Are you in a self-created prison? Are you limiting your success? Jen interviews Brian Fowlie who learned meditation to free his mind while in prison, which ultimately helped him get released. Now he helps people break through the walls of limitation and develop personal empowerment.
Brian talks about how the prison system helped him see and breakthrough his limitations. You’ll also learn the business mindset benefits of meditation.This podcast episode helped me break free from self-inflicted limitations. It can help you too! #podernfamily #meditation #freedom Click To Tweet
Things We Mention
- Brian’s nonprofit, Community Catharsis Solutions
- The Prophet, by Khalil Gibran
- Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankel
- Close Your Eyes, Open Your Mind: a Practical Guide to Spiritual Meditation
About Brian Fowlie
Brian Fowlie left home at 14 years old, becoming a homeless youth. Brian experienced drug and alcohol abuse combined with violence on the streets and soon became part of the juvenile justice system. By the time Brian was 21 years old, he had earned himself a 17-year to life sentence in California’s Department of Corrections. He walked into San Quentin fully expecting to die a convict death.
Brian did not get better in prison, he got worse. He spent the first 9 years building a reputation based on violence, volatility, and prison credibility in order to build what he believed to be walls of protection, keeping him safe and helping him survive in prison.
In 1997 a couple of significant events took place that combined to create the desire for change.
Brian realized that he was miserable and put into action a program that led him to accountability, personal empowerment, spiritual devotion, and uplifting his fellow convicts.
The prison was his home; he was going to live out the rest of his life there and die there, so he set out on a daily path of creating a different culture than the one that had himself and his friends miserable, depressed, self-loathing, and hopeless. He set out to change his view of his world, choosing to practice living each day with personal accountability, love, hope, possibility, inclusion, and peace of mind.
Brian was granted parole by the California Board of Parole Hearings and was released after serving more than 22 years in prison. He was 21 when he committed his crime and he was 43 years old when he walked back out of State prison.
Soon after his release, Brian took a minimum wage job. He was stoked because $8.00 an hour was a huge raise from his prison job, which paid pennies. He continued to strive, finding a better paying job later that year and has continued to progress into a journeyman inside wireman electrician, a trade that he learned in prison.
Brian earned his Bachelor’s of Science in Criminal Justice Administration with a Human Services Focus. He has continued with his graduate studies working toward a Master’s Degree in Peacemaking and Conflict Studies.
While working to provide for his family, going to school to further his education, Brian has also stayed busy serving his community by working with at-risk-youths, Keynote Speaker for the California Coalition for Youth Taking Action Conference 2012, and has even gone back into two prisons and a county jail to work with the prisoners he left behind, sharing his story, successes and challenges he has faced through his transition from a “Lifer” in prison to a citizen and community member in good standing.
The future is bright and the ride continues. As Brian says, “God’s got it, so buckle up”. Come key in on the details, tap into the success techniques, develop the mindset to overcome any obstacle, be it physical prisons or the prisons of your mind that hold you back. The energy is contagious, the movement is inevitable, change is not only possible, but it’s coming…open up to it and invite it in through intention and personal empowerment.
Brian Fowlie Episode Transcript
Jennifer: Yeah. It has a little SD card in it, and I just pop that put and put it in the computer and-
Brian: Download it and it’s fresh, wipe it out, start over.
Jennifer: I’ve never had to start over. Right now the whole record of the whole podcast is sitting on this thing.
Jennifer: Yeah. It’s kind of neat.
Brian: You’ve downloaded it so you’ve saved it somewhere else?
Jennifer: Yeah. They’re on a Google drive, and then we send then to Tanner. He’s our editor.
Brian: Where is he at?
Jennifer: [00:00:30] He’s on the East Coast actually, yeah. I’d like to meet him sometime. He’s been really helpful with all of the equipment stuff. Twile and I, Twile is my co-host. We’re just a couple of chuckleheads like “Oh, we’re gonna do this thing,” and didn’t plan it out as well ’cause we just thought it’ll be fun.
Brian: And he’s like “Yeah, you might want to do this.”
Jennifer: Yeah, pretty much. He’s like “Yeah. Why don’t you get a recorder,” and that’s what this is, “So you’re not talking to the computer and it’ll sound better, and get some new microphones.”
Jennifer: [00:01:00] So, yeah. It sounds pretty good. I might be able to hear the lake a little bit, but that’s all right.
Brian: I love it.
Jennifer: It’s so nice out here.
