Many of us want to live an intentional life aligned with our passions and purpose – yet we still find ourselves burnt out, bored, and going through the motions. Today’s guest, John R. Miles, was no different. But by intentionally choosing a different path, his life completely changed. Join us as John outlines the importance of understanding our mental limits and boundaries, how to spot the “invisible” influences that take us off track, and the biggest regret that most people have toward the end of their lives.

Although it may not happen overnight, being consistently dedicated to your vision can help you ignite your most intentional life. We all have the ability to craft our lives in the exact way we want to. Make sure to tune in for some life-changing wisdom and tools to help you along the way! 

In this week’s episode, we discuss:

[01:33] About John R. Miles

[04:23] It is never too late to live the life you want to live

[06:10] Why are so many people burnt out and bored?

[09:17] What led John to “break free from the matrix”

[15:51] Changing societal and family patterns

[17:30] The impact of seeking support from a life coach, therapist, or career coach

[19:23] The importance of addressing our trauma – change does not happen overnight

[24:47] About John’s book, “Passion Struck” 

[27:48] Marc Benioff’s story –  being consumed and committed to our vision

[30:30] Being intentional about the life you are trying to achieve 

[32:11] The impact of changing how we look at things

[35:20] The invisible influences then can detour us from our track – the “three different mosquitos” analogy 

[41:29] Understanding our emotional & mental limits and boundaries

[45:46] The most important person you will ever meet is yourself

[49:08] John’s favorite date

About John R. Miles

John R. Miles is the dynamic force behind Passion Struck®, captivating millions with his globally-renowned podcast and national radio show, and cementing his status as a guiding voice in alternative health and leadership. A former U.S. Navy officer and Fortune 50 senior executive, he is celebrated as a transformative leader in intentional behavior change and personal mastery. As an author, entrepreneur, and podcast host, John’s profound insights and inspirational guidance have earned him accolades as a visionary in modern leadership. John is the bestselling author of “Passion Struck: Twelve Powerful Principles to Unlock Your Purpose and Ignite Your Most Intentional Life.”

It is never too late to live the life you want to live

John shares that he found himself living in a daily masquerade. From the outside, it looked like he had it together, and yet inside he felt unfulfilled, burnt out, and stuck in a place that he had built into but could not find his way out of. Celeste shares that she has felt the same way and has had lived many lifetimes within this one. 

Why are so many people burnt out and bored?

John shares that according to a 2021 Gallup survey, over 900 million people in 142 countries feel unfulfilled. One of the main reasons why he started doing everything he is doing, is because so many people feel this way and it is leading to the mental health crisis we are in. Many people found themselves in the same spot that he did where they end up in a place where they never expected themselves to be. For example, John never expected himself to be behind a desk as a corporate executive. He saw himself doing something more creative and engaging.

What often happens is that we end up having more responsibilities. Once this happens then our dreams start to fade away because we are thinking about how we can be a better parent or put food on the table. John shares that he started chasing better titles, more money, better positions, and this may have led to more possessions but it did not make him any more spiritually or emotionally whole. He believes that the reason people cannot break free from responsibilities is that once you get to a certain stage of life, it is difficult to change paths. The lifestyle that you created starts dictating how you are living.

What led John to “break free from the matrix”

John shares that there are a couple of voices that drive our behaviors. There is a constant voice inside our heads that tells us to keep doing what we are doing. This starts to become our habits and routines. There is also another voice if we listen deeply that is sharing with us what we should be pursuing. This voice is often distanced by the noise that is all around our lives. We are consumed with distractions, obligations, and information. Many of us do not spend the quality time doing the self-care and introspection that we need to even have the openness in our mind to allow that other voice to come in.

John started to hear this second voice around 2008-2009. This voice said that he was supposed to help the lonely, the helpless, the hopeless, and the battered of the world. He did what most people would do and ignored it. This was so different from the life he was living and he did not even comprehend how he could do this. At this point, he was in the middle of the constant chase for success and the last thing he wanted to hear was that he needed to take a detour. 

If you do not listen to this voice, what ends up happening is that it starts affecting you in different ways. For John and most people, it starts to manifest negativity in your life. John ended up taking a job opportunity that he knew he probably should not have and a few days after moving into his apartment, it was flooded. Weeks later, scorpions were falling from the ceiling in his shower. Multiple negative things started happening and pretty soon his relationships and career were suffering. This all piled up until he thought “Enough is enough” and it was time for him to start leaning into what he was supposed to do. 

