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Welcome to episode #48 of the Morning Upgrade Podcast. In this week’s episode I spoke with Sam Feeney, a former school counselor and owner of Made To Thrive. He enjoys spending time with his wife and 5 kids.

Top Talking Points

  • The meaning of life is to add meaning to other people’s lives.
  • Realizing that whatever problem you’re facing is not new and someone has already solved it.
  • Building routines that condition your body for whatever you are about to do.

Share Link for this episode

Connect With Sam at sam@madetothrive.coach or here.

Find The Books Mentioned on Kindle or Audible

The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy

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Thanks for listening to this episode of the Morning Upgrade Podcast with Sam. Be sure to subscribe so you never miss another episode. And if you enjoyed this episode, please leave a review.

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

Sam  

Thanks, Ryan. Doing great. Very happy to be here.

Ryan  

Yeah, absolutely. I’m excited to talk to you. We start off by you telling everyone who you are, what you do for a living, and what your hobbies are?

Sam  

Yeah, sure thing. And my name is Sam; I’m married. Five kids, we just moved, we relocated our family from the Philly suburbs to the Denver suburbs about four or five months ago. Just it’s been a wild ride for the next two months. I’ll be a school counselor finishing up 21 years of public education. And then I’m launching into coaching full-time, Made to Thrive.

Ryan  

That’s exciting making the transition to, I guess, across the United States; you’d say you’re pretty much across, right?

Sam  

Yeah, that’s about as far as I’m gonna get. I think. I think I think I’m good here. 

Ryan

What about your hobbies? What do you do for fun?

Sam

Oh, boy. Well, we have five kids. So try to be involved with them as much as possible. Fun for me is like and this whether or not this is cool. When we had twins, we had twins; our last two and our date nights became buffalo chicken stromboli. She puts the kids to bed, I run out for buffalo chicken for stromboli, and we watch a movie in peace and quiet. The hangout times, like that’s, I think the limits of doing whatever the heck you want, whenever you want, have really helped me appreciate smaller things. So I love to read. I do a lot now with kind of working two jobs. So the hobbies part. We’re working on bringing that back in.

Ryan  

You’re right, it’s fantastic. Once you have kids like something as simple as watching a movie, it changes, you know, you probably appreciate it more.

Sam  

One of my favorite quotes if you know the book To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee,, Scout is not allowed to read in first grade because she’s not supposed to. And she says until I was until it wasn’t allowed to read I never loved reading. One does not love breathing. And I’m like that’s everything is breathing when a lot of kids, you really, man, I really missed that. That was kind of fun. So it’s helped me appreciate the small things for sure.

Ryan  

So I’m gonna hit you with a doozy right off the bat here. In your opinion, what is the meaning of life?

Sam  

That is a doozy.. I love it. The meaning of life to me is to add meaning to other people’s lives. And you can do that in big ways in small ways. I’m a big-picture scale guy. So I’m like Steve Jobs said, we’re trying to put a dent in the universe, I’m trying to do that. But I think people who aren’t big picture, you know, I’ve got to do everything at the biggest possible level, you probably actually have a greater opportunity to have an influence in somebody else’s life on a really small scale, that means the world to them.

Ryan  

To me, that is the evolution of personal development. And that whole personal growth journey is very inward; it’s you’re working yourself. But I think the evolution of that is then trying to raise the awareness of that journey for other people and helping them find it for themselves. And that’s the evolution, in my opinion.

Sam  

There’s a lot of power to being two steps ahead of somebody else. And knowing that you’re about a million steps from where you might want to be. So you’re developing yourself to be able to lift up others doesn’t really get much better than that.

Ryan  

True. What is it about personal growth that interests you so much?

Sam  

I think it’s the great equalizer. I really do. I think if you’re willing to study and grow yourself and a classic example of this is, is Earl Nightingale is kind of like the father of professional development. And he wrote The Strangest Secret, which is kind of his famous recording, but he was from literally nowhere, like the slums. You know, it’s great depression times. But a library card, if you study, is by I mean, I really do. I think it’s a great equalizer, especially now, more than ever, when you have platforms that are more readily available than they ever were. You didn’t. You don’t need the connections; you really just if you’ve developed yourself enough, and you can get into the thought leadership space. It’s a wide-open door.

Ryan  

Yeah, very true. Let’s start with the morning. Let’s start with how you start your day. What does that look like? What do you do when you first wake up to set the tone for the rest of the day?

