Suzie Price: [00:00:00]
Today we continue my conversation with This Naked Mind Senior Coach Mike Shennan. This is part two and I can't wait to share it with you. Michael hit it.
Welcome to the Wake Up Eager Workforce Podcast, a show designed for leaders, trainers and consultants who are responsible for employee selection and professional development. Each episode is packed full with insider tips, best practices, expert interviews and inspiration. Please welcome the host to his helping leaders, trainers and consultants everywhere Suzie Price.
Suzie Price: [00:00:41]
Hi there. This is Suzie and you're listening to the Wake Up Eager Workforce Podcast here at the Wake Up Eager Workforce Podcast, we talk about professional development topics and we talk about personal development topics. We usually work with senior leaders and internal and external consultants. Our focus is creating this high commitment, low drama, wake up eager workforce and creating a wake up, eager life. We want to help everybody make good decisions about their people, about themselves. We want to grow self-awareness and other awareness. Have people reach their full potential. A lot of work we do every day for internal and external consultants is around our certifications. We also help senior leaders make great decisions in hiring, and then once they use some of the tools we have for hiring, we show them how to use them throughout the employee life cycle onboarding, team building, leadership development, succession planning, and conflict resolution. So we love the work we do. Appreciate you tuning in. I love creating this podcast and having these kinds of discussions because I had a great discussion with Mike Shennan. The topic of today is it's episode 105, part two, and it's Dry January for the Sober Curious with This Naked Mind Coach Mike Shennan to get access to the show notes, you can go to pricelessprofessional.com/sobercurious and then you will see exactly what we cover in this episode. And we're going to continue that discussion. Let's go there now.
Suzie Price: [00:02:06]
I like “sober curious”. And you said you like the word curious as well. But that other thing that your group seems to go into is examining your relationship with alcohol. I like that language because you don't have to assume that everybody is an alcoholic. I mean, it's like if it's black or white, then it's like, okay, that's not the case, but maybe I need to check my relationship with alcohol. That is helpful.
Mike Shennan: [00:02:40]
That's actually one of the sort of techniques or the ideas. One of the things that I like to present to people is think of alcohol like a toxic relationship, like a physical, human toxic relationship. Think of the people in your life that have come into your life that maybe they were your best friend years and years and years ago. But things have transitioned. You're married, you have kids now. They didn't marry. They don't have kids now. Like things have changed, right? The dynamics have changed. And now maybe that person has somehow taken on a negative impact on us. And we all have people in our lives that drain us energetically. Right? And there's this idea of who are we giving our power up to and who's draining our energy? And I like to talk in those terms as well. If we think about it in the context of alcohol being like a toxic ex relationship, and you can think about it like maybe an ex-boyfriend or an ex-girlfriend or an ex relationship that you have. As we get further and further away from it things like fading affect bias kick in, where we only think of the good times.
Mike Shennan: [00:03:33]
Right? And we did that with alcohol too. Well, maybe it wasn't so bad. You know what? Maybe it wasn't so bad. We forget about all the bad stuff. And so using that again, is it really serving us. Is it like a mistress or like a secondary relationship that sort of takes us away from the people that we might want to be focusing our energy on to the people closest to us? And for me, I used to go off in the basement with a bottle as opposed to sitting on the couch and talking to my wife. And that, in a nutshell, I was having an affair with this bottle in the basement. And so looking at it through that lens, I think that's a really powerful visual for me when I talk to people around who are the people that are important in your life, and how is that thing, in this case, this inanimate object, but this relationship, impacting.
Suzie Price: [00:04:20]
You've got great analogies and visuals. So this is wonderful. How can we best support a loved one or family member that is having a challenge?
Mike Shennan: [00:04:31]
That's a great question. It's an inherently dissatisfying answer, but simply to be there for them. We can't make somebody stop drinking. Especially if there's somebody like I was and you go up to them and give them an ultimatum. It may actually drive them further underground. It may actually make them drink more. Or may actually be counterintuitive to the result that you're hoping to achieve. And so what I've found, and this is not just around my alcohol journey, but around just dealing with other people's situations when they come to you, or if other people are dealing with problems is creating an authentic, a safe place for them to land, right? A place where you're not going to judge them, where you're going to remove any conditions from anything they say, which can be really challenging, especially around when we're talking about people who are maybe drinking and obviously there's costs associated with that. Listening to them and only providing the support that they explicitly ask for. Because as I mentioned before, giving a book to somebody and saying, I think you need to read this, that's that's heavy judgment. It feels like it's a gift that you're trying to give to them.
Suzie Price: [00:05:40]
You think you're helping that you're not? I've learned that through coaching and stuff. They're not asking. I'm not giving.
Mike Shennan: [00:05:45]
Yeah. They're the only ones that can change, and they have to want to change, right? They have to come to a place where I need to change. I like to change people's language around I should, I need, I have to, I want. As opposed to want is the lightest of all of those, but I get to because when it comes to me and I have an awareness of "I get to" do this, as opposed to I have to do this. Because for a lot of people, when they go down this journey, it's like somebody has told them, you have to stop drinking. Maybe it's been court ordered, right? Maybe it's actually been imposed upon them that they have to do it. But taking that and reframing it and the people that I think really, really find value in it and have success on this journey that I've discovered and I've worked with are the people that say, you know what? Everything that happened got me to this place right now. I'm still here.
