Mike Valentine: Finding Love, Grace and Peace Through On-Purpose Living #29

Warwick Fairfax

July 28, 2020

Mike Valentine was a blue-collar kid who grew into a blue-collar young man, a longshoreman’s son who began working as a steelworker as a teenager, walking his first skyscraper beam at 14. His was a hardscrabble existence: He spent the next decade and a half addicted to alcohol and beset with its devastations — bar fights, car accidents and times behind bars. All that changed when his daughter was born — and he turned his attention to living life in pursuit of a worthy purpose. Today, as founder of On Purpose Now, he helps clients address the psychological, emotional, practical and spiritual aspects of life and business to awaken dormant energy and harness real power. What have his 30,000 hours of coaching others through crucibles and crossroads taught him? That every one of us has a gift to give, a purpose to live and a vision to build … and that the purpose most people want to aim for is characterized by love, grace and peace. In this episode, he tells BEYOND THE CRUCIBLE host and Crucible Leadership founder Warwick Fairfax that pain offers us a great awakening. “What we find at ground zero,” he says, “is the bottom of our hearts.”

To learn more about Mike Valentine, visit www.onpurposenow.com

To learn more about Crucible Leadership and sign up to receive updates from Warwick Fairfax, visit www.CrucibleLeadership.com

Highlights

 

  • The clues to finding his purpose were unveiled at age 7 (5:42)
  • The many crucibles of a hardscrabble life (13:37)
  • How he turned his life around (18:07)
  • The ways he helps others move beyond their fears (25:52)
  • Healing from heartbreak begins with revisiting it (27:31)
  • How the light becomes visible when you understand the darkness (31:23)
  • It’s innate to all of us to want to live life on purpose (35:34)
  • How he helped a terminally ill woman find peace and purpose (38:20)
  • Your eulogy and your purpose are the same thing (42:21)
  • The difference living a life of purpose makes (47:25)
  • The fear-based treadmill underneath us all (51:25)
  • Key takeaways from the episode (56:13)

Transcript

Gary S:
Welcome, everybody, to Beyond the Crucible. I’m Gary Schneeberger, the co-host of the podcast and the Communications Director for Crucible Leadership. And you have clicked play, we hope you’ve clicked subscribe to this podcast, because Beyond the Crucible is a podcast that deals with how you deal with crucible experiences in your life, those difficult moments in your life that can really shake you up, that can really kind of knock you sideways, can sometimes leave you feeling as if life will never be the same again. And our purpose, and you’ll hear it extremely well in today’s episode, I think, our purpose in talking about those moments is to give you hope and actionable tips on how you can move beyond them.

Gary S:
Our guest today, Warwick, is someone who can really help us with that. And Warwick, by the way, listener, is Warwick Fairfax, who is the host of this program and the founder, the architect of Crucible Leadership. Warwick, this is going to be a good one, I think, and it will offer great actionable steps for listeners.

Warwick F:
Absolutely, Gary. I’m very excited to have Mike here, and yeah, it should be a great discussion.

Gary S:
The Mike that Warwick just referred to is Mike Valentine. And I’m going to tell you just a little bit about him, listener, before we get going here. Amidst the shadows of life-defining challenges, Mike Valentine activates a rare ability to bring to light the transformative power of purpose and produce real results. With the combination of a strong backbone, kind heart and direct approach, Mike has been professionally coaching people from all walks of life for more than 25 years. Mike has spent over 30,000 hours in developing leaders and scaled the ladder in three industries. His experience as a seasoned entrepreneur and corporate executive balances his training as a leader, and now his unique role as a life-purpose coach.

Gary S:
Mike has taught corporate leadership development, worked with personal and family relationships, and the realization of peak performance and human potential. The fires of life have tempered Mike’s character and left a burning devotion to helping others live happier, healthier lives, expressed through trans-personal purposes. For the last 12 years, Mike has pioneered On-Purpose Guidance Systems, which transcend the usual approaches by unlocking the power of true intention to create sustainable change and real results. His integral expertise, addressing the psychological, emotional, practical, and spiritual aspects of life and business, awakens dormant energy and harnesses real power. With this methodology, Mike supports people in all walks to make the shift to live On Purpose Now.

Warwick F:
Well, Mike, it’s so great to have you, and appreciate you coming here on the podcast. I really love that whole On Purpose Now theme. It definitely just certainly feels like it makes so much sense. We talk here a lot in Crucible Leadership and, in this case, Beyond the Crucible podcast, about living a life of significance. We’ve actually used the phrase, a life on purpose; who knew we were both kind of subconsciously on the same wavelength? But before we get to kind of On Purpose Now, which I’d love to hear you unpack it some more, it would be great to hear some of the back story, some of the circumstances, some of the challenges, maybe even crucibles that… There’s always a reason behind our vision, there’s always a reason behind our passion, and I’m sure you have a burning passion for helping people live on purpose. So Mike, tell us a bit about Mike Valentine and how you grew up, and kind of maybe the path that led you to where you are now with On Purpose Now.

Mike Valentine:
I was born in Baytown, Texas, which is the East of Houston. If you know Houston, that’s not the brighter side.

Gary S:
Yes.

Mike Valentine:
My dad is, or was… he passed a little over a year ago, but was a union longshoreman, and his best friend was a union iron worker. And by the ripe old age of 14, I was hanging iron in downtown Houston. So much of what I learned about living on purpose, I learned walking a beam. And it’s way too simplified, but it really is simple. There’s death three inches either direction, or less, and it’s important to land the next step.

Warwick F:
Right. You don’t land the next step, that could be your last step.

