Mere Christians

Michael Hyatt (Founder and Chairman of Full Focus)

Episode Summary

How to identify, interrogate, and reimagine internal narratives

Episode Notes

How to leverage Scripture to identify, interrogate, and reimagine the stories you tell yourself, how Michael’s recent heart attack has shaped his ambition for his work, and what Jesus’s lack of an Enneagram number means for you and me.

Links Mentioned:

Episode Transcription





[00:00:05] JR: Hey, everybody. Welcome to the Mere Christians Podcast. I’m Jordan Raynor. How does the gospel influence the work of mere Christians? Those of us who aren’t pastors or religious professionals, but who work as pharmacy techs, brick masons, and magistrates. That's the question we explore every week. Today, I'm posing it to Michael Hyatt, the legendary, former CEO of Thomas Nelson.


For the past decade or so, he's been leading the team at Full Focus, formerly known as Michael Hyatt & Co. He's the New York Times bestselling author of books like Platform, Living Forward and Your Best Year Ever. Michael and I recently sat down to talk about his excellent new book, Mind Your Mindset, and how we can leverage Scripture to identify, interrogate, and reimagine the stories we tell ourselves.


We talked about how Michael's recent heart attack has shaped his ambition for his work, and what ‘Jesus is lack of an Enneagram number’ means for you and me. Trust me, you're going to love this conversation with Michael Hyatt.




[00:01:20] JR: Michael Hyatt, welcome to the Mere Christians podcast.


[00:01:23] MH: Hey, thanks, Jordan. Good to be with you.


[00:01:24] JR: I want to dive right in this new book that you and your daughter Megan wrote together called, Mind Your Mindset, because I think it's incredibly helpful to the mere Christians who are listening. But before we dig in, set the table for us, if you would, Michael, at a high level, what's this new book all about?


[00:01:39] MH: The premise of the book is that the results that we get in the world, the outcomes we see, whatever it is, in our personal lives, or professional life, those results are directly related to the actions we take. But I think for most leaders in particular, they have an action bias, and that's kind of where it ends. They think that if they work harder, faster, smarter, that they can use brute force and improve the results they want.


But what this book is about is that there's something that's even more important than taking action, and that's really thinking about our thinking and making sure that the stories we have are empowering. Because the stories are exactly what produces the actions that we take, and ultimately, the results we get. So, the more that we can re-engineer our thinking, or to put it in a Biblical context, to take every thought captive to Christ, the better off we're going to do.


[00:02:33] JR: Yes. It's the leading indicator of results. These stories that we're telling ourselves. I love this story. You kind of shared the story throughout the book. You set it up really early on, about this meeting you had with your executive coach, when you're a CEO of Thomas Nelson. Can you share that story with our listeners and how it connects to this book?


[00:02:51] MH: Yeah. So, this story happened back in 2009, August of 2009. I had an executive coach by the name of Eileen and she came in to Nashville and met with me for one day a month. I was the CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers. We’re a publicly traded company. I felt like I needed executive coaching in order to really lead effectively. And I still believe that to this day.


So, she came in, sat down and said, “So, how did July turn out?” And I said, “Woah, not great.” She said, “Oh, what happened?”


[00:03:23] JR: I've been in those meetings.


[00:03:25] MH: Yes. Not fun, right? I was preparing for my board meeting anyway, so I'd given it some thought.


[00:03:30] JR: You’ve given it some thought and some spin, like I've done before board meetings.


[00:03:34] MH: That may or may not be true. But yes, well, as you'll see, as I unpack the story. So, I said to her, I said, “Well, we missed the top line by about 10%.” And I said, “We lost money on the bottom line. So, it wasn't a good month.” And she said, “Well, wow, that really surprises me. Because when I was here last month, you were so confident that you were on track that you are going to hit the budget, and might have a good chance and exceeding it. So, what happened?” I said, “Well”, this is the part where I was rehearsing for the board. I said, “Well, we're in the middle of a recession, and foot traffic, ad book retail is down. There aren't enough customers shopping. And consumer confidence is really low.” I quantified that because I looked it up online, and I knew what consumer confidence was.


So, that's number one. Second reason is I said, “The publishing industry has been up ended by the digital revolution, and we don't really know where it's going.” But I live in Nashville, Tennessee, where we have a lot of record companies, and I'd say a lot of my friends lose their jobs or companies that completely went out of business when Napster came along and digitized music. So, I said, “That's another problem we're facing. The third problem is social media. Everything we thought we knew about traditional media isn't working. We're not able to market books as effectively as we have in the past and we haven't quite figured out social media. So yeah, those three things converged, and here we are.”


