Why I Put Exercise Before My Family and My Business

It’s 11:27am. I’m on a call with a potential candidate about an opportunity to be in a leadership position on one of my real estate teams. They start to ask about compensation. I remind them I have a hard-stop at 11:30am for another appointment. I tell them my Chief of Staff will follow-up with additional details and schedule another call if needed.

My 11:30am appointment is with myself.

gym
My calendar is blocked out every day from 11:30am-2:00pm. I use that time to go to the gym, fuel my body with a lunch of lean protein, vegetables, and healthy fats, and spend 20 minutes meditating. This time is non-negotiable. My Chief of Staff knows that nothing goes into that time block. It is protected time for me to focus on becoming strong, gaining more energy, clearing my mind, and fueling my body. What could be more important than working on the person I need to be in order to lead multiple organizations and provide endless love and support to my family?

If I don’t have my health, then I’ve got nothing. I wouldn’t be able to take care of my family or my business, and if my health were really bad, I would be a financial and emotional burden on them. Not how I want to live my life.

I employ over 150 staff and independent contractors. If I didn’t have enough energy and clarity of mind, how would I lead? I am responsible for my team. I must be the best version of myself in order to continue to employ my staff and create even more jobs.

Daily exercise is such an integral part of my success. Not only do I have to have enough emotional fitness to create the habit of daily exercise, I have to maintain that habit when every other thing in my life is screaming for attention. I say no to the fires and yes to my health – trusting in the fact that if I put the most important thing first – my health, everything else will fall into place. This is where self-mastery comes into play. Self-mastery is nothing more than overcoming that voice in your head that says, “No, you don’t have to work out today. You worked out yesterday. You can sleep longer. You have emails to get to…” That voice pops up around exercise for most people. But training yourself to quiet that voice and say “yes” to a workout, no matter what else might be going on, is what allows you to gain control of your life.

Josh Stiemle said it well in his article, Why Exercising is a Higher Priority Than My Business:

“It’s not greed that motivates us entrepreneurs. It would be difficult to justify the sacrifices we make if the only reward were money. Dollars become mere points in a sort of game. What it’s really about is building something great, doing something that matters and changing the world. That’s what makes it so easy to brush other things off. But it’s a mistake.”

For a lot of people, EVERYTHING is more important than health and exercise. And that is a mistake. I have a lot of very driven high achievers in my organization which means they are often putting their work first. I love them for it, but it is also a challenge for me to see their health or energy suffer. I know first hand what a difference it would make to their lives if they put fitness and nutrition first (because it has fundamentally changed mine). I can’t make anyone exercise, but I certainly encourage it and provide the freedom and flexibility for my team to workout whenever they need to through the day. That is how strongly I believe in the power of fitness.

yoga

Buddha and John F. Kennedy may have said it best:

“To keep the body in good health is a duty, otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.” -Buddha

“In order for man to succeed in life, God provided him with two means, education and physical activity. Not separately, one for the soul and the other for the body, but for the two together. With these means, man can attain perfection.” – John F. Kennedy

They understood the importance of the body to have clarity of mind and strength of spirit in order to be the best version of oneself and to lead others.

I put my fitness and health first, before my family and before my business, and have for the past few years. And you know what? It’s made me a better father, husband, brother, son, friend, employer, and leader. Funny how that works.

Never give up!

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What I Learned in 2015

Last week, there was only a dusting of snow in Vermont, so instead of hitting the mountain to snowboard, I bought a fat bike and hit the trails. I headed out around 1pm to bike in Huntington at the base of the Green Mountains. The ride was awesome, but challenging – there was snow and a sheet of ice so I was constantly shifting between gripping and sliding. More like a controlled slide the whole time. Which is a lot like life – always shifting between a contented state of fulfillment and the tension of wanting more growth… My new bike sailed smoothly over the rocks and roots and ice and snow under the pine trees. I was about seven miles out from the main road when I heard a clicking noise. Turns out this over-sized, off road bike could not handle me! The hub was shot.

mountain bikingSo there I was, seven miles into the woods, drenched in sweat, with a busted bike and a long walk back to my truck before the sun set. My mind wandered from a $30 million development meeting the day before, to whether or not I had packed any dry gear (and not my wife’s this time), to reflecting on the past year. Physical repetition like walking, running, biking is such a great way to think. As I trudged back through the woods carrying my bike, I started to think deeply about some of the big lessons I learned in 2015.

Any fool can learn from his own mistakes, but a wise person learns from others. Wisdom is learning from someone who has gone before you and implementing that knowledge into your own life. I encourage you to take what you will from my lessons and make 2016 your best year yet! Here they are in no particular order.

