In this episode, I sit and have a conversation with John R. Miles, who leads a global movement called Passion Struck. He is passionate about being the catalyst who helps individuals expand into the greatest version of themselves, unlocking the most...
See show notes at: https://www.thinkunbrokenpodcast.com/e200-how-to-find-your-passion-after-rock-bottom-with-john-miles-cptsd-and-trauma-healing-coach/#show-notes
In this episode, I sit and have a conversation with John R. Miles, who leads a global movement called Passion Struck. He is passionate about being the catalyst who helps individuals expand into the greatest version of themselves, unlocking the most passion-driven life possible.
We talk about this idea of how you transform your life even if you think your life is at the top and recognize if you're not honoring your own journey, your fulfillment, and that thing that calls you what you need to do to create massive change in your life. I appreciated this conversation because it was looking at a retrospective of my life, thinking about all the decisions I've had to make to get to where I am today.
And I want you to think about this as you head into this conversation.
Where are you at in your life today?
What do you want?
What do you feel passionate about?
What are you drawn to?
What is your gut in your heart telling you you should be doing with your time, effort, and energy?
So as I have this conversation with John, it's fascinating because he's an exciting guy and you'll you would never guess that he's going to say some of the things that he is going to say and after getting to know him over the last few months, I'm really fascinated by the way he thinks about the world.
Listen and join us today because you're going to get a tremendous amount of value from this episode. I'm very excited to share it with you.
Learn more about John Miles, visit: https://passionstruck.com/
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Michael: Hey! What's up, Unbroken Nation! I hope that you're doing well wherever you are in the world today. Very excited to be back with you with another episode with my guest John R. Miles, who is a leader and a global movement called a Passion Struck. John my friend, what is happening in your world today?
John: Man, how are you doing? Thank you so much for having me on your amazing podcast. I'm excited to be here.
Michael: I'm excited to have you. I'm already interrupting you because I can't wait to have this conversation. I love your story, I love your journey, I love the conversations you and I have had in the past; we are very much on the same wavelength and there's so many areas that I want to go in this conversation today. But before we dive in, can you tell a little bit about who you are and how you got to where you are today?
John: Sure. I am the CEO and founder of Passion Struck, which is a company all focused on teaching people how to be intentional in their lives, the host of The Passion Struck Podcast and a systems entrepreneur and an Elite Performance coach. My trajectory for getting here started by attending the Naval Academy and then becoming a Naval officer where I served in on a variety of different military platforms from aircraft ships, submarines with Special Forces teams, and then I left there and became a big for consultant and then eventually found my way into the c-suite and Fortune 100 companies before becoming the CEO of four different companies before starting Passion Struck.
Michael: Man, that is quite the journey, you know, it's really interesting because I found myself in this trajectory of heading towards the military very young but unfortunately after a knee injury, I couldn't pass MEPS and I found myself like thinking, like what in the world am I supposed to do with my life now? And it was getting into Business and Entrepreneurship and working for Fortune 10 companies and you have that whole nine it really changed the trajectory of my life. What I'm curious about is, if you rewind your life, and look out what you're trying to do and build right now, where does that come from? Because I think natively intentionality is often required for creating the life that you want to have. Have you kind of fallen into life? Did you build your life? Like how does one go? Because people are going to listen to this and already disconnect John, they're gonna go man, this guy, he's too smart, he's too good, he's done all this stuff, I don't connect, but I'm gonna guess that's probably not the truth and that you've had to put a tremendous amount of work into this. So talk to us about how you've actually been able to craft and build the life you have today?
