#209 – Happy Intentional Leaders With Steve Fredlund

Thomas Green here with ethical marketing service on the episode today we have Steve Friedland. Steve, welcome. Thanks thomas. Happy to be here. I am happy to have you. Would you like to take a moment and tell the audience a bit about yourself and what you do? Yeah, that would be great. At the end of the day, I am a, I call myself as I guess a serial problem solver because I’m, I love solving problems like ultimately that to what I’ve done, I’ve tried to figure this out like who am I really at the core And I’ve looked over my history of my career, my nonprofit work, my small business work and ultimately I just love solving problems.

So it’s What I do is take ideas out of people’s brains and put them into reality. Uh really, that’s what it is, whether that’s something new or it’s something, you know, in addition to their existing programs or their business, whatever it is. So that’s what I do. I’ve been doing that for about 3.5 years on my own. After about 25 years in the corporate world. So I’m an actuary by trade, I guess I call myself a recovering actuary. Uh and so that’s what I did for 25 years. And now I’m on my own running a small business and then doing nonprofit work and other things on the side. So the, the business you’re running now, I’ve got that you help leaders with happiness, Is that a focus of yours? It is, yeah, so I’ve got a few businesses that I’ve started. Um but one of the things that I’m really focused on, like I said, I solved problems and one of the things that I was working on was my own happiness, right, I had a great life, but I was unhappy. And I’ve also been working on this idea of employee engagement and what’s at the crux of that. And to the extent that employee happiness drives employee engagement, I was trying to figure out, well what is what is happiness and how do we become happier people?

How do we become happier leaders? And so one of the problems I’ve been working on is that, and then, so when I do my talks oftentimes they asked me to talk about that, how do we help our employees become happier and not sort of a, oh, you know, look at me, I’m happy, I’m wearing a red hat, kind of happy, but you know, that internal authentic, you know happy where we just feel like, man, I’m content with my life, kind of happy, how do we, how do we help people get there and how do I help myself get there? So what did the process look like for you when you were trying to determine how to make yourself happier? What did that journey look like? Yeah, it really started with figuring out why was I unhappy? Um you know, I had seasons of my career, seasons of my life where I was unhappy, I was miserable, but on paper my life was perfect and it just didn’t make sense. Uh you know, I had a great job, I had just been promoted, my marriage was great, my relationship with my kids was great, like on paper everything was great, I’m a white male middle class in the United States person, like everything is great, Perfect, right?

No complaints yet I was miserable. So it really started with clarifying what’s really going on, what is the problem? Why am I unhappy? Because this doesn’t make any sense and I feel like I have no right to be unhappy, which made me feel even worse because now I feel bad about myself that I’m miserable and I shouldn’t feel miserable, right? So I think with any problem, it really starts with clarifying what’s really going on. I know there’s a there’s a great quote by Einstein that I love, which says, you know, if I had an hour, I’m paraphrasing, but If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes on the problem in five minutes on the solution. And I think that’s so true, as I’ve worked with small business owners, I’ve worked inside of the Fortune 500 companies, uh usually the issue is with clarity, what is actually going on, so a small business owner says I want to grow my company. Well, let’s figure out why it’s not growing before we just start throwing spaghetti at the fridge and hoping it sticks so long answer to a short question. But my journey to solving that problem started with really clarifying what is driving our unhappiness and what did you conclude?

I concluded that uh you know, everybody’s version of happiness is different, everybody’s version of success is different, but it comes down to we are not aligned with our our realities, not aligned to who we authentically are, that is what’s driving our unhappiness. So when we are in situations where we are being asked to do things that aren’t really lined up with who we are, that is where unhappiness comes from. So like for for my example, you know, I’ve just been promoted great promotion, great job, great people, great company, great everything, but I was no longer using my strengths, right? I’ve been moving, I’ve moved from being a problem solver to being a manager and that was an incredible dis joint for me, I didn’t realize that I just thought that’s what I should do, right, I should take the promotion but it was a disjointed now I was no longer aligned who I was, was no longer aligned with what I was being asked to do. And as we kind of break that down and say, well how does this misalignment happens? How do we get there? How do we how do we get to the place where we feel like we’re living a life that’s not even ours, a life that it’s just sort of what the world expects of us.

