Episode 176: Mike Flynn

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Chris: 00:00 – Jim Collins coined the phrase “who luck.” And Collins, the author of “Good to Great,” was talking about the people who serendipitously seem to just come into your life at the right time and shed light on a complicated subject or help you with a tough problem. I have amazing who luck and I’ve written about that a lot in the last few months. A few weeks ago though, my publisher, Scribe, introduced me to another author, Mike Flynn. And Mike recently published a book called “Master the Key: A Story to Free Your Potential, Find Meaning and Live Life on Purpose.” I picked the book up and loved it, and then I was a guest on Mike’s podcast where I found out that Mike is actually a CrossFitter and not only a CrossFitter. His coach is Greg Amundson. Greg was with me in Kenya on CrossFit for Hope and was with me at St Jude Children’s Hospital. Greg was the first guest on this podcast and Greg was one of the OG CrossFitters who used to appear in one of the very first videos about Fran, Michael and Murph and all of those. If you’ve been doing CrossFit for more than three years, you’ve heard of Greg and he is Mike Flynn’s coach. So I asked Mike to come on the podcast, talk to us about how to identify and master your key, about his book and also how CrossFit helps him because I want listeners to this podcast to benefit from Mike’s knowledge and experience and also to find people like Mike for their own gym. Enjoy.

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Chris: 01:54 – Hey guys, it’s Chris Cooper here. If you are headed to the CrossFit Games, I would like to buy you breakfast. So here’s what we’re doing. Together with Healthy Steps Nutrition, we have rented out the banquet facilities at the Sheraton across the road from the CrossFit Games and we’re taking about 250 people a day. You can come in and have breakfast with us. We’ll be talking a little bit about business, but the most important thing that always happens at these breakfasts, aside from the bacon and coffee, is the conversations. We have limited seating that’s gonna fill up, you can fill in the form in our show notes and make sure that you reserve yourself a spot. We’re going to do it at 7:30 a.m. on both Saturday and Sunday of the CrossFit Games. We will see you in Madison.

Chris: 02:33 – OK, Mike, welcome to Two-Brain Radio.

Mike: 02:33 – What is up, man? I’m super pumped to be here.

Chris: 02:38 – Yeah, it’s so great to have you here. Now in your new book you say that everybody is born with the key to success. What does that mean?

Mike: 02:47 – Yeah, so the world that we live in today is very much externally motivated, externally driven, externally oriented and people’s definitions of success or they’re constantly looking outside for the key. If I just follow this program, I will be successful, right? If I just do X, Y, or Z, I will be successful, if I, you know, fill in the blanks, right? But what the key actually represents in the book “Master the Key: A Story to Free Your Potential, Find Meaning and Live Life on Purpose” is our identity, OK. The key represents our identity. So if you believe that, if you believe that the key to success is mastering who you are, then the journey is not something that’s external. It’s something that’s internal. Something that’s within, something that you already possess. This idea isn’t something that’s new. This has been around, you know, this Stoics have talked about this, the Bible talks about this, thinkers have of all types talk about identity and answering four fundamental questions that we go through. Who am I? How do I show up in the world? What do I do when I get there? And who do I do it with? What’s my story? What are my gifts? What action do I take? And who do I take it with? And those are the four pieces of the key. And you know, we can go anywhere you want with this, but it’s a daily practice to master each piece, right? Your story, your narrative, your giftedness, how you perceive your gifts, how you express them in the world, how you take action, you know, how you take risk, how you view risk, and then who you’re going to spend your time with doing all of this stuff. And it’s a daily practice that only we can master. It’s an intentional pursuit that each individual has to take on their own initially.

Chris: 05:05 – OK, so everybody has one of these pieces already. You know, they know their own story. How do they figure out the second piece, which is what is their key? What’s their special purpose?

Mike: 05:18 – Well, I actually think that not enough people actually know what their story is. And that’s why there’s so many people that are confused about the idea of purpose. And let me just back into that a little bit. Just to kind of give you some data that will help you understand that most people don’t have a clue about who they are. So Gallup, the big research organization, recently released a study that revealed that 85% of employees are actively disengaged at work, OK? Actively disengaged is the key phrase right. They’re cognizant of the fact that they’re checked out. That’s costing businesses $7 trillion a year globally. Here in the U.S. the number is 70% of actively disengaged workers costing companies $500 billion. I want to stay in the U.S. for a second because also in the U.S. there’s 150 million give or take worker bees out there, right? 40% of that 150 million are pursuing a side hustle that they’re quote unquote “more passionate” about than their day job, right? So here’s the thing, there’s two really big problems here. Number one, people don’t know what the word passion means. So they don’t know what they’re really passionate about and they don’t know what they’re passionate about because they don’t know who they are. The word passion literally means the willingness to suffer for something.

