As a child, you suffered from a number of physical, emotional and psychological issues including low self-esteem, bullying, a severe speech impediment and a learning disability. Not only that, sexual abuse by a teacher for nearly three years, not to mention the corrective shoes and braces on your legs that you had to wear along with and experiencing your grandmother's suicide. It would have been so easy and understandable for your life to go a certain direction, but it didn't.
You're here on the Get WealthFit Show. You're a world-class speaker, coach and mentor. You have investments and businesses that you own and operate. Thinking back to when you were in that phase of your life experiencing those things, how did you persevere? Did you know as a kid what was happening? Was that just like, “This happens to everyone?”
Thank you, first of all, for having me here.
When I think back to that period of my life, I was so encapsulated with fear. I was the kid that went to school and the classroom I sit in, they had color-coded areas.
If you have LD, Learning Disability, you sat in this one area. The little short bus was in front of my house and I got on the bus with my little lunch pail and went to school. It was traumatic because I couldn't speak. I had a severe speech impediment. To give you an idea of how I used to sound. I remember going to speech therapy for an evaluation and they would point to a picture and you would have to say what it was. When they pointed to a man, instead of saying “man,” it came out “ma.”
My mother, her name is Bobby. They'd say, “Who's your mother?” I was like, “Bolly.” I didn't know how to enunciate my words, even though in my mind I was saying Bobby, I was saying mom, I was saying dad. When they came out, it came out muffled. It came out sporadic where words got mixed up.
One of the crazy things that would happen when people would speak and this happens even now, I could literally see words coming out of people's mouths. For the longest time, I didn't speak and my older brother, Robert, would interpret. I would just point. He said, “He means this or he means that.”
I went to school and this was in the ‘70s. If you're unable to communicate, you wear braces on your legs and corrective shoes, you're in the LD, Learning Disability class. Kids can be torturous. We didn't have to wait until 9/11 to find out we had terrorists. We had little terrorists in my school that terrorized individuals that were different.
I got beat up every single day in recess.
My older brother, Robert, would have to fight my fights after school and that was my existence. I didn't know anything other than you wake up, you go to school and you knew you were going to get picked on and teased. At that particular time, teachers didn't know what to do with those who did not communicate because I was quiet and introverted. It’s hard to believe now.
I suffered in silence for so long.
Fast forward to the sexual abuse happened. My parents made the decision to pull us out of public school because it wasn't working for us. By the time I was in fifth grade, it wasn't working. The teacher in my fifth grade, I shared it with my teacher that we were leaving, going to a foreign language magnet school. I was going to learn Spanish.
Here's a kid that couldn't speak but will learn Spanish. My mother was an educator. She was thinking to try something different. The teacher looked at me and said, “You cannot even speak English. What makes you think you can learn a foreign language?” My head dropped. I went home and as much as I could, I told my stepdad who's a construction worker. My stepdad said, “You just will have to show him, won't you?” That was the turning point.
In our neighborhood, we had an individual who was the head of the neighborhood watch. He was also a scout leader and educator. All the kids would go to his house. It was the hangout. One night, I had asked my parents if I could go out on patrol, we’re going to catch some bad guys. What I didn't know is that he was a pedophile and he would use older boys as his enforcers. The night my mother reluctantly allowed me to stay over. I had begged her. My mother did everything right. My mother called other parents, they said, “He's a good guy. He's helped my kids with their homework,” and he did. He helped me with my homework. He has some great qualities on the one hand, but there was this hidden life on the other hand, this dual existence of good and true evil.
That night, coming off patrol, it was boring and nothing happened. We go back to his place and I asked for a glass of milk and instead, he gave me a glass of water. When I drank the water, it had somewhat of an aspirin-like taste. I got sleepy as if I was falling into a hole. That's when the sexual abuse started. I remember waking up in the middle of the night having this sexual act performed on me and I didn’t know anything about sex at the time. I was frozen in fear. I talk about this in the first book that I wrote, Shattered Masks
. I felt as if I was frozen in wax where I knew what was going on but I could not yell, I couldn't say anything. I remember passing out because of the excruciating pain.
As I was leaving to go home the following morning, this kid grabbed my ankle and said to me, “If you tell anyone, you're going to have more than what happened to you.” I remember walking home thinking that this kid had a psychological problem. They called him Geronimo because they thought he was part-crazy. He had burned up a number of buildings. He was a youth arsonist or a terrorist back in the day. I had nightmares of this kid burning our house down if I told. For twenty-plus years, I didn't tell anyone until I wrote my first book. The funny thing that happened was on the one hand I'm sexually abused, but on the other hand, my grades began to improve.