It ends up being this this accumulation of decisions, accumulation of of choices that we make that are not really made intentionally. And so what’s driving our unhappiness to a large degree is the misalignment between our core identity, who we are and what our reality actually looks like. But the under driving one of the one of the under driving forces of that is an accumulation of choices. You know, unintentional choices in our life, in our work and our hobbies in our whatever it is where we’re not really intentionally making decisions that align with who we are. And so we just do things by default, right? We make decisions by default. Well, this is what’s always been done. So I should do this or yeah, we we whatever people think we should do, we do that or what we think people would expect of us, we do that and so you know, I should go to college, I should get married, You know, my mom expects me to do this, I should go to that conference and we sort of do all of these things and they’re all, you know, individually they’re maybe not big deals, but they accumulate until we get to the point where we are now living a life that’s not even authentically true to who we are.

And we wake up one day in my case when we’re almost 50 and go, this isn’t even my life, like it’s a good life and it’s a good career, but it doesn’t even feel like it’s authentically what I would have chosen for myself. And so I think that’s really where it comes from. So we can all have different definitions of what success is, different definitions of what happy is, you know, I’m an introvert. So happiness for me looks very different than it might for an extrovert, but you know, how aligned is is my reality to who I really am, that is the crux of our unhappiness in a lot of ways and you know, I’m not going to diminish the fact that sometimes variance just happens in our life, right? Just bad things happen to us, that’s the human experience, but I’m talking about sort of, that, that ongoing core unhappiness, which is accumulation of our decisions, so how do we know for making a decision based on default versus in being intentional. Yeah, I think I think just take the time, take a beat, take a pause and just really look and say, is this really lined up with who I am?

So I think it it starts with really understanding who are you at your core? If you don’t know that, then you’ll never know if you’re making decisions by default or whatever. But if once you know who you are, a lot of those decisions that normally would have just been made automatically you start to go wait, is that really aligned with who I am? So, I think it starts with knowing who you are, and then just taking a second to say, all right, before I actually make this decision or move in this direction, ask myself not only, you know, as business owners, we tend to like think of the bottom line, so we think uh you know, what is this going to do financially, what is this going to do for my, you know, building an asset for my business or whatever. And we don’t necessarily think about how aligned is this with me? Once you become more self aware, you know, what really makes you tick? What are your strengths? What is your personality? What do you enjoy once you really understand that, then you layer that into the decision making process if you care about your own happiness, which as we get older more and more of us do. So, you know that the transition from being making decisions by default to being intentional really starts with clarifying who you are and then the intentionality piece of just taking a beat, taking a pause and saying one of the factors should be, how well does this align with who I am and, and frankly, you know, for those of us who got into small business, part of the reason we did that is so that we could have the freedom to make the decisions that we want to do, which should lead to more happiness ultimately, and so if we’re not having that be part of our decision making process, I think we’re missing out on one of the benefits of being an entrepreneur.

So when you went through that process of determining who you were, can you give us an example of what it looked like for you? Yeah, so one of the first examples was about 15 years ago and I’m in Minneapolis Minnesota in the United States and there’s a beautiful stone arch bridge that goes across the Mississippi river and I was working downtown Minneapolis and every, like for about a week or two, every lunch hour, I would take my lunch and I would walk across the bridge back and forth because I was trying to figure out why I was so miserable, great job, but I was just miserable, like what is going on here, and I, I like to think I can solve problems myself, right? And so I was just working through it myself. What is going on? What is going on eventually? I couldn’t figure it out. I’m just like, I I don’t know. And so for me, the biggest step I took was to call a mentor of mine. I hadn’t talked to this person in three months, six months somewhere in there, but they were a university professor that I still stayed connected with, and I just said, all right, I’m struggling help me out, what is going on here? Uh And so for me it involved getting somebody else engaged in the conversation, he said, well let’s meet for let’s meet for dinner.

