Living From Your Inner Genius: Dov Baron #86

Warwick Fairfax

October 5, 2021

Have you ever thought your life would be grand if … fill in the blank? Dov Baron helps people move beyond those if-onlys. A best-selling author and one of the nation’s leading authorities on meaning-driven leadership, he speaks no-nonsense truths to empower clients and audiences to live their purpose, share their inner genius and not –as he puts it – disenfranchise the parts of themselves that are critical to leading lives of significance.
“Most people’s pain,” he tells us, “is hidden by our success.” And that hiding place, he explains, is where crucibles often cause the most damage. He knows from experience, having survived a brutal fall while rock climbing that shattered the bones in his face and almost shattered his soul.
To learn more about Dov Baron, visit www.dovbaron.com

Highlights

  • Dov’s Readers Digest version of his challenging upbringing in Britain (3:38)
  • His spiritual travels as a young man (5:45)
  • Studying psychology as a bridge to studying leadership (6:32)
  • The physical crucible that shifted his perspective on leadership (16:06)
  • How he came to grips with how his crucible changed his life (17:43)
  • Why success itself is not enough (22:53)
  • The question we should all ask ourselves (25:25)
  • The dangers of “Instagram happy” (28:11)
  • The kind of eulogy we all want (32:33)
  • The problem of tolerance (41:47)
  • Life is not about being perfect (49:48)
  • Dov’s final word for leaders (53:50)

Transcript

Warwick F:

Welcome to Beyond the Crucible. I’m Warwick Fairfax, the founder of Crucible Leadership.

Dov B:

If you’re living your life in any way, even inside your own head, not necessarily saying it out loud, I’ll be happy when. I’ll be happy when I find the right partner, I’ll be happy when we get married, I’ll be happy when we have a kid, I’ll be happy when I get a house, when we get a bigger house, when we get a bigger car, when we buy a yacht, when we get another million, another billion. You’re never going to get there. It’s never going to happen because the problem with it is, and this is the hook, this is the hook, this is the drug, is all those things you’re saying I’ll be happy when, they all work. That’s the hook. They do make you happier, but it’s so brief.

Gary S:

Do you identify with that? With the idea that life would be grand if and fill in the blank? If we’re honest, most of us would have to say we’ve been there. Hi, I’m Gary Schneeberger, cohost of the show. Our guest this week, Dov Baron, helps people move beyond the if onlys. A bestselling author and one of the nation’s leading authorities on meaning driven leadership, he speaks no nonsense truths to empower clients and audiences to live their purpose, share their inner genius, and not as he puts it, “disenfranchise the parts of themselves that are critical to leading lives of significance.” “Most people’s pain,” he tells us, “is hidden by our success and that hiding place,” he says, “is where crucibles often cause the most damage.”

Warwick F:

Well, Dov, thanks so much for being here. I love the image you have of the dragon leader, the dragon’s lair, the fire that might destroy us, but yet there are things we can learn from it. Just your whole notion of both helping leaders improve their organizations, but helping improve themselves. And we’ll get into your book, One Red Thread, where you expound on this a fair bit about purpose and significance and success.

Warwick F:

But before we get into that, I’d love to hear, and obviously we’ll get to the physical fall, I mean, some of us have had metaphorical falls, but you’ve had a big physical one. I’d love to hear a little bit about the background. We’ve talked off air just, I think you’re from UK and you’ve even spent time in my homeland, Australia, on the other side in Perth. Just tell us just a little bit about Dov Baron and his family growing up and what’s the back story behind Dov?

Dov B:

Well, first of all, gentlemen, thank you for having me on. It’s a pleasure and an honor, I am grateful to be here and I am appreciative of what you’re doing and the work that you’re doing. I think it’s really important. For those of you who are listening, remember these guys put these shows together, they don’t get paid to do this. They’re sharing this with you to give you value, so make sure that you do rate, review and subscribe to the show because they’re giving you quality information all the time. I’m honored to be here to serve in that capacity.

Dov B:

As a Reader’s Digest version of my background, which we could spend a long time on, but we won’t, I promise. I was born in Northern England, I’ve been gone for more than 40 years, so I’ve been gone much longer than I ever lived there. But I was born in abject poverty, surrounded by crime, violence, addiction, all kinds of traumas that we don’t have to get into. I watched people be defeated before they even reached their teens. It was clear to me that these people had already been defeated and were never going to be anything else. It’s very interesting because I don’t know anybody else who made it out from my neighborhood. But I do know other people who made it out, who I didn’t know. For instance, Albert Finney, the famous actor was from where I was from, as was Robert, what was his name, last name? Sorry, just want blank on him. He played Jesus of Nazareth, he made it out. Ben Kingsley and several others who are all from the exact neighborhood I grew up in. I think there’s a technical term for it, Shitsville. Yeah, that’s the place.

Dov B:

It was a pretty terrible place and pretty oppressive, but I made a decision when I was 14 years old to leave. I had made a commitment and my mum thought it was crazy that I had the idea and I decided I was going to get out. I did. I got out of Salford and particularly the ghetto inside of Salford, which is called Lower Broughton. I made that commitment, nobody thought it was true, I knew it was true. As I got a little bit older, the drinking age in England is 18, which means everybody’s in the pub at 15, which I was. So I’d sit around with my mates and I’d say, “I’m out of here, this place sucks.” And they’d say, “Yeah, it does.” Then one day I came at 20 and said, “I’m out of here.” They’re like, “Yeah, we are too.” “No, no. I got a ticket, I’m going.” “What, you going to Spain for a holiday?” “No, no, I’m leaving.”

Dov B:

Nobody would believe that and it was interesting because all that yacking about how I was going to leave and they were going to leave suddenly became, “Well, you can’t leave. We got Man United and we got Man City, we’ve got Boddington’s Bitter, we got fish and chips, we got your family.” “Yeah, and I got to go.” So I began to travel. Now, I’d already studied. I studied as a small child. My mother thought I was possessed so she shipped me off to the rabbis because I would say things that were just strange and I began to study Kabbalah. So my travels at 21 was to travel and start studying with all these spiritual masters. I studied Vedanta, which is Hindu philosophy, Buddhism, the Dao, Coptic and Gnostic Christianity, Kabbalah, and all these different religions.