Jennifer: So nice out here. All right. I’ll do the intro, and then we’ll …
Jennifer: Foulie is how you say your last name?
Jennifer: Is it really spelled I-E?
Jennifer: That’s rad.
Jennifer: I saw that on the book and I was like “Is [00:01:30] that a typo, man? I’ve never seen that.” I don’t know. I just expected …
Brian: Yeah. It’s actually a Scottish name.
Jennifer: It’s a Scottish name?
Brian: Yeah. It was Foulis, and I have our family cross tattooed on my hip here. Our motto was Foulis [inaudible 00:01:49], and it was F-O-U-L-I-S. Through immigration, so many names have changed for the immigration stations. Somehow, it became Foulie and Scotch- [00:02:00] Irish, Scottish and Irish. Scotch is a drink. Scott-Irish would be appropriate I guess.
Jennifer: We don’t know McFarland.
Jennifer: We think it was probably McFarlane. My dad’s tried to trace it back to find out.
Brian: So son of Farlane.
Jennifer: I think it means a far away land, I think it’s kind of what we … We were [00:02:30] out in the country somewhere probably.
Jennifer: He only got it as far back as I think South Carolina.
Brian: My understanding is the Macs are son of.
Brian: Mac, son of, and MC, M-C, it would probably be short for Mac, right? McFarland.
Jennifer: That’s what I’m thinking.
Jennifer: I don’t know.
Brian: Son of a far away land.
Jennifer: Son of Farland? Farlane?
Brian: I know a McFarland in Oregon. That’s why I’d asked about [00:03:00] it. Your bother.
Jennifer: Yeah. Probably not my brother.
Brian: No, it’s not, but I had to ask ’cause the name-
Jennifer: I don’t think he knows anybody from Fresno.
Brian: I’m not from Fresno, but I landed in Fresno from the Bay Area.
Jennifer: From the Bay Area.
Brian: I’m a San Franciscan.
Brian: Originally. OG. French Hospital, San Francisco. Yeah. Lived in Diamond Heights until I was [00:03:30] three. Mass migration out of San Francisco of cops and firefighters ’cause of the [inaudible 00:03:36] program. They worked to have home in neighborhoods they wanted their kids to go to school in, and then they have to send them to neighborhoods they didn’t want their kids to go to school in.
It led to a mass exodus of second generations, civil servants of San Francisco, to the places they could afford on a cop salary and a firefighter salary, which was Novato, not Mill Valley, or Tiburon, or Sausalito. [00:04:00] Track homes in [inaudible 00:04:02].
Jennifer: Wow. All right. Are you ready?
Jennifer: Intro time.
Brian: Are you running right now? Are you rolling?
Jennifer: Oh, yeah. I’ve been recording for a while.
Brian: Oh, Jimmy Cricket. Now I got nervous. No, I’m just kidding.
Jennifer: Why did you get nervous? You can start it early so that … What Twile and I do, I don’t know what happens to us, we turn the recorder on and we’ll be like “Okay, are you ready? We’re [00:04:30] gonna talk about this stuff, right?” The recorder’s not on, and we’ll just be like “Okay. Yeah. Got this. We’re gonna do this. Okay. Got it, got it.”
Brian: And then Tanner’s all “Hey lighten up, you guys.”
Jennifer: No. We turn the recorder on, and all of a sudden we’re like “Hey,” and we’re making all these sounds in the microphone.
Brian: Hamming it up.
Jennifer: Making faces at each other, and then I have to stop the recorder three times and be like “Okay, stop it.” We start laughing again and making faces at each other. We’ve only had 12 or [00:05:00] 13 episodes, and we already have two episodes without takes ’cause we’re just like … Before we ever get there, we’re like jackassing for hours, and then it’s like “Okay, okay, okay. Are you ready? Okay, okay, okay. Let’s start. Okay. All right” Then, we start giggling again.
Brian: I can see it building.
Jennifer: With Tim, it was like “Are you ready to do this? All right. Pum,” and started. We’ve been sitting here and talking [00:05:30] so … It’s what happens when I have my coffee.
Brian: Warm up.
Jennifer: Gotta warm up.
Brian: Yeah. That’s a sailboat.
Jennifer: Is that what that is?
Jennifer: Wow, okay. I thought it was a bird. All right. Hello and welcome to the podcast. I’m Jen McFarland, and this podcast is for business owners who are looking to get unstuck. Have you ever thought about what it would be like to [00:06:00] have your entire day completely structured, and then going from that structure into, I don’t know, maybe starting a non-profit and talking to people about leadership?