Then, she asked me this question. This still is one of the most powerful questions I've ever heard. She said to me, she said, “What was it about your leadership that led to these results?” Well, I was really taken aback by that, Jordan. I didn't know what to think. I felt defensive and I just said to her, I said, “I know what you're talking about. I just gave to you the three reasons for why this happened.” She said, “Well, what was it about your leadership that led to this?” I said, “Eileen, it has nothing to do with my leadership. This had to do, like I said, with the economy, with our industry, with social media.”


She clearly perceived that she wasn't getting through to me. So, she said, “Okay, let's go back 30 days. If you knew then, what you know now, what would you have done differently?” I said, “Well, I would have met with the sales team every day, just to make sure that we were pacing toward the budget target, and that we were on track to hit it.” She said, “Okay, good. What else?” I said, “Well, I think I would have gone with the sales team, to Walmart, and to Target. Because I think if I had been there, I think I'm a pretty good salesperson. I think I could” –


[00:05:59] JR: Could’ve done something.


[00:06:00] MH: Yeah, I could have got them to buy more product. She said, “Okay, and so what else?” I gave her three to five reasons. And then she sat back and she smiled. She said, “So, you're saying it was about your leadership?” And I went, “Ah, guilty as charged.”


So, for me, and this is what sets up the book, Mind Your Mindset, or sets up the challenge that we all face. I thought the problem was out there in the external environment, and that I was a victim of these forces I couldn't control. What she helped me to see is that yes, those were factors. But more important than that was my own thinking. My story I was telling myself. Because the story I was telling was that I didn't have any control anymore. I was the victim. And as long as the problem is out there, and you can't do anything about it, you are stuck.


But this was a situation where I admitted the truth. But the great thing was, now all of a sudden, I got all the power back. I stopped being a victim, and now I became – I had agency and power to affect a different result. And we did. We went on from there. I led better based on that experience. And we went on from there and continue to grow the business and didn't face those results again, at least not quite in the same way.


[00:07:11] JR: When things happen like this, a lot of leaders either resort to blaming external factors or jumping straight from a problem to a strategy for solving it. This bias for action, which can be a good thing, but you argue in the book that we're skipping this crucial, what you call invisible step. The story that you're telling yourself. In the book, you guys give readers these three steps for rethinking our stories. Can you share those three steps at a high level, Michael?


[00:07:38] MH: Sure. So, step one is to identify the story. And I think that one of the biggest challenges that leaders have is to be self-aware. It's particularly true when it comes to our thinking, because we identify the story that we're telling ourselves, about the situation that we're in, we confuse that with the truth. In fact, we often think of it as the truth. We would never think to question it. I had a business back in 1992 that went bankrupt. My first business, and it failed. It was humiliating. It was embarrassing. And one of the conclusions I came to, the story that I came out of that experience with was I'm not very good with money.


And then, that story was reinforced by a friend and a mentor who said to me, “My observation is that you're not very good with money, are you?” Well, I just thought that was the truth. It never occurred to me to question it. I thought that was the truth about me. And then I set out to prove that over the next 10 years. I made bad financial decisions, invested in some worthless things, had just a bad go of it with money, and it was all driven by that story.


So, in that section of the book, we talk about something we call the narrator. All of us experience this, where there's this incessant chatter inside of our head. It's our narrator, who is trying to make sense out of the facts that we're experiencing. The job of the narrator is basically to keep us safe, and it works pretty good most of the time, especially when we're challenged with some kind of serious threat. But the narrator can also keep us stuck, so that we don't move into the discomfort zone, which is where all the great things happen. So, we've got to learn to recognize the voice of the narrator, and realize that that voice can be reprogrammed. But we've got to identify the story first. So, that's step one.


Step two, is to interrogate the story, to kind of tease out the facts from the story that we've created about the facts. You remember in the book, my daughter Megan, who's the CEO of Full Focus, our company, adopted two boys from Uganda. She brought them back. She was just trying to do a good thing and really be helpful to these boys and her heart really went out to them. When she got back as they began to grow older, they had serious behavioral problems. Kicked out of school, hurting other kids. I mean, we literally thought that trajectory was they're going to end up in jail.


Megan kept trying one thing after another, got pretty desperate, finally found a therapist who basically specializes in narrative therapy. So, what she did with the kids, with the two boys, was to unpack their stories. As it turned out, they had two stories, or they had one story about their experience, both of them had the same story about their experience in Africa, and about their adoption. Their story was that my daughter, Megan, and her husband, Joel, had kidnapped them from Africa, and had fled the country. The whole driving force of these two boys’ lives was to get back with their real parents in Africa.


So, Arlita, who's the therapist, she basically walked them through a new story. And she said, “Okay, let's just take the facts, separate it from the story.” One of the facts was that they weren’t biological brothers, but both of their dads were dead. And the moms were overwhelmed, they couldn't handle them, they gave them up for adoption, hoping that they would have a better life if they were adopted, particularly by somebody in America. So, they literally got out of timeline and reconstructed the story, and as that happened, and it's not been an easy process, and it's not been a short process. But as they began to reinforce this new story, changed everything. Their behavior began to calm down. They began to do well in school. They're both doing great right now.


