Dai Manuel is a super dad, dating his wife, with a lead by example way of living and a contagious personality, who is on a mission to positively impact one million role models around the globe to lead a FUN-ctionally fit life through education, encouragement, and community.
He is an award-winning digital thought leader and author, Distinguished Toastmaster & keynote speaker, former partner and Chief Operating Officer of a multi-million dollar retail company, and a sought after lifestyle mentor and executive performance coach. Dai knows the struggle of the juggle and keeping his health and happiness a priority.
He models his work based on 5 F’s: Fitness, Family, Faith, and Finances with an overarching roof of FUN, built on a rock-solid foundation of Health. Nuggets of wisdom and inspiration to take action to be your best self are guaranteed when you connect with Dai!
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How To Finally Live The Life You Want To Be Living | Dai Manuel Pt 1
I’m excited to talk to my guest because this dude just got done with a TEDx Talk about the vulnerability of men. He’s also an award-winning thought leader and actor, author, a distinguished Toastmaster, and keynote speaker. He is a former Partner and CEO of a multimillion–dollar retail company. He models his work off of faith, family, fitness, finances, and fun. Dai Manuel, how are you doing my man?
I’m doing fantastic, Rick. It’s good to be here. I appreciate the opportunity to listen in on some shows. I hope we have a great conversation. This is fantastic.
That’s what this is supposed to be. We’re going to get a lot of interesting readers on this one because we’re going to talk a lot about the vulnerability of man. We’re going to get into some business stuff too, here and there. Men are thinking like, “How’s he going to knock me down?” Women are thinking, “I’m going to take notes to shove this in the face of my man.” That’s typically the case. I’m sure you’ve seen that around. You talk about this a lot. You had a TEDx Talk around this too.
The title of the talk was that Why Vulnerability is a Human Thing versus the man and woman’s side of things. I’m speaking from a man’s perspective. Vulnerability is an interesting word. A lot of the connotations that are attached to that word show up. I don’t know about you, but I know for myself, especially growing up that the word vulnerability often meant weakness. It often meant, “Watch out. You’re going to get taken advantage of if you’re honest and transparent with how you’re feeling and trying to communicate that.” It felt good to get out there on a stage and to practice what I like to talk about but try to open up a conversation for other people to have. That was the point of it.
There’s a lot of ambiguity around the word vulnerability too because a lot would see it as being a weakness. I’m talking strictly from the male perspective here. Being an ordained pastor, I would see this a lot especially in couples where it’s like, “I want you to be more vulnerable,” coming from the female side. The guy’s like, “What does that even mean? Does that mean I’m supposed to cry? Do you want me to cry?” They’d go to the mechanics of it. What does that mean?
It’s almost like looking for that linear checklist, “This is how I will be vulnerable with my partner or with my spouse.” That’s not what it is. Vulnerability is being able to express your emotions and communicate those to somebody else and almost let somebody in and say that like, “At this point, I’m feeling not quite myself. Here’s why.” I don’t know if that’s the direction you took, but that ambiguity around the word vulnerability does not mean weakness and I’m sure that’s what you hit on a lot too.
Language is so important. You know this better than most based on the fact that you use language to communicate ideas and to help people see different perspectives. That’s what we’re all looking for. Hopefully, most of us still feel that desire in us to want to grow and to progress in life. More importantly, through that progression and not just living, we often will find ourselves shifting our belief systems based on our experience and what’s coming up for us. I even think back to one of my first real significant male relationships, my father and me. Most men, that’s one of their first significant relationships with another man.
It’s more of that role model, mentor, and superhero perspective we often have. As a dad, I appreciated that after having my kids born and seeing how they look at me. It would often bring me back to some of those memories of my dad but my dad grew up in a day and age. He passed a few years ago. Before he passed, I remember hearing a lot about his upbringing. His parents wouldn’t emote. There was no expression. I remember him telling me he could count on a single hand how many times he remembers his parents are saying, “I love you.” Being brought up in that environment, what do we expect?