John: Yeah, so I have had to build everything that I have in life from scratch, I was not given really any car, money, education, anything I had to figure out all by myself and pave this course for where I'm at today. And I think a lot of it started with that decision to go the Naval Academy and it weighed heavily on me because my dream prior to doing that was always together the University Michigan, but as I neared that decision, I didn't have any clue as to how I was going to pay for it and on top of that, I felt a burning calling to serve others and I felt that, you know, joining the military would be, not only my way to do that, but my opportunity to really get honed in leadership, which I knew would propel for the rest of my career. So that was really the start of it but I have to tell you, as I got further into my career I started living this; I guess maze that Society creates for us, where we start seeing that the rewards in life come from things such as recognition, awards, how much money we have, the house that we live in, the community were around these people who we think of, who are friends, because of what we have, not who we are. And I reached this point when I was at one of the Pinnacles of my career, in my dream job at Dell were, I just realized that all these things I had been building, we're projections of what others thought of me and at the same time I was wearing when I call it as, you know, a shroud disguising, my authentic self, and who I really was. And so, like anything I was feeling, at that point loneliness because there was no one I could talk to about this or I didn't feel like I could because I didn't want to let my guard down to others. I was feeling apathetic, you know, in some cases numb and I had all these materialistic things, but none of it was bringing me fulfillment.
And so for me, the really the tipping point to really working on this was unfortunately, a traumatic incident, where I walked in on an assailant, in my house who was in the middle of a burglary, who as I went up the stairs to go up to my bedroom, I rounded the corner and he was pointing a gun at me. And, you know, that moment and the weeks and months, that followed it kind of unearthed, all this trauma that I had had from childhood to combat trauma, physical assault trauma and other things and it really led me down this path to where my emotional system just became overwhelmed to the point that I basically hit rock bottom and anguish over all these things that were hitting me and not being able to cope with it. So at that point, you know, I decided the track that I was on was not the track I was destined for and I started doing a ton of self work to get myself out of that despair to where I'm at now.
Michael: It's powerful. You know, I've spent a lot of time over the years, trying to find out if there's a way to mitigate the risk of the rock-bottom, to create massive change in someone's life. And unfortunately, it almost feels like all signs point to know. What I'm curious about is in that moment, you know, we're all faced with a decision to make; right here in front of you here's this experience you've probably been in precontemplation about changing your life, you've probably even been contemplating it like really sitting down and going what is the thing that I need to do. In this moment comes to pass and you're faced with really crossing this chasm until from where you are and to what is next and I believe, wholeheartedly that there are people who will take that leap into what is next and there are people who will not for a while after multiple rock bottom's I was the person who did not, it wasn't until this very travesty of an event that I made a shift. What I'm curious about here John is in that moment in the days and weeks after this event and you're sitting here, you're looking at your life, you're in this place of measurement of contemplation, why did you decide to act? Because I think so often people get caught up in there like, well, I guess this is just my life and they're okay with that, but you made a choice, you made a decision, why did you make that decision to say; you know what, I'm going to go figure this out?
John: So I've been feeling a calling probably for almost a decade up into that point that God was calling me to do something different than what I was doing at that point in time. So, when I took this position at Dell, I had been a senior executive at Lowe's before this, it was an unpopular move for my family because we really like living in North Carolina and in many ways I did it for some selfish reasons. Well, God works in mysterious ways and he wanted my life to go in a different direction and so, like things happen, he started at first hitting me over the head with a book and what I mean by that is I arrived in Austin and I'm in a temporary apartment and one of the first weekends I go home to go, visit the family, I get back and my entire apartment is flooded, all my shoes, all the goods that were anywhere, two to three feet up we're all destroyed. I get moved to another apartment and one day I'm sitting in the shower and all of a sudden I feel this biting sensation and realize as I look up that there are scorpions falling from the ceiling on top of me in the shower and I had another incident of this, a few months later after I was told by the rental company that they had extinguished them and in the middle of the night, I woke up to sharp biting sensations as scorpions were crawling over my body, I can't make this stuff up. Then my family gets there and my two kids rooms are infiltrated by bedbugs, then we buy our dream house, which was this gorgeous house just at the beginning of Hill Country overlooking Lake Austin, I mean, I couldn't describe how beautiful it was, but we decided that we wanted to knock out this portion of the kitchen to enlarge it and as we did it, we were dismayed to learn that the entire back half of the house and all throughout the kitchen going upstairs was termite infested to the point that it was going to cost us two hundred thousand dollars to pull it out and insurance won't cover it. You would have thought at that point, I would have learned my lesson but, I think it takes a while because you get into these situations where you're on this career trajectory, like I was on, and I had this aspiration of, upon completing my time at Dell is the CIO, you know, taking that to bigger and better places and sometimes, I think we so allow ourselves to be consumed by what we think inherently is the right thing to do, instead of living our life in a way that the job that we're doing and our life become intertwined.