Uh And within about 20 minutes he had cracked the code, he had figured out what was going on, ultimately that I wasn’t using my strength. And this is where some of that alignment comes from. Uh There’s a there’s a personality assessment and an assessment of our strengths called strengths finder. Uh And he said, hey do you remember doing that during our M. B. A. Program? I said, yeah, I do. He said, well, what what before this big promotion? What were your how much were you utilizing your strengths? I said, well, my strengths are learner related, achiever, strategic self assurance. And I said, boy, they were all you know what I was using them, that’s what I was doing every day, was all of those strengths. He said, well, since you got promoted, how often how much are you using your strengths? Hardly at all. He said that’s what’s going on here is that you are not using your strength, so everything is great on paper, but you are misaligned between who you are and what you’re being asked to do. And it was just like so obvious when he said it, but I needed an outside person to come up, hold up a mirror and say here’s what I’m seeing and it just really deeply resonated with me. So that’s just sort of one example in the process.

And then it was a matter of figuring out well what do I do with this now right now I’m I’ve taken this promotion right, I’m in this situation where I’m miserable, what do I do now? But that was one example I guess of of my journey to helping to figure things out is that I had to look outside of myself and get some external help. So do you advocate everyone use that strength finder to determine who they are? I think it’s a good resource I really do. Um So I’m I’m an analytical person by by nature and I used to think the those tests, like any of the personality tests were just ridiculous, like I would take them because I had to get a job or to get promoted or whatever. Well you need to take the disc profile, you need to take this and I’d just be like, this is so dumb, how’s the test going to tell you anything about me As I started learning more about myself, I realized there’s actually a lot of value in these tests. Um and they’re they’re all different. Like each one has a little bit different flavor for it. So if you’re into that sort of thing, what I recommend is take them all, there’s free versions of almost all of them that you can take.

So strength finder being one, you know, disk Myers, Briggs MBT I angiogram. There’s all of these different things out there and I think what’s helped me a lot is actually I’ve taken them and then to look for the themes in there instead of just taking one test and saying, well, okay now they’ve labeled me, they understand who I am here is exactly who I am. I don’t really agree with that. But the test set up to who I am. You know, I think I think there’s more value and frankly taking the tests. And then looking at the themes, what are kind of the common threads between all of them Because for example, one of them strength talks about what are you, what are your strings? Any Graham talks about? What are you motivated by? M. B. T. I a little bit more about your behaviors. And so I think it does help form a picture of who you are and not that an outside source should tell you who you are, but it gives you insights and you start connecting the dots and going well, that’s why I’m that way, you know, I’ve taken some of those tests and I realized, you know how deeply introverted I am. Like I love these conversations but it just they just drained me, right? And I used to think there’s something wrong with me, right?

I would go to a family reunion and after like two hours, I’m like, I gotta go even though I’m having fun and I like these people, what’s wrong with me? And now what I realized is nothing maybe wrong with me. Maybe there is, I don’t know, but um but it’s it’s just sort of who I am and that’s okay. Like I’ve learned to accept myself much more than I did before when I just thought, oh this is what’s a problem that I have. So I think a lot of people would say that if you’re unhappy in your job, there’s something to do with work life balance there. What’s your take on that? Uh it’s changed. Um I used to be sort of a fan of the notion of work life balance. But what I what I realized is when now is I’ve looked back on my career and the messages that I received and work life balance. The message, it seems to give is your work can be terrible, you know, you can be miserable, you can hate your job. But as long as you’re only working, you know 40 45 50 hours and you balance it with good, you know, external stuff then that’s good. You’ve got good balance in your life.

And so we sort of accept this fact that you know what, I’m just gonna go to the coal mine, I’m gonna be miserable, I’m gonna hate my job But I’ve got good balance, I’m not working 70 hours a week, so that’s okay. And so there’s some truth in that, right? Like we don’t want to, but I’m not I like to work like frankly, so but for most of us, you know, we don’t want to work our whole life away and not enjoy our family and those sorts of things. So there’s some truth in that, but I think what’s come out of that is that we’ve sort of accepted this fact. That we can hate our job, like that’s okay as long as we’re not working too many hours. And so I my goal with helping people is how do we become happier on the job? Even in situations that might be miserable without necessarily having to leave our job, right? Like that’s the default that we go to is, oh I hate my job. I’ve got to leave. There are some things that we can do to become happier in our job with the people around us to actually make that more enjoyable to make that more rewarding or maybe we don’t have to leave because I think that’s one of the biggest fears for companies to bring me in to talk is that by the end of the talk, everybody’s gonna want to leave their job.