Mike Valentine:
Yeah, the second one doesn’t matter yet. Unbeknownst to me, that was part of my training, learning to live fully in the moment, to be right at the edge of death. And in the late ’70s, early ’80s, we didn’t wear safety harnesses. And so the only thing between me and death was gravity, and it was pulling for it. Unbeknownst to myself, that was some of the training to really learn how to stay present, in the moment, take the next step, maintain balance, be sure you got your tools with. You don’t want to drop them. There’s a lot of good training in that. But prior to that, I don’t know…

Mike Valentine:
I was sharing with Gary when we spoke before that when I was seven years old, my parents went to Mexico, and they came back and shared of the starving children in Mexico begging for money and food. And a boy, that they had connected with and taken a liking to was my age, seven. And they told me about it. And I remember my heart sinking and my throat welling up. You didn’t often cry in front of my dad for no reason, but it was right there. And when they finished telling me, I don’t know if it was exactly then, but shortly after, I decided I needed to get my second bike in shape. That young man could use my bicycle. And if he had my bike to beg, he could get to more people faster.

Mike Valentine:
So I went to the garage and started to repair my spare bike. And my dad came out and said, “What are you doing?” I said, “I’m getting my bike in shape for…” I believe his name was Juan. “I’m going to get my bike in shape for Juan, and we’ll send it to him.” And my dad said, “Oh, don’t be silly. You can’t do that.” And honestly, he may as well have told me I can’t help my fellow man. I know he didn’t intend that; he was being practical. In hindsight, I can see that. But I developed stomach ulcers, worrying about other children who didn’t have…

Mike Valentine:
We were lower-middle class America, but we had the necessities, we weren’t hurting, and I had a spare. And if I couldn’t give my spare bike to that young man, how would I help people? It presented a very unique dilemma. At seven years old, I developed stomach ulcers, and we didn’t know that was very young to have stomach ulcers. And one day, as I was crossing the backyard, they doubled me over and… I didn’t go unconscious, but I was in deep pain. And when the pain passed, I had a sense of something that easily, now I can say, was purpose. I certainly couldn’t say it then, but I would say now, that something in me knew the world lives in fear, and it doesn’t have to.

Warwick F:
So just talk about that experience. You’re seven years old, and you probably didn’t… you certainly wouldn’t have thought in those terms. My sense is, even at seven, Mike, your worldview and your father’s was very different. I’m sure you didn’t say, “Yes, I have a different worldview than my dad.” Who does that at age seven?

Mike Valentine:
No, I wouldn’t have said that, either.

Warwick F:
But yet you clearly did. Again, doesn’t mean that your father was a bad person, but your view of the world and how it should operate, maybe even your sense of values, was a bit maybe different. So talk about… In hindsight, as you look back at a seven-year-old Mike Valentine and your dad, talk about the difference in your dad’s frame of reference and how he saw the world and how you saw the world, even at age seven.

Mike Valentine:
And that continued until his passing. You’ve hit the nail on the head there, very keen insight on your part. Of course, you’re right, I could not say, “Oh, I have a unique worldview to yours and let’s work this out diplomatically.” That wasn’t an option. But that desire to live in service of something greater than my own existence, I would say from that day, until I was 28, haunted me. Within the setting that I lived in, both in my home and in the environment… Union ironworkers are not generally the most enlightened trade on the planet. I was in an environment that had, in my opinion, no chance to really, not only fertilize and grow and expand that in dialogues with people, but couldn’t even talk about it.

Warwick F:
It almost feels like, and I don’t want to put words in your mouth, that your dad maybe thought like, “My job to take care of my wife, my kids, my immediate family. That’s my job.” If you’re an ironworker, it’s take care of your brothers in your local union. It’s like every other people can take care of themselves, but it’s not my job to take care of other families, of people in other countries. That’s not what I’m here about. Kind of family first kind of deal. Was that kind of a bit of the mindset? Do you think of your dad and-

Mike Valentine:
That’s exactly right. And I would say this… And thank you for saying my brothers, because they were. No question, I hold no superior place on the planet than those guys. I’ll tell you, I think that all of us, unbeknownst to ourselves, we met God on the beam. We didn’t know that’s what we were doing, but fear can’t walk the beam, and you need something greater than that to take the next step. And so I have gone back. In fact my dad passed, like I said, just a little over a year ago. I spoke with his best friend this weekend and a few times in the last year, and I’ve been able to have some of these conversations; he’s 78. And it’s interesting to see his response. He’s still bidding work for the high rises in Houston. But that’s exactly it: take care of my tribe and protect it fiercely, up to and including with arms, if needed.

Mike Valentine:
It’s really interesting, Warwick, you struck a nerve in me that I haven’t had the chance to really express, I don’t think, very often. If you were to watch my progress from there, you would say, “Well, he became a typical ironworker.” How much you drink, who you can beat up in the bar, the women that you hang with, became the measure of manlihood. And seeing no option, I did; I stepped right in, I would say, in hindsight, unfortunately, but it was all I could see. But I was conflicted and contradicted inside. I could not understand, and so I drank more Jack Daniel’s to anesthetize it.

Mike Valentine:
And then I actually loved being on the beam, because there was freedom there. There was total freedom on the beam. At the edge of death, and fear dissolving with each step, there’s total freedom walking the beam. I almost set… My old tool belt is on a statute to my right here. It’s here to remind me there’s a day’s work.

Warwick F:
As I’m listening to you, Mike, it almost… And I can relate to this in some small way, although we couldn’t have grown up more differently. I grew up in a very wealthy… back in Australia. Upbringings couldn’t be more different, radically different, but yet I can relate in one sense. It almost feels like you were living somebody else’s purpose, somebody else’s life, somebody else’s worldview. Protect your tribe, protect your family, protect your brothers in the union, kind of “Live a hard life,” whether it’s alcohol, women, that’s the environment you were around, I’m guessing.

