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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Step Up and Be a Real Man | Dai Manuel Pt 2
I’m excited for this TEDx speaker, award-winning thought leader, author, Distinguished Toastmaster, keynote speaker, former partner and CEO of a multimillion-dollar retail company, Dai Manuel.
It’s good to be back. It’s not like an annoying rash. I was invited back. I recognized I didn’t force my way in. I like to let people know that because I love my conversation. I’ve talked about you a ton, Ryan, yourself and your whole team. When you guys invited me back, I was like, “I am so honored.” You made my day. I’m excited to be back here.
We had such a good conversation. This is why it was good. We didn’t even get into half of what it should be. I remember at the end after we cut, I was like, “We didn’t even talk about relationships.” That’s like your gig. It was such a good convo about entrepreneurship, self-love and self-care. Now, we need to talk about relationships because there’s a lot that has struggled over in 2020 I know. We were talking before the show. We’ve even lost the sense of touch with people outside of our homes but also even that physical touch with people outside of our homes too. Maybe even sometimes inside our homes, we’ve lost that touch too.
The biggest thing was I didn’t. Before I dive into what I mean by that, I appreciate you sharing how open you are to the idea of being able to share what’s real for you. Vulnerability, when you boil it down, that’s often what’s happening. We’re sharing what’s real and alive for us at that moment. A lot of times, when we think about vulnerability, we think of weakness. I say we and I steer away from the generalization. Sorry. I know for myself when I used to hear the term vulnerability, I automatically went to, “Weak. You don’t do that. What’s up?” I look at who my role models were specifically like, “Who was I role modeling in my life?” right down to my first real true man-to-man relationship was son and father.
My dad was an amazing man. He’s very caring in his own way. He grew up with a family who didn’t emote. I remember my dad sharing with me that he could count on one hand how many times his mom told him that she loved him. He was born in the ‘40s, grew up in the ’50s and ’60s. He was very straight, a suit and tie kind of guy. Growing up with him, that vulnerability was never role modeled. The vulnerability of being able to share what’s real for you without the fear of having something used against you and without the fear of feeling like, “I’m being judged. I’m lesser because of this.”
I didn’t know any better. I wasn’t vulnerable. If I ask you and I’ll go into a bit more on that like, “How did you come to this place?” I’m super curious. What you shared with me is not the norm. It’s becoming more the norm or there are people like you and me. A lot of other people out there, men specifically are like, “This shouldn’t be the norm. There’s nothing wrong with it. It feels better. Our mental health is better for this but it’s not the norm.” Where did you get your connection with vulnerability?
If we talk about fathers, I did have a very good example of vulnerability with my dad. He was extremely emotionally connected. It’s the same thing with my kids now as he did with me. I always tell them that I love them. Even my son, teenager hardcore, which is typically the time when they’re like, “I hate my parents.” I get texts when I’m traveling from him, not just my daughter, who’s his twin. From him, it’s like, “Good night, dad. I hope you had a good day. I love you.” The reason why he gives that back to me or even initiates that is that I have his entire life. My dad, even with passing away when I was young at sixteen, that’s the one definitive memory that I’ve ever had is that I knew that he loved me because he would always express it. He would never be afraid to hold emotions back. He never talked about it being a sign of strength or anything else but it was him. I’m grateful that I’ve taken after him in that way. This is a question because you’re the expert in this. I’m not.
I’m trying to figure it out like everybody else.
I appreciate the humility. Knowing your story translates into the relationships that we have being a man too with a woman or even with other men. It’s conditioning. What’s on movies, we see Hollywood, we see how people grew up from those 1940s and 1950s couples that you were talking about to where that was the thing. The men retire to the study after dinner and leave the women. Who knows what goes on in there besides brandy and cigars? That’s it. It’s a room. This is how typically what you see because now it’s not that study or whatever it is but there’s still an opportunity for men to gather to talk about how awesome they are, how much they can pound their chest and what accomplishments they got done that week.
It’s always like a one-upping thing rather than sticking around and expressing emotions. It’s more of the aggression in that male side rather than the very soft and connected masculine side because softness can lift other people up as much as being hardcore can. They’re both needed because they’re both masculine but there’s a connection and it depends on the different situations. There are times I’ve had to be stern with my kids but it has never been yelling. My wife would always tell me that I would sit down. She would hear me behind a closed door with my kids. When she got done being angry with them and yelling at them, I would go behind a closed door.