We haven’t been taught any other particular life skills, especially on the vulnerability side. I do feel that vulnerability is a skill. It takes some practice and nurturing. It’s nice to have a safe environment where we can practice. That’s what was that tipping point for me was realizing that I didn’t have a place to go where I felt I could truly be honest, especially with other men. With women, it’s funny. It came naturally. I think it was because I was also raised by my mom and having that relationship. To have space where men can come, share openly and honestly without the fear of being judged or having what they share used against them, that’s not a place that we find every day.
There’s a lot of men’s groups that I’ve seen out there too. The men’s groups, I laugh. I started to visualize at that moment because it’s more so in these men’s groups, it’s more like a lot of chest-pounding than anything else. It’s usually not a lot of sharing or expressing true emotion or how are things that you’re struggling with? There’s a lot of, “Guess what I achieved this week?” It’s like, “You didn’t achieve that? That’s okay. Let’s step up. Let’s inject some more testosterone here. I’m going to pound my chest and I want you to do it just as hard.”
Rick, I laugh tongue-in-cheekily because I knew that there were men’s groups out there. I remember tiptoeing my way into the many times wanting to find something and finding a place where I could connect with men and have a deeper conversation. To talk about what’s real for me, what’s real for them and how we navigate it. I don’t feel like it’s anybody’s fault. It’s not a fault. This is just the way it is. Now there are enough men out there that are looking for more in-depth connections and authentic relationships. When you start looking at masculinity or femininity and you look up the different synonyms that are attached to those words, you started triggering me here when you started talking about the pounding of the chest.
One of the words that come up is bravado, vigor, and machismo. It’s like, “Me Tarzan and you Jane.” We need a more inclusive understanding of masculinity. Not to say that these very atypical masculine emotions or actions or the way we be define us as a masculine human being. I like to challenge that and say, “I believe honesty, integrity, and vulnerability can also be partial to be the masculine man.” I don’t think it’s inclusive or exclusive. We need a bigger conversation to redefine some of these terms, especially for the younger generations. They’re growing up looking at TikTok and Snapchat and looking at what everybody else is doing. A lot of those opinions are formed through a lot of this mass media.
You were talking about relationships here too. You’re talking about masculinity and femininity. In every person, whether you’re a male or a female, you have both of those sides to you regardless. I think back to almost like a lioness in a pride. It’s the male lion that’s there to protect everything. He’s there to pound the chest, but you see him playing with the cubs just like any of the females that are there too. That’s soft. That’s vulnerability even in the animal world that I see, but then it’s the women that go out and hunt. There’s a portion there to where they have to shift over almost into that masculine aggression in order to achieve what’s there.
I think back to what about all the single moms out there. If you’ve got kids, you have to almost provide that because you become the protector of your pride or your herd. That’s there too. I feel that the vulnerability side for men can also affect women in a positive way when something like that happens. I have a daughter and that’s where I’m going with this. It’s a father–daughter relationship. If she can see me vulnerable and connecting, she can also take those sides. I hope she’s not at some point a single mom because she’s thirteen right now. I hope a few years down the road, she’s not a single mom. It’s okay and it’s also okay to pick up the phone and ring my dad if I need to let something out. She texts me too and says, “This is what I’m struggling with.” It’s awesome to see that. I’m hoping as we go into this because we’re far past the days when men would retire to the study after dinner for some brandy and cigars. Some of that still happens but in different ways these days. There’s still that pole. How do we break out of that to show the vulnerability that men need?
There’s a little backstory here. I don’t know how much we want to get into it but I was hinting that’s how I was brought up by my dad and I then got into my teen years. I got to a point where the doctor said to my mom and I remember this vividly, “Your son died morbidly obese.” I didn’t understand what morbid was nor did I understand what obese was at the time. I was fourteen. I just knew I didn’t like who I was. I got there in my own volition. It was about five years of not doing healthy things for myself and it compounded in. I was through a lot. I think about my social connections at that time and I was sheltered. A lot of the things that I did were watch movies, play video games and eat food that was high in calories but very low in nutrition.