But it took getting to that errant story and reconstructing it to make a change. So, you've got to interrogate the story, to see what's right, and what's wrong, what's true, and what's false. We know for the brain science, and we did a lot of work on brain science in putting this book together, is that up to 20% of our memories are false, as in, they never happened. Up to 70% of our memories are distorted in some way. So, that's step two, interrogate the story.


Step three, and I'm almost done, is to imagine a better story. This is where we have to reprogram our thinking, to write down what the narrator is saying now, and to say to ourselves, “Wait a second, what if we construct a better story? How can we construct a more empowering story that would really serve us?” That's kind of the work that we talk about in adjusting your mindset, and it's the whole payoff of the book, is how you can go about reimagining or imagining better stories that serve us better. And as Christians, help us do a better job of serving God.


[00:12:28] JR: Yes. Let's go back to step two for a few minutes, interrogating our stories. In the book you pointed out, I thought this was interesting. In Genesis three, God asked Adam and Eve after they sinned, what questions, and they replied with why responses. Explain what you mean by this and what it means for us as we interrogate our own stories?


[00:12:48] MH: Yeah. So, we all know the story, Adam and Eve sinned. They tasted the forbidden fruit. So, God comes to them in the garden, and says, “Where are you?” They didn't answer that question. Like, “Well, hey, I'm over by the third tree from the fence or whatever.” They said, they immediately began to explain why. They talked about the fact that the woman that you gave me, gave me this fruit to eat. So, God turns to the woman and what have you done? And she answers the why to, and she says, “Well, it was the serpent.” All of them pointing at factors outside of their control, making them the victim.


It's just a great story of how we shift blame so readily, and why it's so hard to take responsibility for ourselves. The story we didn't tell in the book, speaking this weekend at a Christian conference. I thought of this, the story of the 12 spies. Great story.


So, Moses sends the 12 spies into Canaan, on a little reconnaissance mission, to figure out what they were up against. All 12 spies came back and they had three facts that they shared in common. The land flows with milk and honey. In other words, tremendous abundance. They brought back this entire cluster of gigantic grapes. Number two, the people are strong. And some of them are giants. Of course, they were all the giant clans and in the land of Canaan, and there are these giants that I'm sure were imposing and scary. And then third, the cities are fortified and very strong.


[00:14:21] JR: Yes, everyone agreed on this even Caleb.


[00:14:22] MH: Everybody agreed on this. Same facts said that was shared. Two of them, Joshua and Caleb step forward and say, “Therefore”, this is where they get into the story. “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.” Numbers 13:31. The other 10 spies, the majority report, they step forward with a very different story, with a very different conclusion. They say we're not able to go up against the people “for they're stronger than we. The land through which we have gotten as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants. And all the people whom we saw are men of great stature. There we saw the giants, and we like

grasshoppers in our own site, and so we were in their site.”


So, you could imagine the narrator whispering there, speaking to them saying, “Hey, you realize you're nothing but a grasshopper.”


[00:15:12] JR: Yes, it's the difference between facts and explanation. Right? That's really what the narrator's doing is making sense. How do you separate those two, like you personally, Michael? How do you separate facts from explanation? Whats from whys?


[00:15:25] MH: Well, I think first of all, knowing what a fact is.


[00:15:30] JR: Yes. In this day, and age, that sounds crazy.


[00:15:32] MH: I know. Facts are verifiable. They’re objective. They’re certain, much like a police report. The victim experienced this and then that happened. But there's no attempt to tell a story, that's for the court to suss out what the motives were and what the meaning of it is. But they're just going to write down the facts on the police report. And that's really the foundation of American and the American legal system.


Then, our brains aren't content with that. Our brains have to create a story, because our brain’s number one job is to keep us safe. So, there's what happened to us, and then there's the meaning of what we assigned to those facts. What do the facts mean?


I have a friend, Dan Miller, you may have heard of him. He wrote a book called 48 Days to the Work You Love. But he grew up sort of Amish, Mennonite. Let's call it Amish. I heard him on stage give his story. He said, “I grew up in a very strict, very repressive, religious environment.” He said, “We weren't allowed to go outside of the community. We didn't have any technology to speak of, any media. Life was incredibly boring, at best, and sometimes just not helpful at all.” Or, “I grew up in this amazing, close-knit community, where our neighbors were there for us when we needed them, and we were there for our neighbors when they needed us. We weren't distracted by technology and media. Instead, we grew really close as a family. We played board games in the evenings, we had amazing conversations around the table. And that's where I really learned the value of family and of community.”


So, two stories. One fact set. It just goes to show that there's an infinite number of ways to explain the facts. Some are empowering, some are not so empowering.