That’s not my motivation. My motivation is not to convince you to leave your job. And and part of my message is frankly, if I would have understood what I understand now, I probably would still be in the corporate world, I don’t think I would have left the corporate world, but I didn’t really understand it. I didn’t know what to do other than just leave my job because I just hated it. Uh and so that that’s part of it. So I think, yeah, I think work life balance, the idea is good, but I think some of the things that we catch in that is that it’s ok to hate our job and I wanna encourage people, and if you hate your job, there’s there might be a way to actually get more happiness out of it and you won’t have to leave. So don’t necessarily just accept going to your job and hating it every day. Well, if I’m reading into it right then, um if the problem is that you’re not using your strengths, then the solution would be to integrate more strength into your current role. Is that how you see it also. Absolutely, yeah, and it starts with knowing what your strengths are.

I think that’s where a lot of people don’t even have clarity on who they are. They just know they’re miserable. So yes, I understand who you are, understand your strengths, understand how you’re wired, what makes you tick what you enjoy, what you don’t enjoy, get good clarity on that. And then, you know, you might say, well, yeah, but my boss tells me what to do, have an honest conversation with your boss. Most managers, I want that conversation, but they they want you to stick around, they want you to be happy, they want you to be engaged, they want you to belong, they want you to be more productive, all of those things that come with being happier they want, like that’s the that’s the holy grail of business is to have engaged employees. And so once you’re, once you’re sort of clearing that, have a conversation and say, here’s the deal. You know, I’m wired like this, here’s my strengths, here’s my, you know, here’s my results of my test, here’s how I think about this thing, here’s what I’m being asked to do. Is there anything that we can do to, to shape this job a little bit more so I’m more engaged? And a lot of times it doesn’t take that much really like for me in my management role, if I just would have said man, can I spend 10% of my time still problem solving and then 90% of management, I think that might have solved the problem, but I didn’t understand that at the point, I didn’t realize that I really just needed to solve problems.

That was what I was missing. And so um, so I would say, yeah, that that would be the solution is figure out yourself know who you are and then how to integrate that. But I would say don’t be afraid to involve leadership in that conversation. I think the, the insights that that would give them that to engage you might actually be able something, something that they can apply them to other people across the organization and increase overall engagement. I would say two for leaders, that’s, that’s the comment to you as the leader. If you’re listening to this as a leader, maybe even be intentional about reaching out to your people, especially the ones that maybe seem like they’re losing engagement a little bit and just say I want you to be, you know, to be engaged at work. I want you to be happy at work. Yeah, we have things that we have to get done. We have to produce, we have to do these things. But I want you engaged. I want you to be happy. How can we do that? If you don’t really understand how we can do that, let’s figure that out together. Let me give you that assignment for the next month is to take a couple of these tests to come back to me and explain to me a little bit more about who you are and what makes you tick because man, when, when people start leaving, you know, retention is such an issue, people start leaving, it’s so difficult as a leader to replace them and all the knowledge and expertise and integrate them and Onramp them if we can keep our people and keep them happier, you know, we win as a leader.

Have you got any examples where this has been implemented and the difference is kind of like a before and after? Yeah, only in my own life and a few people that are around me. So I’ve just started this, I just started this talking about this. So I’ve spoken at a few different companies were waiting to see what they do with it, if anything, they, they love the idea, they love the notion, but sometimes it’s a long way from loving the notion to actually implementing it. So I don’t have a case study yet that we can use other than a few folks that in small organizations around Minnesota that that have said, man, this is, this is fantastic, but it’s mostly been from the employee’s side of saying now I understand myself now I can, now I can interact with my work in a much different way more so than an organization adopting it. Well it does make me think it’s very possible that within a team you could break up tasks by strength, so there might be something that someone hates doing and that person, another person might be pretty good at it and vice versa. So I’m sure that that practice would be beneficial within the team.

