pass it down the chain now because you

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gave it to him. And it's never too late for this. I don't care

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if you're 70 years old. You have children. I don't care if your

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child is 60 years old, you can still pass down some of these

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learnings to them

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Yeah, you know, I think there's, there's this. There's this

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saying that people don't do drugs to get high. They do drugs

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to escape the lows. And I think a lot of it's similar from a

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work perspective. And a leader who's achieving as we don't

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necessarily work to perform, to achieve or to win, but it's to

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not fail, not lose and so we Keep on going keep on going,

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because we don't want to feel those things. It's just a, just

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a different addiction. And if we can't be present in that moment,

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because we're achieving and working, and we're just on this

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go mode perform mode all the time, because we don't want to

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confront those feelings. And we're in that mode all the time

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when we go home. And what our kids need most from us is to be

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present with them in those emotions that we aren't able to

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be present with for ourselves, we're not going to see it, we're

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not going to, we're not going to realize it. The meanwhile you

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have your child who's already struggling from all the

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pressures and the stress of society, and they can't handle

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it, they can't keep it together, and we can't see it because we

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can't see it in ourselves, then we're not able to be the parent

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that our child needs.

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And and I would even say the parent that I believe a lot of

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these leaders want to be, I don't think any leader wakes up

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in the morning and says, Boy, I want a really bad relationship

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with my child, I don't want them to do I want them to, you know,

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yell at me, or I want to yell at them today, or I want to be

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disconnected from them. And 20 years No, all leaders want deep

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connection, they really do. They just don't know how to get

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there. And the point that you're talking about with substances, I

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think we could apply to the life of a leader around. One author

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stated that leaders numb their pain through the narcotic of

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action, that when we slow down, we have to feel because we have

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to feel in our body, we have to fill a heart race and we have to

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fill our shoulders tense. And we know as a child, there are

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moments that we had to rush through that we felt those same

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emotions that tension, that fear. And we didn't like that.

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So we disconnected we got away from about here, we got busy, we

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spent money we went to alcohol. So what's so hard is action is a

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narcotic, that keeps us away from feeling our pain. And the

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opposite of action is to pause and to rest. And that is a

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trigger for a lot of leaders bore I'll tell you the word

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think that I'm a bad parent. It's, and we get this often with

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boredom, terrifies leaders to be bored. And yet, children are

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bored all the time. It's called Play and creativity. It's it's

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natural, and it's healthy for the human brain. And we've we've

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lost the capacity to be bored as leaders, I think, because we're

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afraid of that state of feeling. And yet, if we don't face that

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state of feeling we can never develop into the leader we're

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built to be. And we can never create lasting impact in the

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families that we currently have responsibility

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over.

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YYeah, you know, the the rest of the pause. There was a leader I

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was hearing from the other day who talked about this, this time

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in life where they felt they were describing it as empty and

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down, and specifically said not really depressed, just kind of

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empty and down. And they said that they what they realize the

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cause was, was that they, they didn't have this their routine

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of Back to Back meetings and back to back intensity from the

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minute they wake up to the minute they went down. And

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they're like, that's where I felt alive. And I missed that.

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So I need to go find that again. When the reality was no, that

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that's covering up that that moment when you are feeling

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there's there isn't anything inherently wrong with sad

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feelings. So with the idea of feeling depressed or being

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depressed, if there's anything wrong with it is it's one we

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don't, we aren't able to sit in it, we aren't able to accept it

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as part of us. Yes. And so this leader basically was saying, I

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noticed that there was something wrong with me. And so therefore

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to shut that out. Yeah, I got really busy again. Oh, and

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that said, Chief Performance Officer, that's that high

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performer. It's, it feels the emotional relational part. And

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what it wants to do is it wants to take and it wants to push it

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down, and then get back to action. It's narcotic. That is a

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trauma response. Okay. And so trauma response, so I don't care

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how you slice it. You can call it trauma, stress,

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discouragement, whatever you want to slice it. But what we

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know from trauma is that we disconnect from our feelings in

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our body when we're under intense levels of stress that

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tie back to moments in our life where we don't want to feel

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those anymore. We're talking about trauma responses. And yet

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in society, we don't typically like that word, because it's

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over. You know, it's charged. But the reality is that all of

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us have trauma. And even if you feel like you just want to

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define it as stress, look up the term toxic stress, and we'll see

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those very correlated to this idea of trauma essentially, is

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overloading our body and our brain, which has lasting impacts

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on us emotionally, socially, and relationally.