  1. Never fear the fight. You can’t get rid of fear, but you must learn to dance with it. Fear is a human emotion and a sign of life. If you stop fearing the unknown, then you are no longer afraid to think big and go out and fail. Failure is a part of life. You are going to fail, so you might as well have fun doing it! I know that I will have fear in my life – either from the bear that could run out on to the trail or not contributing enough to my family. But I never let the fear take over. Instead I practice turning that fear into courage every time it arises and the more I practice that, the more I no longer fear the fight. When you can do this – your life is limitless!

    steve jobs quote

  2. Death is the greatest teacher of all and makes you realize how precious life is. I believe that we are a spiritual being having a temporary physical experience (thanks Gary!) I strive to live each day growing as much as I can spiritually; therefore I want to have as many experiences as possible – positive or negative. Some are hard and they hurt, but those are the experiences that shape us the most. We are arrogant to think we know how much longer we have on this planet. Because I just want as many experiences as possible, failures and successes, I no longer fear the fight of thinking big.
  3. Doing small activities each day will ultimately lead you to geometric growth. While it doesn’t necessarily feel like you are making progress each day because you’re not seeing any great success, those small activities compounded over time will give you a life others only dream about. But the hard part is in the activities. Not many people have enough disciple, drive, or a strong enough connection to their WHY to endure the grind need to make those small activities into success habits.
  4. Enjoy the journey. If you have massive goals and dreams, you will never actually arrive; there will never be some magical moment where you instantly feel some sort of fulfillment. The reality is, there is no magic moment. Every day we are either growing or dying, there is no in between. We’re humans. We screw-up and we grow. That is where the magic is. Life is nothing but growth in all areas of your life. When you go for growth (not arriving somewhere) you are always asking yourself how you can improve your life and the life of the people around you. Now that’s magic! Accept your problems and challenges and understand they are a sign of life! The key is to have better and better problems to solve. It’s about how you grow from them and how you train yourself to stay in the moment and enjoy the ride.
  5. adam and kidsPeople grow into the conversations you have around them. Lead yourself first and then lead by example. Watch your words and especially your actions. You never know who is watching. I use this principal with my children (4 and 2). I speak to them as mini-adults and use every moment I can to challenge their thought process and instill in them the habit of self-awareness and self-reflection. Sure, they are not always able to respond or fully comprehend what I’m saying, but they are listening and they will grow into those conversations.
  6. Everything is interconnected. We may not see it or understand it, but I adamantly believe that everything connects in the future. Be kind and treat others with respect as you never know when that person will show up again in your life. You don’t want to miss a critical relationship or connection because you were too busy or important to notice.
  7. Just breathe. Implementing Transcendental Meditation into my life about three years was one of the most important things I did for my personal and professional growth. I meditate twice a day, every day, for 20 minutes. Constant meditation continues to allow me to see things at a higher level. A higher level than I saw it just a month or a year before. While I’d like to say I’m completely clear of not wanting external motivators, the truth is I still have some and while it’s significantly less than it was 3 years ago, it still shows up at times.  But the gap between when the need for external reward comes up and goes away and shows up again continues to widen. When you put a big change into your life, the urge to go back to your previous thinking will continue to show up for a long, long time. But concentrating on daily activities and daily successes gives you a purposeful schedule to eventually eliminate your old thinking. Meditation gives me clarity about what I’m doing and what I should be doing. I don’t often need external motivators anymore; I have a full-on internal drive that takes over and I’m able to appreciate and learn from each moment – the good, bad, or ugly.
  8. You are not your thoughts. You are the one who sits back and watches your thoughts. We all have crazy thoughts every day (many that we would never want to share with the world), but we don’t act on every one of these thoughts, do we? We aren’t these thoughts. We watch these thoughts come and go. When you can do this easily and effortlessly, that is when you have reached enlightenment. We’re getting pretty deep here, but a great book to read (multiple times) that talks about this is The Untethered Soul.

What were your big lessons from 2015? How will you use what you learned to make the most impact in 2016?

Onward!

 

Book of the Month – Resilience

 

Resilienceresilience
noun re·sil·ience \ri-ˈzil-yən(t)s\

: the ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens
___________________________________

I keep coming back to this book again and again. I have incredible respect and admiration for Navy SEALs – I mean, their physical, mental, and emotional fitness is second to none. And they understand how to lead others, but more importantly, how to lead themselves first. I took a lot away from Eric Greiten’s book (and if you haven’t read his other book The Heart and the Fist – check it out!), but here are the big rocks:

  • Our biggest competitive advantage when building a business is that it is hard. Really hard. Any successful business doesn’t just happen. It takes constant effort, continuous tweaking of models, adaptability, and having an incredible team around you that has the same emotional fitness as you do in order to handle the daily grind.
    Hire the right people who can not only DO the work, but who are RESILIENT. Become a master at studying behavior and understanding who can embrace the suck and handle the grind and who will crack under the pressure of building an empire.