As I will often tell my kids and anybody who wants to know, one of my favorite treats back then with my mom, my brother, and me. She was a single mom and looking after my brother and me. We were both larger dudes. The food bill was probably the biggest expense in the house all the time. She would go to Costco and I remember her bringing those trays of muffins. They’re mini cakes. When I dove into it, those things are 1,500 calories each. I had no idea but having two a day was easy for me back then because I didn’t understand, but also, I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t have any strong role models in my life.
I was left of my own volition. I got to a point where I didn’t like the thought patterns that I was having and the finality of some of those patterns. I was more afraid of not changing than I was of getting to work and making some changes happen. At some point, we get to that point in our life where all of a sudden, we’re more afraid of not change than we are changing. That’s where I got to. I went on a twenty-month epic journey. Fortunately, my parents were supportive. They recognize that, for once, I was the one coming to them saying, “I want to make some changes.” It wasn’t them cornering me saying, “We’ve got this dietician we like you to consult. We’re thinking about getting you a gym membership or a personal trainer. What do you think about that?”
I’m fourteen years old and every time I’m like, “Screw you, guys. No. You’re saying I’m fat and I’m not good enough.” Going through that process and eventually, through the changes, I got to that point where I was ready to make a change and I got to work. I went to the library and got books out. My kids are still like, “You went to the library, dad?” I’m like, “I’m older than Google.” They still don’t quite get it. I think about your show, your platform, we have so much great information at our fingertips now. I feel good for some people right now. If they’re looking to make changes, that education piece is always critical to get started. I need to learn what I don’t know or become aware of what I don’t know and how I can get help, but on the same note, it’s also very confusing. There’s so much misinformation out there.
It sounded like childhood obesity was a big part of your life and something that was a catalyst for change. You said something though. You said the fear of not changing sometimes becomes greater than the fear of change. Where was that threshold for you? Was there a single event or was it like you woke up one day? How does that transition happen? I’ve had other guests. I even have others coming on too to where there’s always this fear of, “Can I do it? Should I do it?” Even with obesity, relationships or whatever. Where do you cross that threshold to where the fear of not changing becomes greater?
I was at my dad’s. I was fourteen and we would see my dad every other weekend. We would often go to his condo. My brother and I would hang out and we eat food, play video games for the weekends, and rent movies. My dad would do that. He would provide us that space to do that. His cupboards would always be full of junk but I know that he loved us and that he didn’t know any better. He wanted to provide for us and create a space that we’d like to come to and we would enjoy ourselves. It wasn’t necessarily the healthiest from an internal health perspective, but it was nice. We had that time went.
I remember this Saturday morning quite vividly because normally I have a shower hack back then where I would get in the shower, turn the heat up high. It would get so much condensation and steam in the bathroom that when I would get into the shower, I never had to see myself in the mirror because I’m already covered. That was to the extent. There are only two images of me during that five-year period that I’ve been able to find because I used to shy away from photos. I always think to myself, “I imagine living back then with smartphones and technology is now. It would have been way more challenging for myself in that place because it’s the way tech is now,” and that’s why I feel for the youth of now. As much as they have lots of advantages, there are a lot of disadvantages that I didn’t have to contend with when I was a teen.
I remember getting into that shower and my dad was rushing us because I don’t remember where we had to go, but for some reason, he had to get us out of his place to go somewhere. I was being rushed. I remember getting out of that shower and I’m starting to towel off and I didn’t want to look in the mirror, but I can see off to my side, the silhouette, my profile. I don’t know what happened. I still don’t know why but I turned and I locked eyes and then I started doing the scan, looking down. I remember stopping at my chest and then stopping at my belly and then I made the scan back up.