Mike Shennan: [00:06:31]
I've learned a lot, and I want to just take all of that information and kind of give it a big handshake and say, thank you for your time. But I'm here now and I'm going to go forward and I'm going to make changes that are in alignment with where I want to go. And that's going to be individual for everybody. And I know some people, we really want them to be on the same arc as us. Like I wish all my friends didn't drink. I mean, I could say that, but then there's aspects that have this truth to me as well or are untrue to me as well. Alcohol is going to be around. It's always going to be there. Right? There's too much economy around it. There's too much money. It's so entrenched in our society. And so allowing people a safe place, and also modeling an alternative because as I mentioned before, that was something I never had from my parents. Both my parents drank. I didn't have a parent that didn't drink that could say, well, you know, how does dad deal with stress and anxiety without alcohol? I thought that was the only way you dealt with it.
Mike Shennan: [00:07:27]
So creating an alternative being a place for them to land, being a voice, a place where they can speak openly and freely without judgment and shame and blame, but also modeling an alternative that you can live life, you can do the hard things. You can experience devastating grief. I mean, my dad died suddenly as I was approaching one year, and I pushed through it, and it was one of the hardest times of my year with everything else that was or my life that was happening at that time, but also made me so much stronger. And I found so much ultimate benefit from that. And again letting people come to that and recognizing that and just being a support for them without sort of getting into it with them because that's as you've talked about and as I've talked about for a lot of people, that's actually going to have the opposite effect.
Suzie Price: [00:08:13]
Yeah, it's going to push them to do it more. So let's jump in. We'll touch on this more because we're going to talk about some things about you and I think that'll unveil some more information about this subject. We have a segment about your strengths. And I loved seeing your strengths. And to the audience of colleagues and friends that are listening, that take our assessments, your number one driver, according to the assessment, was High Theoretical, which is “I love to learn”. And your second was I love to be of service, and you scored Passionate being of service and then your least interest is to have to be kind of revealed that you love to give selflessly of your time, so you'd like to give freely of your time. You're not all about what's the return on investment for me? And then your DISC style is I could talk and share. It's more people centric, but you're also analytical too in your behaviors. So when you took the assessment, I shared some notes around what it said about you. What insights did you have? I know you've done a lot of this as a coach. What did you take out of any of that?
Mike Shennan: [00:09:30]
First of all, I want to thank you for providing that because it's invaluable. As I was thinking about this and when I went through it, I thought back to how different it is now. Had I done this assessment back before I started out on my coaching journey, before I started out on this journey around alcohol back in 2014, 15, 16, I think it would have been so much different. I can't predict where it would have ended up because I don't want to sort of go to that extent. But when I read it, it was, yeah, that just shows the metamorphosis, the transformation, the change that this journey, this exploration, this experiment, this curiosity, all of the things that I've talked about. How much it's fundamentally changed me as a person, not just not just changed my relationship with alcohol and the behavior around drinking, but it's changed the way fundamentally, I view the world around me, and I use this in my coaching when I talk about people like me who have glasses. If I take my glasses off, I won't be able to see your name on the screen or anything like that.
Mike Shennan: [00:10:35]
I would probably kind of be like this. *squinting at the screen* But since I've got my glasses on, everything comes into focus and everything becomes clear, and I think that's the way I look at this. I was walking through life without my glasses on, and basically I just had this vision. Looking through a different lens now, and it's just it's a totally different world. And it's not all sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes when I get talking about this, people are like, oh, it sounds like he's making all this up and it's all really, really positive. And it's almost toxic positivity at that stage because it's almost too positive. It's not. I can totally and I think this came out in my assessment that I can be oversharing and I can be really exuberant about things when it matters to me and when I get excited about it. Well, unfortunately, and I say unfortunately, because for the people that are around me, I get excited about life right now. I get excited about waking up in the morning and seeing and going into a day not knowing what's coming. I used to want things to be cookie cutter.
Mike Shennan: [00:11:34]
I wanted Monday to be the same as Tuesday, to be the same as Wednesday to be the same as Thursday. I sit in the same place on my commuter train, and I buy my coffee at the same place. And it was all routine. Whereas now I look at blowing apart all those routines and saying, you know what, I've never lived. And this is another thing I use in my coaching. I've never lived this day in my life before. So I can go back and take some past experiences and some past knowledge. But it's brand new. Like the old dog's new tricks idea, right? I get to live a new day and experience a new thing that I've never done before, every single day of my life. Some people will have some trepidation around that because they want that continuity, they want that escalator, so to speak. Right? They just want the nice easy going off into the distance. But that's not me. And it used to be, but it's not anymore. And I think this assessment really brought that out.
