Mid-Week Live Coaching: Adam
In this week’s live coaching episode, Adam Quiney creates a wonderful discussion as he touches on a couple of different points based on the community suggested topics. First, he talks about plant medicines and psychedelics – people’s use of them, using it for their personal growth, their effect on people and how they feel. And then he goes on to share his insight on breakdowns, talking about how people usually react to breakdowns that most of the time hinder their breakthroughs. Adam also sheds some light on how to not freak out when everything you want is happening and gives valuable advice on knowing when we are in the throes of our shadows which means that we usually don’t see our blind spots but with the help and support of other people, we get through it. Adam ends the episode by discussing how we should be able to responsible for our feelings while honoring our impact.
Listen to the Episode Here:
Mid-Week Live Coaching: Adam
On this week’s mid-week episode, tune in as Adam discusses community suggested topics such as plant medicine as tools for growth, the way burnout really works, how do we know when we’re in the throes of our shadows, transitioning from duality to oneness, and much more!
Welcome to this special mid-week episode of Get Lit. We were trying something new, which is every second of Friday, I do a live show that’s just me talking about some topics that are co-created with my community. We are going to take that throughout the next couple of months and provide that as an added feature on the show. Sometimes, people, myself included, don’t want to sit in front of a screen and watch something but we love hearing it. The way this works is that people share like, “Can you talk about this?” The answer is yes. I expand upon and provide places to look and stuff to practice with as far as these topics are concerned from a leadership and ontological perspective.
Some of the topics that we have, first are plant medicine and psychedelics as tools for growth. How can we distinguish when we were in the throes of our shadows, survival mechanism, or ego? How long do breakdowns last before we hit a breakthrough? What is a breakdown? How do we be responsible only for our feelings while honoring our impact? What about when everything you wanted is happening, how do you not freak out, and what even is going on with that? Those are some of the topics that I will be expanding upon. I hope you enjoy it. If you have feedback for this episode like you love it, you want more or you didn’t care for it, and you would rather not or even, “It’s great. I don’t think I have read it but I love it. Is this available?” Please let us know. You can email GetLit@AdamQuiney.com. It is invaluable when you provide us that feedback. Hope you enjoy it. Thanks.
Let’s start some updates on me and then we are going to get to these juicy fat ass topics. We’ve got some great topics created by the community for the most part. Some of these are the ones that I want to talk about. Big thanks to everyone that shared a topic, put something forward. A couple of weeks for me have been challenging and rough. As much as I’m at a familiar place, there’s a breakthrough I’m up for creating in my own life. When I’m up for a breakthrough but have not yet created it, the experience I have is often one of like, “Nothing I know to do seems to be working but I can’t figure out the thing to do other than that.”
It’s like if you went to a fish and you say, “You want to fly in the skies but you keep swimming in the water.” The fish is like, “Got it,” and then tries to swim and you are like, “You are still in the water.” It’s like, “What if I do it like this?” You are like, “No, that’s all on the water.” The poor fish on some level, cannot understand what you are talking about. It’s like, “I get it. There’s something I cannot seem to see but I can’t also seem to get out of it.” That’s where I have been for a couple of weeks and been getting supported by my coach in that.
Those conversations can be frustrating for me, not because my coach is doing anything wrong but it’s frustrating for me not to have the answer. In part, I suspect having the answer is part of the water I can’t stop swimming in but what’s the answer? What if I could figure out what the breakthrough thing is or what’s the thing I meant to do? I could then do it. Likely, some element of this is surrendering all of that. One of the things you are starting to see was probably there’s something related to spirit here and handing stuff over.
In tandem with that, I have spent a lot avoiding everything. “What do you have for me?” “It doesn’t matter. Email, podcast and other stuff, you fuck off as well. Boston Terrier mug, you are cool. You can stay. Everything else, fuck off.” That’s the way that looks for me. The pendulum can swing to the other side and tell you where I have been first, which is obsessively playing a lot of video games and drinking quite a bit. For the most part, that has been where my attention was. That’s how I tend to show up from that place of fear and I pull away connection. I withdraw from the world, responsibility and what I perceive as a burden.
To be clear, I’m not saying that drinking, playing video games, even withdrawing from a connection or any of those are bad. What is fundamentally happening is that it’s a form of resistance. Playing video games, drinking more than I normally would, avoiding stuff, etc. There are even practices that I know would support me like reaching out to some friends and asking for acknowledgment or acknowledging people themselves. I still have people I’m moving through on the list of yeses to be acknowledged that I created over Christmas. I’m slowly going through it but I have been avoiding that. Fuck off list over the last two weeks.
These are all things that would serve to bring me out of that breakdown hole but like any human, I’m resistant to it. The game becomes, in part, can I love myself in my resistance? Rather than trying to attack me, “Fuck out. I should get out of this hole,” which is readily available. I’m good at that. Instead, can I love myself, even as a resistant human and might well know what would make a difference and is unwilling to do that? That has been where I have been for a couple of weeks. I don’t know what’s happening. I can feel myself starting to surrender a little bit. I can feel a little bit of an opening in myself. From that opening, I have been taking on practices that start to open things up further for me.
Every morning clearing, which is what this self-talk going on in my head, “Who do I want to stand as now? What do I want to stand for regardless of my self-talk?” Not to fix my self-talk but to a relevant to the self-talk. We’ve got clear on that, and then set it aside and didn’t have to do anything about it who would I stand as. Now, that stands as love. Yesterday, it was a spirit. The day before was a connection, practicing that and so on.
Daniel, what have you written here? “It was stolen and appropriated by big biz.” What are we talking about? I’m not sure. “There’s a history of how more than gentrification, certain communities were torn down when individuals and families were driven out. Look up the Sacred Heart community. There’s a single church still standing in what used to be a thriving Southside community.” You are talking about Phoenix, Arizona. Are you talking about the airport or are you talking about something different?
Quick story about Phoenix, and then we are going to get into the topics we’ve got here. Bay and I were doing some work with a coach in the realm of intimacy. We were on an intimate retreat and she was supporting us with some stuff. We flew into Phoenix. That’s where we were staying. That’s where this retreat was. She has got us an Airbnb, a nice big bedroom for us. She had her place. We are stressed out because we don’t know what’s going to happen. We are at this thing and we have been flying all day.
Flying anywhere from where I live on Vancouver Island takes longer because there’s almost always a flight off of our island into Vancouver, and then from Vancouver to wherever we want to go is few direct flights. It is totally fine and worth it to live here but it adds three hours minimum on to any amount of traveling we are doing because you’ve got to get to the airport early. You’ve got to fly and you’ve got to wait for your next flight. You’ve got to leave a buffer.
We get into Phoenix and we are both crabby. We haven’t eaten much and I’m like, “Let’s get some groceries, we will go to a pub and we will have a nice meal.” We go to the grocery store and we get our groceries, then we walk across the street to this pub. We like visiting the brewpub. It’s neat to see what the culture is of the place we are at. We go and do that. We have our dinner and we are like, “We’ve got food in us. We are not necessarily crabby with one another. This is better.”
We walk back to our car and I’m like, “Fuck. The back door of the car in the grocery store is wide open.” I’m like, “If something happened, I know that was me. I left that open. If something goes missing, I am going to get an earful.” Bay left her laptop in the car and groceries but nothing happened. It’s left like that. No one went through it or anything. People would think either one, “Is this a bait car? The police set this up like a sting,” or two, “No, moron leaves their car wide open. They must be taking their car back so I’m not going to try to steal stuff out of the car.” Whatever it was, nothing was taken. Thank goodness. Thank you to the kind people of Phoenix for not stealing myself blind. That would have been a real bummer for that trip.