[00:17:14] JR: Yes. Can you think of an example of how you've used God's Word to interrogate an internal story of yours?


[00:17:20] MH: Well, I definitely think, as Christians, one of the things we have to do is, like it says in 1 John 4:1, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God.” I think that we have to ask ourselves, when it comes to the facts, that's the easy part and it's beautiful. But whether the story is empowering or not, I think the criteria is, does this story glorify God? Does it move us forward in our sanctification? And is it helpful to other people? So, I think that, that kind of criteria is very helpful.


[00:17:52] JR: Yeah, I agree. You're an Enneagram three, like me. You're an achiever, a performer. For a long time, I know, I believe this false story, that my worth as a human being was directly correlated to my success as a human being, right? I'm assuming you've traversed a similar path there. If so, I'm curious how you and your faith helped you interrogate that kind of internal narrative?


[00:18:18] MH: Well, I think as an Enneagram three, I put a high value on doing, and not a very high value on being.


[00:18:24] JR: Amen.


[00:18:25] MH: Stories in the Bible, like the story of Mary and Martha are a great example for Enneagram threes, that sometimes all that's required is just to sit at the feet of Jesus, and not just receive our validation or our sense of worth based on the work that we do for Him. I think other personality assessments are similar to this. I remember, Eileen, that same coach that I told the story about earlier. One time I got into a conversation about introversion and extraversion. And I said to her, I said, “Well, I'm an introvert.” And she said, “Well, what does that mean to you?” And I said, “Well, it means I don't like people. My preference is to spend a lot of time with myself. If I'm around people, it wears me out. And I just don't enjoy them.”


She said, “Well, how's that working for you?” At the time, she asked me that, I was the CEO of this company of Thomas Nelson Publishers. So, I said, “Well, it doesn't always work that great.” She said, “What do you mean?” I said, “Well, for example, when I have to go speak at an industry event, I pretty much stay in the greenroom until I have to speak and then I come out, and then I move it out of there.” She said, “Well, do you think there would be some other choices you'd have if you weren't an introvert? If you're an extrovert, what would you do?” I said, “Well, I think I would go out and I would meet some people in the audience, because I know that would create some empathy for me as I begin to speak in some trust. And I think I would hang around afterwards to see if I could really serve them in some way.”


She said, “What would happen if you started acting as if you're an extrovert?”


[00:19:43] JR: Playing a part.


[00:19:45] MH: Yes, playing a part. I said, “You know what, I'm going to try that.” So, what I learned from that is I think all these assessments are good, as long as they don't become an excuse for sinful or less than optimal behavior.


But, I think, part of what it means to be free in Christ, and to be redeemed by Him is that these kind of constructs don't have to limit us in terms of our service to Him. I mean, I would still say that I'm an introvert, and it does take me some recovery time after I've been at a public event. But I also realized that by God's power, I can transcend that. I don't have to be stuck in introversion in a way that becomes an excuse, it doesn't serve other people.


[00:20:25] JR: Yeah, that's really good and helpful. I think a lot about this anytime I see like a spiritual gifts assessment. Spiritual gifts, yes, some of us have the gift of evangelism and others don't. But almost everything on those spiritual gifts list that Paul lists are things that we are commanded to do. I think a lot of times these tools, which I love and are incredibly helpful, can let us off the hook from obeying God's commands. And He calls us to do a lot of these things, even the things we're uncomfortable with.


But you're right, it's God's Spirit working through us that He's able to do those things that we're not naturally gifted at. And when he does, he gets greater glory as a result. Amen?


[00:21:08] MH: Totally. Well, think about this. What was Jesus? What was his Enneagram number?


[00:21:12] JR: You tell me.


[00:21:13] MH: I don't think he had one. Was he an introvert or an extrovert? Yes. You see him with the crowds. If he wasn't introvert, he didn't let that get in the way of ministering to the multitudes. On the other hand, if he was an extrovert, it didn't keep him away from taking time in prayer by himself, pulling back and really recharging. So, I think he's the model, and that is that I think all of us want to move to where certainly realize the limitations we have, we're not the Son of God. But realize the limitations that we have, but always trying to become more like Jesus, and less like an Enneagram three, or an introvert, or whatever. We can grow beyond that.


[00:21:51] JR: So, speaking of that, speaking of the character of Christ, I was just reading Andrew Murray's great little book on Humility. When I was reading Mind Your Mindset, I kept thinking, man, to take these three steps, to identify your story, to interrogate it, to imagine something better. Humility is the prerequisite. You didn't really hit on this directly in the book. But unpack that a little bit. Because to me, that feels like the silver bullet to making all this work.