Suzie Price: [00:12:34]
You're taking knowledge and you're helping people and and you're the High Social Altruistic that scores Passionate wants to remove pain and suffering in the world and wants to spend your time doing that. And so what I see is such beauty in that. And when we were talking before we started, you said your father was a doctor, so he was probably a man of service. And your mother was a teacher and she was probably a woman of service. So you came into that honestly. But now what you do every day matches your, what puts gas in your tank, what motivates you, what drives you. And so it's like the way you were expressing your vibrancy and just being able to be of service to people. And like you said, if I can just help one person, that's that Mother Teresa energy in regard to I want to remove pain and suffering in the world, and I have this knowledge that if you're asking, I want to share.
Mike Shennan: [00:13:29]
And without preaching it. Right. And that's the other side of it too.
Suzie Price: [00:13:34]
I don't hear any preachy in you.
Mike Shennan: [00:13:36]
That's another part of my transformation. Because when I remember in those first six months, when I first stopped drinking I became an alcohol evangelist, I was, you know, thou shalt not. Right. And basically I would go into conversations and I would introduce myself. People would say, hey, Mike, how are you doing? Well, I stopped drinking four months ago, and you should too. And it was kind of that over the top. And meanwhile, they're standing there with a beer in their hand, and the look on their face told me everything I needed to know about how that was going over with them at that point. And I think Annie Grace talks about that in her journey, too, that she kind of sent out an email to everybody saying, hey, everybody, I'm sober and you should be too. It's not going to resonate with most people and I would have deleted that email really quickly back in the day. So bringing it with an idea that this isn't for everybody, I totally acknowledge this isn't for everybody, right? Not everybody is going to be at that stage of their life. Not everybody's going to be at that period where they're starting to answer those questions. I think of it kind of like the seesaw. We start out in our life where we're blissfully unaware like we. There's no downside to drinking when we're in our teenage years and we only see the positives. Everything's great over time as we age and we get older and the hangovers get a little heavier, and our body starts to change in ways we don't like because of a few too many beers and that sort of thing.
Suzie Price: [00:14:51]
It promotes added fat, which is one good reason not to drink it.
Mike Shennan: [00:14:55]
It starts to bring it into alignment I think of like the seesaw effect or the teeter totter effect, where all of a sudden your reasons to drink and not to drink are kind of going up and down on a daily basis, and it's kind of almost like a funhouse. You're kind of feeling that. And over time that's the real that's, we call it cognitive dissonance with this in This Naked Mind, but that's the really uncomfortable part of it. That's when you're aware. That's where awareness really kind of sucks. Because you become aware of something. It's like, oh man, I wish I didn't learn that right?
Suzie Price: [00:15:26]
If I know that I wouldn't feel bad about it while I'm doing it.
Mike Shennan: [00:15:29]
Exactly. Yeah. Part of the process is in that. And it takes everybody a different period of time to get to that teeter totter point. And when you have that and you start to ask those questions, that's when the discomfort gets to a point where, okay, I need to address this and I really want to address this. Or as I used to say, that's when you get to address it. Some people are never going to get to that point. Some people will be called gray area drinkers. And they're on the low end of that where they can take it or leave it. And they never have DUIs, never have rock bottoms or whatever you want to call them. And they just go through life happily drinking. People envy them, like people who don't experience that often envy those people. But I actually don't because they don't get to this point where they get to do the work that I've gotten to do in the last few years, and to explore this because we're not taught this in elementary school, we're not taught this in school. This is a journey of self discovery for a reason, because we have to be at the right stage of our life, the right mental place, be ready to explore this. That's why I look at this as an incredible gift every day. Because I get to do this every day as opposed to I have to do this every day.
Suzie Price: [00:16:36]
I wonder if we remove the toxins out of our body. If we could just get to thinking more clearly and feeling more clearly. So that dystopia or whatever, that feeling of dullness kind of goes away is what you're describing, too. It's like Eureka! Clarity.
Mike Shennan: [00:16:56]
I think of it kind of like fog lifting. I am a huge analogy fan. Like I use analogies and it's part of the way I take really complex ideas and bring them down into sort of visuals that people can understand. For this it's like driving along a foggy road at night and all of a sudden the fog lifts, right? If you're ever in an area with hills, you'll sort of come over a hill and it'll be really foggy and you'll go down and it'll be clear again. And it's kind of that. It's like I said, with the glasses and the lens, the same idea that sometimes we're just driving in the fog. We're driving and we're getting where we're going. But imagine if the fog lifted, right? And just imagine if we had that capacity to see more? Awareness can be a double edged sword sometimes seeing something in higher definition. I remember when high definition televisions first came out and all of a sudden you're watching like green grass waving in the breeze and everybody's like, oh.
Suzie Price: [00:17:56]
You just stand there and watch it like, oh, how cool is that?
Mike Shennan: [00:18:01]
And then you turned on the 6:00 news and you saw every blemish on your, on your 6:00 newscaster's face. You're like, oh no, I don't want to see that. You know, it comes with the good and the bad. So you take the good with the bad and you sort of move through it.
Suzie Price: [00:18:17]
That's awesome. So talk a little bit about who's most influenced you in your life and things that they said or did that helped you.