Sam  

Sure. I’ll tell you I’ve been listening to your podcast and love it. And I’m really out of the loop on the personal health and fitness scene. So I’m gonna apologize to people in advance. I am not the morning warrior. That I should be, so mine is very, very simple, am I get up and make a cup of coffee. And then I’m going through different reading plans. But right now, I’m doing a reading plan and reading through the Bible in a year, which I’ve never done. I’m 43,. My dad’s a pastor. I probably should have done this before. I never have. But my challenge to myself is I got four chapters. I want to find one verse that I can apply to my life somehow. And why I like doing this is twofold. It’s a minimum 2000-year-old verse, right. So my day, my yesterday, there’s perspective. That’s why anybody who reads they read Seneca. They read Marcus Aurelius. There’s something about pulling yourself out of your current circumstances and realizing that you got 2000-year-old problems. It’s probably not like you could, probably handle it. Right. The other part of it too, that I really love, if you know, Deep Work by Cal Newport. Yeah, is he talks about pushing your mental threshold? So I take to like this morning, it’s probably close to half an hour. There are like 8 million things that could be done right. It’s really hard. So one thing I do is little, just as a little hack is I actually put my planner out next to my Bible, my journal. So when I get an idea, oh, I got to do this today. I write it down. And I get back to it. So I’m always trying to. I’m always being pulled away from it. But that mental exercise of focusing on something for 20 minutes or so, one, when am I gonna focus on one thing for 20 minutes for the rest of my day. But if I’ve got that, the rest of my day can be a train wreck. But I’ve I call winning the day, I’ve won the day, just by having that first 20 minutes or half an hour, quiet time, five o’clock, because no one’s up yet. It’s just. It’s really awesome. So I start working out too. But in the meantime, this is what I got. Your start time is 5 am. I’ll say this. And this has been I found that the biggest secret to my morning routine is my bedtime for years. And I said I’m 43. So for years, I could do five hours, six hours sleep at night, it’d be totally fine to get bed late, wake up early, the whole thing. Frankly, I can’t do it anymore. And I’ve realized that the key to my morning routine is when I get my rear-end in bed. And that has been huge. And that has not been easy, because my wife’s a night owl. We started hanging out with each other. But that’s been essential to negotiate. Hey, Sunday through Thursday night. I got to be in bed by nine. I’m still reading. We’re still talking. But I’m asleep at 10 Because if I don’t, then I’m rolling ago and my next morning, my morning routines are gone. Am I my day is all reactive. And I hate that.

Ryan  

Sleep is so huge. And I got the whoop band. My cousin introduced me to it. I don’t know. Whoop, yeah, it’s it’s easy to wear it on your wrist. You can shower with it. And it has an app that funnels all this data into the app on like your sleep, your strain, which is like how much you’re exercising, like, like you’re having like your heart rate and stuff like your cardio work. Yeah, and a bunch of other stuff. But it tells you how good your sleep is, like how long you slept, and like it gives you a score have recovered. You are now obsessed with getting a good score. Like, if I wake up too much throughout the night, or you eat right before bed or anything that might disturb any part of your sleep. It actually is reflected in the apps now; it’s kept me obsessed, trying to get these good scores. So I don’t know what’s good or bad.

Sam  

No, that’s awesome. Dude, that’s it. Should I have had peanut butter, pretzels, and a beer right before I went to bed last night? Probably not. Probably a terrible idea. But yeah. Do you know, The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy.

Ryan  

Now that you have mentioned it like that. Yeah, that’s like one of my top business books. Chapter three, man, the biggest difference there is tracking.

Sam  

Yes. When you track it, you bring it to your consciousness. And that’s where I really started noticing. If I had just paid attention to this, I didn’t have had to do anything different. Just by paying attention to it, I’ll do something different. And that man, I gotta check that band out. That’s really cool.

Ryan  

And that’s like us where there’s nothing else to do. Yeah. And that’s why it’s it’s really easy. It sounds complicated for me to handle. I can do that. That’s great. So let’s talk about routines, habits, and routines. I know you talk a lot about turning ruts into routines. Maybe you can spend a few minutes giving, giving us some advice on that.

Sam 

And this is something that, you know, one on one me is I don’t have it all figured out. Like, I’m doing a bunch of stuff is almost like it’s not as extreme as for workweek. But it’s all the experiment and first, let’s try to figure it out. But I started noticing about a month, I’m sorry about a year or so ago that what I considered to be routines. They were actually ruts because they weren’t making me better. And so what I’ve noticed and I there’s actually an awesome training I just did with 12 week years guys, Moran and Lemington and they talked about just what are characteristics of really good routines. And then what are the things that kind of keep us trapped, and they’re really these unconscious habits. And in and of itself, they’re not that bad. But it’s when they bleed into those other things. That’s what I was talking about, like, how you’re ending your night, you know, like, key lime pie and a glass of milk, which is like 400 calories of straight sugar, right before you go to bed are not morally wrong, it just screws up your morning. Whereas right, we’re recording this. During March Madness, you watch a guy stand on the free-throw line of a basketball game. And he’s got probably a physical and a mental routine that preps them to perform at a high level. So I’ve started really digging into these ideas of what differentiates the two and how I can start to build routines for certain points in my day or certain areas of my life. And the more I can prep myself, to be able to then perform at a high level. So even like, you can hit the driveway, coming home from work, if you happen to not work at your house and the three people that applies to but or you leave your office right you hired has this kind of like work shutdown routine, but you leave your office and maybe on your back of your office door is a picture of your, your family, and a couple of things that you really appreciate about them. That’s a routine that says I’m about to enter the fray. Right? I called my lawyer. They didn’t go well. I’m about to go out and be a person with my family. I need to have a routine, which takes eight seconds but gets me in the right frame of mind to do the things that are really important. So it starts with identifying what’s really important in your life. And how can I build a routine, complicated or simple, long or short? That says, Okay, now I’m signaling to my body emotionally, physically, mentally that I’m ready now to do this thing that actually matters in my life. And so people do this around food, they do it around their relationships, they do it in the mornings, their evenings, whatever it might be. But I think I realized that I was going reactively through life, in a lot of ruts. And it was leading to weeks of not being as effective as I could in my life. And then now that I’ve started writing about tracking now that I’ve started realizing what it is that’s important, and starting building routines in front of them, it changes the game. It’s so so important.