Warwick F:
So that was sort of normal for your tribe, the expression you used, but somehow I sense that it’s like, “Is this all there is? Do I just want to live somebody else’s life, somebody else’s purpose?” There was something within you that said… I felt like I said, “No, I’m not against this, but I want to be more than this.” Does that feel somewhat where you were, that you were to some degree living somebody else’s purpose or some other group’s purpose?

Mike Valentine:
I haven’t actually looked at it that way, but that’s spot on. That’s exactly where I was, but not knowing how to talk about or shift to, or bring forth my own, which like you said, was very different. But that’s exactly it. So I excelled at football for four or five years, and at 14, I found Jack Daniel’s whiskey, and it became a dear friend for the next 14 years. And at the end of that trail of tragedy, there had been 33 automobile accidents, 12 vehicles totaled and four trips to jail. And knife fights, gunfights, street fights. And then, as miracle, crucible, or divine intervention would have it, a young lady was born into my marriage. And the day I sat… Her name is Whitney, and the day… She’s 32 now.

Mike Valentine:
The day that I put her on the couch, bringing her home from the hospital, my dad was actually running the video camera, and it’s just… liquid started to flow from my eyes, and that didn’t happen often. I’m a pretty tough guy by then. Strapping 26 year old guy that… So I turned away and I didn’t know, I didn’t understand what was happening. I certainly didn’t want my dad to see, and I didn’t want it on video. But within the next two days, I knew that I had been struck by love. I knew that love had come in a package that I couldn’t deny, and it had been absent, because… And I could tell it was absent when it became present.

Mike Valentine:
As fate would have it, within those two days, I ended up putting my mom… my sister and I ended up putting my mom in rehab for cocaine abuse. And so I had a fairly good crucible right here, a daughter, two days old, a friend of my mom’s had gone to the house I grew up in and committed suicide, struck out heroin and beat his brains in with a golf club. And my mom walked into that situation and I came home, and my wife and my daughter’s mother told me what had happened. And my aunt said, “You have to do something.” And I said, “I can’t do something. I have a two-day-old child. And by the way, I love her, and I’m a little mixed up about all this.” And then by the end of the conversation, I realized she was completely right, that there was something that needed to be done.

Mike Valentine:
Fortunately, I had some conversations, and my mom was… either she was going willingly or I was calling for the straight jackets, but I had I had had those conversations. And she went willingly, and she’s been clean and sober for 33 years now. But that was a major. And I would say what we find… In my deepest belief, what we find in ground zero is the bottom of our hearts. And I’m someone who went over and over until I figured that out. And then I’m like, “Oh, maybe I don’t have to go to these extreme bottoms to activate the bottom of my heart, or the depth of love and care.” I have, since then, come to believe that people who will have conversations… but it’s there for all of us. So it’s evolved to, we all have a gift to give, a purpose to live and a vision we would love to build and create of a better self and world. And it generally is some expression of love.

Warwick F:
So that was, obviously, a key turning point in your life, that bottom. In hindsight, as you were kind of engaging in behaviors that probably weren’t that helpful to you, maybe there was somebody within you, like maybe the seven year old boy saying, “I don’t want to live this life, sort of crying to get out.” It’s like, there’s got to be something different. And then you just… The birth of your daughter and then your mother and her challenges, it sounds like that was just a pivotal moment where you said, “Okay, I’m not going to live the same way anymore, I’m not going to continue these behaviors that are destructive to myself and my family. I’m going to change.”

Warwick F:
So what caused you… Because some people hit that bottom… And you would probably know better than me, just some of the folks, brothers, they don’t change. The bottom continues like for the rest of their life, however long that is. But you made a choice. What led you to make a choice to live your life differently, live your life on purpose, as you would say?

Mike Valentine:
I’m going to respond in a paradoxical, and by the time I’m finished, it may sound like a political answer, not a political party. But A) I would say that it was so piercing, the experience of love for my daughter, so piercing, it was undeniable. It was a burning bush for me at that point in life. It’s like something lit up the bush and said, “Mike, you need to turn some things around.” And then the compelling love to mold myself into something that could exist as somewhat of a father. I’m sorry, I’m getting touched to think of it. She’s 32, and I have three grandsons now. And I’ll be 58 on Sunday. So-

Gary S:
Well, happy early birthday.

Mike Valentine:
Thank you. It was just so piercing that it was irrevocable in my mind. And I would say that that is an act of grace. I don’t see how I deserved or earned that in any way.

Gary S:
It’s interesting to me to hear you describe the part about getting to the bottom of your heart, as an adult, as an adult who’d been through some very difficult, very trying, very painful experiences. Some happened to you, some of them you set into motion, as you acknowledged here. But just that phrase, “getting to the bottom of your heart,” is interesting to me, because of the story you told about being seven years old. You have given an interview…

Gary S:
I read an interview that you gave about that story. And you said something in that story that was really interesting to me. You ended the story by saying, although you couldn’t say it then, when you weren’t able to give your bike to that child who was begging, who was roughly your same age, “Although I couldn’t say it then, it was a sense of purpose in my DNA,” you told this reporter, “in my genes to help others. I was incarnated to help people discover their gift, their purpose, and create their future.” To me, when you talk about getting to the bottom of your heart after some very difficult experiences in adulthood, it sounds to me like that may describe what you found at the bottom of your heart. Is that fair?

Mike Valentine:
That’s what it evolved to. I’ve never heard it said back to me, and thank you for that. And the way you just shared it, Gary, that’s beautiful. Though, you could say that giving him my bike meant helping them discover their gift, purpose, and vision. We could translate it now. And it took years though, to get that clarity. So I was going to back to Warwick’s question right there. So I would say it’s an act of grace that I don’t see any way that I earned. And then paradoxically, I did take practical steps. I got involved in my mom’s recovery, I got interested in… I had no concept of God, I had never owned a Bible. It had all been dark for as long as I could remember, probably since I was seven, maybe.