Dov B:

Studied and lived with these masters and then discovered that even though I had great spiritual knowledge and I met people with great spiritual knowledge, they couldn’t get their stuff together. So I started studying psychology. I studied Jungian psychology, hence the metaphor of the dragons and I became a Jungian therapist and got really sick of people moaning and complaining, but not doing anything. That wasn’t working for me. So I started studying what was called the psychologic of excellence, which today is called leadership. I started studying these people who are enormously successful, and I found many of them were soulless, they were lost. Had all the toys, but were lost. I was already working with people who were in a similar position to what you were in Warwick, back in the day. But I could find that they were lost people.

Dov B:

So I started then studying, putting those things together and in about ’83 I stumbled into quantum physics when I was in Melbourne. I lived in Perth, but I was in Melbourne on a trip. Started studying quantum physics and from there I started studying neuroscience and then later wrote a thesis on how they come together; quantum physics, metaphysics, and psychology with neuroscience.

Dov B:

That was the background and my friend just came to me one day, who owned a national menswear company that you may or may not remember, Warwick. It was called Renoir’s, do you remember Renoir’s menswear clothing? It was a national clothing company, the guy who owned it was a friend of mine. He said, “I want you to come speak to my managers.” I said, “About what? I’m not a speaker.” And he said, “Anything you want.” I went, “Are you crazy?” He goes, “No.” I said, “Okay. I don’t understand.” He said, “But I have one condition.” I said, “What’s that?” He goes, “You come dressed exactly as you are today.”

Dov B:

Now, you should know this 1984 and my hair is below my chest and I had the old Howard Stern hair; the black ringlet curls. That is what my hair’s like, it’s thick, black, curly hair. I had earrings, but in those days they were big enough to hang parrots off. I was a body builder and when you’re a body builder and you’re in your early 20s, it’s important that everybody knows by looking at you immediately that you’re a body builder. So you always wear T-shirts that are too tight and ripped jeans and the designer stubble and all the long hair and all that. But I also used to wear beautiful suits, that’s how I met him because he made my suits.

Dov B:

He said, “But I want you to wear this.” I said, “But can’t I just wear a suit?” And he goes, “Nope, I want you to look like this.” I go, “Well, I can put my hair in tail.” He goes, “No, I don’t want your hair in a ponytail, I want it to look like this.” My hair was wild. I turned up that day as he instructed, I put my head in the door and I saw everybody at this long, the old boardroom table. They saw this hippie stick his head through the door and they look at me and they give me what we called in the UK, the F off nod. The F off nod is F off, you’re in the wrong room. They give me that look and I just stayed there, waited.

Dov B:

Then they said, “Let’s welcome our speaker, Dov,” Steve says that. I walk in and jaws hit the deck. I said, “And you’ll remember this Warwick. You’ll remember this time because the whole issue with how the aboriginal people of Australia were treated was really high level stuff. That was becoming very aware, the white rabbit fence and all that stuff.” I said, “Put your hand up if you’re a racist.” Well, who’s going to put their hand up? Nobody, I knew that. I don’t remember my speech, but I remember this. I said, “Put your hand up if you’re a racist.” Nobody put their hand up. I said, “Put your hand up if you would judge somebody by the color of their skin or the way they look in any way, shape or form.” Nobody put their hand up.

Dov B:

I said, “You’re a bunch of freaking liars. Every single one of you judged me by the way I look. What you don’t know, is I’m your customer because the reason I know Steve is you guys make my suits. Yes, I look like this, but I don’t always look like this. If I’d have walked in your store, you would have lost a customer. But I walked in when Steve was there and he got a customer.” Now, I don’t remember anything else I said, but I looked over at Steve and thought, “Oh, my God! I’ve pooed the bed on this one.” He had a smile that was so big, he knew what he was doing. He’s far smarter than me.

Dov B:

That was the beginning of my speaking career and it really is what it means to be authentic, is show up as you, with your personal what it is you bring to a situation and call out what is the lie. One of the challenges we have in leadership today, is that nobody calls out the lies. That’s what happened. That was the beginning of the career. That’s a very long, short version of my story.

Warwick F:

Oh, my gosh! I mean, that is so fascinating. I mean, you know England far better than I do, but I went to college in England. The college I was at, at Oxford Balliol was pretty progressive so it was more diverse than the other colleges, so we had folks from Northern England. It was like, “Do they let people like us in Oxford?” because they were sons of coal miners. I mean, they were Northern Ireland, all the rest of it. Still back then, the classes didn’t mix. This is early ’80s, which is pretty sad even within an Oxford college and that’s a whole nother story. So I’m somewhat familiar with the situation.

Warwick F:

But there’s this mentality, at least when I was there, that it was so rigid that if you thought that you could do something better, they’d be like, “So we’re not good enough for you? What’s the problem?” You’re almost discouraged from moving out of whatever situation. But what you did showed so much courage. People were like, “Everybody talks about getting out, but who does it?”

Gary S:

Before we leave this subject, I have to fill in for listeners who are like, “Dov said at the beginning there were several people who he knew left what he called Shitsville, and succeeded. One of them he said was Jesus of Nazareth and he said Robert. I just looked it up, it’s Robert Powell. Just so everybody knows.

Dov B:

Robert Powell, yes.

Gary S:

Robert Powell is one of Dov’s fellow travelers from his hometown. I just wanted to make sure people knew that.

Dov B:

Robert Powell is a Salford lad who made it out. But he didn’t keep his Salford accent, that’s for sure.

Warwick F:

Wow, yeah.

Dov B:

But there again, neither did I.