And when you're doing this career, you know, you're trying to get to the next greatest thing in life but are you really happy? You know, are you really fulfilled? And so for me it was this inner calling that the sledgehammer I think was this physical assault and before that it was getting divorce and all that unraveling. And I think in hindsight, if I would have made the decision to listen to whether you believe in God or the universe, that there was a bigger purpose in my life and that the steps I had been taken up into that point we're necessary because they were preparing me for making the leap into what I'm doing now. So that I could use that leadership, I could use that experience, of scaling businesses, of leading people, of being able to publicly speak and do other things to take this calling that I was being given to go out and help people and to serve others and to do it. But when you're getting the big paycheck and you're driving the nice car and everything else, it is very difficult at that point to see that and to leave it all behind and to take that huge rest that comes with it.
Michael: Yeah, I mean first off, holy shit what a story John. But also, you know, I'm sitting here thinking like man when the signs are there, if you are not paying attention, you're in trouble and I think in the same way, the universe is always conspiring in your favor, right? You've probably heard this before. I also believe that in that conspiracy, like – sometimes it's bad things, or sometimes it's things that are unsettling because the universe is like, dude, I'm telling you, like, you don't want to listen, I'm keep smacking you in the face. And I think that you're spot-on and I believe that a tremendous amount of awareness is required in your life by paying attention to the little things.
You know, when I was 25 years old, I'm making tremendous money working for this Fortune 10 Company, having no high school diploma or a college education and being in that position, it's impractical, it's improbable, right? But I'd figured out how to navigate it and my life was a disaster. I wasn't looking at the signs, I was ignoring them in the whole time, I was feeling called, like go do this other thing go be of service, go and show up in the world and it wasn't until a rock bottom moment for myself that I started to see that transition and I was seeking this word that I bet you've used a couple of times that has held such an incredible Catalyst in my journey and that is fulfillment. And I think people because it's a word so thrown around right now, especially in space is like ours, right? People always like fulfillment, fulfillment fulfillment, but I think that they don't ever really talk about what that means because you and I have felt that similar path like we got the nice house, a nice car, all the things except we're miserable. What is fulfillment actually mean, John and how does someone start heading towards fulfillment?
John: So I'm a big reader of anything I can get my hands on but I especially loved a lot of the wisdom that Abraham Maslow shared, you know, Viktor Frankl and others about what it means to be self actualized. And to me, when you are fulfilled you are becoming everything that you are meant to be. And so with that means, and it's a big thing to think about is your life, your job, your relationships, your spiritual health, your mental health, your physical, health are all intertwined towards you doing things in service of something bigger than self were your intentional about your daily interactions and intentions to the point that everything that you're doing is pulling you towards this purpose, that you feel burning inside of you that you're willing to risk, physical, mental, spiritual, safety to go after, that's to me what being passion struck is all about which ultimately is being completely fulfilled and everything that you're doing and it's through that fulfillment that you will have, times where you will feel happiness but to me happiness is the wrong aspiration, you know, happiness can be our temporary outcome that comes along the way when life throws good things at you, but to me, real fulfillment comes with this, never-ending desire to want to make positive change on to others and in yourself, to live better, be better and create impact and everything that you do.
Michael: I feel like people get so stuck in this though. And the reason why I say that is because we're pulled in all these different directions, right? And to your point earlier in the similar experience like, we're in this corporate job, this feels like the thing I'm supposed to be doing, right? I want to come back to a word that you use self-actualization that's a word that I've used in my lifetime and again that I believe is probably the only reason I'm sitting here talking to you today. Because I kind of plotted out this idea of who I thought I could be and I just started to try to move towards that. So how do you start to navigate (a) what I will say, discovering who you are and (B) moving towards fulfillment? When to some extent John and I'm not sure if you'll agree with this or not we've never actually been allotted the space to even conceive that notion as plausible, right? You grow up and school says be this way, Military says this way, career be this way, and then you're like, wait, but I want to be me and you've never been allowed to be you before. So how do you start to tap into both fulfillment and self-actualization?