I remember this. Ever since they were a little man, I would get down on their level. If they were standing when they were two years old, I would sit so that I would be eye-to-eye with them and be soft with them, very masculine like, “This is what’s going on. Here’s where you messed up. This is how I can see where you can fix it going forward and change your behavior. How does that sound to you?” We would come out and everything is cool. She was like, “What? How does that work?” It’s soft yet stern masculinity. It’s connected and supportive.
I got to commend you because you mentioning masculinity and that’s one of those terms that sometimes gets people tripped up. What I mean by that is we often have a very clear distinction or at least belief systems around masculine and feminine like, “What do those terms mean?” The definitions themselves are rather narrow. I’m seeing a lot more of this. I’m feeling it. I’m sure you’ve noticed it and you’re feeling it. It’s not how you’re talking and what you’ve done as far as raising kids but also raising yourself. This idea like you have a more emotionally inclusive understanding of what masculinity means especially to you but also to what you understand masculinity to be. That is the conversation I like to see with other men.
I’m not here to debate it. I’m not here to say your idea or belief is better than my idea or my belief is better than yours. I’m not here to fit anybody into as they say the square peg in a round hole but recognizing that there’s clearly room for us to have a healthier understanding of, “What is masculinity? What does it mean to be a man?” For me, my belief system was at least what I always believed it was. It was like, “Being very stoic. Don’t express your emotions. Keep nice, even and cool unless you lose your noodle. Go ahead. Be rough and tough. Be big and strong. Don’t cry.” You look at synonyms.
I talked about this in my TED Talk. I started looking up the synonyms associated with femininity and masculinity. Masculinity, look up the synonyms bravado, virility, machismo. I’m like, “I felt like I’m pounding my chest.” Seriously, I didn’t see other terms like what you were saying, like the way that you understand masculinity to be especially how you carry yourself. You talked a bit about the softness aspect like, “Even vulnerability, can that be synonymous? Caring, gentle, could those be synonymous with being a man?” I say it’s 100% for sure and I’m thinking you’re the same way. A lot of people are starting to recognize that we can’t be so square in our definitions especially now with the gender conversation. I’m like, “Let’s take out the masculine and feminine. Let’s talk about being better humans. Why not?”
You can have both sides of it. I feel like that’s how we were created to be. I’m the same guy that can hug my kids after they get in trouble to reassure them that they know I’m the same guy that can strap a gun under my waist and guard a celebrity because I’ve done that in private security. I’m talking like Caitlyn Jenner and Rahm Emanuel, the former Mayor of Chicago. You can have the bravado along with the soft at the same time. Even in that industry, it helps too because you have to relate to everybody else who’s around you. If there’s a threat, a soft voice goes much further especially in those situations than it does reaching for your pistol on your side. You can de-escalate situations a lot faster than just speaking with somebody softly than you can be pounding your chest. There’s definitively a time for pounding your chest. Let’s be clear on that.
There is a place for it. This whole conversation around vulnerability, I wasn’t vulnerable. I knew I wanted to be but I didn’t know-how. I often consider vulnerability to be very much like a skill. We learn any skill. We get better at it the more we practice it.
Even with everything I described, I still suck at it here and there. I still screw up.
Where do we have safe places to practice? That’s a bit of a conundrum. I looked at my spheres of influence, my closest friends especially at the time where I felt most conflicted. Meaning that I knew I wanted to be able to share what was going on for me. I was dealing with a lot of stress and anxiety. I learned to cope with a lot of that stress and anxiety through alcohol. That was my default. I would go to having a few drinks because, at the moment, it made things feel better. Momentarily, I felt a bit happier and less mindful of all the stress and the other things in my life. I could push it away for a little bit but not talk to anybody and my wife about it.
I’m trying to avoid things. I got very good at numbing. I needed to be vulnerable. I needed to get some stuff off my chest. I needed to put it out to the world to find out. This is the craziest thing about vulnerability. I have this group. It’s called MENtorship Mondays. It’s free. It’s the guys that are committed to coming together every Monday. We meet on Zoom and talk it out. We create a space where we can share openly whatever is real. Sometimes, “I had an amazing week. Here’s some good thing. I landed my best client ever.” We want to celebrate that.
