We spend so much energy demanding that life shows up the way we think it ought to show up that we forget to just be and let life naturally unfold and show itself up for us. After a lot of talk about the flow state, in this episode, Tony Lister finally dives into the practical steps you can take in real life to drop into the flow. Just for fun, he decided to record this episode while standing in the very cold Boise River in October. He takes us into this great episode to provide the daily tools we need that will quickly get us back in the flow.
I'm excited that you've joined me. In this episode, I'm going to talk about how to flow. I know I get messages from people who are like, "You’ve talked about the flow long enough. I get it. You talked about changing your story and changing your mindset and all the myths and the lies and all these other things. I got it. I know I'm an insecure overachiever. How do you flow? Tell me how to do it.” In this episode, I'm going to talk about how to do that. I couldn't think of any better place to do this than from being in a place of flow. I am standing in the Boise River. I wanted to come to this place. As a child, I'd come and play in this place. I learned about this process of swimming upstream and fighting the current versus going with the flow in life.
For those tech people that are like, "How are you making this?" It's an old trick from these guys in the industry that taught me where you take toupee tape and you tape it to your chest and you tape the mic there. For those that want to see the other part, it's low-tech. I tied my digital recorder to a tree. With that, I want to get into this. There's this conversation of, "What do I do to get into this flow state? What are the actual mechanics of this process?" It was interesting because if you've been following the show, my family had a financial crisis where a family member, because they had the legal title to something, did a little switcheroo and overnight fired about a dozen family members from a business that we've been building for 25 years.
That particular family member inherited the business. They don't know how to run it. It's quite a disaster that's taking place. There was a lot of, “We've got a new business.” You've heard the story. We've done all these things and got clients. We're up and running and then the bitterness set in. The anger set and the venom set in. My uncle who started this business many years ago is wandering around and he says about every two minutes he has this thought of like, "I could have done this differently, I could have done that differently. What's happened that my sister would do this to me?" There is this fascinating psychological journey and the problem is they're no longer in the flow state. They're no longer in creation mode.
Anger is not a strategy. When shit happens, when it hits the fan, when the WTF happens, anger is not a strategy. It's a natural emotion. It's something you should let yourself feel. It's one of the phases that you go through and you shouldn't try to suppress it, stuff it, avoid it or pretend it's not there. Let it rage feel it. You have to get back to the flow state. You have to get back to strategy. I cracked the whip and I was a little pissed myself and I'm like, "I'm going home if you don't get your shit together. I'm not going to sit around here and complain and create venomous strategies of all the legal strategies of the lawsuits and all this. That's fine. Do all those stuff, but I'm not going to stick around. I'm creating in my life."
The logistics that I put in place, I said, "We as a team are going to get into the flow state every single morning. We're going to set a specific time to do this." This is when I started to learn this process. I did this in this company. We're in a battle with a business partner. I had brought about $1 million to the table of people that trusted me and it looked like the business was going to go bankrupt. I started doing this in myself and there was my business partner and there were my managers and pretty soon most of the team would get on this daily call where we would get into this flow state and then begin to make our strategy and put things in place. I'm like, "I'm leaving and I’m going to the river."
What we're doing is every morning as a team, we're getting on this call. We're going to do strategies to get our bodies into the flow state, and then from there we're going to identify our winning moves for the day, and then we're going to have accountability. We're going to give assignments and accountabilities. Each had an assignment the previous day and I sat them all down. I said, "None of you have started a business from scratch. You have all run a business that was in place when you got here and you did a great job running a business. It's not the same thing as starting a new business from scratch." When you're starting something from scratch, you have to get into this flow state every single day or you get buried in the weeds.
Coming back around this episode, I'm going to talk to you about the components of how you get into the flow. I don't want to give you the only way to do this. I've learned for many years, different pieces of this flow state from different mentors and from different people that I've worked with, from different experiences that I've had and I do a flow state that works for me. I'm going to tell you the best flow state, the best steps, process or ritual or whatever you want to call it for you to get into the flow state. It's the one you'll do. If yours has 25 steps to it and that's the one you'll do, then do it. If yours has three steps to it and that's the one you'll do, then do it and it will transform your life forever. Particularly, if you addict yourself to this process, if you addict your physical body, mind, chemical response, brain and body to crave this experience every morning, there's a process for this.