John: Well, I think we are being conditioned is a society to me, in many ways, the opposite of our authentic self. And I think movies, you know, like your friend, Tom Bilyeu love’s Matrix, you know, you could pick and inception, or few others, what they're all showing is that we're living in this artificial bubble so to speak, we're being conditioned that we don't have control over the life we want to have and who we can become, and it's a false reality because we are complete, we are in complete control. And when you start realizing that and that it is, your conscious efforts, I call them the transition points that we make in everyday life and what I mean by a transition point is in the military, you know, you can think of this as let's say we're on a mission to go, take out a high-value target. It's very easy to get consumed by that specific portion of the mission and to lose the transition point of the steps that you're taking to prepare for it, your path to getting there and then your extraction route out of that, you know, combat zone. And to me, it's during those transition points in our life, that we get laksa days a chill, we get lazy, we lose focus, we start making habitual choices instead of intentional ones and I believe it is those transition points in life that really define us more than those big moments, that happen because it's that everyday work that you put in, it's getting up and making the decisions that are leading you closer to who you want to be and what you want to achieve, as opposed to just letting this play out, you know, for you and your life and not being intentional about your actions.
Michael: With intentionality and I agree with you entirely. How do you start to lay out that life though? Because I think people don't have a starting point, I'll say this about myself I've always been like incredibly stubborn when I make up my mind about something, you might as well consider it done. I'm going to figure out some way or another, and I believe, maybe that's inherently a part of who I am that's probably from trauma, having to figure out stuff on my own, being homeless as a kid, the whole nine, right? But for people who maybe have said in this place and they're like, I don't really understand how to take ownership over my life to build these intentional habits, to build these intentional movements in my life, is there a jump off point for this? Like, is there a North star? Is there a step one? Like I want to get to the Crux of this because I want people to be able to take something from this conversation that they can add to their life today. And I think that the missing piece of the puzzle could be like the what do I do now?
John: Well, I don't think it's just one thing. So for me, I had to undergo a number of different transitions to get to where I'm at now. One of them was if you are person whose experienced trauma, which you know, 55 to 60 percent of people, probably listening to this podcast, if gone through, you've got two choices, you can do what I did and part of this was forced upon me because when I was in the military, it carried such a stigma to go to a mental health person and it could have caused me to lose my top secret plus security clearance that had. So instead of dealing with these things earlier in my life I kind of tried to bury him, you know, and that only goes so far before this inner in some ways, hatred of yourself starts building up because you feel like you've got no one you can turn to, to talk to about it.
So one of the first steps that I took is, I went through, you know, cognitive processing therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, prolonged exposure therapy to rid myself of the stuff points that were holding me back because if you allow those stuff points to stay in your life they're going to keep you stuck, you're not going to be able to get beyond them and you're not going to be able to see your superpower and what you're able to achieve. And so, you know, once I was able to get through those stuck points, it opened up for me, this channeling of energy where I went back to doing yoga to being mindful and how I was approaching my life, what was most important to me? And I really started to go down this path of what is my purpose? What is my superpower? And I think, especially when you're in these corporate jobs, you're so busy, there's so much noise and it doesn't have to be just that it could be a startup, it could be an artist, you could be an academic, it really doesn't matter but if you just don't sit with yourself, get all the noise out, you don't really start understanding who you are and the gifts that you have. And so, you know, there are many people who say, you can go back to what was your life like when you were 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 years old and what were you passionate about?