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Yeah, yeah, I like I think it was Bessel Vander Kolk, who

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defined trauma as the boss inability to integrate an

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adverse experience. And so the reality is all of us have had

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traumas all of us are traumatized in a whole variety

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of different ways. There are just certain experiences,

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adverse experiences of life that you haven't integrated,

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different ones that I haven't. And it's all different, but

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we're all living in. In this, this space of integration, an

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integration and disintegration of life experience, in that idea

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with our treatment programs, too, or therapy is that parents

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of wholeness is, how do we take those pieces and continue to

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bring them together

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real together, heal them and integrate them, you know, what I

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think that, you know, this leader have about you know, that

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that action is the narcotic and that if we stay busy if we

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continue to achieve if we continue to win. It's not

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necessarily because that I want that it's that I don't want

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these other things, these other parts of me that I think are

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less, either the feelings of sadness, or that trauma, or that

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early childhood experience, or that kid, when I was little,

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that I hate, I don't like what it mean, when I was little kid,

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that kid that was bullied that didn't, that didn't stand up for

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himself. I don't like that kid, that kid's not me. And I'm gonna

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put him over there. Even though almost everything I'm doing is

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all about that kid is about getting as far away from that

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kid as possible. So I say has nothing to do with that kid. But

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it has everything to do with that kid. Yeah. And so bringing

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that kid closer, but then what we do at home, too, is when

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we're not feeling like we're doing well as parents, more

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action, more activities for the kids, let's get up, let's get

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out. Let's get them to the more sports, let's get them. We have

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to make sure that that makes me feel better, too. And so now all

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of a sudden, everything is busy, our whole life is busy. We're

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all moving, nobody's slowing down to be present, and

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ourselves with our emotions. And so now now, not only do we have

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this stress and anxiety, but our kids have this stress and

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anxiety, nobody's really confronting their depression.

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Until at one point for somebody, it blows up, we have a crisis,

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and it doesn't have to blow up and get to crisis mode. I think

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the biggest thing that I want to communicate to leaders, even

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today is like everybody struggles, everybody's having a

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hard time. And to give you as a leader permission to recognize

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that your kids are struggling, probably your spouse is

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struggling, probably you are struggling. It's because you're

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human, nothing's wrong with you. And for a lot of time, I think

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leaders put themselves in boxes, like this alpha, this inability

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to be human. And yet, all leaders struggle, all leaders

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need, need safe context to process and share. Embark

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Behavioral Health is a beautiful place that creates a space for,

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for kids and adolescents to have that safe place to process what

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they need to move through in order to find joy and happiness.

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And in a productive and successful life. Leaders, you

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need that too. You need that to you deserve to have that space.

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And yet, what I found is that the business community, this

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high pressure communities, not going to give that to you. If

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anything, it's going to require more of you, it's going to take

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you. So you really got to find those spaces where you can be

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honest about what's going on inside. And part of it just

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starts with one person start having a conversation.

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So tell me, Andy, I'm curious, you know, you've worked with

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lots of leaders and as is that often, many, many of the parents

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that have kids that are in our programs or outpatient clinics,

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residential programs, our leaders have have a lot of

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pressure, a lot of expectations. And as we were discussing, the

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first step really is for them to do their own work, and for them

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to focus on their wholeness in your work with all the different

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have a stigma around finding a therapist or help for their

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leaders, if you could find that kind of that one thing that you

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feel like is the most that most consistently comes up. That's

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preventing these leaders from being whole. What would you say

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that that one thing is that's preventing them from becoming

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whole? And then the second question is, what do you think

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the one thing is that caused this? The one main thing you see

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over and over again, that caused this lack of integration? So

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there's the aspect of what's preventing me from being whole?

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And then there's this aspect of well, what caused this

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disintegration from the first place? What would you say from

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your experience are though, are

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those?

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Yeah, it's a great question. And that's a hard question, because

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there are a lot of different facets, but if I could narrow it

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down to kind of a core, it would be this idea of disintegration

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or fragmentation. That as kiddos we're born into this world with

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a synonymous identity of who we are, and we're not. posturing.