Mike Valentine:
My mom told me to… We were in the rehab room and I said, “Mom, I don’t even have a Bible.” And she said, “Well, here, take this one out of the drawer.” And it says, “Gideon’s. Placed here by Gideon’s, please do not remove.” And I’m like, “Mom, it just can’t be right to steal a Bible. It says right here, don’t steal it.” She said that “It’s better you steal it than live without it, son.” So my first was Gideon’s.

Warwick F:
Boy, those were very profound words from your mother.

Mike Valentine:
She was right in hindsight, but it didn’t… something didn’t feel quite right, but… And I didn’t end up going particularly a religious or Christian route-

Warwick F:
Sure.

Mike Valentine:
… but I tuned in. And then what evolved from there for me… Like you said, it is a mystery to me, how some people go to bottom and they have a peak, if you will, a glimpse of the bottom of their heart, but they don’t activate what’s there. And that’s become much of my trade, is you’ve been to enough bottoms, let’s go back to one of them and see what you didn’t pick up, that treasure that lies there. But what I did do in a practical way is I loved that daughter so much. And one day, her mom and I had an argument and I said, “You’re going to have to explain this to our daughter, how you’ve handled this,” and drove off in an anger.

Mike Valentine:
As I was driving, I heard myself say, “You’re going to have to explain to our daughter how you handled this.” And I realized I was talking to me. And she became the symbol of that love and the symbol of the desire to find that, eventually evolve, as Gary said, to the belief that we have a gift to give, a purpose to live and a vision to build.

Warwick F:
It almost feels like your daughter became this talisman or the symbol of your purpose. You can’t but have helped think, when my daughter reaches seven years old and she wants to give a bike to a kid in Mexico or some other thing, I’m going to say, yes, I’m going to encourage it. I love my dad, but I’m going to take a different path, and my daughter will grow up differently. That had to be in the back of your mind.

Mike Valentine:
Well, amazing that you bring that up. I said my daughter has three boys. Over the years, her and I cleaned out closets, drawers and toy boxes around Christmas, so that to make room for the new stuff coming. But where we took it was into the streets of Houston to the homeless people. We went, ourselves, and delivered it. She handed her things. We picked out the little girl in the front yard, and she is a very tenderhearted, young lady, a beautiful young lady. And just before the onset of coronavirus, she took in two foster children, one, three months old and one three years old. And she didn’t mention it. It is kind of typical of us to do very kind things, but not talk about them at all.

Mike Valentine:
She took pictures of her foster children. And I’m like, “My goodness, that’s one, two, three, four, five boys in your home?” Between three months and 11 years. So I don’t know, but I do believe that that tenderness… And I did have the chance. Not only to maybe say, “Let’s get this bike fixed up and package it,” at her will, but to also learn how to express that in my life as an example, hopefully, that had some positive effect on her.

Warwick F:
Well, that is so powerful. I think the listeners, we can all see the genesis of your vision for helping others, see the gifts, the diamonds maybe in the rough, may;be even the grace that comes with being in the bottom that had to have fueled a passion, a mission for you in life to help others live lives on purpose. I talk a bit about it. I think you can understand the genesis of this, but talk a bit about On Purpose Now and the tools and the principles that you give people, many of whom may well be in the bottom, or certainly being through transition. Maybe they’re not at the bottom, but they’re living life aimlessly and they’re thinking, “Is this all there is? I punch a clock, I go to work, but is this all there is?” And so talk about what you do helps people, whether they’re in the bottom or just maybe they’re just drifting through life, as many of us do.

Mike Valentine:
It’s the full range, Warwick, from… I have pioneered, organically discovered a method to work people through the events of their past and release the fear and look at the decisions they made about their view of life, their self, their capacities, and the other people involved. And when we’re afraid, we make decisions… I made five things. Those make up the root belief system, or the ego, in my approach. And so I’ve reenacted now 38 rates. And by reenacted, I don’t mean we reenacted the physicality of it, but through visualization. What happened next? What did you decide? What happened next? What did you decide?

Mike Valentine:
So it’s the range of people who’ve been deeply abused, all the way to the executive who wants to achieve the next level. The heartache is the same. And I don’t mean to discount the impact of physical, emotional and sexual abuse, at all. But from rape to one of, I would say, milder cases, I could not understand why this guy seemed so depressed and what was moving with him, and we finally got to the work, and his heartbreak was as a junior in high school, he was cut from the baseball team, the varsity baseball team. And the way he learned was approaching the fieldhouse to see on the list that he’s not on the team and all his baseball buddies were there, and that broke his heart.

Mike Valentine:
The day he believed love failed him was the day that he started to invest his faith in fear. By then he was 17, so… So the process is a pathway of endarkenment. So I start with, you have that gift to give, a purpose to live and vision to build, and most people say, “I have no idea how to discover it.” And I say, “Oh, that’s easy. We’ll go through your deepest heartbreak, grief, guilt, and shame that you’ve experienced in life. That’s where you left it. So we’ll just go back there and find it.”

Mike Valentine:
It’s so curious to me, Warwick, that they know it as well as I do. I’ve been down that trail with between two and three thousand people. But when we get there, to this place I call ground zero, and you look at this fear-based belief system, diagrammed on a wall, you’ve had this idea of what this is. I know I’m my worst enemy, but I graph it with a series of beliefs, associated behaviors and emotional results, the wonderful resentment and guilt and remorse.