A lot of times, I used to be sheepish even talking about some of the successes that I had achieved, things that were hard to do. I felt like even with some of my closest male friends I couldn’t share that because right away I’m like, “They’re judging me. They think I’m bragging.” Automatically, I turned the positive into a negative and I’m afraid to talk about it. When I’m saying vulnerability, it’s not just about the bad stuff. It’s about the great stuff, too. Where do we have time to practice for our space that we feel safe enough to practice this stuff?
It’s difficult too for real. If we look at this as far as relationships, our marriage, that escape that you were talking about, even having a drink. Even in my example of the study, when the men would retire, what would they do? They were avoiding the times to be vulnerable. They were turning to alcohol to do that because there are other ways to run away from yourself in those things. How do you feel vulnerability plays a huge part in your marriage?
I won’t go into the story. I haven’t had a drink for many years now. It was me making a decision. It was a choice. I have a lot of friends that are in recovery. I have a lot of respect for that. I know they’ve done various programs to allow to support them through the recovery. I always had a challenge with that because I never felt like I was addicted. I never felt powerless to the alcohol and drugs. I was fully aware of my choices but I valued at the moment what those little escapes could do for me over what was right in front of me like family and friends. People care about me, unconditional love and yet I would still value the drink and having some drugs.
It’s not even necessarily it has to be a substance. It could be Xbox, PlayStation or Netflix. Any of those escapes. People get addicted to those, too. It’s not addicted to those. It’s addicted to the escape. Would you agree with that?
It’s so much on point because you’re right, it’s the act itself and the fact that because you’re focusing on that one thing at that moment. You don’t give yourself space to even think about any of the other stuff. It is truly an escape. In my case, it felt very much numbing. It was like, “I wake up the next morning. Now, my health feels crappy.” On top of that, the problems are still there. I’m not feeling any better about myself. Usually, I’m feeling worse.
It’s even like the escape with porn, too, with people that watch that too much. All of a sudden, straight up they can’t get it up because they had been escaping real life for so long.
I do wish that when I was in my twenties, I felt comfortable enough to have this kind of conversation. I realized as I start to connect with younger guys in our communities that are coming in, it’s the craziest thing. I started this when I was living in Bali. I had a crazy idea. I’m in this many years of sobriety. I’ve chosen not to have any drinks because I grew so much that the first year I took away the crutch. My crutches were alcohol. It helped me function. If you take away that crutch, it’s like, “I don’t know how to walk.” I had to learn to walk again.
That’s where I had to learn how to start being vulnerable because I didn’t have any more escape. There was nowhere I could escape to. I was facing my challenges head-on and I wanted to chase them. I wanted to chase a better life, to be quite honest. I knew that I had all the makings to have a great life but I sure didn’t feel like it was working. I had to take ownership that it was because I kept making poor choices and actions. I took away the crutches and now I’ve got to learn how to walk. I was like, “I don’t know how to do this. My closest friends who are out, they don’t know how to help or support me.” All the guys that were my good friends at that time were like, “Let’s go watch UFC and have some beers. Let’s go play around the golf.” We rushed through the eighteenth so we can hang out on the nineteenth. That was how we operated. That was my normal.
All of a sudden, I take that away. I’m like, “How am I going to do? How do I do this?” I was very fortunate that I had a wife that was supportive. She supported me along as best as she could but there was still a lot that she couldn’t do. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting her to. It was stuff that I had to do for myself. I found a great psychiatrist. I worked with him for a few months. I found a relationship counselor. I worked with her for a few months. I started doing a lot of inner work stuff on myself. That was personal development in nature, not professional development. I was the guy that loved all the professional development stuff. Anything that stroked my ego, I was all for it. The business was a great escape.
I’ll get to the point. After a number of years of growing, learning new ways of dealing with some of the stress and dealing with it in a healthier way that I would feel good role modeling those behaviors to my kids, families and friends, that’s what it came down to. My wife asked me a question, “Would you be the type of man you would want your daughters to marry?” When she asked me that question, it was like getting punched in the nose and kicked between the legs at the same time. I was like, “I’m not.” If someone like me at that time showed up on my doorstep asking to talk to my daughters, asking to see my wife, I would be like, “Get the hell out of here. You’re not coming in here.” That’s who I was. I was that guy.