By the time I got back up to my face, it looked like I had been in the shower again because it was uncontrollable sobbing, the ugly cries. There’s no being pretty when we’re in that state of emotional distress. I remember being so full of hate. Hating myself and my situation that I was in and hating myself for allowing myself to get that way. This is the first time I was taking full ownership. I don’t know why. I don’t know how it came that morning. I wish I could say, “It was these steps.” It just happened. I started thinking like, “I hate who I am. I hate how I look. I don’t want to be like this anymore.”
It was at that moment when I’ve accepted, “How am I going to make these changes? What can I do? I don’t know, but I’m going to figure it out.” I remember coming out of the bathroom and I got dressed quickly and I’m going to going out to my dad saying, “Dad, I don’t want to be like this anymore. I want to be healthy.” Rick, between you and I, when we started talking about external motivators, one of the biggest ones for me was I wanted a girlfriend. The underlying there is also I wanted someone to authentically want me for me. That was a definite driver, but more importantly, it was me wanting to make some changes.
I remember asking my dad like, “Can I get a mountain bike?” I want to do something that would be isolated so I could do it on my own at my own time. I knew how to bike. I remember being at a younger age, I used to love cycling. To me, it seemed like an easy solution, something that was accessible. My dad, he must have seen it in my eyes because we went out and bought a bike that afternoon. I started riding every day. Literally, I get out and I go for a ride. I had an old Sony AM/FM.
I borrowed it. I had a tape. On one side I have The Tragically Hip, the album Up to Here. On the other side, I had Alice in Chains and I would play. As soon as the Hips started, it would do the auto flip. I remember that was a big deal back then. We change it over. As soon as it would start playing the second side, I knew it was time to turn around and ride back. That’s what I did every day along with the library, educating myself. I realized that I got good at focus on the external. I have a love-hate relationship. I have it for several years now. I still have this love-hate relationship with it. A lot of what I was chasing was the very surface because that’s what I thought I wanted to change.
I was like, “I’m going to work on this. I’m going to get healthy and fit. People are going to like me. I’m going to find a girlfriend.” I’m a boy and that’s what my thoughts were. A few months later, I made all these changes. I started to associate with certain people that weren’t good, but I wasn’t used to that attention and being invited to go to parties. I was like, “You want me to come?” I’d get there. Peer pressure is very real and I succumbed to it. I started drinking. I learned the shy, withdrawn guy die, this new alter ego fun guy die could emerge if I’d have a few drinks. That was the start of a whole another era for myself, which lasted about fifteen years of chronic partying. Not crazy, but it became a habit.
A habit that for me to get comfortable around people, I needed to have a few drinks. That was my belief. I’ll cut it there because it leads to their conversation around vulnerability. I struggled with alcohol abuse as well as occasional narcotic use and some other things I’m not proud of. I should be in someone that has a lot of strong values around family and health and wellbeing. I was not living into that for a lot of those years. It created a lot of stress in my life. That was also a big reason why the TEDx Talk came to be eventually, was I felt I needed to share a part of that story.
I appreciate you sharing what you are so far. I’m tracking with you the whole time. I had a similar scenario when I dropped weight. I was literally looking in the mirror. I lost 80 pounds a few years ago.
Congratulations. That’s no easy feat. It takes a lot.
It was about twenty months too. It was like over half of it came off in the first five months. There’s so much that happens right away when you make those dynamics shifts. This could be weight, relationships or anything else. Right after that immediate shift and you see those immediate milestones and movements after that happens, the discipline that’s needed to stay with it is such another level beyond that. Twenty months is a long time. It’s a long freaking to balance things. There are so many examples, but it’s always that first initial, “I’m going to make the decision to do this.” Look at even New Year’s resolutions. I hate those things, but everyone’s like, “Gung-ho, I’m going to do everything I can.” Three weeks hits and then it tapers off because it’s the will for the discipline after that.