Changing societal and family patterns

We all fall into group norms that are around us. John fell into the norm of being a corporate executive because this was the path that his father and grandfather took before him. We often end up creating our identity around this and we follow the path that is laid out. John was brought up to be a high achiever and this is all he knew which made it difficult to change directions. 

When his child was younger, he found himself in the trap of parenting like his father. He took a hard look in the mirror and asked himself if he wanted to raise his child like he was raised. He then had to put effort into changing this pattern – this cannot happen overnight. 

The impact of seeking support from a life coach, therapist, or career coach

When we are feeling numb, lost, or stuck, this is often the best time to go out and get support. John received support from someone who was a therapist and life coach – after working with them for four sessions, they started to do something differently. He led John through a visualization exercise and had him envision stools. John then sat on the stools and his therapist had him think about the stool having different size pillars. Some were getting bigger and some smaller – that is what was leading to burnout and emotional numbness. He reminds us that we all have the power to craft our lives the way we want to. 

The importance of addressing our trauma – change does not happen overnight

An exercise John recommends that we do is imagine these pillars of our lives: relationship health, spiritual health, emotional health, mental health, and physical health. Once you start to evaluate your new destination, do not make the mistake of trying to get there overnight. Whatever you currently have for yourself did not happen overnight so this change will not happen like that either. 

John also shares that he went through emotional trauma, combat trauma, sexual trauma, and physical assault that he did not properly deal with in life. This started to engulf him and he was barely eating, could not sleep, and finally made the decision to get treatment. He started to focus on the stuck points and core issues that were keeping him from becoming who he wanted to become. 

We often feel like we need confidence or courage before we act but we are getting this equation wrong. We need to take intentional action without having the clarity of what is going to happen – this is what builds the confidence and courage to take more boundary-expanding actions. Then this will lead you to start building a new pathway for yourself while moving from the old one.

Celeste shares how she can relate to these stories as well. She kept trying to live a traditional life but it would not work out for her. She realized that she did not have to be like her parents. She reminds us that life is too short. We do not have to live in a fog and go day to day living with trauma. We can heal and live happy & healthy.  

About John’s book, “Passion Struck” 

John’s book is categorized into three different parts:

  1. Six mindset shifts: your mindset is driven by the virtue of wisdom and fueled by passion. These mindset shifts are the “why” and they influence how you approach challenges and opportunities. 
  2. Six behavior shifts: once our mindset has been recalibrated the next logical progression is a shift in behavior. This is where perseverance becomes absolutely crucial. Our behavior is a direct reflection of our mindset, dictating how we act in pursuit of our goals.
  3. Deliberate action and intrinsic motivation: deliberate action is the psychology of progress because action plays a nonlinear role in the intertwined processes of reshaping our mindset and behaviors. It acts as both the driver and the outcome of these transformations – then your intrinsic motivation is what fuels it all. 

When John stumbled upon the analogy of the stool, he started to understand how he could bridge the gap between where he found himself and becoming his ideal self. He started to look at influential people that he worked with or who were involved in his upbringing. He started to see patterns emerge in how they lead their lives and how they are driven by their values and beliefs – along with the alignment of the actions that they were taking with their long-term ambitions and aspirations. 

Throughout the seven and a half years, John ended up examining about 800 people, everyone from astronauts to military leaders, to actors and actresses, to professional athletes, to CEOs. These 12 principles became something that he found were repeated time and time again by those whom he perceived as living their best life. 

Marc Benioff’s story –  being consumed and committed to our vision

John has known Marc Benioff for 25 years and shares his story in the book. For those who do not know, Marc interned at Apple and started getting mentored by Steve Jobs. After graduation he found himself at Oracle, quickly rising through the ranks. He became vice president before he was 30 and soon after, felt that he was stuck. He was feeling a quiet desperation that he was not living the life he was meant to. 

Marc took a sabbatical and went to Hawaii where he started to get into mindfulness and meditation. One day, as he was swimming with dolphins, he had a vision. In his vision, it showed that society was delivering software in a flawed way. There was a better way to do this which was cloud computing. As John traveled with Marc around the world, he was so consumed by the vision that he saw that it drove everything. Whether he was talking to 4,000 people in the audience or a handful of CEOs – he never deterred from his mission. As John examined him and others, the principles in his book became apparent.

Being intentional about the life you are trying to achieve 

One of the principles John talks about in his book is “mission angler”. He shares that if you are a fishing angler, you need to be deliberate about how you plan your day. They are often looking at the tide, the moon, where other people have had luck, the depth they are in, and everything else. They put themselves in the best position to catch as many fish as possible. 

