I spent an almost 20-year career in marketing & advertising (as an entrepreneur, agency founder, coach, consultant & CMO) feeling that my contribution to the world was lacking.
I felt like I was more a part of the problem than a part of the solution - motivating people to buy shit they didn't need with money they didn't have...
The advertiser's dilemma.
In hindsight, this incoherence between who I wanted to be & who I felt I was Being was the first crack in a chasm that eventually I could no longer cross.
I would eventually realise that I needed my work to have more meaning, feel more significant & foster positive contribution to something beyond myself.
But being just a crack, I didn't recognise it at the time, and plugged away, using my natural creativity & willingness to self-educate to expand the agency from a 2-man show in 2002 to a 20+ staff interactive studio operating across Asia-Pacific, the UK & The Middle East by 2012.
As our business was growing, I recognised that to grow the business I needed to grow myself.
And so - much like I'd taught myself to design & build websites - I began a lifelong quest to teach myself how to become the man I wished to Be.
As most personal development quests begin, I bought every book & CD course (yup, I'm that old!), enrolled in weekend seminars & meditation retreats and discovered teachers like Tony Robbins, the Dalai Lama, Robin Sharma, Abraham-Hicks, Dr. Wayne Dyer, Robert Kiyosaki, and the foundational classics of Wallace Wattles, Dale Carnegie & Napoleon Hill.
From NLP, affirmations & belief clearing to meditation, metaphysics & Buddhism, I spent the best part of the next decade devouring as much self-help, personal development & spiritual growth information as I could find.
And to be honest, my mind expanded faster & further than my business.
I had a wealth of knowledge, but was still broke AF, living paycheque to paycheque and struggling to get to terms with my own success.
So the doubt crept in. What was I doing wrong? What was I missing? Why wasn't this working?
As much as my mental perspective had shifted, my physical reality was much the same.
Mostly broke. Feigning success, with massive imposter syndrome. Dissolution of an 8-year relationship because of my inability to provide financial stability (this would become a repetitive pattern for me).
And generally feeling incomplete, unsatisfied and disillusioned.
But fuck it, I'm the eternal optimist.
Life goes on, we fail, we fall, we get up again.
We try. We learn. We iterate.
Even in the midst of what I perceived as colossal life failure, I maintained positivity.
Amidst chaos, I was able to remain calm & hopeful things would get better.
Optimism is my greatest super power, and I will be forever grateful that I inherited it from my Dad.
So eventually that crack of incoherence became a chasm, and I needed to shift my career towards doing actual good in the world.
Amidst a fresh start and massive uncertainty at the backend of 2018, for reasons I'll explain in just a bit, I forged a new path more aligned to my values, vision and ideals for who I wanted to become.
I joined a sustainability startup where I could use my marketing skills to contribute a positive impact on the planet, and started seriously looking into following my burning desire to serve.
That lead me to coaching, and this very site you're on now.
My transition to coaching began with the idea that prevention is better than cure. And a desire to help others understand that there is a significant link between preventing what we don't want in our lives & our capacity to deal with stress, uncertainty & chaos.
My coaching philosophy is built on the idea that it’s preferable to prevent something from happening than to suffer the consequences of ignorance & inaction.
I believe this applies as much to our external world – traumatic experiences, conflict, changes in lifestyle conditions… even death – as it does to our internal world – our health, fitness, mental state, consciousness and character.
This philosophy was born, like many that came before it, from tragedy.
It was the wise words of my late Father, Peter, who whilst battling terminal brain cancer in 2012 said to me, “You know mate, the best way to beat cancer… is to not get it in the first place!”
How powerful is that!!
And even though I didn’t know exactly what I was going to do with this wisdom, I had a sense that this was important.
I believe that it sat in my sub-conscious for years until I was ready to turn it into something that could save others from the cycles of pain & suffering we inflict on each other and ourselves when we lose touch with who we truly are.
You see, what eventually dawned on me was that the reason all those books and gurus hadn't helped me, was because I had been focussing on 50% of the answer.
My mind was on fire - I was mentally & spiritually off into the stratosphere - but my physical reality seemed locked into a loop of old patterns.
I'd gotten the thinking part right. But the doing was lacking.
More accurately, I wasn't Being Who I Needed to Be to transmute my thoughts into 3D reality.
After a decade of self-searching I discovered that the secret to eliminating self-sabotage is to design the person you wish to become, and BE that person NOW.
By being the person who gets the things you want, you bring the future forward - you literally step into your future vision of yourself.
But Who did I want to become?
Maybe you're asking yourself the same question?
For me it was really a 2-part question:
Who do I want to Become? And Who am I going to become if nothing changes?
The answer to part 2 was not super cool...
I would become more of what I had already been, what I was desperately trying to escape.
How about you? Who are you going to become if you keep Being who you're being right now, and in your past?
A lot of people I coach find that this is not a fun answer.
So let's go to part 1 - Who do you want to become?
Ahhhhhh, now we can have some freakin' fun 🙂
Wanna know where I found the answer?
Alone, in a concrete bus shelter just the other side of an 8-lane toll bridge, somewhere on the outskirts of Curitiba, Brazil - April 11, 2011.
I'd just spent 6 hours searching for a rock climbing crag (wall) where I was to meet up with the other 19 members of the HotRock Climbing Expedition.
I'd left the tour a few days prior to get a visa to cross from Argentina into Brazil, in the teeny town of Foz do Iguazu. The plan from there was to take an overnight bus to Curitiba and connect with the giant red truck we'd been traveling on for the previous 6 weeks.