Warwick F:

Well, you’ve obviously been a lot of different places, but. I love what you do with One Red Thread and all. Just briefly, because I want to shift into that, you were a successful speaker in leadership and doing well. Then you had this physical fall, which it seems like you were doing well. You were focused on helping leaders. My sense is it shifted your perspective on leadership. So talk about the physical fall and how that shifted your perspective.

Dov B:

June 1990, I was the most successful I’d ever been up until that point. National tour, speaking, TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, all those things. It was pretty great. That moment of thinking, “Oh, my God, I’ve made it.” What a joke, such a clown, I even believed my own press. I came back from a tour, I was exhausted, took a few days off. Went up to a place called Whistler, which you may be familiar with. The Winter Olympics 2010 were there in British Columbia. Had a couple days hanging out. But what people didn’t know about me at that time is, aside from doing the things I was doing speaking, I was also a full blown addict. Now when I say addict, I’m not talking about drugs, I’m not talking about alcohol. I’m talking about adrenaline. I was a major adrenaline junkie. I did stupid stuff all the time.

Dov B:

At that time, we’d spent the day, we had a lovely day out by the lake and all of it. Then we came back to a place called Brandywine Falls, which is this magnificent glacial waterfall. It’s about 200 feet up, the water comes rushing down the fall off the glacier. In June, you can imagine it’s now nice and warm, the glacier’s melting, but it’s still the end of spring. It’s still been pretty wet everywhere. We watch this water come down and there’s a view site. I said to my buddy, “Let’s see if we can hike down.” There’s no path and we’re not dressed for it. But he’s like, “Yeah, okay.” So we hike down, we get to the bottom. I said, “Let’s see if we can get behind the waterfall.” He’s like, “What are you talking about?” I go, “There’s a gap between where the water comes off the edge and behind there’s a wall of rock.” He goes, “How wide is it?” I go, “I don’t know. Let’s see if we can get behind it.”

Dov B:

Well, it’s about four feet wide. Inappropriately dressed with 70 mile an hour spray coming off that waterfall as it lands. We’re climbing over these mossy rocks, we get behind the waterfall, which is filled with negative ions. Negative ions make you feel positive, it charges the body positively. Feels fantastic. When I came out of the other side, I felt like Superman. I felt like I had a big S tattooed on my chest and I could do anything. We were inside going, “Yeah!” If you’d put your hand out, that waterfall pressure would have ripped my arm off, it was that powerful. I said to him when we got on the other side, said to my mate, “Let’s not hike back.” He goes, “Should we take the elevator?” I’m like, “No. Let’s free climb.”

Dov B:

Now, you may be a bit nervous about mountain climbing and think that people who mountain climb are crazy. I understand that. But mountain climbers have gear, they have safety lines, they have hooks, they have all those kinds of things. Then you go, “Well, okay. But free climbing is crazy, right?” Well, it’s more crazy for sure, but you have chalk, you have the right clothing on. You made sure your site is set, okay? Free climbing while you’re soaking wet, with the wrong footwear on and the wrong clothing, that is insane and that’s what we began to do. At 120 feet, I reached for a rock and that rock dislodged a bigger rock that came down and hit me in the face, full force and knocked me right down 120 feet, 12 stories and I landed on boulders below. Not on grass or gravel, but boulders and my head opened up like a coconut. Just split me wide open.

Dov B:

I’ve had somewhere around 10 or 11 reconstructive surgeries. I can tell you the gory details but you don’t need to know that. I did die five times during that process. But I was from Salford, I was a tough lad, I was a boxer, I’d been a martial artist. I was a trainer of leaders. You can’t tell me, man. I’m coming back. People would say to me, “How you doing?” With my jaw wired closed, I’d say, “I’m coming back. I’m great, I’m coming back.” It was a lie, it was a lie because when I was in the quietness of my own time, I was deeply, darkly depressed and I felt like my life was over.

Dov B:

That went on for a long time. I’d go out with my mates and nothing would be funny. And I’m a funny guy and I hang out with funny guys. Nothing would be funny. I’d just think, “My life is over.” Then one night my mates took me out, the lads, and I had a great night and I laughed for the first time. I thought, “Oh, my God! I am coming back, this is great!” I was in just a fantastic mood and I came home, all the lads dropped me off. I came home, I opened the back door into my house and I was just feeling so much joy. The light from outside shone across the kitchen floor and across the floor, I could see garbage everywhere. There were meat wrappers and coffee grinds and kitty litter, and empty cans and it smelled horrible. I went from being in pure joy to being in pure rage. I knew exactly who the culprit was and I was going to find the culprit and I felt like killing the culprit. That rage was so fierce.

Dov B:

When I go into the living room, there was the culprit curled up all cozy on the couch, comfy. I put my hand up like this to strike and about halfway down, that’s not who I am. I’m not a violent person, even though I’ve been trained in those things. It’s not my nature. I stopped and put my arms down instead and scooped up the cat into my arms and the cat was cold and the cat was dead. I fell onto my knees and began to first cry, but then sob. Just ah huh ah. It was a couple of minutes and realized I’m not crying for the cat. It was the first time I’d given myself permission to feel the grief of who I had been was dead.

Dov B:

I spent a couple of hours on that floor crying. I realized I had three paths that were in front of me. The one I’d been trying to be on, which was I’m coming back. Well, I got news for you, nothing in life goes backwards. This wasn’t going to work and I knew it in that moment. The second path was the most seductive of all the paths and that was stay right there. To remain a victim, to have this great story. I gave it everything and the gods were against me, fate was against me. It’s not my fault, I’m a victim. The third option was to find out why I’m here. What is the purpose of my life?

Dov B:

Now, if you’d have asked me was my life on purpose the day before I fell, an hour, five minutes before I fell, I would have said yes. But I’d never really looked into that and that was the moment when I had to start looking for my red thread. To find out what was that fire within my belly that I needed to serve in the world. That was the transformation.

