Is Playing it Safe Killing Your Motivation?
Is there more to life than making money or being exceptional?
And why do so many fathers and husbands forget how to feel alive?
Today we’re going to discuss how to rebuild our inner fire and why too much of a good thing is not a good thing.
Here’s a transcript of this podcast:
Let’s talk about something I hear a lot from guys — especially those that are married or have kids.
It’s the type of thing that starts out with a “ho-hum” feeling and eventually has us wondering why our days feel rather meaningless or pointless. It’s the type of thing that has us wonder what’s wrong with us even though we should be grateful for what’s going well. It’s the type of thing that has us feeling stuck on a hamster wheel.
I was on a call with a client today, and he’s been fortunate. He’s built a small business that allows him to make decent money and have a lot of freedom with his time. He’s fortunate that he’s able to spend lots of time with his family.
But in the last couple of years, he’s been asking himself deeper questions like:
What the hell am I really doing with my life?
What’s this all for?
Why am I not motivated to level up or do more?
His work has felt empty. He’s been struggling to find motivation. Even though he has a business that so many others would love to have, privately he feels like he’s just pushing a boulder up the hill. His big concern is that he can’t sustain this way of working for years to come.
When I asked him what he thought would pull him out of this rut, he mentioned a few ideas.
His first theory was that he just needed to make his work more impactful to others. He was hoping that making his work more meaningful might make it more tolerable. Not a bad idea.
Another theory was that he’d be motivated if he set out to make a shit ton of money. He hoped that if he stashed enough cash so that he and his future grandchildren were “set” financially, then that would flip the switch. He was hoping that everlasting comfort and security would light his fire again.
And then his last theory was to do work that would last for generations to come. He hoped that making his work more important to many, many others would raise his status, and then that would get him out of his rut.
So what are we left with? Greater meaning, security, comfort, and status.
Those are interesting ideas, and those ideas drive many, many others to create great wealth and status. But for my client, when we looked at his actions compared to what he said, we could see that greater comfort, security, and status just weren’t huge motivators. They only motivated him up to a certain point.
He was familiar with my book, This Book Will Make You Dangerous, so we went through the checklist of things that drive us beyond our need to “survive.”
In a nutshell, after a certain level of comfort, security, and acceptance are established, then, whether we know it or not, what we truly want are a set of internal experiences instead of external outcomes like money or being a hot shot. (I invite you to check out the book to see how this adds up.)
Let’s talk about these essential experiences.
First up is freedom. Freedom is essential to our deep sense of well being, and in many ways, my client had a degree of freedom with his business. He had a ton of flexibility to do as he pleased. So with regards to this particular topic, we considered that box checked.
Next up is love. My client was very fortunate to have a loving, caring family and a few good friends. So we checked that box, too.
Which brought us to the next essential experience.
When it came to aliveness, my client had a big fat donut. When I asked him what had him feel alive, he could only list activities and interests that he used to engage many years ago. Which meant that when I asked him what made his life and work engaging and immersive now, he had nothing.
Enjoyment, feeling lit up, feeling engaged — this stuff wasn’t even on his radar anymore. Like so many of us, he had prioritized being a good husband and father. Creating comfort and stability had come to dominate his choices. Which unfortunately meant that he had forgotten how to do the things that kept his fire inside alive.
And this meant that his business would continue to decline because deep down he didn’t really care.
Losing his fire inside meant that his marriage would eventually suffer because he was bringing a shell of himself to his wife.
And losing his fire meant that his children would grow up watching their father go through life on autopilot.
This is what kills our peace of mind. That’s not good. Life’s too short for this shit.
Bottom line: we can’t let our drive to create comfort and stability kill our fire inside. Feeling alive is essential to having a thriving profession, marriage, and family.
Even with a high degree of comfort, security, love, and flexibility, without a core sense of aliveness we will never experience peace of mind. That’s because aliveness is the key to our experience of flow. It’s the key to that experience where every cell in our body yells, “Yes, this is why I’m on the planet!”
Aliveness is not a goal we put on a vision board. It’s not something we can measure in a bank account. It’s a felt sense, a deep knowing. It’s a fire to build.
And how do we build that fire? We start by challenging the idea that we always need to be comfortable or certain or looking good. We start by challenging the idea that we always need to play it safe. We start by considering that maybe just a little bit of what seems dangerous to our precious egos is just what we need to open us up to what makes our work, our relationships, and lives worth living.