How many of us are this deliberate with our lives? Very few of us yet the top 5% or 10% of people are very intentional about the life they are trying to achieve and the actions that they are taking on the path to achieving it. In his book, John shares stories about people who have used this principle and the takeaways he has about it.  

The impact of changing how we look at things

Another mindset shift that John talks about is the “perspective harness”. We often live our lives in a very linear way and approach life as “either/or”. We are taught this in Western society but in Eastern philosophy, they look at things more paradoxically. In this chapter of the book, John shares a story where a Navy SEAL was in training and they looked at their training as an elastic band. They knew there would be moments of suffering and moments of self-confidence and victory on the other side of it. He ended up breaking down the moments into micro moments which led him on a journey of not getting through the day but getting through an activity. Looking at the situation in this light allowed him to get through it. This is something we can all utilize in our lives. We need to change how we look at things because we can have both self-criticism and self-compassion. 

The invisible influences then can detour us from our track – the “three different mosquitos” analogy 

As John was writing his book, he came across a book by Jonah Berger called Invisible Influences. He started thinking about the different invisible influences that can detour us from our path. He was meditating on this and then turned on the radio and the announcer was asking people what they thought the most dangerous animal on the planet was. Many people were saying sharks or snakes and John was thinking the same. The radio host said that it was actually a mosquito. They kill 1-2 million people a year, more than all the sharks put together will kill in 100 years. Yet when we think about mosquitos we think of them as no big deal. The same thing happens with the human mosquitoes in our lives. This is where John came up with the “three different types of mosquitos” analogy. 

The first one is the bloodsucker. They are the boundary destoryers and all they want to do is suck blood from you. They are intrusive of your time, they question your decisions, and they give you unsolicited advice that leaves you feeling undermined and disrespected. 

The second is the invisible suffocator. They are those pessimists in our lives. They are the internal complainer, they dampen the mood when we are around them, and they affect the morale if we are in a professional setting. 

The third one is the PITA (Pain In The Ass). They thrive on conflict and drama. They instigate disputes, they gossip behind your back, and they create tension. 

It is important to identify these people in your lives because it allows you to do something about it. John shares to imagine that you are shooting a bow and arrow against a target of the 15 people closest to you. If any of them fall into one of these three mosquitoes, then you can handle the situation whether that means enforcing a boundary or pushing them away.

Understanding our emotional & mental limits and boundaries

Before we take action and remove people from our lives, we need to understand our limits, values, and ambitions. We need to know what is draining our energy and decide how much stress we are willing to endure before it starts affecting our lives and mental health. Having that recognition is the first step to understanding how much of a limit you want to set for others in your life. 

Once you understand this, you have to figure out how you want to communicate it. You can completely push them to the side or establish boundaries with them. This will be uncomfortable because you will have to state your limits and explain the rationale behind them. This helps people understand your perspective and makes it more likely that they will respect your boundaries.

You also have to be consistent. You cannot set new limits and boundaries and then back off of them when someone does not react the way you want them to. If you are not consistent, not only will this permit them to break these limits, but they will start you to double down on the behavior you do not like in the first place. Make sure to practice self-compassion along the way because your growth journey is not always going to be easy. 

The most important person you will ever meet is yourself

John shares that the most important person you will ever meet is yourself. The sooner we start to understand this and live authentically, the more fulfillment we are going to experience in our lives. The double-edged sword to this is that you are also your biggest competitor. This is where imposter syndrome, self-doubt, and fear take hold. 

On the path to writing his book, John came across research from Cornell University where psychologists studied 1000s of individuals who are in their third chapter of life. When asked about their biggest regret, 76% of them responded that their biggest regret was the “what ifs”, the “should haves”, and not pursuing & becoming their ideal self.

John reminds us that there is no time in life when we do not have the opportunity to better ourselves or reinvent ourselves. We can spend whatever amount of time we have left being of service, showing kindness, and being the most intentional we can be. It is never too late to start. Do not overcomplicate it, let the process handle itself. If you start making micro choices towards where you want to go in life, you will start to see the changes. 

John’s favorite date

John shares that we often overcomplicate dates – the simple ones are usually the best. One of his favorite dates was in San Juan at a random restaurant. He and his fiance sat outside in the middle of a courtyard which ended up being a magical evening. The food was great and then the street performers were all around them. This simple life moment exceeded all of the expectations that he had. 

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Igniting Your Most Intentional Life with John R. Miles

May 27, 2024