That realization put me in a hard spot because all of a sudden, I was like, “How do I evolve? How do I grow? How do I become that person?” It’s worth it and it’s not easy. That vulnerability, I knew I needed to find somewhere where I could start to practice that and develop deeper relationships with other men. I felt like I was missing this void. I didn’t feel like I knew any men who truly knew them. I don’t know how you feel about this. There are stats out there that are scary where they look at men. Especially in their 30s and beyond, a lot of men have fewer than two friends that they would ever share a serious conversation about money, relationships, feelings, their own emotions.
It was less than two over half of the men surveyed on this massive survey by the November Project. A lot of them have none. It’s crazy and yet we go on and try to figure it out on our own. I needed to find a place to start to practice the skill of vulnerability. I’m to men that are reading this, it’s scary but it’s not a sign of weakness. It takes a whole lot of bravery to be able to speak your emotions in a way that others can now accept. I’m trying not to sound cryptic because I know sometimes these kinds of conversations can be a bit rude. I try to make it sound real. How do you invite people to be more vulnerable? Often, vulnerability comes through one person going first.
I’m usually the one to go first. If I was being strategic about this, I could have four things for a new person that I could say, “I’m willing to share these four first.” Maybe that’s a good thing. Usually, it’s whatever I’m feeling at the time. I know it’s different for me too because I’ve been speaking on stage for many years. I’ve been playing guitar. I was like a pro-amateur in music. I was always expressing emotion that way. My dad was the same way. He was a musician, too. I’ve had coaches that have said things like, “The story that you don’t want to share is the one that you should share the most.” I embraced that with most.
I’m typically the one that will say, “I’ll go first. I’ll tell you something about me. I’ll open up.” It does take that one person too. Maybe that’s the search. I don’t know because I’m not the expert. Do you try to find somebody who’s willing to be that first or where you’re comfortable around that? This is something, not sounding rude, to where men need to share with other men. As you were talking, I’m like, “How many friends do I have that I can share things with?” I started counting them in my head. Individuals that I would call probably are 8 or 9. They’re the ones that I would trust.
That’s a lot more than more. You’re about 500% up.
I’m grateful that I have those but then I think it’s like, “How did I get to that 8 or 9?” It was more like I created the space. At the same time, I also created the space for them to be able to share back so that there was no judgment. Men, anybody or humans as you were talking, nobody likes judgment. If you can create the space where it’s judgment-free, we’re all humans too and stuff starts to creep up in our minds as we hear things, even some WTF moments. When you get close enough to that person, you’re in that circle with them. You can be like, “Why did you do that?” Even that is in a supportive way. It’s not from a judgment way. It’s like, “I’ll support you through this. Let’s get you out of this hole you’re in.”
Sometimes it’s providing a space to listen. Sometimes it’s the act. I often invite people to think back to some of the most challenging times because we all have those moments, those big obstacles that we run up against in our life. Sometimes it can deflate us. We turn around and go back where we came from. We’re fortunate enough that we need somebody that was able to shift our perspective in us so we can see another way around it. Sometimes it’s pure resiliency and determination that we’re like, “I’m getting past this.”
Either way, if you think back to those biggest challenges when you’ve shared what your experience is in that moment, dealing with the challenge and you shared that with somebody else, I think back to those moments in my own life. I always felt better afterward. Often, I would have the person saying, “Me too.” It’s so crazy. Those are apprehensive about vulnerability. I love how Brené Brown talks about it because she says, “Being vulnerable is not for shocking off.” We’re not doing it to say, “Whoa,” or to be polarizing. That’s not it. That’s the wrong intention. You’re trying to be vulnerable. To be vulnerable is to foster more connection and understanding.
What happens is as soon as people start sharing, it’s amazing how many people hear you but then say, “I had a similar experience. You’re not alone.” That in itself is what I took away whenever I started to embrace being more vulnerable, sharing to people like, “I feel intimidated by this thing on what to do.” I’m like, “Here’s why.” Say it out loud. I often would get a response. It’s like, “You’re right. That does sound intimidating. It sounds tough. I had a similar situation like this.”
It’s like everybody struggles with the stuff. Everybody has got it going on.
