My guest today is Bryan Buckley host of The Energy Edge Podcast. (Initial technical difficulties have been resolved-I hope). We met last year as part of an entrepreneur conference he hosted and subsequently Bryan had me as a guest on his podcast. Listen to the episode here.
If you resonate with our conversation about busy to burn out and the exhaustion cycle, you might enjoy my free 7 Practical Steps to Restoring Balance. Get access here.
Here is Bryan’s story from his website.
WHEN YOU LIVE FAST, YOU CRASH HARD.
In 2011, my body started kicking back. Doctors couldn’t find anything wrong which was good and bad news.
But I knew.
And, I chose to ignore it since there was too much to do and not enough time to do it. To be honest, I didn’t want to stop and rest.
My identity was in my drive and producing results. What would happen if I fell behind? What if I was no longer needed?
It happened – the crash. It was like a high-performance car driver always doing a 100 taking a sharp curve at 70 marked for 30 and hitting the wall. This time it hit back, and I didn’t get up quickly. C’mon man.
Something was seriously wrong.
In March 2015, the energizer bunny energy was now sold separately. No more workouts, marathons, and little sleep. Everything took longer, and my symptoms were paralyzing.
And of course, I didn’t want anyone to know. Pride anyone?
CHEAP GAS AND NO MAINTENANCE.
This high performer was sidelined. Using cheap gas, ignoring maintenance and wanting every repair quick and inexpensive just to “get back out there” was to my demise.
The hard driving me was a thing of the past.
But how could this be? I was only 45, and although I could still get more done than most people, it was not at my “high performance” pace and energy level. This Superman found his kryptonite, and I’m allergic to kryptonite. Not cool.
I was almost 30 pounds over-weight, felt horrible, and didn’t have the energy to do anything about it. Just lovely.
EVER HEARD OF “ADRENAL FATIGUE?” I HADN’T.
At some point in life, everyone needs a coach, mentor or guide, and this high performer was finally ready. My stress and pace had damaged my adrenal glands that produced my energy. Something had to change, or it would shut my body down.
With my life physically and emotionally on a downward spiral, I reached out for help from a good friend who had been in my situation but even worse. Telling her was like the dam breaking. Fortunately for me, she knew the symptoms and even better, the solutions.
To be honest, this scared me. I was the sole provider for my family and was forced to change. Everyone always saw me as the person with unlimited energy, and now I was, well, human.
This was not going to be a quick fix. I had blown an engine and needed to learn how to run the race differently.
RESTED, REFUELED, AND RE-ENGAGED.
My life completely changed by learning how to sleep (for the first time since college), take breaks, and planned downtime. You just never hear of high performers resting.
I also learned proper nutrition, fitness, and energy was creating activities to refuel my body and energy to re-engage back in life every single day.
As a result, my health and energy have been coming back, and the weight is gone. I’m finally getting my girlish figure back along with my confidence.
My experience and learning have created a passion in me to help others find and develop their “energy edge” so they can maximize their productivity and excel in what they feel called to do in life. As a result, I can help save time and increase impact. Isn’t that what we want in the end?
Your energy is the key to your ultimate productivity. I learned the hard way. I want to teach you the lessons learned and the secret sauce.
Check out Bryan’s 5 Minute Energy Kickstart, 5 x three-minute videos to help kickstart your energy and help you be more productive.
Aaron: Friends. Welcome to work life play. I'm your host, Aaron McHugh. I'm here to help you find work you love, learn to play, live adventurously, become curious and live your life with joy and purpose. Ready, set, go friends.
Welcome to another episode of Work Life Play today. I've got a really fun guest I'm going to share with you. I cut this interview we did back in may before I took my hiatus from the podcast. Went and lived my life and did a little fun on my own, and some joy, and some play, and some ease, and some rest, and some adventure. Ah man, I feel so much better.
So today I'm excited to introduce to you Bryan Buckley and Bryan and I got acquainted about a year ago or so when he was working on an online entrepreneur conference and a mutual friend Rebecca Livermore connected us. And Bryan is a super dude. He lives outside of Chicago and he runs a podcast that he's actually had me on as a guest on called The Energy Edge. And I really love it because it's about helping high-performance people increase their energy.
And so you'll show here in his story today as I ask him questions about, “Hey, how'd you get here and why is energy something you care about?” He and I really connected on the topic that I write about on managing your emotional energy at an emotional calorie level. So he had me on his podcast, you can look it up at energyedgepodcast.com number episode 16 it was when I was interviewed on his podcast sometime last year and really just had a great time and it was really fun for me to go back and listen and realize, man, yeah, this is really okay. This resonates with people. So I got a chance to have him on and he's up to some really neat things and helping high performing people like me and you stay, stay high-performing by rethinking how we think about our energy. And he talks a lot about some cool stuff like from going from being super busy to full on beat down and burnout and exhaustion cycles and just a lot of stuff that's near and dear to my heart.
