Ben Woodward is the bestselling author of The Empowerment Paradox: Seven Vital Virtues to Turn Struggle Into Strength. He is also a sought after public speaker and business consultant for individual and corporate transformation. He is the former company president for a global health and wellness company and he and his wife are the parents of 7 children.
We Talk About
- As a Father of 8, Ben Shares The Joy of Parenthood – Ben Woodward
- A Holistic Approach to Entrepreneurship: The Unseen Cost of the Single-Mindedness – Ben Woodward
- Why The Best Version of Myself Prioritizes Relationships – Ben Woodward
- The Post-Success Blues is REAL – Ben Woodward
- How to Stay Connected And Find Homeostasis in 2020
- Son Who Turned His Dad In To Police Gives People Hope – Ben Woodward
- Turning Serious Adversity Into a Blessing – Ben Woodward
- 7 Vital Virtues to Turn Struggles Into Strengths – Ben Woodward
- Forgiveness Brings Freedom And It Starts With You – Ben Woodward
- Finding Life’s Joy In Service – Ben Woodward
- I Turned My Bipolar Disorder Into a New Superpower – Ben Woodward
- My Daily Ritual to Sharpen My Truth & Wisdom – Ben Woodward
As a Father of 8, Ben Shares The Joy of Parenthood – Ben Woodward
having seven, we have one on the way. What knowing know now, what would you say to someone like me who don’t have any kids or who are looking to have a family?
I think it’s important to appreciate the definition of family. you’ve got to respect each person’s interpretation of what their family looks like and what they want to achieve in their family. my wife and I were fortunate enough to be able to have children, and we’ve loved the experience.
And, and I felt for me, and especially for my wife, Kim, I felt like I became a dad about a few months into being one. Yeah. And, whereas Kim, as soon as she was pregnant, she became a mother and, and that transformation for her was quite remarkable. And, and it really has become a defining role for both of us.
And. I love being a dad and she loves being a mum more than we love probably anything else. and I wouldn’t be able to, I have as many kids if I didn’t have the wife that I have, she, yeah. If it was down to me in my skillset, Yeah, maybe we’d have a few less, but I’ve got such confidence in knowing that she’s the mum that makes all the difference.
God bless all the mothers in the world
A Holistic Approach to Entrepreneurship: The Unseen Cost of the Single-Mindedness – Ben Woodward
parenthood and entrepreneurship and being in relationship with another human being in a lifetime long commitment to me, these are different path of transformation.
Yeah. So in my mind, I’m hesitant to take on the parenting role yet. Cause I don’t know, I have no idea what that’s like. And to me, this is not something that. you get a kid. You’re like, ah, I don’t like it. Let me return it to the store. That’s not how it works. So curious to know your thought about being an entrepreneur for many years, and being in life partnership for many years, and now being a parent for many years, what would you say to that statement?
they’re not isolated paths. They all feed each other and they all interrelate the task is not to choose one over the other. And unfortunately many people do that. Yeah. They say I’m going to pursue my career path. So I won’t have children or I’m going to pursue running my own business.
So I’m not getting into relationships right now. the reality is learning to balance both. And govern yourself that way so that you can manage your priorities appropriately actually feeds and informs both. Or all of them so much better than if you were just to be single-minded down one track because it makes you a better person.
I’m a better father, for example, because of the career that I’ve had, the chance that has given me to travel to 30 countries around the world and be exposed to different cultures and different types of people and different experiences and different communities has opened my eyes up and given my children opportunities.
That they wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t have had that career. Yeah. And at the same time being a father of seven, has informed me as a leader. Yeah. And I’ve had so many lessons that I’ve drawn on there. It still makes you laugh. Doesn’t it? but being a father of seven has informed my abilities as a leader, because there’s been so much that I’ve learned in that space and likewise juggling all of that with a relationship that you have front and center, is critical. so I think it’s a little bit like a horse race rather than saying they’re in individual sequences and it’s one or the other or this first, and then that, yeah, when I got married, my wife was still at university. And she was pregnant.
we were going to put, having children off a little bit and just settle into marriage. And, we got married and changed our minds very quickly. And two months in. she was pregnant so that she gave birth to our first, a month before our first wedding anniversary. So we’ve been every couple of years since then having children she’s been pregnant and breastfeeding about 50% of our married life.
so it’s remarkable. Oh my gosh. but she was at university and pregnant. At the same time and my career was changing and progressing and moving forward whilst I was still having children and the family organization was growing. I believe it’s a little bit like a horse race, like I said, rather than being in silos where every now and then one horse gets out in front.