Plant Medicines And Psychedelics
That gives you an update on me. Let’s get to these topics. First up, I will talk about plant medicine. Evan Veritas provided this topic. Thank you, Evan. It was psychedelic so I’m going to broaden this out a little bit to include plant medicines in that. It’s important to note that psychedelics are not all plant medicines. Under the umbrella of psychedelics would include LSD and probably ketamine. Both LSD and ketamine are manmade. They are synthesized as opposed to psilocybin mushrooms or magic mushrooms, ayahuasca and stuff like that, which we could call closer to the Earth. That’s more of a direct derivative or in fact, a plant itself.
Ayahuasca is a vine. I can’t remember what they brew it with. It’s some leaves or some bark, which then has the DMT metabolize more slowly in your body. If you take straight DMT, I have never done that myself but people have described it as taking a rocket ship to the other side of the universe. You are presented with something crazy and then fifteen minutes, you are done. Especially if it was guided potent experience in its own right, whereas the ceremony of ayahuasca is longer. They say that the way that medicine is brewed, created, and the wisdom in it and inherent it has a shaman guiding you with it. The medicine itself has a shaman as part of it.
All that being said, Evan asked, “Can you talk about psychedelics and then using them as tools for growth?” The best thing I can describe is my own experience and use of these. Growing up, I was a child with a healthy amount of curiosity and pot was my first vice of choice, marijuana. Some of us never touched anything. Some of us get into it late. I grew up in British Columbia, which is a mecca of marijuana. It’s a great place to grow weed. Worldwide, internationally known for our bud.
People would tell me they would go to Amsterdam and they would get BC bud there but it’s probably changed now that hydroponics is so big. Bud was a big part of the culture here on the West Coast of British Columbia and for the most part, it was fairly decriminalized. The attitude was like, “Stopping kids from smoking a joint is not what the best use of our police force is. That’s not worth it.” We didn’t have any of those crazy three strikes and you go into Federal prison laws. That being said, the police would stop you if they saw you smoking because they wanted to steer you in the right direction. Stop the kid, scare the kid or whatever, which did happen to me. I was caught by police at one point, which was terrifying for me.
Growing up, I smoked a lot of pot. From there, I had some curiosity about some of these other drugs. At least to my knowledge never anything that was physiologically addictive in the sense of strong withdrawal. Never did I touch cocaine, heroin or crystal meth and I had a clear boundary from myself. Part of that being that I know how habit-forming I can be, as a passionate man, part of passion is tendencies, we go down the wormhole. People with passion tend to swing out to an intense obsession with something, and then we are like, “It’s dead to me and I’m bored with it.” Apathy and obsession.
I had this internal knowing, “Don’t touch those things. Those are dangerous.” Stuff more like magic mushrooms felt a lot safer. I did my research on them. I use them primarily when I was young quite irreverently. There was no intention behind it. No honoring them as medicine. Get fucked up. Get high on a Friday night and a fun trip. I grew out of that and didn’t go back to it for many years. It wasn’t something in my purview. I started to feel called back into that. I kept noticing showing up on my thoughts like, “I feel like there’s something worth revisiting. I would like to bring a little more reverence, ceremony to that.” That’s what I started doing. I have used psychedelics several different ways. Sometimes, it’s simply for the fun light show that it provides. They can be quite fun. It’s important not to step over that aspect of them.
Anytime we tell ourselves, “This is not at all for enjoyment. This is purely for my growth and development.” That’s fine if that’s true for you. In holding it so rigidly that way and insisting, “I don’t have any fun from it,” we can then get snared by the fact that it is fun but we can’t own that. When we are doing it for fun, we can own that fact, and then we can choose it consciously. “No, I’m just doing this for my growth,” but it’s because it’s fun.
I remember sitting in an ayahuasca ceremony and the shaman who is guiding this ceremony had not drunk the night before. She was sharing. She felt called by the plants not to drink and hold the space in the energy of the space free from ingesting the medicine herself. That was the medicine for her. She shared like, “I’m not saying I will never drink medicine again. I’m not sure if I’m going to drink medicine tonight. I’m not sure what there is for me to do. I’m trusting the plants to guide me.” She paused and she was like, “It’s less fun being on the medicine with the rest of you in the space.” For me, I was like, “Thanks for saying that. It is nice to have someone own that fact so we don’t have to pretend that it’s not true.”
That’s the first thing that is important with plant medicine, psychedelics and this sort of stuff. We embrace the totality of it rather than trying to convince ourselves, “I’m only doing this so that I can grow myself as a human being.” If we do that, then we can’t look at the part where it’s like, “It’s fun.” If we can’t look at that part, we have no access to it. We have no control or even choice in it. It may grow to we are only doing it for fun and then we can look at that fact.
Here’s what I find happens with the drugs, medicines, psychedelics, pharmaceuticals or whatever you want to call them that I have worked with myself, which would be primarily LSD, psilocybin and ayahuasca. I am curious about ketamine. I’m not sure where that stands for me. I have some friends that are quite the journeymen, you could call them. I’m curious in hearing them describe their experiences. What I noticed tends to happen with the collaboration with these medicines is they tend to dissolve the ego.
In a strong psilocybin trip, what I have noticed is the notion of Adam along with the preferences I’ve got attached to Adam like Adam as a concept. Adam Quiney doesn’t like it when people think he’s wrong and doesn’t like sharing certain opinions because he’s worried it will make other people feel wrong or they will argue with him about being wrong. All of that stuff. Adam doesn’t like that red is paired with purple in some outfits but Adam doesn’t share that fact because that would be rude. All of this stuff attached to the concept of Adam, I have found under a good dose. Working dose, we will call them psychedelics, that melts away. It then provides this beautiful, profound space to explore whatever there is to explore, either in partnership with someone or by yourself.
I don’t know if any of you are familiar with this concept of muscle guarding but if I hurt my arm throwing a ball, then the surrounding muscles will naturally tense as you move my arm through its passive range of motion. They are guarding me against getting into the range that’s going to cause pain. If you grab my arm and start to move them unconscious, those muscles are going to do some work to stop you. They are going to guard against going in that certain place.
Our personality does the same thing. Energetically, we avoid certain things. I see this all the time in coaching work. You get people that are moving all around this thing to avoid it. They are guarding unwittingly. We are not even conscious of it. One of the things that’s fascinating about muscle guarding is if you anesthetize so that they are unconscious, you can move their body freely. The guarding doesn’t necessarily happen. It can sometimes allow for quite some healing. You will start to be careful that you don’t cause damage.
Psychedelics provide that same opportunity through the medium of our personality construct, our ego, and what we can energetically, mentally and emotionally be with. That allows for some fascinating and deep work to happen that otherwise might be guarded against by the ego. It allows you to bypass the structure of the ego that keeps us safe and holds us in check. With LSD, you have a lot more control. It’s a similar experience to psilocybin. With psilocybin, you are on the ride. It’s going to take you a lot more where you are going to be taken and you are like in the passenger seat. Whereas I found with LSD, you are more driving. You have a little more control of your experience.