Mike: 07:18 – So you can’t really truly follow your passion unless you know what you’re willing to suffer for and you can’t really know what you’re willing to suffer for until you know and have directed, taken control over the narration, of your story, specifically the hard things that have happened to you and your life. The adversity, the challenges, the failures. It’s easy to think about the successes. It’s easy to like, you know, kind of stay there. It’s much harder to go deep and to analyze and reflect upon the brokenness, the hurt, the disappointments and insert hope there. And look at how we can use the fruit of those challenges in the service of others.

Chris: 08:13 – How do people explore those challenges and like kind of sit back through their own narrative to discover or even just think about and break down those things?

Mike: 08:23 – So at the end of the day, and we talked about this when you were on my show, that we want to feel effective. We want to feel powerful. We want to feel good at what we do. We want to be efficacious, right? Dr. Albert Bandura calls it self-efficacy theory. We want to feel confident. And so when negative things happen, especially things that we’ve poured hearts into or things that we expected to turn out a different way and they don’t, what happens is we go through something called identity foreclosure. I’m fat. I’m not a good business person. I can’t do X. Right? All of a sudden, our I statements become associated with this victim mentality, as Victor Frankl talks about it, right? And so we end up telling ourselves that we can’t do hard things. And one of—and that statement actually prohibits us mentally and emotionally from going down internally to mine the gold within, because that’s a hard thing to do, right?

Mike: 09:46 – It’s a hard thing to be quiet, to quiet the mind. It’s a hard thing to reflect on the past and to ask yourself what parts of my story have I struggled to own and why? Right? It’s hard to do those things because it requires us to maybe go back and explore some painful things, right? But the thing that makes the human race, you know, a vastly more advanced species than any other species on the planet, is the fact that not only do we have the ability to forecast into the future, right, to vision, right, what we want to accomplish, to see our future selves, but we also have this tremendous power to bend back time and direct light onto the past, right? The challenge is that most people, when they’re reflecting, they do it passively. They’re not actually doing it as part of a practice. You know, they’re just, you know, thinking about the past and it stirs up these negative emotions and then they shove it in the back in the corner and they try to move on in their day. But they’re actually missing out on a great opportunity because when we intentionally reflect back into the areas in our lives that have been full of challenge or adversity or struggle, we have the ability to direct the light. We have the ability individually to control the energy that is being placed on that thing in the past and to carry it forward into the future. And our brain doesn’t know what time it is, right? It doesn’t. We have the ability to go back and do a little like inception. And change the narrative right there. And there are six caves, you know, are you familiar with Joseph Campbell?

Chris: 11:47 – Of course, yeah.

Mike: 11:48 – So he says, you know, the cave which we fear to is where the treasure lies. So using that concept, there’s basically, in my view, there’s six caves that we all need to enter. And to go back into the deepest, darkest part of that cave and seeking the treasure, right? And they are faith, they are family, they are fitness, they are friends, they are finances and they are fun. Those are the six caves. I formally refer to them as the six bridges of personal growth and well-being. But in the book I referred to them as the six caves. And those are—everybody has challenges, has had challenges in each one of those areas. And it’s up to us to go back into it, to draw out the treasurer there.

Chris: 12:51 – So maybe you can give us an example, Mike. Like how would you actively explore those caves instead of just like passively dwelling on them?