I've got this eight-week course that I take people through where over those eight weeks, we intentionally addict ourselves to a series of steps so that when we wake up, our body craves this experience and it's no longer this willpower thing that we're doing. We use the physiology and the biology of the body to get us back into that flow state and it becomes easier and easier over time. That's where we know what the next step is in our lives during times of change and when we're flourishing when things are going great. It doesn't have to be during a disruption. I didn't have a massive disruption in my life when I was mapping out starting this show.
It just happened to me. Life offered me this cool learning lesson I can share with you and go, "This is for real. This is a huge disruption." My entire family's livelihood my parents, the income that I had relied on for years, and I anticipated relying on for years like, "Done. Hit the reset button. How are you going to respond?" There are four components I want you to contemplate: body, mind, spirit and stress management. These are the four areas for identifying the steps that you want to incorporate that you're going to use for your flow state.
Let's begin with the body and there's an element to this of our modern approach to the body that is completely out of alignment with natural law for most of us. The level of stress that we experience as a human being, the amount of time we spend in fight or flight response is not normal for nature and the evolution of who we are as beings. Fight or flight was reserved for moments when a grizzly bear comes into our yard 100 feet away. That what happened to my wife. That's when fight or flight kicks in and we become super focused and our muscles become responsive and quick to jump. That's what fight or flight is for, but most of us live in a perpetual state of fight or flight.
The other interesting thing about this is the anxiety that we experience as human beings. I listened to this interesting conversation about anxiety where the guy says, "Our species, those that survived 10,000 years ago or 100,000 years ago, we're always thinking about how they were going to eat tomorrow. They were always a little bit anxious about making sure that they were going to survive and they'd have something to eat tomorrow." The fact that we often experience anxiety for me, most of the time has a low level of anxiousness except for when I do my rituals. My rituals each day is my oasis. It's my break. It's my momentary relief from this anxiety that has been my constant companion for my entire entrepreneurial career.
I might not have had it my junior year of high school, it seems that way. That's about the only other time I remember my life wasn't right on the edge of being a little bit unsure, afraid and anxious. When we understand this about our biology and we don't make it wrong, we go, "This is how these things are wired up." What we can do is we can start to work with what we have in alignment with natural law. If you think about how we're governing our bodies, most of us, we wake up to a noise that's not a natural way of waking up to the sunrise and it startles our bodies have a startle response first thing in the day. We spike our system with sugar, caffeine, stimulants, Adderall or whatever else is our stimulant of choice. Super refined flours and sugars and we drink our carbs, we do all these things in the morning and it gives us this burst and our body has this natural energy mechanism and then we have our backup reserves, which are the adrenals.
When we're in alignment with natural law, we go through these phases of activity followed by rest, followed by an activity. The farmer would have done this. He or she would have had activity and then she would have rested. They would have done these different things but what we do in our modern thing is we were like, "Go." We spike ourselves first thing in the morning. We have this commute into work, which we travel at speeds. My great grandfather had this Ford Model T and he would drive it down the road on the way home from church and he would try to get it going 25 miles an hour and my great grandmother would scream at him. He was going to kill everyone.
My great grandfather was an engineer on a train and the original trains, don't quote me on this, but they wouldn't let them go about 45 miles an hour because they thought the human body would explode if you got going faster than that. Now, we get in vehicles and we go sometimes 100 miles an hour and we hurry along to work and we get to work and then it's pressure. Somewhere in the morning, we start to have a dip. That's the natural ebb in our energy. If we're listening to the mechanisms of the body and we understand the flow, that's when we go and we do a brain break, we do a pause or we go and we breathe and we go for a quick five-minute walk.
We give our bodies a chance to decompress for a minute but what most of us do is then we hit that next round of caffeine or whatever it is that we stimulate ourselves with sugar, music, something intense or some pressure to spike the adrenals. We get another spike and then we have that lull after launch. We spike ourselves again and then by evening time, we want to anesthetize ourselves. We want to have that wine, we want to smoke that weed, we want to decompress and we want to check out with Netflix. We want to watch porn or do something to anesthetize the body and shift out of that state of fight or flight that we'd been in all day long. Often, we'll take something to sleep like a sleeping pill or we'll do something so we can sleep during the night. That's not in alignment with natural law.
