No Comfort in the Growth Zone with Blake Johnson (2/2)

Welcome to episode 136 of the Nerd Journey Podcast [@NerdJourney]! We’re John White (@vJourneyman) and Nick Korte (@NetworkNerd_), two Pre-Sales Technical Engineers who are hoping to bring you the IT career advice that we wish we’d been given earlier in our careers. In today’s episode we share part 2 of our interview with Blake Johnson. We discuss ways to get started with fitness and stay the course, dealing with accountability and shame, what we can learn from the life of a car salesman, and thoughts on finding your why.

Original Recording Date: 07-08-2021

Blake Johnson (find him on LinkedIn or Twitter) is a simple salesman who is passionate about people. He is also the owner of Manifest Fit. Catch part 1 of our interview with Blake in Episode 135.

Topics – Getting Started with Fitness and Staying the Course, Accountability and Shame, Human Improvement, Life of a Car Salesman, Finding Your Why and Closing Thoughts

3:18 – Getting Started with Fitness and Staying the Course

  • Blake has a client with bad knees who reached out to him asking to feel better.
    • This person noticed they had to tighten their watch band and was able to play with his kids all day without getting tired.
    • The way this person quantifies success is playing with his kids all day.
  • Blake has a client who used to be diabetic because of soda consumption.
    • They dialed back the consumption, and this person drank more water and was able to push harder at the gym.
  • Some people don’t want to go to the gym because "that’s where fit people are."
    • We self-sabotage quite a bit with preconceived assumptions about the places we go (like gyms).
    • Step back. Are all gyms bad? If you feel they are, what can be done within those limits (playground, park, at home, etc.)?
    • "The only reason I am not where I want to be in my life is because I stopped myself before I even started." – Blake Johnson
    • Can you watch a video and follow it, take a walk in the neighborhood, or go somewhere you enjoy? Maybe that helps you build up to getting a coach or going to a gym (even if you just step in and watch). You have to start somewhere.
  • Nick likes the idea of measuring what matters (feeling better) instead of focusing on the numbers of waistline and pounds.
  • How about "I don’t have time to exercise?"
    • We all have the same amount of time in a day.
    • You will not have time for things that are not important to you. We make time for what matters.
    • Blake hates waking up at 5 AM, but working out for him is more important than not working out. And he knows once he gets home from work he is not going to work out.
      • If you only have 30 minutes, that is a ton of time. It doesn’t have to be 2 hours.
      • There are many ways to get to where we want to be within time limits. Even if it’s 20 minutes, we can change our activities to allow ourselves to make progress even in short time periods.
    • If you don’t have time, you may one day be sitting next to a doctor hearing "you should have found time."
    • There’s always a reason to not do something. Figuring out that something is important to your success, understanding objections, figuring out ways around them is essential.
  • What about staying the course?
    • It isn’t easy. Increasing fitness isn’t easy and may feel like work.
    • "There is no growth in the comfort zone. There is no comfort in the growth zone." – Blake Johnson
    • If I’m comfortable I need to go get uncomfortable.
    • If it were easy, everyone would do it and look like the fittest athlete we know.
    • Blake says embrace the discomfort. If I stayed comfortable, I would be who I was ten years ago. And that’s not acceptable.
    • This isn’t something that is easy even for elite athletes. They have just found a way to make it major part of their lives (a must have for them).
      • This makes the process more human. People at the gym who look fit are struggling too, struggling to get better. One day, you could be struggling with them.

14:55 – Accountability and Shame

  • Does staying the course mean you need to exercise daily?
    • Life happens. Regardless of what happened in the past we are here right now. Every client Blake works with has a goal (certain number of days per week, no one size fits all).
    • If goals don’t get reached, don’t beat yourself up. Focus on the successes and not the misses.
    • Staying the course is answering the question "why did we get off track?"
      • Maybe you ate bad food and missed a workout. Consider ways to change it next time so you will feel better.
      • Staying the course is being honest with yourself and having accountability without the judgement. There is a lot of judgement out there.
      • Either change the behavior, or change the fitness program accordingly. There is no one size fits all. We need to be able to adapt to reach goals in anything we do.
    • Nick mentions this sounds like an episode of Packet Pushers discussing blameless post mortems. When someone asks you why you missed the mark, it comes with a fear of judgement.
      • At the end of the day, if you need to be held accountable that is important. What if we were held accountable / held ourselves accountable without necessarily feeling shame?
      • Some people play the shame game. Instead…acknowledge it, fix it, and move on.
      • John mentioned people can be more comfortable in the shame spiral than in making a positive change.
      • Blake said he’s read psychology studies about why people stay in bad situations (regardless of what it is).
        • We overload the senses so much we end up staying where we are.
        • If Blake could change the world, he’d want everyone to learn about psychology and philosophy to be more well rounded.

