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Blog Post

An Open Letter to Those Who Are Skeptical

Mark Jewell


Dear skeptics,

Yes, I know you're out there. And that's cool. It's silly to think that everyone will love your ideas or approaches – especially when they deviate from the norm. I actually sort of appreciate you. Because of your questions and, yes, sometimes your criticisms, I'm forced to constantly reflect on our methods, our models, our focus, our delivery style and ask myself: is what other people say about us true?

Sometimes your push-back is warranted. But more often than not, it helps reaffirm that I think we're moving in the right direction. That we're helping people re-evaluate their lives - personal and professional - and changing the way organizations think about people development.

So I want to take a few minutes and address some of the most frequent questions we get asked, not necessarily to change your mind, but rather to help you understand that we do, indeed, have a method to our madness (even if you don't always agree with it).

"What does <fill in the blank> have to do with business?"

For decades, we've been told to leave our personal lives at home. Whether it's to protect ourselves from HR policy or just because it makes us uncomfortable (for some reason), when we walk in the office door, it doesn't matter whether you had a fight with your spouse, struggled to get your kids to school on time, dealt with the illness of a family member – you're here to work and none of the rest of that matters. You have a "work life" and then you have "life life" – and they should be kept separate at all times.

I'm sorry, but frankly – that's bullshit.

I don't care if you're a senior leader, middle manager, or you just started your first gig out of college – you are a multi-dimensional human being that carries a whole suitcase of experiences and emotions with you wherever you go. And when one part of your life is operating at a suboptimal level, you will never be on your professional "A game" – no matter what alternate story you're telling yourself.

So, yes, we focus on developing the whole person. You ask me, "What does <fill in the blank> have to do with business?" My answer? Everything.

We care about whether you're spending time on health and fitness, caring for your spirituality (whatever that may be), investing time in your relationships, giving back to the world. Because if I only train and coach you on how to better at your job and I do that in a vacuum, I'm missing the point.

If you become a  better salesperson, but your marriage falls apart – I've failed.

If you become a better marketer, but your body is falling apart – I've failed.

If you become a better <fill in the blank>, but you're burnt out because you never take a break, have no hobbies, or spend no time in your community – I've failed.

We – myself and my team – are not on a mission to help you thrive in only one part of your life. We are on a mission to help you thrive in every part of life.

And that means going beyond traditional "professional development" and, instead, help you grow in and outside the walls of your office.

It seems like sometimes you can be a jerk.

Yes. I will sometimes seem like a jerk. In just the same way that your high school coach wasn't always striving to be your friend - AND - you still respect him/her, I am definitely sometimes a jerk. I'm blunt. So, I could certainly see where you might get that impression.

After all, there is one thing that is absolutely, unapologetically true about me:

I believe that we all have the power of CHOICE and being a victim to the people or situations surrounding you is a cop-out. I do not care to hear your excuses. I am only interested in your failures (the more the better) and your RESULTS.

Didn't hit your sales target? What could you have done differently and what actions do you need to take moving forward?

Didn't get your workouts in this week? How can you schedule in time to go to the gym or take a run? Where can you watch one less hour of TV or surf Facebook for 30 minutes less?

Didn't take your wife/husband out for a date this week? Doesn't your marriage deserve that one-on-one time? Shouldn't you make that a priority?

Yes, I can sometimes come off as a hardass. It's a side-effect of shaking up your preconceived notions and challenging your excuses. As the great Jack Canfield said, "If you want to be successful, you have to take 100% responsibility for everything that you experience in your life." If you're trying to pass the buck on taking that responsbility, you can bet I'm probably going to call you out on it.

Because, after all, how many people do you have in your life that will be real and honest about where you're not living up to your potential? I believe that people rise to the standards they're given – so I'm going to set them pretty high.

Now, that being said, I recognize that not everyone responds well to a "tough love" approach and I don't use that tactic with everyone. But that's also a main reason why I am growing our MJST coaching team, which includes really excellent people who each have their own approach/style to coaching and accountability. This variety is really great for our clients, since they may "click" with one of us more than another.

Do you have to swear so much?

Ah, yes. The words. "Swearing isn't professional. Swearing isn't necessary." I hear it all the time.

I want to make one thing clear (and I think my team can attest to this): every other word out of my mouth is not a swear word.

Perhaps you feel that way because that's what stands out to you when you're scrolling through Facebook or listening to a podcast or reading a blog (I mean, come on – I've dropped a few in this post already!). But, if you look at my vocabulary as a whole, I'm not exactly a sailor or truck driver.

That being said, I want to let you in on a little secret:

Having those words stand out to you so much is part of my evil plan strategy ;-)

Tony Robbins did an interview a year or so ago where, when talking about a book he read about taboo language, he said, "The genius was that, if you're trying to make a change and you don't succeed, it's because consciously you say one thing and subconsciously you say another. So [the author] would use provocative language to disturb or jolt the person out of the surface bullshit into something deeper that was real."

And I really appreciated that sentiment. Now, I'm not going to be like "F*** this!" and "F*** that!" (Tony Robbins does way more than this at his live events, by the way!) However, when someone is just telling me what they think I or the world wants to hear and it's fake or not genuine or in denial of some real work that needs to be done, then I need to use the tools at my disposal to wake them up. To get them thinking differently. To question their preconceived notions about themselves and their experiences.

Because so much of the corporate world is concerned with what's "professional" and "appropriate," and thus people aren't used to it, swearing IS an effective jolt to the system.

That being said, there's one more reason why I tend to swear: I really fucking love what I do.

I will do whatever is required to help someone wake up and remember who they really are.

There are times when that excitement, that joy, that mission to succeed eminates out of me in ways I can't – and frankly, don't necessarily want to – control. Sometimes I jump up and down. Sometimes I yell. And sometimes I drop an "F bomb."

Wouldn't it be cool if everyone was that excited about what they did?

"I hear you talking about colOmbia and pLANT-BASED MEDICINEs - sounds like you're into some pretty crazy stuff."

Guilty as charged. I went to Colombia and had an AMAZING experience stretching my own beliefs about myself, what I think is possible for my life, and what we're creating for our clients. And, yes, we utilized some very safe plant-based medicines, which have been practiced for thousands of years in the Amazon. This was done in a controlled environment and I was well cared for. 

But that was just for me!

I'm not asking our clients to go into the jungle or open their third eye or focus on their chakras (although, if they're into that, that's cool too!). I take part in these activities because it gives me a different point of view, a different way of seeing the world. And, sure, some of what I learn or take away shows up in my teaching if I think it's relevant to the topic at hand or what somebody's going through. But I also recognize that my journey is different from my clients' – and that's okay. Again, I will do whatever is necessary to learn what is possible for myself, so I can help others learn what is possible for them too. 

That being said, if you want to head out to the jungles of Colombia for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, let's talk ;-) 

Side note: If you are getting hung up on this concept, I suggest taking a look at the book Stealing Fire, where the authors break down the science behind my experience in Colombia. These same tactics are used by over half of the billionaires on the planet - including the founders of Google and Seal Team 6. Success leaves clues, my friends, and I'm out to find them!

So there it is. Some of the biggest questions and criticisms I hear from those who are skeptical of our approach. Not everyone's going to be on board and I'm totally cool with that. We're here for the people who want to grow, who want to push themselves beyond their boundaries – who, to put it simply, want to end their survival mode and start thriving instead. We work with those people and companies who want real results, in real time, and who desire a REAL ROI on their training/coaching investment. 

If that's you, shoot us a message and let's see how we can start the journey together. 

–Mark Jewell
CEO & Founder
Mark Jewell Speaking & Training

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