And you’ve got to bring another one up to speed. Yeah. Maybe I’m getting too preoccupied with work. I need to give more attention to my wife and children, maybe. I need to give more attention to my career right now and I need to make that adjustment so it’s just constantly being mindful and learning to the balance.
Yeah. what I’m hearing you, what you say is this is not compartmentalized. Life is superposition. I want to be sure. you have relationships, you have other responsibilities, you are a parent all at the same time, rather than I just have this in silo and in compartments.
Yeah. Yeah, because compartmentalizing is really making everything about me. Isn’t it. Yeah. Yeah. I’m going to, I’m going to not focus on a relationship because I’m focusing on me now. Personal development is essential, but the purpose of my life should never be about me.
If that’s the case, I’m shortchanging myself. And if I establish habits and patterns of thinking that are me centric, when it comes to getting into a relationship, I’m going to be me centric. How’s that going to serve the relationship? How am I going to respond to being a father or a mother if I’ve become to me centric.
Why The Best Version of Myself Prioritizes Relationships – Ben Woodward
there is probably some mindset shift, from younger to where you are today. So what would you say to the younger ben who may have being more individualistic, more self-driven self center and who said, no, I’m just going to focus on me. The younger version who is more individualistic, who don’t believe what you just said, or would you say person?
I would say the fruits of getting the balance right far outweigh being individualistic.
It’s exciting to have a career. It’s exciting to have ambition. It’s exciting to have all of that drive, but the greatest fruits in life come from the relationships that we enjoy. and the best version of myself is not found by me only looking inward at myself, as I learned to sacrifice myself and recognize that my life is not about me.
As I learned to recognize that my own struggles are not about me, that may be within all of that there’s benefit for other people. And that certainly comes out as a parent and as a husband, for example, Then when I put that front and center life is so much more rewarding, so much more enriching.
and I can say that now the age of 45 with seven children, with 20 years of marriage under my name about wow. that the best experiences in life come from prioritizing the most valuable relationships that you have everything else because throughout yes. Here’s the deal. Oh yeah. I worked in a billion dollar company a few years ago, multi multibillion dollar company.
And I had a colleague that had worked his backside off for that company and given blood, sweat, and tears, he was on the road traveling. He was a road warrior like you wouldn’t believe if you cut him open know he would bleed company blood.
he gave his life and soul for that business. he was a senior level executive and They did this restructure he’s lined up for that big spot . He was really excited about it. And as his spouse also worked in the company, senior executive, she’d been there for 23 years. Did the same thing. If you cut her open she’d bleed company, blood really just devoted to the company.
He didn’t get it. In fact, he just got sidelined. he got given a different role. That was almost like a demotion. I tried to dress it up, but he was essentially, he was pushed aside, devastated. He quits because yeah, you just slapped me in the face here in front of all my colleagues, his wife, how can she say when now the loyalty is to a husband, they would have considered this in the restructuring.
So what was her 23 years of service as a road warrior
so what really matters most, who’s going to be at your funeral mineral when you die. Yeah. Is your former boss going to be that maybe they might, maybe you’ve got those relationships, but a lot of the time. Yeah. Yeah. Put that in perspective.
Who’s going to be at your funeral. It’s going to really be there and show up. And, I just saw that and I thought. Yeah, my career is my business. If I’m working for someone else. Yeah. My job is my career. My is my business, my brand. It’s all. no, one’s going to be more loyal to me than I am because when restructuring happens and change happens, and we’re seeing a lot of that in the world right now, with everything that’s going on with the pandemic, All that change is going on. Who’s going to be most loyalty. Yeah, you are. Yeah. And your family. So I think get those relationships front and center because you will need them over everything else without a doubt.
I appreciate that. Thank you. And then echoing to my own personal journey as well. In the younger days of my life was more about the achievement, right? Going after it, certain goals and titles and education, whatever it may be, later on, in my life. And then just having gone through the peak of egoic expression to the trough of disillusionment that I realized.
Yeah. Oh, okay. This is painful. whatever I’m doing amazing. these are great, but at the same time, those are illusions. For me. What makes my life rich is these deep relationship, Ultimately it comes down to it. It, relationships is what makes my life rich.
The Post-Success Blues is REAL – Ben Woodward
I was fortunate enough to retire from the corporate world at the age of 39.
