To gain much-needed confidence to lead, we must first look within ourselves. Before we can trust others, or even gain their trust, it is ourselves first that we need to trust. Coach James Allen joins Alicia Couri in discussing the importance of confidence in leadership by delving into his rough childhood and the personal pursuit of passion over necessity. They also talk about James’ other endeavors, from his drumming career to his skydiving hobby.
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The Unshakeable Confidence To Lead With James Allen
With me is another very confident man. He is James Allen and he is all about the unshakable confidence. I’m audacious and he’s unshakable. He is on a mission to help people discover and create their own MPI, which is their Massive Positive Impact. The way he does this is by teaching people how to become the most authentic versions of themselves, finding a way to make money doing only what they love, then helping them share that with the world. That is how we make a massive positive impact.
Whether it’s one stream or multiple streams of income, James believes that with all of the passions we have, we can find a way to create a comfortable and sustainable income, purely based on what we love to do. The way he does this is by teaching people how to become unshakably confident in themselves, their dreams and their teams. James has appeared on various podcasts, spoken on stages across the United States, coached executives and major companies and helped youth become better leaders for tomorrow. He’s a certified skydiver, avid CrossFitter, lover of the outdoors and a drummer in a punk rock band called One Armed Joey. Welcome to the show, James.
Thank you, Alicia. I’m grateful to be here.
We met at another event together and talked about doing stuff together. I’ve been a guest on your show and now you’re a guest on mine. We look at confidence in the same way, but we approach it from different angles. We both see confidence as this thing that no matter what situation we’re in, we need to be unshakable in who we are and what we believe in. How did you come to your discovery of confidence?
Confidence was something that I struggled with for a long time, which is why turning my mess into my message, confidence was a huge piece of it. I grew up in a less than ideal childhood where my parents were involved with outlaw biking gangs. My entire childhood was chaos. The time that I was 5 to 8 years old was the absolute worst of it. I ended up talking with my mom years down the road, but that was early developmental stages of my life. I grew up with alcohol abuse, drug abuse and physical violence. You never knew what was going to happen. I was a young kid watching and it freaked me out too.
It was weird because I would see my parents almost killing each other. It got that bad. My sister and I had to deal with this growing up. When they’d fight, we didn’t know what to do. We’d go inside of our room and hold each other and cry because there’s nothing we can do. It was weird to see that my parents were almost killing each other. The next day they’re hugging each other, laughing and joking around. It was super toxic. I’m like, “This is weird.”
It’s a mixed message of what love is.
It was confusing. What I realized is that my parents loved each other so much, but they didn’t know how to love themselves, which is such a critical piece in confidence that I learned down the road. Dealing with all that growing up, I was confused. I was more emotionally and mentally abused than anything. I was never physically abused. That was something that talking with people who were physically abused, they said that that hits harder almost because the pain can go away.
The emotions and the thoughts, those can stick with you for a long time. It’s carried on throughout the rest of my schooling. I was in the fourth grade and my parents had this extremely messy divorce. My dad almost died. My mom got sent away for a long time. It was a lot. That’s built into my junior high, high school and the rest of elementary school. I missed out on many great opportunities because I lacked self-esteem and confidence in myself and I didn’t think I deserved the good things, like quality relationships or to go on the right dates. Every time I deal with a girl, I couldn’t make the move. I’d be able to talk with them or whatever.If you have confidence in your family, friends, and workplace, then that translates to trust. Click To Tweet
It was a struggle for me, but it wasn’t with girls. It was a lot of things that I realized like if I could be more confident, then my life would open up. I knew that. My mom had been pressuring me when I was seventeen like, “James read this book.” It kept blowing her off and like reading terrible articles on Google about how to be confident. It wasn’t like a real expert that I had found. The book was The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.
It’s not even a big book. She was giving you war and peace to read. That was one thing, but she’s giving you this little book and you wouldn’t read it.