And so I think to many of yours that if you burn it hot enough for long enough, you just end up sideways in the ditch in a tailspin out of gas and lost at sea. So let me tell you real quick about a free resource you can grab on my website before we go into this episode today, I think you'll be stoked about. For those of you who haven't already gone through the mini course, if you want to call it that, it's a little seven day kind of kickstart or jumpstart to rethinking how you look at balance in your life and how to restore balance in your life. And you'll find that I actually think that balance, this idea of having balance is more of a common term that people understand, but I'm not sure that it's actually obtainable. I think it's more about restoring rhythms to your life.
But if you go to aaronmchugh.com/7steps, basically our outline over seven days, one email a day, you get one email in your inbox per day with a big idea about how to go about restoring balance and rhythm and learning to dream again and giving yourself permission to dream again and looking at being mindful and present in every conversation and really looking at the atmosphere that you and I bring to every conversation and every situation and how we have ownership over the atmosphere that we bring. So I think you'll find it super helpful, had a number of people go through it and lots of great feedback from them. And I believe that it's actually giving them a context that it's not about externals so often that balance and rhythm and peace and reducing anxiety and having more joy. It's an inside job. So check it out, aaronmchugh.com/7steps. Hope you enjoy it.
Bryan Buckley, welcome to the Work Life Play podcast, brother.
Bryan: Honored to be here, my friend. Thank you for having me.
Aaron: It’s fun. So my friends, listeners, Bryan has actually interviewed me twice. He did an online entrepreneur conference last fall and interviewed me for that. And then in the last couple of months interviewed me for your podcast, The Energy Edge podcast. And as a result, we've just gotten to know each other a little bit and found out we have, we're up to similar things in the world. We roll similar in the world, we juggle similar things in the world and we're trying to work where those, what I call the people like us, um, do things like this, which is trying to make a difference and make this place better than we found it. And it's through our special sauce. And yours is about energy, energy management and uh, showing up to your life to actually make it matter. So welcome. Glad you're here.
Bryan: Well thanks and thanks for the buy one, get one free on the interviews from you. So you were very gracious on that. So thank you.
Aaron: Yes. So let's, can we start with this? Will you just riff for a minute on who is Bryan and what are you up to and tell us more about The Energy Edge podcast and the work that you're doing.
Bryan: Well I am a Chicagoain go Cubs go. I am a husband of and a father of five Aaron in, you know, in the, in the spirit of getting one free. I bought four and got one for the kids.
Aaron: Oh Bryan!
Bryan: Yeah. Well you know, I tell people it's, it's the only in Chicago and that applies when you're flying through one of our airports. So be very careful if you have four kids. So right now currently I am in the corporate world. I work as a corporate trainer training in the technology area and do that by day. My wife would say that I live in Chicago land on the weekends and I'm usually am, I could have a bumper sticker on the back of my car that says my other car is a rental car. But that is a not the longterm plan. Aaron, you know, I've had as a very honest camera conversation between us girls about really transitioning out in what that could look like. And I'm excited to kind of dive into that. So now absolutely love what you're up to and love to continue this conversation in any way you want to go, man.
Aaron: Yeah. Well what I like about our connection is that we're both one foot in and one foot out. Um, and it gets, it depends. So in my mind, I'm one foot, I'm straddling a fence and I've got a foot in the corporate world and a foot in my own thing. This work-life play thing. And what I find is that I don't, I don't find, I don't find many people that straddle that same fence. It's usually they're all in on one or all on the other.
Bryan: It's true.
Aaron: I find that it's, it's a, I don't relate as well. I relate to their stories in the past of the guys who've already hopped the fence. Um, and I mean guys isn't, you know, women as well, but, Oh yeah. I used to have a corporate gig and, but I hopped the fence or you know, wherever they're at in their progression.
So one of the things I've enjoyed about talking to with you is that we're both straddling the fence and you're on airplane. You just said you were traveling for four days and my other cars are rental. And I get it, man. I do that all the time. And my other car is an Uber actually I've stopped renting cars.
Aaron: I love that we share that connection and that we're both up to this other thing and we're trying to lean into it. And sometimes I think that it's hard because some days I'm really grateful for my day job because I think, Oh man, if I was up to me right now to make a living on my side hustle here at Work Life Play, it would be rice and beans. Maybe it's slim. But then other days I'm like, I just need to hop the fence. I just need you to just cut ties and burn the bows and just go for it. So,
Bryan: And you could have that same feeling on the same day. Aaron, can't we, you know, then all of a sudden like, what am I thinking? And then that afternoon happens. I'm like, what am I thinking? Why am I not doing the other gig?
Aaron: Yeah. So can you say more about that? So I want to hear more about your experience of that fence straddling.
Bryan: Well, I find out most days I don't do very well at it. I enjoy training and that's where my current gig is. I enjoy helping companies, help them with their value proposition, their competitive advantage. So I enjoy going into different locations and, and doing a Ted talk, you know, when they're expecting death by PowerPoint, you know, making eye contact, having people laugh, understanding exactly what we're trying to do, put the cookies on the bottom shelf so they can actually do what they need to do. So I enjoy the joy that comes from that.
But, you know, having the corporate gun to the head and all of the noose around the neck at any given time. In fact, I lost my last gig, May 23rd talk about it, almost anniversary there. And you know, which kind of pushed me into this a little bit harder on my own stuff.