Mike Valentine:
When you see the diagram, the ego is an addict. It’s addicted to fear. And for me, I would just put as my top behavior, those 14 years, believe all these things. I’m not good enough. I deserve to be beaten, raped, abandoned, thrown to the trash as a series of beliefs. And my top line behavior is just get some more whiskey. So take the whiskey out and now get some more food. Take the food out and now it get some more adrenaline. And eventually, through an iterative process, I saw that this system is going to get ahold of anything; a wife, a work assignment, inadequacy in creating technology solutions. It could get hold of anything. So there’s nothing to do, but let it be. Growing awareness, admitting that I have a fear-based system that leads me to guilt and shame, and my ego’s an addict, and accepting it. I do that when I do.

Warwick F:
Because part of dealing with things is you’ve got to recognize it and accept that we all have certain behaviors. Whether it’s in-built or learned, it doesn’t really matter, but… I know I do. We all have certain things, and part of it is recognize and accept it, and just saying, you’re not a awful person just because you have certain fears. Some people are claustrophobic, some people are afraid of heights, which obviously could be a bad one if you’re an ironworker, to be afraid of heights. But we all have different fears, and recognize, accept it. That’s the first step to be able to deal with it, which obviously, I’m sure, is what you help people understand. Right?

Mike Valentine:
That’s step one, to expose all of… My goal in the deeper work I do of our initial interaction is to diagram on half a piece of paper, a hundred percent of what’s holding you back in life, and that’s your call or the call of the person going through the process, I can’t know. But I know what it feels like at ground zero with them. Again, it’s fascinating. I’ve been there more than the people I’m working with, but they often know, this is it, this is ground zero. We look at this diagram a bit like you would look at 9/11. Wow, those buildings are really crumbled there. And this is really a mess. It’s interesting, it’s almost like the darkening of the shadow against this darkness of it. The light is so much brighter.

Warwick F:
So talk a bit about that. I get the part about understanding your fears and some of these challenges. Talk about how the light becomes visible as you recognize the darkness, if you will, as you recognize the fears. How does that work?

Mike Valentine:
Well, I think we could use today’s environment.

Warwick F:
Sure.

Mike Valentine:
I think there are… Well, no discount to the tragedy of lost lives and ill people and what they’re going through, and yet there are some spiritual gifts embedded within this, putting the whole world in timeout and obliterating our future. It brings us into the moment. And the light is in the moment, but that’s not enough. If you will, the circuitry, the organism, a willingness. My part Is willingness, intention and honesty. I’m willing to see something new there. And somehow pain is a great awakener. It almost presses it out and up.

Mike Valentine:
So it’s not always a visual light, but it’s like, for example, what would you have liked to have had there when you were so embarrassed being cut from the baseball team? I would like to have had a sense of connection and friendship, maybe a love or adventure. He saw baseball as quite the adventure, he loved to play. So maybe he would have said connection, friendship, and adventure. And I’m like, “That’s probably what you abandoned right there, so let’s recollect it.” And what I said earlier, that I think that all of our purposes are some form or some branch of love, and so we could just pull that out and say, “Okay, now create your purpose to live with friendship, adventure, and connection.”

Warwick F:
As you’re talking, I almost feel like if you could go back in time to your seven year old self, you could have probably mapped your purpose out, right there, saying, “Talk about the pain of not being able to give a bike to this kid in Mexico.” What about that just fueled your sense of purpose? And I don’t know whether you would have said, “I just want to help people, and I want to care for them.” There was a genesis of your probably lifelong vision right there, at seven years old. If you go back in time, use some of your principles and methodologies, I know it’s seven, it’s hard to figure it all out, but there was a genesis of a vision right there, amidst that particular ground zero, if you will.

Mike Valentine:
For sure. And I can patch it back for you. At my very first cut of bringing it to language, this was not too long after the post ironworking era. So my first way of languaging my purpose was very simple. Excuse me. Live constructively and help others do that as well. So you could say, exactly, that was right there at the seven year old event. I was living constructively, now I can get to work, I can put this bike back together, and I can help… I wanted to see him… I literally could see this young man, my age, getting around faster. I wasn’t going to tell him to stop begging, I was just going to tell him do it better.

Warwick F:
And there’s the other side of, the light is the cost of not living on purpose at age seven, was ulcers, was bad ulcers. And so when you don’t live on purpose, there can be an emotional, even a physical consequence, as there was for you and beyond. But that’s everybody’s story in a sense, if you’re not following your purpose.

Mike Valentine:
I think so. You could fast forward it right into today. I think that we’re in a bit of a global crucible. We are definitely in uncertain and redefining times. And back to what you were saying there, at this place of ground zero, so first of all, I brought my willingness and intention. There was, in my opinion, an opportunity of grace. And then my daughter became symbolic of my purpose, as you said, but then I stayed with it. I refused to believe that I couldn’t live in that level of connection and love to something greater than myself.

Warwick F:
Absolute, and that’s… Go ahead.

Mike Valentine:
Over time. Not a hundred percent, for sure.

Warwick F:
No, no. But I think that’s one of the other things that I’m sure you talk about it, is life’s about choices. It’s easy to say, I have no options. This is the life I’ve lived, my dad’s lived, my grandfather’s lived. This is just what we do, and whatever. I’m reminded I went to college in England and certainly, years ago, the whole class system was so strong that if you ever dared to say maybe you want to go to college, “Well so you think you’re better than me? You think you better than your dad? What’s your problem?” That your tribe would say, “Don’t you dare go outside of the tribe because that’s wrong. You’re trying to…” Et cetera. Which is incredibly destructive way of thinking, but yet…

Warwick F:
I think what I’m assuming what you talk, if not preach, is that we have choices, how we want to live our lives, we don’t have to live what other people say we should. And so that’s probably a key part of living on purpose, wouldn’t you say, is choose, make that choice to live on purpose, to use your gift for the world.

Mike Valentine:
I walk people through a series of questions. The first one is, do you want to live on purpose now?

Warwick F:
Right.