That was my biggest realization. As soon as I embraced and trusted in myself enough that, “I’m not going to die if I’m vulnerable.” If you’re someone that’s into the fear-setting aspect, back to Tim Ferriss in his TED Talk, he talks about that fear setting like that, “What is the worst thing that could possibly happen?” When you think about that, it’s not a life-threatening situation. Don’t take me out of context here. It’s awesome. It’s a human quality. I don’t think it ever gets to the point where it’s easy. I don’t want to mislead people and say, “When you start being vulnerable, it becomes easy to be vulnerable.” You don’t want to be vulnerable for the sake of being vulnerable. You’re doing it to connect with somebody, to let them know that, “I hear you.”
That’s a huge point right there. It’s more inward focus this way too that I’ve seen to where they’ll be vulnerable for the sake of being vulnerable because it’s being macho. That’s what it is because they’re like, “Watch how vulnerable I can be. Look at how much that I can share.” I’ve known men like this too where they’ll be like, “Here’s what I’ve gone through.” It almost becomes like a trophy for them too that they were able to be that vulnerable. It’s only for themselves. It’s not to foster connection which is the whole reason we’re on this planet, to begin with, is the connection with other humans.
I was like, “I would like to drop the mic.” You’re spot on there, Rick. That’s exactly my point.
Shut up if that’s what you’re going to do for real. I don’t want to hear that. If you want to have a genuine connection with somebody else, do it for the sake of connection. If they’re not getting psyched up or even a little bit angry, that’s the part where I want to walk away. It’s like, “I’m not in it for that. I don’t want to have relationships with another human, men, women or whatever because they want to dump their stuff just because they want to.” If you’re doing it because you want me to support you because it’s a fair exchange of connection then I’m all in. Not to bring this stuff up to be like, “Look at me. I’m able to share.” Have you ever been in men’s groups like that? I have.
I’ve been to a few because I was searching for something. I found it hard to find a community that I felt like I belong to. It’s easy to join communities. Social media has made it easy. I think about Facebook. It’s like a click of a button, “I’m in the community.” To find something where you feel like you belong, that takes more effort, time and attention. I found that in a lot of the men’s groups that I had an opportunity to get around. It clearly served people very well. I’m not here to speak about it. I’m not trying to judge it but it didn’t feel right. When my good friend, Nick Wood, we’re in Bali. I poised the idea. I was like, “Here’s my idea. I want to bring a bunch of cool dudes together every Monday night, dinner and conversation. No drugs, alcohol or drama. It’s simply guys having an authentic conversation around some of the things that are real for them. That was it.” He was like, “I’m in.”
He’s always that first person to say, “I’m in.” It gave me that little boost to comment. I said, “Let’s do this thing.” It was neat to see how it grew because it’s that one little invitation now of letting others know, “This is our intention with this group. Are you open to that?” “Yes, I’m curious about what that would be like. I’ll come. I’ll check it out.” The next thing you know, you can’t help but leave a conversation like that feeling not only empowered, more likely clearer in mind but also light. Sometimes we love to carry the burden of that weight. We’ll walk around like this with this on our shoulders like, “Check out me. I’ve got a lot on my shoulders.”
That’s the false vulnerability.
It’s also like the term busy, “I’m damn busy.” What does that mean? We wear it like a badge of honor. I know I used to. I was like, “You won’t believe how busy I am.” My wife called me out on it. She was like, “Why do you always say you’re so busy? It’s like the first thing you’re on.” When people would meet me on the street, I’m like, “I’m busy.” I felt like I needed to justify who I am because of how busy I am. It was this characteristic that I use to describe who I was. She shifted me a lot in that. She has helped me look at how I was using that as a shield. As soon as I had said, people are like, “I can’t ask him for anything because he’s too busy. I don’t want to add anything to his plate.” I was pushing people away. At the same time, thinking that I was making myself look more than I was. It was all ego-driven. I shifted it. I don’t know what you think about this idea. For now, I tell people, “My days are full. I’ve got a full life, my choice.”
I know what we’re talking about now. There is a lot of semantics. We talked about masculinity. What does that mean? What does it mean to you? What do you understand it to be? I think there were a lot of these types of terms. It like they are at the forefront now because social media is all over the place. You can’t help but look at those. I look at the #MeToo Movement. It was just that, people being vulnerable, sharing something that they’ve never shared before in a very open forum. It all took us a couple of people that are starting to share. The next thing you know, all these people are sharing because they needed someone to show them that it’s okay. I love how you’ve embraced this. You’ve recognized it’s a masculine characteristic. Why? Because you make it so.