And it's just, it's a hard road, Aaron. And you know, it's not the longterm plan. That's why I love what your content and it's a great reminder and very complimentary of mine, but even just a little ahead of me in certain areas of the balance of the work life play and that life is so much more than that. And in my case to make sure we have the energy to be more productive, you know, to have that sense of accomplishment, you know, to feel more energized, to have that sense of enjoyments, you know, for the things that matter and the people that matter in our life. And then to ultimately do our best work, you know, which is the, you know, the sense of true productivity, but just even like I'm actually mattering what I'm doing matters.
So I love that and I think it keeps me honest in this area. But man, some days it is really, really difficult to, especially my wife's like, you know, why can't you just stay in the one lane and you know, and the other day was, why aren't you getting out of that? And she rides that roller coaster with me along with my kids. There's perks, obviously the corporate world and the travel. And then there's other times where I'm away from home and the people that I love and doing some fun things that I wish they could do with me and it's not nearly as fun because they're not there. It’s a drag, but it's real, you know, especially to somebody like you and me, man, this is our life is real.
Aaron: Yeah. We're keeping it real.
Bryan: This is what it's really like big time and the good, the bad and the ugly.
And some days, man, it is, it is incredibly, incredibly ugly, but it is what it needs to be for right now. And I think just having hope on the other side and um, but being really realistic about it, one of my quotes my dad used to say all the time drove me nuts. Aaron was, you know, you never know. I said that you hear the grass is greener on the other side, you just don't know their water bill because you never know exactly the cost that it's going to take for that to happen. You know, he also said thanks for coming. Most of all, thanks for leaving and just cause I feed you doesn't mean I like it. I mean he was, he was the one liner kind of guy. You know, I digress.
But yeah, it's very true, you know, to know, to make that calculated jump if and when to that other side, you know, doing our own entrepreneurial desires and passions and having the security right now in the corporate world, but being very realistic of what that is is very, very important.
Aaron: So I find that people with what I would call like a life message that they discovered the life message. In your case, I'm just presuming, that there's some level of difficulty and hardship that related to your energy that gives you passion about why it's so important to have energy. So would you just take us back to your story of, first of all, tell us today the story of The Energy Edge and what you're actually doing. But then I'd like for you to take us to the storyline of why you care about that. Why is that your jam?
Bryan: Well, it's a great question and one that I enjoy telling but often don't get to tell him cause people just kind of want to know the shiny and don't necessarily always care about the backstory on there. So I appreciate you being willing to ask that. And I plan to be very vulnerable. So it may take a PG 17 on that...
Aaron: PG 17 plus is okay!
Bryan: Okay. Nice. I've been a hard driver all my life. I was in the ministry world for a number of years. I've been in small business, big business, you know, nonprofit profits, last quite a few years of eclipse had been in the corporate world and always been known for my energy, Aaron. People fed off that. I've enjoyed that. I've made a career off of just energy, what it's been able to produce, you know, whether it's from accomplishments to just being in a room and, and having the energy to kind of pull the people up or you know, build a team or whatever.
So in my forties, things were just not running as, as my normal speed would be. And my, my wife has gifted me for my 40th birthday was a visit to the doctor. She's like, dude, you got to get this taken care of man. Cause I was just, I was not feeling myself, you know. Another phrase, my dad would say it's feeling sharp as a bowling ball and you know, most people wouldn't know that, you know, just looking at me, they think everything was fine, but I just knew something was wrong. Just something was not clicking as it should. So I went to the doctor into expecting to find something, did exhaustive tests and he says, Hey, I got good news and bad news for ya. And I'm like, okay. He says, the good news is there, there's nothing wrong with you.
I can't find anything wrong with you. The bad news is I can't find anything wrong with you. So I use that as kind of like, you know, get my note from the teacher to go back to school or go back to work. And instead of knowing or doing something about it, I knew in my heart of hearts something was wrong, just something was off. I've always had this entrepreneurial side, so I've always been doing side gigs and all types of creative things. Oftentimes as an entrepreneur I know within an established organization and they'd let me do my own thing. And I always enjoyed that. But that was that entrepreneurial side. So when I got back into the corporate world and just started to drive harder, you know, I got the reason to be able to go harder. So I did for five years and I just literally literally ran my body into the ground again.
Most people didn't know about it and there were a few times where I would come home on a weekend and I would just, I was literally good to nobody. I had no energy. I felt like the flu, but it wasn't the flu. I was very, very flushed. I had these really weird, weird symptoms and I didn't know what to do with them. And my wife says, I'm done. You've, you've got to get this taken care of. The road's getting the best of you and corporate getting the best of coming home and you're just dead. And she was right. I remember one time I was at church on a Sunday morning and when, so when I should've stayed home, but I just, I went and a couple people came up to me, they knew me pretty well and they're like, dude, are you okay?
I mean, like, are you really, really sick? Not like you look like you have the flu, but I mean, like there's something major going on. And I'm like, I think so. And it really woke me up to go to the doctor. My wife told me to do it again and I did. But this time I went to somebody that I knew very, very wellwho gave me some guidance on her name's Trivia. You've seen him on treatment is my cohost on The Energy Edge podcast.