[00:22:17] MH: That's a good insight, Jordan. I think part of having a better mindset, and moving beyond these stories that constrain us is having the humility to recognize that we may not have the story straight. I grew up in a home with an alcoholic father. I knew that he had been in the war and he had a war injury. But I would frequently come home, especially in high school, and my dad, when he was home, he traveled a lot. But when he was home, he'd be passed out on the sofa. There'd be six or eight empty beer cans strewn about and he would just be drunk.


One time, my sister and I came home from a party with some friends and our friends dropped us off, and there was my dad in the front lawn passed out, and we had to lift him up. And we could hear our friends laughing in the background. We took him in where he promptly went to sleep on the sofa. It would be easy in that situation, and it was easy for me to just say, “Well, he's irresponsible. He's lazy. He had a real hard time holding a job and he tried to several entrepreneurial ventures that failed.” I just said, “I never want to be like that.”


So, I had this story about him. Frankly, I had a lot of anger that took a long time to work through. But then I remember one time when I was in my early 40s, I flew home to Texas to visit my parents and my dad and I went fishing, and we had fish when we were – when I was a really young boy before he started drinking a lot, we had some of our greatest times fishing. So, we went out and went fishing. I finally just said to him, “Dad, could you explain to me what happened in the war?”


[00:23:39] JR: What a risky question.


[00:23:41] MH: Yes. Oh, and previously, when I asked the question, he would always shut me down. Sometimes he would get angry. Didn't want to talk about it, which is true for a lot of veterans of that generation. He took a deep breath and explained to me what happened. He got hit by some shrapnel when he was in Korea. He enlisted in the Marines at 17, which meant his parents had to sign for him to get in. He went through boot camp in San Diego, he was promptly shipped off to Korea. He was there a little less than a year and he got hit by the shrapnel. It hit him in the head. He was in a coma for six months. When he came out, he flew home. He was in a hospital in Hawaii, they flew him home, and he was discharged from the military. And then he tried to get a job. This was in the days before was esteem and recognition and protection for handicapped people.


My dad had a severe limp. Of course, PTSD was not a thing then. Nobody thought about it.


[00:24:33] JR: It was the thing nobody knew was a thing.


[00:24:36] MH: Nobody. It was a thing. Nobody attempted to help my dad. So, here's my dad with these horrible war memories with chronic pain, which he has to this day, chronic pain. The only reason he could deal with it is he medicated with alcohol. That doesn't excuse it, but it gave me a lot of empathy. Literally, he was telling me this story, I just teared up and started weeping because I realized here I was, judging my dad based on a story I had put together, but I didn't have all the facts. And once I got the facts, I felt a sense of empathy. And now all of a sudden, I understood. I mean, if I had been in that situation, would I have made a different choice? I'd like to think so. But maybe not.


[00:25:16] JR: Yes. But for God's grace, you could have been in that exact same situation.


[00:25:20] MH: Exactly.


[00:25:20] JR: Right. That's the thing I got to remind myself about. This is off topic of the book. But I'm really curious, how do you intentionally cultivate that empathy and really understanding other people's stories, especially those that you work with, Michael? You've led big teams. Is it hard for you to get in the weeds of people's lives to really understand their stories? I know it can be, for me.


[00:25:44] MH: A couple of things have happened in my life that have fostered empathy. I would say I still have a long way to go. I still have an action bias. And for Enneagram threes, as you know, emotions are uncomfortable because it gets in the way of productivity and achievement. I think a couple of things have happened to me. Number one, at my age, I'm 67. I've experienced enough failure that I know what it feels like to fall hard. I went through a business failure, had real challenges with my daughters. I have five daughters. So, all of that gives me a lot of empathy for other people in their failings.


I mean, it was so humiliating when my business failed, in 1992, that that gave me a lot of empathy. I think the other thing that's really helpful, and I think God knew I needed this, He gave me five daughters. I think left to myself, I would just be very self-focused and in the providence of God, having five daughters, I had to learn how to listen. I learned, and my girls have confirmed this now and we're very close family. But they've confirmed this as adults, that oftentimes, most times, the best thing I could do was listen to them. If they felt heard, they would make the right choices. That was enormous.


Today, I have two of my daughters working in the company. My oldest daughter, Megan, with whom I wrote the book is the CEO of our company, Full Focus. Marissa is our Director of Marketing. But all five girls live within 30 minutes of us, and all 10 grandkids live within five minutes of us.


[00:27:14] JR: Man, you're a blessed, man.


[00:27:16] MH: I'm a blessed man. But all of that kind of conspired to give me some sense of empathy. Again, I got long ways to go. But –


[00:27:23] JR: But it requires that humility that we've been talking about, that really undergirds this whole thing. I'm glad you brought Megan, because I wanted you to tell a story of this, one of the practical outworking of this humility is being able to boast in our weaknesses, right? As Paul talks about in Second Corinthians. And I thought Megan, your daughter, your business partner, coauthor of this book, shared a brilliant example of boasting weaknesses, which she texted this friend about her fear of speaking. Would you mind sharing that story real quickly with our listeners?