Dov B:

When people say, “Did the fall change your life,” they think it must have. But it didn’t. That’s not what changes your life. It’s not that moment when the thing happens, it’s the moment when everything seems to go back to normal. Remember, I went out with the lads, I had a good laugh. It was that moment I could come back, I could be normal. It’s that moment when you have a choice. There’s the pivotal moment, which is the fall, but there’s the choice moment where everything can go back to normal and you go, “No, enough. Something else has to happen.” That was the transformational moment.

Gary S:

What I love about that story, Dov, and we see this a lot with guests on this show, is that your crucible happens and you don’t bounce back immediately. You don’t bounce back in a day, or a week, or a month and that’s Warwick’s story too. It took time. It can take time and it’s okay, listener, for it to take time for you to learn the lessons of your crucible and come back. It took Dov time, you certainly know it’s taken Warwick time to come back. But it’s important, right? It’s critical. Had you jumped too quickly, you wouldn’t have learned.

Dov B:

You’ve got to give yourself that time. You’re absolutely right. You’ve got to give yourself that time. But I want to push back a little bit and just say you’re not coming back, you’re coming forward. You can’t come back. Listen, I want you to get this. The crucible that happened in your life wasn’t a mistake. Now, believe me, if somebody had said to me, “Oh, this is all for the good and it’s all going to work out great now,” I’d have punched them in the throat. That’s just a stupid thing to say to somebody who’s going through a lot of pain.

Dov B:

The truth is, that will be true maybe two years from the moment of it happening. But not in the moment, because in the moment it’s hell. There’s no doubt about that. But there is no back, there’s only forward or stagnation. Stagnation is the commitment to oh, I’m a victim of. But the commitment moving forward is to say what is this? I believe, this is my truth, it’s not the truth, these events happen to wake us up from something and to wake us up to something. From something you’ve been and to something that’s always been within you, but you’ve never allowed out.

Warwick F:

You talk about significance and success and obviously you want to empower and help those that you speak to, those who you work with and consult and coach to be successful. But yet, you want them to have purpose. I think you put it, true purpose. Talk about why that success is fine, but success in of itself is not satisfying. I think you have a chapter that talks about what’s missing, I’ll be happy when. Talk about that whole concept of it’s not just success. It’s success and.

Dov B:

To do that we have to start by addressing the mis-concept, the mass hypnosis. And the mass hypnosis is of this idea around individualism and capitalism. I’m pretty obviously an individualist and I’m obviously a capitalist, but not without compassion, not without consciousness. Not at all. What does that mean in this context?

Dov B:

It means that if you’re living your life in any way, even inside your own head, not necessarily saying it out loud, I’ll be happy when. I’ll be happy when I find the right partner, I’ll be happy when we get married, I’ll be happy when we have a kid, I’ll be happy when I get a house, when we get a bigger house, when we get a bigger car, when we buy a yacht, when we get another million, another billion. You’re never going to get there. It’s never going to happen because the problem with it is, and this is the hook, this is the hook, this is the drug, is all those things you’re saying I’ll be happy when, they all work. That’s the hook. They do make you happier, but it’s so brief.

Dov B:

You shoot the mainline of heroin, which is a million in the bank, and it’s like, “Wow!” and you’re excited and maybe even excited for a month because it’s your first million. But you go, “Yeah,” and then it starts to wear off and you go, “Oh, clearly what I need is five million,” but now it only lasts two weeks. Before you know where you’re at, it’s fleeting all of it, fleeting. What are you looking for? What you’re looking for is you’re looking for an external reference point of your own joy. It doesn’t exist externally, it exists internally. That’s not some psychological babble or pop psych, we’re talking about real stuff. You got to look at what is it in me, what is it I’m actually looking for?

Dov B:

I’m going to give you, the listener, right now the clue. Because I said away from and towards. You wake from, you wake up towards. What you’re waking up from is that you’ve been running away from your pain. Let me give it to you straight, most people’s pain is hidden by their success. We use success to hide our pain and we hide our pain behind our ego, which is our identity. So we never get to the pain, we never get to the purpose because we’re pursuing externalized success. If you don’t stop and go, “Hold on a second…” Here’s the question. I’m going to give you the question right now so you can have the answer. Ask yourself this question. It’s a very simple question, but the answer will take some time, it will take some commitment. That is: what is it that I needed when I was a child that I couldn’t get or couldn’t get enough of?

Dov B:

Now, listen to what I said. As I told you, I work with very high level, multi-generational families of wealth and it’s the same question I ask them. What is it you needed that you couldn’t get or you couldn’t get enough of when you were a child? You go, “Well, I had everything. My dad put me in a private school.” But is that what you needed? One of the guys I worked with, he said, “Well, I guess, okay, in that case, I guess I needed a connection with my dad.” I said, “Okay, good. That’s fine.” And he said, “No, no. Hold on a second,” because he wants to protect his ego. He goes, “I had that.” I said, “Oh, did you?” I go, “Yeah.” I go, “How did you get it?” He goes, “Fishing. My dad and I would go fishing.”

Dov B:

I go, “Great. When you’d go fishing, would you connect at all?” He goes, “No, not really, but we were just together and that was great.” “All right, that’s fine. Can I ask you how many times that happened?” He said, “Sure.” Said, “How many?” “Two, it happened twice.” “Do you think you might have needed a little more of that?” He goes, “Yeah.” I said, “Tell me your life hasn’t been about trying to get connection with people who don’t want to connect with you.” The guy starts to bawl. He goes, “That’s my first two marriages. That’s my first two marriages, trying to connect with women who don’t want to connect with me.” I said, “Yeah, it’s not gender specific. It’s what you needed. So you need to serve the world in some way through serving a connection.” Now that’s vague and we have to drill down and that’s when we get into the really powerful work.

Warwick F:

I feel like as you’re helping leaders understand this, it must be revolutionary. Because so often we try to find love and fulfillment in all the wrong places. Sounds like a country music song or something. It’s just-

Dov B:

A ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding.