A good friend of mine, Namon Wright, lives in Tampa. My teacher in seventh grade, Mrs. Jarvis, put me into a speech contest. I’m in speech therapy and she's putting me in a speech contest, but she saw something in me that I didn't see. I had great speech therapists. I had about three or four of them. I went three to four times a week, that's how severe it was. Namon told me, “Stand in front of a mirror. Who's your favorite person?” At that time, it was Dr. Martin Luther King. He said, “Act like Dr. Martin.” I was very good at imitating voices. The speech that I have is called The Creation
by James Weldon Johnson. It was an extremely long speech. He said, “Stand in front of a mirror with the cassette recorder and record how you sound. If you don't like how you sound, then in your mind, think how Dr. Martin Luther King would say it.” If Dr. King was saying it, he would say, “God stepped out on space and as far as the eyes of God could see, darkness covered everything, blacker than a hundred midnights down in a cypress swamp.” I was amazed that the problem in my head if I imitated someone else, I didn't stutter, I didn't skip over my words and I didn't mumble.
I went to class and I shared with Mrs. Jarvis. She gave me some pointers and she taught me the most important things about speaking. She said, “Lyman, the most important things you must know are the three P's of any speech.” I said, “Yes, Mrs. Jarvis.” She said, “Number one is your presence. You must have a commanding presence. When you step out on stage, don't say, “Be quiet.” You simply stand there and they will be quiet because you have such a presence and smile. You got such a beautiful smile. P number two is poise. Don't be in a hurry. Think, speak slowly and breathe. The third P is the actual presentation. If you remember your presence when you walk on the stage, that's half the battle. Your poise, how you stand, how you command the audience and your presentation.” I never forget that. When Mrs. Jarvis died, I was fortunate enough to be at her bedside a couple of days before she died. She died of cancer. I whispered in her ear, “The Creation.” She was in a coma. She grabbed my hand and I believed she squeezed it to let me know I was okay.
It wasn't until years later and my grades began to make the honor roll. On the one hand, things appeared on the outside to be great. He can finally talk. We can understand him. My dad put me in martial arts. The first day in martial arts, I break my arm. My dad said, “The boy can walk, he got braces and corrective shoes. Put him in karate. Maybe he’ll learn how to balance.” The first day, first lesson, I get my arm broken. I wasn't paying attention. A kid threw a sweep, I landed wrong and had greenstick fracture in my right arm. I go home. To make a long story short, I’m thinking, “This karate thing isn't working.” My dad is an old school construction guy. He said, “That’s okay, you’ve got another arm. Get back in there.”
One thing I love about my stepdad who raised me, he wouldn't let you quit. You weren't allowed to say, “I’m disabled. I don't know how to speak.” What he would say is this, “You’ve got to work harder, be smarter, find another way of doing it. What you will not do is give up or feel pity for yourself.” Part of this internalization of the abuse was because I was thinking, “If I tell my dad, my dad is going to kill this guy. He's the principal breadwinner. We lose the family structure and I can't lose my dad. I can deal with this.” I ended up going back to martial arts with a cast on my arm and a funny thing happened. I got good. The same kids that used to bully me, they found out that I was studying karate. I had two kids tried to challenge me and when I beat one of them who went by the name of Little Man, all of a sudden, the kids are like, “We better leave him alone. He's going to be black Bruce Lee.”
My life got better, but there was still this hidden secret because I never dealt with that abuse. One of the things I talk about is the seven masks that I wore. One of the masks is the mask of accomplishments. It’s because I was very good at creating images in my head and fantasies. I lived in this odd reality where the real world was boring and painful. I retreated into this fantasy world where I created new realities. I lived in a world where, for example, I had this one reality where there was this relationship between cats and birds, that the cats ruled the heavens. As long as they didn't come on the earth, they were okay. I had these weird little ways of dealing with things, but it worked for me. Whenever I had a situation, whether it be a math problem, whether it be English, whether it be science, I would go and find someone that was good at it.
I didn't know I was looking for mentors. I didn't know it exists. I was following what Namon, my best friend, told me, “If you are unable to do it yourself, find someone who's great at it.” In one way, you're living vicariously through them. In speeches, I was Dr. King. When it came to understanding science, there was a guy by the name of Robert Jastrow, a great astrophysicist that I enjoyed reading. When it came to science, I would think, “What would Robert Jastrow think about?” When it came to literature, I would think of Chaucer, “What would Chaucer be thinking about? What would the great poets?” I lived these multiple personalities. On the one hand, I’m being praised for living a lie because I had not found my voice. I’m using someone else's voice and someone else's reality.
If you were to ask me a question, I would go through a mental Rolodex of accessing the language patterns, the thought patterns of someone whom I had studied because I didn't feel confident that Lyman could answer it. If you asked Lyman a question, he can't answer that. Remember, Lyman is the little kid that's being sexually abused, beaten up, bullied, speech therapy, labeled Learning Disabled. If I can access the thoughts, the memories of someone else, then I don't have to answer. I became the great pretender.
You don't do that now. There are many functional people that do that to survive. It's almost like a survival mechanism and for you, it was the mask and these things that you created for others, something similar but their version of it. Do you believe that people should abandon that, look inward and focus on it?