The good news is that we can reconnect with what has us feel alive. We don’t have to get divorced, buy a red sports car, or date a Hooters waitress (you know, unless that’s your thing). We don’t have to go back in time and act like morons. Nor do we have to wait until we’ve crossed some magical finish line to give ourselves permission to finally enjoy ourselves either.
Building our fire — inviting aliveness into our lives — takes effort. It requires us to lead our lives, which means we’ve got to tap into our sense of authority. We can’t sleepwalk through this stuff. Instead of bitching and complaining, we’ve got to ask ourselves what we want. So here’s my challenge for you:
If you find yourself tolerating the same old “safe” routine with your wife, then ask yourself, “What would I rather be doing with her instead?”
If you want to feel alive, then speak up. Make a proposal. Make a request. Even if you miss the ball, at least you’re in the game. Keep going.
If you find yourself tolerating the same old “safe” routine with work, then ask yourself, “What would make this more exciting?”
Again, make a proposal or make a request. Even if it’s just with yourself. Break out of the monotony and start throwing spaghetti at the wall. And if you are with others, chances are you’re not the only one who is sick of the routine. Get co-creative.
And if you’re sick of expecting yard work or cleaning the garage to light your fire, then try connecting with other men. Chances are they’ll resist because they’re stuck in their need to constantly provide comfort and certainty for their family. Hit them up anyway. You don’t have to get drunk or do anything destructive. Just invite them to get out of the routine and try something new.
We’re just dipping our toe in here, but just by making attempts to start a fire, you’ll find yourself generating some heat. You’ll feel a sense of satisfaction that you’re not tolerating the same old crap.
And don’t expect everything to suddenly flip into the fun zone. Like getting back into shape, it takes time and consistency to turn that spark into a fire. Be bold, be playful, and be willing to get over yourself. You’ll find that the process in and of itself can become rewarding.
If you’d like to explore these ideas more, then check out my book, This Book Will Make You Dangerous.
And visit TrippLanier.com if you’d like to learn more about coaching with me.
Here’s to greater freedom, aliveness, love, and peace of mind.
Tripp Lanier is…
Tripp Lanier is the author of This Book Will Make You Dangerous, and host of The New Man Podcast: Beyond the Macho Jerk and the New Age Wimp which — for over a decade — has been downloaded millions of times.
As a Professional Coach…
Since 2005, he has spent thousands of hours coaching people all around the world to get out of the rat race, become an authority in their field, and make a great living doing the work they were put on this earth to do. Over the years he’s designed several businesses to support a simple lifestyle focused on freedom, ease, meaning, and fun.
As Host of The New Man Podcast…
Tripp Lanier has conducted hundreds of interviews with experts and authors from all walks of life including:
- Tim Ferriss (The 4 Hour Workweek, The 4 Hour Body, The 4 Hour Chef)
- Laird Hamilton (Big wave surfing legend)
- Ryan Holiday (The Obstacle is the Way, The Ego is the Enemy, The Daily Stoic)
- Phil Stutz and Barry Michels (The Tools, Coming Alive)
- Dan Millman (Way of the Peaceful Warrior)
- Steven Pressfield (The War of Art, Turning Pro)
- Robert Greene (48 Laws of Power, Mastery)
- Steven Kotler (The Rise of Superman, Stealing Fire)
- Mark Manson (The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck)
- Aubrey Marcus (Founder/CEO of Onnit)
- Dr. Robert Glover (No More Mr Nice Guy)
- Navy SEAL Mark Divine (Unbeatable Mind, The Way of the SEAL)
- Jonathan Haidt (The Happiness Hypothesis, The Righteous Mind, The Coddling of the American Mind)
- Neil Strauss (The Game, The Truth)
- Alan Alda (legendary actor and NY Times best selling author)
As a Human Guinea Pig…
Tripp has thrown himself into everything from 10 day silent meditation retreats to plant medicine journeys to men’s groups in the Costa Rican jungle to somatic sex intensives in his bedroom to drinks with Zen masters — He even learned some life lessons by hanging out backstage with David Lee Roth.
At the age of 23, Tripp created one of the first digital video post-production companies in the Southeast. To support his music career and love for travel, he crafted TV shows and commercials for national and regional clients. Wanting to align his personal values with his work in the world, he sold the company after 12 years to become a professional coach. Other contributions include working with world-renowned philosopher Ken Wilber as Co-Director of Integral Institute’s Art Center.
Tripp is married to therapist/relationship coach Alyson Lanier and has the best daughter in the whole wide world. They live in a small beach town in North Carolina where he spends much of his time surfing, playing music, and enjoying a simple life.