Well, I’m sitting here with somebody who can tell us all about that. For all that and more, stay tuned. Is that okay?
Jennifer: All right … All right, so welcome back. I’m sitting here today with Brian Foulie. [00:06:30] I just have had so much fun with you this week at Chatcolab. It’s a Northwest leadership lab up here in Rathdrum, Idaho. We’re actually sitting here lakeside at Twinlow. What do you think about that?
Brian: I love the sounds of the waves lapping on the shore and looking at these incredible trees. The tree line comes right down to the lake, and fresh air. It’s an awesome place to be talking to you.
Jennifer: Yeah, it is. It is. I just want to say I’m so grateful [00:07:00] I got to meet you this week, and that you’ve been here talking to everybody. I’ve learned so much from you about leadership.
Brian: Thank you.
Jennifer: I just think you have a really compelling story for how you would end up. You start off as somebody born in San Francisco, and here you are. You’ve had such a journey to get here.
Brian: It’s a journey, yeah. 50 years old to sit here. It’s been quite a ride.
Jennifer: Is it safe to say you never thought [00:07:30] you’d be … There was a time in your life that you never thought you’d be doing this?
Brian: Absolutely. There’s many years in my life that I never thought this was even on the realm of possibilities. As a matter of fact, it was beyond the ability to fantasize about it, ’cause I couldn’t even … It was that big. There’s no possible way my mind could’ve even went in that direction, absolutely.
Jennifer: Do you want to talk about that?
Brian: Sure, yeah. At the age of 21, [00:08:00] I actually committed a crime of second-degree murder, and was sentenced to 17 years to life in California State Prison, and went into San Quentin, a young man full of fear, and desperation, and despair, and hopelessness, and knowing I was gonna die in prison. The reality of that was pretty much evidence-based of what I saw of the prison [00:08:30] system from the county jail experience, and lifers didn’t come out.
My life was gonna be the convict life behind the walls of San Quentin. The first nine and a half years of that were pretty heavy adjusting to that reality and what that looked like for me in a very structured environment. You had mentioned that in your intro. Talk about structure, concrete walls, and steel, [00:09:00] and routine, and depending on someone else to open the cell door to allow access to fresh air sometimes. The cell block certainly weren’t …
Very structured. To be here today, that journey, that transformation that had to happen on the inside was quite a ride.
Jennifer: Yeah. [00:09:30] You’re an amazing man. I’m just gonna say that. I’ve been able to just see you and be with you all week, and I can’t imagine that you’re the same person today that you were when you went to prison.
Brian: Yeah. Not even close. Society was doing the right thing, believe me. I needed to make some adjustments, and my community was not better for having me in it. Removing me was necessary for me to make the changes that I need [00:10:00] to make to actually understand citizenship and value, that to be a part of our communities.
When we talk about leadership, that’s really where my focus went to, was how do I build a better me to be a leader in my community. As a lifer, my community wasn’t the town that I grew up in anymore. I was exiled. I was an exile from there, so my community was the prison yard. I had a really hostile, aggressive, dysfunctional, [00:10:30] steeped in years of prison culture environment in which to work with.
I had an incredible training ground that I was gonna go a different direction, which I think is a lot like the business world, like where do I want to be as an owner of a non-profit today, and what do I want to be doing, and what’s the models that I want to replicate or the direction that I want to go. It was quite a journey.
Jennifer: Well, I thank you for that. I think there’s a lot [00:11:00] of parallels in every way except for this structure, ’cause I just want to say … And we’ve talked about it a little bit. Every day I’m like “Wow.” I keep thinking I need to build in more structure, more structure because I’m not too far removed from working in an office environment where there’s a lot of structure.
Jennifer: I’m working on building my own structure. I don’t want to replicate where I came from, but I want to create an environment where I can be my most creative best self for my clients, [00:11:30] and then for my own personal goals. Sometimes, I feel like I’m flailing around a little bit because things happen as an entrepreneur that you’re like “I didn’t see that coming.”
Jennifer: And you’re just kind of like “Holly cow.” There’s so many things that can happen when you’re not in a structured office environment where you have someone who’s helping you with emails and making copies, or things like that, let alone coming from a structure where it’s like I’m gonna tell you [00:12:00] how much time you have in the shower, and when you’re gonna eat, and when you get to go outside.
Brian: And what you’re gonna eat.
