My good friend and associate Shawn Phillips, a pioneer in fields of performance lifestyle, and known as the Philosopher of FIT (focused intensity training) penned an amazing article on the implications of Coach Kubiak’s recent retirement as head coach of the Denver Broncos.
It’s revealing, to say the least, and leaves us wondering what might have been if Coach Kubiak could have expanded his awareness and development and seen another way to stay in his position of leadership that didn’t drive him into the ground.
I took the liberty to edit where a quote from me that was paraphrased.
Much gratitude and respect for a job well done to coach Kubiak.
As you may have heard, Gary Kubiak (aka Kube’s), coach of the World Champion Denver Broncos, stepped down. Retired this week.
No question, by all players and everyone he’s worked with, Kube’s is a good a human as you’re gonna find anywhere. Certainly the NFL. And he’s done a hell of a job for his two years at the helm here in Denver.
By all surface accounts, Kube’s retirement looks like a typical story: An ever-mildly aging coach has a few health issues and just decides it’s time to hang up the whistle.
Makes perfect sense. Right. Well… maybe a little too much so.
Let me tell you, as a coach, a student and an advocate for men; and of course a man not much younger than Coach Kube’s, there is a vital lesson hidden in this seemingly ordinary walk-away. One that every over 40-year-old man had best understand.
It’s a pattern. A programmed way of being and justifiably achieving that we—both men and society—have so thoroughly accepted, for so long, we don’t even see it. It’s only become so ordinary, even expected, that when another 48-year-old man drops dead on his fifth sales call this week, we don’t even notice it.
We eulogize the loss. We celebrate their spirit and drive, and yet we never bat an eye at the obvious pathology playing out here. The one killing father’s, brothers, and sons all across this country—every damn day.
Think about this. By the time a man loses a battle with cancer, we’ve tried like hell to save him. We’ve invested loads of money and will raise more money to find a cure. We fight and fight and learn.
A man drops dead from his “life, ” and we mourn and shake our heads. And life moves on.
Unless you’ve read my Owners MANual to Living Your 40’s at Full Strength or listened to my podcasts, chances are you still have no idea what the elephant in the room is… Aka what it is that is taking men down.
And what is has to do with Coach Kubiak…
Most people call it “drive,” the will to win. Another name is “performance addiction.” The inability and unwillingness to put self-care before success and sacrifice. A “macho” strength and invincibility.
I know, you’re already thinking, “Wow, that sounds cool! Noble shit…”
Yep, you’re right. That’s the story. This is the stuff of myth, of books, of life that boys are raised to men on. All the best warriors die.
And as a result, for all the selfish, ignorant, stupidity that men can bring to life they are strongly inclined to take care of themselves last. You know, “women and children first.” Which equals, men die.
This drive for achievement, to be enough, to give everything you’ve got is celebrated throughout life. And it usually only causes a few relationship issues up through your 30’s. Hell, it even works to get ahead—sometimes.
Then you turn 40… the game changes and so do you.
At your best, you don’t have an extra 10,000 KW of excess energy to waste every day. Your ability to remain so focused that you forget to eat, is no longer your ally. The overall lack of self-care, your shitty diet, your desire to live like you’re 29 until you die is delivering you all too quickly. Yet, perform you do. Because it’s what you do.
A health scare or two. The annual diet attempt. A few weeks—maybe a month of consistent working out and you are feeling so much better that you go back to the old way.
Now, carrying the “midlife” scarlet letter, other factors are driving you. No longer is it just your desire to win but the fear of losing. Youth wants to take your job away. Time is causing you stress.
Rather than stepping into the middle third of life awake at the wheel and in control, most men arrive more resolute to stick their head in the sand and mash their foot to floor, than ever.
It’s like trying to get your car unstuck from a snowbank by flooring it. Makes for good sound effects but that’s about all.
I recall studying the fate of top executives and high-powered CEOs years ago. I can’t recall the exact number but it was something in the 80% range, that once retired, were divorced within a year.
Why? Because their spouse had set up a life without them. And when the “boss” retired he came home to a place he’d never been and interrupted what was otherwise a pretty good life.
This is the ultimate example of The Performance Addict. Perform, perform, perform… and then I’ll have a life one day. He is all performance, no life. He figures he’s got time to make up for it later. He’ll sacrifice for the kids now, and they’ll love him later.
As my good friend John Allen Mollenhauer, the creator of Performance Lifestyle, says—the path to a life of health, happiness, and success is found in the process one experiences with a way of life that performs in each essential way required to maintain balance. In the bigger picture; even as you periodically go out of balance, which is a fact of life, having the breadth and depth of performance lifestyle skills makes this possible.
The answer is not the mythical bullshit story of “balance.” Hell, we all know that balance is a fantasy reserved for MensHealth advice wizards.
Fact is we have to go deep at times, we have to stretch beyond our capacities. But we also need to know ourselves, see the terrain be the master of our impulses and manage ourselves with the respect we’d afford any all-star player we’re paying 100 million.
Just as Kubiak made clear—and I can attest—it is not even close to enough to be told to dial it back or even want to dial it back. When you resist that which you are deeply programmed to do, you simply generate more tension and turmoil.
Like Kube’s trying to cut back his input, his hours, his control. I am sure when he let go and went back to “the way I am wired” it felt better. It was sweet relief.
Of course, anyone who has ever been addicted to a substance can tell you loads about this same relief. Even knowing it was likely going to kill them.