Have you got anything out other leadership principles that you would like to share? Yeah, I would say, you know, just check out the website, see if anything connects with you. Um One of the things that I just recently started doing is in my consulting work, I’m really focused on helping the folks that normally can’t get the level of support because it’s only available to the high level companies. So you know consultants like me are typically working with fortune 500 companies, right? Like that’s what we want, we want to work with the big companies, we want the big contracts, all of those sorts of things. The reason I left the corporate world is so that I could help the small small businesses. That’s my, my company is actually called small small business intentionally. It’s it’s helping the, the solo preneurs, the mom and pop shops, the partnerships, the small businesses and what happens is that they want or they need help, they’ve got ideas, they can’t get out of the brain. Um They need some support and then they reach out to a consultant, they say, well it’s $300 an hour and the small business owners in this, these small areas, they’re like, well that’s, I can’t do that, especially with no guarantee of results, right?

And so I’ve been being creative on how can I work with these folks to help them, um, you know, advance their small businesses. So if that’s something of interest to you, I do some consulting packages that are very, very cheap, about 10% of the fixed cost of that, and then we just do some results based stuff. And uh, so if, if that’s of interest, that’s me trying to be creative, me trying to reach out and add value to the small businesses that otherwise wouldn’t be able to get to the sport, because as I talked to these owners, like they have so many great ideas, but they just can’t get them from their head out to reality. And so that’s one of the areas that I’m focused on as well, but just always solving problems, that’s what I’m doing. So, uh, you know, more directly, if you want to connect with me on linkedin, that’s great. I do these daily videos called steve’s Daily stool and yes, that is an intentional thing, uh, where I just, I just try to share some insights and start some conversations with folks about how we can improve happiness in our life and our business. Would you like to share what you mean by the right peeps in your jeep? Sure, Well, it’s part of our happiness thing. So, my first ted X talk, I called it the right people in our jeep and it’s, it’s grounded in a story from Rwanda Africa.

So I’ve done a lot of humanitarian work in Sub Saharan Africa. Um and as a result of that, we’ve taken a few safaris on the end of our, of our trips and one of those, I realized how important it is to have the right people in your jeep when you’re going on Safari. You know, people that really appreciate the fact that lions were just reintroduced into Akagera National Park since the genocide and things like this. And I like I thought this is so true of our life and so true our business where it is so critical to have the right people with you or you know, our our passion increases when we have the right people are, life is more enjoyable when we have the right people. And so I’ve kind of coined that phrase, get the right people in our jeep um as part of a, I guess sort of a call to action for our life and for our business. So it’s, it’s you know, the idea of, you know, you are the five people that you spend the most time with, that kind of idea, but really encouraging people, you have more control than you realized, go through life, go through work, go through business, go through your nonprofit work, having the right people with you in your jeep.

Like if there are people sitting next to you in the jeep that are just killing your life or just sort of like just people you don’t want around you, you can actually kick them out of the jeep or you can actually move them to the edges of the jeep and move people closer. Like we have more control than we realize. I think this is part of that default stuff that I talked about, where we just sort of accept the default. Well it is what it is. I’m just gonna be miserable. I’m just gonna have these people around me that I don’t really enjoy and well they’re my neighbors so they have to be my friends, you know that kind of thing. We have more control and I really want to encourage people like that is where a lot of happiness comes from is when you surround yourself with the right people in your jeep man. Your, your life is just so much more enjoyable and it should be noted that it doesn’t, they’re not the same people for everybody, right? Uh you know who are the right people for you? It’s not about, oh these are the right people that all have that person around. It’s like who are the people that you need in your life. And for me a few years ago like I realized I wasn’t laughing like I love to laugh. I love to have fun but I’ve been in like a two or three year drought where I really hadn’t even laughed.

I don’t think I belly laughed for for three years, like I need people around me, the people in my jeep that are going to make me laugh, I need to be connected with some folks that are just really fun people and so I was intentional, I reached out to a couple of people that were sort of on the edge of my jeep that I only saw once or twice a year and I just said, hey do you wanna do lunch? And I, we just laughed and it was so good for my soul. And so I think that’s what I mean by that is just being intentional about surrounding yourself with the people that you need to have, the kind of life that you want, thank you for that. It was actually the next question which was are there any anything else that we can do to increase happiness? But so far we’ve got play to your strengths and perhaps control your environment. Do you have anything else that springs to mind? Yeah, I mean, and both of those start with knowing yourself. So I’m gonna come back to that again and just say really deeply clarify who you are, what makes you tick, what makes, what do you enjoy? And the trap is that you’re going to want to think of things that you, that you should enjoy or that other people expect of you to enjoy?