Warwick F:

And you just see it and it’s like, “Here we go. The fast cars and the jets and the house in Monte Carlo and whatever else.” It’s just tough to be happy. You pretend to be happy because you look a bit of an idiot if you’re miserable and showed people. But you’re just helping-

Dov B:

But it’s Instagram happy.

Warwick F:

Right, right. That’s such a good phrase.

Dov B:

It’s Instagram happy. It’s a picture of you on a private jet with three girls who’ve got pushup bras on, while you’re getting out of a Bentley you rented. Come on. This is the problem, this is what I’m saying, is it’s a mass hypnosis. I understand it because I teach the psychology of marketing. I get it, if you’re 20 years old and you’re seeing that, you want it. Of course, you do. Who doesn’t want to be surrounded by three girls in pushup bras on a private jet or anywhere? Yeah, of course, I’m 20. Of course, I want that. But it’s not going to make you have joy, it’s going to give you happiness. Happiness is temporary.

Warwick F:

Exactly.

Dov B:

Joy is a state of being. It’s not externally referenced. Self-esteem is externally referenced, that’s where I lived before I fell. It was self-esteem, it’s externally referenced. Self-worth is internally referenced. Who I am doesn’t change by whether you like what I have to say or not. I’ve probably offended a few people as we’ve talked today, may have pissed a few people off. That’s okay. My job is not to build a wide fence for you to stand on with me in the middle of something. My job is to get you off the fence. Either you’re on this journey towards your purpose and serving in the world from your heart and your soul, or you’re not. And if you’re not, that’s okay, you’re not on my team. That’s all right. I don’t dislike you, I don’t think you’re wrong. You can be whatever you want, but I know who I serve and you’ve got to decide that for yourself too. You can do that incredibly lovingly, but incredibly firmly. People don’t understand it. They go, “I’m either loving and I’m wishy-washy, or I’m firm and I’m an asshole.” No, it doesn’t have to be that.

Warwick F:

Wow! I mean, I feel like there’s so many things to say, even from my faith perspective, it talks about telling the truth in love. I feel like that is what you try to do. You’re speaking truth in service of friends, neighbors, clients who you speak to. It’s all those stories about the guy that said, “Yes, I had this human connection with my dad one time or something.” I mean, there’s this longing for connection and as we find that, who we are, our inner truth, and use that in service of others, at least in my experience, that’s where joy and fulfillment come from.

Warwick F:

In my own world, in this podcast we’ve probably interviewed 70 plus guests. When I have a guest, some are prominent, some are not prominent and when they say, “You know what, I felt like I could be vulnerable and share my story and my truth and it felt like a safe place,” I mean, that means everything to me. That gives me joy. I mean, I said to my publisher, which sounds a bit strange, who fortunately gets my wavelength, I’m doing my level best to sell as many books as I can because I believe you either do it well or don’t do it at all. But my issue is not whether it sells one book or 10,000 or what have you, I just want to be faithful to what I feel like I’ve been called to and I think from your perspective, serve others.

Warwick F:

If I’m serving others, then that’s a win. The numbers will take care of themselves. I mean, I’ve got a fantastic team in every aspect, but I mean, everybody wants joy and fulfillment. I think you talk about this in your book in terms of eulogy, when all’s said and done, who wants to have a eulogy that says, “Joe, Mary, they were billionaire, they founded all this, they broke all these records.” Really? They want to feel like their kids, their loved ones and their friends were proud of them. They want to feel like people say, “You know what, they made the world a better place. People loved who they were.” Maybe nobody’s ever heard of them, but you know what I’m saying?

Dov B:

I do, absolutely.

Warwick F:

You talk about this in your book. I feel like people need to understand, especially successful people because it’s really tough. You’ve got all sorts of people telling you, as I did at one point in my life, “Oh, you’re wonderful, you’re amazing.” All to curry favor and pretty soon you-

Dov B:

They all arrive with a smoke machine and direct it up your skirt.

Warwick F:

Even if you see it the first time, after about a couple hours it tends to break you down. There’s only so much praise that we can withstand. Your cynicism meter starts getting eroded by the praise and the adulation. As they often say, praise is a pretty tough thing to withstand. But you’re really fighting for people’s inner soul. In fact, you talk about the soul in your book, I noticed. I think towards the end. It says, here we go, “My belief, not necessarily the truth, is that the reason we go into leadership is to reconcile our soul.” That’s an incredible phrase.

Warwick F:

Sorry, meandering a bit here, but does that make sense? You’re fighting for people’s inner truth and joy and fulfillment in the right places. Talk about how does the soul weave itself in there, into what you’re talking about?

Dov B:

By the way, I want to thank you for asking these questions and these are for you as you listen to this, you want to recognize that even the questions that Warwick is asking me, maybe ask yourself. Because this is not for our entertainment, this is in service of you. Don’t be passive in this, make sure that there’s an activity in it.

Dov B:

For me, my talking of the soul, again, as I said in the book, it’s not the truth, it’s my truth. Speaking of the soul is not in the context of anything to do with any religion, although you can put it in that if you want, it’s in the context of a spirituality of something that is beyond me as in the ego, mind or beyond me as in the body. What that is, is again, my truth, not the truth, you arrive here on the planet, you are not broken. You are massively brilliant in all kinds of ways that may not fit into the categories by which they determine genius or brilliance. But everybody has their own gifts. This is my psychology background, however, the desire to fit in, the desire to belong is so powerful that we trade our soul in order to get acceptance. We trade our authenticity, our sense of truth for the approval of those we need to survive.

Dov B:

I mean, think about a bird, think about a giraffe, think about any other animal. It comes out and it can pretty much take care of itself pretty fast. And oftentimes if it can’t, its dad will eat it or its mother will bugger off and you’re all on your own. We, as humans, we’re pretty useless. We’re pretty useless for a long time. For a long, long time we can’t take care of ourselves. How do you mitigate that as a being? You look to those who are more powerful than you and that is the god and goddess of your life in a traditional family, which is mom and dad. They know why the grass is green, why the sky is blue. They know what time you should get up even though you’re still tired. They know what time you should go to bed even though you’re wide awake. They know when you should eat even though you’re not hungry and they know when you should stop eating even though you are hungry. They have all the power.