Mike: 12:59 – Yeah. Well, it’s all about questions, right? The questions that you ask. And so in, in my book, at the end of each part, there’s actually a reflection and a response section. And it’s full of questions that the reader gets to explore. So we’re talking about story right now. And so a great question, and there’s dozens of them, would be what false stories do I hold onto? How did I acquire them and why have I held onto them? So this is an opportunity for you to engage your brain in a certain rigorous exercise. And I’m going to connect exercise here in a second because this is not just a simple how-to exercise. This is not like one plus one equals two, right? This actually requires you to do hard work to answer these questions. What false stories do I hold on to? How did I acquire them? Why have I held onto them? That’s the reflection section. But there needs to be, whenever you reflect, there also needs to be a response, right? Instead of a reaction. So immediately following the reflection questions are respond questions. How will I respond to victory? How do I clear a path for the future? Why will owning my story benefit me? All of these types of questions, and these are exercises, right? And so that’s why you and I were riffing on CrossFit because I think that the fastest way to remind yourself that you are effective, that you are powerful is to do something that physically proves it to yourself because you are connecting your mind and your body in a physically challenging, arduous manner that if you don’t bring your attention, your awareness and your focus all together in one laser beam, then you could potentially do damage to your body. But by bringing your awareness, your attention and your energy, your mood all together, you’re reminding yourself that you have control of your body and your brain cause you’re telling your brain what to do in time and space, right? And then you get to go immediately after that, if you follow this kind of advice, you get to go maybe do these reflection questions right after an intense workout and your brain is just going to be firing, right? You’re going to be seeing things, hearing things, remembering things, recalling things, creating new things, right? Because you have all of these neuro pathways that are firing. And that’s why doing something like CrossFit, like cycling, is an incredibly powerful way to begin to remind yourself of your story and your inherent worth and that you are powerful in any area of these six caves. So I hope that kind of answers a little bit of—

Chris: 16:18 – Yeah. I think you kind of wet our whistle to hear more about CrossFit too. And we’re definitely going to come back to that. But you just mentioned worth and in your book you said that worth has to come before why, you know, in the business community right now, everybody has read it starts with why and everybody’s talking about knowing your why before you do anything else. You know, Mike, you made the great point that you have to establish worth first. What do you mean by that?

Mike: 16:46 – Yeah, so one of the very first lessons that the janitor teaches to Steve in the book is that before you can find your why, you have to remember that you are worthy of one to begin with. And that is so important because ultimately when people are talking about pursuing their why, or finding their why, why is just another word for passion, right? Find your passion. Right? And so like Simon is absolutely right. You know, you need to find your why. You need to understand why you’re doing things because people buy your why. And if you don’t understand the fact that—let me back up for a second. Cause when you decide what your why is, what you’re saying yes to is competition, disappointment, setbacks, frustration, the people you know, mismanaging your trust. You’re also saying yes to great opportunity, more success than you could possibly imagine. Right? But it doesn’t happen without great amounts of hard work and sacrifice, right? And so you have to be very clear on who you are and that you are worthy of those things, right, in order to say yes to them. If you say I found my why and you know the example that it’s much easier to deploy Simon Sinex work at the corporate level, right? Cause Apple breaks the status quo and we make beautiful things. And oh by the way, we just happen to make computers. You know, like it’s much easier to do that at the corporate level. It’s much more challenging to do that at the individual level. And so when you say the reason why it’s so important to remind yourself that you are worthy first is because that sets you up to endure the suffering and the sacrifice that’s going to be required when you truly do find your why. You’re worthy of it, you progress from saying I can’t do hard things to starting to ask yourself, can I do hard things to saying I’m worthy of doing hard things to what can I do with the hard things that I’ve experienced?

Chris: 19:24 – That is great, Mike. And you know what? I think that is especially critical or maybe it is just more apparent when somebody reaches the Tinker Phase of entrepreneurship because suddenly if you don’t have a great sense of self worth, that’s when these problems come into play. Like the impostor syndrome for example. But before somebody even gets to that stage, how can they know if they’re headed down the wrong pathway? You know, you mentioned 40% of people have some kind of side hustle. How do you know that you’re in the wrong career? You should be doing something else?

Mike: 20:00 – That is a really good question and I actually have been thinking about that quite a bit and it’s challenging. You know, the reason why it’s challenging for people to recognize when they’re on the wrong path is because people are selfish. And we have this problem in the entrepreneurial world right now where we actually have a pretty scarce mindset. We have a mindset where there’s not enough abundance for everybody to succeed. And so we find ourselves in our little silos, right? Where we’re not going to like play with people, we’re not really going to be fully invested in community and we’re trying to go someplace fast instead of going someplace far. And that old African proverb, if you want to go someplace fast, go alone. If you want to go someplace far, go together, right? And so community becomes so incredibly important. And the three characteristics of a great community, are first wild curiosity, second collaboration, and third correction, right? And so what happens is when you are in a community that’s wildly curious about Chris’s success, that’s eager to collaborate with Chris, and Chris is eager and wildly curious as well. You spend a lot of time together creating and doing hard things, shared suffering, shared passion, shared this, that, right? And so when one of your community members sees Chris veering off path, or going in a direction that is totally counter to all of the experience that they’ve had, they can remind you, they can say, “Hey Chris, what’s at stake for you? Why does this matter? We’ve been spending all of this time doing this over here. So you’re deviating, why does that matter?”

