Transcript of How to Choose Your Life’s Purpose
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John Jantsch: Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch, and my guest today is Brant Menswar. He is a keynote speaker, award-winning musician, and author of the book, Rock ‘N’ Roll With It: Overcoming the Challenge of Change. So Brant, thanks for joining me.
Brant Menswar: Hey, thanks so much for having me, John.
John Jantsch: All right, so the question everybody wants to know, since I said in your intro, award-winning musician, how does a rock and roll musician become a speaker and author?
Brant Menswar: Well, when you realize you’re getting too old to tour the country 120, 150 dates a year, and you don’t want to give up the stage, you transition to the world of keynote speaking, and so that’s what it sort of was for me. It was just, 20 years in the music business, and not feeling or looking like I’m the 85-year-old that my inner self tells me that I am, I had to make that changeover to the speaking world, and it’s just been amazing since it’s all happened.
John Jantsch: So let me ask you this, if you … Because you’ve spent so much time on stages with big audiences, and you probably got used to that a little bit, I mean, a lot of people talk about speaking for the first time or first 20 times, just being scared to death, do you feel like that part was kind of gone for you?
Brant Menswar: Yeah, I never, even in the performing side on the band with Big Kettle Drum, I never really experienced fear in that way. I’ve always been … I would describe it more as anticipation, anxious. I want to be up on the platform, I want to be performing or speaking or whatever it is, so most of that stuff, for me, happens before I’m on the stage, but once I’m there, it’s probably the only area in my life that I’m 100% present in the moment.
John Jantsch: You know, when I first started speaking, I, a lot of times, suffered from … like a lot of people do. I’d never done it before and knew I needed to do it for my business. I remember sort of it felt like an overnight change, almost, that when I shifted my mindset to not being like, I’m up here performing, but I’m here to actually help these people that are here today, and some … it completely took away all the nerves for me.
Brant Menswar: Yeah, I completely agree with that, and for me it was the difference of, when I shifted from thinking I was trying to sell them something, to, I’m there to give them something. When I made that shift, you know, I’m not trying to sell them on how good the music is, I’m trying to give it away, and same with speaking. I’m not trying to sell them on anything for them to buy. I’m trying to give away this knowledge that I’ve acquired over the years, that I think might be helpful for them.
John Jantsch: You talk a lot about … It’s not in the title of your book, necessarily, but you talk a lot about purpose.
Brant Menswar: Yes.
John Jantsch: Obviously, it’s an important topic. Everyone’s looking for it. What the heck is it, really? I mean, seriously, there’s so many books on purpose, so many speakers talking about purpose, why aren’t we getting it?
Brant Menswar: Well, because they’re all wrong. That’s ultimately the easiest way for me to answer that question. Here’s the problem. You have someone like Simon Sinek come out with a book, Start With Why, and everybody jumps on the bandwagon, and it’s just not true. You don’t start with why, you start with what. You have to start with what are your non-negotiables. What are those core values, those five or six things that you cannot be moved from. If you do not do the work to define those things before you choose your why, then your why is going to be wrong 100% of the time.
Brant Menswar: So, for me, the reason that there’s so many books and it’s still really not having the transformation that it should have when you talk about purpose, is because we don’t really understand what purpose is. Actually, the phrase, I laugh all the time because the phrase “on purpose” I think is probably the most misused phrase in the English language, because in order to do something on purpose, you have to know what your purpose is.
Brant Menswar: I spend my life now on stages in front of thousands of people, asking people, “Raise your hand if you can tell me concisely in one or two sentences, what is your life purpose, why did you choose it, and how do you live it out every day,” and it’s a fraction of a fraction of a percent of people that actually raise their hand.
John Jantsch: Yeah, I think what … I’m going to defend those people that didn’t raise their hand, partly because it’s not cut and dried. It’s not black and white. It’s evolving, it’s moving. Even if you sat somebody down and said … I bet you, people have trouble listing out their non-negotiables, and that should be easy, right?
Brant Menswar: Oh, yeah.
John Jantsch: But the world makes it hard.