I didn’t want to listen to her. I was like, “No. I can figure it out. I can do it myself.” I came home one day and the book was on my bed. She threw it on my bed. I’m like, “She’s persistent. I’ll give her that.” I laid on the bed, opened it up and it tells you what the agreements are on the first little flat. I saw, “Don’t take anything personally.” That’s something that resonates with me. I’m a little drawn to that. I’d never read a book. I didn’t care about books with all the crap going on in my head. I started reading the book and in starting the book and reading it, I fell in love with that book.
I read it for 3 or 4 months every single day. Every morning I’d wake up and I’d make those agreements. I think I read over half the book that first day. It was 3:00 PM. I’m not the best reader or wasn’t at the time, but I got sucked into as a first book that did that for me. I started using the things I was learning. I noticed that my life started to change. People start to treat me different because I was getting more secure in myself and starting to love myself, which is what the book is about. It’s about personal freedom. The book is about you being authentically you, which is why I care so much about authenticity. I believe that being 100% confident means that you’re authentic, transparent and real.
It’s being authentically you and falling in love with yourself and your aspirations or your dreams and your teams doesn’t have to be a corporate team. It can be your family or friends, it’s your tribe, that’s your team. It can be a group that you’re in. You want to have confidence in these things and confidence, the word translates to trust. That’s what it is. Doing team building and whatnot, it’s about having people have this trust and companionship with each other. It’s about relationships because I grew up with crap relationships. I saw enough of that. I got obsessed with how to have great relationships.
I love how you say it’s about trust because it’s true. Many times, we don’t take the time to learn enough about ourselves to trust ourselves and that’s why we’re not confident in who we are. Sometimes, we can be confident in what we can do, but we’re not necessarily confident in who we are because we don’t trust ourselves. We inherently lie to ourselves about a lot of things that aren’t true.
A big component in being more confident is putting yourself in situations that make you not confident, to make you insecure or uncertain. We’ve talked about this before, but your ability to figure things out. I believe that personal confidence boils down to two things, in my opinion. Some people can add or take away things, but it’s the amount of trust and belief you have in yourself and then your ability to figure things out or to do things. If you know that you can do something, you’re confident like, “I got this.” I get presented with things all the time, especially, in growing business and business is cool because it’s like a never-ending challenge, we will always be at that next level. We always get presented with something like, “I don’t know how to do this.” How you show up in those situations is going to make or break you.
I was presented with an opportunity to do something that I’ve never done before. The thing is, I know what I can do and I know what not to do and because it’s other people’s lives and other people’s businesses that are at stake, I said, “That’s not in my wheelhouse. While I would love the challenge to do it because it’s dealing with other people’s businesses, I would rather, ‘Let’s go this direction where I can help them this way instead of this other way.’” You have to have the confidence in yourself to be able to say those things like, “I don’t know that. I’d love to learn it, but this isn’t an on the job training situation because this is real serious stuff happening here. I wouldn’t love to sit back and learn, but in the meantime, this is where I can help you and this is what I can do.”
I’m super confident in that, but it’s still taking me out of my comfort zone to do it because of the work that I do, it’s at a much higher level than what I’m normally doing. I’m still being challenged to do it. I’m not saying like, “I’m not going to do this over here because I’m afraid.” I’m saying, “I know what I can and I know what I can’t. While I learned this over here, let me stay with what I do know that’s still going to challenge me.” It’s understanding who you are and what you can and should not do. Not can’t because we can always learn stuff, but what you shouldn’t do and the timing for that. Let me ask you about leadership because you work with corporate leaders and other types of leaders, but what is your personal philosophy on leadership?
There’s a lot that goes into leadership. I feel that’s why there’s tons of people that get certifications in coaching it and people spend all this money to learn it. To put it simply, it’s leading by example. It’s setting the example and being able to have a connection with people. I think being approachable is something that a lot of “leaders,” John C. Maxwell is the dude on leadership. I studied him a lot, but he mentioned that like, “You can be in a leadership position, but just because you’re in a leadership position doesn’t make you a leader.” He shared a story about how he was running a church. He was 25 years old. He’s in the leadership position, but there was this old dude there who’d been there for decades. He’d been a part of the church on the board. Every time John would talk, people would chitchat. When the old dude would talk, everybody would listen. He was not in the leadership position, but he was the leader.
