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Welcome to episode #64 of the Morning Upgrade Podcast. In this episode I spoke with Doug Brackmann, an author and a licensed psychologist with a PhD in clinical psychology and business psychology. 

Top Talking Points

  • Having an ironclad routine and following it as closely as possible is necessary for success.
  • You should start out with easier routines and build your way up to more complex ones.
  • If you’re not feeling resistance to completing your routine, it’s not a hard enough routine.

Resources & Links

Share Link for this episode.

Connect With Doug at Iamdriven.com

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Episode Transcript

Ryan  

Hey guys, it’s Ryan real quick. So my mission with the Morning Upgrade blog and podcast is to raise the awareness of morning routines and personal development. And I now have two products that are also helped me with this mission. The first product helps you start a 20 minute morning routine. And the second product is a book that outlines how to use personal development, upgrade your life and business. You can get full details on both products over at morning upgrade.com. Thanks for letting me share. And now on to the show.

Announcer  

Welcome to the Morning Upgrade podcast with Ryan Cote where we feature casual conversations with entrepreneurs about personal development and growth.

Ryan 

Hey, Doug, welcome to the Morning Upgrade podcast. How are you?

Doug  

I’m doing well. Thanks, Ryan.

Ryan  

You’re welcome. Let’s talk about who you are, what you do for a living and then maybe some of your hobbies. What are your what are your interests?

Doug  

So I’m a licensed psychologist, I live in Nashville, Tennessee. I have two PhDs. A Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and a Ph.D. in business psychology, organizational Psych. I work with entrepreneurs, professional athletes. And I used to work quite a bit with Navy SEAL teams and really look at optimal performance and kind of land in a niche in the society of working with something I called driven. And it’s based very simply, on the ATD ADHD spectrum, we’re about 10% of the general population, have a different brain structure and a different reward system that in my book, I go back into some theories about why you know, these genetics in this brain difference that we have is so resilient, but about 10% of us are really wired free, a hunting style of kind of productivity in the world where most people are wired to be farmers. It’s an interesting niche that I absolutely love. As you get into that niche, all psychologists believe it or not. And it’s true what they say all psychologists get into the field to figure out their own crap. And so I am an addictive personality, to say the least. And I fit this genetic profile and this brain structure that I’ve been in it, you know, a great time to be a shrink because of the functional MRI and the human genome being cracked and being able to see, you know how this human animal, this meat suit that I’m living in is actually wired and being understood. So it’s really a personal passion. And then I found most of my clients really need to hear what I have to teach. So what I teach works, that’s going to help, of course. 

Ryan  

Yeah, so I want to talk to you about personal development, entrepreneurship. And we talked about routines. And before we started recording you were talking about, you know, the resistance to routines and self-sabotage. So I do want to definitely touch on those two topics. But I always like to start off with besides the introduction, of course, start off with your morning routine, can you walk us through what that looks like for you?

Doug  

I would be an absolute mess without a morning routine. And, you know, I’ve been teaching meditation for 20 plus years. And it is the point of meditation practice, particularly morning meditation practice is to keep it and it is this struggle to keep it. That was my doctoral research. And so I treat my morning routine, like gold. It is the most important part of my day to actually get, you know, get this part of my brain awake to where I can learn to call bullshit on myself for the rest of the day. And so, my morning routine is very consistent. I wake up, I do a bulletproof coffee, I walked downstairs with my bulletproof coffee, I have a journal in my hand, I sit on a set of Zapu and Sabaton and meditation set of cushions and I light a candle in front of me. And it has been a 1518 year practice. Now I have missed I think I’m on a 77-day streak now and I missed a day and prior to that, I think it was 140 and prior to that it was 260. So I am really consistent in this morning routine. But I made the routine, flexible enough that I can really keep it it is this very simple walk downstairs that I always do very simply sit on the cushion. And I always do very simply, no coffee that I always do. But the style of meditation may vary the length of time may vary how I journal varies what I’m reading varies. And so I have enough flexibility in it that it allows me to get my needs met. But the beginning of it, the middle of it, and the end of it. You know I will sit on my couch I will meditate and I will have the bell go off at the end and I’ll actually be done. That’s a key part of my, my structure, and my routine it is, it’s an opportunity for me to feel in here. You know, I call it the monkey mind talking me out of my routine. And so it is this. At that moment when I feel that break of the routine or you know, want another cup of coffee, or you know what, I didn’t put enough collagen in it, you know, some monkey mind excuse for me to break my routine. That is the magic for me in my routine practice in my meditation practice or my morning routine. And it’s the opportunity to see myself sabotage. That is the key to it.

Ryan  

We all experienced the same thing. Like we’re trying to do something and something distracts us. But like you said, it’s usually our mind trying to distract us from actually doing the routine. Why do you think that resistance is there? What’s causing that?