Mike Shennan: [00:18:24]
I have a recency bias. Obviously Annie Grace and her opening up this new way of thinking. But there were a lot of people I mean, in many ways I think back about my parents, and the lessons that they taught me. A lot of it was masked because I had a lot of resentment around my parents because of their drinking and because of being the oldest of three and a lot of things around that. But the lessons that I learned from them, I now look back and think, wow, now that I have the clarity around them doing the best you can with the tools you have, right. Reframing my upbringing which was not tragic by any means. My dad was a doctor. I mean, but I also was brought up in a very conservative household, which was an honest day's work for an honest day's pay. So I wasn't given anything. I had to get a job when I was 15 and earn my money with a paper route and things like that. So a lot of that aspect of it so I learned a lot of valuable lessons there. But I also look back now and I think of my mom actually stopped drinking 15 years before she passed away. And so I think of that knowledge and that it could be done. If my mom can do it, I can do it right. So I learned some lessons around that.
Mike Shennan: [00:19:41]
On a more professional basis, I had a couple of mentors when I was working in, in my biotech background, and a couple of them used to talk to me about mirroring. Watch this person and think of them as a mirror to what you're doing. Just kind of point to me just to give me an idea of something I was doing just to bring awareness to that. And as soon as I was aware of it again, I couldn't become unaware of it. And it was like, whoa, that person is really annoying. And they look at me like, yeah. And so it gave me that idea. Like, now it's clicking in, isn't it? I'm like, okay, I get it. Thanks for that. I get it.
Mike Shennan: [00:20:16]
Rather than telling me you shouldn't do that, it's just watching that person over there. What do you think of that? That's really annoying. It's like, well, you do that every day, like gotcha. That idea of mirroring and becoming aware of things. And this feeds right into something that I've also done some work on, not to get too far off track here, but things like shadow work, Carl Jungian work, and looking at your internal darkness and the light in the darkness and the gift in the shadow and all of that. Sometimes you need to look at things that you don't like to look at in order to pull something from it that's going to be really valuable. Couple of examples there.
Suzie Price: [00:20:53]
Self-awareness is a gift and it's a journey. Talk a little bit about waking up eager. You've exemplified that in so many things that you've talked about today. Then in terms of things that you're doing right now or most recently around mind, body and spirit that are contributing to this glow that you have and that you verbalize today.
Mike Shennan: [00:21:18]
Oh, sure. Well, from a physical point of view, obviously getting a good night's sleep is essential. So anything that you can do to get that.
Suzie Price: [00:21:26]
Do you sleep better now that you have no alcohol in your system? Do you notice a difference?
Mike Shennan: [00:21:29]
Suzie Price: [00:21:30]
Yeah, I have noticed that.
Mike Shennan: [00:21:33]
I used to drink to go to sleep like my drinking routine just to sort of give a little background. I would start drinking around 9:00 and it would put me out and it would help me to sleep. And so my sleep patterns for decades were so messed up. Because if I couldn't sleep, what did I do? I went down and had a drink and it would knock me out. Back in 2020 during during the pandemic, we got a couple of kittens, a couple of Covid kitties, and I take a lot of my cues around life from them right now and just sort of the simple cues that, you know, when they're tired, they go to sleep, right? It doesn't matter if it's three in the afternoon, if I have a couple of hours and I'm feeling tired, I'll go take a power nap, and obviously working from home now, I can sometimes do that. But at night too, if it's 7:00 at night and it's like, oh, it's 7:00, I can't go to bed yet. Who says I can't go to bed yet? If I have to get up at seven in the morning and I want to have a good wind down routine, go to bed at 8 or 9 at night, as opposed to going to bed at 11 or 12.
Mike Shennan: [00:22:44]
Good sleep patterns obviously are really, really important. Obviously diet, exercise, the usual stuff. From a physical point of view to give you that energy because I think of energy like a battery. Another analogy is that you wake up in the morning like your phone battery, if you forget to plug your phone in at night, right, you wake up in the morning and your battery's at 40%. It's like, oh, I have to get through the day with 40% battery. But if you charge it and you get a good night's sleep and you wake up at 80 to 100%, you're going to have a lot more battery left as the day goes on. And a lot of people who struggle with alcohol, generally, have the 5:00 wine witch. After a day of decision making, fatigue kicks in and a lot of things have happened. You just don't have any energy left. Your battery is in the red zone at that time of day. So we have a tactic called staying above 50%. My mom always used to keep her gas tank at 50%, to the point that if I ever bought her car home and it had like a quarter tank, I had to actually go out and fill it up to at least half a tank.
Mike Shennan: [00:23:43]
That was her rule. I sort of used that as an example as well, kind of keeping your energy level above a certain point. And when it comes to mindfulness and coming to regulating your emotions and realizing that your emotions are actually, we call them check engine lights. The idea that they're telling you something when you get emotional about something, when you feel anxious about something, when you feel sad about something, ask why? Why am I feeling sad about that? If it's a loss, if it's something I haven't achieved, if it's something that matters to me, that's a beautiful thing. That's actually a really good place to mine for these thoughts and beliefs and things that you might want to uncover if they're no longer serving you and using our emotions as the first stage, rather than trying to mine back into our thoughts and say, okay, what am I thinking about? Or what are my beliefs here?