And, as a family of nine, we had our mortgage paid off pretty quick and all that kind of stuff and live in a financially independent. Situation. So really grateful for that. That’s, it’s been, I’ve been very fortunate in that sense. and, here’s the challenge. I thought I had this milestone in my mind that I wanted to be able to retire financially at the age of 40.
That would be a great achievement. and I got it and it was uneventful. Paid the mortgage off. And I thought this is fantastic. Yeah. And the next day, nothing really changed. I got out of bed the same way that I did the day before, and I thought, Oh, what’s going on here? And I had the abundance of time because we all chase this.
Don’t we, if I have the time freedom and the financial independence are now my life’s my own, what are you going to do with it now? What are you working towards?
Because what I found was. All of my vulnerabilities and my personal inadequacies, my character flaws that caused me individual pain. Yeah. and just, maybe I’ll make a bad choice because of, a certain weakness or mindset that I have that is incorrect.
All of that stuff still exists. So the true happiness, the true joy comes in, mastering those moments and mastering self. I think the purpose of life in a large measure is self-mastery and then flowing out into the way that we serve others, but that’s where purpose and meaning comes from.
and I learned that interestingly, when I went, when I go I’m retired. Fantastic. This is great. And actually, no, it wasn’t.
How to Stay Connected And Find Balance in Chaos – Ben Woodward
homeostasis, the way that I use it’s not. All right. Everything’s perfect. Freeze. Nobody move. Dynamic. homeostasis, things are moving and it’s like juggling, right? You don’t stop when it’s in the air. If you continue to keep going, as you also mentioned, alluding back earlier that, it’s not just about focusing on a specific silo of a relationship rather than. Focused on everything such that things in dynamic, homeostasis. That’s what you mean, right?
that dynamism is essential and it it applies to the second law of thermodynamics. Isn’t it? That entropy exists. I think in everything, we look at it from a principle of matter, but it certainly applies you the second way of human dynamics being, that everything moves from a state of order.
To a state of disorder over time. Yeah. Unless we apply energy to the system and reverse the effect of that entropy. yeah. so we see in life, for example, in nature, the wind blows and create sand dunes. It doesn’t create sandcastles. And, and so we, we see that it just goes to a state of disorder, but the same thing applies to our relationships as well, or to our businesses or to our minds.
Yeah, that if we don’t apply energy to the system of our mind or to our heart or to our relationship or to our business, that it will move from a state of order to a state of chaos. And so we need to make sure that there is constantly that engagement with what we’re working on in order for it to move forward and be progressive.
And that requires effort friction, and sometimes a little bit of burn.
Son Who Turned His Dad In To Police Gives People Hope – Ben Woodward
So my question to you is. They needed to go through the suffering, the trial and tribulation as a way to earn their wisdom. What do you hope to achieve in sharing your story and your wisdom as an author.
It’s simple to give people hope. Yeah. Because, Yeah, I’ll give you a couple of experiences as an example.
And I know the focus here is for entrepreneurs and people that are getting started in their careers. And what have you trust me? When I say this relates when I was, I grew up in New Zealand, I was born in the UK, grew up in New Zealand. And when I was 22 years old, I decided fairly on a whim that I was going to return to the UK and visit my father, who I hadn’t seen since I was 14 years old.
And, I had, because it was a whim. I had enough for a one way ticket and I had 50 pounds in my pocket. that was it. And I thought, this is great because I’m going to move in with my dad and things will work out fine from there. So not a problem. I can get a job and I can earn money to come back.
That was the plan. So go there, have my overseas experience, get reacquainted with my family that I haven’t seen in a very long time. Come back. I fly over, like I said, one way ticket 50 pounds in my pocket. I move in with my father, and a few weeks in to being there. I discovered that he’s an unconvicted sex offender.
What do you do with that? Where do you go? Yeah, that was an overwhelming painful process because one, let’s build in some emotion to that experience because when you haven’t, when a kid hasn’t seen his dad from the age of 14, through to 22, there is a lot of anticipation and excitement and overwhelming enthusiasm for that moment where you can see you down again, that’s been built up for years.
Yeah. And then to have all of them expectation, just implode in a moment. and then what do you do with that? Do you just leave it be, do you say nothing? my obligation in that situation was to do what was right versus what was easy. It would be, I, I. Don’t want to deal with this? Put my head in the sand or. look the other way you can’t do that. So I stood by the side of his victims and facilitated his arrest. he went to court, I testified against him in court and I drove him to the courthouse to go to prison. and he went to prison. He got seven years in jail. that’s a long time. he came out with good behavior and what have you, but that was an ordeal and it stretched out talk about chronic suffering for the kid.
things like that don’t happen in a moment. They don’t get arrested, caught the next month and then go to jail the following day. Yeah, that dragged on the investigation before he even got arrested, dragged on. Yeah. And then the time between arrest and, going to court drag on.