With ayahuasca, sit back and you’ve got no say in what’s going to happen. Ayahuasca can be more potent, aggressive perhaps. With love but rigorous stand for you, so to speak. That’s a little bit of the experience I have had. Now, I will talk about what I have noticed with plant medicines, people’s use of them, and then how that ties into using them for personal growth. I’m going to read what you wrote here, Evan, which is, “It’s normal for people to come into the big master plan such as ayahuasca with super-serious times and intentions. You get the most out of it like anything when you relax into the experience and start having fun with it.”
Medicines, plant medicines, drugs or whatever we want to call them, what I find they generally provide is access to something that is not typically necessarily accessible for us. When I would smoke pot, which I used to do a lot. That would be like a window. I could open a window and be like, “I’m in touch with inspiration and spirit.” It provides a lot of access to that. First of all, these experiences are profound. They thunderbolt you and then you are like, “Dear God, I can see something.” It’s a lot like any mountaintop experience. It’s in terms of how we experience the experience.
What I mean about that is in terms of how we are relating to that experience we have had, our relationship to it tends to be similar to the same way people relate to an experience like going to Landmark for a weekend, going to a Tony Robbins event or going to whatever. Maybe it’s a Vipassana retreat, it’s a vision fast like I did or whatever it is. It tends to be an isolated state change experience. Your state has changed and you are like, “Holy fuck.” You probably have some new awareness. What people tend to do with that awareness land in like, “Everything is going to be different. I can’t unsee what I have seen. It’s all going to shift now and be different.”
My experience is it’s a setup. What tends to happen is the way we feel about it is true. Meaning, that is how we feel about it but what we conclude from those feelings is the setup. You feel like, “I couldn’t possibly go back. Everything is going to be different now.” That’s how you feel. That is true that you feel that way but that is not necessarily true about what will happen when you go back to your life. A brilliant book on this is After the Ecstasy, the Laundry. That book is by Jack Kornfield. It’s a great book. What he’s talking about is how in most spiritual narratives, books we read, movies we watch and TV shows we see, the main character is struggling. They have this spiritual breakthrough, and then the book ends like, “The ecstasy must be so great.”
What happens is after you have the ecstasy of your spiritual awakening, you’ve got to go back and you are like, “Shit. There’s laundry to do. My kids are being mean to me. My wife or my husband has been a jerk. All my friends are righteous and they haven’t changed.” People leave these experiences and come back to their life with the expectation. Frankly, I would even go as far as to say a little bit of the lazy thinking or maybe a more charitable way would be without any reverence for why their life was the way it was beforehand. It’s like, “I can see what a farce it was. Now, everything is going to be different because that old life was a farce.” It was but it also wasn’t. That life is constructed for you by you for a particular reason. You were gaining a lot out of that. It was also costing you a lot but that’s the nature of wherever you situate yourself in your life.
Every belief structure and every context is inherently limiting. There is always more possibility available beyond whatever your current structure, setup, belief system and all of that is and allows for. There’s never a place where you are like, “Now I have it all.” I heard one guy say like, “Even calling yourself a name is limiting.” This is a Naval Ravikant. A deep thinker but quite heady. He was sharing, “On my Twitter, I don’t even have a picture. I have a blank thing of me. When people ask me what I’m about, I tell them nothing.” Amazing. That’s a belief. That in itself is a context and that in itself will be limiting. We can’t escape the limiting nature of our belief structure. We must bring reverence to it. We must hold it with reverence so we can be like, “Even though there are parts of this that no longer serve me, there is also a lot of payoff to this.”
What happens is people have these plant experiences or these Tony Robbins, this coaching retreat or whatever experience it is, they go home and they have zero structure to support them. They don’t have an ongoing relationship with a coach or ongoing conversation with the shaman. They opt out of it because at the moment when they would be most likely to say, “Let’s do this,” they are so filled up with the awareness of like, “I don’t need it. It’s so clear to me.” The way that the world has been constructed has a shape. That shape perfectly matches the way they show up in the world.
This will be the hand for them. They go off and they have this experience and then they come back to the world that they have created without any support and any willingness to even consider that this might be temporary and need structure ongoing to support them. Slowly as they bump into that world, it pushes them back and they end up in the same shape. With some awareness of, “I can think and I know that on some level, this isn’t true,” but that’s more thinking ladled on top of it. What happens is they find themselves back in this shape and they are like, “It’s not working. I need to go back and get another dose. Everything is different,” and then back.
What tends to happen is that people become addicted to whatever the mountaintop experience is. That becomes the ongoing loop they are now in. Plant medicines are obvious because often, we relate to them as drugs so then we are like, “Therefore, drugs are addictive.” We get hooked into any patterns. I’m going to draw this out so you can see this. This isn’t about plant medicine. It’s about those mountaintop lightning bolt experiences, which by the way, can be as much the same thing as when a loved one of yours passes away. That is to say, “Everything I can see the first and I have been thinking life is about this,” suddenly, the world shocks you into the shape but like, “Shit. I’m back to the old shape.”
It happens with plant medicine experiences where you will see people that keep going and drinking. They keep sitting in the ceremony. That’s not a bad thing, per se, in and of itself, but they are using that and that becomes their cycle. You will also see this often with people that go to events that are primarily inspirational rather than transformational. A lot of the coaching profession is focused on inspiration. A lot of what people leave Tony Robbins events with, I assert, is an inspiration. I haven’t researched this. It’s not to say that there’s not plenty of transformation there but I have seen this pattern with a lot of colleagues and friends that go off to these things.
What happens is the cycle these people find themselves in is lit up, inspired and alive with possibility, and then slowly but surely because there is nothing to integrate this into their life, they go back to where they began. At that point, they feel deflated and uninspired so then the thing is like, “I need another hit,” and they go and get another hit. “It’s amazing,” and then back down. What happens in the coaching world around this and leadership is that people eventually become disillusioned with the leader that they’ve got on a pedestal. They keep going to this person for inspiration but they start to notice, “My life is not changing.” That leaves them disillusioned, and then they either conclude, “The problem is me. This isn’t for me. It’s not available,” or they keep re-upping and they keep redoing it.
Hopefully, you can see this as a large pattern that people walkthrough. What tends to happen in all of this is that we create more of the results that were already reliable to create. We don’t tend to create much in the way of breakthroughs and we now have a new pattern to keep walking through. What do we do with all of this? That’s why integration is such a buzzword. Integration is not about thinking the word integration or like, “I’ve got to integrate.” It’s about getting supported to do so. In the same way, you probably wouldn’t go into your garage and brew your ayahuasca. You would go to a shaman who would hold space for you and the ceremony. The integration is the part that’s less sexy, if not more important than the actual sitting in the ceremony.
That’s where you are doing the harder work of being the thing that you’ve got to see when you open that window as opposed to going and opening the window again. Coming back home, getting re-present to the stale air, going back and opening the window again and so on. The instructor I was riding with on Peloton one time was saying, “Eighty percent of the effort is showing up on the bike. Once you are here, it’s the other 20% that makes all the difference but the hard part is getting up on this bike. Once you are on that bike, you are not going to stop the stupid course. You are going to go all the way through this horrible 30 minutes.” I’m kidding, it’s not that bad. Once I’m on that bike, I’m reliable. That’s the challenge. The work happens in that 20% so I have to generate myself to get on the bike, and then the real work is in that last 20%.
