Conquering the #1 Success Factor with George Bryant

PR 015 | Civilized Caveman

I continue to be blessed with the most incredible people in my life. I’m thrilled (as usual) to introduce you to yet another powerful individual who’s made it their life mission to help others: George Bryant. George is so many things that he’s hard to describe with the typical bio. Yes, he’s the New York Times best-selling author of Paleo Kitchen. And, yes, he’s created the #4 app in the world, Caveman Feast 3.0. And yes, he’s an online powerhouse. Yet, he calls these “superficial achievements”. George’s most important achievements are his own PIVOTs which led him to thriving as a bonus dad, loving father, an amazing husband to an amazing wife, and a person committed to many things. Not the least of his commitments is helping people and organizations put the heart back into their businesses. George helps them connect with what it means to BE in business and how to carry their ethos and vision INTO the business so that everyone they touch get that they matter in every step of the journey.

George and I discuss these pivots and how he’s successfully utilized change to create an incredible life. One of the most fundamental success factors is how you think about yourself and your own sense of worthiness. George shares that, despite all of his “superficial” success, true success came only when he tackled the life-long work of worthiness, his own trampled by a tough childhood, almost losing both legs as a marine of 12 years, and his 12-year fight with bulimia. Whether it be food, fitness, mindset or business, George’s mission is to put the heart back in all of it and truly connect.

This episode is extra special. I’m hanging out with a dear friend. I’ve been really blessed to come to know this gentleman and he’s already had a huge impact in my life. We’re quintessential soul brothers. Somehow we know each other from a past life or something. He has a big heart. There’s just nothing that is more important to me than to be around other people that are willing to be vulnerable, willing to be real, who have big hearts and are wanting to open up hearts and help people to elevate themselves in different areas of their life, and are committed to making that happen in their business through conscious business practices and conscious marketing. Without further ado, I’m going to introduce my buddy, George Bryant.

Enjoy more episodes of The Conscious PIVOT Podcast at AdamMarkel.com or download them on your favorite podcast player.

Looking for more wisdom, resources and support for your own business or personal pivot? Join our incredible PIVOT community on Facebook at pivotFB.com and visit StartMyPIVOT.com to download your free Kickstart Guide!

Listen to the Episode Here:

Conquering the #1 Success Factor with George Bryant

George, thank you for joining me and for joining our community.

I’m super grateful to be here. Just so everybody knows, I’ll give you my elevator pitch as quick as possible. I’m 33 years old. First and foremost, I’m a bonus dad, a loving father and an amazing husband to an amazing wife. I was an active duty Marine for twelve years. I served in our lovely Marine Corps in a couple of combat tours and I was medically separated in 2013. Since then, I’ve made it my passion to get vulnerable online, connect with people, and help to educate, empower, and inspire as many people as possible online through whatever facet of my journey that I’m on. I use social media and the internet as basically my online therapy tool to attract as many people as possible into the movement. Just a little bit about me. I was in a wheelchair for twelve months. I almost lost both of my legs in 2005. I had seven concussions in three years. I was bulimic for twelve years and have quite a history that has catapulted me to be able to connect with people. Whether it’s food, fitness, mindset, business or whatever the medium is, I always tell people that I like to put the heart back in all of it and connect with all the people on the side of it.

One of the leadership principles I came up with when I was in the Marine Corps, which got me in a lot of trouble with my bosses and a lot of love from my Marines, is that I refuse to lead from the front. I will never, ever, ever again attempt to lead from the front. I had a massive problem with it because it means that people get left behind, and I’m never okay with that. I coined the term that I get to lead from the middle where you’re close enough for me to slow you down and close enough for me to grab you and pick you up and we go step by step the whole way. That’s why I love being with people. After writing a New York Times best-selling cookbook and launching and a number four app in the world, and a couple of those superficial achievements, I’m now helping businesses put the heart back in their business and helping them connect with what it means to be in business, to carry their ethos and their vision into the business so people get that they matter in every step of the journey.

PR 015 | Civilized Caveman

The Paleo Kitchen: Finding Primal Joy in Modern Cooking

It’s a perfect coordination of what we’re committed to, because Pivot, our company, wants to help people to pivot into a business and a life that they love. It’s a holistic approach to that. It’s mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical. The Paleo Kitchen is no superficial achievement. It was number four in The New York Times and it stayed on the Times list for 22 solid weeks. Those 22 weeks that book stayed on the list, it wasn’t the result of any massive marketing budget or marketing spend. In fact, the marketing budget was zero. If you’d like to know more about some of those grassroots, boots-on-the-ground tactics, then you’re in the right place.