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We're not putting on a front. Yet. We go through hard things

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and then we realize, oh, the most vulnerable parts of myself.

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I can't just have those out all the time. I have to have some

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things thinking whether it's my performance or protection, or my

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charisma or my happiness or sarcasm, come in front to block

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that. And I would say as time goes on, that gets further and

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further away from each other that emotional depth that

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connection, that vulnerability gets farther and farther as you

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perform more as your more sarcastic as you deflect more as

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you defend more. And overtime, I think the core issue that these

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leaders are facing is disintegrated that this

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integration that these parts are so divided, that their families

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are falling apart, they have no relationship with their

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children. They struggled to lead well, they're having blow ups

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with people, they feel depressed, they feel lost, they

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don't know how to say no, because instead of working as a

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complete whole, where these parts are integrated and working

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well together, one part is driving the bus, which is that

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high performer 99% of the time, and they don't even know how to

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find anymore. The emotional vulnerable parts like it got

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locked away, and they don't even know they have it. And they

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don't know where it is, and they don't know how to access it. So

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all they can give is more, do more. I can't offer empathy, I

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can't connect, I can't slow down. And that's an exhausting

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life for leaders. So that's probably the biggest thing that

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I see. And what needs to happen there is first they got to come

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into a safe enough space where they can process that slow that

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part down a little bit, do some discovery work to realize, oh,

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there is this part inside of me here it is, this is what it

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feels like to allow that come up to see that it might have value

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for creativity and innovation and purpose and meaning. And

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then figure out how to live life with these parts integrated. So

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one way we do that through our processes, we help leaders craft

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a five year vision on who they want to be. Because leaders have

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kids, because they feel like that's tells me that I'm a bad

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spent their entire life becoming what other people want them to

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be, whether it's their business or board members or partners or

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kiddos, they just mold and mesh to everybody. Because they don't

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know who they are. So we really help them craft this vision of

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what's five years out, who do you want to be? What do you want

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to feel on the inside? What do you want to have other people

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feel when they're in your presence. And then out of that

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we call them to action. Now you can run. Now you can lock in

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that high performer and just go crazy, because now you have

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clarity about where you're headed and why. But first, you

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got to step back and get that identity. So that's kind of what

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I see and where where we typically take people from

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there. But where that begins is, like I said really early on in

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life. As children, we have these overwhelming experiences that

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happen either emotionally or physically or spiritually. And

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like you said, we don't know what to do with them. And then

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we don't have a safe person to process it with. So where does

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it go, it doesn't come out of our body, it doesn't come out of

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our mouth or through our actions, because people tell us,

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Oh, you're not allowed to get angry like that, shut it down,

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you're not allowed to cry, stop crying. So everything that wants

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to come out in our body, or words or tears or anger is told

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to be put back inside. And when it's told to be put back inside,

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we start to become disconnected from who we are and what we

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feel. And then we have to perform and be what everyone

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wants us to be. And that is the identity crisis that happens

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early on. Yeah, is we become what everybody else wants us to

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become. But we forget about who we truly are. And the best

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leaders, the best leaders are those people who are connected

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to who they are, what they want to accomplish in life purpose

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and meaning and then they tap into that high performer who

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just drives that bus. And it's beautiful. Yeah, but without

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that it's just chaos every day all day long.

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It's just amazing that that our early, our early life

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experiences, how much of that drives, but it's should be

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natural to we talk about human development is that you're

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building on these experiences, and those early life experiences

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are the most formative. And, and the positive experiences and

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adverse experiences, the traumas, and particularly those

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around relationships, the emotional traumas, the emotional

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experiences start to define who we are. And later on in life, we

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behave in certain ways we, we do certain things based off those

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experiences that so many of them, we just want to Shut, shut

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out. And so many of them to where we're, for whatever

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reason, because of society or what it means to succeed as is.