I'm not saying this from a place of judgment. My life is not necessarily the example of always living these principles. I'm going to teach you some stuff, but I don't always live this and I'm not even going to pretend that I do. The idea is starting to get yourself without any shame back into alignment with the natural laws. You get into the natural rhythms and the natural energy cycles. We have our physical body and the physical body has some primary needs. If you think about like, “What is our absolute number one primary need as a human being to stay alive?” it's breathing. If we don't breathe for a few minutes, then we die.
Breathing is our body's primary need and that should be something that we include in our ritual and alignment with getting into the flow state. The idea is if we can get more and more in alignment with the physical body, with its actual needs that this flow state because this is what happens in our body. This is what it's wired up for. It was never intended to be run off of the adrenals. The adrenals were there for the backup. What happens? This is super common among the executives that I've worked with, is adrenal fatigue or we hit burnout and the caffeine, Adderall, drugs and microdosing don't work. The alcohol, we need more and more to sedate ourselves at the end of the day.
I've heard these executives come up and they want to do a weekend retreat and be like, "Get me a weekend retreat and get my energy back up. Get me back in this game. Let's go." The problem is if we drive ourselves to that point of adrenal fatigue, it's not a weekend to bring it back. It's months and months of following the rules and then your body starts to get back into that natural energy cycle. This is also part of why this flow ritual is critically important for you to create the life that you want because it's about getting yourself in alignment with these natural rhythms and natural processes.
If you look at your physical body, the primary need is breathing. What's the secondary need? It's water. Water needs to be part of this process and water before the coffee is what I recommend. I also have a big belief in drinking a big glass of water before drinking alcohol. If someone wants to do that so they can hydrate their body in a way that gives it what it needs before they're going to anesthetize it with something else. It's going to require a lot of water to cleanse out of the system. What are the other needs? We have a primary need for eating. If we go for a few weeks without eating, we die. When we look at that if we can start to eliminate some of the things that don't serve us, we start to fill ourselves with what we need.
I went through a period in my life where I got sick. I had so much stress. It was after I had crashed my business and my identity was crushed. I thought it was such a loser and I was in hiding and my physical body got sick. I couldn't sleep for the better part of a month. I was in horrible pain. I had a bunch of digestive issues in so much pain that I stopped eating because it hurts to have food passing through me. With all the ulcers and all the different problems I was having, I lost 27 pounds and I don't have a lot of weight to lose. I got down to 152 pounds and a friend of mine saw me and it was the only time I went out that month. He goes, "You look like you're going to die." He said, "Come to my house and eat with us and you'll be better in a week." I did.
I moved to his house and I stayed there for a week and within a week, all of that stuff that it was going on in my system had healed. It took me a little while to gain my weight back. It was because I started to fill my body with what I needed. Particularly through a green smoothie where I blend up spinach, kale, apple, orange, chia seed and some protein and I would drink a gallon of this stuff every single day. I was filling my body with what it needed to heal itself and I made it taste good so it was sweet. I know some people are like, "That sounds disgusting." I know, I get it. It sounds green but it tastes good.
When we fill ourselves with what we need, then our body does its job. It knows how to heal, stay alive, and take care of itself if we give it what it needs. The body has to be a big part of this. The other part of this is rest, learning to slow down and to take these little breaks. I'll talk about some strategies and some of the other show I do with executives in the busy schedules of how to build in rest as a strategy to win, not just as a weakness. There are many that are like, "If I have to rest during the day, it means I'm not tough enough or strong enough." Stop that. The people that are running that race are the ones that end up with adrenal fatigue. They're the ones that we try to chase after and run with and outperform but they're not following the natural laws and it's not sustainable.
As you start to follow these natural laws, this is where you start to access your power. You access your clarity, stamina and your drive and you get the things are done that are the winning moves so you begin to experience that life you want. You connect with your partner in a way that feels good and rewarding as a human being. Your body starts to have energy and vitality. It feels good to be inside of it. Your finances increased because you do the right moves in your business or your job. You do the moves that make the most money and so money becomes easier in your life. This is what happens and if you don't follow this, then it progressively becomes harder and harder. We have to push more and that pushed energy becomes more depleting and we end up in this place broken. We've got to look at our physical body and say, "How do we get in align with our physical body as part of our flow ritual?"