Where Coach Kube’s has one on me and likely you, is he can walk away. He can just quit and his world will not spin into the darkness of hell. He’s got the resources, he has options.
Most men can’t quit.
They can’t walk away from the work that is driving them to their graves—the life that is stealing their life away. Thus, they are left with no options but to double down, make a better, more noble story, do it “for their families” and forge on all the time ignoring their inner wisdom that it’s killing them.
For many men no way out leads to the most common way out: The MLC. Yes, popular Mid-Life-Crisis.
The crashing of a life into the brick wall while knowing you can do nothing but sit back and watch the pieces fall. I know, sounds horrible. Who’d choose that?
Well, you’d be surprised what we will really do for relief. How far men will go to avoid the fear and confusion of waking up and the fear of admitting vulnerability — that they can’t keep it up forever.
Hell, having been through my own excruciating version of the MLC, as much hell as it was waking up without my home, my world, my cars and my so-called life, the next three or four days of watching Ray Donovan, sipping scotch and ignoring the world was sheer bliss.
The way I see it, man if you’re over 40, you’ve got a choice. Keep going until you can’t and see if it brings you the happiness and life you dreamed of…
Or hit the Reboot button. Wake up!
You don’t have to blow your life up. You don’t have to bottom out. You can rise above, gain perspective, both gain power and release the illusion of control.
The thing I can promise you is that it’s gonna happen one way or another. Either you’re going to choose it, and author your evolutionary leap to the next level or life is going to push the reset button for you. And you know how that plays out.
Ouch… Not so pretty.
Let me be clear. I think Kubiak had an amazing job. I am certain it was his purpose. In many ways he’s luckier than most. And yes, working hard is to be admired and rewarded.
Where I draw the line is with the sacrifice. The inability to see that when the one in charge loses the strength, we all lose. When we endorse and reward men for working themselves to death we continue the myth that life is about suffering.
I’m here to tell you that you can have your cake and eat it too. You can do the work you are meant to do, at the highest level, and save yourself—live long and strong.
You can… No, you must come to know that self-care is essential. That when you take care of yourself you are not taking from those you love but giving to them. It is in the service of them.
As I said in Strength for LIFE, health—which we so like to believe is the high-water mark for life, is simply “the absence of illness.” No matter how strongly every indicator is that we are weak and struggling, so long as we are “free of disease” we think, “I’m healthy… I got this.”
On the other hand, Strength is health with the abundance of energy—a reserve capacity of mind, body and spirit. The ability to make a difference, the capacity to serve at the highest level. The bedrock of a great life of tremendous impact.
So, man… I ask you… What’ll it be? Suffering for success and surviving or Life at Full Strength? The choice is yours. Continue doing the “noble” thing, hoping for a glorious burial or life that includes you, fully.
While on the subject of coaching, I am reminded of a story Joe Gibbs, former Superbowl winning head coach for the Washington Redskins tells, “during my years coaching the Redskins, the job demanded I leave before my boys got up and I was always home long after they were asleep. One night I came in and leaned over to kiss my boy on the cheek and he had a full beard. I stopped, looked around and wondered when the years passed and what did I miss?”
About Shawn and The Over 40 Full Strength MANual
For the last decade I’ve focused my attention on my passion for serving the over 40 man to live longer, stronger and freer. Helping what I feel is the most overburdened, leastsupported and appreciated demographic on the western world. It’s clear that over 40 the game of strength, fitness and vitality changes. It at once becomes more important and more challenging.
During this decade both through study and my own experience I’ve increased my necessary emphasis on the nature of the man’s life, his relationship to himself and the world—for it is ultimately central to both his physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
I created The Owner’s MANual to Living Your 40’s at Full Strength a few years ago as quick, easy to access, point of disruption for men—a sort of compact wake up call to help them gain some perspective, free up some of the grip, take back some of their power.
The MANual offers 12 simple but not always easy “Life Hacks” designed to activate three major moves:
1. Purge the past: release the stories and beliefs that are silently running you into the ground. The regrets you ignore, the needs that seem so important. The autopilot set on at age 25 that for most men runs them to death.
2. Power the Present: When you fully embrace the moment, when you are really truly here, the texture of life changes. Everything is brighter, sweeter and better and you have—for the first time in a long time—real power. The ability to change things without guilt and fear.
3. Align with Purpose: Most over 40 men are living a vision of life they set in motion two decades ago. They have not stopped long enough to know if it even matters, if it’s good for your soul. When you get clear, get free and wake up to your authentic power and life, your true purpose in life can find you. Imagine, if you really want to live another 40+ years, how fulfilling and important it will be to be not just sacrificing for the good of others, but living your own unique purpose on this earth.
The MANual is both a short, simple to read book, an audio you can listen to and for those who want to truly engage, a guided community driven 42-day experience. It’s not foolproof—as fools tend to be inclined to force ignorantly ahead. It won’t require a month of therapy nor turn you into a tree-hugging liberal, or something.
What it will do is introduce you to some practices, experiences and simple techniques that provoke awareness, alter perspective, help free you from the thinking and beliefs that can so firmly bind.
Let’s just say, the life hacks and information in this program and book will be helpful stimulus for all men.
Some will take to it instantly. Others will find it oddly engaging and frustrating but walk away better. And others will be frustrated and feel like they didn’t get it at all. Until a year, or three when suddenly it will all make perfect sense.
If you’re ready to take control of your fate, set the course for your life that delivers your true desires, grab a FREE copy of the book here…
To Your Life at Full Strength!