Tag Archives | Michael Hyatt

What Extreme Athletes Can Teach Us About Overcoming Our Fears

I love the Olympics. From the opening to the closing ceremonies and all the exciting events in between, I enjoy the collective experience of watching these athletes come together to proudly and expertly compete. I also find myself thinking about how incredible it would be to represent your country in such a physical way — a feat many Olympians have been training hard their whole lives to be able to do.

We can learn so much from those who are dedicated to pushing the limits — physically and mentally — continually striving to better themselves, overcome their fears and reach their full potential. When I saw this article from MichaelHyatt.com contributor Andrea Williams, I thought it was great timing to share with you as we cheer on the athletes during these last few days of the 2018 Winter Olympics. I hope you’ll be inspired by it, too!


At twelve years old, when most girls her age were learning algebra and crushing on the members of NSYNC, Samantha Larson was preparing to conquer a fear that few adults would face: climbing to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa. By eighteen, Larson had also successfully climbed each of the Seven Summits, ascending to the tallest peak on each continent and, at the time, becoming the youngest person to achieve the feat.

The first time Larson felt real fear was at the bottom of Kilimanjaro, when she and her father (who completed all of the climbs with her) met a gentleman who had gotten sick because of the change in altitude and couldn’t make it to the summit. He warned them that they, too, would probably struggle. But instead of backing out, Larson committed to pressing forward.

“Fear is such a personal thing, but in a lot of situations, fear is just a reaction of the human brain, which is wired to convince us that what we may want to do is a bad idea,” says Larson. “When we face fear, we have to ask ourselves how badly we want that thing that we’re afraid of, and how can we learn to work through the fear when we feel it.”

Trust in the face of fear

We typically assume that the opposite of fear is courage or bravery. But according to the popular saying, it’s actually trust that arises when fear is absent. And this is certainly the case for professional slackliner Heather Larsen.

Slacklining is the process of walking across a tensioned cord that is suspended between two anchors, similar to a tightrope (but with more slack in the line, hence the sports’ name). So what’s the key differentiator between slacklining and the standard, circus-variety tightrope walking? Some slackliners, also known as highliners, choose to trek across canyons, carefully balancing on lines that are literally hundreds of feet from the ground.

Despite built-in safety mechanisms (participants typically wear a harness with a leash that connects to the line itself) highlining definitely falls on the extreme end of the sports spectrum, with risks that include fractures, sprains, broken bones, and even death. For Larsen, who was introduced to slacklining through climbing, the ability to overcome the fears associated with traversing a 2.5-centimeter wire high above the ground is based on her assurance that she will remain safe even if she falls.

“I trust the gear, my rigging team, and my partners, and I trust my skills and abilities to walk the line,” Larsen explains. “[When I first started highlining], I think I easily trusted my gear because of my familiarity with building climbing anchors in the past, and I trusted my friends because I was aware of their experience. I now also have the knowledge and experience to evaluate my environment and the teams I work with.”

Whether you’re an extreme sports athlete, a newlywed, or a startup entrepreneur, being able to rely on a partner or team to carry part of the burden and minimize some of the risk certainly helps to mitigate fear. But this trust doesn’t develop overnight—nor does it develop without personal effort.

“I am constantly learning from others in the slacklining community; my friend just taught me a new knot that is much easier to check and very clean for rigging highlines,” says Larsen. “I think that in order to develop and maintain trust, you have to be willing to be a student [of your industry] and the groups you work with, as well.”

Preparing for victory

Ultimately, the more you study, the better the perspective you have for your circumstances and the greater the likelihood that you will be able to adequately prepare for what lies ahead. U.S. National and World Champion powerlifter Robert Herbst admits that youthful exuberance may have blinded him to the fact that he could be injured while competing. But with age and a twice dislocated sacrum (due to scoliosis that developed when he was a child), Herbst credits preparation for the confidence he feels each time he hoists a bar—weighing more than triple his own body weight—over his head.

Herbst recalls seeing a competitor ahead of him blow out his leg while lifting a weight less than what Herbst was about to attempt. Yet, because of his focus on both physical and mental training, Herbst was more than prepared to make his lift, even in the face of fear.