So the hard work I think is really being authentic and saying, what do I really enjoy? Who do I really enjoy being around? So yeah, those other pieces of, you know, surrounding yourself with the right people being intentional, playing to your strengths, those are all important. But it’s like the Alice in wonderland thing, if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there. So, those things still come back to clarity of who am I really authentically honestly at the core. And sometimes it’s hard to be honest with ourselves, but the more honest you are with yourself, understanding yourself and then you’re intentional about surrounding yourself with the right people and playing to your strengths, Man, life is just so much happier in that place. Well, this next question I said, I was going to ask about what your goals are, but it’s two part question because a lot of people say, I don’t really know what I should do, you know, I don’t know what my goals should be. And that comes back to perhaps knowing who you are and so have you got any thoughts on how people would know what their goals are?

If if they didn’t already know along with your own, of course it’s it’s been something I’ve struggled with in the past two, but as I’ve gotten more clarity on who I am, then the goals become more apparent what they should be and I think, you know, as business owners, we all think our goals have to be financial, they don’t they can be internal. How do I want to feel? So in in three years, five years, what do I want my life to look like? What do you want? My business to look like? That’s a very personal question. And as part of the beauty of having our own businesses that we can actually form that. And so I think the same idea around knowing yourself comes up to apply to setting your goals. What does success look like for you in three years and five years? So not you know, the metrics come out of that vision of what you have. So really just saying, Man, five years when you wake up, what does life look like? What does your day look like? You know? So let’s, we’ll worry about the metrics, the goals, the actual stuff later. Let’s just let’s just paint the picture of what that looks like when you get out of bed at five. What time are you getting out of bed in five years? In 10 years? Are you getting up getting up at six am getting up at 10 am like what does this actually look like?

Right, And then what do you do? Okay then, you know, kind of walk through a day. Um and and from there say, okay, now that is the vision of my preferred future state. That’s what I want to happen Now, I have an honest reality of where I am today, what that looks like now, how do we get there? And so, you know from there, you can formulate the goals and metrics, whatever if you want, what does that look like? Okay, my, my goal might be I want to work four hours a day, or my goal might be I want to make $300,000 a year or whatever that might be. That’s personal, that’s for you. And then it’s just a matter of developing strategies to get there. So I think sometimes we get hung up on what our goal should be versus what we really again authentically truly want because I think that’s where we’re gonna find happiness is when we’re living the life that we really want. Not that we think other people think we should have the great answer. I particularly like the, how do you want to feel? Because I do think that although people say they don’t know what their goals are, I think that people would know how they want to feel.

Um and so can you clarify what your goals are? Yeah, my goals again. So I’ve had one since I left the corporate world 3.5 years ago, I’ve had one New Year’s resolution every year, which is a form of a goal, which is just, I want to be self employed by the end of the year. Like that’s it now, like that’s some sort of odd to people that are been doing this for a while, but like that’s it. Like I if I had to go back and get a job, I’d be okay, but man, I just love the idea of working for myself with the flexibility that brings all that sort of stuff. So that’s my one goal is to keep working for myself every year now. What’s happened is over the last six months or so. I’ve been in a real journey myself of what do I really want this business to look like? So I’ve been just like trying to get any client I can scraping by, you know, you’re bootstrapping, trying to Make things happen um and still doing some of that, but really now formulating, what does, what does my business actually look like, what do I want to be doing? Who do I really want to serve? Because I’ve tried different things. Like do I want to be a keynote speaker and try to get $30,000 gigs in the corporate world, like that’s one path I could go down and try to get those real big, you know, speaking gigs or do I want to do this, don’t do that.