Aaron: That's who she is. Okay.
Bryan: Exactly. Guilty by association man, which is awesome. Unless you're involved in a crime, which I don't suggest, but um, yeah, so true. Exactly. Nice. So trick Triva had gone through similar things as a marathon runner as a triathlete, and I'd known her for 26 years and she was going through this just way ahead of me and it literally crashed her body.
So I had asked her and she was like, I'm just a little further along on the journey and it's got a flashlight in the dark here. I'm ahead of you. But I'm telling you right now, Bryan, if you don't change your ways, you're done.
So as any good friend I did, I kind of listened to her. And then I really, really hit a wall and I'm like, I can't, I just can't keep going. So she says, well, we can work this out. And I found out that I had adrenal fatigue syndrome. It's possible blow out your adrenals and which is crazy to think about. You know, just your, you're tapped out every part of your normal energy to the point where you're going to fight or flight part of your body and just absolutely zapping those. And I did that and absolutely crashed. A good friend of mine named Mike Kim, had said in a summary, he says, the Energizer bunny bunny had lost his energy.
The Energizer bunny had lost his energy and that was, that was the case, you know. And little did I know the Energizer bunny needed rechargeable batteries. And of course that's not in the commercial. Aaron, I was on this journey, man for, I mean it was probably good nine months of learning how to rest. I sucked at rest. I was the guy up at midnight stadium lights on, TV on, computer, on tablet, on music, on just going hard, hard, hard. Exactly. You know, shut it, shut it down. And then of course my brain would shut down. So I'm laying in bed wide awake. A few hours later I wake up cause I'm in my late forties and then I got to go to the bathroom. And of course my mind would start wandering of all the things I didn't get done the day before that I now need to do the next day.
So then I wouldn't fall asleep. And then I'd wake up the next morning, very, very early, sharp as, again … bowling ball and you know, I would just do it all over again. And you know, it was just a horrible way to live. And I finally got myself to learn how to rest. For the first time in my life, I went from sleep, rookie and remedial to sleep experts studying sleep at an intimate level and a deep level to learn how to recover my own body. I learned how to do nutrition, you know, for me, my chest was in front of my guts, so I assumed, Hey, everything's okay. I can eat whatever I want. It was not the case. You know, my fitness was very, very inconsistent. Moving was very inconsistent. I was just all over the place and I did not manage my energy properly and, and I crashed and I crashed hard.
I was always going a hundred miles an hour and I decided to take a curve at 70 Mark 30, you know. As I got to slow down, cause it says 70, you know what I'm saying? And I hit, I hit a wall and this time I, you know, I didn't get back up. You know, I cared more about the outside of the high performance car than I did the inside. But what I mean inside, I mean if you looked at the interior, it looked great. You know what I'm saying? Car was whacked. Every part of the car you would get into looked great. But when you opened up that engine, Holy shnikies not a good thing, you know, stop the press. And that's really what had changed my ways. And then finding somebody who could really, really help me. And as a result of that, really looked to go on.
You know, how can I as a person who's been a hard driver, help a business professionals to increase their energy? To leverage the things that they do every single day. Aaron, you know, it's sleep, it's the nutrition, it's the fitness. It's even further than that. Taking breaks in downtime and personal developments and, all movements, just things every day. Things we do every day and how we do better at them so that we can have the energy that we want to be more productive, to feel more energized and to do our best work. But I found, you know, I was living in what I now call the exhaustion cycle. And I still find this with guys in the corporate world every single day, guys and girls, you know, that they're, they're busy. They miss means I can't stop now.
I'm always in a hurry and my energy is completely dispersed. And then they moved from busy to beat down and beat down. As you know, it goes from, I can't do this, to I can't take this. Which is that stress. I'm stressed now my energy is now decreased. And then it leads into, which is a very slippery slope into this cycle is burnout. I can't keep going, which means I'm done and my energy is depleted and it's no way to live, Aaron. And I just find that there's so many people out there. They're living in this exhaustion world.
Aaron: Dude, I knew you were, you were my people. I knew you're the brother from another mother. Yeah, I like it. Um, I can't relate to midnight with the stadium lights on and the stereo, pumping the TV on and working.
Bryan: That’s good.
Aaron: I think what to me, so a couple things with that is helpful to hear is I knew as passionate as you are about the story of energy that isn't because you read it in a textbook, but I had just never heard the story, the backstory that fuels the passion.
Bryan: Yeah. It got very personal. Yeah. It really is. and I think part of it too is my pride, Aaron, you know, for really to kind of pull the mass down a little bit. I didn't want people to know that this energy guy has issues. You know what I'm saying? People were always seeing me on and having that energy and I never, I was just, I was too proud, you know, to let them see the other side that going, man, this is, you don't know the price that it takes. You don't know the water bill for the grass on the other side.
Aaron: So Bryan, when was this? How many years ago or months ago was the crash?
Bryan: Seven years. Seven years ago. It started and the crash happens a year and a half ago.
