(An early/brief overview/preview of the framework from my 4th book)
In mid-June, Spotify released its social audio entrant, Greenroom. Of course, it’s far too early to tell what will become of this player in the industry’s embryonic landscape. However, I did find it curious that innumerable “Clubhouse Celebrities” immediately took to the platform to establish position in a blatantly obvious land grab—largely because many of them have been loud, vocal proponents of Clubhouse.
While I believe that the primary business all entrepreneurs are in is the “data-gathering business,” and perhaps jumping onto the Greenroom bandwagon in its infancy is an opportunity to gather additional data, one can only wonder if they’re doing so from a place of abundance—loving what they’re doing and simply wanting to share their mission and message with more people—or from a place of scarcity, where “enough” never is, and they’re stuck on the constant hamster wheel pursuit of chasing illusionary security.
The latter mentality can plague far too many… including, not so long ago, yours truly. It can lead to depression, a state of despair, and trying to win an unwinnable game. Allow me to share my personal experience.
In November of 2013, I hit what has oft-been referred to as “rock bottom.” While I’ll save the granular details as to why this happened for perhaps another day, simply know that I was ready to throw in the towel. While I’m far too squeamish to inflict direct suffering, the thought of letting go of the wheel while speeding through the bank of a hairpin curve crossed my mind on several occasions.
Thankfully, through the love of my wife and family, countless tiny white pills, and hours of deep conversations with my mental health professional, I (obviously) made it through.
Since that time, I’ve made it not only my personal mission to understand why I reached those depths of despair, given that on the surface, I appeared to ‘have it all’… but, also (and more importantly), how to help others avoid a similar fate.
My goal over the past eight years has been to create a simple-to-implement framework that anyone can use. A litmus test, if you will, that takes merely a handful of seconds to complete and can provide insight when you’re feeling off-kilter and need a ‘North star’ to help you get back to the core, the essence, of who you truly are—a place where happiness and fulfillment abounds.
I have named this framework Achieving Quintessence™, and it consists of five simple, yet incredibly profound, questions.
Merriam Webster defines quintessence as:
“The most perfect or typical example of a quality or class” or “the essence of a thing in its purest and most concentrated form.” When you have achieved quintessence, you will live in a manner that is most closely aligned with who you inherently are.
However, the older we get, the farther we tend to drift from quintessence as many of us spend much of our lives absorbing, and living out, the whims, agendas, and expectations of others as opposed to having our lives reflect how we are naturally wired to excel and honoring what puts fire in our soul.
When this happens, your life can feel out of alignment. It can show up as unexplainable mood swings, a lack of interest in activities that used to bring you joy, and/or depression.
In 2022, I’ll be releasing my fourth book, Achieving Quintessence, in which I will delve into the details of this framework. For now, allow me to share a brief overview. My hope is that this letter is read by at least one person who will benefit from these words.
The Achieving Quintessence Framework consists of five elements. Each is equally important. Consider a pentagon-shaped table with five legs. If you remove one of the legs, it will continue to stand. However, if you put enough weight on one side of the table, it will likely topple. When you remove two of the legs, the table will fall.
The same holds true for the Achieving Quintessence Framework. Each element is directly, and indirectly, impacted by the other, and for the whole to thrive, all five must be consistently present.
The elements ostensibly serve as a checklist. If even one of the boxes remains unchecked at day’s end, you may not feel as good as you possibly can. If days, weeks, and months goes by with boxes left unchecked, it is likely that you’re living in less than an optimized state.
Here are the five cornerstones of the daily Achieving Quintessence Framework.
AQ #1: Do Something You Love
This can be thought of as a ‘selfish’ activity… and it is absolutely OK to be selfish. Your soul needs you to be. After all, if we don’t think of the self, we won’t survive.
In this definition, being ‘selfish’ means engaging in an activity that reflects your passions, purpose, or hobbies… Every. Single. Day. And, without apology.
Remember, you are naturally wired to excel in very specific ways. Honor the gifts you’ve been given. AQ #1 reflects the internal piece of the puzzle.
AQ #2: Do Something for Others
This can be thought of as a ‘selfless’ activity… doing something for others not because you’re asked to or because you seek reciprocation. Instead, you engage in this activity because you genuinely want to serve someone else.
Fulfilling this second element does not have to be overly complicated, and often, you don’t even need to leave the house to do so. If you’re a parent, doing something for others can be as simple as playing a game with your child because you know it’s important to him or her. AQ #2 reflects the external piece of the puzzle.
AQ #3: Align Your Environment
Your environment consists of both where you physically live and who you surround yourself with.
After I bottomed out in 2013, tests were ordered to see if there were health-related issues I was unaware of. There were.
It was revealed that I am genetically predisposed to having extraordinarily low neurotransmitter levels, and the cold and gray of Chicago’s annual six-month winter not only reduced these already dangerously low levels, but it also triggered heightened episodes of S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder), which I did not know I suffered from.
To address this, in August 2014, we moved to San Diego. Relocating has helped tremendously.
Consider your environment as well as those you surround yourself with. If you do not love where you live and the people (both personal and professional) you spend ample time with do not positively contribute to your well-being, your environment(s) may be in need of adjustment.
AQ #4: Physical Activity
While this may seem fairly obvious, daily physical activity plays a much larger role in one’s happiness and fulfillment than most think. It is vitally important to get the blood flowing, and if you’re able to elevate your heart-rate and get the sweat going too, even better.
When you move, your neurotransmitter levels naturally increase. And for some, you may be able to fulfill both #1 and #4 with exercise. For example, I’ve been practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu on and off since 2000 (I’m a three-stripe brown belt). This is an activity that I love (#1) and, of course, it involves physical activity.
Even if it’s a 30-minute walk around the block, take time every day to put your body in motion.
AQ #5: Challenge Yourself
All human beings benefit from being challenged. Few extend beyond our zone of comfort on both the personal and professional front… Every. Single. Day.
This, of course, looks very different for each of us. Perhaps you want to break the five-minute mile. Or perhaps, you’ve never closed a $10,000 deal because you don’t feel quite ‘ready’ for it to happen.
It is imperative to stretch beyond your limits and set unrealistic goals. Les Brown once said that, “Most people fail in life not because they aim too high and miss, but because they aim too low and hit.”
Everyone has the ability to shatter their self-imposed limitations. Few ever will.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it is, at the beginning of the day, ask yourself the following questions:
- What will I do today for myself?
- What will I do today for others?
- How will I align my environment today?
- What physical movement will I engage in today?
- How will I challenge myself today personally and professionally?
Before you go to sleep, review your findings.
If you discover that you fell short of checking all five boxes, you’ll know what you need to focus on the following day. If you checked all five boxes, rinse and repeat.
It’s important to remember that fulfillment, happiness, and satisfaction can only come from within. No amount of followers, social audio room attendees, or podcast downloads will ever be enough.
My hope is that the Achieving Quintessence Framework leads you to a place where your happy lives. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
P.S. Please note that the Achieving Quintessence Framework is not designed to replace medical treatment, diagnose mental disorders, or therapy. I strongly encourage you to seek professional guidance by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800.273.8255 if the potential for harming yourself is present.