22:18 – Human Improvement

  • Life is short. We only have one shot at this life. Life is far too short to not maximize our abilities, to wake up feeling bad, to not give yourself ample opportunity to go out and have fun, or not love every second of it.
  • Blake needed to be different things growing up. One day he decided he wanted to focus on his life being the life he wanted it to be.
    • He focused on treating people well. They in term started treating him a lot better.
    • Blake focused on surrounding himself with positive thinking and situations that made him feel better.
  • There is no reset button or cheat code. We cannot surround ourselves with that kind of thinking.
    • It’s easy to look at someone else and say "what can’t I be like that. They have so much." That person probably feels the same way about something else.
  • Life is short. Maximize it.

25:00 – Life of a Car Salesman

  • Nick mentioned it’s one thing to love what you do but another to master your field and succeed. Does the work involved ever become just work?
    • Blake says strength and conditioning at one point became a chore.
    • Blake owns his own business and can pour the parts he loves into it.
    • Life is too short to do what you hate. But Blake doesn’t want to surround himself with just his passions and gives the example of pursuing a PhD.
    • Strength and conditioning was his full career for 6+ years. Add personal training before that, and it makes about a decade.
      • He’s found his own style of training.
      • Blake has childish joy about being able to run his own business.
  • Blake is a car salesman today. Does that surprise you we have not mentioned it to this point? He’s in the customer service game and just happens to sell cars.
    • He gets to meet and talk with incredible people who are passionate about other things.
    • It’s a bonus that Blake can keep reading the books he wants to read and can train the way he wants to train, doing what he loves.
    • Blake loves life, and he loves people.
  • Of all the things that you could sell, selling cars didn’t seem to mesh (on the surface) with the positivity and self-actualization we’ve discussed.
    • If you had told Blake 5 years ago or any time in his life that he would be selling cars, he would have laughed at you.
    • When he stepped away from strength and conditioning, he started applying for several jobs. One of them was selling cars for the company he works for now.
    • Blake would not be in the car game if it was not for this company. They have a reputation for customer service and taking care of both customers and employees.
      • Blake could tell during the interview process that the company wasn’t fake.
      • He decided he could learn how to sell cars to work at this company.
    • Blake says car salesmen basically earn their reputations. He’s work with many of them and heard lots of stories from customers.
      • Blake can take what many people consider a loathsome experience and turn it into "that was a positive experience." He is enjoying the chance to change people’s perception of what the experience should be.
      • If buying a car can be a decent experience, imagine how many other experiences we could re-engineer.
      • The work has been both challenging and fun.
    • John highlights car sales as a 100% commission job in some cases, a system to grind down the customer, etc.
      • There can be companies who don’t fit this mold and seek to break out in a positive way.
      • Blake’s company (which is about to celebrate their 110th year) is going to give a fair price and negotiate if they can in addition to treating customers well.
        • We’d rather have a repeat customer than a one time customer. Take care of people the honest, right way, and the results speak for themselves.
        • Blake does birthday cards by the way!
      • John points out the disappearing asymmetry of information in the car buying process.
      • Blake says his company has used the golden rule of treatment to others much like the hospitality industry has adopted.
      • If Blake doesn’t sell, he doesn’t get paid. The company treats him not like the new guy but like an associate no different than anyone. The culture was refreshing.

37:17 – Finding Your Why and Closing Thoughts

  • Listen to Nick share the story of meeting Blake.
  • No matter what we do, if you don’t have a reason why you do it, you will not be as successful as you could be.
    • If you don’t have a why, none of the how / what / etc. really matters.
    • Blake’s why is he loves taking care of people and making their lives better.
    • Whether it’s building Manifest Fit or working for the company where he sells cars, Blake’s why has always stayed the same – treat people well and leave a positive impact.
    • If you can’t answer why you show up every day, think about it. How can you figure it out and maybe navigate your life a bit differently?
    • A number of previous guests agreed that aligning personal values with their company’s values was a reason for joining, regardless of role.
    • For where Blake and his wife are and what they value, it came down to where he felt more at home with an employer. That was the guiding light when he had to decide between two potential offers.
  • Parting thoughts
    • The best advice and the worse advice was the same. Do what you love. This can be a big rabbit hole of frustration and may not turn into a career.
    • At the same time, if you do something you hate, it is not going to be beneficial. Life is way too short to settle for less than YOUR best (not the best but your best).
    • Create a 3-dimensional life for yourself.
    • Feel free to reach out to Blake on Instagram or Twitter. Find and follow Manifest Fit on Instagram as well.

Contact us if you need help on the journey.

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