Mike: 22:13 – It’s going to be much harder if you’re trying to do this alone. If you’re trying to achieve, you know, all of the success that the world has to offer by yourself, it’s not going to go as fast as you might think. And it’s gonna be incredibly frustrating and harmful to you because you don’t have anybody to share the suffering with. You know, that’s going back to CrossFit. But like CrossFit is a group workout. Everybody is suffering together. You cycle, you’re in a group of people that are cycling, climbing that mountain together. Right? It’s the buddy system. Like if you’re doing it by yourself, then you’re not going to know necessarily that you’re on the wrong path until it’s too late.

Chris: 23:05 – I get it. OK. So the key to knowing, then, is surrounding yourself with people who are going to correct you if you’re on the wrong path.

Mike: 23:14 – Yeah. People don’t like that. I mean, call it accountability, but you know, people don’t like being held accountable. They don’t like being corrected. But if it’s done out of love, if it’s done out of actually willing the good for the other, right. So community is the last piece in the key. But everybody, if they’ve followed the protocol of story, gifts, action and community, and they’re doing that on a daily basis, then the result should be that because I have a strong sense of my self-worth, I also have a strong sense of Chris’s worth. And so when I see Chris veering off path, I’m doing it because I love Chris and want to will the good of Chris. Right? And I want to see Chris succeed to the levels that I know he’s capable of reaching. And by the way, the person that is correcting doesn’t feel good correcting either. You know, it’s like, man, like it’s uncomfortable, but we have to have uncomfortable conversations with ourselves and others in order for the growth to happen that we want in our lives.

Chris: 24:36 – OK. Well, we are going to come to CrossFit very soon, but is it our duty to have these uncomfortable conversations with the people that we care about most? Even if you know, we might sacrifice the relationship to do it?

Mike: 24:56 – It is. It is. It’s incredibly, because there’s really not that many decisions that we have to make. We get what we tolerate. I forget who said that quote, but you know, life is made up of a series of choices. So if we make a choice not to have that uncomfortable conversation regardless of the consequences, then we have to own it, right? Then we can’t complain, then we can’t, you know, vent to other people that so-and-so is really bothering me or doing X, Y and Z. And you know, you’re making a choice to not have that hard conversation, but you could have that hard conversation and maybe instead of telling, you ask questions and it draws out—it becomes a conversation, right? The outcome might be better than what you’ve envisioned happening in your head because now you are both facing the same direction because you’re having conversations, right. Instead of questions. I mean, you’re asking questions instead of making statements. But even the default choice is still a choice. You know, the default choice would be to avoid that awkward conversation. I was giving a keynote to a big company in the Silicon Valley and I actually had them do three uncomfortable exercises. So I actually had the people, there were about 80 people in the room, and I had everybody partner up and turn to their neighbor. And the first exercise that I had them do was be very—and they’re like, you know, facing each other, right? And I said, “Be very loud. I want you to be loud. I want you to say, ‘I am powerful,’ looking at each other in the eye.” And everybody’s giggling and laughing. And then I said, after everybody calmed down and the giggling kind of died down, and I said, “I want you to look at each other again and I want you to whisper the same phrase.” People were so uncomfortable, so uncomfortable. It was really fascinating. You know, I had never done it before, but I’m like, I’m going to do this and we’re going to see how it works. But people are uncomfortable with the idea that we are powerful. Even the CEO of this organization was sitting in the back of the room after this exercise and he was nodding his head, you know, because being powerful requires us being vulnerable.

Chris: 27:37 – OK. What was the third exercise?

Mike: 27:42 – The third exercise was, oh shoot, hold on. Oh, the third exercise was, oh gosh, let’s see. The second one was, the second was no, the third exercise. The first one was I am powerful. I had them do that a couple of different ways. Second exercise was I am worthy. Saying the same thing. And then the third exercise was I am competing in my own race and I want to help you win yours.