I find my experience of a lot of people on what moves them forward and creates transformation in their lives as opposed to has a new cycle where plants, Tony Robbins or whatever is the thing is that less sexy, the mountaintop experience is 80%, “This is incredible.” That 20% where you are moving through the plateaus feels uninspiring at times. You don’t want to keep doing the thing and you want to be like, “Fuck you, family, world, emails, even though I had that vision, I don’t want to do it so I’m going to take another day off.” That’s the part where we create the shift in how we show up.
When you combine both the power and the awareness that medicines, psychedelics and stuff can grant us with the ongoing support and structure that allows you to not just see something and become aware of something. It allows you to do the much more challenging work of changing the way you show up in the face of a world that you have shaped a certain way. That’s when this can start to happen. That’s when you honor this new awareness and practice holding it lovingly. That’s where you start to change the world as you bump into it. That is why the hallmark of transformation like, “How do I know if I’m transforming?” It’s not that your life changes. It’s that the lives of the people around you change.
The reason that’s happening is that you are now showing up differently in partnership with that world. At first, the world will push back against that but as you continue to do your work, get supported and show up this way, what happens is the world around you start to shift. People start to notice like, “There’s something different about the way Adam is showing up.” They start to take notice. I might fight against it at first. That’s my thoughts on this.
I’m going to read what you guys have shared in the comments. Thanks, everyone, for what you are sharing here is a super-rich conversation. Congratulations, by the way, Alex. I’ve got to attend Alex’s graduation. It was beautiful to see you acknowledged, Alex. You’ve got cool hair, too. “Peak experiences versus integration, ongoing work. It’s such a beautiful combo if used in harmony.” Absolutely. Evan, “Traits, not states.” Curt is sharing. I love that. “Without reverence for life the way it was.” The more I do my work, the more I’m present. The word reverence keeps showing up for me. We are so irreverent in the sense that we discard ourselves so quickly.
If you ask someone, “What do you think it is that has you continue to do this?” The answer you often get is, “I don’t know. There’s no benefit to it.” The way of being underneath that is, “I don’t know. I’m a dumb ass. I do dumb shit because I sabotage myself.” Relate to yourself as the expression of God, space blueberry muffin, Yahweh or whatever is empowering for you. Imagine that you are the embodiment of all that is, God themselves, and then ask, “What would have me with that level of reverence showing up this way?” That’s a more powerful way to start to relate to the things we do. We can get a lot deeper and start to uncover some stuff.
People with an expensive palate in terms of taste can enjoy or at least experience all of the range of tastes. They can taste sour and bitter. Children don’t often like much of that at all. A young child does not have much of a developed palate and mostly, they like the taste of sweet. That’s the thing that they are most present to. People that can be quite inefficient of wine or whatever, their range of ability to experience is broadened. Dawn is speaking to the development of our spiritual palate. “How much of the human experience can I be with? Can I allow myself to be destroyed in grief? Can I allow myself to be swept away in pain and agony? Can I allow myself to be with the trauma rather than insisting it’s not there, sliding over the top of it and avoiding it?” All of that is fine. It’s not that you are wrong if you don’t do it but if you are desirous of growing spiritually, I love the way Dawn’s put it, it’s about broadening our palate.
Another metaphor is that makes actors phenomenal actors is that they are not acting. They are accessing and simply being that, which is called for from the scene they are currently in. Acting at its core is highly ontological. If you ever meet people deep in the work of acting, what you will discover is, “They are not phony. They are accessing their sadness.” An actor who can’t allow themselves to be sad, the best they can do is approximate it. They can perform artifice to act sad rather than be sad at the moment. Some actors can do this well enough to succeed but it’s never quite the same thing as the actor who is truly sad at that moment because that is genuine. On some level, we always feel that truth.
Evan, thank you for bringing that. That’s such a phenomenal topic of conversation, especially because plant medicine, drugs, psychedelics or whatever we want to call them are up in the zeitgeist. It’s a popular thing. Tom says, “One thing I haven’t touched on is how psychedelic experience can remove the mind taking the ego offline, which allows the release of stored grief trauma.” You might have come a little late, Tom. That was the first thing I was saying. It drops Adam the notion of Adam and all of Adam’s preferences and the things Adam’s identity and/or ego guard me against having to feel like a muscle guarding you against moving into a range of motion that’s painful. When we take that system offline, then it turns out you can move my arm freely. When we take that system offline, you can lean into your grief and trauma. As part of the access, they do but I didn’t mention that.
How Long Breakdowns Last
Let’s talk about some of these other ones. We’ve got some quickies we will go through. The first is Angela asked, “How long do breakdowns last before we hit a breakthrough?” If you were here at the start where I was sharing, I’m in that place from banging my head against the wall of not knowing and up for a breakthrough but haven’t created it. The answer to this question is going to require a bit of explaining before I get into it. A better word is we need to create some defined terms.
A breakdown is ultimately something declared. If I prove objectively in the world that where this person is, is a breakdown, there’s nothing you can point to. A breakdown is something that I declare for myself. I don’t have a pat answer so I’m going to go in this direction. We will see if that takes us off course. The point here is that first of all, there’s nothing objective to look at. The thing that has us declare something like a breakdown as opposed to whatever else is that I’m saying, “This is in the way of a breakthrough I’m committed to creating. There’s something I’m committed to, some results, some way of showing up in the world I’m committed to creating. This thing that’s happening, I’m declaring as a breakdown in the face of that.”
For example, let’s say that I was committed to a breakthrough in integrity. In this example I’m coming up meant I was committed to honoring my word and, in particular, keeping my word when it came to time. I do my best and I white knuckle through it and yet, here we are, I’m showing up late. What typically happens is we go, “I’m late again. I’m just going to show up and apologize a whole bunch.” In the training I have, the ontological work in my lineage and the way I relate to the stuff, we would distinguish that from a breakdown as just a problem. A problem is something that shown up as like, “This thing has shown up. I need to fix it, and then I can go back to life as normal.”
As humans, we are constantly running into problems. We have problems all over the place. What we are focused and fixated on is fixing the problem. “I’m always late. I need to do this thing.” We don’t get underneath the surface to look at like, “What’s the actual breakthrough here? What’s the thing that would set us free?” Instead, we are like, “I’m late so what I need to do is apologize, and then I have made the problem okay.” If the problem is, “I’m always late. I will take enough stuff off my plate so that I’m never late. There we go. I have solved the problem.” All of this is inside of a cycle. The whole of human nature is cyclical. The way a problem works is it’s this part of the cycle, and then the next thing in the cycle is to solve it with whatever approach I solve it, which then has me continue the cycle until the problem shows up next time.
You can see this in your life by looking at what do you perpetually have shown up in your life where you are like, “Fuck me. Fuck you. Fuck it.” Whatever that thing is, it’s showing up again. That’s an example of the problem. You’ve got a whole list of things you have tried to do as a solution. A super simple example would be brilliant people. The problem being is people are idiots. Everywhere I go, people are morons. The solution might be at first like, “Trying to hear them out and listen to what they have to say, even though I know they are stupid. I will sit here with a polite look on my face listening to them.” “This sucks,” and then that doesn’t work. It turns out, “These morons are still showing up.” Of course, they are. You are giving the morons space but you are still relating to them as morons. Why would anything change?
“Next time, I’m going to build a computer company and I’m only going to hire the best and brightest. I’m going to have a minimum requirement of an IQ of 180 for you to get in here.” You do that and yet it turns out still, people are morons. They keep happening. You can see in trying to solve this problem, someone might create a great enterprise. They might build a successful business filled with the most brilliant, brightest minds in the world and yet, never create a breakthrough in terms of whatever it is that is blocked from them because they relate to people like morons and they even create this category in the first place.