Jennifer: And what you’re gonna eat.
Jennifer: One of the things that I’ve been reflecting on throughout the week is when I talk to business owners and they say they don’t have access to resources, [00:12:30] or they can’t make changes, we all have these mental barriers. We put ourselves in this cell, and I’ve seen a lot of parallels between … And we’ve talked about it throughout the week, how we put ourselves in these cages, in these cells of thinking.
We really limit ourselves. When I talk to people and they say they don’t have access to resources, and then I talk to you and I’m like “Man, how did you get access to all these books [00:13:00] and these people when you’re in prison?” It’s just amazing to me.
Brian: Right. I think you’re right on point. There’s all kinds of prisons is what I was hearing. To find ourselves in a cell in the business world, in our company, and being stuck and feeling like we’re pigeonholed and don’t have much direction to go, there’s nowhere left to turn. That’s a good picture that you painted.
As a man who had to tap into creative resources [00:13:30] to think differently than the status quo in the prison system, to reach outside of the box and find how to draw people to me, I had to use some creative angles and reframe the way I was looking at it. Freedom is not a geographical location. There’s all kinds of prisons in the world, and I came around on that when I became a meditator.
I started going inside instead of outside. My whole prison experience was looking [00:14:00] at what was around me and all this reinforcement on my limitations. Every day I was told how limited I was. Many times a day, over and over, and over again. This is all you get. This is the limitations. I took the other direction and went inside, and started opening prison doors. Gates were opening for me because of I think the creative energy that I was tapping into.
The resources came. They came to me. I wasn’t able to get to them, and I initiated every [00:14:30] contact whether it was writing to someone about bringing a meditation program into the prison, and then getting the response, and then getting books, and then getting a spot that we could do a program. Next thing you know, Trappist monk is coming in to teach centering prayer from Kentucky. He comes to California to spend time with us. Next thing you know, the warden of that prison is sitting in that room, closing his eyes for 20 minutes.
[00:15:00] That’s an incredible thing to happen from reaching outside the box and taking the step, and making the contact, or sitting there and saying “Oh, I don’t have any resources. This is all I’ve got. This is where I’m at.” I have to look beyond. I think as leaders, as growing companies, we always need to look for the next barrier to look beyond, to get beyond it.
Jennifer: Wow. My mind is just blown. I’m sorry. I’m processing all of that [00:15:30] as we sit here. This Twinlow retreat center is just so amazing. We were walking last night, and we went up to the labyrinth, and we were talking, and we’re coming down and you were talking about how you’ve had all these great gurus and people come into your life. To know that you were able to initiate all of that and just take steps …
You’re in prison. You’re like “Well, what [00:16:00] have I got to lose? I’m just gonna write to people and see if anybody comes.” Right?
Jennifer: I think some of the limitations that we all put on ourselves when we’re out here in our own place, it’s like “Who am I to write a letter and reach out to somebody?”
Jennifer: I think it’s such a powerful lesson to think “Man, you gotta look outside the box.” You have to always be searching for that new thing, searching for [00:16:30] that knowledge and not being limited by what you see right in front of you. I think that’s a really powerful message for anybody, but especially a business owner or a solopreneur, one person without employees who doesn’t have an unlimited budget to get out there and do it. Meditation, was that the first step? Was it reading first, and then moving into meditation?
Brian: [00:17:00] I would say the meditation was the second step. My own comfortableness with where I was, was the first step, and acknowledging that I was at a place where mentally and spiritually, and I think too as a human being and where my life was, I wasn’t satisfied. Meditation was a tool that I used to expand that, to go into a different place. I’d say it was second.
[00:17:30] What happened was it unfolded in a way that I didn’t realize that it would take me to the lengths of thinking outside the evidence of what the prison was telling me was my reality, to keep on stepping in spite of the external evidence that was telling me I was gonna die in prison. Everything around me told me I was limited, and that I was gonna die the lifer death [00:18:00] in prison. Lifer. Not life or death, but lifer death as a life prisoner, 17 years to life, that I was gonna die that death inside of the state prison.
It took me to a place where I went beyond that and was like “If this is what I want, what am I gonna do today?” I can’t see 10 years from now, but I got today, and I really got into that mindset of being the best me that I could every day. I wanted to go to sleep knowing that the footprint that I had left [00:18:30] prior to prison was one that I couldn’t change, but I could change the footprint that I was leaving today, if that makes sense.