Mike Shennan: [00:24:38]
Because quite simply, we don't get emotional about things we don't care about. If we're ambivalent towards something, if something doesn't bring up anything in us, there's no emotion. We don't care about it. If you're not into reality TV, you don't really care who wins their next reality TV show. Right? If you're not a sports fan, you don't care about sports. But if you are a sports fan or if you are into reality TV, you have a real emotion. You get really emotional about it because it matters to you, and you make it mean something and you go down that road. I like to coach around one other thing too, which is as we go forward on this journey, identifying where we get emotional, where our emotions are coming from, what that's going to do is that's going to raise our tolerance for discomfort.
Mike Shennan: [00:25:24]
We're going to become more comfortable with discomfort, quite simply. And in doing that, that's going to also lower the emotional intensity we feel about things. And those two things in concert with each other are going to bring you into a space where it doesn't solve anything, but it's going to make things far more manageable in the big picture. And that brings peace, that's going to allow you to sleep better, that's going to feed into all of the other things. I guess the last part is just listening to your body, listening to your thoughts, listening to what your body is telling you. Is your stomach grumbling? Is it because you're hungry? Because you're anxious? Because you're nervous? Because you have butterflies? Whatever it is, processing it and using your body, it's a beacon. It's going to tell you all you need to know. Really coming into alignment with that. Not to sound too woo woo about that. I'm a scientist. I want analytical evidence. So I actually go, hey, my shoulder's a little sore. I wonder what's going on there. And then I'll go into exploring why.
Suzie Price: [00:26:19]
As opposed to ignoring it or muscling through or stuffing it down. There's nothing woo woo about any of that. It's like being present. It's like I'm going to be present with whatever's happening and I'm not going to judge it, and I'm going to let it kind of flow through, and I'm going to use it to my benefit, as opposed to numbing ourselves out.
Mike Shennan: [00:26:42]
100%. Numbing, escaping. I tell people when they start to get really negative about themselves, I mean, to me that's an act of self-love. Like you're trying to protect yourself.
Suzie Price: [00:26:57]
Don't judge yourself for judging yourself.
Mike Shennan: [00:27:01]
Because you're doing exactly what your brain is programmed to do. It's self-preservation. Why would we drink this stuff for 30 years if it wasn't good for us, if we didn't need it like water and air? We've convinced ourselves that it's an essential component of life, so it's going to take some time for us to disassociate that and to challenge those thoughts and beliefs. And that's okay. We got lots of time.
Suzie Price: [00:27:22]
What's so interesting is once you start acknowledging what you're really feeling and being honest with yourself, it all changes. It's not the big gremlin that we think it is. It becomes less of a gremlin in our life and it just moves through us. That's wonderful. I love that. That's how you coach and back to how you are to me, I'm like, you're the best kind of coach. If I were to hire a coach, I'd want someone like you who has the knowledge that's the Theoretical on the driver and then has the heart for service. You scored Social Altruistic, Passionate. You really want to be with people and that's just beautiful.
Mike Shennan: [00:28:04]
I really appreciate that. Thank you so much for that. But it just goes back to, you know, who am I? Like I don't know who I am when I hear people describing me that way. And it's like who is this guy? Because like I said, 5 or 6 years ago, my assessment would have been completely different. But again, that's this call to serve. That's recognizing this gift that I have and this ability to really translate and to share it with people. It's amazing if you get to do something every day of your life that brings that kind of joy and happiness and contentment and satisfaction and all the things. As I tell people I get high doing two things: going to concerts, live music, and not just because of secondary smoke, but the energy of those shows.
Mike Shennan: [00:28:46]
The second thing is coaching. I mean, because I have yet to come off a coaching call or something like this, or doing an interview with somebody where I haven't had, like, okay, let's go. It just motivates and I'm actually on an adrenaline run at the end of it. It is. It's a natural high and it's the best kind.
Suzie Price: [00:29:02]
That's what happens when what we're doing matches who we are. And I would posit that you are always High Theoretical and Social Altruistic, and you always brought that to your work. It's just that your work didn't fully utilize it, like your work is today and your life experience and all of that, you know? You didn't become social altruistic out of the blue. That was there within you all along, and it's just now being fully realized in this work you're doing. So it's beautiful. With that, what advice would you give your 25 year old self?
Mike Shennan: [00:29:37]
Oh that old question, I love it. Your 25 year old self I would probably say stick to your gut. Listen to yourself. Because you cultivate a beginner's mind. Because at 25, I thought I knew everything. I'd just gotten a graduate degree. I was entering into the world I thought I had it all figured out and just really challenged that. Push back on the fact that you don't know anything and really get and continue to experiment. Drive yourself with that motivation, that desire for knowledge as we talked about. Really embrace that. Because I don't think I did, I think when I was 25, I kind of went into autopilot. I thought I had all the answers. I had it all figured out. Right? I had a master's degree at that point. I had that behind me. I was married. I had that part of it. The relationship part was figured out. I was just brushing my hands together and going, yep, I'm all set. Let's go.
Suzie Price: [00:30:29]
Put it in neutral, maybe a little bit?