I put the work in for that one. I didn’t know what a book was at the time and I didn’t know what a publicist was, and I didn’t know what any of that was. I was just getting out of the Marine Corps. Here’s what’s really interesting and this is one of my dirty little secrets. I wrote a New York Times best-selling cookbook two years after I taught myself how to cook. I took the photos a year after teaching myself on YouTube how to take food photos. Then I marketed it while teaching myself marketing which took nine months of work but it kept me on The New York Times for 22 weeks. The internet’s just made it really easy to support people. I tell everybody, “If you have a problem, just go to YouTube. It solves all the problems in the world.” I am super proud about it and it allowed me to touch over 150,000 lives with my recipes. I feel like they’re just the same recipes that anyone else would make, the only difference is I put love in them, which is why everybody loves the cookbook so much.

The Facebook page for finding out more about those recipes and being in that very forward-thinking conscious community is Civilized Caveman, right?

Yeah. If you guys want to come join the Hugs and Bacon family, it’s Facebook.com/CivilizedCaveman. What I love is we’re here to talk about a lot of stuff to do with pivoting but a pretty prevalent one for me. I know the impact that this is going to have because it’s real.

What we’re finding, and it’s uniformly the case, is that everybody is pivoting in some area of their life. Without calling it a pivot, they’ve been pivoting the whole way through. This idea of reinventing, of utilizing change, meaning change is the only constant in the universe. In fact, anything that’s not changing is dying. Anything that’s stagnant is soon to be dead. What’s really going on in the world is that there are many people who are living lives of quiet desperation, quietly dying, quietly becoming stagnant, slowing down, just not living life on their own terms, not living fully from their heart, and not loving their lives. You’ve had some very significant pivots, too many to track in this one podcast. One of the ones that really dropped in pretty deeply for me and even for my wife, Randi, is a pivot with respect to how you think of yourself, of really fundamental and basic. It’s so basic and it’s so fundamental that it’s actually foundational. Meaning everything gets built upon the thing we call self-esteem, the thing that we would refer to as our worthiness, how we view ourselves. That’s been a significant body of work for you, in terms of your own self-awareness. Would you shed some light on that for us?

PR 015 | Civilized Caveman

Civilized Caveman: People don’t change. People become conscious to choose.

Every opportunity that I have to talk about it, I run towards it like a heat-seeking missile for what you fear most because that’s where the growth happens. One of the distinctions that it took me a long time to understand is that the conversation never goes away. I told one of my mentors that I don’t believe that people change. I believe that people become conscious to choose. Worthiness was massive for me. My whole childhood, I never felt like I was good enough. I was neglected for a good majority of my life. Drugs, alcohol, physical and sexual abuse, and so my story and my core wound growing up is that I wasn’t good enough. From the surface, it looks like it was an amazing journey because out of that, I had the most horrendous case of Napoleon Syndrome and I had to win at everything, so I did. I was the best at boot camp when I joined the Marine Corps. I was an honor graduate. I was meritoriously promoted. I tied world records for standing box jump after they wanted to amputate my legs. I was a 22-week New York Times best-seller. I wrote a number four app. What was really interesting is I was just pursuing a deep, dark, empty hole that had no bottom because it was all rooted out of insecurity. The work really started when I met my amazing wife who started shedding light to me and allowing me to see that space was created that I could exist as who I was and that was my value.

All of the accomplishments, the medals, the honors, all of those things that people strive for, they still didn’t make you feel great about yourself or at least make you feel whole and complete. Is that what you’re saying?

Yeah. They actually made the hole greater. They made the hole feel deeper and darker and more daunting for me. I ended up creating the perfect storm of failure. I was consistently setting myself up to fail, because as I achieved another great milestone and I felt unfulfilled, the bar got raised and then the bar got raised. It was almost like an addiction. It was an addiction to being the best because I was just seeking this value or this meaning that I was chasing outside of myself, which didn’t really exist and it never was going to. At the time, I didn’t recognize that.

I can’t tell you how many people I have spoken to and they say, “Yeah, I get it.” If I make $1 million or if I have a successful business or I get a New York Times best-seller, I want to discover what that’s like because they think somehow that will be the solution. Not having had that, they think, “It’s easy for you to say it since you’ve had it.”