It was like “This is what I got. What are you gonna do today? How are you gonna show up today?” A lot of times, we can get stuck in our past failures where we’re coming up short, or where it looks like we can’t go anymore, and it’s like “What am I gonna do today instead of being paralyzed by it?” It could stop us in our tracks, and we can be completely non-productive, and maybe even go backwards and be destructive.
Jennifer: Absolutely. [00:19:00] Thank you for reminding me about that. I do that, and I think a lot of people do where you ruminate on the past, or you get fearful about the future, and you don’t stop and pause, and feel real grateful about what do I have today, what’s right in front of me, who am I with. That’s one of the things that I’m learning right now. I’m really learning about meditation and really embarking [00:19:30] on that journey myself right now.
Whenever I pause and say “Hey, I got this great husband. I have a roof over my head.” It just calms me down instantly to realize all the great things that I have, a business that’s doing really well. I have all these things. Why am I stressing about next week or next month? Next month may not even come ’cause you don’t know.
Brian: Yeah. [00:20:00] It’s pretty good today.
Jennifer: Today is great.
Brian: Yeah. I think that the meditative process that we get better everywhere. My life got improved everywhere through becoming a meditator, and I think there’s creative juices that start flowing, and I think not get unraveled. The universe is doing the therapy, and I’m just sitting and opening myself up to that process, not knowing what the agenda’s gonna be.
I can bite into in meditation that what a good meditation is, what does a good meditation look [00:20:30] like. I experience bliss or I check out, or my mind went blank which is crazy by the way. Minds don’t go blank. The best we can do is focus them in the direction we want them to go. That stops a lot of people from being meditators ’cause they say “I can’t make my mind go blank. I’m a businessman. I’m always thinking.”
Yeah, you are, and you’re also, when you’re thinking about business, you’re working into that very concentrated focus. You’re focusing in a direction that you’re moving, and you’re practicing a form of non-spiritual meditation. [00:21:00] The focus happens, and as we open up to the process and say “My meditation may be a struggle.” In the practice I use, we use the word Sadhana, which means when we sit for meditation, we’re doing Sadhana, which is sustained effort, not deep relaxation.
It’s sustained effort. What happens in the workforce. We’re building a business. Sustained effort. You have to stick with it and show up every day, and open to the process. The creativity [00:21:30] starts coming where I start seeing things differently. It’s not that I just took my glasses off and changed my lenses, but it starts changing from the inside. The presence stays the same, the limitations were still there, the evidence that I was seeing was still there. I just started looking at the things that I wanted to look at instead of the obstacles in front of me.
I wasn’t any longer buying into the lie, and I was moving into possibility. I think that happens with creative energy, like my psyche gives [00:22:00] me when I’m capable of handling. That’s why I like journaling, I like writing. I’m a fan of the writing process because it cracks open something inside of me that doesn’t come forth unless I honor it by giving it a gateway to come through.
In other words, when I journal, I don’t worry about punctuation. I don’t capitalize the first letter of the new sentence. Sometimes, I don’t put periods or commas, or semi-colons where they belong. I just kind of let it flow, and it takes on a life of its own. [00:22:30] It opens up and gives me more. My psyche gives me more when it starts the momentum, but I have to open the gate. I have to start tapping into it. Then, next thing you know, there’s an external manifestation of that. I’m seeing things different in my world. It starts changing.
Jennifer: That’s amazing. I’ve started seeing some of that in my own meditation. I honestly think that … I can’t remember the exact statistics, but they say that we only access like 10% of our [00:23:00] brain or something like that.
Brian: Maybe it’s 3%.
Jennifer: Maybe 3%.
Jennifer: I’ve wondered if meditation unlocks some of that. It gives us access to more, not because your mind is blank, but just because you’re introducing a new process, and you start to see things differently, things that had been in front of you all the time. You just haven’t been able to see it.
Brian: Yeah, and I agree. I think that the meditative process is an expansive process and it’s expanding. It expands [00:23:30] us. We come into alignment with more possibility, and we open the heart, we open the heart to a way that naturally comes out in our external world. They have to align up at some point. It starts with that inside journey that opens it up to change on the outside, seeing things differently.
I may see my business in a little different angle. I may see resources from a different perspective, but if I’m left in my little prison cell looking through a keyhole [00:24:00] in the door, the only thing I see is directly in front of that keyhole. I don’t get the panoramic view. Meditation is a way to start cultivating my sight to the panoramic. I get the bigger picture, and then I’m able to act in my microcosm in a more panoramic view with a bigger picture of where I’m going or what I want to believe in, or what I want to see as possibility.