Aaron: Oh really? Okay. So not so, yeah, so we connected in the fall, so that was all right. Okay. Good context. Alright, good to know. Well I can relate a lot and I think that this is helpful for listeners to connect with is when you're driven and I find that drivenness comes from a couple places for one driven con driven is can just come from just wiring.
You just wired to just have a hunger and a thirst for something. And that what I call it is like, it's like an internal fire, you know, that just burns hot and mine's always burned hot. It's just always been. I've been way more heart driven and passion driven than I am head driven. But I've also found that another powerful motivator is fear. I've had a really a lot of fear, so I'd call it prevention management in my life that's a huge driver to another. Like concurrent with my passion meter running hot will also so does my fear meter at times in the past. And so the combination of those two, I call them like these evil twin sisters that I listened to their voices for a real long time of like, you can do this, you can do this, you better do this.
As a result, man, I got some shit done. And like you said, same thing. Like if you want a guy in the room who could make the room brighter, I'm your guy. You want to tell a good story? Oh, I got that. Oh, cocktail party? Okay. Oh, sales upfront? Close the deal? Okay, I can do that. Lead a charge? Take a hill, you know, lead a mission? I got that.
But the, like you and I talked when I was interviewed on your podcast about just that same story for me of emotional calories and emotional energy management just when I ended up upside down in the ditch for flat tires in a couple pistons blown. I was just devastated. Yeah, how did this happen? How did this happen to me? I get it. How to happen to everybody else.
And I think what it was also is I had a really difficult time, it was pride having to admit to other people that I wasn't well, and they had a similar reaction where I remember I went to this leave of absence. It was a medical leave of absence and I had to apply and fill out this paperwork and talk to HR and insurance companies and well, what's wrong with you? It was like, well, I've like PTSD. Well, did you serve in Iraq? Uh, no, but here's some terrible things that have happened. And they were like, so can you tell us more about it? And it was like, IRS audit for your life.
Bryan: And you want to tell him, dude, you're not making it better. This is making things worse.
Aaron: Yeah. But to have to go through that to be … inspected, you know, all of my orifices checked out for what was really wrong, really helped me. Just realize like, you know, I don't even care anymore. I'm so far, I loved, I wrote down your from busy to beat down, beat down to burnout. I was full on burnout and I'm like I don't even care that I don't even care. I'm just over caring. And so yeah, you want you to come take my pulse cause it's 92 while I'm sitting still right now. So why don't you tell me what's wrong with me
Bryan: Exactly. And then you want to see me get going. Keep asking your questions, man.
Aaron: Yeah. So what I love getting, going back to what I find I'm most passionate about is about managing emotional energy and managing these emotional calories and our daily choices of what our intakes of nutrients are to what we're we're burning and what our burn rates can be and if to go through these beat down to burn out and how your depletion reduction increases. And I've drawn a lot on my years as an athlete of nutrition and what that slide. How you have to power a race, you know, in the same way, like the longer the race, the more you got to power. And those specifically how you power.
But then I'm also passionate about integration of these topics of work-life and play and how, like you, I've spent so many nights in a hotel away from home for the people I love and the life I actually have that I wasn't even living my life. So I just realized like hold on time out. So all of that said, as a long way to say, I love what you're up to, love what you're passionate about and appreciate. Now hearing the story because I knew there was a story I just knew we just needed to hear it.
Bryan: Well, and I appreciate that, you know, and it was one of those things that actually started the podcast energy edge podcast and it was even foundational, if you will, for the first few episodes to be able to say, my package podcast runs odd number does content and even number it is, is interviews to be able to do the backstory of both myself and Triva. To really try to, you know, put the mass down and be vulnerable and say, Hey man, this is, this is the good, the bad, the ugly. But it started with, with the ugly and little bit of pride and willing to think ahead and realize, man, I am not Superman and I've got to take care of my body and to think ahead, which is something you've been teaching me, to look ahead and is this worth it and do I need to do that? So it's a great message, Aaron. And I think it's what actually created what's now called the energy cycle is to try to get her out of the exhaustion cycle.
So after busy, beat down, burnout and not using the weekend to try to refuel and then, you know, you're a busy on Monday, beat down on Wednesday and burn out on a Friday and everybody wants to use the weekend to try and you just can't do it. It just doesn't happen on there. It's exactly, you know, it's the thank God, it's Friday, and oh God, it's Monday. And it's just not, especially if you're in a stressful environment, you're not taking care of your body or your heart or your mind. Any aspect of that in any of you do a combination of those, it's just a matter of time till you know you're going to kind of burn out.
So when I learned Aaron through, you know, through the crash really was I needed to rest, which means stop for now. For me it means I'm recovering, I'm using this stop time here to recover.
And I learned that the rest to most people, it's a four letter word and it was a secret it was a secret shame of a high achiever of a high performer.
Aaron: I spelled it W. E. A. K.
Bryan: Hey. Exactly. No, that's great. Great analogy. You know, and it is looking down on somebody else and, and, and it was, it was wrong and it was inaccurate. And so, you know, from taking that rest, to recovering in our, as ironically enough, my energy instead of being dispersed, decreased and depleted, actually went to, energy's starting to get recharged. And after I rest stop for now, which is meaning sleep, you know, how do I do that from a quality point of view and from a quantity point of view. And because a lot of times we just lay down and we don't really have quality sleep. We may be even in bed for seven, eight, eight hours, but we're not having quality sleep.