Doug  

So that was my doctoral dissertation, my doctoral dissertation looked at a bunch of stuff and including lottery winners. You look at lottery winners are a great example of you know, I do this stuff from the stage and who in the audience wants to win the lottery, Everybody raised their hands. And I’ve gotten multiple slides of actually what happens to eight out of 10 people that win the lottery, it destroys your life, you’re broke, your family hates you, you’re just like, well, that wouldn’t happen to me. And the same thing happens, you know, it’s why January sucks at the gym is that you know, everybody makes these commitments to keep a routine. But by February, and I said this earlier, February 14, most people, and I mean, 78% of people don’t even remember what their New Year’s resolutions were. So it is this what you know when I was nine, the early 90s when I was doing my research, mid-90s. You know, we didn’t have the functional MRI, as we do now. And it is really this battle between the operating system that lives in our body. And the operating system that lives in our brain between our ears, the one between your ears can imagine the most amazing, fantastical, awesome worlds that you want to live, you know, and it can create beautiful images in your head of what how wonderful your life would be if you won the lottery. The problem is, is that the body the way the body works, and it’s a much older system, way, it’s millions and millions and millions of years older. So it is way more powerful, that the body wants a familiar world. And so you go to the gym for three weeks, or five weeks or whatever, and your body starts to feel better. And that’s when your monkey mind will start to resist continuing those behaviors. And it’s not a thought that does it, it is a resistance in the body. So you get this impulse in the body. That’s my joke about Jim is all of a sudden the couch starts to get a little stickier. To start to get stuck to this couch and you’re trying to get off the couch. If that triggers the monkey mind to come up with very creative reasons why you can’t go to the gym right now. And you believe them. Then you have the monkey mind colluding with your body to sabotage you. what suffering is though, is that your body starts to resist. But then up in your monkey mind, you get these big ass gorillas beating the crap out of you to go to the gym, you lazy VVVV. And you have this battle between what my impulse in my body is telling me to do versus what I know is best in my head. And that that is the meat of what I teach. That is personal development is learning to rise above impulses. But the key takeaway from meditation, the key takeaway or maintaining a morning routine, is that you can catch your body starting to resist continuing these behaviors that you in your mind know are good for you. And so if you continue to do the behaviors, your body will slowly but surely adjust. And that’s where micro-commitments and micro goals and all of that research. You know, I start everybody, when I’m teaching this stuff to start a two-minute morning routine, you start a routine that is so simple, and so easy, that there’s absolutely no monkey mind logical reason that you should resist doing it. And yet you will still resist doing this. We’re all human beings and it’s like, Oh, there’s the resistance and I can gently move through that resistance and you Another key thing I say about meditation is there is no resistance in the present. Not Yeah, but I don’t want to. But right now I can feel my feet and I can feel my feet moving towards the coffeemaker, I can turn on the coffee and get my cup of coffee, I can feel the resistance to going downstairs and meditating. But then I move through, and I just feel my feet moving. And in that way, you can do absolutely any of these things you want to do. As long as you can catch that resistance and slowly allow your body to adjust to the new better.

Ryan  

There’s no point where you said, you’ve been doing your morning routine for 18 years, and that you said so is there to get to a point where there is no self-sabotage, there is no resistance to the routine, there is always that there, it just gets lighter.

Doug  

It gets lighter. And then this attitudinal shift that I have, and I teach, you know, if you’re reading my book about driven, and it’s for driven people, but it’s a shift in identity. In the, you know, I’m not doing this morning routine, because I need to be okay, no, I’m doing this morning routine because I am okay. And I am actually embracing this concept of better or mastery. And mastery is just, you know, I’m in a constant state of self-improvement. And so if I’m not feeling the resistance, I’m not pushing myself hard enough. And so very simple, that’s when I start to read some more esoteric Buddhist texts that are just a nightmare to read. And, you know, it’s like, oh, God, I don’t want to take the breath, feel the resistance and keep moving forward on it. But yes, I mean, if I don’t have my coffee now, and if I don’t have my morning meditation, I feel off all day. So in that sense, it has become a habit. But it’s also this, this way of actually continuously pushing myself just leaning against that, that resistance. So I always know I’m in pain when I’m developing my capacity to override my body’s impulses, or actually be with my body’s impulses, and not get into that monkey mind battling what my body wants to do. If you’re not feeling the resistance very simply, as you’re not pushing yourself hard enough. You’re missing that, I’m sure.

Ryan  

Yeah, we don’t talk much about resistance to routines on this podcast, I’m glad you’re bringing it up. Because a lot of times, it just starts with raising the awareness that it’s a thing. So the next time one of my listeners is going to do something like a morning routine, or what have you in there, they’re making up things to do instead, well, they now can recognize Oh, wait, this is what Doug was talking about. The resistance is nice to need to acknowledge it, and then just work through it. So I’m glad you’re talking.

Doug  

It is yeah, most importantly, it’s normal. It’s supposed to be there. Well, normal people can go to the gym every day and not even struggle with it. No, that’s not true. Everybody’s in this struggle. But very few people are aware of it. And so what you just said is dead-on, it’s that awareness, you know, in the tasks and tools that you’re creating, you know, that I’ve created, that everybody creates to, to help us is only part of the work, the real work is that internal, over not overcoming the resistance, but being with the resistance and smiling at the resistance and doing it anyway. yourself accountable is that is growth.