The grass is always greener on the other side, until you realize it’s not grass, it’s razorblades. That’s really the best way to put it. I ended up exhausting myself so much that I ended up with adrenal fatigue, massive depression, it triggered most of my PTSD, and I ended up back in the hospital. I ended up in a hospital bed in a psychiatric ward for four days over Thanksgiving when I should have been with my family. I was so enrolled in my beliefs that I wasn’t willing to let go of them. No one could show me another way because I was so committed to finding value. I had set the expectations so high of myself that the only option was a crash. I looked at it as balance, and balance always leads to a very long fall to the bottom if you fall out of balance. Harmony is a better word. That crash for me was another hospital visit. It was a massive awakening for me. What it forced me to do was disconnect. I had no phone, I had no contact, I didn’t have the people I loved around me, they could only visit. It was just me, myself, my thoughts, and a lot of blank walls. It was one of the first times in a long time that I had to slow down and I had to figure out who I was because there was nothing else. There was no TV. There was nothing but papers, pens, books, and my brain. It was a long, hard journey for me. Those four days felt like 40.It was self-discovery.

I broke it down into an acronym. I learned to help people with this because after reverse-engineering what I went through, I figured out that there were five phases to it for me. I call it the Five As. The first A was awareness, aware that I was seeking, chasing or just being aware of the beliefs that I had which was causing me to pursue something outside of myself. The second A was acceptance. I tell people now that in order to move forward, you have to accept where you are because it’s the only way to create a starting line. When you accept, you basically pinpoint your GPS coordinates like, “This is where I am, and now I know which direction I can go.”The third A was action, and that action was taking an action as far away from the self-deprecating behavior or chasing some external thing of emptiness. I focused a lot on self-love and on self-reflection. I would do things like write on my mirror with a Sharpie, “I am worthy, I am loved,” sticky notes on my desk, the background of my phone. The fourth A was accountability. It was getting it out of my own head and putting it into the universe, and having someone that could support me. Whether it was a “Did you write a positive affirmation about yourself today? Or did you practice this today? Are you working towards this today?” That’s what really got me out. It was after about six months, I realized that that was still setting me up to fail because I was allowing the last step to be accountability, which was putting it on somebody else for my success. It always ended with somebody else, and so then I added the fifth A which was attitude for gratitude.

The full circle is when I have a breakthrough, I have a moment of even clarity of like, “I am who I am in this moment. I’m perfect. I’m whole. I’m complete,” and then I have my accountability part be like, “Good job.” I then root it in something I’m grateful for in that moment. I create a physical memory where I do something or write something down and say, “I’m here. I’m grateful for this. It’s come full circle and it was mine.” Those are the five As that I’ve used to basically overcome most of the challenges that I face. I’ve been able to basically put words to what it was like to be in that room for four days with no contact and go through these cycles of twenty-plus years of my life. It boiled down to those five things.

Thank you for both going there and being vulnerable. I’m sure there are a lot of people that are having challenges and have been there, and understand that money doesn’t solve your worthiness issue. This is deep inner work that we all have to do. I wish it was easier than it truly is, but the fact is that it’s vigilance and it’s a lifelong pursuit. It’s rewarding when you’re consciously working on it. It’s frustrating when you’re unaware or unconscious. I love those five As which everybody’s going to remember and everybody can use, just put them to use in your own way, however that works for you. What started this all was your discussion of beliefs in letting go, which happens to just ironically be the first two steps in the PIVOT process, to be looking at your true beliefs and where is it actually that there are things that you believe that you could choose to un-believe, where are the things that you believe that are limiting you that you can simply let go of. When you can’t let go, when you’re so tied into your way of thinking and your way of being, and even your ego. It’s a negative way to look at it, but truthfully, it’s a survival mechanism. For you and for me and for a lot of folks, when we’re wanting to control situations, when we’re wanting to have it our way, it’s strictly because it’s what brings us a feeling of security. It’s where safety resides. That creates some great blind spots.

For me, it was the illusion of safety. What I really learned was that when I was comfortable, I had the perfect recipe being created for a disaster. The longer I spent comfortable, the bigger the impact of that disaster was for me. It took me a long time to realize that, and I really became present to.

Comfort is a status quo. You’re buying into what ultimately leads to that stagnation, to that mediocrity, and ultimately a shrinking. Our hearts and our souls will only put up with that shrinking, that dying, for so long before we either check out, as in become a member of that herd of people that are walking around like zombies, or you’re so upset, you’re so in pain that you have to do something about it. That’s really where I think our communities cross over. The people who are spending the time to sit on and listen to this podcast are just not willing to stand for status quo. They’re not willing to just endure pain and endure that comfort. Comfort is indicative of so much of what is within our control to change. Everything that we have at the moment that’s part of our comfort zone is something we’ve settled for and accepted. We’ve tolerated everything in our life at this moment. You want to put yourself in a disruptive mode on purpose, as opposed to by default. We’re so keen to talk about how is it that you actually design and build your life, or design and build your marketing funnels, which is one of these other areas of your great fascination and expertise. It’s design side versus waiting somehow for life to deliver you your sentence.