And what does that look like? And so really dove into that and learning to increase the quantity in order for my body to reheal and learning to take breaks, I define breaks is, is to move the body. Rest of mind, move the body, rest the mind. And most people do the opposite.
You know, they moved their mind and they rest their body. You know, they go from a screen sitting on their dump to, you know, going through a different screen, checking on social media, Facebook or whatever, Instagram. And they're still on their dump and nothing's changed with there. And learning to do downtime and identifying downtime is time to be, not to be on. And most of us are always on. And I never had downtime and it was just margin plus life, always red lining. And it's unhealthy, you know, and that I needed that time to just be, and that to me became rest.
Then it was refuel and refuel was put back in. And at that point I'm reinvigorated. So it allowed me through nutrition, whether it was obviously, you know, refueling the body and there was also, you know, for the fitness and the movement side of things, it was moving the body and learning. You know, how do I stand more? How do I walk more? How do I run more? Think cardio, getting the heart rate up, and then how do I lift more? Just think strength training, what can I do within my day that would increase more of that movement which allows me to have more energy. And then the last part of that is really just refueling the mind, which is personal development. And it's ultimately kind of creating a personal development plan, which really puts in where am I headed, what do I want to learn, and where do I head in certain specific areas.
And then that leads to the last part of the energy cycle. So rest stop for now, refuel, put back in and then reengage. This is time to get back out. It means I am now recovering, I'm reinvigorated and I'm now ready and my energy is replenished. And that's when we can really go out and be more productive and we can feel more energized, get home at the end of the day and be able to do the things I want to work on, spend time and have the energy with my kids and my wife and the things that I want to do. And then I can have that sense of accomplishment that I've really made a contribution that I've actually done something cause I'm doing my best work. So I'm passionate about that because it is possible and you don't have to do it the hard way.
Like you and I seem to do things, Aaron, there is a better way to do it.
Aaron: I actually have to hit the wall. Imagine that you could skirt it. You could like put your brakes on before you hit it.
Bryan: Some are doing it. Dude, I'm telling you right now, I'm in the corporate world and I advertise and have this conversation and they'll come up to me and go, I think I'm close to that red line. You know, I think I'm doing 70 and 80 right now. I think I'm taking these curves at a little bit. But they're starting to get it, you know? And I think that's the benefit of the message. So other than that, no. The Energizer bunny has rechargeable batteries folks. So make sure that you are doing the recharge in not the exhaustion cycle. Start to replace it with the energy cycle.
And it's just amazing to see the results of people who just start to take pause and identify with this message to realize, man, this, this is me or this could be me and I need to start to do things differently. Oftentimes it's from here. And from the personal story it's, I'm learning my vulnerability and my humility in that area oftentimes resonates more than just, you know, the corporate guy that they see in his shoe that's doing a training in front of a large audience, you know,.
Aaron: Corporate guy. And I see you doing a training and I met a lot of those but I haven't met many of them that pulled me aside and said, Hey dude, I burned out last year.
Bryan: Oh big time. Those are slim and even far less of the ones who do a great job connecting and training and that would be the last guy you would assume to be vulnerable.
And my hope is that I can, I can be that guy because I've gotten my energy edge back through the energy cycle. But I've also to your point's been the guy who's got my teeth kicked and, and been off to the side right there and had friends pulled me aside assuming that I got some serious, serious illness, and they were right, and learning to take care of myself for the greater good and a good has come out of that. You know, I wish I wouldn't have done it the hard way, but I am that at least I'm one of those guys who has a chance to redo it and some don't.
Aaron: Yeah, that's true. Yeah. And I think that oftentimes what gets produced is the amount of carnage and the wake, damage, it can oftentimes, at least just relationally career. I have friends that are alcoholics, I have friends that are, have very, very active addictions in their life that just literally devour their life.
A lot of it is rooted in some of these similar things that just, that the burnout that beat down that becomes so pervasive and that the medication that I was even turned into drinking, you know, more than my fair share every night coming home, trying to take an edge off ... It turns out the edge was, it was just too deep. I couldn't catch it, you know, three glasses of wine and two beers. It was just, it, it made me tired, but it didn't make me feel better.
Bryan: Exactly, I hit the bathroom more than anything. That was the only thing that increased. No, that's a great point, Aaron. And I think, you know, for me personally, you know, I call it an aha moment, you know, where I became aware of how bad things were and then the honesty to really, really look at them. So, okay, here's the situation, here's my awareness. And then the honesty that this is, this is far worse than I thought it was and I didn't stop there.
Cause then always I just had an ah moment, you know? And it really had to get to the point where I was willing to take action. And I think part of it was just talking to a counselor. Again, just being really honest between us girls of just, why do I feel like I always have to drive so hard? Why do I feel like I have to be a perfection and always the clean polished guy and not willing to be vulnerable? And I think it goes back to your fear. I think it goes back to the wiring.