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We don't want to share them. We don't want to expose them, we

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want to hide them, which becomes this issue of vulnerability so

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often with parents what I find is or even as a leader, when a

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leader is able to say that, you know, I just I just don't think

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that you know that. I think I'm a fraud. I don't think people

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know that. I have no idea what I'm doing and And then you start

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parent. And so often we want to focus on hey, we're doing this

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to share that. And then it's that vulnerability. And

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especially, first of all, the fact that you share it because

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so many people tell themselves this, these different types of

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messages don't do themselves. And that's what they don't like,

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what that one that message. So they said, Well, how do I turn

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that off, so then no do things to turn that off. So they're

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already telling themselves these messages that are based off

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early life experiences, and those messages are perfectly

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fine if we would only realize that we all feel them. And but

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we need to be in a relationship in an environment that's safe,

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that allows me to actually verbalize it. And with somebody

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else that responds in a way, where I still feel accepted. So

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with our parents, for example, is so often is, is so many of

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them feel like they're a bad parent. And that I caused this.

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And this is why my child is depressed, or this is why my

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child is thinking about suicide or attempted suicide, it's

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because of me, it's my fault. And I already feel this. And I'm

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already telling myself this. And I think other people think that

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of me too. But I don't like to accept that. So I'm going to

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start to behave and I'm going to start to fix try to fix my kid

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or address it, to push away that feeling. But if I can get just

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get to a place of vulnerability, to communicate these things. The

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healing journey starts. It's amazing to know that. And also,

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as you've probably experienced in rooms with CEOs that I've

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been on with you all the sudden everybody was like, shoot,

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everybody feels the same way I do is like we all feel the same

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things. The why are we all trying to hide them a cover up?

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Same as parents, we all feel like we're not good parents, who

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here feels like they're the best parent ever is nobody raises

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their hands, then we start to be vulnerable. And it's not about

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putting up this front and this performing as a parent

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performing as a leader. Why is it so hard to be vulnerable? As

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a parent as a leader? What Why do you think that vulnerability

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is so difficult,

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we're taught that our needs need to be pushed down, or that our

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needs were never met. Why would I ask for something, if I'm

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pretty convinced that no one's going to come and meet that

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need? You know, if, if a child keeps getting hurt, and they

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cry, and no one attunes to those tears, they'll stop crying.

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Because what's the point of crying if no one's going to

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attune to that. And what you're describing resonates with what I

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described earlier, which is, we are taught from an early age who

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we're supposed to be and who we're not supposed to be. And

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unfortunately, for men and women and for leaders, we're not

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taught to express what we feel. So we get to this point. Now,

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you know, you're saying we need to be in this vulnerable place

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where we can process and open up. But when you have decades,

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trained, subconscious thoughts of, well, it's not safe to share

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what I feel because every time I did in the past, someone told me

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to put it back inside or I'm a sissy, or, you know, you're too

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much. So we just think, oh, man, I'd got to just carry this on my

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own. So one is finding good contacts and safe people to do

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that with, I wouldn't open up and share, you know, what's

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going on inside of myself. It's just everybody. But I resonate

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with what you're saying that, you know, as a parent, as a

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leader, I struggle in immense ways. There are days when I

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because we love our kids.

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stepped back, and I feel the shame of my behavior and my

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mistakes. And I have to work through that. For me, I take

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great pride and knowing that I don't just push those down, I

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actually address those and I lean into those. And that's

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partly why we built pursue whole named it pursue whole, it's not

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arriving at wholeness, it's not getting to the point of the

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journey where you're fixed, it's pursuing wholeness, which is,

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this way of being this vulnerability is not a choice

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you make once this is a decision you make of a lifestyle. This is

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a way you determined to live your life. If you're in this

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journey of wholeness or emotional health, to get an

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outcome, you will lose. Okay? Because it's gonna get really,

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really hard. This journey of emotional health is actually way

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harder in some ways and just numbing everything you got to

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feel you got to deal but the benefits of it are amazing. So

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part of this is this is a lifelong journey. And in that

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lifelong journey, you will make mistakes one of our mottos that

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pursue whole is pain is a pathway to growth, we're a

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strong believer that you will experience pain and you will

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mess up and you will struggle and if you can integrate that

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and if you can own that, be honest about that. That is

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really what produces the most beautiful growth inside of you

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as a leader. And as a parent.

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Awesome. Thanks, Andy. Appreciate your time. Appreciate

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our relationship. And thanks, everybody for listening in on

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this episode of Roadmap to Joy. You can find more of our

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podcasts on everywhere you where you can see podcasts. We're also

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on YouTube, so please visit. Take a look. Thanks so much for

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your time. Good to see

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