And on top of that, imagine this where my brother and I sat in the courthouse, we’ve just been given a tour of the courtroom and explained by a court official how things are gonna happen for us. And we’ve just got this dread and this pit in our stomach that is just unrelatable. And we’re sitting there just with the heaviest of hearts.
No, with this conflict, because you got two conflicting emotions, you’ve got overwhelming, unconditional love for a parent, combined with overwhelming offense and shock and horror at their behavior. And it’s all crashing into each other. Yeah. And coexisting into this messy one singular space and to try to figure it was a journey, not an event and, where they’re waiting for the court case to begin.
And the court official comes out and says, we have to postpone. mr. Mr. Woodward had a heart attack last night and he’s in hospital. the stress of the ordeal put them in hospital. And so here are mine now as a son going, yep. Have I done this to him? is this because of me? Yeah. There’s so much to deal with there.
And the challenge with this as well was on. So you got that emotion there, but along with that, you also have, I have his name. I look in the mirror and I can see a little bit of him in me, some of his character traits I have some of his nuances. That even though I didn’t grow up with them, I haven’t in the way that I express myself and my mannerisms and my tastes and preferences.
And then you, and you’ve got all of this feeding into your identity. And how do I define who I am in light of all of this? it was a little long and enduring trial. That was very painful. That got right to the core of my own identity. Yeah. Now why do I share this? Because. Yeah. You say, what would you say to your younger self?
Yeah. i think of my mounger self in that situation. Yeah. I was in my early twenties going through that. I wasn’t married at that point when he went to jail, he was in jail when I got married in jail when my first and second kid came along. Yeah. what would I say to that guy? Yeah. When I’m going through that type of stuff.
That, first of all, you did the right thing that doing what is right versus what is easy is always the best choice and it will always serve you well, and it will serve you well down the road. I didn’t do that to be punitive to my father, by the way. I did it as an expression of love. I wanted to do what was right for his victims.
I also wanted him to put his life in order and I imagined if I was in his shoes, I wouldn’t have the courage to take the first step.
Turning Serious Adversity Into a Blessing – Ben Woodward
the beauty of being human, having a human experience is that we do go through the highest of high and the lowest of lows. And in there going up and down, we learn what it means to be human, what it means, what are our truth and what are our core values. And also what is my wisdom that I wish to pass on to, my kids and so forth.
In my mind, without trial and tribulations suffering at best, we can get theoretical understanding of something rather than truly an embodied integrated understanding of what we stand for. What would you say to that?
a hundred percent. I love the phrase that you used of theoretical at best. Yeah. So there’s two points I want to address here. This there’s the theoretical of best. And then there is the willingness to embrace the ups and downs. Yes. The ups and downs are a part of the human experience.
We all like the ups. Most of us don’t like the downs.
the challenge that we’ve got. that I’ve experienced and write about in the book is what happens if the down becomes longer than you want or deeper than you want, or perhaps deeper than you think you can handle. And that’s the challenge is okay. I love this journey of life. It has its ups and downs. It’s peaks and valleys, but what happens if the adversity that I get, is beyond what I think I can bear it’s yeah. It’s beyond my capacity. What do I do with that? and how can I turn around and say that I want this or that, Hey, it’s a part of life.
I don’t want it at all. Yeah. yeah. For example, know, my friend fell down some stairs and broken back, man. Yeah. And, okay. He had an operation that fused his spine together, but that did more damage than good. And now he experiences pain every day of his life. And yet he says that was the second best thing that ever happened to me.
The first thing being meeting and marrying his wife, which is great. Yeah. but the next best thing after that breaking his back. Yeah. now he wouldn’t have said that in the first month or so of that experience, that comes from a long seasoned veteran of dealing with that chronic pain that he can get the experience, not the theory.
The theory goes, yeah, if we follow this process and this model it’ll work, but in reality, the experience with suffering is a far greater tutor than any book can give.
7 Vital Virtues to Turn Struggles Into Strengths – Ben Woodward
finding clarity in chaos is challenging. Share with us a little bit about how you get from internal chaos to that level of clarity.
that comes to the second half of the title of the book, which is seven vital virtues to turn struggle into strength. there are certain virtues that we need to practice that help us in that journey.