Brant Menswar: Yeah. Well, it’s not easy. I mean, that’s why we don’t do it. We don’t do it for a couple of reasons. Number one, it’s often painful because our core values are developed over the course of our lifetimes, and they rarely, rarely change outside of a catastrophic event. Most people don’t do the work to dig back through their history to figure out these things that matter most to them because it’s laden with experiences that were painful. Core values aren’t necessarily born out of happiness. They can be born out of some really painful experiences, and so people don’t want to do that.
Brant Menswar: The second reason is, the minute that you do define these things and say, “You know what? Here are the five things, the five principles, the five core values that are going to guide my decisions and I’m going to live my life by,” all of a sudden you have something to hold yourself accountable to, and we hate accountability. As a people, we want that radical freedom, right? We want the ‘Merica, and it’s just, it’s so difficult for us to stay committed to the things that matter most when we don’t know what they are.
Brant Menswar: That’s part of the reason that we never take the time to actually define what they are in our lives, because we don’t want to feel bad if we say health is one of my core values, and the alarm goes off at five o’clock in the morning, and I slap it down and say, “Not today, Satan.” Then, am I a liar, or am I lazy? We don’t want to be either one of those things, so rather than have to have that conversation with ourselves, we simply don’t define those values.
John Jantsch: Yeah, I think sometimes complacency or, you know, nothing’s really broken badly, is probably what leads people to that. But you made a really good point about how some of the people that have gotten the most on purpose have almost lost it all.
Brant Menswar: Yeah.
John Jantsch: I hate to say that we all need to go through that, but what … to what degree does sort of realizing, I’m not going to live forever, play a role in this?
Brant Menswar: Well, I think it definitely speeds up the desire. Let me say this, I feel like we all have an inherent desire to know what our purpose is, I think that’s sort of pre-wired within us, but I also know that unless some catastrophic event comes along, that you’re faced with mortality in some way, shape or form, it’s just, it’s too easy to make excuses.
Brant Menswar: For me, my son, my oldest son, when he was 14, was diagnosed with a rare blood cancer, and we spent 263 days living in the hospital with him battling, and that experience certainly puts into perspective the things that matter most to you and provides you with a different way to look at life. It wasn’t until I went through that that I really got serious about what purpose is and how do you actually engage it on a daily basis.
John Jantsch: I heard you actually talk about … because a lot of people talk about, you have to find your purpose. I’ve always said, generally speaking, purpose finds you, but you’ve actually even talked about it as, you actually have to choose your purpose. Unpack that for us.
Brant Menswar: Yeah. For me, we’ve been misled the majority of our lives in thinking that purpose is something you have to go out and find, but it’s in the defining of the core values that you can choose your purpose, so what’s useful for me. I have six core values that I live my life by, right. They’re creativity, hope, impact, empathy, family, and authenticity. I filter every decision I make in my life through those six things.
Brant Menswar: Now, my purpose? My purpose is actually to authentically … How I would describe it on a regular basis, for me, is to creatively impact people’s lives by authentically providing hope. That’s my purpose that I try to live out every day. Now, when you look at that, you’ll see four of my six core values activated in that purpose, and that, to me, is what’s missing.
Brant Menswar: That’s why there’s so much confusion around purpose, because purpose literally is the activation of your core values, so until you define what those are, it’s impossible for you to get to purpose. But once you do, you can speak them into existence, so you can program them into your day. You choose when and where they appear, and that is when you start to experience transformation, which is what purpose is all about.
John Jantsch: Well, I think that, in listening to you just there, I think the challenge really is the brutal honesty that it takes to actually define those core values. I mean, it’s really easy to come up with some sound-good core values. I mean, I’ll throw one out for you, not to challenge you on it, but authenticity, that’s one that everybody has, right, but so few people actually live it. But it sounds good. So how do we get past the sounds good exercise and get to what’s real?
Brant Menswar: Well, it takes work, right? The truth is that when I do … So I’ll do these workshops where I help people define their core values. It’s a five week program, that sometimes, when I’m hired, they give me an hour, which is just an impossible task, but we can at least start the conversation. And the conversation that we have to start is … Typically, what happens is I put the lowest hanging fruit I can, which is, “Here’s a list of 150 values, commonly held. Circle the ones that speak to you.” What I end up finding is that, if I’m in a room of a hundred people, 95 of them circle more than 30 words.