Mike Valentine:
And we might sit at the table with a cup of coffee and get to know each other, and I would say that, “That’s my question to the world.” The most predictable and almost a hundred percent of response is, “I don’t know what that is, I don’t know what that means, and I don’t know how to do it.” So I stay with the original question that I didn’t ask you if you know what it is, what it means and how to do it, I asked you, do you want to live on purpose, giving what you know about the idea of purpose? I don’t think anyone’s directly said no. Some people have walked away and never came back, I take that as a no, or at least not my style of purpose. I don’t think anybody has said, “No, I don’t want to live on purpose.”

Mike Valentine:
I’ve come to believe, Warwick, that the idea of purpose is in the mind of every human. It’s the like the question of God, it’s in there. I think that, “What am I doing here?” is in the mind, already, for all of us, I think is-

Warwick F:
We all want to live on purpose. One of the things, I think, I’m sure you talk about too, is the whole concept of legacy. As you’re on your death bed, what do you want your life to be? I made millions of dollars, or I had a nice house, or maybe I lived a life, in your terms, on purpose, that somehow made the world a better place and cared for others? Which do you want your legacy to be? 99.9 percent of sane people, it’s obvious what they’re going to pick. I’m not against money, but it’s like, legacy, purpose, they’re sort of two sides of the same coin, if you will, or they’re related.

Mike Valentine:
You bring up an interesting thought I’d love to share, if I may. A young man I have been working with for several years, close to 33, called and said, “My mom’s got cancer. She’s terminal. And they don’t have any hope. Stage four here and there and all over her body. Would you meet with her?” And I said, “Well, I think so, but I don’t quite know what I would say.

Warwick F:
Right, right.

Mike Valentine:
I’m certainly not someone who cures cancer.” I probably wouldn’t have taken this call. And he said, “But I just want her to find if it’s even just a moment of peace between here and her death. And I just would… if you’d be willing to talk to her.” I said, “Of course. For you, I’ll talk to her.” So we scheduled it and he had shaven his head, she had lost her hair. And when they came through the double doors downstairs here, they were both weeping, arm-in-arm. And I got them into the conference room and sat them down, and I said, “Just cry, guys. Just let it out.” And maybe a long minute, they…

Mike Valentine:
She had very bright blue eyes, and I learned later she was my age. But her name was Joyce. And when she finished, I said, “What did the doctors say?” She said, “They say I have nine months.” I said, “What do you think?” She said, “I don’t have nine months. I have six or five.” I said, “Has your birthday passed?” She said, “Yes.” I said, “No more birthdays for you. Right?” She said, “Right.” I said, “So if you had six, you won’t see next Valentine’s Day, but you will get through Christmas.” And she cried a bit. And I said, “What are you most afraid of?” She said, “I don’t think my kids are going to be… I’m afraid my kids won’t be all right.” And I said, “They won’t. They’re going to miss you. They might go off on tangents, rebelling at your loss. Nothing we can do about that.”

Mike Valentine:
She said, “I am afraid that I’m not right with God.” I said, “Then you’re probably not.” She said, “How do you know?” I said, “Well, people who are probably don’t have that question.” She said, how do I get right with him?” I said, “You probably know that answer better than I do.” Anyway. I walked her through a process called a but reduction worksheet. And I said, “What do you most want to live between now and your death and to leave behind about this six months that you think you have ahead?” She said, “I want to live with grace, dignity and respect.” So I said, “Okay, your purpose is to live with grace, dignity and respect.”

Mike Valentine:
She said, “But my kids want me to prepare my eulogy and funeral, but I don’t have the energy all the time. And we went through it all, my kids may not be okay. I’m going to miss them. I didn’t get to live as long as I want to.” Pretty heavy stuff. And at the end, I said, “Are you still afraid that you’re not right with God?” She said, “Now I feel grace, dignity and respect in this moment.” I said, “Don’t forget this moment. Plan this moment into your mind, because if you can do it right now, you can do it again tomorrow. And maybe you’ll do it twice tomorrow, and three times the next day.”

Mike Valentine:
We had a long conversation. I said, “About this eulogy, do you want to write it?” She said, “No, I don’t want to write it. That doesn’t seem right to me.” I said, “Do you want me to write it?” She said, “Yeah.” So I took out a piece of paper and I said, “You tell me what you want your funeral to look like.” And we put it together. Her son, balling. And I asked her what music she wanted, she named three songs. One of them was Amazing Grace by Elvis Presley. And-

Warwick F:
Wow.

Mike Valentine:
So I queued them up on YouTube. And when I finished writing her eulogy, I read it to her and she said, “That’s it.” I said, “Your eulogy and your purpose are the same thing. The only way to make this true about you when you die is to live it today.” And something happened for me in that conversation. I’ve been teasing around this for years, and it got clear, with her having a shortened period of time and facing that reality.

Warwick F:
Right.

Mike Valentine:
So flipped the paper over to her son and I said, “We’re going to have a funeral today in the conference room. You read the eulogy, I’ll play the music.” And we had a funeral in the conference… her funeral in the conference room.

Warwick F:
Wow.

Mike Valentine:
The wrinkles from her face started to disappear. But my point is that what you’re saying, the legacy. We could say legacy, however you would use terms. But what you want people to say about you when you’re gone, you live today, now.

Warwick F:
And those are clues to what your purpose should be, as you’re-

Mike Valentine:
For sure.

Warwick F:
… writing that eulogy. That is such a brilliant concept. What you did with that woman is just… that was an act of grace, an act of love. That’s an amazing thing that evolved, but that can apply to all of us. Right? What-

Mike Valentine:
I was terrified what I would say. I’m like, “A woman who’s facing death, I don’t know what to say.” And on the elevator, I said, “Well, just show up and say whatever I’m moved to say.” That’s one of those things that I’m for sure came through me, but not from me.