To Angela’s question, “How long do breakdowns last before we hit a breakthrough?” The answer can be forever. Most people, especially people that are not getting any external support, tend to be good at going through life in a degree of tranquilized obviousness where in our life, we understand it and it makes sense. We’ve got it figured out and we move through life. When the problem happens, we create the next solution and keep going through it. That will provide a sense of movement and a sense of progress. Indeed, it will have you incrementally grow whatever sphere of influence you have in the world.
The thing about all of this is there is no upper bound. There’s no point where we can resist the breakthrough all of our life and most of us do. The reason we do this is that we don’t distinguish something like a breakdown in service of some greater commitment. We don’t do any of that. We just go, “This thing’s happening. How do I solve it?” That becomes the perennial game that we play so we go on forever. The thing that is the combo breaker is when this perennial thing shows up, we begin by coming to our coach or whoever supporting us and saying, “I’m declaring a breakdown. There is a breakdown happening.”
From there, the question is, “What is the commitment? What is the breakthrough we are committed to? What is called for at this moment to create that breakthrough rather than to fix the problem showing up?” It can be challenging because when the thing shows up that vexes us, it feels urgent to fix it and we are like, “I have to solve this.” From our need to solve it makes sense. The next step is so obvious because I don’t have any money for the 9th, 10th, 11th time in the last as many years. The thing I have to do is go out and get a new job but if you were to declare that a breakdown, slow down and take a look at like, “What is the breakthrough underneath this? What is it that I’m here to create?”
The path might be completely at odds with the immediate solution. It might be like, “Rather than getting another job, hating that job because now I’m focused entirely on money, eventually quitting the jobs because I’m burnt out, and then finding myself back here in one year. Maybe what it is for me to do is to look into how I relate to support.” I’m just making stuff up now. It’s from that willingness to slow down and bring reverence to what’s going on and be like, “What is happening here?” The breakthrough can get created rather than hanging out on top of that.
Dawn says, “My breakdown can speak for other folks. My breakdown contains the raw materials of my breakthrough. The more I breathe into my limitations, bringing love, and feeling grief to me who dances those limitations, I unfreeze the frozen, I bring stillness to the flight and I stop fighting my soul.” Dawn, I’m present to the poetry of your being. Thanks, Dawn. I feel lucky to have you here as well. What Dawn has said is so beautifully put. Whatever is showing up as the breakdown in your life, it contains everything you need to know to create the breakthrough. The trouble is we are so fucking quick to solve it. What solving it does is it stops us from having to be, “I’m late again.”
Show up, apologize, berate me for ten minutes, and then we can get to the thing that has to be done. All that does is it takes all of this gold that’s available in this declared breakdown, shoves it down and pushes aside until the next time it comes up. In our attempts, we are so focused on fixing. If you ask people what they want in their life, 9 times out of 10, what you are going to get is an explanation of what needs to be fixed about what is currently not working in their life. All of that fixing keeps this stuff below the rug. We have this big elephant in our rug, now and then, it starts to squeeze out of the rug. What we do is we figure out a way to put it under, we buy a bigger rug or we move to a house that’s bigger so that we can put that weird rug thing in a different room.
You can keep creating these strategies over and over. You can see there’s no limit to them. There’s no point where you can’t go to the next level. The only thing that happens is the point where we say, “I’m declaring a breakdown.” This is similar in recovery work to what they call declaring a bottom. People can die. They can kill themselves before getting to this point but there’s no official bottom. The bottom happens when someone makes the declaration that they are powerless over their addiction. That’s the point where they can start to accept something different and that’s the same thing we are talking about here. Angela, great question. Super good.
How To Not Freak Out
Sheriphat, you want to know about moving from our head to our heart? Can you give me a little more specific on that? I’ve got a million directions we could go but if you can give me something specific like where you find yourself stuck in moving from your head to your heart, that would be great because that will help guide me a little bit, and then it will be a juicier conversation. Alexandra asks, “What do we do when everything we wanted is happening? We are creating everything we wanted. How do we not freak out about it?” A couple of thoughts on that. It’s a great question. Gay Hendricks in his book, The Big Leap, talks about the upper limit problem. There are two things I love in The Big Leap. The first is the idea of the upper limit problem and the second thing is the zone of excellence and the zone of genius. That book discredits itself a little bit because it posits, “If you do enough work, you will never get sick.”
To me, that occurs a little bit like, “If you do enough work, you will rise like a beam into the sky and you will transcend the human experience.” Part of the human experience is we do get sick. We are of the world, in the world, as well as transcendent of the world. They are all true. The point of this question is not to criticize Gay Hendricks or his brilliant book. He calls it the upper limit problem and the upper limit problem is we have a world we have constructed and that world allows X amount of things to be possible, and then no more. What tends to happen is as we start to create beyond the boundaries of what is possible inside our worldview, we naturally tend to sabotage it and be up against ourselves.
It’s a little bit like what Alexandra was talking about. Getting everything you want, and then suddenly starting to freak out. There’s a reason that your life is shaped the way it currently is and there’s a reason you are shaped the way you currently are in that life. The reason is you created that because it gave you things, allowed you to avoid things and served you in certain ways. The first thing we talked about was having reverence for the stuff we tend to discard. Having reverence for the patterns, ways of showing up, habits, and things we do that we are like, “I do that because I’m stupid. That’s just the way I am,” or whatever.
The other side of this is it’s also important to have reverence for what we aren’t creating and have reverence for why we don’t have the stuff that we want yet. That’s because in getting what we want, it’s going to force us to be with something. There is safety in not necessarily getting what you want, for example. I’m making up examples here. Imagine someone who’s like, “I want 500,000 followers on Instagram. I’m so committed to it.” First of all, there’s a reason that they aren’t creating that. There are some logistical reasons. There are all, what we call, the phenomenological reasons. That’s all the doing, the logistics and what do you have to make happen.
Once we have moved that out of the way, there’s the ontological reason why that’s not present, which is to say, in having that result, they are going to have to be with something new. For a lot of people, like if we were talking about having 500,000 followers, suddenly they are going to have to be with the opinion of 500,000 people coming at them. I’m not saying that’s always what it is. I’m saying in this hypothetical example. This might be something that’s there for them. That’s going to drive up a fuck ton of anxiety, especially if they haven’t yet done the ontological work to move through this. They haven’t yet created the transformation or this shift in their being to be able to be with that level of feedback.
This is the part where we create what we want, and then we are like, “Fuck,” and we start to sabotage it, pull it down, run away from it and get scared. A simple example is, and I have talked about this a few times when Bay and I took December and June off entirely. We created the circumstances. We created the phenomenology of that, which is to say, we created the way the world looked that month off, booked it off in our calendar, it was all there, and then we’ve got into it. We are like, “We are here. We have arrived.”
All of the stuff got driven up that had previously been in the way in my being of having that. That stuff like, “What am I going to do if I don’t post in a month?” Now I have to deal with my fear, “Fuck. People are going to stop following me. People are going to stop absorbing and consuming my content. People going to forget who Adam is. People are going to lose interest in me.” All of this stuff, which may or may not sound silly to you because you are not inside of me but inside of me where my ego lives along with my shadows, my greatness and all that stuff is true. It’s indeed felt but it’s valid. There is a truth in it. In creating that result, then I have to be with that.