Yeah, because you have to grow. This is what happens. The human body, the human brain is a magnificent machine of artistry. The key to our existence is survival. Everything about us is designed for survival. I’ve had an opportunity to talk to hundreds of thousands of individuals that have also been abused whether physically, sexually, mentally, emotionally. You develop coping mechanisms, whatever it might be. Some are more positive than others. Some people may turn to, for example, drugs, alcohol, unhealthy sexual relationships or it might be gambling. They may completely shut down as my grandmother did and end up thinking that suicide is the answer or a solution rather than anything else because the pain is so great that you want to get away from the pain.
What I had to learn and it was a process, that I have a unique voice. That voice is for me and as long as I’m living through the eyes, the speech patterns, the thought patterns of someone else, I rob the world of my unique voice, my unique thought. That's when my life changed. When I figured out that, “If I am being all these other people, then who am I?” which is one of the top three questions that we all ask ourselves, “Who am I? Why am I here? Who am I here for? Everyone would ask that question at some point in their life. What is my purpose? Who am I here to reach?” As you would call it, “What's my bigger why?”
This conversation is amazing. Thank you for going deep. Our show generally doesn't go this deep. I want to press a little bit more because I feel like it's our duty. We're here for certain people. You mentioned a predator or that individual in your life, but you also mentioned suicide. My understanding is at some point in your life you were considering it.
More than considering in college.
Where I want to go with this is I want people that are reading the blog, I’ve got kids so I’m concerned about predators, also suicide because we know that kids at some point, even in college, do this. What's your advice to parents, people or loved ones where there is a family member or someone they care about interacting with a predator or there are signs for that and then to suicide?
You have to put this in a context of time. There was no Twitter. There was no Facebook. You didn't have social media and no cellphones. You didn't hear about it, especially in certain communities, especially African-American communities where it was taboo. Now that has changed because we hear about it more and we see it more. There are better resources out there. Back then if you told a teacher, then that teacher would either believe you or not believe you or bring the other person and say, “So-and-so said you did this to him, did you?” You're standing there and looking at this kid or this teacher like, “I’m stuck.” The resources are better now. For parents, the more you are able to make your conversations a safe zone, that is crucial.
I grew up in a household where my stepdad and my mom were very good about teaching us life lessons, how to be responsible, how to treat one another. What they didn't know and I don't think a lot of parents knew back then, is that we were telling kids, "Stranger danger.” This wasn't a stranger. We weren't saying, “What if it's a family member? What if it's a teacher? What if it’s a priest, a pastor, a minister?” We were telling them about the stranger and I remember in school they had the old picture of the creepy guy in a trench coat behind some bushes. We knew to stay away from that creep, but no one told us about the scout leader. No one told us about these responsible parties of influence that we naturally trust that you wouldn't have thought anything about, “No, he wouldn't harm me. He's a teacher.”
These are the conversations that we have to create a safe place for kids. Even if a family member touches you inappropriately, it's okay. You're not to blame. That's crucial is that it’s not the stranger most likely, it’s someone whom you know that may be a perpetrator. They have to feel safe that they can bring that information to you and that they won't be judged. I talk with a lot of women. A lot of my clients are women. They share that information and no one believed them. “He wouldn't do that. You misunderstood. He's just touchy-feely.” The person is saying, “Maybe I got it wrong, but it didn't feel good. It wasn't a good touch.” Making it a safe place is crucial when it comes to dealing with issues of sexual abuse outside the home and in now cases within the home. Incest is a huge issue that happens, especially amongst uncles and their nephews or nieces.
Talk to us about suicide.
One of the things that I will say when it comes to suicide, it is a permanent solution for oftentimes a seasonal problem. It is a final solution to a seasonal oftentimes issue. My grandmother had suffered from manic depression all her life, but they didn't know what to call it in the ‘50s and ‘60s. The best thing that happened, “She’s going through the change. She’s all right,” or “She’s crazy. Put her in an asylum somewhere or shock treatment.” They never dealt with why she felt the way she felt, that dark cloud that wouldn't lift, those blue Mondays, the dark Fridays and Saturdays. Everyone kept telling my grandmother, “Be happy,” but no one was listening to her. When she would try to share, no one wanted to hear her. It's like, “Everybody has problems. You’ve got a beautiful daughter. You’ve got wonderful grandkids. They all love you. Your husband with my grandfather, he’s there. He works every day. He provides for you. You've never had to work a day in your life. How can you not be happy or pray about it?” They were not giving her the treatment that she needed. I believe that my grandmother felt that her only solution was to take her own life.
Did your parents recognize signs?
They had signs that she was not happy. She had tried to kill herself on three other occasions and all they did was lock her up, gave her shock treatment or put her on medications that turned her to a zombie. Looking back now, my mom for the first time, a very strong woman, broke down and started crying. She said she wished that she had done more. I said, “What more could you have done?” She said, “I could have listened.” Listen to what's not being said. Oftentimes, we listen to music. The difference between music and noise is the pause between the notes. Sometimes we have to listen to the pause. What's not being said? Find the right mechanism to get that person help. Part of that is letting them know they're not crazy, they're not different and that what they're feeling is real. We live in a society where we don't want to feel anything. If I’m feeling hurt, “Don't feel hurt.” No, if I’m hurt, you need to know I’m hurting. Now, let's find out why am I hurting and what's the best course of treatment. This was in the early ‘80s when she committed suicide. We understand mental health a lot better now.