Mike Shennan: [00:30:32]
Yeah. So going back and kind of saying dude you haven't started on this journey yet. There's so much to come. Part of it is also what I would do to that 25 year old is give them a big hug because that's what he needed right then. I can still do that because I mean that's me, right? I know that person. I see that person in those photos. I know how I felt. There's a part of me that I could judge that person for not knowing better at that point and not having the knowledge that he might have had, or maybe making some poor decisions along the way. But I look at it now as that person existed, and now this person exists and they're the same person. So I can't be that person. I can't be mad at him. I can't judge him. I mean, he made some mistakes, but those mistakes led me to where I am today, ultimately.
Suzie Price: [00:31:21]
I got a little emotional when you said I'd give him a big old hug. It's like, oh. That's what we can do for those around us when we can just look for the best. That's beautiful. If you could put a billboard anywhere for the world to see where would you put it and what would it say?
Mike Shennan: [00:31:40]
I would put up a billboard in front of every elementary school in the world for people who are aged, you know, 7 to 13, 14. That said, don't fear failure, embrace failure. And I think for a lot of people, we're taught from a very early age that an F is a bad thing, an F is a failure. Even a C for some people is a horrible thing. And we're taught you have to achieve. We have to always achieve A's and B's and C's and get the thing and get the school and get your first choice with everything in life. And I think for me, that put so much pressure on me throughout my life, and it drove me to being a perfectionist in many ways. And perfection is unattainable. There is no such thing as perfection. Perfection is a state. I could argue right now I have achieved perfection in my life just by making perfection where I am. And so I guess there's two aspects to it. One fails sooner. Some of the greatest inventions in the world have been, you know, I think the Dyson vacuum is the one that everybody pulls out. Everybody talks about it. It took like 2500 prototypes before he finally found the one that worked.
Suzie Price: [00:33:00]
Oh, wow. I didn't know that.
Mike Shennan: [00:33:01]
There's examples of this, Colonel Sanders and Kentucky Fried Chicken and you know, WD 40 was the 40th recipe around water displacement. That's why it's called WD 40. That thing that people use for freeing up things that are stuck. The sooner you fail, the sooner you're going to add knowledge. If you go through life without failing, if you go through and you're living a world where you're not allowed to fail until you get to a certain point. When I was a kid and it was this whole movement around, everybody gets a trophy, nobody fails, everybody finishes first. That mentality doesn't always serve. I can see it does have a nourishing, compassionate, loving, community based sort of socialist aspect to it. But sometimes the best learnings come from failure, and allowing a child to fail, allowing a child to be disappointed, and not saying it's okay, dear, it's okay. Don't cry. That's where I would put it. Maybe it would be on every blackboard or whiteboard in every school it says, don't fear failure embrace it as a mindset for the younguns out there.
Suzie Price: [00:34:16]
Yeah they are. If you fail, fail sooner and you'll learn more..
Mike Shennan: [00:34:22]
Fail faster is what I like to say.
Suzie Price: [00:34:24]
Fail faster, I love it, I love it. So in closing, what advice or wisdom do you want everybody to remember from today and maybe about alcohol or anything else that we discussed?
Mike Shennan: [00:34:37]
We've covered a lot today, but I think the take home is that you have this choice. This is something that is within you. I think of it like a video game cartridge from back in the days where all of the keys, all of the cues, all of the necessary things that you need to achieve whatever level it is, whatever your definition of success is, lies within you, and to believe in that. We farm out our needs to people and we give away our power every day, sometimes without knowing it and challenging it and looking for that as part of this process, but also bringing a positive energy and not a toxic positive energy, but bringing a contentment, a comfortable energy to life. Moving forward is going to bring opportunities. It's going to bring things to you that maybe you don't see when you're in those dark moments. Alcohol is what it is, right? It exists in society. It's legal in a lot of places at a certain age. We have all these things around drinking responsibly and etc. but we don't have to take it. We don't have to use it. We don't have to drink it. Identifying the reasons why, as I said before, starting to ask those questions, starting to get curious. We talked about sober curious movements and things like that. Just start asking those questions and don't be afraid of the answers that you get either, because those answers, again, if they're negative, we just talked about if they're something that you don't like early on, they may lead to some amazing things as you go down the road.
Suzie Price: [00:36:13]
So yeah, getting to the truth of it and, being authentic about it, that's fantastic. Well, you have been wonderful. You have been authentic and bright and shiny and informative and just appreciate you being on the podcast.
Mike Shennan: [00:36:30]
No, I appreciate it. This has been a lot of fun.
Suzie Price: [00:36:32]
Appreciate the work you're doing.
Mike Shennan: [00:36:34]
Thank you so much.