Dov B:

So you learn pretty fast, if I want to survive I’ve got to get along with these people. As part of that survival, part of your limbic system of your brain, it’s saying, “Take care of that.” What that means is they’re that powerful, they must be perfect. From there you get what’s called defective premise. Defective premise means this psychologically, it means this: if they don’t love me in the way that I need to be loved and they’re perfect, there must be something defective in me. You begin to disenfranchise parts of yourself. You begin to disenfranchise your soul. Maybe you grow up in an academic family so you disenfranchise your creativity. Maybe you grow up in an artistic or creative family and you disenfranchise your academic pull. Maybe you are liberal in a conservative family and so you begin to disenfranchise that part of yourself, or vice versa. You begin to disenfranchise the parts of yourself.

Dov B:

So when I come together with these people who are enormously successful, I will say to them, “Listen, here’s what I want you to know, I don’t have a billion dollars, you do. That’s great. So why am I here? I’m not here to help you make more money, right?” And they go, “No.” “Good, let’s get that established because you are going to start pulling that up.” “Well, you haven’t told me any business strategy. I’m not here for that. What I intend to tell you is this, what we’re going to do will increase your business. How do I know? Because it’s never not done that. But that’s never the outset. The outset is to bring home the disenfranchised parts of your soul. This is important, your success is a result of laser beam, targeted focus. It’s amazing what you’ve done to reach the level of success you have achieved is awe inspiring and most people would go, ‘Wow! I don’t know how you do it.’ I’m earnestly in respect of that and honor that.

Dov B:

“You had to be laser beam focused, which means that maybe family issues and family events went by the side and other things didn’t get the care that they needed, but you got to that and you achieved it. That’s success. But fulfillment and purpose isn’t laser focused, it’s microscopically focused.” They go, “What do you mean?” “If you look down a microscope at a drop of water, you suddenly see an entire universe open up inside that microscope. We’re looking down and in, not out.” They go, “Well, will I lose my laser beam focus?” And the answer is yes, for a short period because you’re focused. But what happens is, that microscopic focus feeds the laser focus. But now you’re being driven to that same level of success, with that same level of determination, but from a place of fulfilling your soul, serving others, making a unique difference in the world that only you can do. I can’t make the difference Gary can make, I can’t make the difference Warwick can make. Everyone of us has our own unique gift to bring.

Warwick F:

I almost feel like you help people’s souls be fulfilled, but almost a sense you’re a liberator of souls. You help unearth-

Dov B:

It’s not a word I can use. Gary will get up from marketing. Ooh, another ooh. Oh, he’s going to come over and rub my crystals, I can feel it. Are you rubbing your crystals, or is it just the way you’re sitting? That’s not who I am, but it is deeply spiritual. But as you can get from my personality, there’s nothing whoo whoo about me. But spiritual and whoo whoo don’t have to be the same. You’ve probably put them in the same category, but they’re not. Spiritual really is connecting to your soul to have action in the world.

Gary S:

I like what you said, Dov, when you went through the several ways in which we disenfranchise parts of ourselves. Because here’s why I think that’s important to listeners of this podcast in particular. This is called Beyond the Crucible, we talk about crucible experiences and what you can learn from them. How you can not bounce back from them, but bounce forward from them. Change the trajectory of your life in a good way. Disenfranchising parts of yourself is a way to self-crucible-ize yourself, isn’t it?

Dov B:

Absolutely, absolutely and this is why people are shocked to say, “I haven’t gone through a crucible moment. I haven’t, Dov. I’ve got a billion dollars, I’ve got a big house, I’ve got a yacht in Monte Carlo, I bought the wife a new set of hoo haws. I’ve got myself a new Rolex, I’ve got all that stuff. I haven’t had a crucible moment.” I say, “Really?” And they go, “Yeah.” I say, “How many times have you secretly cried even without tears?” It’s not an event. In my case, it’s certainly an event. In Warwick’s case it’s an event. And the guy who had a heart attack, maybe it’s an event. But it’s not and I always say this, “Here’s how I will explain it to you. I take a stick of dynamite and I shove it in a rock. I light the dynamite, what happens?” They go, “The rock cracks open.” I go, “Great. What happens if I take 30 years and just drop water, one drop at a time every second on that same rock? Does it still not split?” And they go, “Yeah, it does.”

Dov B:

It’s actually more painful because it’s not rapid and the level of tolerance psychologically goes up. This is the problem, human beings are tolerant. One of the great teachings is that we should be tolerant and I always say that’s a terrible teaching. Please don’t be tolerant. Be compassionate, be caring, be loving, but tolerance is putting up with. Don’t be tolerant, I’m not tolerant. I’m compassionate, I’m empathetic, I’m understanding, but I don’t want to be tolerant of things that are breaking that rock down that is my soulful foundation.

Dov B:

You’re absolutely right, Gary, people are dripping on their own soul and they’re creating a crucible in a fractional second over and over and over again. Selling a little shaving of their soul every day. They go, “There was no real event,” no, I get it. You’ve been doing the event, you’ve been buying into the family mechanism, you’ve been buying into the family doctrine day after day, week after week, year after year. You’re following a family business that is in something that you would have nothing to do with if you were suddenly brought into this, but you feel a responsibility. This is a problem.

Warwick F:

Absolutely.

Dov B:

You’re right, absolutely, you’re right.

Warwick F:

It reminds me of I think it’s Thoreau had this quote and the people leading lives of quiet desperation. That’s what some of these folks drip by drip, their soul, their happiness, their joy is eroding even if on the outside they’re successful. It’s just like drops of acid year after year. I know it sounds a bit whoo whoo, but you’re trying to save these people. But in saving them, I agree with you 100%, they will be even more successful and more fulfilled and serve others and have tangible impact in other people’s lives. I mean, that stuff is real, what you’re doing.