I appreciate the distinction that you’ve made in there too. You said it’s ego-driven. Maybe we could dub it ego-driven vulnerability versus selfless vulnerability. One creates a connection. The other one creates distance.
That’s a great way of looking at it. Some of the actions that we do especially those ones that are more subconscious conditioned responses. I truly feel that the way we sometimes like to turtle, detract or distance ourselves from tough conversations or situations is very much a conditioned response. The cool thing is if that’s not the conditioned response that you want, there’s always an opportunity to change it. You got to start doing the opposite and do it regularly. That’s the hard part. It’s like, “How do you go out and practice vulnerability?”
Brené Brown has got great ideas on this. I love everything she does. She has influenced me a lot in a positive way especially on the professional side. I’m more in the leadership capacity, that I’m being a more a vulnerable leader. I always loved that but then I was like, “I want to bring this to my life as a dad.” Those are different dynamics. It’s a different conversation. It’s a different type of relationship we’re talking about. That was where I wanted more support. It wasn’t until I opened myself up to have the conversation with other guys about it. It wasn’t going to happen unless I did that. What I’m trying to boil it down to, it ultimately comes down to it feels like a leap of faith, a leap of trust. When you find those connections, they are lifelong connections.
How did this help you? I know you’re big into dating your wife. How did this feed into that?
Language is a big deal in our house especially with my wife. She is fine. We’ve had a few words that you can’t say in our house, “Sorry, I just said it.” The four-letter C-word we’re not allowed to say.
I did a whole episode on that with a friend of mine. That’s the four-letter word that I hate.
You’re my wife now. We hit it off. She’s the same way. We’re conditioned now in our household. We don’t say that. We can choose to or choose not to but it’s not a decision.
The word cunt abdicates your responsibility and obligation to make a choice.
When it comes to language, we recognize it’s important. It has been very influential in our relationship as well. Professionally, I take hold that language is a big deal. It’s how we connect, communicate, share ideas, inspire, motivate and educate. Language is critical in everything. When it came to our relationship, we’re 21-plus years now. We’ve had lots of ups and downs. It has been a roller coaster at times but we’ve remained committed to one another. We share a family vision but we also have our own individual aspirations. We’re co-committed, not codependent. I remember it was Gay Hendricks and his wife. They wrote a book called Conscious Loving.
It was one of those relationship books along with The 5 Love Languages. Those two books made such a big difference in our lives from a relationship standpoint with one another but also with others. The 5 Love Languages and Conscious Loving is this idea of co-committed versus codependent. Once we had an understanding of that, I was like, “What kind of relationships do we want not just now but 20 or 30 years from now? Who do we want to be when we’re in our 70s? What do we want to be doing? What do we want life to look like?” What we realized was that some of the best times we’ve ever had is when we were dating. You can’t help it. If you think back to your relationship in those early days when you’re dating, every day is a discovery with that person. That should never stop.
It gave us a lot of intentionalities when it came to our relationship. That’s why I have used it in some of my bios like, “My wife of 21 years.” I’m putting it out there. We continue to date each other. We create space for that. The conversations have changed. Honestly, it does but we’re still in love. We still are very committed to one another but we’re also committed to our own individual lives. I want to hammer home that distinction. It’s important for these types of relationships, you need to have your own lives. Even with our kids right from the get-go. We had lots of aspirations and things that we want to do. We used to be the parents who would drive their kids everywhere. I was like, “I’ll bring them.” I go to Toastmasters from the beginning with something like, “I’ll bring my kids. I don’t care.” In all the competitions, I would be the guy bringing his kids. They would be off playing in the corner and breaking stuff.
Their question is like, “How are you so close to your kids while you’re busy doing all these other things like proximity?” Even with twins, I grab one. I’m like, “We’re going to go to Walgreens. I need to go buy some vitamins.” I’m going to bring someone with me.
It’s huge. It’s the language. What better way for your kids to have a great behaviors role model. They just get to follow and watch you.
Some of the best conversations take place in the five-minute car rides with your kids.
That was my bit about language. This gets right down to our self-talk like, “How do we talk to ourselves when no one is around? What are those thought patterns that we have?” When we talk about we want to be free of judgment, try to be free of judgment of yourself. That is the one I don’t think we ever get away from ever. I like some of the positive messages out there and some of the positive thinking, “Learn to love yourself unconditionally.” I’m like, “I’ve been trying to do that forever.” When I’m thinking I’m getting closer to it, I’m like, “No.” It’s just me.