He was an elder of the church. Everybody knew and respected him.
He had a way of connecting with people and that’s why growing up with my family in that way and seeing how toxic and chaotic it all was, I got obsessed with relationships. Leadership is our relationships. People aren’t going to follow someone that they don’t like or that they don’t trust. Every business owner is a leader in some way. Even though you see these ads online like, if you don’t feel like you know the person or like the person or feel like you can trust the person, you’re not going to invest in their programs or go to their training. You have to have that connection with people. That’s something that makes a great leader and also, leading by example and setting the standards that you follow and that your team can say, “He does it. I’ll listen to him or her.”
I do agree that leading by example is a big thing. Doing this show, you hear everybody where they see leadership and it’s interesting, but it does boil down to trust. If I can trust you to take me where we need to go which is also about vision casting and everything. We’re going to go back a little bit to confidence and talk about some of the things that you’ve seen from some of the clients that you’ve had, where in their leadership role, where they’ve had struggling with their confidence. What are some of the things that they struggle with at that level?
One client of mine has a janitorial business and he does well in his business. He works in the Bay Area, in Marin and up by me by Santa Rosa and all over Sonoma County. He calls me one day and we do our call. Usually, when I do my calls, I like to do something that we’re grateful for. When you had this week or something you’re proud of, you can do as well. It sets the tone for a positive vibe for the call. He didn’t even do it. He went like, “I am overwhelmed with all this crazy stuff happening. I don’t know what to do. I don’t think I can do these calls anymore because there’s too much commitment.”
I was like, “You’re crazy.” Doing the calls is how he has been able to unlock all these amazing opportunities because he doesn’t think about them when he’s stuck in his daily grind. This is time devoted to him. I was laughing. He was stressed because what he was explaining to me was that he’s like running back and forth and he might as well have had a cape attached to the back of his company car because he was trying to be Superman. He’s flying from one county to another county. His problem was that he didn’t delegate. As far as confidence was that he wasn’t delegating to people because he didn’t feel like he could trust anyone in particular with the things that he felt that he could do himself.
A huge thing in leadership, especially when you start growing and scaling, is delegation. We talked about it and he was feeling overwhelmed. It’s interesting when I have different coaching calls like everybody matches up with a theme. That week, everybody was feeling overwhelmed and I was like, “This is cool. I can do the same thing I did with everybody else.” When people are feeling overwhelmed like that, it’s helpful to do it yourself or to have someone you can do it with, but write down everything that is “overwhelming.” You get it out there and it seems like it’s 100 things. It tends to be about three things, but it feels like there’s so much involved with each one that it’s overwhelming.
There’s a time pressure or something is putting pressure on it to make it have to happen right away and that’s what makes it overwhelming.
It’s interesting when you talk about pressure because our body has a gravitational amount of pressure where it’s like 14 pounds per square inch for every human. What’s interesting is that there’s that much pressure, but on the inside, there’s an equal amount of pressure pushing outward pressure. That’s why we’re feeling we’re heavy and it equals out and we had gravity. Sometimes, it feels like there’s more pressure on the outside. What we have to do is equalize that pressure by having this inside pressure from working on the inside out. That’s where these things happen. That’s where it’s valuable to have little exercises like that, where you take a breath. I write it out for them when I’m doing a call with them and let them talk.By leading by example, connecting with other people is possible. Click To Tweet
It’s valuable, but it ended up being three things and he’s trip. I said, “You have to delegate. You have to do it.” He’s like, “I don’t know anybody that can do it.” We started thinking about it and he said, “This guy has been with me for ten years. His English wasn’t that good.” I told him like, “He’s going to get better at it by doing it more.” He ended up finding this guy and started having him run down in Marin so that my client could be running up here.
He doesn’t have to run back and forth all the time.
He does a phone call to check in with him and the guy was ecstatic to be getting this promotion.
He has this opportunity. He can’t see the forest for the trees. You’re stuck in your thing, which is why coaching is important at every level, because you’re stuck in your own little world and you can’t see other opportunities around you to relieve some of that pressure, stress and overwhelm.