For me, it was more I found that I had this creative side of me that has always been there that I didn't really think was my superpower, but in everything that I did and achieved, it was always there. So, when I learned to lean in on it and to realize that I could tell stories, I could both verbally and in written language express ideas, I started to latch onto that. And I think once you find what your superpower is, and I think Gary Vaynerchuk does a good job of expressing this is, you've got a double down on them superpowers, don't double down and your weaknesses, double down on your strengths. And once you figure out what that is and what that greater purposes it's just learning to take steps every single day and establishing new habits and behaviors that get you closer to it.
And you know, for me, one of the most important things that I started to do was I had always focused on physical health but then I started a coupling, it with the importance of combining it with mental health, emotional health, and spiritual health. And if you think about it before, maybe I was on a school that had one leg, but by building my life, around the stool, that had multiple legs that were all in balance with each other it has strengthened so much more my cognitive abilities, the performance I'm able to achieve, the clarity of thought that I have and the intentionality and how I approach my life and those transition points that I take daily in it.
Michael: Yeah, that's really powerful. And in that comes a tremendous amount of clarity and this is my experience to being distracted by the world, drugs, cars, clothes, sex, whatever it is, it always felt I was so incredibly off-kilter and this one leg analogy, when I started to bring these other practices into my life it really felt like I started to get this better understanding of who I was. Now and I'll say this, like I don't think yoga and journaling meditation is for everybody, I think ultimately you have to find the thing that works best for you but I do think that you need some sort of practice in all these arenas and spirituality sometimes I think about this, a lot. I'm not religious but I do sit down and put things into the universe and go, huh, I wonder if I put good energy into the world, if it'll be returned to me, I wonder if I show up today if it'll be returned to me, and I think that's so much of it is just the showing up part. And you talked about doubling down on your strengths and I believe that inherently to an extent we kind of know what that is and that will pop up you'll be like, oh, I love to be on the stage or make art or talk on podcast or whatever that thing is and there is that Crux, right? That little bit of you that says don't do it John, you better not man, they're going to see you and I think people get caught up in that. And I know because of your career and what you've done in the corporate world, and now with Passion Struck like – you've become a person capable of facing fear and I would love if you would talk about that and how you've been able to not only transition because I think about this, you had an identity of the person that you thought you were until you made a clear decision to become this other person and I want to put words in your mouth, but that's well, I think about it. How have you faced the fear of becoming the John that you are today?
John: So, I have a whole chapter in my upcoming book on this and it's called the Physics of Progress or the Psychology of Progress and I wrote this chapter, two years ago it's been submitted to my publisher now for over a year and I recently heard, Tom Bilyeu say the same thing and I'm going to tell you what it's all about. So you can picture yourself and imagine this is before their cell phones and you're driving down the road and all of a sudden, your car has an issue. You've really got two choices at that point in time, you can sit there on the side of the road and try to wave someone down or you can put the car in neutral and start pushing it to a position of safety, if you do the first approach, your completely dependent on someone else helping you, and helping you in a way that you don't know the outcome to, which it's going to end. The second way, it may be much more difficult but over time, you know, once you get that momentum going, at first it might feel like you're an uphill climb but before, you know it it's going to feel like a flat road and then it's going to feel like a downhill ride and I think confronting your fears are very similar to that analogy.
When you're first looking over that Chasm and you don't have a parachute and you're taking that leap to confront them, it's scary as hell but when you realize that time is malleable and that the more you start confronting those and stepping into your sharp edges and doing things everyday, that scare you, you grow, and you continue to grow and all of a sudden that Chasm becomes smaller and smaller to the point that you see your ways that you can achieve it and then you start looking at failure more as a friend than is this something that you need to be scared of. You start looking at it as a learning tool because I have become so much better through my failures that I've experienced in life and using those as powerful learning tools than I have from any of the successes I've had because the success was achieved because I endured pain and self-doubt, criticism, rejection and everything else to achieve it.