A lot of times I’ve seen it relate because I’m hearing you saying that you made the decision and then you did it. A lot of people, when they don’t stick with it, I see that don’t make that decision. The real decision that’s going to stick with it because when it’s a decision, you completely turn your back. There’s a difference that I’m hearing with you is that you turned your back and you ran from that person that you were into something that reminded you, “I don’t want to be that guy anymore, the partying, the alcohol and everything else.”
The alcohol came as I became healthy and fitter. I was also dealing with social anxiety. I would get very withdrawn in larger groups. I had five years of avoiding lots of big social settings based on how I felt about myself. Coming into that and puberty is kicking in. I was late to come in puberty was another advantage of starting to exercise and change my nutrition was I prompted that up. That increase in testosterone also helped me as I was trying to lose weight and build muscle and get healthy. I realized these physical changes seemed doable. Anybody who’s reading, when we decide to make these big changes, they’re often huge changes, they’re very daunting. The fear of the unknown and success, there are all these different ways that we try to classify our fears. The bottom line is we’re scared of change because there are so much unknowns with it.
When I think back on it, it was about three weeks in. I told you I was mountain biking every day. I lived in a small rural community outside of Toronto, Eastern Canada. Being that way, it was very rural. There was a lot of farmland. I remember it was the concession street, I forget which number it was, 3 or 4. I’d be cycling down this road for about fifteen minutes and off in the distance, you see this hill. I live in West Canada now, in Vancouver. I look out at the Rockies and those are mountains. Where I was living in Ontario, that hill, especially as a morbidly obese teenager on his mountain bike coming up, looked like the mountains I see now.
I remember getting a third of the way up that hill my very first go, that first day I was out for a ride and like, “Go.” I’m thinking back to the stories that my parents would tell me as a toddler, a little choo-choo, “Keep going.” Here I am a third of the way up and it’s like everything just stopped and froze. I remember getting to a point I’m cranking down on the pedal and hoping to move forward. I stopped and then fell off. In me was this deep desire. My mindset was like, “What are you doing? You’ve already failed. You couldn’t make it up this hill. You might as well turn around and go back.” That was my thought pattern. That was easy. That was the path of least resistance would be to get back on my bike, coast down that third of the hill, and go home. I started thinking, “If I don’t do this now, it’s not going to get any easier. Life is not going to get easier than it is right now. It’s pretty hard, but I know it’s only going to get harder if I’m not making these changes.”
I walked the bike up to the top of it and then I continued on my way. I came back the next day, the next day and I kept falling off, but I was inching a little bit further and further. Three weeks in, I remember coming to that hill and I’m like, “Go.” I remember not even looking up, I looked down. I had the music crank in and like, “Go.” The next thing you know, it didn’t feel like I was climbing anymore. In fact, I was on top of the hill and starting to coast. Three weeks in, I had gone from not being able to go up this hill to being on top of the hill. It instilled in me, the confidence I needed to continue doing what else do. I needed a win. I needed to show progress, but not only show it but feel it.
I was the happiest and most proud person I’ve ever been in my entire life, was the first day I ascended that hill on my bike. A lot of us when we’re encountering change, want the win. We deserve to win. People deserve to win. When we commit to change and we experienced that first win, it’s important to take note that, “I did this. I experienced this. This happened because of the choices I’ve been making every day leading up to this moment.” If I didn’t have that experience, I don’t think we’d be talking now. I do experience win. I’m curious about you. You lose 80 pounds, what was your first win?
My thing was never a portion control thing when it came to dropping weight. Right now, I eat somewhere between 2,500 to 3,000 calories a day, which is a lot, but that’s because I lift. I dropped to 80 and put on 20 completely back in muscle and my jeans are still 33’s. I know I’m cool. I love protein pancakes. How can somebody that many carbs and still say fit? It’s because I put the work in to stay fit. There’s another component to it. The wins I had to cause my big thing way back then was sweets. Do you know how you were talking about the Costco muffins? My thing was the Costco chocolate chip cookies. It was every night because they were good. Chocolate chip cookies are my thing. That’s what I dive into. Costco, you’re talking about the muffins, there’s nothing small at Costco.