     

  • Worry and tension is a part of living a big life. Worry and tension are a healthy sign of life. Think about when you work out – do you gain muscle or lose weight without tension? No! You must have tension in order to change your body and you must have tension in order to grow your business. Tension is simply a sign of growth. It doesn’t mean you are not enjoying the journey, just that the worry and tension and desire to live a big life are causing you to think differently, to ask bigger questions, and ultimately get bigger and better results. Now, if you don’t have the emotional fitness to handle the worry and tension then the worry will overwhelm you – it will swallow you and spit you out.Here’s one of my favorite excerpts from Resilience:
Frankel came to see that his unfinished work kept him sane: “Mental health is based on a certain degree of tension, the tension between what one has already achieved and what one still ought to accomplish, or the gap between what one is and what one should become. Such tension is inherent in the human being and therefore indispensable… What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and the struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task.” If there is tension in your life, if there is some deep worry about living a worthy life, then… good. That tension and worry is part of a well-lived life. (Greitens, 167)

RESILIENCE can be learned. You must be RESILIENT enough to handle the worry and the tension on your quest to grow your business and on your personal journey of growth. You must practice RESILIENCE in the midst of chaos, in the midst of challenge, and in the midst of success. 

  • Never give up. This one isn’t new to me and is a motto I live by. But it isn’t just about a motto – it’s about taking action. When you have to fire a key leadership team member, or tell your spouse you just lost $400,000 due to a miscalculated risk, or when you can’t make payroll this month – you must remember WHY you started. Go back to your why when you get stuck and then take action. Any action, any move to stir things up and create a dialogue that wouldn’t have been there otherwise. This is where the ideas flow and events begin to unfold that you never expected. But this only happens when you’re moving. I don’t care if you have to walk, crawl, or drag yourself forward – just make a move! If you stand still, do you think life is going to just hand you whatever you need? You have to show the universe that you are not messing around and that you are willing to persevere no matter what.Once you have made up your mind that you are not going to give up, the universe/God/a higher being pays attention and says, “Adam is not f’ing around. I better do everything in my power to support him because he is not going to give up.” When you tell your mind you are not going to quit, even on small daily tasks like flossing your teeth, walking your dog, or leaving work early to spend time with your kids, your mind knows that you are not kidding. Your mind wants to protect you, so your mind often gives you thoughts to justify NOT doing something that is hard or outside of your comfort zone. BUT if you keep training your brain to say YES to the discomfort and not giving up, it knows you are serious and your mind will give you supportive thoughts. This pure ability to overcome any obstacle and do things that others are not willing to do comes when you stop fearing the fight and put it all on the line. When you are able to do that – you are fully living.

    As you build your tolerance for discomfort and continue to practice your RESILIENCE you will be unstoppable! 

Now go get your copy of Resilience and let me know what your ahas are.

Onward!

 

 

 

The Powerful Powerball Question

The Powerball is $1.3 Billion – the largest ever. There is a 1 in 300 million chance of winning the lottery. You’re more likely to be crushed and killed by a vending machine (1 in 112 million) or hit a hole-in-one on two consecutive, par-3 holes (1 in 156 million) then win the lottery. So why do people even buy tickets when the odds are against them?

Buying a Powerball ticket allows people to ask themselves a powerful question:

“What would my life look like if I had absolute financial freedom?”

It allows the brain to imagine a seemingly impossible world. But is it really impossible?

Every now and then I buy a Powerball ticket, not to win the lottery but to allow my mind to wander and imagine. Then I ask myself the big question, “How much of my life would I change if I won?” If the answer is that I would change more than 10% of my life, then I become really purposeful on those things that I would change, and work to close that gap in that quarter or year. Meaning, if there is something in my life that I would change if I won, I don’t wait for that windfall (which may never come); I put measures in place and take action NOW to correct it. The drive for money is never the factor that pushes me to live a big life, because I’m already living it by constantly working on those big goals.

Money is not the end goal – growth and fulfillment are.  It’s the people who can retire who never do. Why? Because they’ve figure it out. They understand that life is not about chasing the next dollar, it’s about each moment, each challenge that allows them to grow in every aspect of their life. This visceral knowledge, that money can not buy happiness, allows them to never give up on what is truly bringing them joy.

So let me ask you this: what would you do if you won the Powerball? What would your life look like? Dream big! Nothing is impossible.

Okay, do you have a clear vision? Can you feel it?

Now go take action. Right now.

Take one small step towards achieving that life. You don’t need to wait for money to make it happen.

Onward!

 

 

So, what the hell is Herg Life?

Herg Life is a call to action to live a life without limits.

new herglife bannerHerg Life is much bigger than just me. Herg Life means stepping outside of your comfort zone – whether that means skydiving, speaking up at your next company meeting, running a mile, or telling someone you love them. Herg Life means being the best version of yourself so that you have more to give to others. Herg Life means asking the tough questions so that you are constantly stretching yourself and growing to discover the answer.

Join me and choose to live the biggest and best life possible.

“The days you are most uncomfortable are the days you learn the most about yourself.”
– Mary L. Bean

Follow me on the networks below and let’s take life to the next level together.

Facebook.com/adamhergenrother
Facebook.com/herglife
Twitter @ahergenrother
Instagram @ahergenrother

So, what does Herg Life mean to you? 

Onward!