Dov B:

If you’re measuring your success by the numbers in a bank account, it’s never going to fulfill you. As you mentioned earlier, Warwick, in the book I talk about the eulogy. As you listen to this, I’ll tell you the piece in the book. If you’ve ever been to a funeral, I’ve been to lots, you know that the person delivering the eulogy, what their job is. It’s to dry clean the person who died, to take out all the dirty spots. That’s the job of the eulogy.

Dov B:

I can clearly remember going to my friend’s dad’s funeral. My friend’s dad was a, don’t know if I can say dick on air, but we’ll go with that and maybe you can beep it. But he was just not a good guy, he was a really terrible human being. My friend asked me to come to this funeral, I didn’t want to go. But my friend said, “I need your support,” so I went. I said, “I’ll sit in the back, I’m not sitting in the front.” He goes, “Okay.” The person in the front gave a eulogy about a story that I’d never heard and it was about how my friend’s dad had paid the rent of a neighbor back in the ’60s and never asked for the money back, when this person was really desperate. That’s a beautiful act. It was the only decent thing he did. He also used to tie my friend to the hot water boiler and whip him with a Hot Wheels track. And he wasn’t the only one, he did it to his siblings and he did it to the mother.

Dov B:

This is not a good human being, but everybody’s going to remember the story, that’s what a eulogy is. It’s a dry cleaning of your history. Okay, but here’s the thing, as we sat at that funeral, we sat at the back. And the people at the back were my friend, who definitely knew his dad, and me and the way I’d gotten to know him, and other people. I listened to the whispers. What are the whispers? The whispers were that he was an ass, the whispers were that he was mean and that he was cruel and those were the whispers, not the eulogy.

Dov B:

You, as you listen to this, no matter what they get up front and talk about how you started the Dingle Dongle Research Foundation, you got a name of a wing of a hospital after you and you started a foundation for lost dogs, or whatever the heck it is. Great, okay, wonderful. All those things are good, they’re not bad, but is that the dry cleaned version? I challenge you in the book and in my work with the people, I challenge them and I say, “Here’s the challenge. What are you afraid they’ll whisper?” You got to go to that, not just what you want them to say in the eulogy, what are you afraid they’ll whisper?

Dov B:

Part of my eulogy, is Dov was a courageous man who lived his life helping others fulfill their soul’s purpose. It’s not all of it, but it’s part of it. But it starts with courageous man. What do you think I’m afraid they’ll whisper in the back? Come on, guess.

Gary S:

You said that your friend’s dad was a dick. That they say that about you, was that one of the things you fear?

Dov B:

No. The front of mine is that Dov was a courageous man who lived his life blah, blah, blah. My fear is that Dov is a coward. You have to go to the opposite. My ego immediately jumps in and goes, “I’m not a coward. Think about all these crazy stunts I did. That’s not cowardly.” I go through all these reasons to justify that I’m not a coward. That doesn’t work on its own because my ego can justify that I’m not a coward. I went, “I got to test this.” So I said, “What if I add an expletive,” I won’t say what the expletive is, but it’s starts with F, ends with I-N-G. Dov was a F-ing coward. Ooh, that punches a little bit. But still my ego can fight and I go, “Okay. I have five grandchildren. What if one of my grandchildren is a little bit older, sits in the back and says that?” Devastating.

Dov B:

Whether it’s true or false doesn’t matter. It’s devastating, so what does that do? The pull forward is the eulogy. I want to be Dov was a courageous man who lived his life serving others in finding their soul’s purpose, yes. I want to be that guy, so I’m working towards that everyday. But when I feel lazy, when I feel I’ve got a lot of great excuses for not doing it, I remember the whispers of my grandchildren and I go, “Get off your ass, Dov, and do what you need to do, even though you’re terrified. Even though you don’t want to do it. Even though you’re feeling lazy. Even though you’ve got all the justification for not doing it,” because I don’t want those whispers.

Warwick F:

And you want to live your soul’s purpose every day.

Dov B:

All day.

Warwick F:

None of us are perfect. I mean, I have days in which I’m not my best self and say, “Okay, that wasn’t a great day. I can do better.” You do better, you apologize, whatever you need to do. We’re going to have moments where we don’t live up to the highest ideals of our soul’s purpose, but day in, day out, overall, is that the norm of your life or is it a bit like your friend’s dad? It was one kind act amidst a sea of a million torments and tortures of others. That’s really the key, right? Is in sum total, I had a few days when I wasn’t at my best self, or maybe a few months, whatever. In total, on average, day in, day out, in your case, I did live a courageous life in service of others.

Warwick F:

At that point, from my faith perspective, there’s a scripture that says, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” and I’m sure there’s echoes of that in other faith traditions. That’s what we all want, whatever eternity’s going to be.

Dov B:

Yeah and the thing about this that I really want to make clear, in case I haven’t, this is really important, this is not about you being perfect. Again, you know as I talked about in the beginning, I studied all these religious philosophies and I’ll often meet people of faith, not necessarily Christian, but of whatever faith and I can see their torture. It’s clear to me. I go, “It’s interesting to me that I can see your torture, yet you talk about being of faith.” They go, “Yeah.” I say, “Do you know anything about the Bible?” They’ll go, “Yeah.” I go, “Okay, great. Can I ask you what you know about Moses?” They go, “Not much.” “Moshe one of the forefathers of the Jewish faith, do you know that he murdered an Egyptian?” “No.” “Yeah, he murdered an Egyptian. He’s a murderer. “Pretty good guy, still held high, but he was a murderer.