One of the ones that I struggled with the most, in that process was patience. Yeah. because I wanted it all to be over fast. And I want to, just to be out of the situation as quickly as I could. I wasn’t even concerned at that point with learning any particular lesson. Yeah. Or seeing any particular value in the, yeah.
It’s great to you, using your words, from earlier to theoretically put this language around adversity and say, yes, it’s the human experience to have the dark spaces and the opposition and what have you. And we need to embrace it. But when you’re in it, you don’t necessarily want to say, I’m going to assign value to this, look for the good in it.
And where’s the lesson. I just want an out. Yeah. And so one of, one of the first points was really learning to be patient with it. my wife and I have a saying in our bedroom on our bookshelf, it says, no one knows how strong they are until being strong is the only choice they have. Yeah.
And in that moment, I was in that place because, I went to the UK. Had that experience. I went to catch up with my father. all of the family that I’d grown up with were on the other side of the world. My support system was not around me. So I was actually going through that process quite alone.
Yeah. And yeah, what did I need in order to get order out of chaos. First, I had to be patient and see it as a process. the challenge is. What happens if you don’t have any, what’s the starting point. It’s so easy from the outside to turn to someone in that moment, say to the younger self. I love this question that you asked. “What would you say to your younger self?”
I wouldn’t say just be patient. Now that sounds again paradoxical, because here I am saying you’ve got to have patience. Yeah, because telling someone to have patients when they don’t for a start is really annoying. hundred percent agree. Yes. Yeah. Just be patient.
You’ll get through this too shall pass.
If I have patience, I would have been patient already. I don’t have patience and you telling me to have the patients
it makes you just want to punch him in the head. That’s right. Don’t tell me that. So the critical thing is, how do I develop patience?
How do I acquire that when I don’t have it. and research has shown that when we can engage our imagination, with a circumstantial situation that we’re involved in, that imagination enables us to increase and grow our capacity to be patient far more than simply white knuckling it, or trying to just grin and bear it through sheer willpower alone.
Can you say that again?
So our capacity to engage our imagination with a particular trial or difficult set of circumstances increases our ability to be patient far more than simply white knuckling it or using our sheer willpower. to just grin and bear it and get through it.
so the question is then how do I engage my imagination in order to increase my capacity to be patient and the process around that is to have a vision of the end in mind, what does the end look like?
And when you’re wallowing in self pity, when you’re. Yeah, just struggling with your sense of self and identity when you’re overwhelmed with the overwhelm of the adversity that you’re going through, then being able to take a step back for a small moment and just project yourself into a future state where this is ended and look at what that is defined. Like how, about how that looks and feels can be very transformative.
And have you heard of the Stockdale paradox? the Stockdale paradox? So the Stockdale paradox, Admiral Jim Stockdale was the highest ranking military official that was captured during the Vietnam war.
Okay. And he caught the world’s attention for two reasons. One, he was the highest ranking military official to be captured. He was an Admiral. but too, when he came out of that prisoner of war camp, he was in prison, I think for about eight years. Yes. when he came out of that prisoner of war camp, he came a stronger and better person.
How does that work? while he was in prison. Yeah. He saw his friends and colleagues die around about him. He was tortured at least 20 times. and he had no date. Yeah. Being a prisoner of war is different to being a regular prisoner, being a regular prisoner. You’ve got a deadline. I know on this date, I’ve got a release.
Yeah. I can see my family. They can come and visit me or what have you. you’re not going to get a visit from your family and you’ve got no release date. and we may beat the heck out of you today if we choose.
Yeah. there’s that factor of randomness of, yeah. It may beat you whenever I want to.
Yeah, the randomness and the no end of the whole experience turns it into a very different scenario. So he was being interviewed once and the person said to him of all the people that you saw die in the camp who were the first to go. And he said, if we break it down into three groups, the pessimists, the optimist, the realist who were the first to die, because it wasn’t from malnourishment.
Yeah, it wasn’t because they weren’t being fed. They were, so they were dying for other reasons. Who were the first to grow up to die. Now I’ve asked this question to audiences now in about 20 or so different countries to audiences of entrepreneurs, who do you think would be the first to die? The realist or the pessimists?
Probably the pessimist.