“Preparation reduces risk because it enables you to deal with situations as they arise,” says Herbst. “If you are prepared, then you know you have the answer, and you can rely on their training. There is then less to fear as you know you can cope.”

According to Herbst, preparation also allows you to ignore the possible consequences and risks when action is needed. You have to be aware of the potential to lose your 401K when launching a business, or the chance that you may alienate your customer base when introducing a new product, but once you have accepted those risks and prepared as much as possible to avoid them, ignoring fears isn’t naïve. It’s calculated and strategic.

“After my deadlift at the World Drug-Free Powerlifting Championships this year, I had broken blood vessels on my face as if I had been punched,” says Herbst. “If during those lifts, I had thought that I might tear something, I maybe would have subconsciously backed off and not have been able to give the same effort. And I think other people in extreme situations know that once they have committed themselves, they have to focus on the moment and what needs to be done, and not worry about extraneous things such as risk. Otherwise, they may not be as effective or successful, and they will still be exposed to the risk anyway.”

Mindful fearlessness

Mountain climber Samantha Larson has come to understand the difference between real, flight-or-flight danger and the mind’s natural tendency to default to the path of comfort and least resistance through her path toward mindfulness. And more than just the buzzword on every wellness guru’s lips, mindfulness can mean the difference between failing to reach our fullest potential and living the lives we were divinely created for.

“More often than not, when we feel afraid, we’re actually safe,” says Larson. “Mindfulness techniques can very helpful in working through fear in almost any situation, and that means going through the process of recognizing that you feel afraid, analyzing whether you are actually in a dangerous situation, using that analysis to consciously decide how you want to navigate the situation, and then trusting in that decision and acting on it with purpose.”

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Growing Generosity at Christmas

Christmas is upon us! With only a few days left until the big holiday, there’s an increased amount of hurried busyness and rushing around with last minute preparations. I’m trying to intentionally take a ‘time-out’ to reflect on a few important items this Christmas. I hope you’ll join me.

What exactly IS Christmas? I had a recent discussion with my friend, Pastor Nick Twomey, in which he shared that nearly 49% of Americans now believe that Christmas is a cultural holiday–nothing more. It got us thinking–and inspired us. Nick and I would like to invite you to the Bill Marsh Hyundai showroom on Saturday, December 23rd, as we explore the true meaning of Christmas, how it relates directly to us as individuals, and how it can transform lives. Can’t make it to the dealership? We’ll be offering the discussion via Facebook Live, as well. We’ll put the coffee on at 8:30am and start the live broadcast at 9:00am. I hope you can join us!

As I explore the true meaning of Christmas, and how to grow generosity during this time of year, it can feel especially difficult with our culture of consumerism. After all, this is the season of giving. I have been honored to support Love INC during this 10th anniversary season of SwingShift and the Stars. We had a blast during the big Disco Ball event on December 15th, and while Sharon and I didn’t ‘win’ the big dance off, Love INC has been winning big by participating in this season of SwingShift, both in raising awareness for the important work they’re doing in the community–work that no other organization is doing!–and in donations. And it’s not over yet! I wanted to offer an encouraging reminder that Love INC’s SwingShift and the Stars campaign continues through December 31st. It’s a great opportunity to make a tax-deductible donation before the end of the year.

And finally, I’m sharing a post from Michael Hyatt entitled Growing Generosity in Your Kids at Christmas. What if for every gift on your wish list, you had to match it with a gift you plan to give? His article offers an inspiring perspective on nurturing the giving spirit in our children–and it definitely extends to adults. Check it out:


Ahhh, Christmas. It just may be the most wonderful time of the year. Every year, however, parents are reminded of how much our culture has impacted the minds of our children. For instance, we all talk about Christmas being a time of giving — but let’s face it, the first thing kids want to do in December is to make their own Christmas list of what they’ll get, not give.

So here’s an idea.

First, why not start a tradition. Along with creating their own “wish list,” your kids make out a list of the gifts they plan to give away to others. This could include people they know and perhaps people they don’t know. The gifts can be ones they buy with their own money, or some of their own possessions they treasure.

Let’s take it a step further. What if for every gift they put on their wish list, they have to match it with a gift they plan to give away—one of their own toys, dolls, electronic devices, or games? This may just balance their “giving and receiving” experience a bit more. Then, they select a family less fortunate, and make an anonymous drop-off to that family. (Remember “ding dong ditch”?)