There are more treatment options out there rather than the barbaric treatments of shock treatments, some of the medications they were putting people on, Thorazine and all that stuff. Lobotomy numbs the person rather than treat mental illness as an illness. We as a society, we thought, “You're getting older, you’re just crazy. That's the way you are. Listen to Be Happy, Don't Worry song,” and not deal with the real issues. For my own self, when I was in college, all the weight of these secrets came crashing down. My grandmother committed suicide when I was twelve or thirteen years old. Several years later, the house that she committed suicide, when we were in high school, my older brother Robert and I ended up moving into the house. It was neat. A kid in high school got his own house. When I left for my second year in college, I got a phone call that my grandfather, whom I loved, was killed right in front of the house by a drunk driver. For the first time, we went to the funeral and everything. I go back to school and all of a sudden, I felt this incredible weight of darkness.
Somehow, I don't know why it was my fault that my grandmother was dead. That if I had told my grandmother what I was going through, maybe that would have been enough for her to live. If I had told my grandfather, even though he was killed by a drunk driver across the street, but in my mind I’m thinking, “I’m the reason all this stuff is happening. If I wasn't here, then maybe things would be better.” In my sophomore year, I found some pills. I don't know what they were. I never drank. I went to the store and bought a bottle of vodka. I had this one thought. I couldn't die without telling my best friend Lee goodbye. I called my friend Lee and she heard something in my voice, what she didn't hear. She said, “Something is wrong.” She called the paramedics. They rushed me to the hospital and pumped my stomach. I went into treatment. I woke up in a psych ward and went to therapy for a couple of sessions. That was the beginning of dealing with some of this hurt and pain.
What I found out is I was like a bottle with soda that was shaken. That pressure kept building until finally what happens when you shake it and you unloosen the lid a little bit? That's what had happened. I had a mental breakdown because of all this pressure that I never dealt with. I was living through the eyes of someone else. To combat that, what I tell people now that are dealing with loved ones, especially students, is that you don't have to be perfect. Be who you are and I accept you, flaws and all. I tell my sons this, “There's nothing that you can do that will change how I feel about you. You are my sons and I love you regardless. I may not approve. I’m going to chase you. I’m going to get in you, but no, I love you.” With my son, we never leave without saying, “I love you, dad. I love you, son.”
I appreciate you for sharing all that you've shared. It’s not an easy subject, but the stats save people reading the blog, multiple people either facing one or two of those issues. I want to give you a much lighter conversation and what I came here to discuss, which is this power of focus. I don't know if you know, but they have these things called Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. There's life to layer in on top of it. How in the heck are we supposed to stay focused when this world gets crazier with distractions and shiny objects? How is this possible?
This is how this is going to tie in together. Because I was being bullied, sexually abused, I created these little fantasy worlds. Escapism became my friend. I had to detach from reality to give myself a break from reality. The same is true with what I call refocusing your focus. Most people don't understand what focus is. Focus is nothing more than your ability to direct your attention towards something or someone. We have two types of focuses. We have intentional and unintentional. Unintentional focus is if you hear a loud noise, automatically your ear goes in that direction. You see a bright light, that's the unintentional focus. Intentional focus is when you are deliberate about something. What social media has done is it changes our brain chemistry because science has found out that every time you hear that little ding, the brain releases what’s called a dopamine drip.
It's like Pavlov's dogs when it's ringing the bell and they salivate. We get addicted to how many likes we get or how many followers we have. We wake up in the morning, oftentimes we barely get to sweep out our eyes, we're checking our social media stats because we are addicted to that little dopamine drip that goes into our blood system. You mix the dopamine drip with the adrenaline of anticipation, “I want to take a look on who like the posts I put up last night.” What happened is you had 150 people thumbs up and one yoyo thumb down. We spend the rest of the day worried about the one yoyo, “Why didn’t they like me?” Now you're fixating and getting adrenaline into your system, cortisol into your system, which is a stress hormone.
What I teach my clients to do is to refocus their focus by doing this. There are three times a day you should check your social media and it's not in the morning. Do you want me to tell you when? In the bathroom check your stats then. The reason being is they’re quiet times, your personal time. That's why I’m saying the first time you go to the bathroom is one time you check. The second time is before you are driving. Let's say you sit in the car and you put your seatbelt on. You're sitting there because what happens now it allows you to decompress. You are changing your focusing from work to let’s say that drive home. You check your social status and you're like, “Okay.” Turn your phone off. The last time that you check is when you go to the bathroom before you go to bed. That's it.
You then create what I call a no-phone zone in your home. Create a basket, when you come home all the phones. Some people don't do it anymore, sit down and eat dinner together. My son, we have a rule. When we sit down, no phones. When we go out to eat, no phones, cut them off. They’re like, “Dad.” I’m like, “Trust me. It's not that important, son. Your friends on Snapchat will still be there.” It's creating these little zones, this no-phone zone, no social media zone where people begin to communicate. I read an interesting statistic. It said, “We're more connected than ever before.” Something like 78% of the world is connected, but 90% of the world feels lonely. Think about that. The number one issue in America is loneliness, but we're more connected than ever before, yet we're still dealing with issues of loneliness.