[00:27:51] MH: Yes. When Megan was in high school, her best friend was given a presentation to the class and kind of lost her place, and then lost her composure, and fled the room in tears. Megan found her in the restroom where she was basically in a fetal position, crying. And Megan made this quiet vow to herself that speaking is dangerous. Therefore, I will never do it.


[00:28:15] JR: A vow many listeners have made, I'm sure.


[00:28:17] MH: Yes. Well, as it turns out, public speaking is like the greatest single fear that most people have, more than death, which Jerry Seinfeld says, that means if you're at a funeral, you'd rather be in the coffin than giving the obituary.


[00:28:31] JR: I love it.


[00:28:32] MH: So, she was mortally afraid of this but never shared it with anybody including me. But she would go to a small group Bible study and they would be reading a passage and they would take turns reading the passage, and she would always pass because the thought of just speaking her voice, she would choke up and her throat would get red and she would begin to sweat, and it was just terrifying to her. So, she would always pass when she was asked just to read.


Well, then she begins to take on a leadership role in our company, and she's having this internal conflict. She's thinking, “Man, I think this is holding me back. But I'm scared to death of it.” And then my team went to her and said, “Hey, we're going to put on this event and we want you to be a keynote speaker.” But she was too embarrassed to say no, but it mortified her. So, she ends up texting a friend of ours, Michelle, who happens to be a speech coach, and she's in the airport. I can't remember if it’s Dallas or Chicago, but she's in the airport, and she burst into tears with Michelle.


So, Michelle encouraged her that she could do this. And she began a process, about a six-week process of imagining a better story, because her story was that speaking is dangerous. And if I try, I'm putting my life at risk. She began, she literally, with Michelle's help, and one of her other sister’s help, and even her therapist, and she began to write down a better story. Literally, wrote down what she wanted to happen on the day of that keynote.


She worked with Michelle to put together the speech, and she worked with her sister and with this therapist to work through all the emotional components of it. She wrote this script and she read it out loud several times a day, every day, for six weeks. So, I was in the audience, she stepped up. I didn't know any of this was happening.


[00:30:11] JR: Really?


[00:30:10] MH: She steps up on the stage and it was her first speech ever, and I was being a good dad and telling her, “Hey, you got this. It’s going to be great. You're going to kill it. Blah, blah, blah, blah.” Well, she stands up –


[00:30:18] JR: Probably making her more nervous.


[00:30:20] MH: I know, probably. I probably did. But she stood up and crushed it. In fact, that speech is online because we, it was so good that we ran it as a podcast episode for our Business Accelerator Podcast.


[00:30:32] JR: That's awesome.


[00:30:32] MH: She killed it. It's just a great example of how our stories can keep us stuck. But we can re-engineer those stories and they can be more empowering. It's just a great story of transformation for her. And it's been fun to see her go on from that, because now she speaks all the time. We have our podcast together. She does interviews like this. She's been doing it for the book. You would never think that she ever struggled with this issue. But she did, mightily.


[00:30:58] JR: I love it. Yeah. When we boast in our weaknesses, I mean, a few things happen. Number one, you get to imagine a better story. Right? Number two, I think others get blessed like that friend, Michelle of being able to leverage their skills to serve you who are boasting your weaknesses. But finally, in Paul's and Second Corinthians, God gets greater glory.


[00:31:18] MH: That's right.


[00:31:19] JR: Because meaning, we can't solve these problems in our own strength, right? But this is related to something else that you really hit on the book that I loved, that success in life often comes down to our tolerance for the discomfort of uncertainty. Man, when you were talking before, talking about Caleb and Joshua, we have loads of examples of this in Scripture.


[00:31:39] MH: We do.


[00:31:39] JR: Don't we, Michael?


[00:31:40] MH: We do. A good example is that when the Israelites, I mean, it's kind of an icon or a metaphor of every Christian, it happened in history, but it's in all of all of our journeys, the journey into the wilderness, and we get converted, we are baptized, we crossed the Red Sea, and now we have a choice. Are we going to go to the Promised Land? Are we going to wander in the wilderness? The idea to get to the Promised Land means you've got to be able to tolerate discomfort. You've got to be able to face the Giants in your life.


The thing that the Israelites did over and over again is they wanted to retreat to the familiar. In fact, they kept exaggerating how great life was back in Egypt. Moses had to continue to remind them, no, and they just seen this amazing thing that God had done and delivering them from the Egyptians. But they continued to want to return to that. We talked about the 12 spies, the thinking of those spies had consequences in the present and in the future. All those 10 spies died in the wilderness.