It was interesting too, because this is like that relationship aspect in this story, but the next time we talked, we did a quick little follow-up call and he was happy. He’s like, “This is going to be big for me. Thank you for not giving up on me and giving into my craziness.” He realized that by him delegating, that was going to unlock the pressure for him and it was going to help him out. I said, “That’s amazing. I’m happy for you. What are you going to do for him?” He said, “What do you mean?” I said, “How are you going to reward him for stepping up to the plate?” He’s such an amazing dude. He just wasn’t used to delegating that didn’t even cross his mind. I said, “You can give him a pay raise. You can give them a company car, a gas card or something like that.” It’s like those deposits that we make in our relationships. This is big as far as a leader. It’s one of my favorite things as far as relationships, but thinking about like a bank account, you have to make deposits in a bank account to fill it up before you withdraw.
Many people want to withdraw and like, “You can do that from the bank. You can open a bank account start withdrawing,” but then you get into debt and you have to put that money back somehow or pay those people back. It’s the same thing with relationships instead of money, the currency that we’re using is love, attention, that caring towards people and giving value in that way. It’s something that everybody should get it down, but especially leaders because you have to give people your attention. Simon Sinek talks about when people have their phone, they sit in a meeting and they set their phone on the table. It’s like, “Am I the most important thing to you right now?” If someone sat and you had your phone, you completely put it in your pocket, shut it off and said, “What’s going on?” People will be like, “He cares.” That’s a deposit you made.
During this pandemic, a lot of people have been saying that they have more access or they’re hearing from their leaders and CEO more. Because everybody had to go remote, they had to find a way to communicate stuff to everybody. They were getting on Zoom with the senior executives. They were seeing them, they were having more interaction with them, getting to see them in their home environment. It drew a lot of companies closer because of that. A lot of people got to appreciate the leadership a lot better through this time.
What you’re saying is great. As leaders, you have to think, how are you depositing into the people that are giving their days for your business, working to make your company, or even if it’s not your company, but the company that you’re leading a success? What about you? As you’re growing your business, what has been one of your biggest mistakes that you think that you’ve made that shook your confidence a little bit and how did you overcome that?
There are a lot of learning curves.
Every day is a learning curve.
I think that a mistake that I made and I’m grateful I made it and we caught it early on. I was overloading myself with things and not putting the attention towards the people that I made agreements to. Being a part of too many groups, because it’s the relationship, it’s the deposit and then they see you as a slack because I chose to overload myself with too many commitments. I’d rather have fewer commitments that I commit to that I pour more attention. That was a big mistake on my part, but I’m glad that I noticed it early on.
When I talk about the Seven Steps to Audacious Confidence, the last one, seven, is knowing how and when to say no and when and how to say yes. A lot of times out of fear, we say yes to the wrong things because we’re trying to people please or we don’t want to disappoint someone. That’s where we get overloaded when it’s okay to say no sometimes if you have too much on your plate and being able to say yes to things that you are saying no to because you’re afraid of stepping into. Lean into that and say yes to those opportunities.
Making decisions like that is a simple question that helps me make better decisions is what would I love? For me, it helps. If there are two different groups I’m going to join, it’s like, what would I love? If it is both of them, it’s like, “How can I make that work?” The quality of our life is based off the quality of questions that we’re willing to ask. If you want both things, you have to say, “How can I make both of them work?” You can make both of them work and be insanely busy and not have any time or you could say, “How can I make them work and still be able to have the time to do what I want to do or make the commitments that I have made?” It’s like the same thing as like, “How do I make it to the end of the month?” You’ll find ways to make it to the end of the month. It barely skids by or you can say, “How could I excel my income and go on a trip to Italy and make $10,000 doing it?” You start focusing on that then you start getting ideas on how to make that stuff work.
It’s because what you focus on expands. I wanted to understand, because you talk about The Four Agreements, how did you start your journey, not of your own confidence, but then into creating this business for yourself?