It was the optimist. Huh? Interesting. Okay. Now your answer is the common answer of the entrepreneur, right? The entrepreneurial guy as well. The pessimist is going to be the first design I’ve got the right attitude. Actually the optimist was the first to go and this is what would happened.
They’d go. Oh, don’t worry about it, guys. We’ll be out for Christmas. And then Christmas would come and go. They wouldn’t get out or don’t worry about it. Valentine’s Valentine. State’s coming. We’ll be out for them. Thanksgiving, Easter, whatever it might be. We’ll be out for this day and it would come and go and they wouldn’t get out.
And, and they eventually died of a broken spirit. it just destroyed them. And so the interviewer said to him, what was your approach? what made it work for you? And this is the Stockdale paradigm. They named it after him. he said, first of all, I had to accept the brutal facts of my present reality.
And for him, that was cause I’m a prisoner of war. I don’t know where I’m getting out. I may get tortured at some point today. There’s some brutal facts. I don’t know about you or about anyone that’s listening right now, but I’m pretty sure our brutal facts may not be as brutal as that probably yet.
Yeah. we can have some tough ones and I don’t want to belittle them, but first of all, if you really want to win, except the brutal facts of your present reality, he said, and then I, he said, you also have to have confidence in the end of your story, except the brutal facts, but have confidence in the end of your story.
And he said, and for me, The end of my story was, and this was his vision. Yeah. This was the engagement of his imagination to see him through the process and enable him to be patient with his suffering. For me, that was that not only would I get out, but that I would turn this experience into the defining experience of my life that in retrospect, I would not trade. I’m not going to trade this for anything. It’s going to define who I become. That to me is a vision for the future. That means, okay, I need to get through this moment, but I’m going to make this moment count because when I get out of this situation, I’m going to become a new creature and it’s going to give me something that I wouldn’t trade for anything.
And to add to that, Viktor Frankl in total agreement with this principle of your life is suffering.
He said, because all lives experience suffering. if life is, if life has to have meaning then suffering must also have meaning because whilst time heals all wounds, it also wounds all heals. If you can wrap your head around that. Yeah, for sure. so in that context, if life has to have meaning, there must be meaning in the suffering and so coming out of that scenario, Yeah. What is the value of that journey? for a couple of things, come to mind here.
One, the relationship with my father is what it should be now versus a pretense of what it might’ve been if I hadn’t have taken the right steps. so that’s critical, the people that were victims of his inappropriate behavior, have the chance to have justice and move forward with their own lives as well.
So there’s healing and opportunity for growth for them as well. but that’s also fed and me as a human being as a principle of confronting the suffering, the pain have learned and a measurable lessons that have informed my responsibilities as a father have informed my role as a husband. And have influenced me as a leader because as a business leader, as an entrepreneur, I am constantly confronted with the necessity to make tough decisions and to interpret reality versus bury my head in the sand.
Forgiveness Brings Freedom And It Starts With You – Ben Woodward
Inevitably, in business, in relationships, things like this probably happened. Cofounder conflicts, divorces with kids. So these type of dynamic, isn’t unheard of , but I would love to, for you to underline the, how you navigate the yeah. In other scenarios and at the same time forgiving the deed.
Yeah, it’s you’ve already led into the answer. This principle of forgiveness, applies whether he’s engaged in that process or not, because in order for me to have an appropriate, healthy relationship with him and healthy being under the context of the mitigating circumstances.
Yeah. Now, first of all, there is an element, another virtue that is intertwined with this principle of forgiveness, which is surrender and the word surrender is not about giving up or giving in or quitting or anything like that. It to me is one of the most courageous, boldest of virtues that are talked about in the book.
And yet the word sounds so much like given up yet. it’s the boldest most confrontational. Requirement of us in this process of moving forward, because what surrender truly means is that we are willing to let go of the illusions that we hold onto it about ourselves, about our circumstances or about our future.
Okay. And that would have been something that I’d have fed into my youngest is let go of the illusions and don’t be scared about that.
the illusion being, I don’t want my dad to be this. So I want to hold on to this illusion of maybe he’s something else. Let go be okay. Yeah. Be okay with this.
and how is this going to define me? Goodness. Look at this situation that I’m in now I’m on the other side of the world, away from all my family with no money. I started university and they said, Oh Ben, sorry, your you’re a citizen of the country. You’re not a resident. Which means your overseas student, which means you’ve got to pay overseas student fees.
You’re not entitled to government grants, loans, student loans, or anything like that. I’m like I live on the other side of the world away from any support system. And now I can’t go to university and further my education at that point, I was like, ah, everything was just blocking me off in every angle.