Jennifer: That’s amazing. Now that you’re [00:24:30] not in prison, which thank you for that. I’m glad you’re not in prison. I’m glad that you’re out here sharing. I think your story is very unique because I think there’s a very small percentage of people that go through this journey and get to live. Is that fair?
Brian: Very small percentage that survive a life sentence are released from a life sentence. I didn’t went in appeal in court. I didn’t get let off for what I did. I didn’t get out early for [00:25:00] good behavior. What I did in California was I not only served the time that they wanted to see me serve, which turned out to be more than 22 years. I went in as a 21 year old man, and came out 43 years old, 22+ years later.
I made the changes. They have an accountability thing, and public safety’s their first concern. It’s the right concern to bet on a guy like me who was destructive in my [00:25:30] youth. It took a long time to show them that I had patterns of problem-solving that were appropriate as a citizen. I took a long time to show them that, and rightly so. It should take a long time to show that. I believe that as a guy who is a family man, and I want my family to be safe in my community.
I think about that today and what does that mean. Guess what? I’m your neighbor. I’m your neighbor. Who do you have as a neighbor? Hopefully, a better product out of this prison system [00:26:00] than you put in 22 years earlier. That’s [crosstalk 00:26:03].
Jennifer: Yeah. They want to make sure that when things happen, your resources are sound and you’re not gonna reach for a weapon or something like that. They want you to be that man who when somebody gets shot, you’re calling the police and help.
Brian: First aid, yeah.
Jennifer: Like you did. You told me that story about a young man who got shot and came to your porch, and you [00:26:30] helped him.
Brian: I did. Yeah. That’s who my community wants me to be. Guess who showed up? That guy showed up. That’s who I am.
Jennifer: That’s who you are.
Brian: Yeah, absolutely.
Jennifer: Talk a little bit about your non-profit and how you’re giving back, and how you’re trying to create more Brian Foulies in the world.
Brian: Sure, and what I believe in this community. Community Catharsis Solutions is the non-profit [00:27:00] that Tim McCain and I own. Our goal in developing that non-profit was to deliver services to help cultivate leaders in our communities, to help cultivate healing in our communities, and to help cultivate good citizens.
We wanted to teach people the techniques that we had used to make the changes inside of the state prison, that led to our eventual release, and me being a good neighbor, me putting [00:27:30] my shopping cart back when I go to the store, me buying by the social contract. So many people don’t. They don’t care. It’s a very individualistic, self-centered, egocentric community that I came home to, and I’m like “What’s happening out here?”
Our non-profit is designed to provide services to a wide spectrum of people. We’re here in Chatcolab, and it’s not quite the drug programs, or the juvenile facilities, [00:28:00] or the adult corrections. The people up here … I don’t know how to explain it. Maybe you can do a pretty good job.
Jennifer: Yeah. Chatcolab’s been around for 70 years. I think it’s mostly families from Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Utah, that just come together to put together a family camp for adults and kids. I would say most people have had different experiences, [00:28:30] but they’ve lived more of the American dream than maybe some other people. They have their own problems, but it’s not the same as going to a drug facility.
Brian: Yeah. I was looking this morning at a sign in the dining room that says “Chatcolab goals.” The first one is learn more about yourself. The second one is use [00:29:00] what we have learned about working with other people, so to put it to use. Then, communicate and make decisions more effectively, and have fun, fun, fun. Those are the goals of Chatcolab.
I’d say that’s exactly what we believe at Community Catharsis Solutions, is that we believe in the same thing. It’s a fit for us to be here teaching, [00:29:30] presenting on leadership through building a better you. That’s what we do.
Jennifer: I think you’re a good fit to talk to on the podcast because what we’ve been working throughout the week is your program that basically is what’s getting you stuck, what’s holding you back, what’s making you angry.
Brian: Yeah. Right.
Jennifer: Then, what are some action steps, what are some tangible action steps that you can take to make change.
Brian: Yeah. As Ross had pointed out in his Saving The [00:30:00] Future, my approach is from the symptomatic. We’re looking at what’s not working, where are we stuck, what’s the self-inflicted limitation that’s keeping me from being where I want to be, what’s keeping me and my business from being where I want to be. Then, who’s accountable to it? It’s me. I’m the only one, man. It’s not your fault.