I love The Four Agreements. I fell in love with personal development because I could see that people started treating me differently. I started helping people. My friends, family and whatnot and falling in love with like, “I learned this cool way to not take things personally,” or if you are honest, then it makes everything easier, instead of lying. I was coaching my friends, family and strangers that I’d meet and have conversations with. I didn’t realize it was coaching. I wanted to help.
I didn’t know what I wanted to do because I was seventeen when I started reading that book and started making changes. I followed my dad’s footsteps in construction, which he did for about 30 years. I got into that and I was going to do a five-year commitment and that way, it could always be vested. I could always fall back on it if I wanted to. I ended up going into it. It was fun at first, but about a year in, I felt this sinking feeling of like, “I’m not happy.” I had a great relationship at the time.
I became a certified skydiver with the money that I made from construction. I was in the highest paid plumbing unit in the world. I was making good money, depending on who you talk to. For the average Joe, it was great job. I had crazy good benefits. It could shock your doctor. I was making about a grand plus a week, $1,000 to $1,500 every week steady. It didn’t matter. Most people would kill to have that, but I couldn’t help that I was not happy. I had this low sinking feeling. It felt like I was checking my soul at the door every time I went into those concrete buildings. You can tell how much you enjoy your work based off how much time you spend in the bathroom. I used to spend a lot of my time in the bathroom.
My “smoke break” was to go into the bathroom. I was like, “I can get away,” sit down if I’d rather be in the stinky porta-potty and doing my job. It was something interesting why I’m passionate about helping people find work and enjoy their job. It’s not necessarily making everybody be an entrepreneur unless that’s what they want to do. That’s a great path that you can make. Some people are like, “I want to be in a different position at the current company that I’m in. I want to have a better connection with my employees.” They could love the company, all the benefits, the perks and whatnot. There’s something like that. The relationship with the boss, that’s why the relationship is important.The quality of our life is based on the quality of questions that we're willing to ask. Click To Tweet
I’d rather sit in that stinky porta-potty and do work, but I was good at what I did. They were grooming me to be one of the foremen on the job and run my own jobs. I was running my own small jobs, but little did they know, I was like, “I’ve got to do something else.” This is something that’s common for a lot of people, when you know that you’re unhappy in your job, but you don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel that there’s something more, it’s lonely and scary, honestly. That’s how I felt for a while until I saw an email from Tony Robbins and it was to have a strategy session with a results coach. I got on the call and the guy’s name was Al. He was this confident, successful dude, making great money and he’s helping people have better results and live lives that they enjoy. I’m like, “You can get paid to do that?”
It was something I was passionate about. I loved doing. Before I did the call, I was thinking like, “I would love to have a job where I could help people be the best versions of themselves and make life be what they want. At the same time, be working on myself and somehow get paid to do that.” I don’t know what coaching was, but I said, “I want to be a coach.” I did the call with Al and after the call, I thought like, “I want to be like Al.” I started seeing these things differently. I’d watch the videos on my commute to work because it’s about an hour drive to the city and I would listen Tony Robbins or Jack Canfield or Brendon Burchard and all these different people. This old voice came up in my head that was like, “That could be you.”
It’s like a whole new world for me. More and more I thought about it, the more I studied it, I was like, “Is this even a thing? Could it be possible? Can I make as much as I’m making now or even more maybe doing something I enjoy?” It was like, “Yes, you can because there are people doing things that you want to be doing.” I’m not saying everybody needs to be a coach, but some woman was in a Facebook group and she’s like, “I can’t be a knitter. I want to knit cloth and I can’t make money doing that.” I went online and I said, “The highest-paid knitter is a million-dollars selling knitting on Etsy. If she can do it, you can do it because the high tide rises all boats.”
I fell in love with this whole coaching. The more I studied it, the more I fell in love with it. Sitting in the porta-potty one day, I saw this woman pop up on the screen named Mary Morrissey. She was saying she certifies people in being a coach and helping people transform their results from one set of results into a new set of results. I was like, “Sold. I’m in.” It gave me that light at the end of the tunnel and work started getting a lot more enjoyable for me to an extent, because I knew that there was a way out and I was working towards it. That looks like my motivation. It was like, “It’s one more day. One day closer.” I kept telling myself, even though it was months away.