PR 015 | Civilized Caveman

Civilized Caveman: Our brain is the master manipulator in convincing to avoid certain things.

It’s just being in a consistent pursuit of your greatness, discovery, and awareness. I love tangible stuff for people because tangibles are what work for me. I’m going to give an example. There’s a lot of depth to my story and a lot of my pivots, from the sexual abuse to the physical abuse to everything else. Given those five As and everything else I’ve been through, there’s one recurring theme that supports me more than anything else, and it’s going there the moment it comes in my head. What I mean by that is my brain is the master manipulator in convincing me to avoid certain things, whether it’s the hard conversation, whether it’s the action, whether I throw something in the trash and it misses and it lands on the floor. Do I pick it up and throw it out or do I just leave it because I know I’ll get it later? It’s always going there in the five seconds. One of the biggest breakthroughs for me was when I became public about my sexual abuse, and that created a lot of ownership for me everywhere in my life. I’d never told anyone but my wife about my sexual abuse, and I decided to go on a stage in front of 400 people that I’d never spoken to and open with that. My butthole was clenched really tightly, and I was afraid everybody was going to run out, but I learned a very valuable lesson in that moment. The lesson is that my brain, in survival mode, will always make the situation seem way worse than it could ever possibly be. The faster I get it out of my head and into the open, the more free that I am.

I used it with Adam specifically. For those who don’t know, Adam is a mentor of mine and I look up to him from speaking and everything he has in the world. We were talking about a talk I just gave. I was going through my process and wondering why I was afraid for feedback and wondering what it was. I looked right at Adam and I started crying. I said, “I don’t want your feedback because I feel like you’re a father figure to me, and I don’t want to feel not good enough and judged.” I went there immediately upon feeling that. What that did for me was it created a space of vulnerability, authenticity, and freedom because it was no longer in my head. I wasn’t worried about what Adam was going to say or what he was going to do or if he was going to judge me. I got it out of my head, which created possibility for me, which in the end created a deeper connection and strengthens our relationship. Our relationship is built on authenticity and trust, because we know that in any moment, we can just be authentic with each other and it’s a safe space. That’s a perfect example of realizing that this work happens vigilantly every single day. The more that we practice it and the more that we run towards it, the greater we become at, number one, being aware of it, number two, accepting it, and then number three, taking action towards it to create a different result. I just thought the timing of it is serendipitous. More than anything, it’s a daily practice.

George, thank you for bringing that back up. It’s so important to be able to get leverage, getting leverage over yourself, getting leverage over the roommate in your head, the little voice in your head, the little you, the mini me. Awareness is the first step in change, understanding what it is. I love what you say about acceptance. Accepting where you are is the first pinpoint, the waypoint of where you’re starting from understanding that, then being able to do something to actually change it, meaning the reprogramming process. The tool that I shared with George that’s worked for me, and I’m going to share with you, is that you can call out what we refer to as your dirty little secret. It’s like giving yourself permission to simply call out whatever it is that you’re trying to hide from other people, the place where you’re trying to keep up your façade, keep up the charade. On some level, I think it’s our survival instinct to want to do that. What it does when you challenge it and you literally call it out loud into the ether is that you take the emotional charge off of it. You neutralize it, which enables you to be more balanced or more emotionally in harmony. That is a massive benefit, to being able to challenge the actions you take or don’t take by being able to do different things and see things differently, and it’s very expansive.

The final question for you, in terms of the pivots that you’re engaged in all the time, is there a ritual or a practice that supports you in being able to utilize the change that’s around and for you to be able to challenge that little voice in your head or challenge the little you that wants to keep you feeling uncertain or insecure or worrying about what people think about you or whether people would even like you based on what you say or do? What’s a ritual that you can share with our folks?