Warwick F:
Well, certainly, as a person of faith, half of life is just showing up and trust, if you’re a person of faith, that there’s some higher power that will give you the words when you need it, kind of thing. Trust the process and trust that there’s something out there that will help you. So, wow. When you’re talking on purpose, maybe this is a dumb question, but is there a sense that on purpose, somehow it needs to benefit others? Like, if somebody said, well, my purpose is all about me and getting rich, and I don’t care if my family lives or starves, who cares? It’s all about me. That’s my purpose. Is that even possible or is that like some weird psychotic…

Mike Valentine:
Thank you for the question. There is much confusion about a purpose or a goal. Everything you mentioned is a goal. Those aren’t purposes. There is some other place, some other time, some future, and therefore, not accessible in this moment. A purpose, like she said, to live with dignity, respect, and grace, you can do that now. And then from there, yes, you establish those goals. But starting in the center of that… To live with grace, dignity and respect, now, how will you do that? I need to have some conversations with my children about what I want to be sure they know-

Warwick F:
Absolutely.

Mike Valentine:
… about how I love them.

Warwick F:
As you’re talking, I’m almost thinking back to legacy. For those who were reasonably sane, just to make that as an assumption, if you asked about the whole eulogy thing, I can’t figure of almost anybody on the planet will say, “I don’t care about my family, I don’t care about my kids, it’s all about me.” Then they’re being self-deceived. They’re not being honest with themselves. So to me, how can a purpose not have some sense of altruism, some sense of serving others? Because it almost feels like that’s not purpose, or not a purpose that anybody that I know could have. Does that make sense?

Mike Valentine:
Completely. I think it extends as service. So I think the three most common words used in people’s purpose are love, grace and peace. You could see the core negative emotions or fear-based emotions is fear, sorrow and anger. So now we’ve got to balance. And then I think that most everyone’s purpose is an extension of love, grace and peace in some way. And again, I didn’t make this up. Prior to doing work, I learned it as I did the work. And I would bet… I haven’t done it, but if I were to go back and look at the written purposes that we’ve put out for maybe a few thousand people, I don’t think I would find more than 45 words that are woven together.

Warwick F:
That is just profound: love grace and peace. I’d be hard pressed to think of three better words than that. That’s awesome. But talk about people that you’ve seen, that you work with, that you’re blessed to be around, who are living lives on purpose. What’s the difference between the before and after? Just their spirit and their bearing, talk about the difference that living a life on purpose makes.

Mike Valentine:
For some people, it looked exactly the same, but you can tell something is different on the inside. I would say that’s at least half, or maybe a small majority. And other people change everything, because their life was… But it seems like for the small majority of people, their life is fairly aligned with what’s important already, they just-

Mike Valentine:
… have been… You can look at it like a spiral. Get an education, add a house, a wife, some children, some money, a few toys, spiraling in toward the center of your heart. And I’m saying, let’s cut across the grain, go to the center and spiral out. And so it’s already somewhat aligned for most people, it doesn’t necessarily… We have a friend in common, she has a… Well, she’s about to make some pretty drastic changes. But she stayed with what was important, she didn’t knee-jerk towards a whole different life. But it migrates towards, let’s say to live with grace, peace and love.

Mike Valentine:
If you were to reiterate that in your mind, bringing intention, honesty, and practice to that daily, it would reshape things around you. Your goals would be different, they’re set differently. But I’ll share one young man, he played pro baseball, he had hit a grand slam in the last high school baseball game and the first college one, so two in a row. A pretty accomplished guy, who was running a real estate company, a mortgage bank. And he met with me and said, “I’m thinking about designing a coaching company, and I hear you’ve got a lot of content.” And I said, “What’s the matter with your neck?” He said, “Well, I got a crick in my neck, my back hurts.”

Mike Valentine:
“Your eyes are bloodshot, you look kind of red. How many hours are you working?” He said, “16 a day.” I said, “How many days?” He said, “Seven or so.” I said, “We’re not building any company. That’s not happening.” And I said, “You have a gift to give, a purpose to live and a vision to build a better self and world.” And we got to work right away. He’s a go getter guy, with all the tools to be an extraordinary person, and already extraordinary at that point.

Mike Valentine:
He shed two companies and focused on the one that was the broadest expression of his purpose, which is residential real estate and growing a brokerage, even though the other company made more money. And then he took Fridays off at noon, and then he took Fridays and Tuesdays off, and now he coaches his 11 year old son’s baseball game, and he got his neck straightened out.

Warwick F:
I love how you’re describing this, because sometimes people think this road to Emmaus moment, the scales come off, Paul lives a radically different life, or some spiritual epiphany. But it’s not always like that. I love that phrase you mentioned of sort of the inward spiral and the outward spiral. As we often say on Crucible Leadership and Beyond the Crucible, there’s nothing wrong with success, but in service of what? And so is it imbalanced, so you’re working 16 hours a day? Are you able to take vacation with kids or do something meaningful? But just as you were talking about that person, that friend you were working with, just the outwardly life may not look that different, but yet there was more of an outward focus and an inward focus that led him to make subtly different choices about what businesses to focus on.

Warwick F:
To you, his life may be profoundly different to the others, it may be just a slight shift, but it doesn’t mean selling your business or going and being a missionary, some foreign country. It can be just a change in perspective of what you’re already doing is what you’re saying, which is just… to me, it’s an interesting thought.

Mike Valentine:
Certainly, he got clear about his purpose and then his goals look differently. I would say that underneath there’s a treadmill, for most people, the fear-based belief that I’m not good enough, I’m unwanted and/or I’m unlovable. And so when I finally get that money, prestige status, political office, home, relationship, finally, I’ll be happy and live with purpose. And I’m saying it’ll never work.