And what I found is like, you know, my people really are small business owners, nonprofit leaders, entrepreneurs, these are the people that I really connect with, these are the people that I really love, these are the people that are bringing vibrancy to the community and so I just want to serve them and be a part of their life and be part of the story of the transformation of their business and of their community now. That’s not for everybody, but that’s for me and that’s where I really landed. And so my goal now is to make enough money where um, you know, I can, I don’t have to stress about getting the next client or whatever where I can actually, you know, go do a free talk and do some free consulting and not be stressed out about not getting a paycheck from the from that or whatever. So that’s my goal. And that’s pretty ambiguous right? At this point, I need to formulate that a little bit more. Um, but then to really just serve and be part of the story where I feel back to that, where I feel like I was part of the story of a business success and a community success. And so I need to flush that out a little bit more. But that is really, I’ve transitioned my paradigm on my business from, from serving corporate worlds and big associations and big conferences.

And if some of that happens, some of that happens great. But my goals are now much more focused and truly aligned with who I am because um, one of the things I realized and part of this is I’ve talked to other people about this. I’ve talked to professionals about this because I need some help is that, um, even though I spent 25 years in the corporate world, those are never really my people, they’re good people, but I never, that’s not who I am. I’m a, I’m a small town guy, my wife and I are both fifth generation from the same community. Our kids are sixth generation, like these are my people, right? The people that I really connect with are the small business owners and so I need to be more authentic with that. That’s gonna be more natural. That’s going to be where I feel more aligned with who I truly am is serving those folks rather than kind of chasing the people that I really don’t even connect with. So sorry, long answer to a short question. So I can’t tell you here’s my five goals at this point, but I can tell you it’s much more evolved, it’s much more clear on who I want to serve and what I want to do to help them than it was six months ago. No, thank you for the answer. I think it does give me a sort of a picture in my mind of what that would look like.

So I think that’s that does the trick. Anyway, um, you’ve referenced in our conversation today that it’s easy in life to sort of go by default and that the solution to that is becoming more intentional. Have you got any um actionable sort of tips or ways that you’ve done that yourself because it is so easy to fall back into default decision making. What are your thoughts there? I think the easiest thing to do is to go back on the decisions you’ve made over the last however long you can remember, I’m old, so my memory is not as good, but you know, go back in any significant decision that you’ve made over the last 25 years and then look at that and say, okay, did I make that decision regardless of how it turned out, right, regardless of the outcome? Ask yourself that I was I really intentional about that decision or did I just sort of make it because that’s what I should do or I don’t even know why I made that decision? Um you know, that’s that’s the case of doing making decisions by default. So I think it starts with looking back on your life and maybe even having somebody help you, but just start writing down and say, okay, here’s all the decisions I made in my life.

Don’t even evaluate them. This is sort of the brainstorming stage. Just write down, okay, yeah, I chose to get engaged. I switched jobs to this. I bought this car, I moved houses, I discontinued this friendship. I started this friendship. It was kind of write down those decisions that you made and then go back and say now how much intentionality did I give to that decision? How much did I think about that? Or was that more of spur of the moment, spontaneous sort of thing. And that can start to give us an idea of how intentional we are about our decisions and how many of them we answered. Um I tend to have four categories for the decisions that we make. one is the intentional decision where we’re actually integrating that into our life and deciding, you know, is this the right thing? And then the other three are these casual uh decisions that we make? One of which we’ve we’ve talked about each of these a little bit, but one of those casual decisions we make is a default where we just do it because it’s the way it’s always been done, right? And when I talk, I talk about, you know, living our life like we’re choosing toothpaste.

You know, we don’t really, you know, sit there and figure out what we don’t do a taste test and figure out which toothpaste do I like the best and we don’t read all the studies about how effective they are. We typically just use the toothpaste that we grew up with or that, you know, when we started a relationship, the other person used or something like that, we don’t really, you know, so that’s an example of default. We just sort of do it because it’s just sort of like that’s what we’ve always done. But one of those, So one of the casual decision categories is defaults. We also make decisions because we should. All right. We we put these should on ourselves. Well, I should do this, I should do this. They think I should do this. And so we allow ourselves to be should on all the time. Yes, I said should there, so don’t get nervous. Um You know, and then the other category is the expectations we think people have of us. And so when you think about those those decisions that you made, start to categorize those. Was this one that I really made intentionally? Or is this one that kind of fell into one of these other categories of casual decision making? You know, I made it by default. I made it because I should do that or I made it because other people expected me to do that.