So let go of the illusions that you know, around the false beliefs that you have. That’s gotta to be a step number one, if I want to forgive him, I’ve got to let go of the illusions that I hold around him and embrace the reality of what is truth. What is correct. And also let go of the illusions about myself.
How does this define me? it doesn’t have to write letters. Let’s let go of that illusion for a second. What false beliefs do I have? Yeah. Around the circumstance that I need to let go of. Because forgiveness involves that process as well. So if someone’s going through a divorce or if there is employee cofounder confict, like for example, in a startup scenario.
Yeah. let’s look at the underlying beliefs that I have around this relationship. And what do I need to let go of what’s incorrect. Yeah. And that’s an important one because a lot of the time it forces us to look inward at ourselves. and causes us to make some changes before we ask someone else to make some changes.
What I found in that journey with my dad in order to get to a good place where I could have an appropriate relationship. I had to make a lot of changes, which was really, again, paradoxical, how come he’s the one that commits the crime and goes to jail, but I’m the one that needs to start making some changes first.
but that’s what needed to happen. you start off with a false belief that he’s the one that’s done something wrong. So it was on him. no. It’s not. He can, if he chooses to, but irrespective of that, I have an obligation to forgive and let go. And so I needed to understand what are some underlying core beliefs that I have that are not correct about who is responsible in this relationship and I had responsibilities too, so I needed to learn how to forgive. And that was a process and it’s a journey of going, okay, I give this over and then I take it back again. I give it over and I’d take it back and you can forgive on Monday. And then on Wednesday you realize you’ve got to do it all over again.
And what I like about that process, which I didn’t like it first is the chronic nature of some struggles. Yeah. In the sense of them being ongoing is they teach a deeper and more profound lesson. If it lasts for a week, we can learn the lesson and we can forget it next month. And so it can have an influence on us, but it doesn’t necessarily transform us.
But if something is enduring and it’s chronic and it’s painful and it requires me to forgive on Monday and then again on Tuesday and then again on Wednesday and I’m working through that and I’m having to now look introspectively at myself and change myself. So I can have the capacity and the strength to do that.
Look at my underlying beliefs that are incorrect and don’t sack them and pull them apart and reframe my sense of identity and who I am and who I want to be in order to get through all of this as I’m going through all of that repeatedly and repeatedly. because what’s the alternative.
So I want to underline a few things, man. This is so beautiful. I really appreciate that. so I love the way that you recontextualize the chronic pain. why they’re dealing with some kind of physical addictions or depression, or dealing with the difficult marriage relationship.
You recontextualize as a way as a path to really anchor your own wisdom and conviction and the lesson that you learn versus just enduring through it, Yeah. Really loved that re that reframe of what you just share.
Finding Life’s Joy In Service – Ben Woodward
some people may say, Hey, see, Ben, CK, you guys seem to really dwell in the suffering part because you want the wisdom, The lessons. But what about joy? What about, I’m glad you raised brightness. Yeah. What’s your response to that?
Yeah, absolutely. the suffering is this, but we’re here to experience joy as well. Aren’t we? Yeah. And so a hundred percent, the joy is to be found.
Yeah. Just like you said before. That there is, purpose can be found in suffering. It can also be found in service. So I would say there are two, two methods. If you want to find purpose and fulfillment and joy and abundance in your life, Yes, there is joy on the other side of suffering as a reassurance for those that are enduring it, wisdom is a part of that, but so is joy.
but at the same time, if you want to find purpose and greater meaning and greater sense of contribution, then service to others is a way forward as well. And that is a way that we can have an abundance of joy. And it goes back to the very beginning of our interview when we talked about having the multitude of responsibilities of being the entrepreneur, but being the spouse or partner, having the family, having children and so on is that we can embrace all of that and have an abundance of joy versus compartmentalize and pick and choose.
I Turned My Bipolar Disorder Into a New Superpower – Ben Woodward
can you share with us a little bit about your path to have that courage and be more open as a human being?
Yeah, it, again, it’s really wonderfully mundane because it’s all about practice, trial and error. Making mistakes and having a willingness to pick myself up every time I hit the floor, and if you hit the floor a hundred times, that’s okay. As long as you get up 101.
Yeah. and it’s really been that and learning to embrace the vulnerability. Like I said before, there are aspects when I had, when I got diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I was actually thrilled when I got the diagnosis, which sounds weird.
It does. Please elaborate here.