Michael: And I think those things they're going to come anyway, right? No matter how you operate in the world you're going to have self-doubt, they're going to be people who criticize you, those things are going to exist in the world and I believe like you can be either crippled by those things or you can use like honestly sometimes when people criticize me I go yeah, they're probably right, you know what I mean? But I think about it like there's so much education to be had in the day-to-day moments of our existence, right? That's one of the biggest reasons why I do this show, I'm sitting here, like real-time learning and saying, man, I just, I don't know everything and I think that's been such an important Catalyst that has helped me face fear because I will simply look at the people who are just right in front of me and go., oh, wait a second, if they can do it and I can learn from their lessons maybe I can circumvent a lot of the chaos that will come along with trying to do it on my own, which as someone who likes to learn the hard way that has helped me a lot over the course of the last decade of my life. John, what I'm curious about is, as you look at what's next in your life, what does passion struck mean? How does that interplay into your future? And what do you want to tell The Unbroken Nation listeners about?
John: Yeah, so today and I released my hundredth episode of the podcast which is a real that I'm already there but I did a whole episode on why I created Passion Struck, so that is a great tool if they want to learn about the whole brand. But really what I found is that you have millions of people globally who are disengaged in their own life, another term I like to use is were underdogs in our own life and people are broken like your show battered, beaten, bored, lonely, a pathetic like I was numb and they feel like there is no hope because they can't see what their life can become. And that's exactly what Passion Struck was created to do, was to be a company that through education and entertainment can inform, describe and educate people at scale how to live intentionally in pursuit and have no regrets life. And so we do that through the podcast, we do that through coming up the Passion Struck University through you know coaching that we do, through Consulting and companies and in the future through additional programming that we will offer.
Michael: Yeah, I love that. It's you're literally speaking like my words because as I built Think Unbroken and as what is next is to come, it's very much the same thing I mean, I think that we have to educate ourselves, and especially if you live in America and most, let's keep it real, most countries in the world, you are just not given access to the information that can actually change your life. I mean, sure, you may learn math and science and some history, but in the practical day-to-day that stuff doesn't exist. And so, I have so much alignment and pride for you for being willing to step in this Arena because, you know, as well, as I do, like – it's difficult because self-improvement, personal development, personal growth like becoming the person that you're capable of being like – it's possible, but you're going to have to put in work. And I think that if we just, that's why this show exists of, I think to myself, I can just give people a tool that I have learned that I have discovered because I know this about myself, I'm not special, I don't know anything that anyone doesn't know. The only difference between me being successful and unsuccessful in my life it's tapping into this idea that I will die with regrets if I don't move towards trying to build what I want to have. And I think you're spot on when I think about that the one thing that comes to mind is, you know, to live with regrets as a life unlived. And so I fully support you and your mission before I ask you my last question John can you tell everyone?
John: They can find out more about passionstruck, so the easiest ways to get there, you can go to passionstruck.com. You can go to johnrmiles.com. I'm on Instagram @john_r_miles as is the passion start podcast. You can check out the Passion Struck Podcast, which is now ranked in the top 0.1% of all podcasts, on all podcast players. And you can find me at LinkedIn on John Miles.
Michael: Brilliant. And my last question for you, my friend, what does it mean to you to be unbroken?
John: So there are a lot of ways you could probably approach this, but to me being unbroken is to be someone who has grit, who spends their time truly understanding themselves, recognizes their false and builds resilience to the events that come throughout life to the point that they learn the contributions that they're meant to make in society and we'll go through any hurdle that tries to break them to achieve that and impact society in a positive way.
Michael: Beautifully said, my friend. John, thank you for being here. Unbroken Nation, thank you so much for listening.
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My friends, Be Unbroken.
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Author, Podcast Host, Veteran, CEO, and High Performance Coach
John R. Miles leads a global movement called Passion Struck. He is passionate about being the catalyst who helps individuals expand into the greatest version of themselves, unlocking the most passion-driven life possible.
He is a combat veteran, multi-industry CEO, successful entrepreneur, top podcast host, and author who is making passion go viral. John is one of the most-watched, quoted, and followed personal development trainers globally, and his career as a servant leader spans more than two decades. He's founded or co-founded more than half a dozen successful start-ups, was a Fortune 50 CIO and CISO, mentors rising entrepreneurs, and invests in successful tech ventures. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, where he learned vital leadership skills and was a multi-sport Division 1 athlete.