Ryan 

It’s a great point. And you’ve got routines that they might not seem like obvious bad habits or bad routines, but they’re not serving you. It’s actually more of a rut. That’s an interesting mindset shift or perspective shift.

Sam  

And once you and this is what Moran and Huntington I think most of the way from their training was you right, realize that a rut or a habit is unthinking at a routine is difficult. But if you do the routine, it’s almost like you’re tripping over that first domino. The rest follows. So don’t focus on doing the big performance thing you got to do, just do the routine, and then you’re stepping right into it’s all; it’s very similar to, if you’ve played sports before, there’s just that this is my pregame routine because then the game is almost unconscious. But the routine is really, really important.

Ryan  

I’ve actually unknowingly created a nighttime routine for myself. I’m not trying to sound like the best dad ever here. But I’ve got a routine of my daughters where we do gratitude practice, and we read a little bit. It doesn’t take long. To me, now that’s sort of signaling that my night is coming to an end, not like at that exact moment. But within the next hour, I’m probably going to go to bed. And so it’s sort of just caps the day off.

Sam 

That’s so cool. And that’s what’s fun is your routine to kind of end the evening is something that your girl will remember, for ages, which is really kind of cool that you’re not even doing for her. You just like to go to bed. But you can add meaning to this stuff, right? It doesn’t have to be as transactional. It can be kind of a cool thing.

Ryan 

Yeah, exactly. I’ve got one more question for you, Sam, that we can wrap up with how you can help people connect with you if they want to learn more. Let’s talk about happiness. What’s your definition of happiness? What is your approach to happiness?

Sam  

Absolutely. For me, and you had a guest on a few episodes ago that I was that I really, really enjoyed. And he talked about the difference of we’re looking at happiness, or we’re looking at fulfillment, and which actually gives us lasting Yeah, there is a chocolate or is it something that with a slightly deeper impact on us more, more staying power? I’d say, Earl Nightingale, who I mentioned before, has a quote that success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal or ideal. And for me, I’m very much a making progress kind of guy. And happiness for me is in pursuit. And so, if you know maxwell Maltz psycho cybernetics, which is a much more accessible book than it sounds. But Psycho-Cybernetics just reminds us that we are goal-oriented species. And if we’re in pursuit, if I’m able to create, if I’m able to do, if I’m able to feel like I’m making progress towards something, man, I’m just fine. If I’m stalled, if I’m reactive, It’s the wheels are falling off. It’s just not a good place for me.

Ryan  

Yeah, I’m the same way. I’m happiest when I feel productive. Yes, it’s about fulfillment, really. I mean, happiness is a, it’s an emotion. But I think the ultimate goal, in my opinion, at least it true fulfillment. I agree with you. That comes towards trying to achieve something, trying to create impact, you know, setting goals and working towards them the journey.

Sam  

So it might look like eating buffalo chickens stromboli on your living room floor because you have accomplished something like getting through the week with a bunch of kids. But for me, I’m always like, what’s the next horizon? You know, and I think that’s just people wired in different ways. And that’s what I love about that question for you. Because the variety of guests you have on here is going to give you different answers. And that’s just fun.

Ryan  

Yeah, I’m trying to provide value with this podcast and raise the awareness of personal development, but I also do it. I also get a lot from it, too, just talking to different people and hear hearing their perspectives on things and their morning routines and their habits. I just love it. I’m fascinating.

Sam 

It’s a cool platform just to be able to talk to people and share ideas. I love it.

Ryan  

Well, this was great, Sam.. I’m glad we had this conversation. Gave a lot of good advice, and I know my listeners are definitely taking  a lot away from it. What’s the best way for them to connect with you if they want to reach out?.

Sam  

They can just email me Sam@madetothrivecoach.com and also actually for your listeners. I have more to elaborate. Elaborate is a strong word, more detailed in this thing is raining. It pretty much is not terrible. I have a real detailed training on turning ruts into routines where I turned them into acronyms. What rock means and what routine means and different letters, really kind of digging into those things, and that’s just that made to thrive coach slash morning upgrade. They can get access to that training for free.

Ryan  

Awesome, we will put them here in the show notes page. Thanks again for everything you shared. And thanks to everyone for listening.

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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