Chris: 28:19 – Wow. That is powerful stuff. And every time we talk, Mike, I get more and more impressed. Not just at your intellect, but also your empathy. And you know, I know hundreds of CrossFit gym owners, maybe thousands. And if I had to pick the best one for you and say I could drop you anywhere in the world at any gym, I would say I pick Greg Amundson. Who’s your coach, Mike?

Mike: 28:47 – Greg Amundson.

Chris: 28:49 – There is tremendous serendipity, I think at this level in business and also in CrossFit. So can you tell us your CrossFit story?

Mike: 28:59 – I avoided CrossFit like the plague for quite a while because of my own limiting beliefs because of what other people said, right. Other people’s expectations, right? Other people’s fears, other people’s this and that. And so I was just your typical gym rat. You know, my fitness story is I was a competitive athlete in high school. I had the opportunity to play college football. That ended before I graduated high school due to a devastating knee injury. And then I just became like your typical gym rat, you know, and my health kind of went sideways a little bit in college because I wasn’t invested in anything. And then I actually got recommitted to fitness and I was all in and I had gotten down to 10% body fat, just at the 24-Hour Fitness kind of stuff. And then the financial crisis comes, and I’m skipping a lot of things, but I’m just giving you the fitness stuff, right? Financial crisis comes along. I’m the gym rat. I’m doing this typical mirror muscle, you know, just this and that, you know, there’s no community. Everybody’s got their, you know, you might as well be alone in this crowded room. Everybody looking at themselves in the mirror saying how beautiful I am, but how scared I am. And I had blown up to 250 pounds. And this was in 2009 and I bent over to pick up a sippy cup of daughter’s on the stairs and my back gave out and I was flat on the floor. And my wife was at the gym. I couldn’t get ahold of her. So I had to call my mother who lived 10 minutes away from us. She had to drive over and pick up her 250-pound son off of the floor. And that was one of my rock-bottom moments. That’s the physical rock-bottom moment, where I knew things had to change and I couldn’t do things the way that they had been done before.

Mike: 31:03 – So I still didn’t want to do CrossFit, so I did this other group training thing, which was good. And then I’m like, you know what? And then I saw a friend of mine from high school, his name is Steven Berrigan. He is an amazing guy. He’s over at CrossFit West. He had never lifted a weight in his life growing up. He was a soccer player. He was a runner, had done, you know, marathons and things like that. Never picked up a weight in his life. And I saw him at a Christmas performance and he was solid. And I’m like, dude, Steven, what? He’s like, yeah, dude, you should totally do CrossFit. You should try give it a try and so I’m like, OK. So then I embarked on my CrossFit research journey. I am in Santa Cruz and CrossFit is like Starbucks. They’re on every corner, right? So, I looked at CrossFit West, I looked at CrossFit Ready, I looked at CrossFit Watsonville. I looked at all of the CrossFits that were reasonably close to where I work on a daily basis. And then I found CrossFit Amundson, and it was very clear that Greg led with the mind and the spirit and then the body, right? And that his methodology, so far as I could tell, was incredibly close to the origin of CrossFit. Like how he programmed his stuff. And so then I signed up, I went in and it was an incredible place. It is incredible place, where the mind, the body and the spirit are being forged throughout every workout. And led by Greg, you know. And the other coaches there who he’s kind of taken under his wing. And so I have been there since 2014 and I love it. You know, and the first workout, the coach at that time, the head coach was Melanie, she would not let me put weights on the barbell. So here I am like this arrogant, egotistical person. I’m like, I’m going to do this workout with no weights on the barbell? Do you see me? By the way, I wasn’t even, I wasn’t in great shape then, but I’m like, I’ve done this. I know what to do, you know? But it was a mind-opening experience and has led to me ultimately deciding to start my podcast, which you were a guest on the Impact Entrepreneur Show which then ultimately led to the book and is leading to so much more. Because of the hard work that I’ve done in the gym, I’ve realized that I’m effective, that I can do hard things, that I’m worthy of doing hard things and then I can do hard things. I can do great things with the hard things that I’ve experienced.