The next area we want to look at is the mind. It's important that we've challenged the stories about ourselves, that we're not enough. This whole concept of shame, “I'm not enough. Where I am is not okay." That's a shame message, “Where I am in my body is not okay.” I had this thought before I got out of this video. I was like, "Maybe I should do some pushups first so I look a little bit fit." We have this story like, "However my body is right now, that's not okay, but if I had a little more muscle, then I could do this video where I'm shirtless." These illusions of, "If I could get my hair to stop turning gray, then that would be okay." We have these shame stories that say, "Where we are is not okay."
In the mindset piece, there are a couple of things we have to do. The first is we have to change, eliminate and rewrite the shame story because if the story underlying everything we do is, "I don't measure up. I'm not enough. I'm not lovable because of what I've done. I can't be loved because of that, because of who I am or I'm fundamentally flawed. There's something wrong with me." We will sabotage the things that we want in our life. We have to do the work to rewrite that and there's going to be a lot of conversation about rewriting your story in this show. Stick around and have fun with it. This is a lifelong process and a lifelong journey.
I'll give you lots of different tips, tricks, tools and processes to help you to be able to do that. The other one we have to do is to fill our minds with what we want more of. One study I read says that the brain does this flush every night of information while we sleep because it can't contain everything that we've taken in during that day. It does this flush in the brain in deciding what to keep in long-term memory and what to release so that there's a fresh mind in the morning, which is based on what we thought about before going to bed. The brain determines that whatever we thought about before going to bed is what's important for us to retain.
The other part of this that you should understand, and I'll talk about this more in the brain science of change, is there's this process called myelination in the brain. When we feel a feeling, we fire a series of neurons in the brain and it lays down a layer of myelin. That process of myelination is how we ingrain new beliefs in us. That's how we change it. The repetition of the new beliefs that we want to incorporate. This is when we start to understand how we are as human beings and we don't make it wrong. We go, "That is fascinating." It’s how we're wired up for adrenaline, how we're wired up for survival, how we're wired up to stay in our tribe and not part ways with our tribe because it meant death to our ancestors.
It's fascinating because then we're not to shame our self and then we can start to do things that are in alignment with how the brain works. This process of change, I'm teaching you, it has to be simple and it has to be something I can do on my worst day. Those are my rules because the brain is going to fight us in this change. When we start to get in alignment with how the brain already functions and how it already processes. We start to tweak it and game it, we’ll start to have this incremental change over time. This is the true path of transformation. Transformation does not happen in one big burst. I put on events and we do big burst activities, we have fun and we'll do like things that create adrenaline but real transformation happens in the little incremental steps.
My brain doctor kept on drawing this in me. I kept coming into him and going, "Let's do a serious workout with my brain. I want this to heal fast." He goes, "No, you will not heal if you do a serious brain workout. What you need to do is you have frequency over intensity." This is how you get what you want in life. This process of getting in the flow state of doing things to eliminate the shame and rewrite the shame story and doing things to fill your mind with what it is that you require. This is how you change who you are. This is how you change your tribe. This is how you create what you want in your life. It’s the same thing in relationships and with money, frequency over intensity, base hits, not home runs. If you do this, then you will succeed.
In my real estate business, my partner and I did 148 deals in a row profitably. I watched my buddy do this big deal. He made $300,000 on the deal and I'm like, "I want one of those." I went after a couple of those and then the market turned and it completely wiped me out swinging for the fences and going for the home run. Even I had a predictable model and it worked every time I stayed with my model. As soon as I broke with the model, I got my ass handed to me. That's the mind. We’ve got to do some reprogramming work. We can't go with the mind we have right now if we want to change. The mind we have is getting us what we have right now. We have to do the steps of change.
The next part of this is spirit. This can be all interpretation for you. Some people that have a belief in a higher power can have this be some connective experience with the universe or with God or whatever that belief is that they have with nature. Others, if that doesn't fit. I talk about this throughout the show, but I was raised in a fundamentalist religion where my family is the fifth generation. My entire circle and tribe was part of this. In deciding that I believe different things than them, psychologically one of the most difficult things I ever went through was partying with my tribe on those things. I still have some stuff because I don't know what I believe spiritually but I do know this. That's why I bring it around here. I said, "I respected if people have a spiritual belief," because there are times in my life when I haven't.