I had a destination, a name, some rusty Spanish and assumed I'd be arriving at a rock wall. Not an 8-lane toll bridge.
Not only was I on the side of a major road - the surrounding land was flat. Where was the fucking mountain!!??
Having exhausted my best mashed Portuguese/Spanish to ask some toll booth operators where the crag was, one had pointed in a direction over that way - so off I trundled. Everything I had with me strapped to my back.
I'd been on this particular dirt track for at least 2 hours, and there was no sign of a goddamn mountain. It was hot. It was getting late, and I had no idea where I was or where I was headed.
I was literally wandering along dirt tracks in the middle of farm land, in Brazil, analysing the potential of each bush I came across to be my bed for the night.
After about 5 hours of getting nowhere I doubled-back to the bus shelter figuring I'd catch the next bus to whatever town I could reach.
I sat in that shelter swearing at myself, every name under the sun. How could I get myself into this, WTF was I gonna do?! I still had 4 weeks of the trip and how was I gonna find this fucking truck?
It was the deepest despair I'd ever faced. I had no idea what I was going to do. I even snapped some photos of myself to remember just how fucked off I was at that point.
I think it was to remind myself to never get into a situation like that again.
As I was taking those photos...
A giant red truck turned the corner behind me.
I could not believe it! I chased that motherf*cker as it turned off-road in the complete opposite direction to where I'd been walking for the past 6 hours.
I lost sight of it, but figured it had continued on the same path. I ran, stumbling, sweating, relieved & exhausted.
I finally saw it parked in the distance and I ran to meet the crew - who clearly had not seen me waving like a bloody mad man from the bus shelter!
The photos show how drained, sweaty & happy I was to find that truck, and connect with my people again.
That was the deepest I'd ever been forced to dive into my own internal dialogue; on the verge of despair, ready to tap out. That was an adventure into suffering I did not want to repeat.
Or did I?
What I discovered that day was that turbulence is the pathway to freedom.
That when we're at our worst - we have an incredible opportunity to find our best.
In the depths of struggle our minds switch into critic mode - "you can't", "you won't", "you shouldn't", you're too this", "you're not enough that"... Sound familiar?
The beauty is that if we listen carefully, all the B.S (belief systems) that run (ruin?) our lives come to the surface.
When we confront them - magic happens.
When we come face-to-face with our self-talk, we get a window into our own soul. This is who we really are - this is our subconscious programming laid bare.
And when we see ourselves, we get to decide whether or not we like what we see.
That's how we get to choose our destiny, and craft the person we wish to Become.
We forge ourselves in the fire of chaos.
Allowing us to step into the 'beingness' of someone wholly new; the person we choose to be, our ultimate vision of the highest ideal of our greatest capabilities.
So, I continued climbing, always pushing for harder ascents, more difficult terrain.
I started multiple businesses over the years. In different areas, learning new skills each time.
And in the wake of my Dad's passing, I moved country and spent 6 years living in the United Arab Emirates. Suddenly a stranger in a strange land.
I ran a digital agency in Abu Dhabi, had and left a 3-year relationship (remember those patterns), rescued 4 cats and a dog, met & fell in love with my amazing fiancée, worked for a media agency in Dubai, got fired for unknown political reasons, had my car stolen (a gorgeous Maserati Ghibli S), lost everything I had built and ended up fleeing the country, leaving my fiancee, my animals & my new life behind...
Crash landing back home in Melbourne just in time for my 40th birthday.
6 years of Chaos.
But again, I found a way to keep calm & carry on.
Since then I've become CMO at a sustainability startup, started training high-level martial arts again, joined the 5am club, taken daily cold showers & occasional ice baths, explored primal breathing techniques, meditation modalities & astral projection.
I've become a certified Master Life Coach, Goal Success, Happiness & Life Purpose Coach, certified Ho'oponopono practitioner & co-host of the OnConscious podcast.
In short. Chaos never stopped me from trying to become more.
And as I reflect, all that chaos has actually made me stronger today. It's what has allowed me to turn that eternal optimism into patience, persistence, courage & character.
In fact during the 'pandemic' I've started 3 businesses (a podcast, a consulting firm & this coaching practice.)
And this comes from the secret that I embedded into myself all that time ago in that bus shelter in Curitiba:
"The more we struggle, the more we undergo stress & uncertainty, the harder we fall - the bigger our capacity grows to handle stress in the future."
What I learned through all of this is that by deliberately pushing into Chaos, by intelligently & consciously doing hard things, we become more capable of handling life's detours.
Chaos teaches us to become what is known as 'AntiFragile' - the opposite of Fragile, and a step beyond Resilient.
We become capable of not merely surviving adversity, but actually growing stronger from it!
And that is what my coaching is all about.
Pushing into Chaos, into fear, into the unknown to help you overcome your limitations, and see just how capable you really are.
Because it is in those moments of struggle that 'the real you' shows up. And if you know how to listen, you can hear the very words that will unlock your transformation.
We are all somewhere in the process of becoming who we want to be. But it's easy to get lost. Or to not really know what our destination is.
By facing what's hard for us we confront our internal bullshit, and get to make new, conscious choices about who we want to become.
What my life has taught me is that the twists and turns of our lives are the roadmap to our future - sometimes we just need help reading the map, understanding the signposts and creating the optimal path to our best selves.
I hope we get to work together to ignite your fire for change and help you to consciously transform yourself into the amazing human you were born to be.
With Love & Respect
© 2020 Chris McLean. All Rights Reserved