I know of a mom and dad who had their kids go through all their toys one December and make two piles. The first pile would include the toys they planned on giving away; the second, toys they felt were worth keeping. (This made room for the new toys they’d soon receive on Christmas.)

The clincher was, this mom and dad talked about sacrificial giving, and shared how they planned to give one of their cars to a needy family. Then, they had their children give away the pile of toys they had planned to keep.

Sacrifice is true generosity. It was hard for a few moments, but unforgettable in the end. Those kids still talk about that incredible experience four years later.

Jesus reminds us:

“This poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned” (Mark 12:43-44).

What can you do this Christmas to teach generosity to your kids? How can you apply the same philosophies to your own adult life? I’d love to hear your feedback.

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Four Key Decisions That Shape Your Character

Charisma may be useful in attracting a following, but it is largely useless when it comes to achieving a long term positive impact on the people and organizations we lead. For this, we need character. Effective leadership is an inside-out job.

The older I get, the more this quote from one of my mentors, Michael Hyatt reveals itself in everyday experience. As leaders (we are all leaders in some area of our lives), our influence is shaped by our character, which, in turn, is formed over time by our daily choices. The fact is, who we become is not a product of the milestone moments in our lives as much as the small, seemingly inconsequential decisions we make every day.

The good news is that, unlike personality, which is fixed at birth, your character can be developed through the intentional decisions you make about how you spend your time. If you are consistent in managing them, these daily decisions become powerful forces that will encourage you to live with more passion, purpose and influence. Here are four to consider:

Decision #1: The content you consume.
How much news do you expose yourself to every day?
What are you reading and how often?
What do you listen to while driving?
How you answer questions like these says a lot about how intentional you are in developing your character. Author and speaker Matthew Kelly tells his audiences, “You show me what you’re reading and I’ll tell you what sort of person you are. If you give me a list of the books you read last year I can tell you what happened in your life. Even better, you give me a list of the books you’re going to read in the next 12 months and I will tell you what will happen in your life in the coming year.”
That’s a bold prediction, but his message rings clear: Your character is shaped by what you allow to occupy your mind every day. I recall a successful entrepreneur telling me that he largely ignores the news because, if he didn’t, he would be too fearful to launch new business ventures. Remember, regardless of which side of the political spectrum you’re on, both Fox News and MSNBC do not exist to deliver news; their goal is to achieve ratings, which means their mission is keeping you glued to the TV. Over time, the negativity, alarmism, and agenda-driven drama affects us, injecting doubt, worry and passivity that, over time, can hijack our dreams and stifle our initiative. While I’m not suggesting we ignore what’s going on in the world, I strongly believe we need to set boundaries not only on the news we watch, but on all the content we consume every day–podcasts, blogs, streaming video, social media, etc.

Decision #2: The friendships you maintain.
Personal development icon Jim Rohn famously said that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. Although we are often called through our work and personal lives to minister to many different types of people, those we choose as our closest friends and confidants will have a disproportionate influence on who we become, so we must choose them wisely. If you want to have a great marriage, for example, hang out with people with strong marriages. If you’re looking to become healthy and fit, cultivate friendships with people who practice good nutrition and exercise habits. On the other hand, avoid making close friends with people who exhibit the traits you want to avoid. Remember, birds of a feather really do flock together.

Decision #3: The beliefs you cultivate.
It’s been said that our actions ultimately reflect our beliefs. If you believe, for example, that human life is the result of random, meaningless chance verses the product of a loving, personal God who created you for a purpose, then chances are this belief will, at some point, play out in your life. Your world view–the fundamental beliefs you have about ultimate reality–matters, and every world view attempts to answer these four questions:
>Origin: How did I get here?
>Meaning: What is the ultimate meaning of my life?
>Morality: How should I live? Is there a right and wrong, and what is the difference?
>Destiny: What will happen when I die?
In a culture shaped by superficiality, these questions may seem over-the-top, but your capacity to formulate clear, confident answers to each of these will profoundly influence the breadth and depth of the person you become.