Here’s another example. In 2020, I created a big breakthrough in spirituality and my relationship to spirit. I started to let go of forcing stuff and needing things to look a certain way and releasing my attachment to things not to go in this direction because what even do I know about any direction. What that created for me, it’s a lot less struggle. There are a lot less trying to force things to go a certain way, a lot more like surrendering to what was showing up and then showing up as Adam in the face of whatever showed up. It didn’t mean I laid back, played video games and let the universe suck my dick so to speak. It meant I still showed up but I was releasing my attachment that things were meant to go a certain way. I could show up and be committed to what I was going to create without getting so bent out of shape when it didn’t necessarily go that way. Where that left me was a lot less struggle.
The interesting thing was how scary it was to have a lack of struggle because I learned growing up that if I’m struggling, I’m not falling behind. If I know I’m in the struggle, I know I’m working hard. If I know I’m working hard, I know that I’m going to be okay. In releasing the struggle and creating this breakthrough, suddenly I had to be with all of the fear that then got put into space. I imagine that’s a little bit like Alexandra is talking about. That’s what is there for all of us. Anytime we break through to something new, there’s going to be a period where we are like, “This is what is pushing back on us when we have a new awareness in terms of taking plant medicines or going to an event or anything like that.” It’s safer to come back to the usual space to retract back to where we were.
Curtis, reverence for me has been a real hallmark of coaching and leadership. That’s an ongoing conversation I’m often in with people. A lot of my work has become deeply spiritual. The straw man of spirituality would be like, “What that means is I lead people to God.” That’s not what I mean. What I mean is something greater than ourselves moving beyond just me as an individual and trusting the divine unfolding. As my friend, Hans, put it, the naturalness of all of this. There’s a spirituality in trusting a flower in the path it’s growing into. It’s in that dirt and it’s growing. I don’t have to be like, “The flower is bending that way and that’s wrong.” No, it’s not. The flower is bending in its natural order and it’s growing as it grows.
I might have a preference for the flower to be something different or to grow in a different direction and that’s fine. We can impose our preferences. That’s how gardens are created and why a hedge looks like a hedge instead of a tree so it’s okay. Part of the journey is the ability to separate ourselves from our preference so that we can stand back and be like, “I can be with this flower, this event or however it’s showing up. Now that I can be with it, what do I want to choose from here?” That’s where we get back to real power. Being led by our preference, we can check in with ourselves and start to notice this stuff.
In The Throes Of Our Shadows
Curtis, you gave me some examples of transitioning from duality to oneness but do you have a question that I can speak to? That sounds juicy but what you did was list a bunch of ways of duality and I’m still not quite clear what you mean by transitioning from duality to oneness. I would like to talk more about that. Someone asked how we know we are in the throes of our shadow. Mia, you asked this. Shadow, survival mechanism, ego and fear are all concepts or words for the same thing, which is ultimately me showing up in a way that is not fully expressed and the natural expression of myself. Naturally expressed and fully expressed.
If I’m worried that you guys over there are going to think I’m stupid and I act from that fear, it’s okay to have the fear, but then if I conduct myself and I show up in response to that fear by using big words, that’s a function of my shadow. It’s a function of me responding to my fear. Curtis, keep pondering it and let me know when you do have something more concrete for us to play with because I love the idea. Otherwise, there will just be me making stuff up. It would be playing pool without any holes in the pool table. We can hit balls around and stuff happens but did we achieve anything? Did we get anywhere? Did we move in a direction?
This is the heart and the challenge of a lot of work, spiritual, transformative and otherwise. I have distinguished spiritual and transformational but as I follow my journey, I’m starting to notice those two things are the same. It’s starting to come together and I wonder how much longer I will distinguish those. Maybe I will keep using those words so that I can meet people wherever they are at. First of all, let’s talk about recovery work as addiction, alcoholics anonymous, debtors anonymous, gamblers anonymous, marijuana users, adult children of alcoholics in recovery work and all of that stuff.
One of the fundamental tenants is that the ego is cunning and baffling and it has access to every bit of your mental faculties. What that means is if I were to say, how do I make sure that I never have a shadow physically? The thing that the sun cast behind you or that you cast behind you. I could never do that. That’s unachievable. There’s never a point where I can get away from my shadow because that is as much a part of me as my skin or any other aspect of me. Trying to overcome it can be a bit of a trap. The heart of what I is asking is not so much like, “How do I overcome it?” More like, “How do I distinguish for myself when I’m in it?”
I will give you some ways, Mia, that we can try to do this. The main thing I want to start by saying is that it’s tough. The reason the ego is so effective and our shadows work so well are that we can’t see them. I can’t see my own blind spots. I can’t tell you, which part of my vision is being filled in by my eye and the optic center of my brain to cover for the blind spot where my optic nerve attaches to my eyeball. I can’t tell you that. I simply cannot see it. Part of what that means is trying to see your blind spots is a bit of a setup. It doesn’t mean it’s impossible. It’s just that it’s not the best way to do it.
I can drive a car-free of any mirrors and be like, “I am fully self-sufficient. I’m turning my head around and I’m looking.” It’s not the best way to do that. The best way for us to start to see this stuff is through the support of other people. I will talk about what we can do as individuals and the ways that we can get supported by other people. I will talk about that in the context of strangers, friends, family, and then coaches, leaders, counselors, etc. In terms of ourselves, there are a few diagnostics like, “When is my shadow up?” Some of those diagnostics are like our breath. Our breath is a fantastic indicator of how to present in my body, how embodied and relaxed I am. How open am I?
If my breath is deep and relaxed, I’m not coming much from fear. Whereas if I’m in the throes of my fear, my breath is probably held or shallow. It comes down not far. It might be tight. We can look for tightness in our physicality. Are my muscles clenched? What’s my body language like? This is often much more indicative. It’s not determinative. Meaning, it’s not always true but body language like this is often an indication that I’m much less open than this body language. The challenge for the whole of this stuff is I don’t notice my breath when I’m in that moment because I have shifted into automaticity. The reason I have shifted in automaticity is my whole being is in combat mode. It’s in confrontation mode.
We have evolved such that when we are confronted, what serves us is not a whole bunch of thinking about, being able to distinguish and noticing like, “My breathing is shallow at this moment.” What is evolved is run the fuck away from the tiger. Get away, punch the tiger in the nose or do whatever you have to do to survive. We get narrow and linear in our scope as we become more confronted and thus more in our shadows, ego, survival mechanisms and all that stuff. Breath, body language, all things you can keep an eye on. It’s worth noting that these are challenging things to keep your awareness on. It’s challenging to stay transcendent of what’s happening at the moment because that’s not how you are designed. It doesn’t mean it’s not possible. It just means that it’s not the best way to do it because it’s not how you are designed.
You can drive down the highway with your car in reverse. That’s possible but it’s not the way the car is designed to be operated. It’s not the most effective way to drive your car. There are going to be consequences to trying to do it that way. You are going to burn your car out. It’s going to be harder to steer. It’s going to be revving, etc. Trying to do all this work on our own is challenging. Empowering the support and the feedback of people outside of you is a more effective way to see your stuff as it’s showing up. With friends and family, the challenge is that they have meshed in your dynamic. They don’t have the training nor the commitment to stay off the court with you.