Suzie Price: [00:36:36]
All right. I hope you enjoyed that episode. To get the show notes and to get links to all the resources that we provide, go to pricelessprofessional.com/sobercurious. So what I hope you got from that or saw with Mike is one how he doesn't demonize or judge alcohol, that he shows self compassion. He's learned self compassion for himself and he gives compassion to others. I liked his focus on self awareness, paying attention to how you're feeling, tuning in to your body and your mind. I love this idea of giving information and letting people make their own decisions, and that we're not trying to force anybody to do anything because we all have our own timing. And I like the visual of what he talked about around alcohol. It started out innocent, like a great friendship, but over time, because they've changed and you've changed, maybe they've become less of a match or maybe the dynamic has changed. And so maybe the relationship is not as good anymore. And so what I love is this time of year is Dry January is a chance, like in a relationship, for us to just examine it. What's our relationship with alcohol? It's so great that they have that free alcohol experiment program where you're looking for data points and they kind of guide you through it.
Suzie Price: [00:38:00]
We have links to The Alcohol Experiment as well as links reaching out to Mike for a discovery call and all kinds of input there to share with you. And the last thing I would say about our episode is, I don't know if you could see it, but I certainly could, is how perfectly he matches as a coach. He has the insights and the knowledge and then he has this very caring, giving heart. His interest and passion was evident. If you were curious about sobriety or being alcohol free, he'd be a great person to talk to about it. And so I'm glad he was on the episode. What I want to mention, I was going to tell a little bit about my journey with alcohol. I was a social drinker. I have been a social drinker over the years. In college you did the normal fraternity and sorority stuff and then working as a professional and traveling, you had to have a drink with a meal. And I've always been into health and fitness. So I never had an alcohol problem, but I did find that I was drinking more and I questioned my relationship with alcohol.
Suzie Price: [00:39:16]
I have taken years off from drinking and said, okay, I think I'm getting a little too social with all of this. I'm just going to stop to prove to myself that I don't have cravings and I can stop myself. And I have done that. But I realize now that I fell victim to that social conditioning that Mike talks about. Not necessarily with my family, but with the friends and the environment that you're in, especially in corporations, and then in where we're at now, where it's a lot of people who have a lot of free time and discretionary spending. Alcohol is at the center of every social event. It's never talked about that alcohol can be harmful. It's seen as harmless and that it's normal and it's fun and there's no consequences. And so I mentioned this in the discussion, it started out of course, I was curious. You know anytime you're wondering am I drinking too much then there's probably something to that question. Right? I mean, I've never had any of the blacking out or overdoing necessarily. But also I was wondering, okay, I'm not always feeling so great. I'm not sleeping that great. But what really kicked me off on finding This Naked Mind was a family friend, who was drinking to excess, and it was causing problems.
Suzie Price: [00:40:30]
And I was trying to help, but I wasn't going to help until they asked. I knew I needed them to want to ask me, and I would be in the family. I'd probably be the one that they might ask. And so I thought, I need to get some resources. So I'm big into the Peloton, which I mentioned in the episode, and there's a Peloton Sober Squad group and it's the best group. It's so positive and it's so many people from all levels, people who need to go to rehab to people who are saying, man, I just think I'm having a couple too many glasses of wine and everything in between. And then the before and after you'll see people when they were drinking a lot and then they weren't. The way their faces changed and the challenges that people had, it caused me to have a lot more empathy and compassion for the family friend that I was wanting to help. And it gave me resources. And the first resource that I found was This Naked Mind, because they talk about Quit Lit in there, and then people that name that kept coming up, that book. And so I listened to it on audible. When I'm commuting back and forth in my car, I'm up in the North Georgia mountains, and any time I'm going into Atlanta.
Suzie Price: [00:41:35]
It's a long drive. And so I listened to it. And when I'm walking my dogs and it was amazing, it was so eye opening. It wasn't for my friend. It was for me. I began to see what alcohol is. What it really is. And the media and companies who sell alcohol promote this myth that it's fun and there are no consequences. And so This Naked Mind provided clear logic, credible science. And then of course, Annie Grace, she was an executive with a company, ran a big marketing arm and traveled. And so she talks about her experience of overdrinking. It was um extreme, and it was not unlike the family friend. So it just really spoke to me and it really opened my eyes. And then in that Sober Squad Facebook group with Peloton, a lot of people talk about this podcast. A guy named Andrew Huberman, has a podcast called the Huberman Lab, and I think he has like 4.5 million subscribers. So he's a pretty popular guy. He's a PhD neuroscientist, tenured professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford of Medicine. And he's made numerous significant contributions to the fields of brain development, brain function, and neuroplasticity.
Suzie Price: [00:43:02]
Easy for someone else to say and not for me. And he just talks about cognitive functioning. And so he did every episode he did. It's very interesting because it's very scientific and it's very much like a neuroscientist would do, but it's personable too. So I put a link to it in the show notes if you're interested. But here's a summary, and he's got the research to back this up. So I had just read This Naked Mind. And then of course I found this. And so for me I haven't had any alcohol. I've just decided I'm not a drinker, I just don't drink. And it's really been amazing. It's the information that has helped me decide, okay, I'm not even going to do this because it's not worth it's not getting me where I want to go. Here's some of the things that Huberman said: even low to moderate drinking and 1 to 2 drinks a day, which if you had a drink a day, seven drinks a week is a lot, but 1 to 2 drinks per day, it disrupts the brain. And he goes into great detail about how it disrupts the brain and our thinking. And here's one that's astonishing, for every third of an ounce, that's seven tablespoons.