I’d have three of those cookies with a big glass of milk before bed every night. That was my gig. You were talking about going and playing video games at your dad’s. I put on most of my weight in my twenties and that was a lot of eating out and quick stuff. As you said, a lot of high calories, but not a lot of nutrition. You can only have Taco Bell and Chinese food so many times. That’s about where mine was. It was a shift in what I was taking in is what provided the biggest change for me.
You were talking about three days and three weeks, it must be a rule of three. I remember the third day when I made the decision. I made the decision to start on April 1st, which was April Fool’s Day. It was a conscious thing. I’m like, “I’m no fool. This is for real. It doesn’t have to be January 1st. I’m going to start on April 1st.” I didn’t even go out ahead of time either. This is a side of the story that I haven’t told about the wins, but I didn’t even go out and have my last meal like I see a lot of people doing that are going on the diet because it doesn’t matter.
Why do you need to engorge yourself to say, “I’m going to enjoy the garbage that I’ve been doing for the past twenty years one more time?” It applies to anything. When you make the real decision to cut out the crap, you don’t need to have the crap even one more time before you get rid of it. That doesn’t matter. You don’t need to have that last drink. You don’t need to have that last meal before you go on a diet. You don’t need to have that last time in bed with somebody that’s not a good relationship for you to move on. When you make the decision, that’s it.
I said, “Thirty days for me and then I’m going to reward myself. I’m going to go to a Brazilian steakhouse.” I’m a carnivore. I’m going to go there, but I’m still thinking, I’m still contemplating and I’m like, “I don’t have to have any carbs there.” Even then, I’m like, “I’m going to eat tons of steak.” For that moment, I didn’t care about the calorie content that night after the 30 days. I remember after that third day, that was the roughest day, was day number three. I was like, “What am I doing?” I was trying to eliminate carbs. I found out that my body type needs more of a balance, especially because I’m lifting. The third day I’m like, “I’ll have some roasted potatoes with my chicken.” I remember it was chicken on my third day.
I went into an Applebee’s because I’m out. I don’t remember if I was traveling or not, but it’s like, “I’m going to go there because I can order some chicken.” I found this nice plate of whatever was on their healthy menu. I’m going to eat the greens, the vegetables, and the meats, but then I’m staring at these potatoes and I feel like I’m deaf from three days of having next to no carbs. I started eating two bites of the potatoes and I’m like, “This is so much better. This is great.” I learned a more balanced approach, but the win was after those 30 days. It’s like, “I made it 30 days.” To me, I knew that I would make it 30 days. I was thinking of it as if that day at the Brazilian steakhouse was already happening. I was like, “I’m going to celebrate.” Like you would go out for a good meal to celebrate a great business venture. I was celebrating my discipline. I wasn’t celebrating the weight that I lost. I wasn’t celebrating how I looked. I was celebrating my discipline. That was the win for me.
I admire that so much. Just to have wherewithal as well to be aware of those internal shifts. When I encounter change, it’s funny because it’s like any other skill. I believe change can be a skill. I know we often feel like we’re a victim of change and sometimes we don’t invite it into our lives. I do get that, but I still think that we can be proactive in certain respects when it comes to change in our own lives. Almost like we get ahead of it or we’re the ones fostering it along especially when we feel like we’re in alignment with the changes from a longer-term or a value perspective.
It’s how we value things. I know, for a lot of times, I valued food, I would value alcohol. I would value other things outside of myself more than the things that I had within me, but more importantly, some of the relationships that I had. It wasn’t until I became very aware of that finally, I was in a place where I could start to change it, sit down and say, “Is this decision going to take me closer or further away from where I ultimately want to be or who I want?” It sounds like you had that deep connection as well. Anybody who’s gone through significant change has this type of experience or at least pretty close to it. The cool thing is that it’s always possible.