Chris: 34:15 – That is amazing. And I think you know that that was part of the original intent of CrossFit, but nobody epitomizes or teaches that methodology as well as Greg Amundson does. And so for your listeners who don’t know who Greg Amundson is, I’ll give you a link. He was the very first guest on this podcast back in 2015 and when I was talking to Mike, to whom I was introduced through our mutual publisher, Scribe, we started talking about his gym. And a few hours later, Mike sent me this great photo of he and Greg holding this little piece of mango wood with the word CrossFit burned into it. And this is an amazing story because years ago, maybe 2014, Greg Amundson and I were together in Kenya and the only wood around to build desks for schools was mango, which is a very hard wood. And so they were taking little tiny pieces and we had this CrossFit brand and I was holding the wood and Greg was burning the word CrossFit into it. And we all took one of these home and Greg still has his, and I’m literally looking at mine in my windowsill right now. So, it’s just amazing, I think fate kind of brought us together here, Mike. I would love to help other people who own gyms meet more people like you. And so what I’d love for you to tell us is, you know, what attracts you as an entrepreneur to CrossFit? Why do you keep going instead of switching it up to go to something else? And then what can gym owners do to meet more people like you?

Mike: 35:47 – I love CrossFit as an entrepreneur because I spend all day making decisions and the one thing I don’t have to think about when I go to the gym is what workout I’m going to do. I love it, right? Like that’s number one. I know that it’s going to be hard, fast and furious. Like the longest workout we’ve done recently was Murph, probably, you know, back in May. Some people did Murph, like several rounds of Murph over a 24-hour period, including Greg, he did five rounds of Murph in 24 hours.

Chris: 36:27 – Oh my goodness.

Mike: 36:28 – We have another guy in our gym named Eric who did seven. Eric, he’s actually a former Regional competitor from Arizona, but he lives here in Santa Cruz now as a paramedic. Anyway. So I don’t have to think about the programming. I know it’s gonna be fast and furious. I know that I’m going to be around people that are engaged in the process of growing mentally, physically, and spiritually in that gym in particular. We’re going to do this stuff together. Everybody’s going to encourage you, no matter whether you are walking in that gym and haven’t lifted a weight one day in your life or you’re Greg Amundson, everybody is going to treat you as an equal and welcome you and introduce themselves to you. Nobody’s got their headphones on. There isn’t a mirror to be found in that place. And it’s just a growth chamber, right? So I think that to attract more—I was actually thinking about this this morning. I don’t do CrossFit because I have weight-loss problems. I do CrossFit because I struggle with self esteem. CrossFit reminds me that I’m worthy of doing hard—not to be a broken record, but this is important. And like CrossFit reminds me that I’m worthy, that I’m worthy of doing hard things, that I can do hard things, that there’ll be benefit and fruit from putting myself through hard things at the end of that. Right? I don’t do CrossFit because I’m trying to lose that next, you know, 10 pounds around the waist, which I am. That’s what you do Zone for or something else, you do Zone for that. I do CrossFit because I want to remind myself every day that I’m powerful and effective and that is the most important thing for every entrepreneur listening and every gym owner listening to remind their entrepreneurial clients of, because when they walk out of that gym and they go back to their business, they go back to their home, their relationships, they have to carry that lesson with them.

Chris: 38:52 – Amazing. So if I’m running a gym and I want to meet more entrepreneurs, Mike, I mean obviously I should be getting that message out on social. What are some other ways that I could do it to connect with more people like you?

Mike: 39:08 – Well, I actually think that this medium of podcasting is the fastest way to meet like-minded individuals today.

Chris: 39:17 – That’s interesting.

Mike: 39:19 – I think it’s a huge way to connect with people. I think that people who have podcasts tend to be more empathetic, and also driven, right. And eager to connect and eager to build community. So I think like one idea would be for these local gyms to start a local podcast or a local YouTube channel, right? Or something along those lines where they’re having conversations with their members and sharing their members’ stories, the testimonials, not about weight loss, but about what CrossFit has done for their mind. I think that would be really powerful. I think that, you know, like one of the things that Greg does, and I’m pretty sure most CrossFits do this as well, is the community workouts on Saturdays. You know, where the whole community, it’s open door, you know, it’s a pretty accessible workout to everybody. You can scale it up or down so everybody can do it. And it’s really community-building. I’ve brought my kids to it not every Saturday workout, but anytime there’s a big community workout like Murph, I try to bring my kids and involve the family. Right? That’s the thing too, like getting your family involved is really powerful. And then turning your gym into another learning environment. And so for Greg, what he’s done is, you know, he’s pursuing his masters in divinity right now. And so once a month, he actually turns the gym over on Wednesdays to like a chapel, right? Where he preaches a message, right? And he calls that Faith Works Ministry. Sometimes there’s a workout before, but oftentimes it’s immediately after the four o’clock class and he brings, you know, there’s music and it just changes. So it’s finding other ways to repurpose your gym to help the mind, body, spiritual development of your members. Don’t just think about your gym as a place for people to throw iron around. You know, it’s a mind gym. It’s a heart gym, it’s a spiritual gym. It’s a place for people to build relationships, right? Think abstractly outside of the box about all of the ways that you can use your gym to help me become the best version of myself.

