The most basic concepts create the biggest shifts and results in our human experience. Overlooking the basics eventually result in pain and suffering. I learned this the hard way.
“How much water do you drink?” my coach asked me on our first coaching call. I had hired him because my life had fallen apart. I had just lost my second six-figure executive position in 20 months. Besides that, I was close to 300 pounds, suicidal, in active alcoholism, and my marriage and family were teetering on the verge of collapse. I had a wife and two daughters who depended on me. I wanted desperately to take care of them and provide the highest quality of life, but I couldn’t take care of myself. I’m not sure how I ever thought I could take care of anyone when I couldn’t even take care of myself.
The Cost of Putting Yourself Last
In my executive career, I was responsible for organizations capable of earning up to $350 million with teams of hundreds of employees. I managed powerful leaders who led other leaders. Each day I went into the office, I had many lives, incomes, and households in the palm of my hand. I managed powerful budgets, strategic plans, and the performance of my teams. It was a burden I loved at times and dreaded at others. It was fun and exciting, and oftentimes led to extreme anxiety as well as mental and emotional chaos.
One thing was fairly consistent throughout this near 20-year rise in my corporate career: I neglected just about every aspect of myself. Not only did I buy the donuts, but I ate plenty of them. I bought the coffee and drank enough of it to keep an army of people energized, and I worked myself to death, sometimes 12-16 hours per day. In my spare time, I drank as many beers as I could and sat either on my couch or in a bar and watched other people actively chasing balls around on the screen in front of me.
I am a United States Marine Veteran, but yet for some reason my physical preparedness took an extreme backseat to the mission effectiveness in my mind. I was going to complete the mission at all costs, but, over time, my lack of physical preparedness depleted my ability to carry out all of my missions. First, I began to neglect my marriage, then I began to neglect my performance. As physical depletion set in, mental and emotional exhaustion did as well, until all the wheels fell off.
How Powerful Do You Feel?
So when my coach asked me how much water I was drinking, I remember thinking that that was the stupidest question anyone ever asked me. Internally, I thought to myself that I hired this coach to help me find another job and maybe help me save my marriage, and he was asking about my water intake…?!? I remember thinking that we needed to get to work recreating my income so that I could begin “living” again. But what my coach was trying to help me do was avoid dying from physical neglect. I had not yet connected that how you treat your body shows up in how powerful you feel and how powerful you show up in your marriage and career. Neglect your body and you are neglecting it all.
My coach taught and connected me to a simple acronym that helped me recreate how I showed up and experienced the world: O.W.N.E.R. This was groundbreaking for me at the time, and since then I’ve realized that it creates the most simple foundation for powerful results imaginable. O.W.N.E.R. addresses the basic needs of the body.
We assume that by breathing, we are all set in this dimension. But there is a significant disconnect in the amount of oxygen we breathe and the amount of oxygen that enables peace, joy, health, and centeredness of being. There’s a reason that people in a panic attack are advised to breathe: oxygen is the most powerful source of anti-anxiety medication available. The stress and fears of life creates shallow breathing, and lack of oxygen creates more stress. Intentional deep breathing exercises 4-5 times per day will help you relieve stress, anxiety, and even depression over the course of time.
Our bodies are over 85 percent water. Today, we live in a society where it is customary to reach for sugary drinks, caffeine, and alcohol—anything other than plain water—for flavor, energy, or escape. Because of this, our bodies are screaming for hydration. Drinking half of your body weight in fluid ounces—and even more if you intake caffeine and alcohol—will allow your cells to get the hydration you need. Until your cells are adequately hydrated, they are not focused on thriving; they are focused on surviving.
We live in a land and time of processed food. Chemicals are not fuel. Our bodies require pure, clean protein, carbohydrates, and fats to function at a high level. Our fast-paced society and genius marketing has shifted us from a focus on health to focus on convenience. We also use food as a source of comfort or escape. Food is fuel, not feelings. Feed your body proper nutrition, and you will be rewarded with higher levels of energy, confidence, courage, and clarity.
The gyms are packed in January and empty by February. We live in a time where we prioritize entertainment, material attainment, and escape over the body’s basic needs. Don’t overthink this one. I am talking about physical stimulation for 20-30 minutes that results in increased heartrate and a bit of sweat. Add in some creative muscle-building and lung-expanding activity, and you’ll find yourself feeling energized. You will soon find that you’ll require less artificial stimulation from unnatural sources to keep moving.
Finally, proper rest is the product of the first four dimensions. The inability to consume the proper amounts of oxygen, dehydration, improper nutrition, and lack of exercise lead to poor sleep. When the first four dimensions are in check, all you need to do is create a pocket of rest of 8 hours, and your body will take what it needs. There is no set number to target. Give your body some healthy habits and a pocket for sleep, and you’ll wake up when your body is ready. This one is easy to overthink, too. Think simple, and the results will surprise you.
Just Be Better Than Yesterday
I’ll be the first to admit that I am not perfect in any of these dimensions. The goal is not perfection—but better than yesterday. Since that first conversation with my coach, I’ve kicked alcohol, lost close to 100 pounds, saved my marriage and family, and built two businesses from scratch. I’ve learned to live life on my terms, but it all came about by surrendering to the basic needs of my body. O.W.N.E.R. will provide more results than you can ever anticipate in health, wealth, and love.
But you must first step out of the world of convenience and escape. Choose growth over comfort. Put yourself first. Step into your power. All of the clichés are true. Now it’s up to you to decide if you want to own your life, or if you allow your life to own you.