Decision #4: The habits you develop.
In his book, Make Today Count, leadership expert John Maxwell makes a provocative claim. He writes:

If I could come to your house and spend just one day with you, I would be able to tell whether or not you will be successful. You could pick the day. If I got up with you in the morning and went through the day with you, watching you for 24 hours, I could tell in what direction your life is headed.

According to John, when he shares this at conferences, he always gets a strong reaction. Some people are surprised and get defensive because they think he would be making a snap judgment about them. Others, however, are intrigued and want to know why he would make such a statement. As John points out, our character isn’t something that suddenly manifests itself in someone’s life. It is a process; every day is merely preparation for the next, and our habits–the simple, repeatable actions we consistently take over time–ultimately determine who we become. As John famously says, “You will never change anything in your life until you change something you do daily.” So what are your habits preparing you for, and is it aligned with where you truly want to go?

Of all the forces shaping the quality and impact of your life, your character stands alone. No one wants to reach the end of their life and feel regret over squandered opportunities and broken relationships, yet sadly, it will be the destination of choice for so many. The difference between experiencing regret verses a deep satisfaction with life, I believe, lies in the importance you attach to each of these life-shaping, character-defining decisions.

Question: Which of these decision areas do you feel confident you have made? Which ones have challenged you? What do you plan to do about it? I’d love to hear your comments!

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Amusement vs. Recreation: Why You Need to Know the Difference

In a recent podcast interview, author and productivity expert Michael Hyatt shared an experience taking his three daughters to Disney World in the middle of summer.

“It was hot, crowded, and miserable,” he recalled. “When I came home from that vacation, I was totally exhausted.”

Michael went on to make the point that amusement and recreation are not the same; in fact, they have completely opposite effects on your sense of well-being.

Since we live in a culture that values productivity, accomplishment, and personal drivenness (see my last post), cultivating healthy rhythms of work and recreation into your lifestyle, while minimizing mindless amusement, can be a real difference maker.

by Ilham Rahmansyah via Unsplash

When it comes to amusement verses recreation, here are four simple tests to discern the difference:

1) Amusement often tires you out, while recreation restores you.
Look at the etymology of the word “recreation.” It literally means ” to re-create,” implying an active engagement of the mind and body that is fun, focused, and restorative. But as Michael Hyatt discovered, even well intentioned activities like family vacations can leave you mentally and physically drained.

2) Amusement can be mindless while recreation makes you feel more connected to yourself and to the world around you.
Have you ever sat in front of the TV for hours, remote in hand, flipping through channels without watching anything? How does it make you feel? If you’re like me, I feel unproductive — even anxious. We use language such as “vegging out” to describe such behaviors, which implies disconnection; we’re acting like vegetables — living organisms but with no brains.

3) Amusement is usually unplanned; recreation is intentional.
Think about the things you truly enjoy doing, that when you’re doing them you lose all sense of time. Examples may include fishing, playing a musical instrument, exercise, painting, reading, writing, prayer and meditation, gardening, etc. In most cases, activities like these need to be planned for. Amusement, on the other hand, tends to be spontaneous, flowing out of unscheduled or “idle” time.

4) Amusement plays to your weaknesses while recreation enhances your strengths.
I remember the years I spent playing football in high school and college. During the season, when my daily schedule was filled up with classes, practice, and homework, I would tell myself how much harder I will study when the demands of the season are over and my time frees up. But invariably, I squandered most of that “free” time with unproductive things and, instead of improving my grades, they would usually decline. I think this is true for most people — unscheduled, unplanned time frequently flows to our weaknesses. Meaningful recreation, on the other hand, because it contributes to our growth, sharpens us, making us better equipped to handle the stresses of our lives.

Of course, there will always be times when you have to put your own needs aside for the sake of your family or for others. (I’ll bet Michael Hyatt’s daughters felt differently about their Disney experience than he did!) After all, life is not all about us.

Learning to incorporate intentional and repeatable rhythms of recreation into your life while minimizing mindless amusement and idleness can be a game changer, enabling you to inject a fresh sense of passion and purpose into your work and your life.

How do you spend your free time? Have you ever experienced any of these four distinctions between amusement and recreation in your approach to leisure? What would it mean to your life to discover one or two pursuits that energize and restore you?

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