Brant Menswar: So the challenge is, and this is really to your question, separating what’s important from us from our non-negotiables is really hard work when you’ve got a lot of things that are important to you. That’s where the challenge lies, is it takes time, you have to prove that they’re real, and what I find most people do is they give me two or three that are honest and real, and they give me two or three that are aspirational values, they’re who they want to be, but they’re not who they are.
John Jantsch: Well, is there anything wrong with that, though? Can you sort of aspire to a non-negotiable that, maybe because of society or because of the way you were raised, didn’t develop early?
Brant Menswar: What I would say, I don’t know that there’s anything wrong with it, but it’s not reality, and so if you’re living your life based on something that’s false, there is no proof. Part of the thing for me is, once you give me or I help you define whatever those five are going to be, you spend two weeks on something that I call archeology, where you start digging through your day for proof.
Brant Menswar: If two or three of the things that you say are your non-negotiables don’t show up, then my guess is they’re not actual non-negotiables. They’re not one of your core values. They may be something that’s important, yes, but they’re definitely not these things that you are going to live your life by. What ends up happening is we either look, pick and choose a different value that is showing up, that didn’t make the list for whatever particular reason, or we do something that I love to call leveling up.
Brant Menswar: If somebody says to me, “Look, family is one my core values, faith is one of my core values, community is one of my core values.” Well, what ends up happening is, if you look at those things, you start to realize that maybe it’s something more like connection. Connection encompasses all of those things, whether it’s spiritually, physically, relationship-wise, so maybe we have to level up to get a larger umbrella so that you are encompassing more things.
Brant Menswar: It takes time. It takes weeks of doing that, and really, it takes a good four, five, six months before you can honestly say you own those values, and you know they’re real, and you have proof. No one needs to believe you when you have proof, and that’s the goal.
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John Jantsch: I work with a lot of entrepreneurs, and a lot of folks that, they’re trying to hustle and make their way and get this business thing going. It’s funny how,, in those moments they can sort of get pushed out of who they really are, and turn around and go, “What happened?”
Brant Menswar: Yeah. Sure.
John Jantsch: These are not bad people. These are people that have these core values, but in the moment, get pushed away from them. So how do we, in the heat of the moment, so to speak, how do we stop from screwing up?
Brant Menswar: Well, they lost the tug of war, right, at the center of those struggles, when, what you just described is a tug of war between our values and our feelings. Our feelings are monsters. They are incredibly powerful things that can change any scenario in a wrong direction so quickly that the only way to battle it is to truly define and own those five or six things that you know for sure are those non-negotiables, those core values.
Brant Menswar: For me, by defining what those things were, it made my life so much easier, because sometimes my emotions got in the way. Sometimes I’m all hot and bothered over the way somebody spoke to me, and to be able to sit there and go, “Is this impacting me creatively? Is it taking away my hope? Is it challenging my impact?” If it’s not doing any of the six things, if it’s not offending any of those six things, then I can let it go and not think about it. But when we don’t define those things, we can never put a finger on it, so it makes it really hard to let it go.
John Jantsch: Yeah, so then when the, I’m not really good enough, I’ll never make enough money, I’ll never be successful, when those thoughts come up, you’ve got something to push them away, don’t you?
Brant Menswar: It’s absolutely true, and there’s a lot of books out there about this imposter syndrome, and the negative self talk and self sabotage, and a lot of these books recommend you sort of pushing those away and ignoring those. Where I come from, that’s the worst thing you can do. You want to talk about giving that voice more power in your life, pretend it’s not there.
Brant Menswar: What I always say in those scenarios is, whenever I have a thought that’s really negative, that’s impacting me that way, I give that voice a seat on the bus, but that voice is never going to touch the wheel. I drive the bus, but I will happily give them a seat on the bus, and I’ll ask them one question, always, “What makes it okay for you to talk to me that way? What happened? There has to be a reason that you think it’s okay for you to talk to me that way.”