Suzie Price: [00:44:09]
So think of seven tablespoons of alcohol per day. Breast cancer risk goes up 7%. So seven tablespoons is not much a third of an ounce. And think about people knocking back 1-2-3 drinks a day. There's a lot of cancer risk there and you think about how much cancer there is out there. And interestingly enough, Huberman points out that alcohol was declared a carcinogen in 1988. So they've always said it contributes to cancer. But you know what? I never read that I'm 59 years old. Two years ago, when I first was reading This Naked Mind, that's the first time I'd ever really heard this contributes to cancer. It's not blatantly out there. No one talks about it. He also talks about if you have relatives who were chronic abusers, people will likely be predisposed. So my parents weren't big drinkers, but their parents were, and so that's not highly relevant to me. But still, it's in the chain, you know, it's not totally free there. He talks about how alcohol disrupts gut health. And he goes into great detail about your digestion. And I'm really into wanting to be fit and healthy. So that was like okay, I don't want that. It disrupts sleep quality even after just one drink. And that made a lot of sense to me because as I've gotten older, that's an issue.
Suzie Price: [00:45:30]
Alcohol decreases testosterone and can diminish sex drive. And then the other thing that we hear in the media is about resveratrol in red wine. You know, that's healthy, like what you get in grapes. And he says to get that benefit, you have to drink a lot. You have to have a lot of red wine in order to get the benefit of resveratrol. And you can get that by just eating fruits and vegetables and other things. And it's not the prime way to get it in red wine. Then the last thing I've really noticed is that it increases fat storage. So getting heavier and heavier. And if you look around, people who are in their 50s and 60s are heavier. And if they're drinkers, they're heavier, more. And I saw that a lot on the Peloton Sober Squad. When people show this was me two years ago and here's me now. Their weight loss is incredible because of the disruption. And then Huberman talks about the mechanics of it and the biology of it, and the science of it all throughout his whole episode, so it's really powerful. Look for it in the show notes. Pricelessprofessional.com/sobercurious. And then he talks about the best alcohol to drink is no alcohol.
Suzie Price: [00:46:46]
And so that's where I've landed. And that's not for everybody. But my reasons for not drinking are health, fitness, weight and sleep. I want to sleep better, I weigh my high school college weight now. But that wasn't the case a couple of years ago because I was working out, but I didn't sleep as well. And even a little bit of alcohol I was having on the weekends, or maybe 1 or 2 during the week was having an impact. And I have found personally that I feel better, I think everything is better. And then something that Huberman says and that I just kind of adopted is alcohol creates more problems than it fixes. So that's kind of where I'm at. And I'm not saying that I'm never going to have a glass of wine again. But for right now it's just easier. One less decision to make is yep, I don't drink. And it's been interesting to go over the last couple of years and, and go through Christmas and holidays and parties and out with your high school friends and out with your buddies. You used to do that to change that dynamic. And it has been super easy. Surprisingly easy. So interesting perspective. I want to share it with you. I want you to check out our links and resources to everything we talked about today, the Huberman Podcast, This Naked Mind.
Suzie Price: [00:48:00]
I also shared some stress management tools from our Wake Up Eager Tips page, and a couple of them are just different tools, different podcasts. There's also a complimentary assessment because, part of the reason when Mike was talking about asking why you drink, sometimes it's about managing our stress. So we get stressed, and then we think if we drink we're going to feel better. And so if we can get out of being stressed and be able to manage our time, there's a podcast that I talked about, about daily tune in time and things that help me realign. Maybe some of that will be helpful. There's an e-book there. You'll find that in the show notes. It's the Wake Up Eager tips page stress management tool. So check all that out. I like this quote and I will close with that. And it's from Abraham Hicks. That's one of the inspirational people that I listen to and have listened to for probably 20 years. They really helped me in understanding energy and managing my own focus. They're very uplifting and very intentional about the power of the individual to be all that they can be. This is one of their statements.
Suzie Price: [00:49:13]
"You intended to discover a way to feel good no matter what, because you have the facility. You have the power. You have the ability to focus. You have the ability to choose where you focus. Therefore you have the ability to offer vibration differently. Therefore, you have the ability to choose the way you feel. But it takes some practice." I think the way I felt about alcohol as being something fun and something that was just a part of my life, and it came when I sat down at a nice restaurant to have dinner, when I'm out with my girlfriends or out with my husband and all of that has changed. We get to choose, and a lot of times information can help us. So hopefully this information has been a resource for you and hope you'll consider Dry January for the Sober Curious, see if that's a match for you and reach out to Mike, if you want to do a discovery call, you can find all those links at pricelessprofessional.com/sobercurious. Thanks for tuning in to the Wake Up Eager Workforce Podcast. Thank you for being a listener. Be happy if you left us a review and let me know, and I'll send you a complimentary assessment and just go forth. Live the life you want to live. Make great decisions and just be happy. Take care. Thanks.
This episode of the Wake Up Eager Workforce Podcast was brought to you by Priceless Professional Development. Thank you for tuning in. If you enjoyed today's show, head over to pricelessprofessional.com to gain access to more professional development resources.