That’s like how I felt when I was leaving my job as a flight attendant. Not that it was a bad job, it was a great job, but it wasn’t what I wanted to do.
One of my favorite quotes is by Howard Thurman, where he said, “Don’t do what you think the world needs, do what makes you come alive because what the world needs is more people who’ve come alive.” It’s true. Why I’m passionate about what I do is because when you see kids opening toy boxes on the internet, making millions of dollars, like you can find a job that you enjoy. You can make a sustainable income doing something you like and not everybody needs to be a millionaire. A lot of people would be happy to make six figures. If you do simple math with people, it’s not that far away for people. It’s, people have fear because money is involved.
Wrong beliefs around money.
That’s how I got into the coaching thing. Long story short, I got certified and I was sitting there like, “I need to leave.” I made a decision I was going to do three months.
How did you start your band? I know drumming is a passion of yours too. Have you been in this band since high school or college?
Junior high. I used to go growing up. I love music. I love performing. I’m a Leo. I like being in the spotlight. I totally disagree, but people have told me, “You are the icon in this band.” I was like, “That’s not true because I wouldn’t be the drummer that I am without these guys. There’s no way. They’ve pushed me and challenged me to do different things that have made me who I am.” I have a lot of fun when I play and that’s something that’s big. I’ve learned that from music. It was like, “Have fun playing music.” I started playing better once I started having fun. When I was in sixth grade, I was obsessed with dirt biking because I grew up riding dirt bikes.
I would always go to my friend’s house. He had a track we’d ride and then we’d come in and play video games. He got Rock Band, which is like Guitar Hero, but then they had the drum set that was rock bands, big thing. You can do the singing and the guitars. I was like, “This is amazing.” I always wanted to be a guitarist. I would always play the guitar. It was first one on the guitar and my buddy would play the drums and he was like, “James, do you want to play the drums and I’ll play the guitar?” I was like, “Yeah, sure.” I had no real interest in it. It started playing the drums and it was challenging, but it was fun at the same time. I like coordination and drums take a lot of coordination.
I started playing it and he would play a different video game, but I would be in there playing drums. There are five stars and five gold stars where you don’t miss like one note. I had that on the hardest difficulty on expert mode throughout the entire playlist that they had. My dad picked me up one day and he was talking to my friend’s dad. Alan was his name. Alan was telling my dad, “This kid is getting good at these drums. We have an actual drum set that we’re wanting to get rid of. Do you want to buy it for $200?” My dad bought me a Maple Ludwig kit and I played that thing for about five years until I finally got my own kit. That’s how I got into drums was from a video game called Rock Band. I had two actual drum lessons and everything else is self-taught.
Your band is One Armed Joey. Where did that come from?
We have funny things where people ask us this and we’ll all have a different answer. I’ll be like, we were going on a walk through San Diego Zoo and we saw the kangaroo exhibit and Joey popped out of the mama’s pouch and had one arm and we were thinking of band names at the time. We said, “That’s a one arm Joey. The name One Armed Joey could be good.” That’s not the actual story though. We were coming up with band names. We used to be called Push, but it was way too generic or movies and books and other bands, like a lot of jazz bands. It was hard to find us and we spent months trying to think of names.
Avery came over and he said, “I had this cool name that I can’t remember exactly what it was. There’s something weird though and obscure, it was like One Armed Joey.” It was weird and obscure that we put it on the back burner for a long time. We had all these different names and we are the first thing that comes up on Google images or anything that you look up. When you type in One Armed Joey, we are the first thing that pops up. The SEO is incredible. It’s fun and it fits our vibe. Our brand band colors are gray, white, black, and then pink. Pink is the big pop color. It’s fun because every time we play a show, I always tell the guys like, “Have fun.” Every time we do that, we crush it because we have a good time.
When you have a good time, your audience has a good time.
They don’t notice if you mess up. It’s the same thing with our businesses as well. If we have the mindset of have a good time, go into this show, go into this meeting and have fun. No matter how serious it is, try and have fun and enjoy it.