An example I gave is back in the days when I would smoke a lot of weed, I had a few friends that were my reliable smoke weed with friends. All of us would go through periods where we were trying to do it last or give it up. We would be supportive of each other until one of us wanted to get baked, and then I go back to those friends and be like, “Do you want to smoke a joint?” Of course, because they want to smoke a joint, they would choose in, and then we wouldn’t talk about their commitment not to smoke weed because we wanted to smoke weed and that served me. That’s an obvious example but that same dynamic happens everywhere constantly with your friends and your family far more than you can see. It’s the invisible net, fabric and texture of your relationships.
With your friends and family, the challenge is that they are going to point to stuff or trigger you or push your buttons but you are going to be able to see their stuff rather than your stuff. I have a sensitive friend and I noticed from their sensitivity, they tend to take things personally. What happens is one of our other friends will step into that, and then that friend will apologize for the mess they have created but this sensitive friend never takes ownership of that. The consequence of that is he’s able to see the other person’s brutality or whatever it happens to be. It’s certainly there but he can’t see his sensitivity showing up and distinguish, “Maybe that’s part of my work.”
What allows us a little bit of space here is recognizing that whatever we can see over there, we are co-creating that dynamic. Whatever we want to point to on that side of the things, it helps us to look at the reciprocal on us. If that person has been this way, who am I being that adds to this dynamic? To trust if we are pissed off, we are like, “That’s their thing. That’s their ego or their heartlessness,” or whatever is something other than their purest, truest self. It’s like, “I’m seeing something on that side of the fence. If I want to see my survival mechanism at play, I’ve got to move back over here and I’ve got to take a look on this side.” How am I being that’s the reciprocal of that? What if I trusted that that was my survival mechanism?
We have a metric fuck ton of resistance to doing this. It was challenging. That’s the work. Hopefully already, if you have ever tried this with friends or tried to take a look at this, you have probably noticed how resistant we are because we are like, “It’s them. They are doing that thing.” The trouble is we are right. They are doing their thing. It’s just that you are doing your thing, too. It requires something greater than our standard humanity to bring it back over here. Let them off the hook so we can look on our side. That’s the second way we can start to notice our egos, survival mechanisms or shadows.
Self, friends and family, I can’t remember if I had a third category there. I’m going to go to coaches and leaders. I want to be clear, there are lots of coaches and leaders that are nothing of the sort and that’s okay. At the end of the day, we have to find someone we are willing to entrust with our growth. Down the path of spiritual transformational work, what will naturally and inevitably happen is there’s going to be a point where your coach and your leader are going to reflect something to you and you are going to be like, “That’s not true. I don’t agree. That’s your stuff.”
It’s important that you would be able to honor that so the coach can support you through that but there is also often a point where we have to set aside our resistance to what’s showing up to let the reflection in and take it on board. This is a Christopher McAuliffe distinction. He shared this with me when I was being trained. We listened through the lens of, do I agree with this or do I disagree with this? Every piece of feedback offered is listened to. This happens all the time as coaches and leaders. I would be like, “I noticed the way you are showing up is petulant.” I’m imagining that might be some of the feedback I would give someone. “It’s petulant like a child who’s arrogantly unwilling,” and then they sit and they are like, “I don’t agree with that.”
What they have done is rather than receive the reflection, trusting me in my work and to be that mirror for them, what’s showing up at the moment is that instead of receiving it and trying it on, they are going, “Do I agree that I’m showing us petulant? No, I don’t,” and then they are discarding that. It’s a little bit like me showing up in front of the mirror. The mirror is like, “Here’s how that outfit looks.” I go, “I don’t agree with that,” and I go into the world. It’s like, “The mirror is showing me how I look. It’s not doing anything special.” That’s what we do. We take away the trust that might allow us to see something we cannot yet see.
The other side of this is someone reflects something to us and we go, “I agree with that.” What this lens for listening to people provides us is it limits the feedback that can get in and limits our ability to see or shadows what we already know. Where you go to decide if you agree or disagree is inside the world of what you already know. If you are hoping to create some result outside of what you can already see, agree or disagree is going to keep you stuck forever. The challenge here is, is your coach doing their work? Are you willing to commit to trusting them? If not, that’s going to be problematic because you will inevitably get to this place in the relationship with them where there’s going to be a breakthrough required to go any deeper with them.
You are going to be up against this and like, “Do I agree or disagree?” The coach is going to be inviting you to like, “We can’t go further until you stop asking yourself that question and simply take the feedback and wear it. Try it on for a week and notice what I’m pointing to.” If the client is reserving the right to be like, “No, I don’t think you are right on this.” They are reserving the right to hold on to what they hold to be true. They aren’t going to be able to go any further. This doesn’t mean that you should trust any asshole coach who adds you on LinkedIn and says, “You should hire me,” and then you start working with them. This is the challenge. The heart of transformational work is ultimately trusted. You have to trust part of yourself to that person and trust what they offer you in the face of your resistance to it.
Sometimes, people experienced that like, “This person has taken advantage of me.” This is why potent leadership is so close to potent followership. This is why many spiritual communities start out great and then veer into Nexium. There’s a whole bunch of these things like Bikram Yoga and all of this stuff because the leader stops doing their work, stops having people reflect their ego to them, and then their ego takes them by the back of the head and leads them around. What you are left with a leader that won’t take a look on their side isn’t doing their work and now you are both caught in the throes of that ego.
We have to choose leaders, coaches and spiritual practitioners for ourselves that we are willing to trust, and then we have to trust them. That is the challenge in that regard. As an example, with my coach, oftentimes she will reflect stuff where I’m like, “Fuck that.” My work is not to acquiesce. It’s not to say, “She’s right. The end.” My job is to take that in and hold it like, “Rachel is putting this in front of me. I’m going to sit with this for this week,” rather than discard it out of hand because I don’t agree with it or acquiesce to it and flatten myself and be like, “She said this so it’s true.” There’s no growth in that either. That’s just you doing someone else’s bidding. Those are the challenges every step of the way. That’s the level of increasing power that’s available as we move through those. Our ego will always try to blindside us as we take this stuff on.
We are going to hit one more thing before we come off. I want to talk about Andrea’s question, which I loved. Curtis, before I do that, I love what you put there. “Who am I being that adds to what is showing up on the other side of what I’m seeing in others.” I find when people say adds to, that gives them a way out, which is they are doing this and I’m adding a little bit to it but it’s mostly them. An even more powerful question is, “Who am I being that is co-creating this dynamic? How am I bringing as much into this dynamic as that person?” It is a great segue into Andrea’s question, which is like, “How can we be responsible only for our feelings while at the same time honoring our impact?”
Honoring Our Impact
This is one of those cool tightrope things and it speaks to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd stages of leadership. In the first stage of leadership, I’m so concerned about how you feel. I’m managing your feelings and I’m managing in a bunch of ways. I’m trying to convince you not to feel a certain way. I’m conducting myself to ensure that you don’t have a particular suite of feelings. You have only the feeling that I have deemed are acceptable. I’m totally at the whim of the world out there and that’s obnoxious. It’s not a powerful way for us to show up in our lives because our lives are completely determined by the thoughts, whims and feelings of everyone out there. There’s no internal power.