It was Buddha, 2,500, 2,600 years ago, he said, “There’s only one thing that we know for absolute certainty, is that nothing stays the same.” He was a pretty wise dude. Science has proven this many years ago, but it’s interesting to know. I love that about science. They’d like to quantify everything. It doesn’t always have to be something that we’re so afraid of. We have to have that deep, personal experience or journey where we feel like, “I was involved in the change. Look at what I was able to create as a result.” That in itself, it’s evolution on a very personal level.
That’s a key part of it too, that active involvement, it’s the responsibility. My win, I was celebrating my discipline, meaning my active involvement is what I was celebrating those 30 days later. The fear of the change starts to diminish, I believe, once you start to take that active involvement in it because then, it’s the responsibility that you’re not abdicating anymore and how you were saying sometimes we don’t invite the change into our lives. Sometimes that’s probably true. A lot of the time, I feel that we could be inviting the change into our lives because we refuse to make the change on our own. It changed what we want because we didn’t decide for ourselves.
Change is interesting, the whole term. It often has a negative connotation. You think about the year that we had. A lot of changes and a lot of us feel that we were thrust into that position with it. We didn’t choose it. I know, for me, the first couple of months of it was hard. It was challenging. I was so focused on all the things I couldn’t do anymore rather than saying, “What can I do? Those are off the plate right now. I can’t go to the gym. My Toastmasters groups, don’t meet anymore right now. They’ve gone to Zoom. There are always things I can’t do right now, but what can I?” When I started to embrace the idea of what can I do rather than focusing on the things that I can, I felt more engaged with my own life. It was like, “I can do these things. I’ll do that.” Especially my mental health perspective, it was nice to let go of all the things that were outside of my control, but I still occasionally catch myself getting caught up in that trap. I don’t know if you can relate to that, but we all get there at some point.
How do you make your health and your happiness top priorities when you’ve got so many other obligations going on like family, business, and everything else?
There’s that constant question is like, “Who am I becoming?” There’s that underlying question. This is getting probably way out there a little bit too much. What’s the meaning of life? It’s one of those very interesting questions that we all think about every once in a while, or maybe we think about it more than we care to admit, but what is our purpose? What is that meaning? I remember reading Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. It was a wonderful book. It was written back post-World War II. The first half of the book is very dark. He’s recounting his experience in concentration camps.
As a psychologist though, he had a very interesting perspective because he was able to look internally at what was going on but were also observationally of what was happening in the camps. This became this work, his body of work, which is called logotherapy, which is this idea that if you can align with purpose, we can sustain and ultimately create change very positively, this idea. The irony of that question is even in asking it, you can answer it for yourself because we all give our own lives meaning. It’s that internal idea of trying to understand that meaning. We try to externalize what’s the purpose and meaning, but rather than reflecting, “I’m going to get my life whatever meaning I want to give it.” That’s the answer.
It is a very subjective question and yet we’re looking to externalize it. That’s what I ultimately realized all these times on these big changes. I’ve always been chasing something else rather than saying, “What, why,” and giving myself the space to answer that. I know that’s a big question. How often do we get asked authentically? This isn’t a question rhetorical question. It is like, “What do you want for your life?” It’s a daunting question, isn’t it? It’s like, “Can you ask me what I want on my pizza or what I want to watch on Netflix?” I can figure that out in 10 or 15 minutes.
To figure out what I want with my life, that is a big question. Sometimes even asking that question, I know for myself, because I couldn’t come to grasp an answer. It would make me feel very disconnected and lost. That’s where those habits would come into play. How does that weren’t serving me and weren’t in line with some of my values? I find myself eating certain things or not consistent with my workouts, not checking in with family like I used to. Values are so important.