Um and start to then you can start looking those patterns, the more decisions you have and the more you identify which category, then you start to understand. How intentional have I been about my life? How intentional have I been about my decisions. And then when I’m not intentional, when I’m more casual about those, what do I tend to fall into more do I tend to fall into default or should or expectations. And what you’ll find is for me, a lot of it is what I should do. Uh And I think that’s a line I realized that the line of my personality, right? Uh that I tend to be a people pleaser. So I make these decisions based on what I think, you know, other people think I should do because I want them to be happy with with what I chose. And then I wake up one day and I realized that most of my decisions are casual, they’re not intentional. And while some of those work out good, uh there’s a higher risk that I’m gonna be misaligned with who I am really am. And that’s what happened to me. Is that unhappiness crept in because I was making all these decisions based on other people thought I should do because I wanted them to be happy. And at the end of the day I wasn’t happy. That’s a fantastic answer. Thank you for breaking that down.

I thought I would be questioning a few things after our conversation, but I did not know that my toothpaste was going to be one of them. So there you go. Like I’ve never done it either. Right? I want to do that. Now I want to have a taste test where I take out, you know, take out the crest in the cold and the aim and the Pepcid in the sense of nine and figure out which is best and then read the articles and see which is more effective and then you’ve got some sort of, you know, algorithm function to figure out, you know, the optimal toothpaste, right? I mean it sounds funny, right? But that’s, you know, because it’s toothpaste, who cares? But we do that same sort of thing with major decisions in our life. Like I do that when I choose a car. Like people can’t believe it’s like I’ll go to, I’ll go pick out a car because I don’t spend any money on a car, like for something cheap. So I go to the, I go to the dealership and I say, what do you have for $3000? They’ll say we have this, I’m like, okay, that’s fine. Like it’s terrible. Like I make decisions so flippantly like that, whereas my buddy will spend, you know, six weeks researching it and doing and getting everything optimal. So, you know, we’re all we’re all wired differently. But that’s, that’s pretty poor decision making on my part with the car. Is there anything I should have asked you about today?

Um and it’s been a fun conversation. I could, I could talk for hours so I don’t want to belabor it. But, but no, I think, I think we hit on the stuff that’s really important to me, stuff that I think is really impacting the world with the people that I’m working on. Uh and so no, I think I think we covered, I just really want to encourage your, your audience. It starts with knowing yourself under it started clarifying who you are, what you want, where you want to go how you want to get there who you want to get there with like clarity, clarity, clarity is so critical and then just being intentional to whatever you’re doing in life align it with that. Give it, give it kind of a check against uh the clarity on yourself and just make sure that you’re doing things in alignment with that and you’re gonna find out your life just becomes happier. The more decisions you make that are lined up with that. So no man, that’s if we, if we can do that, I think we’re going to be much happier people. Well, thank you for that. Um if people want to know more about you or connect, where do they go. Mm hmm Social media. I’m all over there. But I’d say really primarily linkedin is where I’m really focusing my efforts on, you know, trying to bring value to people and connecting with people.

And then I’ve got two websites, steve friedland, just my name dot com is more focused on my speaking side of things. And then small, small business dot com is more focused on how I serve entrepreneurs and small businesses, especially micro businesses. Alright, well I appreciate the topic. I think more people should speak about this, this type of of subject. So I appreciate you bringing it to the conversation and also thanks for being a great guest. Well, thanks thomas. Yeah, I think a lot of people are talking about happiness. Um but they tend to be extroverted people that are talking about, hey, you know, be be happy and joyful and surround yourself with all these kinds of people. And I think I think there’s a world, at least part of the world that needs my voice that is more on the introverted side. What does happiness look like for us that aren’t going to be, you know, the center of attention at a dinner party? How do we be happier? So yeah, I’m excited to kind of find this niche and help people out. All right, well, thank you. Steve fred Lynn. Thank you very much. Thanks thomas.