I like to challenge myself to keep my mindset where it belongs, which is uncomfortable, most of the time. I hate being cold. I despise being cold with a passion. For the last three months, I’ve been taking an ice pack every single day to the point where now when I travel and I’m up in Toronto with business and the lake is 34 degrees Fahrenheit and people have winter jackets on, and I go swimming in the lake. It’s really interesting for me though and I’m going to explain why this ritual supports me so much. It’s because there are some rituals that we have, like going to the gym or eating healthy, that become monotonous and they just become a pattern. I don’t know if I will ever be comfortable consciously lowering myself in a bucket of ice. Every moment before I do it, I get so uncomfortable and I doubt myself and I don’t want to be cold again.

I have this entire process that really feels like an eternity but it’s probably like three seconds where I have to commit to getting in. It has not lessened at all. The more I do, the same it’s there. The ice doesn’t hurt as bad and it’s not as cold, but the moment of getting in is just as uncomfortable now as it was on day one. I found that this is the most supportive thing that I have, because it is something that makes me uncomfortable. It’s beneficial, from a health standpoint, and it every day starts my day with pushing the envelope. It creates so much possibility for the rest of my day, and I find validation where I’m like, “I took a seven-minute ice bath this morning,” and they’re like, “You can really do anything because you’re nuts.” I’m like, “Maybe, or I’m just committed.” It’s my number one ritual and it sets my day from a clear perspective. When you’re cold and you just have to breathe, all you can focus on is breathing. It gets my commitment going. It has the health benefits and increases circulation, it makes my mitochondria more receptive, there’s all that stuff. It allows me to go there every day before I go there in my day.

That would be it for me. It carries over everywhere. For an applicable standpoint for everybody, when it comes into a relationship, my marriage or business or working with Adam, or a travel, or a long meeting day, I can look at all of that as just another ice bath. I’m like, “I’m just going to get in the ice bath.” It may be uncomfortable in the first moment but it creates momentum and it constantly creates me to pivot. It really sets the tone for me throughout the day to just easily adjust.

I’m sure there are some people that are thinking, “I’m going to do that,” and then some people that are going, “There’s no way in hell I’m going to do that. That’s the last fucking thing in the world I’m going to do,” but the truth is, whether you’re going to do it or you’re not going to do it, you’re challenging your comfort. Comfort is a bit overrated. Being uncomfortable, however that looks for you, it could be that your discomfort is actually to be quiet. I can’t tell you how many people I know who, just to be still, just to shut up, just to make their minds still or to sit still, is very uncomfortable. Can you start yourself with an ice bucket? You can. Can you also call up a long-lost person in your life and tell them you’re sorry or tell them you forgive them or tell them you love them? Yeah. Would that make a lot of people uncomfortable? Yes. What’s great is that every day, you start your day with something that makes you uncomfortable, that isn’t easy, and that’s setting a tone. That’s a powerful ritual.

I’m going to challenge myself because that reminded me, I’ve had it on my docket, I’ve wanted to write a letter every day to somebody, an actual handwritten letter, a bonafide letter that has an address on it and a stamp and it goes by the postman and it gets delivered to their door. It’s a pure like, “I miss you. I haven’t talked to you. I apologize. I’d love to be in contact. Let’s go there.” I’m going to start one a week. I’m going to start writing a letter to build a bridge to a relationship that I’ve let go or someone that would like to hear from me or even a relative that I’m not in close contact with. I’m going to bridge the digital gap and I’m going to pivot into a physical relationship. It’s going to take time, and that’s the best gift that we can give. I’m going to challenge everybody to write a letter. I’m going to challenge you to pivot, but I want you to start by not sending an email or not calling but with a pen and paper. If you can find the post office, go buy some stamps, lick a stamp and seal it. If you want to go high school-style, you can spray cologne on it and then you can send it in the mail. I want everybody to do that.

George, I’m so thrilled that we get to hang out. For you guys, I would love it, if you have some comments, leave your comments. If you’d love to join us, we’ve got a great new community that’s pleasantly just enjoying what’s going on. The authenticity, the vulnerability and the support that’s happening in the Start My Pivot Community on Facebook. We’d love to have you join us.

As always, my heart to yours, whatever you’re doing in your life, I hope you love it. I hope you love life. If you don’t, then wake up tomorrow, you get to start again. Put your feet on the floor. Three steps. Wake up. Be grateful for the fact that you are awake on a literal level and on a figurative level, because there are people that, at that moment that you’re taking your first conscious breath, are taking their last breath. Be in gratitude, stand up and say, “I love my life.” If you don’t currently love your life, what a perfect place to create a powerful intention and begin to work on that, because it is our belief that the love that you give yourself is the love that you give the world. The day that you give yourself is the day that you offer to the world. I want to say thank you for being a part of this community. Ciao for now, everybody. We’ll see you on the next turnaround.

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