I’m going to read this to you because this is so in line. I love how this happens. I posted something to my story on Instagram. It was, “Eliminate what is distracting you from being your true self. It’ll hurt. You’ll heal. You’ll lose people. You’ll gain the right people. It’s time. Choose you.” Those are hashtag #RickThoughts and I put them on there every now and then, the things that come into my head. It’s along these lines. As you’re talking, I’m like, “What change are you avoiding,” whoever’s reading? It’s not even so much that because that even comes after you saying, “What do I want? What do I want for me?” The mirror moment that you had or finally figuring out, “This is my purpose. This is what I want to go after in life. It has nothing to do with anybody else besides me. What do I need to do to make those changes to eliminate distractions from my true self?”
Creating the actual time to put some thought to it, to explore it. It’s not like we have to figure out the answer right away but working through the process of discovery in the answer rather than inventing something. Simon Sinek has referenced that in his talk. He’s like, “Figuring out our why is an act of discovery, not invention.” This is the same thing, the why, purpose, you can call it whatever you want, you’re meaning. At the end of the day, it’s not something to rush, but it is something to give time to. I was thinking as you were talking there, have you heard of Bronnie Ware? Bronnie Ware was an interesting lady. She’s based out of Australia. She did an amazing Ted Talk a number of years ago. It was called The Five Regrets of the Dying.
She has a wonderful bedside manner. She was someone that would be around people towards that end of life, that last journey. It doesn’t matter how we look at it, but it’s something that we got to travel on our own. Here she was recognizing these people at different stages, different ages, different demographics, backgrounds, everything, but yet they’re all coming to this finale and they’re there in the facility where she worked. She took it upon herself to ask questions, get to know them and comfort them. What she found was that everybody that she had these conversations, especially when she would ask the question, “Is there anything you regret not doing in your life?”
There were five recurring regrets that almost everybody had at least one if not all of these. The one that sticks out based on what you shared with me was this idea, “I wish I had allowed myself to live the life I wanted to live, not the life I believed others expected of me.” That was one of them. There are a couple of other ones. The other four were as poignant. That one is a big deal. I think back to even me going to university. I went there because I thought it would make my dad proud. It wasn’t for me at all. In my third year, I completely switched to the arts from the sciences. I was a lot happier about it. It took me a few years to start figuring that out rather than realizing a lot of the decisions and actions I take are based on what I believe other people want of me, not what I want.
We see these recurring. It’s interesting because when you start to look at that and some of the works, you can’t help, but look and be like, “I don’t want to be on my deathbed and have these regrets.” What can I start doing now to ensure that when it comes to time and I am trying to move on and go into that next journey, I can look back and say, “I lived a great life. I lived the life I wanted to?” That’s something that you asked me. This was a big roundabout way of answering your question, which keeps me focused. It keeps me in alignment with some of the things that matter most to me in life, especially my health, my wellbeing, my family commitments, and my businesses.
I’m living the life I want to be living. If that’s what I want to be doing, I have to look at the actions that support that best. That’s how a lot of my decisions are day to day and how I plan my weeks, months, and years out. I don’t plan that far ahead but if I did it, it’s still in alignment with those values. That is the big thing. Every time I’m out of alignment with values, bad stuff happens. What I mean by bad stuff, it’s stuff that’s not serving at all. That’s where I was going with that.
Thank you for being on. There’s so much more that we can dive into also. I’d love to have you back at some point in time, too, to talk about relationship–wise. We talked about effective change, I feel. Let’s have you back on. Is that cool? I appreciate you.
I would love that. That’d be great. I enjoyed jiving with you. Rick, your energy is awesome. I got to commend Brian too. I talked to him first. He’s a great dude too. I can tell you guys love what you do. If everybody can love what they’re doing, the world would be a better place. I appreciate meeting you guys.
- Dai Manuel
- Why Vulnerability is a Human Thing – YouTube
- Man’s Search for Meaning
- Bronnie Ware
- @DaiManuel – Instagram