Mike: 41:59 – So you have to understand who Mike Flynn is, right? What my struggles are. You have to understand that I struggle with self esteem, body image in particular, right? I’ve struggled since I was a little kid. You have to understand that about me. You have to know that I have asthma, right? You have to know that I have a wife and four kids and at peak traffic it takes me 40 minutes to get home. And so I have to leave like right at the end of the workout to jam out there so I can get home to help my wife with my kids. You have to understand the holistic aspect of the person. Right? And every gym can do better at doing that, especially with the members that have been there longer, they should go back and find out more, do a little bit more in-depth analysis of who’s in their gym and why they’re there. And that’s going to completely reframe how you program.

Chris: 43:02 – That makes a lot of sense. I think too, you know, maybe you can give us a little bit of—paint a picture of what it’s like to train in Greg’s gym, because I don’t think you can fake any of that. Right? You have to be authentic. And so when I’ve been to CrossFit Amundson, you know, you always face the ocean during your warm-ups and you know, maybe you can kind of paint us a picture of what goes on there.

Mike: 43:27 – So typically, you know—I’m a part of the four o’clock class, so we get there, around 4:05 we start our warm-up. Maybe it’s a run or row or whatever, you know, and it’s always dynamic. And then when we start doing our dynamic stretching and our warm-up in the circle where we’re loosening up and things of that nature, it’s always facing the ocean. It’s always starting to be mindful of your breathing, breathing in through your nose. It’s always, you know, start repeating a positive mantra or scripture or some sort of inspirational message in your head. Those are the things that he is always starting with. And then we typically will, after that, you know, we’ll break, get some water, whatever it is. And then before we do the whiteboard breakdown of what the actual WOD is, oftentimes he will, either before or at the end of the workout, he’ll either have some sort of a positive inspirational message to share at the beginning or at the end that sort of ties in with what the workout is going to require of us that day or of what it did require of us, right. If he’s doing it at the end, sometimes at the end, depending on the time, if it was a short workout and we have, you know, 15, 20 minutes left at the end of the workout, we’ll do some box breathing. We’ll do some, some meditation, we’ll do, you know, stretching, you know, that kind of stuff. A lot of times, you know, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, after five o’clock, he’s flipping the entire gym over into a Krav Maga studio. You know, and so like that’s another way, like you’re teaching people how to defend and protect those that they love and themselves. Right? That’s another way to repurpose your gym, right? So it’s an incredibly, it’s a very rich place. It’s like a banquet, you know, not only are you going to get like a great workout physically, but your mind and your spirit is going to be fed. Your heart’s going to be fed because you’re around people that you’ve come to love, because you’ve suffered around them so much, you know?

Chris: 45:48 – Yeah. I think that’s great, Mike, and all of this in 800 square feet, right?

Mike: 45:51 – Oh yeah, it’s super tiny gym, you don’t need a huge box, you don’t to have 50 yards of turf to push a sled on. You can take an 800-square-foot, thousand square-foot box, and turn it into a beastly place.

Chris: 46:13 – That’s great. Well, Mike, hey, thanks a lot for giving up some extra time than even what I asked for to talk to CrossFit gym owners and other entrepreneurs. We really appreciate it. I’m going to link to your book in the show notes so that everybody can get themselves a copy and it’s just such a fantastic, simple read with such a powerful message because you’ve framed it in a really sticky story. So thanks for that and thanks for helping everybody.

Mike: 46:36 – You bet, man. Thank you for the honor of being with you today on the podcast and hopefully breathing life into some people.

Chris: 46:44 – Absolutely.

Greg: 46:49 – As always, thank you so much for listening to this podcast. We greatly appreciate you and everyone that has subscribed to us. If you haven’t done that, please make sure you do drop a like to that episode. Share with a friend, and if you haven’t already, please write us a review and rate us on what you think. If you hated it, let us know. If you loved it, even better. See you guys later.

Thanks for listening!

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