Life is like these series of yin and yang. That's a classic example of that. I don't know why, I have this voice in my head that says, “Lyman, it's easy for you to say that,” but I work in social media or I’ve got to use social media for business. It’s like this adage that if you have drugs lying around, you're likely to take the drugs. What if I got to be in there with the drugs, but let's not take them? What's your advice there for the person?
I’m also on social media. I put a lot of content out there. When I’m in a conversation, my phone. When I came here, what did I do? I turn my phone off because it's about priority. This is what I want people to walk away with, focus, prioritize, achieve. Focus at home. When I’m at home, I’m focusing on my son, the most important person in my life. Imagine if you're going on a date, you and your wife. She has a special announcement about the kids or something and you're checking social media. “We should capture this. I’m getting the Facebook Live ready so we should make this special announcement to the world,” but she doesn't want it. This is between the two of you. She wants to have a moment with her husband. She doesn’t want to share it with the world. You're like, “Hello, everyone. We’re on Facebook Live. Honey, what’s the news?” You've not made her your focus.
Focus is about directing your attention towards something or someone. Whatever you focus on expands. If I focus my attention on you, how does that make you feel? If I’m focusing on my phone, if I’m focusing on a book, I’m focused on everything other than you. How does that make you feel? Devalued. Everything is about value and energy. What I teach my clients is this and what I had to learn myself. When I go home, take 30 minutes and all you're going to focus in on is the person in front of you. You're going to ask two questions. Question number one, if you're married or in a relationship, “What was exciting that happened in your day?” The second question, “Is there anything that I can do to help you that you need help with?” I don't care what it is. We don't ask that. We say, “How was your day?” They’re like, “Crappy.” We’re like, “What's for dinner?” Imagine what happens when you walk into your kids and you say to your kids, “What was exciting that happened in your day?” “Are you for real?” They smile because now the focus is on them and you lean in and you listen. You say, “Excuse me, honey. I’m going to turn my phone off because this is very important.” You turn it and put it away from you. I took my phone and put it away so I can't even reach it. You have conversations with the individual. It’s a simple thing.
Questions steer focus. Going back to your analogy, "What if I’m on social media? I have to check. This is part of my life and part of my job.” When do you focus on you? We don't ask our self that question. There are three key focuses that I teach my clients. Focus at work. When you're at work, I want you on social media, that's your job. When you leave, when you say, “I’m done for the day.” Are you lying to yourself? Are you really done for the day? You then give yourself that 30 minutes or seven minutes, I’ve talked about seven-minute transitions, because you have to give your brain time to switch one hat to the other hat. Now you're switched from focusing at work to focusing at home. Give yourself seven minutes. That's why I’m saying you're in your car, you're checking social media. You're thinking about whatever you need to think about, even if it means telling your spouse or your partner, “When I get home, I’ll sit in a parking lot for about five to seven minutes so I can decompress. When I come in the house, it’s all you.” She's going to love you because now she becomes the focus. The kids are the focus. You're not coming in the house bringing work, “I’ve got to take this call.”
The other thing is this, teaching people to value your time and your energy. This is how you do that. Technology has an interesting thing called a voicemail. When it’s something important, program your voicemail to say, “I’m involved in whatever. I will return your call or get back with you between this time and this time.” What happens now is people begin to say, “I’m focused on my family right now. I will return your call when we're done by such and such.” Do you know what's going to happen? Women will go home and say, “Why can't you be like him? He’s got his voicemail.”
You begin to teach people how to value your time. You do the same thing at work. If you're in a meeting, it’s amazing we put notifications when we’re out of the office. “I’m out of the office from this time to this time. When I return, I will return your call.” We don't do that when we're talking about focus, prioritize. The second part of the formula is prioritize. What do you make a priority? The relationships that we value must become a priority in our lives. If not, they feel devalued or they feel that everything else is a priority other than they are. They don't want to hear, “Honey, I’m doing this for you.” They didn't ask for all this. They married you. They didn't marry the business. The business is a side benefit of what you do, but what they want is you. I say you generally.
I want to know what a day ought to look like for people. I know that this is a hard thing. Everyone's got different things, but is there some strategy around time blocking or what you advise your clients or in your materials that you put out? Do you advise people how they should structure their day, their week or their month?
Yeah, I believe you start with a month. Most people say, “No, you start with a day.” The reason you start with a month is that most people, if they start planning their month, then they don't get caught into this time trap of, “Honey, I didn't know we were going out. I already made plans with Tom to play golf.” If you and your family sit down and say, “We're going to plan our family time for the whole month.” Now, when Lyman calls and says, “Do you want to go racing?” You've already got your calendar and the family is taken care of. You start planning for your family first, second play, third work. We plan everything around our jobs. We make the job the priority. We then focus around play, “The boys and I are going to hang out,” and who's left? We try to fit the family in if we can, “Honey, I’m sorry. I already made plans. The boys and I are going to play basketball?” “Again?”