I feel you. I have been in a breakthrough because I want to get back to dating my wife too. It’s so key because this is part of it. You have to have your own lives. You have to be committed to yourself before you can even be co-committed with somebody else. One of those things that I figured out is that for the longest time, I was like, “I don’t know if I love myself. I don’t know if even I liked myself.” I started realizing all these things to where even like retracting from things as we’ve been talking and not being vulnerable to the subconscious thing to keep me safe. I realized, it’s like, “If I’m doing that, I must love myself because I’m trying to keep myself safe.”
It was like this moment of reflection to where it’s like, “If I’m doing all the stuff to try to keep me from things that subconsciously I think might cause pain or suffering even though they don’t because it’s scary, a thing like vulnerability or even like a thing like consistently dating your wife.” Imagine that because that’s a judgment zone. It can be especially if you feel like you need to share everything. If you’re not committed to yourself, there’s no way that you’re going to be able to share everything with a partner. It’s impossible.
That first relationship is that relationship with self. Maslow talked about it in his hierarchy of needs. That was the pinnacle of that. It was that self-actualized self. That deep connection with the purpose and that, “Why did we get up in the morning?” That’s a hard question to answer. Do we ever answer a lot? I don’t know if we do but it doesn’t mean we stopped looking for it.
It’s like the book on it, maybe with this, with the self-love thing because I started laughing internally as we were talking again. All these quotes that are out are like, “You need to learn to love yourself.” What if you already do and you just don’t show yourself that you do? Like any relationship with a partner, you might love that person but what if you don’t show that person with your actions because then you’re probably in that co-dependence scenario if you’re not showing it.
It’s interesting you bring that up because that was something that my wife and I also created space to support each other. It had to be a team effort especially with kids. It’s the people that we’re responsible for. I love that about being a dad and a parent. I do get to support them. I help shape them and be great people, humans. It’s cool. It’s the neatest job on the planet. What I found that was interesting with Christie, me and our dynamic, we recognized we needed a space to have regular, dependable solo time. Each of us has our own self-care day or I often call it a mental health day. Those are my Fridays. She refers to it as Dai day. That’s okay. It’s my day for me.
In the evening, it’s family time. During the day, whatever I feel like I need to do for me, I do for me. I might, “This is what I’ll do. Maybe I’ll get a haircut, go for a massage, get a workout in or go for a hike.” It doesn’t matter. It’s whatever I feel like doing. I blocked the time off my calendar. I know that’s my time to do whatever I feel like I want to do but I’m not so prescriptive to plan out everything. I go with what I feel like doing and lean into that. It’s about me showing myself a lot of care. When we started it, I do the same for her.
There are days where I’m on full-daddy duty as well as anything else that has to be taken care of in the household. It gives her space to then do what she needs to do to show herself some of that love or date herself. How do you date yourself? Let alone date my wife. I love what you said but if we don’t create the space for it. It’s not going to happen. How does it work with you and your partner? Did you create space for each other to where you can solely focus on yourself and what you want to do? How’s that work with you?
I know she does every single morning. She takes about an hour every morning of every week behind a closed door. For me, I’m not as intentional at it as you. I’m being straight up on this but I will find time for this. Usually, my time ends up being days at a time because it might be a seminar or something like that. It’s not even around this but I might take the evenings to do exactly that. There have been times I’ve been alone in a hotel room and that becomes my self-care time, meditating and writing down new notes.
I’ve started because I’ve neglected all the stress in my life. I’ve realized this. My coach told me. She was like, “You’re not dating yourself.” She called me out on it. She was like, “Here’s what you need to do. You need to go get yourself a massage. Two days later, you need to get yourself another massage.” I’m probably not very good at this as far as dating myself. It’s in my makeup to try to be there for everybody else first before me. I recognized when that shifts out of balance too that then I can’t be there for everybody else because I’m not there for me.
What have been the shifts that you’ve implemented? What have you done to start dating yourself with the intention? There’s always room for improvement as you addressed. You said, “You might not be good at it but you can get better at it.”
