WAKE UP Before You’re Dead

Transcript based on the March 12, 2013 podcast  WAKE UP: Wake Up Before You’re Dead

I have one purpose for the WAKE UP Call: to be a pattern interrupt in your life. I want today to be a moment of substance that you can remember next year, 3 years from now, or 10 years from now. I want you to read this and get that epiphany, make that paradigm shift, or have something click that never clicked before. Because of that, your life will be different, “starting on that rainy day in March 2013 when we spent some time together”…

These choices we make, they seem so small — they’re made in a split second and yet every act creates a ripple effect with no foreseeable end. 

We can choose how to spend our time, but no one can know how much time we have. We can have everything planned out, but in the end we just don’t know what time we have.

On a daily basis, we all have that same amount of time. A lot of it is allocated to our jobs, businesses, and families. Then there are moments when time seems to stand still for us, like the experience of being in a car accident. Speaking of cars, we call these kinds of moments “oh shit!” moments in off-road racing. Ever have a close call in your life where it felt like time slowed down, and you reacted purely on instinct? There’s no time for conscious thought at a time like that. It’s pure reflex that makes you react.

In off-road racing, these moments happen so often (about once every 10 minutes!) that your senses get more in tune with the car. Your actions become pure memory instead of relying on processing what your senses are telling you. This is like playing sports, when you practice a technique so much that it becomes muscle memory to you. You can do it without even thinking about it. That’s critical because if you’re racing and you have to react (consciously), to obstacles, it’s probably too late!

It takes anywhere from half a second to about a second and a half for us to react consciously to something. In racing, that might not be enough time. This is where you need that unconscious muscle memory to kick in and save your bacon.

We develop this kind of muscle memory over a lifetime of experiences in everything we do. All the things we deal with help us to develop patterns for how those experiences played out, and develop the instincts to deal with them in the future. That’s a natural process, but what this means is that we can end up living on autopilot and flying towards the wrong destination if we’re not careful to program ourselves with the kinds of experiences we want to guide us.

The influences we choose to subject ourselves to will determine the brain patterns that control most of our lives.

We have to program ourselves so that when those “oh shit” moments happen, we know we will be alright.

What if you could tap into the portion of your brain that controls those instincts and reprogram yourself? What if you could just know that you’ll land on your feet every time, like a cat? What would you be able to accomplish knowing for sure you’ll be OK?

When I first got into off-road racing, it was scary as hell. But over time I got used to the “oh shit” moments and reacting on instinct, and I became able to trust myself and my ability to do the right thing. That point is when it becomes fun. It’s an addicting feeling, but that’s a scary place to get to. You have to get the crap kicked out of you many times to get there, but when you’ve done that enough, you’ll have the character, repetition, and experience that PROVES that you’ll always make it in the end. To know that fully is to surrender control, and that’s scary, but it will unleash you.

High 5 yourself! Look for absolutely anything you can celebrate!

There’s never a place that you’re safe when you arrive. The more often you survive whatever the next challenge life throws at you, the more you realize you’re winning those victories in your life. Try writing down those little victories that you have every day. By doing that, you’ll create little reflection points that you can focus on. Instead of the obstacles, you’ll see only how you’ve overcome everything thrown your way. That’s how you subconsciously tune your brain to focus on the victories and not the obstacles.

Could you say in that moment, if life would’ve come to an end, that you’d have been happy with the story that flashed before you?

Every day, you have choices to make, and they’re all going to have an impact. Every gesture of kindness, rudeness, love, or hate will have an impact. These choices create a pattern that we can look back on to see where it will lead us to later on. It’s like a movie: the choices made early on in a movie affect what happens in that movie later. Over time, even small choices add up and point us in a direction. Are your choices aligned with the direction you want to go in?

Then there are the moments where life gives you a snapshot of everything at once. I remember my last moment like this. My life stood still, my body suspended in the air. (Yeah, I was racing. You knew it.) It felt as though we were going to go over a cliff. I saw my mom, my kids, and I felt this gratitude for my life. I remember thinking, “If I’m going to go here…damn, that was fun!” None of this was conscious because in that kind of moment, your conscious mind goes into terror mode and freezes. What’s actually happening is everything but the real YOU is striped away. This is a wake up call, and it can be a catalyst for change in your life.

When you have a near death experience like that, it’s an opportunity to evaluate where you are in the grand scheme of life. We’re all going to have a chance like that. If our life actually was a movie, and this is where it ended, would it have been worth watching?

No one, but you can control that. These kinds of moments are like road signs. All of a sudden, as you go along in life, you catch a glimpse of this sign, or that… turn soon, stop here, speed up… It’s a reference point for the ride you’ve had so far. Now you know whether or not you are on the right track. You are relieved to see this sign, knowing you’re going in the right direction, and if you’re not, you can use that moment as a catalyst to change where you’re headed.

It’s what you do from there that matters.

We can use moments like those as leverage points. How did you feel looking at where your life was headed? Then you can decide what to do with that experience of seeing the direction you’re going. It’s what you do from there that matters.

Some people are crazy like me. We find ways to have more of these kinds of moments, these wake up calls, these “oh shit” moments, than we probably should! Really, it’s a way to check in on where we’re going. There are ways to do this without scaring the crap out of yourself, but the ones that are hair-raising…these are the biggest ones.

…According to my GPS, I shouldn’t have been anywhere near the edge of that crater.

Let me take you back to the scariest wake up call I’ve ever had. In the late 90s, I was busy harvesting crops late in the season where it was just 18 hours a day driving a huge combine. I was working in a vast field at around 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning. In the middle of this field, was a massive pit, probably a hundred feet deep. It was a couple of thousand yards across, and in the middle of this 100-acre farm. Picture me working nonstop for 15 hours straight, doing the same thing the whole time, just completely on autopilot. I forget the actual sequence of events, but something got in my way that I didn’t expect, a deer, a rock, or some other obstacle. I had to turn around to avoid it. In the middle of turning around, I suddenly had this falling feeling, like the machine I was driving was suspended in the air. I immediately gunned the control and turned in the opposite direction, and I could see in the rearview mirror that my back wheel was about to go over the edge of this huge hole. Oh shit!

Normally you might just get back to work and pretend it didn’t happen. I didn’t. I sat there and stewed about it for a few minutes. According to my GPS, I shouldn’t have been anywhere near the edge of that hole. But I was. A set of circumstances came up and created an obstacle or a challenge that I had to deal with, right then and there.

It’s so important to take these kinds of moments and stew in them as long as you can because they can show you a different direction that you can’t otherwise have seen! Let me tell you, I finished up the rest of that harvest season with another level of attention to detail. A different level of passion and focus for everything I did.

The quality of the ride of your life is something no one can control except you!

Those moments are wake up calls. You’ll have them too. If we fail to use them as catalysts for change, we’ll make the same mistakes and the same flawed choices. We’ll keep going down the wrong path if we ignore the road signs.

There have been signs in your life, and there will be more. Don’t let them go to waste!