I’m laughing because this was my life. Every day we work on this. What you described was my life prior to this, even with kids. I had two kids at the time, now I got three. I hear you.
If you start with that month and you let them. You start with family then play. The reason I say play, you have to have that time to decompress. That's why I say focus at home, at work and at play. In some cases, it needs to be home, play and then work. What happens is you and I was cut from the same cloth. We will burn both ends and the middle. We love creating things. We love this. We had this entrepreneurial gene. We love buying businesses, creating businesses from scratch, building them up. Yet, in the process of all that, there are a lot of missing limbs where people have been injured because we're so fixated on building businesses. Creating strategies and structures that sometimes we forget about what's most important, and those are family and friends.
What I was doing at one point, because I wanted to be a little looser with my schedule, I would wake up at 4:00 AM. I’m not doing that now because I’ve got a newborn. That also was my quiet time. I would always play the game of like, “If it doesn't get done, I’ll just wake up earlier and get it done.” There's a fallacy to that because then now my body's at play and then I’m not great for my family because I’m freaking tired and I’m yawning at 7:00 at night.
It’s all energy. Here's the fallacy. Let me tell you three major fallacies with America and part of the world. Fallacy number one is managing time. Why is it a fallacy? You get 24 hours. Have you been able to be in time to get 24.5? No, you're 24 hours. Instead of saying, “How do I manage my time?” What we should be saying, “How do I manage me within the time that I have?” That's fallacy number one, trying to manage time. You can only manage you with the amount of time that you have because I was being given a gift for 24 hours.
The second fallacy is making ends meet. North and south will never meet unless you're in time. We say these things, but it creates in our mind a fallacy the brain is saying, “This is not making sense, error.” We're trying to make sense of something that's illogical. There are two fallacies. Number one is saying try. The second is ends meet. What we should be saying is, “I’m working on a strategy so that my ends are in their proper place because they never will meet.” You may not want them to meet because if they met, you wouldn’t know the beginning from the end. If you work on a strategy to give them the proper perspective, yin and yang, left and right, good and evil. All of us possess good and evil. It depends on what day it is, for some one hour.
Here's the third and final fallacy that we buy into. That is the fallacy, “I am the way I am. That's just who I am.” In other words, it’s a fixed mindset. I can't change. Why is that a fallacy? As long as you have life in your body, you can change. How many times have you heard people say, “That's just the way he is. He's been this way since I’ve known him. He's not going to change?” We buy into this fixed mindset that people cannot change. The truth of the matter is people can change. I was highly distracted. I was all over the place. It wasn't until my ex-wife said to me that I made everything a focus other than our son. I went on this quest to figure out how I can get focused. Everyone keeps telling me, “Lyman, get focused,” but no one showed me how to do it.
I went on this eighteen-month quest. I studied everything I could about focus, intention and concentration. What I realized is what I call SM. What I mean by SM is that there are six M's to understand any business, any type of how do you get focused on business and home. The first one is understanding your mindset. When you understand your mindset, what are your triggers? There are four common types of distractions that most people deal with going back to mindset. Psychological triggers, you’re physically present but your mind is not there. Have you ever heard someone say, “Are you with me?” You're mentally checked out. That's a psychological distraction. Maybe it’s because of bad news, tragedy, boredom or daydreaming.
The second is what we call people distraction or interruptions. Where you're trying to make sales calls, you're trying to get something done and the kids. Maybe that coworker is knocking on your door wanting to tell you about their horrible weekend for the tenth time and you don't want to be rude and say, “Get out of my office,” so you sit there and you listen. You're looking at the clock and time is still. They're eating up your time. We also have process distraction. That's the biggest one for entrepreneurs where we keep changing the process because we don't like the time factor. “What do you mean it's going to take several weeks?” No, I’ll find another process. You could have an antiquated process.
It goes back to the analogy going back to music. In the ‘70s, the technology that was mind-blowing was eight-track. That was great, big bulky tapes. When I was growing up in the ‘80s, it was cassette tapes. This might be for your time, if it got off-track, you had a pencil you would pull the tape out and you would try to rewind it with a pencil. In the ‘90s, 3M came out with the disc, the CD-ROM. The problem was it got scratched and you had people with Windex and you would try to get the scratch out. They even made a tool and all that. By the time we got to the ‘90s, we went to DVDs, we went to Blu-rays. Finally someone said, “Put this stuff on a cloud.”
I asked a friend of mine, “Can you even buy a cassette tape player anywhere?” He said, “Maybe at a vintage store or something like that, an antique shop because everything's on the cloud.” Why? The process changed. The eight-track was great in the ‘70s. The cassette was great in the ‘80s. The CD was great in the ‘90s. We move into 2000 now, it's cloud-based technology and streaming technology. Take it a step further. Now they've got nanotechnology. Now they’ve got AI, Artificial Intelligence because the process had to change. A lot of times either holding on to old processes becomes a distraction because you're trying to make something old work in a new system or you're always changing looking for the new app. That leads to the fourth type, which is a product distraction, especially for Millennials, “Is there an app for focus? I don't want to do the work.”