The second stage of leadership is, “Fuck you, world. I’m going to do whatever is true for me.” There’s no actual connection. There’s no co-creation with the world. It’s just Adam says and does what Adam feels Adam should say and do. It’s entirely focused over here. The first stage is like the world happening to me. The second stage is like the world’s happening to me. The third stage is where we are committed to something greater than ourselves. I’m committed to that in partnership with who I am. It’s like, “I am called to create a greater relationship in the world.” Let’s use that one because this is true for me. I often find myself righteous. I have a lot of brilliance and what brilliant brains like to do is sort shit out into the right answer and the rest of the answers are wrong.
From that place, if I take my foot or my sight off of the thing, it’s right there. I will get into conversation with people and they are talking and I’m like, “That’s fucking wrong.” I’m holding on to their wrong. “Here’s the right answer.” My choices are like, “I can listen to them and let them talk but I’m still listening to them through the lens of, ‘They are wrong.’” I’m like, “You are wrong but I’m going to give you a bunch of space to talk about how you are wrong.” That’s a shitty experience for everyone. We all had that where someone is listening but we are like, “They are not receiving any of this. They are just patronizing me. They are patting me on my head.” That sucks.
The other option from there is to tell them they are wrong and to convince them of my path. The third option is to only associate with people that are right the same way I’m right. If I hang out there, that’s my second stage. The first stage would be, “If someone has a different opinion than mine, I set aside my opinion. I assume that I’m wrong and I received their right opinion.” The second stage would be now I’m all like, “What I believe to be true is what is true. I shop you with the right-wrong acts and that’s the way it goes.” The third stage would be like, “I am committed to a relationship with this person and that is greater than, whether I believe am I right or wrong about something.”
From there, I start to listen through the lens of like, “What here at this moment would cause more relationship? How could I create more connection with this person at this moment?” Listening through the lens of they are wrong but I’m going to listen to them will rarely create more connection. I know that and hopefully, you do. If I were to say, set aside what I know to be true and get curious about how they arrived at this conclusion. They are thinking about what they have done to learn about this. All of that stuff allows something greater to grow.
The challenge in that, which is what Andrea is talking about is like, “At what point am I now doing that at the expense of what’s real for me at the moment?” I don’t have a good answer for that. I wish I did. I wish I could be like, “It’s this and it’s that. As long as you have these two components, then you know that.” The trouble is that so much of what we are talking about here is about intimacy with people. Your intimacy in the sense of into me see and intimacy in the sense of like, “What’s real at this moment?” As soon as we have a set of steps like, “How do I honor my feelings while at the same time, be present to my impact? I do X, Y, Zed,” that is in the way of intimacy. It has to be because now I’m focused not on what’s real for us at this moment. I’m instead focused on what is the right way to show up? What is the set of steps?
The challenge with intimacy is that we are afraid to be with each other in whatever is getting driven up. When Bay and I are doing yoga intimate practice every morning and we practice for about a half-hour, one of the practices our teachers have given us that we do is I will adopt the alpha or the masculine pole and she will adopt the omega or the feminine pole. I will sit and I will share what I see. I see my woman sitting in front of me. We alternate and Bay will share, “I feel seen. I see withdrawal. I feel judged. I see expectation. I feel called.” You go back and forth in this dynamic.
The first thing about this is that we are taking all of the complexity of language and trying to do something and achieve something, all of that away from it so that we can hang out at the foundation of the moment itself. Trying to have intimacy when you are trying to conduct a board meeting while still valuable, you have layered so much more on top and it becomes more challenging because you’ve got to sift through all that stuff so practice. This lets you be with someone at the heart of the moment.
The second thing is that Bay might say, “I feel judged,” and then what shows up for me is like, “I’m not judging you.” Her sharing that truth with me in the moment drives something up, and then that’s what the intimate moment is. I’ve got something driven up and she’s feeling judged. What do I see through that? What do I now present to in my seeing? No, Andrew. That comes from my work with Justin Patrick Pierce and Londin Angel Winters. John, Justin and maybe Londin were all apprentices of David Deida. I used to do work with John. Bay and I, our teachers primarily are Justin and Angel in this area. I highly recommend checking out their work.
What’s happening is then my reaction to Bay sharing that with me shows up, and then it’s like, “What is in the intimate space? What do I see from there? What do I notice has happened? What is Bay feeling in this moment?” We keep building and moving through that intimacy. What starts to show up is we get like, “This is going the wrong way. That’s impossible because intimacy has no right way to go. All there is in intimacy is the moment.” These are two body practices that allow us to notice the dynamic and the shifting tension and what’s happening moment-by-moment as we get triggered, come down and be with each other through all of that.
That’s why there isn’t like, “Here’s how to do X, Y or Zed.” I wish there was. I spent 30 years trying to get good at that as far as I could down that path to the point of having spreadsheets that track the number of times I come up and hug Bay from behind but there’s no intimacy at all in that. That’s just me checking something off my to-do list. It’s a brilliant system. It should work but that’s not how intimacy works. The cool thing about practicing at that low level is you start to realize, “This underpins everything.”
Often, anytime there are breakdowns in a relationship with two partners and I’m working with lots of work with couples, what we are doing is bringing them back to the intimacy of the moment and supporting them to stay there with each other. If you can support people to stay there with each other, it starts to loosen and open back up. That includes like, “Can we be with each other as we share honestly our content inside a safe container? Can we be with what that drives up? Can I see you in whatever has been driven up? Can allow you to see me in whatever has been driven up?” That’s the healing process entirely. It’s all captured at that moment. “Can we be with each other intimately?” Creating that is one of the most powerful experiences we can have with another human being, which is why we avoid it.
I want to talk quickly by way of finishing up about the spectrums of being. I have laid all the chapters out. I’m talking to the cover designer for the extended book and I’ve got my publisher starting to go through and do all the proofreading and editing, which is cool. A woman that has done work with both Bay and me in the past who lives in France, I sent her a copy of this book because she had requested it. She wrote me to say, “I loved this and I want to translate it. I want to create a French version. Can we collaborate on that?” For those of you that are French as your first language, there will be a French version of this book coming out so that’s exciting. I’m excited about that.
I don’t know if the show has been going out. Get Lit has had some mid-week episodes going out but the people that have been doing the back-end work, I hired some new people to compliment my existing team and they have been a little fruity. I would love it if someone can let me know if new episodes are still coming out. I could check that out myself but if they haven’t been because I haven’t checked it yet, fear not, it’s just a matter of time. We are working through all the gremlins of bringing on new people and all of that stuff.
The last thing I’m going to say is if you want a conversation with me about anything or if you are like, “I love this stuff and I want to experience it on a deeper level. I want to create something different in my life,” sometimes, a single conversation can make all the difference in the world. If that’s something you feel drawn to, send me a message. Let me know. I’m happy to create time for us. I love you all. It’s super cool to hang out. Big thanks to everyone that shared yourself in the comments, the generosity of sharing who you be by what you put into space. Big thanks to everyone for your questions. Thank you, Curtis, Tom, Andrew, Andrea, Alexandra and Evan. There are a few other people that I’m forgetting. Love you, guys. Bye.
- After the Ecstasy, the Laundry
- Naval Ravikant
- The Big Leap
- Christopher McAuliffe
- Justin Patrick Pierce
- Londin Angel Winters
About Adam Quiney
I’m an obsessive perfectionist, high-performer, former lawyer, and now an Executive Mentor. I know what it’s like to succeed easily and quickly. To blindly put my happiness in the hands of achievement.
All the success, money and possessions in the world couldn’t cure my boredom. Couldn’t produce a loving, intimate relationship with my wife…and definitely couldn’t fulfill me.