If it’s not fun, why do it?Being 100% confident means that you're authentic, transparent, and real. Click To Tweet
I was recording with the band and I was getting a little stressed and tired because when you’re in the studio, you want all the parts to be right, you record it and then that’s done. It can be a little stressful at times, but the engineer was like, “Do one more take. Have fun doing it.” It was like this light bulb went off in my head. I was like, “That’s right. I always tell myself have fun.” I had fun. He puts his hands up after the song. He’s like, “That’s all I have to tell you, just have fun?” I think it’s big because it’s helped me when I go live on my phone or when I go and do a workshop or speak on a stage or coach a client. It’s, “Have fun. Go out and have a good time doing it because it’s something you love. It gives you a life.” That’s our motto.
This is why I love doing this show because it’s fun. When I’m talking to some leaders and CEOs and they get on with me, I’m like, “We’re going to have fun. It’s not rocket surgery.” We talked about doing something together. I don’t know what it’s going to be. Maybe we can get some comments and feedback from readers that can figure out what unshakable confidence and audacious confidence can do together. I’d like to have some fun. I’ve never been skydiving, by the way. How crazy scary is that?
It’s different for everybody because growing up, I saw Point Break with my family, which is the most iconic and it was like, “You like Point Break? You like skydiving?” Yes, I did. Point Break was a big influence, but also like I love Spider-Man and every time I’d watch a spidey movie or play a spidey video game growing up, it was the coolest thing. I always want to get to the tallest building and jump off. Every movie that had free fall that I was drawn to and I always wanted it. My mom knew that I had always wanted it. In my eighteenth birthday, she bought me a tandem skydive. After that, I was sold. Three seconds out the door, I was like, “I’m getting certified. I don’t care.”
Do you still skydive now?
Yeah. I haven’t gone in a while. Every time that I’m like, “This is the weekend that I’m going,” there are some huge wind storm or some firestorm. I’m like, “Is this a sign from God that I shouldn’t go?” I almost died skydiving one time and I still jump. People are like, “You’re done skydiving.” I was like, “No.” I had about 30 jumps. Now, I don’t have a whole lot. It’s like 150 jumps, which to many people is like, “That’s crazy.”
In the world of skydiving, that’s like, you are a baby. I had about 30 jumps at the time and I went up and we did a hop and pop, which is where you jumped from about 3,500 feet to 5,000 feet. I think we’re out by 4,000 feet. Normally, we’d go to twelve, the hop and pop is you jump out, pull your chute, and land. It’s short jumps, but we went up to about 4,000 feet and I was with this guy who had 60 jumps or so. He opens up the door, looks down, gets heads up and then jumps. I was so used to because I got trained this way to watch them, give them about seven seconds of separation or so, wait until they separate enough and then jump, do my thing.
I jumped, hanging out, do a couple of flips, pull my shoot and I’m flying. I’m saying like, “Where’s the drop zone?” There’s nowhere to be seen and I see it like 1 mile out. Maybe if I was at 12,000 feet, I would have spotted it and be like, “I can pull high and then make it.” The dude that I jumped with thought that the wind was going to push us, which is a thing. It was not that windy, by any means. I take full responsibility on this being a leader because I should have spotted for myself and been like, “I hope he lands okay. I’m going to jump over the drop zone because you fly a brick.” I’m going and I’m trying to remember like, “What happens if you don’t land in the landing area?”
There are vineyards all over the place in Cloverdale, California. It’s beautiful when you land in the landing area, but when you don’t, it’s scary. I should have landed in these different spots, but I was freaking out. I didn’t know what to do. I’m trying to remember everything they taught me and I’m going straight for this vineyard. They said to land with the vineyard rows. You don’t want to cross them. I’m looking for power lines and look for everything possible. I’m like, “How am I going to do this?” I see this big open dirt patch. I’m like, “I’m going to land in the dirt patch because I’m close. My trajectory is going to help me land there.” I’m going forward and everything’s cool.