Psychological distractions, we're dealing with people distractions, process distraction and product or gadget distraction. All of that goes to mindset. Once you understand your mindset, now you've got to create messaging, which is the second M. In messaging, what are you telling yourself? This is where affirmations come in. This is where surrounding yourself with positive people. Who are you listening to? What are you listening to? You taught me this. If you're hanging around buzzards, after a while you started eating what buzzards eat. If you soar with eagles, you get a different perspective. A lot of times, your mindset might be in the right place, but you're hanging around people that got stinking thinking. It’s because of their language patterns.
We get into understanding the language pattern, what are you coherent about? What do you believe in? From there, you move into your methods. How do you get your message out? You've got to have a method. You’ve got to have a platform. What happens with negative people, they use the platform of social media and they call them trolls. They get on there, “I don't like some of you. Who do you think he is? Who do you think she is?” They begin trolling. If you’re positive, you look at the method whether it be social media, whether it be networking events and you begin to say, “How do I bring people together?” Instead of looking at you as a competitor, what if I look at you as someone that compliments and that there is synergy between the two of us.” That's the method. Once you understand that the method is part of the marketing, the platforms and all of that, then you move into mastery.
We used to say practice makes perfect. No, practice makes permanent is what you're practicing. Self-mastery is the highest form of any type of education. That's why it’s important. You're going to events, personal and professional development that you never get to the place where you say, “I have arrived.” This is important for focus because people think focus is all about being a monk standing on the wall. No. Focus is all about what am I directing my attention? I focus on this now, but I make this a priority. If I make this a priority, now I know where to focus my energy. Focus is all about directing your attention because I have so much energy. Here's what happens with the brain. If you remember the dopamine drip and this is why multitasking never worked and will not work.
Your brain is a smart instrument, smart organ. If you're working on three events or three activities, your brain says, “How much energy should I devote to this?” 33.3%, that's all you get. You never get 100%. If I’m focusing on one thing, that's what I get. I get 100% of my attention on that thing or that person. If I’m working on ten things, I get 10% because your brain is not going to go beyond 100%. You're not going to get 300%. It’s simple math. I remember in junior high when we did percentages, the teacher said no matter what have you, it equals to 100%. If you ended up with 105%, something was wrong. We do that when it comes to our focus. We start focusing on multiple things. What we should do is say, “I got ten things I need to do. That's too many. We should focus on three things.”
You have to collapse things. Let's say you have ten things you're focusing on, you bundle them. What are things that are similar that I can focus my energy on because they fit? This leads me nicely into the S. We talked about the M, mindset, message, marketing or method and mastery. Mentorship, that's number five. When you begin to master something, you want to teach others how to do it. Here's the great thing that you're doing. When you get several people to master, you create a movement. That's what I’m here to do, create a focused-driven movement. Here's the yes part that fits this together and this is great for your readers, especially for those that are struggling with building their business or maybe their business is on a decline.
You have to understand seasons, structures, systems and sequences. They’re very important. What do I mean by season? Like the mindset, you’ve got to know what season of life are you in. Now you’re in a different season, you've got a newborn baby girl. You're in a whole different season. It's important because that's going to affect your business. It's going to affect your relationship. 4:00 AM is not working now because they're on a different schedule. They didn't go through this Focused-Driven Lifestyle stuff. They didn't read the blog. She's on a different system. You and your wife are in a different season. That season can only work when you understand the appropriate structure.
If you're an entrepreneur and you understand, “What season am I in? Am I in a growing season? Am I on a decline? Am I constricting? In other words, sales are not coming in. Am I on expansion?” When you understand what season of life, what season, cycle or business you're in, now you can understand what structure do I need to have? If you're in let's say a growth season, then the structure might be you need to expand because if you don't, you will kill your business under the weight of new business. The old system is not strong enough to support. Can you imagine you ran a business, let's say a call center with three people and you get flooded with 13,000 calls because you ended up on Oprah and blew up? They say, “This show is going to air in a couple of months.” You're like, “We can handle this. It’s all right with three.”
No, you had a little space of time to say, “We better get to work.” If we don't, what we have is going to break because of the weight of success. Most businesses fail not because they can't get a customer. They fail because they weren't prepared for growth. They employ on themselves because of the weight of the new business in which the current business structure cannot hold it. It needs to be reinforced and it goes in cycles. We talked about events. There are times where maybe you need to bring in subcontractors to help support the weight. If not, it's not going to work. That's what I mean when I say the structure. Every structure operates on systems. Can you imagine saying you're in business and they say, “What's your address?” “We don't have one.” You’ve got a building, “Where are you going to sit at?” “I don't know, we just got the building.” There are no phones and there's no communication system. The restrooms don't work. Every structure operates within systems and every system operates based on sequencing.