Yeah, wait, just a second. You just got diagnosed is with a mental illness and you’re excited about it. How does that work? Because it was causing chaos in my life. And I, I didn’t know what was going on. I had an inkling and a feeling, but it took a while to get the diagnosis. but when that happened, the relief now I know what’s happening now.
I know how to address it. what I learned since was. just because you got the diagnosis doesn’t mean, you know how to address it. It’s been a ongoing process of discovery and sometimes the hard way frustratingly. so that’s been a journey. but again, it’s been this kind of give and take with this of, I accept it.
No, I don’t, maybe the diagnosis is incorrect, maybe it’s something else and I would want to reframe it and reposition it and question it and doubt it and all that kind of stuff. And then I’d have experiences that would bring me right back and go, ah, yeah, this is what you’re dealing with.
but to get to the point where I was willing to open up in a book, Yeah. Cause once it’s in print, it doesn’t come back or to talk about it in a conversation like this. that was a big step for me because being the president of a big organization, I’ve got big networks of people where I’ve always been field facing, especially as a public speaker, you’ve got audiences in front of you, to talk about something like mental health and be that candid.
Yeah, it was a big step, but the starting point for me was a surprise.
I was at an event as a keynote speaker in the South of England, and I was asked to give two presentations. One was the journey to success. It was for a group of entrepreneurs. What does success look like as an entrepreneur?
and the other question was what are some of the obstacles and how do we overcome it? Yeah, how do we deal with the tough stuff? And when I got to day two, dealing with the tough stuff, I thought I’m going to talk about my disorder here and share that.
worst case scenario, I don’t think I’m going to see this group again. So there’s, I was, this was a case study of practice for me to see what would happen. And I explained to them that, I’ve got an advantage over you in dealing with adversity and the tough stuff in business. And, and I said, I’m going to tell you what that is. I have somewhat of a superpower and that superpower is I have bipolar disorder.
And, and the people that knew me looked shocked, wait a minute, what I did not know that about you. And then I started to explain the lessons that I’ve gleaned from the disorder. And how it had informed me as a business leader and helped me as an entrepreneur and how it had been a blessing in my life and had bought a bout some great lessons and instruction that I wouldn’t trade for anything.
And afterwards people have tears in their eyes. They were moved. Tons of people connected with me online and it had been a trip formative experience for them. And I learned that there was benefit. And my struggles for other people. And as a consequence of that, going to your question of joy, ironically or paradoxically, the struggle that I went through I learned was not about me.
And as I can get out and be comfortable enough to talk about it with others, then I can bring joy to others. I can bring hope to others and if they’re struggling, they can go, okay, if Ben can do it, if he can have bipolar disorder of his father prison know, find himself on the other side of the world from his network of support with 50 pounds in his pocket and not be able to further his education or do anything and yet become a self made entrepreneur by the age of 40 and have a 20 year marriage with seven children.
And one on the way, if he can do all of that, then maybe I can do this. Yeah. And, and if I can bring a little bit of hope and a little bit of encouragement to someone else, for that reason that makes it all worthwhile, doesn’t it? And there is the joy. There is the happiness that comes and it’s a great feeling.
It’s an awesome feeling that can come from that
My Daily Ritual to Sharpen My Truth & Wisdom – Ben Woodward
what is a ritual that you do regularly as a way to not only have the understanding, but also now a tactical to operationalize the wisdom of you share it. Do you journal, do you meditate?
I can show you. I’ve got, I’m a religious person. So my ritual or routine is I get up. In the morning before everyone else is awake.
But my scriptures that I read, I’ve got my journal that I write in and I’ve got my knees that I sit on and I get on my knees and I pray and I meditate and I study and I journal. And I’ll do that. I don’t necessarily journal every day, but I do that on a regular basis, but I will study and pray and meditate every morning.
and that helps me to master the day.
If I can master the morning. It gives me a stronger start for the rest of the day. It gives me the right mindset, to move forward. And so meditation, stillness, prayer and lifting study helps the process. Do you do it concurrently, as in you have these, the book, the meditation mat, the journal all at the same time, or do we do it sequentially?
it’s a bit of both. Yeah. I start my study with prayer, just to get my mind In that process, but then as I’m studying, so I’ll be on my knees for that. but then as I’m studying, I will be prayerful. and then I’ll write sometimes what I’m learning in the process, or sit down and write afterwards and then be a bit more mindful again, at the end.
So there’s some intertwining of those activities as I go.
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