Dov B:

“What about David? King David, he was the great shepherd. He was anointed by God, what about him? What do you know about him?” “Well, God chose him to be king.” “Yeah, but here’s the thing you might not know about him. That while he was the king, he saw this really hot chick. Her name was Bathsheba. Man, she had some booty. He was like, ‘I’m in there.’ But she was married and so what did he do? He sent her husband off to the front lines to get killed so he could get himself some action.”

Warwick F:

Exactly.

Dov B:

Oh, apparently he wasn’t perfect. Then there’s this other bloke, you might have heard of him. What was his name? I think he was Mexican. What was his name? Jesus, yeah, Jesus. Jesus, you might have heard of him. One day he’s hanging out in the temple, he’s having a chat with people. He’s trying to help them and guide them and all the sudden he sees these people ripping people off. They’re money changers ripping people off and he loses his rag, he loses his temper, he gets pissed off. He turns over the table and starts whipping them. If Jesus is allowed a temper, if David’s allowed to be horny, if Moses is allowed murder, the fact that you were not so great today is going to be okay, I promise you.

Dov B:

The only thing to do is to course correct. It’s not to stay on that path, it’s to course correct. I don’t say that to make light of any of those great stories, I say it because I believe that they’re there to teach that lesson. While you’re in the flesh, you have an ego. While you have an ego, you will fail. That’s okay, course correct. It’s not about perfect.

Gary S:

That sound that you just heard, listener, wasn’t just another well delivered point by Dov, but it was also the captain turning on the fasten seatbelt sign, saying that the time is approaching, it’s not here yet, where we need to put this Beyond the Crucible plane on the ground. Before we do that though, Dov, I would be remiss if I did not give you the chance to tell our listeners how they can find out more about you and your services. How can they do that online?

Dov B:

Thank you, very much. I appreciate that entirely, thank you. I’m easy to find, D-O-V, B-A-R-O-N. If you Google that you’re only going to find me. And you’ll find many thousands of pages, but you can obviously find me at dovbaron.com, D-O-V-B-A-R-O-N dot com. You can also find either my podcast on the usual places that you listen to podcasts. I have the Leadership and Loyalty podcast, which Warwick will be on in I think it’s the beginning of 2022. He’ll be on there, so that’s Leadership and Loyalty. And we also have the Curiosity Bites podcast, which is also you can find on the usual platforms. Of course, I’m on YouTube, there’s over a thousand videos on there. Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, all those places. I also have an outlet on medium called The Dragon’s Den, where you can find my articles. I mean, basically I’m nauseatingly out there if you want to find me, it won’t be difficult.

Gary S:

Excellent. Warwick, take the last question or two.

Warwick F:

Yeah. Well, thank you so much, Dov. I love how you’re really fighting for people’s souls, true selves. There might be leaders, maybe some are successful, maybe some are successful at a smaller level. Maybe in Thoreau’s words, they’re leading lives of quiet desperation. Maybe they’ve had a big crucible, maybe it’s a series of small ones. What’s a word of hope that you would give them where they might be thinking, “This eulogy thing, if I died tomorrow, I’d be a little worried.” What’s a message of hope you would give for those folks?

Dov B:

It’s never too late. It’s never too late. The only part of you that says it’s too late is ego. It’s never too late. What I want you to know is this, as a message to your soul: is who will suffer if you continue to play small? And by small, I don’t mean success-wise. Who will suffer if you continue to ignore that deep driving purpose within you? You came into this life for a reason. You did not get your hopes and dreams by accident. They are your soul crying out for expression. When you step into that, when you claim that and you can, that is within you, you have the power within you right now. Even though they, whoever they are saying you can’t, there is within you a magnificence so powerful that it can transform not only your life, but the lives of everyone that you touch.

Dov B:

But to do that, you must be willing to abandon that which you’re attached to in order to get to what you want. You cannot step into the promised land while holding onto something that will never fulfill you. There is magnificence in you and you deserve to bring it to the world. The world needs you because as I said earlier, I cannot deliver Gary’s message. I cannot deliver Warwick’s message. No one else is you, you are uniquely made by the creative force of the universe, whatever you want to call it, to deliver your message. You can only do that if you tap into your soul’s purpose. Then you will have more success than you’ve ever dreamed, but you’ll have so much fulfillment, so much love, and you’ll have joy. Not just happiness, not transitory, but true joy. And that is worth dying for.

Gary S:

I have been in the communications business long enough to know when the last word on a subject has been spoken, and Dov Baron has just spoken it. Listener, you have heard me say when I close out shows a lot, here are three takeaways. If I tried to only give you three takeaways from this incredible episode, we’d be here for an hour of me trying to do that. So here’s what I want to do instead. Dov asks some questions in his book that we’ve been talking about and I want to leave you with those questions that he asks the readers of his book to ponder, so that you can ponder them in the context of this conversation we’ve just had.

Gary S:

Here are those questions. First question: what exactly is my purpose? Ask yourself that question, explore those answers. Second question: what is that value that I have given or could give to all those around me? What can you give away? How can you live as we’ve talked about here, in service to others? The third question: what is that thing everyone else sees in me, that I can’t? Could be a very positive thing, could be those whispers at the back of the eulogy that Dov talked about. What are those things? Explore some of that. Take some learnings from that. And the fourth question from the book is: what is my own genius blind spot and what has it cost me? We could do an entire series on this podcast on that subject.

Gary S:

But as for now, plane’s on the ground, we’re getting our bags out of the overhead compartments and it’s time to go. Thank you for spending this time with us and until we’re together the next time, please remember this that came through loud and clear in this episode of Beyond the Crucible. Your crucible experiences, we know are painful. Our crucible experiences have been painful, sometimes in Dov’s case, very physically painful. In Warwick’s case, emotionally painful. But here’s the good news: it’s not the end of your story. It is in fact, if you learn the lessons of that crucible, if you apply those lessons, those learnings and they lead you to move in a different direction in your life, move beyond as the title of this show is, beyond your crucible, it’s not the end of your story. In fact, it’s the beginning of a brand new story which can be the best story of your life because where that story takes you is to a life of significance.

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