I grew up with a very, very successful family. My dad was very, very well known in my last name. Carried huge weights up to the age of 18 then I went to a university out in Virginia that nobody knew my name. And I think I really looked at that as a challenge. And then all of a sudden I went overboard there of like, well I gotta make a name.
So then, then I went from nobody to student body vice president and a full ride masters, you know? And yeah, exactly. It'd be somebody in that drive. There was a level of expectation, you know? And then the first job was, you know, it was like, man, they were interviewing guys that had more years lived there. I'm sorry, more years of experience than I had years lived.
I think that drive continued and then just not being people my own age, not relating to me just because I was usually their boss or in charge, you know? And there was this image that was there, you know, and just bad choice after bad choice. It just pulled me from myself and, to the point where I got into my mid forties and, and really had to start to pull back the covers Aaron or open up the hood and go, okay, here's what smoking in the engine, here's what's wrong. And then even past that of getting a fixed, why, you know, why do I feel this way?
It was very, very difficult. It was very, very humbling, humiliating, to be honest. But it was so healing to get to that spot, to realize, all right, this is who I am and this is who I've become. Here's my natural defaults, but I don't have to react to my natural defaults and to really live a life that I want to live. Which obviously corresponds to your message of work life play.
Aaron: Yeah, I mean it's seriously, we really have been on similar journeys of same thing. I Found that getting to the bottom of what's going on in my engine room, which included, I think, you know, three things. It was spiritually, you know, what my spiritual life, what that was about, things I believed and things I believed, why the interpretations I've made and things happening. Habits definitely. I think I'd say like a, what I'd call just stories I've told myself that are true. And some of those were fear-based and a lot of it for me was growing up, my mom single mom, I was the oldest and I remember this one gym class. I was in sixth grade and my mom had got us, my brother and I, tennis shoes from Walmart and I didn't have socks.
And I'll call a rich girl. I don't know that she was rich girl, but to me she was in sixth grade. She snickered at me and giggled. How come you don't have socks? And you know, I figured out like, I don't know, like I don't even know what I said. It was just shame. And I started figuring out that like, Oh, I don't like this. And then I had a free lunch program I was on in school. And so you'd have to go through the line and say, free lunch, Aaron McHugh. And then all my friends would be in line and they would hear me say free lunch, my name.
So those things became my default program, which is avoid shame, make enough money, I would go out and I got jobs to deliver newspapers to then go buy my own clothes so that when I went to wrestling practice, I wouldn't be ashamed of my hand me downs I was wearing. So I bought these ocean Pacific t-shirts, I remember and I got best dressed at wrestling and I was like, Oh, I'm rewarded now.
Now I'm rewarded for the shame avoidance that I'm building in my life. And so like you said, like you just begin to build into, I built into my life things that the world actually rewarded me for.
Bryan: They obviously didn't know the backstory.
Aaron: Yeah, no harm, no foul. However, now carry forward through into my forties then they stopped working. And I think that that actually to me that's part of like what's really kind about God, that he allows things to stop working and it becomes really precarious because we still have a choice which way we're going to go and we can go and it all starts unraveling and misfiring and the things that I've used for so long as tactics for my life when they just were failing me, then I did have a choice of go the path of healing, which meant I had to dig through to get into the engine room and to figure out what was off or pretend or rearrange my life and my relationships for people who would accommodate it and just tolerate my brokenness.
I realized like I've watched enough people do that. I've bear witness to that and I'm like, ah, I don't want to do that. Cause I know that's a long term tough road to hoe and a lonely one. I think I'll go the unchartered pioneer course here of let's just get in the engine room and see what's going on and maybe I can actually find the life in the whole heartedness I'm looking for.
But like you were saying to Bryan and relate to just the vulnerability required of I thought being vulnerable was weak and what I'm learning is that it's actually a place of strength of saying, no, this is the real story. This is the real deal. This is how I got here, this is what this about, this is where I was off and, and I don't have that. I'll figure it out. But I'm willing to through podcasts and writings and books and whatever, I'm willing to share that and just say, Hey, try this on for size. If it's good for you, great. If not, I'm sure there's 12 other guys you can go listen to. But this is my story and this is meaningful to me and I think you can find strength in it, in your own story.
Bryan: I love it, Aaron, and you know, it's the aha moment came from the prodigal son. You know, when he came to his senses. And I think we both had moments to come to our senses, but being willing to ... if somebody didn't like the answer or who we truly said we were, we had to be okay with that. You know, that's, I think that's just maturity, you know, I think that gets to a point in life. You're like, you know, there's this is, there are things that are more important that I have energy for my kids and my family is more important, that I'm able to write to him, be vulnerable and do things that I have the energy be able to do that is more important.
It has that balance to your point, to the work life, play balance. We each have our own journey. You know, we're a different sponsor that, you know, I mean, so many guys in the corporate world, man, they're just, they're, they're fine with a shiny shiny car that looks great in the engine smells. Why smell it? And they don't want to hear it!
Aaron: I'm like, man, that is super cool. You can burn that thing, that hot, drive it that fast. Get that close to blowing up into the wall and you keep going tomorrow! Like, okay, I wish I could have been that guy. I just, that wasn't my story. I think it's an eventual story, that the word I use is eventually.