Jennifer: That was the part when I got really angry by the way. I just want to say that. I have my laundry list of complaints. We go through it, like what’s making you really angry and stuff, and then the next say it’s like ” [00:30:30] Okay. Who’s accountable?” I was like “Oh my God. It’s me.” Then, I was just like “Ah.” I kept writing it down, and I’m like “No. Yeah. That’s me. Yeah, I’m responsible for that.” I was just like “Ah, shit. I don’t want to do this anymore.”
Brian: Yeah. Then, since we’re accountable to it, we have to come up with at least three solutions. We have to have action plans, not just say “Oh, yeah. It’s my fault,” and go ahead and carry that burden, but “How do we fix it? What’s [00:31:00] the action plan?” Without awareness, there’s not really responsibility to it. If I don’t know it’s there, if I don’t know it’s a problem, then how do I go about fixing it? I can’t.
With awareness comes responsibility. That’s what we’re talking about and teaching this really simple, not easy, but simple process of identifying what the issue is, that I’m responsible for it, I’m accountable to it, I’m playing at least a part in the role of it, and I could do some things different to change it, and then what are those [00:31:30] things that I need to apply in order to get outside of that limitation, to get on the other side of it.
Jennifer: Yeah, I love that. I love the way you say it. It is so challenging and simple at the same time. I think it just really lets you know that you don’t need a lot of resources, you don’t need to have the biggest guru or coaching plan, or whatever you think that you need. You need to focus on what’s inside of you, and what’s keeping you [00:32:00] from doing that thing, whatever that is. It doesn’t even have to do with your business. Anything that’s keeping you from being the best you.
Jennifer: How do you unlock that?
Brian: Yeah, and that’s a good point. It just made me think of something that I’ve heard and I don’t know where I heard it exactly the first time. There’s not an external solution to that internal dilemma. There’s just not. It’s gonna be an inside job, like you said. It’s mine. What do I do with it? It’s up to me to make the move.
Jennifer: [00:32:30] Yeah. One of the things I’ve been researching and thinking about for myself is a morning routine or an evening routine. Do you have anything like that? Do you get up and do you meditate first thing, or journal? Do you have any patterns that you follow?
Brian: Yeah. They fluctuate through time, and depending on what’s going on. I would say that today, my morning routine is very different than it was 10 years ago.
Jennifer: Well, yeah.
Brian: A lot less structured, and I’ve got babies.
Jennifer: [00:33:00] Yeah.
Brian: Yeah, young babies. My routine is really structured around them. The self-care has to take place. I have to put myself first in some areas. Meditation is one of the things that, since I’ve come home, has been in a state of flux. In prison, it was really easy. What started as discipline then became a ritual that I would do this, this time a day, and meditation, it’s good to do it the same time of morning [00:33:30] so you develop an internal clock on when you’re gonna do this process, and then same time in the afternoon.
Then, it turned into devotion, where it was started as discipline, to ritual, to devotion, to what I felt like I couldn’t breathe right unless I sat and meditated. I was really taking care of myself. That hasn’t become so important out here with all the distractions, and life happening, and working, and hustling, and [00:34:00] making money, and taking care of my family, and the babies, and everything that there is. Being a homeowner now, I got a lot of work to do on my three acres.
Jennifer: You sound like a normal guy.
Brian: Yeah. Imagine that. Here I am. It’s very different, but it changes, and writing, journaling, is a big part of my creative process. When I tap into a place of wanting to create, wanting to change, wanting to develop a non-profit, journaling [00:34:30] is a big part of that. I like to journal in the morning and in the evening. I also like to meditate in the morning and in the evening.
I like to meditate before drinking coffee, which is a stimulant and it gets my mind hoping. First thing in the morning, I cool my body down, I do some stretching, I sit down and meditate, and then get up and start my day. When I make time for that, I tend to have a more grounded day. I tend to be a little more grounded, and then by the afternoon, I’m screwed up again, so I’m ready to do it [00:35:00] again. I’ll do the same kind of thing and just slow it down. It’s a little harder in the afternoon ’cause there’s so many things left to do when I come home from work.
Brian: It’s a tougher time, rather than first thing in the morning. The challenge in first thing in the morning is trying to get out the door, so I gotta get up a little earlier. Literally, it’s a 4:30 AM wake-up for me to get it going.
Jennifer: Yeah, ’cause you got the kids, you gotta go to work.