I respect it when people are agnostic or don't have spiritual beliefs at all because I've also had that belief in my life. This concept of spirit though doesn't necessarily have to be something religious, spiritual, or something like that. It can be about connecting to your inner voice, spirit, and yourself. A deep connectedness to self-experience. A lot of times, this place of connectedness with self for a lot of people, particularly men that I talked to ,and I don't know from women because I'm not a woman. I don't know what this experience is like, so I don't even want to pretend to. A lot of men, the experience of orgasm is the most connected experience that they have to themselves.
The other time that people mentioned is when they're high when they're on a substance that they have this deeply connected experience to self depending on the substance. Some substances numb us and disconnect us from ourselves, whereas others, it's a self-connected experience. What I'm suggesting here is that there's between getting high, either through orgasm, stimulating the body or using some substance system in the body, there's a more middle ground moment of awareness and getting deeply connected in a moment. It might only be for 30 seconds or a minute, but the idea is that we get connected to our self. We get connected to an inner voice. I talk about radical intuition. This is where radical intuition becomes our guide, friend, and something that we begin to trust. There's wisdom in us in taking all this data and all the survival of our ancestors. There's wisdom in being able to be guided from within and connectedness to that inner voice. This is something that we need to cultivate. Maybe you've already been cultivating this or maybe you haven't, but it can be cultivated and it starts incrementally a little piece at a time in a daily ritual.
The last part of it, and you can put anything you want in your ritual, but the major is stress management. The reason for this is that I learned meditation from one of the most qualified meditation teachers in the world. He worked with The Beatles, The Beach Boys and a bunch of actors like Anthony Hopkins, Diana Ross and Michael Jackson. He knows his stuff and he's been doing it for years. He came out to my house and he taught me meditation. He said that the nervous system is like this spring that gets wound tighter and tighter during the day. If we don't release that pressure, that stress off the nervous system, then the brain craves adrenaline to release that stress in a big burst.
If we don't have a practice of releasing stress off the nervous system, what happens is our brain is going to create these addictive compulsive patterns towards adrenaline. It could be adrenaline to music. It could be adrenaline through entertainment. You look at sports, porn, drama TV or violent TV and then it spikes the adrenals. You look at refined foods, dangerous activities, driving fast, conflict or living in a perpetual state of fight or flight with doing dangerous things. Sex can be a big adrenaline burst depending on how we approach that. There are all these activities that we do that can become compulsive and addictive if we are allowing our nervous system and our emotional impulsive feelings to govern how we act like a human being.
If we're not releasing that stress off the nervous system, then by default, our brain is governing and commanding those things through compulsive and impulsive ways. It's important that we build into our daily regimen. We follow this natural law of the brain and this buildup of adrenaline in our nervous system so we can release this in a way that we're not governed by those things. I'm going to tell you from my experience, I lived incredibly compulsive and impulsive for a lot of years of my life and driven by a lot of intense emotions that I shamed myself for. I would act out in ways that were compulsive and then I feel horrible shame afterward. I thought I was an awful person because of it. As I began to have a practice of meditation, that need to act out compulsively and impulsively, the draw was no longer strong.
Sometimes it's there, but I take cravings as a signal that it's like when my engine starts to warm up in my car, then I take that as a signal that maybe I need to slow the car down with the engine cool down a little bit. It’s the same thing for cravings in my body. When I start craving some compulsive activity to spike my system, then I take that simply as a signal and my body going, "We're overheating over here. If you don't slow it down and we're taking over, then you're going to act out compulsively and you're going to feel shit afterward." When we follow this body, mind, spirit, stress management, these four major areas of our ritual and of our way of getting into the flow state, we have this moment where we get quiet and we slow down and we've given our body and our mind what it needs. We've connected to our self and we were in a moment of having released stress in that space that we get the winning move, answer and radical intuition of what to do next.
I hope this has been helpful to you as a general guiding principle. I want to invite you to create steps for you to practice getting into the flow state in a way that works for you. For those that like a suggestion of the steps that I like to take, I've created a little mini-course and it's free. It's a mini-course where I talk about the first three and for me, the fundamental steps of my morning ritual of what I do and how I do this in my life. I've made it. It's got to be easy, simple and something I can do on my worst day. I invite you to take a look at your life and look at how you can get yourself in alignment with these natural laws to be experiencing more of what it is that you want to experience. I look forward to talking to you at the next show. In the meantime, create yourself a fantastic day.