Aaron: And I just believe that these things we're talking about are like governing laws of the universe at our emotional energy level. Like a Newton's law of gravity.
Bryan: Yup, exactly. When not if.
Aaron: Eventually all things gravity matters. And I think this story we're telling is about gravity. It has an eventual reality to it and that you cannot work against the laws of the universe forever. Eventually there's some, some payment to be made when we live like this. So I'm hoping for you listeners, when you listen to us, that you hear it less as a sob story and commiserating and more as a, Hey, first of all, if you have burnt out, or you are in a beat down or you're just living busy so you can do it different, you can choose.
And led to being poster-children that make it look shiny and nice on the outside. Here on the inside it wasn't so great and it's still not so great, but it's better. It's healing. I feel like I'm happier. I wrote my journal last night. I went to bed, this little gratitude journal. I said, I'm happy. I'm me. That's good. I couldn't say that a long time ago, but I'm genuine. I like me all of it. For all of, all of that I am and all that I'm not yet. And I think that those are, that's the offer is that there is a path where the world advertises as a certain pace, especially in our Western world. And that's cool if you can run that. Great. Have at it.
And there also is a, a reality of a range that you can actually honestly live within. And then to be able to feel other things like your relationships, like your kids and people you love could be your community. These side projects that were up to here that have become our big project as we're straddling the fence, like we have, it has to come from somewhere. And I just love Bryan, your story here about how, how you've discovered where it can come from and how it can be sustainable.
Bryan: Well, I appreciate that. You know, I think it comes to a point to Aaron, a maturity where you can lie to your mind but not to your heart. And I think sometimes we try to drown out the heart, you know, whether it is by being busy or you know, the alcohol or, or whatever potential addictions, but once we start to really listen to our heart, we know that something needs to change. It was part of my story.
Even at 40, I knew there was something wrong, but I was not, it was an awareness moment. I really wasn't honest with how far it went. And then therefore, because it wasn't honest, I didn't take action. I had not come to my senses. But my hope is that people will start to listen to their heart and stop lying to their mind and really realize, man, I need the energy to do the things that are most important to me. I appreciate this kind of conversation.
Aaron: Yeah, me too. Yeah. So I think for me, the summary to take away is Bernay Brown, who's a leading person in the story of wholehearted living right now. I think she's right. She's got science to pack it up. She's got evidence interviews, thousands of people, books and all the like, and I think what's cool about it is that she, what I love is that it normalizes, the conversation about wholehearted living because I thought how I power the things I want to do in my life was mostly through my head, through grit, endurance, and will. And when I found out is actually those things are really good about me, but the most powerful thing about me is my heart and who I am, the uniqueness of me. And so to be wholehearted actually increases the probability of me accomplishing the things that I think I'm here to do.
And the old way I was doing it, I was just running off of skill, talent and fumes and it was cool. It took me a long way. I'm so proud I lasted that long, but now it was time for a new way. And I love that. What you're up to, and I'm excited to share this as an alternative new way, a better version of you and The Energy Edge and what you're up to in the podcast and the stories you have to tell.
Bryan: Well, I appreciate that Aaron. You know and if someone's looking forward to just get a kickstart with energy, I encourage them to go to a site called 5minuteenergykickstart.com it's the number five and then minute energy kickstart.com and it's three free five minute videos that allow you to be able to just look at me and what's a problem within three eras, sleep, nutrition and fitness and movement and talk about a kickstart challenge you're going, what are a couple of changes that you can make that can help kickstart your energy and hopefully just keep you on a journey and hopefully tag teaming with things that you're already listening to with with Aaron and all of his great, great content, could just be another angle for us to be able to kind of find that aha moment and really have that work life play balance that we need.
Aaron: Yeah, I've been using the word integration, an image as I'm evolving. I'm like, Oh, you know what it is. It's integration because balance has slotted attention to it, but the integration is they're all integrated together and that way they become, it's just who we are. They aren't compartments any longer.
Yeah. Okay, so five minute energykickstart.com, yes?
Aaron: The Energy Edge Podcast.
Bryan: Yeah. That's our weekly podcast.
Aaron: Yep. Any way you can find yours?
Bryan: You can. You can find mine. Like I said, it's an odd number. There's content even numbered. I interview different industry experts from sleep experts to holistic nutrition to fitness, to a former executive vice president of Disney to just a bunch of different individuals to learn about the correlation with energy and their specific world. Yeah, it's a good time.
Aaron: Yup. Did my episode get more listens in the corporate vice president of Disney?
Bryan: As far as you know, Aaron...
Aaron: I knew it!
Bryan: It's circles around them.
Aaron: Just crushing it.
Aaron: You've been listening to Work Life Play. If you like what you've heard, please do us a favor and rate us on iTunes. It really does help. You can get more information about this and other firstname.lastname@example.org thanks for listening. Thanks for being part of this adventure for being part of braving the pioneering work of discovering sustainable work life. Play rhythms. Love your work, live your life, and play a whole lot more. I'm Aaron McHugh. Keep going.
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