Ryan 

That was helpful. I want to take a bit of a 180 here. And I want to talk about happiness, the meaning of life, I know the meaning of life is it’s a personal thing. And obviously, it’s different for everyone. But have you ever given that topic, any thought, and they get given a high overview of thoughts on the meaning of life that applies to most of us?

Doug  

The Zen teacher that I’ve had for years and years and years, he’s he says laughter. And I tend to agree with that, you know that that capacity to laugh at oneself. And that capacity to laugh with others is, I think we’re dancing, singing laughing species. And we spend way too much time in our heads. And so I think the meaning of life for me, my spiritual practice of really trying to get to know God. God is the process of getting to know the present moment. You know, I think, you know, one of my favorite names for God is present. And so I think when you really embrace the present, you’ll learn to laugh a hell of a lot more.

Ryan  

That answer made me think of like, I’ve got kids and they’re fairly young and really any kid if you look at like under seven, six years old, they then have a fear in the world of care in the world. They laugh they’re not afraid about being judged, and they just live very Breathing. And they seem to be having a lot of fun. I look at my six-year-old and she’s always having fun. And then like, at what point do we lose that?

Doug  

The Joseph Campbell stuff is made me think of that. And one of my favorite teachers said, Assuredly, I say to you bring the children to me, for their closest to the kingdom of heaven, is this attitude. And Joseph Campbell said it, you know, that we’re all born into the Garden of Eden, the way that we’re all born into this place of just freedom. You know, we’re free of sin, we’re free of shame, we’re free of these things. But at some point, we all eat from the tree of knowledge, then we know right from wrong, and immediately we’re filled with shame. And that that is this moment that you’re witnessing and your kids when they find out what a good student is somewhere around 789 10. And maybe I’m not a good student, it starts to unravel that sense of freedom that we can all go back to in the present. But kids yeah, kids are just more present.

Ryan  

Yeah, absolutely. I’ve got one more question for you, Doug. I always like to sneak in a business question here, too. So I’m going to use this last question for that. I loved all the time we spent on routines and habits. So I want to go to business here. And I want to talk about challenges, a challenge you’ve faced, it could be recent, or it could be in the past. And then how you got through it. You could talk about the mindset, the tactics you used, whatever comes to mind.

Ryan 

Yes, business-specific challenge. I’m writing a book and having all of these people around me that you know, as in the entrepreneurial world, and I’m sure most of your listeners can see, there’s this thing called I call it to scale porn. Does this unbelievable need God, you’ve got to scale, you’ve got to scale. And I have been unbelievably resistant and sabotaging all kinds of things around them. Because, you know, personally, the internal struggle has always been the imposter syndrome for me. Yeah, and, you know, feeling like I’m, you know, oh my god, they might find out, you know, that really not as smart or as not as good. And, you know, that dissertation of mine, you know, the dissertation chair, shook my hand and said, Congratulations, Dr. Brockman, first time, I got called doctor, and I could hear my mindset clear as a bell haha, he bought it. So that imposter syndrome and how I have worked through that, personally, is really just a change of identity, that my identity, your identity is not your business. It’s not your success and failures. It’s not, it’s not any of those things. And so, the personal work and the professional work, you know, being tied together so intimately, you know, is turned into this real understanding that, you know, as I say, in my book, it’s not who do I think I am, it’s a really an acceptance of what I am, no and what I am as a teacher, what I am is a monkey. What I am is a homosapien. And you know that that capacity to actually hold that has allowed me to actually step into the public view and not be worried about the results. And so it’s just, you know, a crude teacher never knows they’re a good teacher because they’re always trained to be a better teacher. So as long as I’m in that state of better trained to be better at it, I can stay at other results and then move towards you know, this, this bigger world.

Ryan  

That’s a great quote, you just said they’re a great teacher don’t know he or she is a great teacher because you’re trying to become a better teacher. I love that.

Doug  

Yeah, it’s, it’s humility. And the same thing with parenting and the good husband doesn’t know they’re good husband, because they’re always trying to be a better husband. My wife can attest to that got a lot of growth.

Ryan 

Me too. So well, this is great. You dropped a lot of interesting advice and gems, and I really appreciate your time. If someone wants to learn more about you or if they want to buy your book? All things Dr. Doug?

Doug  

There is a place called Iamdriven.com. So it’s just I-am-driven all lowercase and it gets my book, free downloads of the first three or five chapters in the first couple of audios, and meditation guides on there. Got a bunch of stuff on there. So please get them.

Ryan  

I like that domain name. It’s a good one. So we’ll link that up in the show notes. Thank you. Our Thanks, Doug. All right. 

Doug

Thanks, Ryan.

Ryan 

Thanks for listening to the Morning Upgrade podcast. Please subscribe and review. And don’t forget to visit us at morningupgrade.com for more content.

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