I didn’t see the one set of power lines right in the middle of the vineyard. There are vineyards and trees and you don’t see the thin black cable there. Flying up to it and I’m like, “Everything is all good.” I didn’t see the post because I’m not paying attention. I’m focused on this dirt spot. These lines show up in front of my face. I curl up in a ball and run straight into them. The two of the lines snapped off of my chest and broke straight through the lines. They fell from 30 feet in the air with these broken lines around me. I landed on my side, on the vineyard row and then flipped and hit the deck. I stood straight up. I was livid. I was blaming the dude. I was a total victim thing. I should’ve been like, “That was dumb on my part.” I was adrenaline out. This is the worst part. People get me with this all the time. I see the line. It’s tangled up inside my parachute. I clean this mess up. I grabbed the line and start pulling it out and I’m grounded.
I was like, “That’s a live power line.”
My brain wasn’t thinking straight. It was bad off day. That whole thing happened and then I turn around and I see the owner walking over and he was like, “You’ve got to leave. You can’t be here. This is crazy.” It was scary. I was in shock.
You didn’t break anything?
I didn’t break any bones. I had some muscle pain clearly. I didn’t even break a finger. I thought it was snap my spine. I went out, I got kicked out of the drop zone because I was a liability. Seven months later, I finally went back and I brought some family from Sweden because I’m Swedish. My family went out and did a couple of jumps and I went over and the owner is like, “I want you to come with me over here. We want to have you back because we miss you. You’re good on the drop zone to help new people.” It brings me out to the spot and I see it. Those power lines were high, like 30 feet. Looking at the vineyard room, I’m like, “How did I not get kebab on my side from the stakes sticking out?” That would have sucked. Imagine the dude coming over and seeing me and I’m stuck. If I’m a cat, I probably have four lives left out of my nine. I don’t know how many people have near-death experiences like that, but it makes you appreciate life and gratitude. That’s why I start my calls with gratitude.
It’s big to be grateful for what we do have. It’s great for leaders too. I had a vice president of MassMutual that I was working with and I started doing the calls with them. I was like, “What’s something you’re grateful for and something you’re proud of?” He was like, “What are you talking about?” He wasn’t used to doing that. It’s huge because my definition of gratitude is it’s a feeling of deep appreciation for what we have right now, but you want to experience gratitude. You don’t want to say things that you’re grateful for. It’s that full experience of feeling that deep appreciation for what we do have and the small things like eyesight. How great for you when you think about it, how nice is it to be able to see? I was driving to the store one day and I see this guy who didn’t have legs and riding in a wheelchair pushing himself. I looked down, I said, “I have legs. Thank you, God.”
Gratitude is a big component. It shifts even when you’re having a bad day, it shifts you immediately when you focus on what you’re grateful for. One other question I want to ask you is, what is your massive positive impact that you’re making?
My first video that I ever did on my podcast, I said what my MPI was. I don’t even remember what it was. It was a long time ago, but it shifts because we discover who we are authentically. I want to see more people. My massive positive impact is helping people get paid to enjoy the work that they do. Not everybody has to be an entrepreneur. Not everybody has to make millions of dollars, must if they want. That’s different. Their work is big because it takes a third of our life and people work more than they sleep. If you’re going to do that, you might as well enjoy it. Either you’re going to find something you enjoy or you’re going to learn how to enjoy it or recreate the setting so that you can enjoy it.
Why work important and why it’s a lineup of competence and authenticity for me is because authenticity is about being 100% you. It’s that quote by Howard Thurman, “Do what makes you come alive and do work that makes you come alive.” Something that you’re passionate about because your work is an expression of you. Eighty five percent of people are unsatisfied with their work. If in my lifetime I can see that number and be a part of it and get it down to 50%, I would feel grateful.
James, I appreciate you taking the time to speak with us. This is valuable. You gave me great stuff. Thank you. I appreciate it.
Thank you for having me. It’s fun. It was one of the most fun.
That’s because both of us are into confidence and fun. Until next time. Let us know how you enjoyed this and don’t forget to like, share and download this show and check us out the next time.
- James Allen
- One Armed Joey
- The Four Agreements