Brian: Yeah. There’s a lot to do in the morning before I get out of the house. I have to have that time, and I have a better [00:35:30] day. Depending on what I’m working on, depends on the intensity of that because as I’m working on heavier stuff, or more complicated, or my life is getting more complicated, my days are including being spread out in different directions, I need that more. It’s not the place to throttle back on that. It’s the place to pick that up because the challenges are becoming tougher.
I know that’s a solution for me. People tend to do the opposite, “Oh, it’s getting complicated, [00:36:00] it’s getting more complex. I don’t have time for that anymore.” That’s when I really need it, and then I find that, I traverse those things better.
Jennifer: That makes so much sense. You’re saying exactly what my business coaches say at Thrive Academy. The more self-care that you practice, the more clients you’ll get, and the better you’ll feel, and you’ll be a better you, so then you shine a light on yourself, and then you attract [00:36:30] more people to your business.
Jennifer: I think if you just want to be a better person, it’s not even about business. It’s about showing up more for your family. I think meditation helps with that, just being the best you, have that visualization or meditation, the journaling. I’m a big writer too. I haven’t devoted as much time myself to writing. You’re really reminding me [00:37:00] that’s something I need to do. I need to do these things. You need to fill your life with joy so that you can share more joy with others.
Brian: Agreed. Absolutely. Yeah.
Jennifer: I think it’s something that we can all learn. Okay, I’ll leave you with this. What would be a couple of books that you would recommend to people either about leadership, or meditation, or just stuff that you like to read? [00:37:30] You’re like an avid reader. You do a lot of reading.
Brian: I do. One of my favorite books is The Prophet. Kahlil-
Brian: Yeah. That’s a bedside book.
Jennifer: That’s a good book.
Brian: I love to go back to it. It’s something I pick up and it just moves my soul. It gets me grounded. I think it grounds me in what’s really important and present in my life. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl [00:38:00] is another one that has helped me define a reason to be, to have the purpose, what is the purpose of my business, what is the purpose of my life, what am I doing. I have to have a reason for going forward, otherwise any direction’s gonna be okay, and that’s not okay for me.
Those are two, and then I gave you one last night that is a book written by one of my dear friends and meditation teachers [00:38:30] Dada Nabhaniilananda. That’s a mouthful, but he is a yogi, a master musician, a writer and a meditation teacher. His book that I gave you is called Close Your Eyes, Open Your Mind: The Practical Guide To Spiritual Meditation.
Jennifer: You know I love the practical guide.
Jennifer: I don’t need this esoteric fuzzy thing. Just tell me what to do and I’ll do it.
Brian: Yeah. [00:39:00] That’s what we’ve been talking about all week, is practical application, not theoretical concepts on how to make change. We’ve been talking about tell me what to do, how do I do it [inaudible 00:39:09]. That’s what our three step process is about, with identifying, accountability and then an action plan. It’s practical application, and apply it, and see what happens. It’s like “Tell me how to do it in my daily life. Don’t tell me some theory on what it should be like,” ’cause I always come up short on those things. I always blow it.
Jennifer: Yeah, no. Theory is great if you’re [00:39:30] writing research papers and going to grad school.
Jennifer: I did a lot of theory in a lot of papers and learned a lot. A actually studied leadership in grad school. It taught me a lot, and I rely on it, but nothing beats practical applications on the ground.
Brian: For me, I need those kind of examples. How do you do it on a daily basis? How do you do it in your daily life? That’s what I can grab onto, and then apply in my life. I need help. I need to be told [00:40:00] how to do it.
Jennifer: I think we all do.
Jennifer: Community Catharsis Solutions. Who should contact you if they want to learn more?
Brian: Anybody that’s desiring change, looking to think outside the box, maybe get better, maybe grow, maybe stretch, and anybody who’s looking to stand shoulder to shoulder with us to build better communities. We are all in.
Jennifer: Yeah. Me too, man. [00:40:30] Thank you so much for sitting down with me today and making some time. I look forward to today’s session, and just learning more and staying in touch. Thanks a lot.
Brian: You bet. You’re welcome, Jen. A pleasure to be with you too.
Hi! I’m Jen! I have over 25 years of training, teaching, and executive experience in leadership, strategic project planning, and digital marketing. Today, I am the founder of Women Conquer Business, a boutique consulting firm dedicated to helping women, people of color, and the LGBTQ+ community build sustainable businesses. I’m a frequent guest speaker and trainer. Get access to my free business growth accelerator and hang out with me on my weekly women in business podcast, Women Conquer Business.