Let me give you a real-life example of a kitchen. People in their home have a kitchen. I’m hungry. I go into a structure. What's the structure? It’s the kitchen. What's the system? The cooling system is the refrigerator. I go to a refrigerator. I pull out some vegetables. Now I need to go to a prep section. It’s a system where I prep, whether that be the cutting board, knives or whatever I use, a blender to prepare it. Now I need a cooking system. What's my cooking system? Whether that be an air fryer, a microwave or a traditional stove or an oven. Those are all systems within the structure of the kitchen. Here's the key. None of that works without sequencing, which is a recipe. The reason when I go into businesses is one of those four things. They're out of season. They have the wrong structure. They don't have the appropriate systems in place or their sequencing is wrong. The difference between a stew and a soup is the amount of water.
I learned this and it blew my mind. I went into the kitchen one day to make cookies. I didn't know this. I watched my mom make cookies and I like to lick the bowl. My first time making cookies for school, you remember that. You're going to make some cookies to take to school. My cookies didn't turn out like mama's cookies. I went to my mom and said, “Mom, how come my cookies don't taste like yours?” She said, “What did you do?” I said, “I opened up the cookie mix, I put all this stuff in the bowl, I took the spoon and I whipped it around.” She said, “How many times?” I go, “I don't know, two or three times and then I poured it on the cookie sheet and stuck it in the oven.” She said, “What did you put the oven on?” I go, “I don't know, I think I put it on 450.”
What I did know, you put the dry ingredients in one bowl, the wet in another bowl. I didn't know you're supposed to stir that stuff a couple of hundred times and put it in a blender. I just turned it over a couple of times. Until you get to the right consistency, then you take a spoon and you put it on there. I didn’t know you need to space it out. These are all sequencing. What do you do first? What do you do second? When businesses understand season, structure, system, sequencing and the appropriate order of doing things, they will see their business explode.
Oftentimes, it’s wrong sequencing and that goes back to creating an irresistible offer. There's a sequence to doing that. When do you send out the email? Most people don't notice the seven touchpoints to make a sale. This is what we do and what we teach our clients to do. There are seven ways to communicate with a potential client. What we do, the last thing we send is an email. What we do, we pick up the phone, it’s old school and we call. Second, we send a video message. The third way, we send an email and the email often has some type of content that they can open up. We let them know each step of the way, we say, “We're going to send you,” so they can look for it. We call them on the phone. We'll leave a voice message. Second, we may send a video text message, “I just sent you an email. Check your email. Check your spam box.” It may go into the spam box. The next thing that we do, which is incredible, is we send them something and it depends on what level they're at. We may send lumpy mail. It works. It may be a CD. It may be a flash drive or something to let them know.
The other thing that we do is we find out something about them either on their LinkedIn page and we highlight it. I’ve had customers contact me and said, “I appreciate the fact you gave me a shout out about an award I received or something the company did,” and I didn't ask for any money. I shout them out. The Law of Reciprocation kicks in and it’s the reciprocal return. Those are the things that S and M principle of understanding what season you’re in. Understanding structure, understanding systems and the sequencing of that, which tie into your mindset and also the mindset of your customer. What is the message that they will resonate with? If you're trying to cast a broad net and say, “My bid is for everybody.” You will catch nobody. Oprah Winfrey said, “No jockey can win riding two horses.” You’ve got to bid on the one horse.
There's an ancient proverb that says, “He who tries to catch two hares catches none,” because your attention is divided. That's why your message is so important that you have a targeted message. We say, “Targeted marketing.” No, targeted mindset, because your message is targeted to a specific mindset of your customer and that's what you're focusing on. Understanding the mindset of your spouse, your message better be focused on that mindset. “Honey, I didn't know you felt.” “I’ve been telling you this for several years.” I didn't know. How many times do I mean it's how we say that? I didn't know you felt that way. It’s because our message wasn't directed towards that mindset. What's the best method that people can receive? For some, live events are the best method for them. We do multiple. There's no one-size-fits-all. We may do a lot.
I’m having a blast. I floated the idea of doing a course with us at WealthFit. I think maybe it's a couple of courses if you're game for it. If people want to follow you and get some of the goods that you have to offer, what's the best way that people can do that?
You can go to my website, which is FocusedDriven.com
. They can google me, Lyman Montgomery. They can also call and text. If you text the word, Focus, to (440) 703-6287, all my stuff will pop up. As a matter of fact, people asked me about business cards. I said, “A good friend of mine named Dustin Mathews, he said text marketing is the better way.” One of the things I want to say and I have to say that I’d be remiss is Dustin, you've been my mentor for a few years with another company. You have taught me so much and I want to say I appreciate you. The truth of the matter is I wouldn't be sitting here. It's great to own several companies. I acquired another company. None of that matters. What does matter are the friendships you make along the way. Dustin, you're like my brother. I appreciate you.
Definitely look for those resources. It will make your life easy there. Lyman, thank you big time for being on the show.
Thank you. As always, I like to end by saying this. Do me a favor, stay focused, my friend.