For the longest time, prior to this because mostly everybody in my house goes to bed early except me. I’m always up late. It’s who I am. With how full my days have been, I would try to use those times as catch-up. Now, it’s whatever. Someone called me up and said, “I’m at a bar. I have my cousin here. He’s looking at getting into real estate. Can you talk to him? Tell him if it’s good or bad.” I was like, “Cool.” To me, that’s like feeding me too. It’s being able to be there in that scenario and it was unplanned. Most of my time happens at night like that, too. I’ll pop on a movie. I’ll do whatever to turn my mind off. That helps me a lot.
Another thing is music. It was a big thing for me for a long time. I started picking up my guitar. I’ve played on stage and sang before thousands of people. For a few years, I didn’t even touch my guitar because I had been neglecting that. It’s bringing me back to a place where I can be centered all over again. We’re a high-performing people. We can hold a lot together just because of our makeup but we’ll get to the point where we’ll start to feel our head compressed in on itself if we don’t date ourselves. I’ll go for a drive a lot. I’ll listen to music. I’ll take a walk around the neighborhood. I live in Chicago only when it’s warm. I’ll take a walk over there and go for a drive. It’s the little things. I appreciate you because I’m starting to feel now that I’m talking to you that I need to be even more intentional with that time for myself, set that aside and block that time in my calendar.
It makes a difference. I’m also the kind of person that I do like to schedule things. I had a mentor, Manny. At that same time, I was talking about being busy versus now looking at my days as being more full. It’s the intentionality around how full my day maybe because it’s always based on me and my commitments. I used to always talk about, “There’s time management for that.” He pulled me aside. He was like, “All this time management that you keep talking about and your struggles with balancing life, career, start managing your commitments.” I was like, “Managing commitments. I see what you’re doing here.” That’s funny. Coaches and mentors, they’re good at that stuff. They shift our perspective. It’s impressive in a very good way.
I started to shift how I thought about my schedule and calendar. I was always like, “I’m managing my commitments to time.” Now, it’s like, “Do I feel like I’m overcommitting?” I know in myself now, I will be the guy that overcommits. All of a sudden, I’m left there starting to feel very negative about some of these commitments. Even some of these great conversations with somebody and I would be like, “I got to do that now.” I know as soon as I get to that place if I’m ever feeling any negative feelings about anything I’ve put on my calendar, it’s because of me. It’s not giving myself enough space for me and my family, the things that matter.
It sounds like you’re in that place now where it’s like, “Manage your commitments with self and treat that space.” It’s amazing. Once you start to create that regularity, I believe that this is what I experienced. My foundation, let’s just say that. We all have this certain foundation that we build our life on. I often refer to that foundation being health. Health, first and foremost but I’ve seen since I’ve started to do this, that foundation has raised up. What I mean is sometimes when we feel depleted or burnt out as we often were referred to it, I’m creating more of a buffer.
As soon as you start to out the regularity here, your opportunity to get to that place of burnout, frustration or disappointment with self, it doesn’t happen as quickly. Even when it does happen, you bounce back so much more quickly. That is the biggest thing I’ve experienced is creating this regular recurring commitment to myself. I invite people. I’m like, “Try it,” but commit to a full quarter like a full 90-day run. Once a week, give yourself a dedicated block of time. Do things that feel good for you within healthy reasons. Maybe reasonable at all on the house. I had a guy tell me, “Why do I love going to the bar and getting wasted?” I was like, “That’s not what I was referring to.” That’s what I’m trying to get. It always comes down to us. It sounds cliché. I know that. As soon as I hear myself say stuff, I’m like, “You’re an idiot,” this whole self-critical voice. It’s like, “We need to talk about this.” That’s why I feel the need for vulnerability to let people know. A lot of stuff I talk about, it’s all stuff I had struggled a lot with and I probably will continue to. It’s just I’ve learned different ways of managing the struggle with the juggle.
You’re awesome. I appreciate you being on. DaiManuel.com. @DaiManuel on Instagram. Thank you for having part two and diving into this invulnerability, relationships, dating your wife and dating yourself.
You are always so much fun to speak to. Based on what I know about you and what our conversations both on-air and off-air, you’re the guy that I always draw a lot of inspiration from. I want to say thank you for showing up as you. Thank you for being authentically yourself and as well as having the courage to be vulnerable and tell the rest of us that it’s okay because you do it in a very public way. You’re putting out a podcast and content. It is an exercise in vulnerability on the big stage. You’ve inspired me. I know I’m jazzed up. Thank you. I appreciate you. It’s been an amazing experience.
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