Warwick F:
That almost feels like a good summary in a sense, is, do you want to live a life on fear or on purpose? Right? And most people choose on fear. “I’m afraid of what my dad might think,” or what my friends or my tribe, so to speak, to use the term we used earlier. “I’m living life based on fear or obligation rather than on purpose.” That feels like a dichotomy.

Mike Valentine:
Spot on, fear or purpose. Fear or purpose. I say that my craft is a life purpose guide, or that’s my role, but really, my skill is fear hunting.

Warwick F:
What a great phrase, fear hunting. Wow.

Mike Valentine:
That’s my skill, is to go down the darkest tunnels and eliminate the fear. And the elimination of the fear of the purpose is so obvious. We don’t have to go chase the purpose, we just have to admit the fear. And at that point, that choice becomes obvious, exactly the way you said it, fear or purpose.

Gary S:
I would actually go see that movie, The Fear Hunter. I would, absolutely. Whether Robert De Niro was in it or not, I would go see that film. Gentlemen, we’re at the point where we’ve got to begin to land the plane. It’s been a robust discussion about purpose and significance and overcoming crucibles. And I would be remiss, Mike, if I did not give you the chance to let our listeners know how they can reach you, how they can learn more about On Purpose Now and how they might be able to engage with you.

Mike Valentine:
My website is OnPurposeNow.com, so you can go there. You can send me an email at Mike@OnPurposeNow.com. And either way, I’ll reach out or see how we can connect. On my 55th birthday, I decided that the sports I like do not watch time elapsed, they watch time remaining in the game. And I took an app and decided, if I get a good, long, healthy run of it, I’d like to go 88 years. And on Sunday night at midnight, I’ll have 30 to go. Right now, I have 30 years and two days and about eight hours, but who’s counting?

Gary S:
Well-

Mike Valentine:
It’s not morbid to me, it helps me-

Gary S:
Absolutely.

Mike Valentine:
Today counts, I’m clicking them off. But my point is, those who would choose a pathway… I think there are many paths, one way. The way is love. I’m talking about a pathway, and purpose is a path, as is many of the spiritual teachings. Many paths, but the way is love. Those who want access to the path of purpose, I’ll be here. So shoot me an email, learn what you’d like on the website. I am, hopefully, next week, going to launch from a no-cost workshop, Zoom workshops, and they’re fear hunting workshops. Face the fear, feel the freedom. I’m going to do a few of those.

Mike Valentine:
As COVID-19 took over, I realized that demand and value of what I do has gone up, but the price people will pay is probably going down. And I asked myself a question that I’m going to stay with until we get the all-clear sign, which I think may be some time from now. And my question was, how can I help people do for a 10th of the cost better than 70% of the impact? And so I’m challenging myself with that in this crucible time. All this color that I’ve talked about, can I activate it without being at the bottom?

Gary S:
That is an inspiring thing that you’re doing and obviously, it will be a helpful and healing thing that you’re doing for many of our listeners, and certainly for the people who have engaged with you. Speaking of our listeners, I have been… this conversation has truly been fascinating, between you and Warwick, Mike. And I’ve sort of taken three notes, three takeaways that I want our listeners to have as we close up. Three key takeaways, I think, from this discussion. And the first one was at the very beginning. And I love the way that you expressed this, Mike, the idea of putting one foot in front of the other and doing it one step at a time. This is a skill, listeners, that Mike learned walking steel beams. And not steel beams on the ground, he was walking them well above the ground. Because he was not harnessed to the beams, it could have dire consequences had he fallen.

Gary S:
But when you’re up there and you’re walking those steel beams, when you’re putting one foot in front of the other, one step at a time, the second step doesn’t matter. That’s the first step to walking out a vision, to finding your purpose. Your path to moving beyond your crucible and living a life of significance begins with a single simple step. And as Mike says, fear cannot walk the beam, so walk bravely and boldly. So there’s take away one, I think.

Gary S:
Takeaway two, Mike told me a moving story about looking for the treasure that lies in the bottom that you’ve hit, the crucible experiences that you’ve been through. As tough as it’s been, what good came out of what happened to you, or what good could come out of it? Finding beauty in the ashes of your life is one of the most certain ways to keep yourself out of another fire. And then I think the third point that we had a great discussion of here is the idea of building a vision. Warwick talks about living a life of significance, Mike talks about living on purpose. They use some of the same language.

Gary S:
But here’s a hint as you’re looking to live a life of significance, build a purpose, craft a vision. It’s almost always, as Mike said, rooted in love, loving yourself and loving others. That will fuel your purpose, listener, and it will likely revolve around these three things that Mike said. Fuel the purposes of the clients he works with, which touched Warwick when he said it. The three things that your vision, your purpose almost always will revolve around when you get right down to it is living in love, grace and peace.

Gary S:
As we sign off on this episode of Beyond the Crucible, we hope that those are things that you do indeed find the wherewithal to walk in as you pursue your life of significance. Thank you for spending time with us on Beyond the Crucible. Warwick and I have just a little favor to ask on the app that you’re listening to this podcast on now, click or tap subscribe. What that will do is make sure that you don’t miss fascinating conversations like the one we just had with Mike Valentine. And then it’ll also help us tell more people about those conversations, so that they can begin to chart their own course for moving beyond their crucibles.

Gary S:
Until the next time that we’re together, please remember that crucible experiences are painful and they happen. We have research that shows they happen to… Almost half of people are willing to admit they’ve had crucible experiences. And they are painful, but they do not have to be. And in fact, in most cases, are not the end of your story. They can be, if you learn the lessons of them, if you find the purpose in them, if you cast a vision from them. Those crucible experiences can be the start of a new story, a new chapter in the book of your life. And the most rewarding one of all, because it’s a chapter that leads to a life of significance.

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