That entire generation of Israelites who followed the report of the 10 spies died in the wilderness. They never made it to the Promised Land. Only Joshua and Caleb and the new generation of Israelites made it into the Promised Land. So, I think it's a cautionary tale, that we don't get too attached to the past and we can't let the past define this, the story. So, I'm a pretty healthy person. I really pay attention to my nutrition, and I've had a fitness trainer for a long time and all that. But I had a heart attack, just to cut to the chase, last September, totally out of the blue.


[00:33:17] JR: Whoa. I didn't know this.


[00:33:19] MH: I was shocked. I went by ambulance to the hospital. Fortunately, it was a mild heart attack. There ended up being no damage to my heart. But in the hospital, they began to test me, and they discovered that one of my arteries was blocked 90%, two are blocked 70%, they couldn't do a stent, they had to do bypass surgery. So, that was in September of last year. And then I was on medical leave for all this past fall.


But here's the really interesting thing, is immediately after the surgery, or I should say a few weeks after the surgery, I went into cardiac rehab. Now, in cardiac rehab, we exercise with – and I'm still in it, with equipment that's monitoring us the whole time, just in case there's a problem. And then there's always on Tuesday mornings, and we're recording this on a Tuesday. So, this happened this morning. On Tuesday mornings, there's always 30 minutes of instruction after we work out.


So, they talk about nutrition, they talk about how your heart works, and they talk about the things to do to keep this from happening again. At the very first session, I had eight other or total of eight patients. I was one of eight, and we were sitting in a little conference room and the nurse who was leading it said, wisely. She said, “What did your heart attack? What does that mean for you?” So, there was the fact. All of us had had a heart attack. All of us had either had a stent or bypass surgery. Now, she's asking, essentially, what's the story you're telling yourself?


The guy right across the table was the first to answer and he kind of tears up. He says, “Well, I'll tell you what it means for me.” He said, “My life is basically over.” Now, it's going to be a long slide to the end. It's inevitable. Nothing I could do about it. I was just dealt a bad deck of cards, a bad hand.


[00:34:51] JR: Jeez.


[00:34:52] MH: I thought, “Wow.” Now, if that's really your story, that this is the beginning of the end, that there's nothing you can do about it, that your demise is inevitable, then why even try? I mean, bring on the fried chicken.


[00:35:04] JR: Yes, for real.


[00:35:04] MH: Bring on the Big Macs, why even try? I was blessed that one of my doctors who happens to live in Los Angeles, so he couldn't be with me in the hospital. He called me in the hospital, actually, when I was still in ICU a few days after the surgery. And he said to me, he said, “Look, you're going to be tempted to focus on the past. You're going to be asking yourself the question, what could I have done differently? What could I have done to keep this from happening? You may shame yourself, you may blame yourself, all these things.” He said, “Forget all that. It's in the past. There's not a thing in the world you can do about it.” But he said, ‘Here's the thing I want you to remember. Your life begins today. You got your entire future in front of you. Your future is a blank canvas.” He said, “Now, you have better blood flow to your brain than you've ever had. I can't wait to see what you create. You've got a reboot.” That’s a very different perspective to say this is the beginning of something great. Versus this is the beginning of the end.


[00:35:54] JR: It's radically different.


[00:35:54] MH: Radically different.


[00:35:56] JR: How has the heart attack shaped your ambition for your work? Are you more or less ambitious for the work after the heart attack?


[00:36:03] MH: Good question. I'm thinking here for a second. When I was on medical leave for three months, I did a lot of reading, and reflecting, and a lot more family time because my kids live so close, and they were coming over a lot and I really enjoyed that. I think when I came out my daughter, Megan said, “Dad, what involvement do you want to have in the business now, given this recent event? Has it changed anything?” I already handed over the leadership of the company to her two years ago. She's been the CEO for two years.


I said, “Well, I still think I want to work about three days a week. I want to spend three days a week at our lake house.” And when we're at the lake house, the kids are always coming down. We're fishing, we're golfing, we're doing all this fun stuff with the kids. But yeah, I want to have more even more margin in my life. That's how I feel. I want to be – I want more time for being and less time for doing because we're human beings, not human doings.


[00:36:52] JR: Yeah, I think a lot of people in your shoes would have been like, “Yes, you know what? Hanging up the cleats. I'm done.” I got to imagine that part of your desire to continue in the work of Full Focus is the way that you've articulated this mission over the years. I've heard you in the past articulate as to glorify God by helping overwhelmed successful leaders get the focus they need to win at work and succeed at life. I don't know if that's a current iteration of the mission.


But I am curious how you think that work of helping overwhelmed, successful leaders focus glorifies God? Because you're not preaching the gospel from the stage most of the times, and I think it could be a really great encouragement to our listeners who work isn't overtly Evangelical, for how their work can glorify God as a mere Christian. What would you have to say to them, Michael?


[00:37:38] MH: I do believe that God calls each of us to a unique ministry. I think the doctrine of gifts certainly teaches that. I think some people are overtly called to preach the gospel. We're all called to preach the gospel in some way. But there's people for whom that is their unique, full time focus. Those people are not more valuable in the Kingdom, they're not more esteemed in the Kingdom, or shouldn't be. But all of us in whatever we're doing, some of us are called – I think when I was in the ICU, I had so many nurses there that were Christians. In fact, I can't think of one that wasn't, and when they found out I was a Christian, they were very explicit about it.


But just in their daily service, in serving other people, was a witness and to the fulfillment of a calling. And I learned this from my brother-in-law, but every person that served me in the hospital, I would thank them for choosing their profession, because they don't often hear that. I just wanted to say - I didn't want to be that patient that could never be satisfied, was always grumpy, whatever. I wanted to be the kind of person that was grateful for every kindness that they showed to me and affirm them for the work that they were doing. So, I think whenever we fulfill our calling with our whole soul, body, and mind, then I think we're glorifying God.


It's not an excuse to not witness to the gospel. But there is inherent dignity in work, no matter what it is. There are people who are called to a lot of different kinds of things, but they don't have to go into “full-time ministry” in order to have value or a sense of significance. Just serving well, doing our work unto the Lord is enough.


[00:39:16] JR: Yeah, amen. It reminds me of Psalm 19. “The heavens even declare the glory of God.” They use no speech and our work and the ministry of excellence can do the same. Michael, three questions we wrap up every conversation with. Number one, which books are you recommending or gifting most frequently these days?


[00:39:36] MH: Well, this is not a Christian book, and not by a Christian author, but I kind of judge the books that I buy in multiple copies to give away. This is a book called The Gap and The Gain by Dan Sullivan.


[00:39:51] JR: Yes. Somebody was just talking to me about this the other day.


[00:39:53] MH: Dan is my coach, and is an amazing human. I've learned so much from him. I'm a business coach too, but I believe every coach needs a coach. That's a concept that he's taught in our workshops. And then he wrote it into the book and it became a best seller. It's really, really good, especially for people that are entrepreneurs or people that are high achievers that never feel like they can measure up or fall just a little bit short of their goals, and then beat themselves up. This is a great book. So, that's what I'd recommend.


[00:40:21] JR: I love it. I have genuinely been recommending Mind Your Mindset. So, I'm doing that work for you here, Michael.


[00:40:27] MH: Thank you so much. I appreciate that.


[00:40:28] JR: Hey, Michael, who would you want to hear on this podcast talking about how their faith shapes the work they do outside of the four walls of the church?


[00:40:36] MH: I don't have a quick answer to that. I can tell you that whenever I've heard somebody like Dan Cathy from Chick-fil-A talk about a sense of mission and calling, that's always been a great standard. I remember Dan telling me one time, he said, “Chick-fil-A is basically a ministry disguised as a chicken business.” I love that.


[00:40:54] JR: Yeah. Well, the good news, Dan's coming on soon, allegedly. So, I think that'd be a great episode. I like that answer a lot. Hey, Michael, you're talking to an audience of mere Christians, very diverse vocationally, but want to do their work exceptionally well, for the glory of God in the good of others. What's one thing from our conversation today that you want to reiterate to that audience before we sign off?


[00:41:17] MH: Man, I tell you, I think the more that you can live your values, the more that you can live in a Christ-like way, that's going to have a measurable impact in the world. I think as Christians, we have to walk our talk. When we do that, it's powerful. When we don't, it's scandalous. And every day, there are people who know you're a Christian, who are making a judgment about Christianity, based on how you show up at work.


[00:41:46] JR: Amen.


[00:41:45] MH: I think, we’re stewards, and we've been given a stewardship of this life, the stewardship of our vocation, and we have to use it in a way that glorifies God, and really helps other people. If we do that, then we get to the end of our lives, and we get to heaven and hear God say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” And that's what I live for.


[00:42:04] JR: Yes, I think we got to remember that 100% of our lives are evangelism, not the 0.5% of the time, we're walking somebody through the Roman’s road.


Michael, I want to commend you for the exceptional work you have done throughout your career for the glory of God and the good of others. Thank you today for helping us identify and interrogate this internal narrator with Scripture and truth, and for reminding us that even the work of mindset can be a means of glorifying our awesome God. Guys, the book is terrific. It's called Mind Your Mindset. It's out now. Michael, thanks so much for hanging out with us today.


[00:42:41] JR: Thanks, Jordan. Appreciate it.




[00:42:43] JR: I hope you guys enjoyed that episode as much as I did. Hey, if you're joining the Mere Christians podcast, do me a favor. Go leave a review of the show on Apple, Spotify, wherever you listen to the show. Thank you guys so much for tuning in. I’ll see you next week.