Brant Menswar: What I come to find out is, is that it’s buried in a lot of emotional garbage that should just be pushed aside, but at the center of whatever that negative thought is, is some real truth. I have to be able to get to that truth and accept it for what it is, thank them, give them that opportunity to share their voice, which actually takes their power away, and then say, “Go back and sit down in your seat in the back of the bus. Thank you very much. I’m going to continue to drive forward in the direction I want to go to.” But most of us simply hand the wheel over to that voice and say, “You steer for a while,” and before you know it, we’re really off path of where we want to go to in our lives.
John Jantsch: So, if I bring Brant into my life, is there the five step, here’s how we would choose purpose, we’re going to do step one, then step two? I’m not trying to over simplify it-
Brant Menswar: Sure.
John Jantsch: … but is there sort of a process?
Brant Menswar: Yes. Yeah, absolutely, and it’s a multifaceted process because some of us get there in different ways. To start the conversation looking at a list of words is fine, but it’s never going to be deep enough to really get to the truth. But it’s definitely a great place to start.
Brant Menswar: One of the things that I always encourage people to do is to make a list of their favorites. What’s your favorite song? What’s your favorite movie? What’s your favorite food? What’s your favorite smell? Because our favorites are clear indicators of some of those core values that we possess. They are our favorites because they’re scratching the itch of one or more of our core values. It’s an easy, fun way to get to some answers that you can start to dive deeper into.
John Jantsch: Yeah, that makes a ton of sense. My favorite band, Big Kettle Drum, all day long, so-
Brant Menswar: Yes, baby.
John Jantsch: All right, so then how are we going to work on that stuff? Okay, so now I’ve got the list, I’ve got something that tells me something, but now it’s Monday morning again.
Brant Menswar: Yeah. So here’s the big difference, right, here’s the transformation, and this is where, honest to God, my life changed a year ago. I’ve been teaching this for a number of years, but I never really experienced the power of defining these things and owning them until I read an article, just about a year ago, that was on Gary Vaynerchuk. This was The New York Times, and the title of the article said, “Future Jets Owner, blah, blah, blah, blah.”
Brant Menswar: Well, if you’re familiar with Gary V. in any way, shape or form, you know that his life’s purpose is to own the New York Jets. That’s all he wants to do. Everything he does is in alignment with that goal. In the article, they interviewed Gary’s brother, and the journalist said, “I have to tell you, it’s a little strange talking to Gary because he just, he speaks about this like it’s going to happen. It’s like it’s a foregone conclusion. Gary will tell you he’s going to work till he’s 68, he’s going to make a couple of billion dollars, he’s going to buy the New York Jets, they’re going to go to eight Super Bowls, they’re going to win six, and he’s going to die, and then he … He has it all planned out.”
Brant Menswar: The funny thing for me was, the answer the brother gave is what changed everything for me. He said, “Of course, he’s going to speak it into existence.” When I read that, I found the missing link. You see, defining your values, proving that they’re real is one thing, but speaking them into existence is something else. So what happened was, we went from developing this archeology, where you start digging through your day, looking for proof that they’re real, into a programming of your values, literally speaking them into existence. What we do is we sit down with the people when they’re done, and we look at their calendar, and we look at their schedule for the day, and we say, “Where are you going to program these values to appear?”
Brant Menswar: So if I had a meeting with you, John, at two o’clock today, and I knew that you were going through something that was, maybe in your personal life, that was a little bit rough, well, empathy being one of my core values. If you looked at my calendar, you would see the word empathy written next to the appointment time, because I am going to speak that value into existence when I talk to you. So I start programming these values into my day so that they appear.
Brant Menswar: Since I’ve started doing that, my entire life has been accelerated at such a rate. I went from speaking pretty … at a decent clip, to an article coming out, naming me one of the top 10 motivational speakers in the country. I have no idea how I made that list, but I believe in my heart of hearts that it’s because I started speaking my values into existence. All of a sudden, my fees triple, I have a new book coming out, all these things happening because people are seeing these things that I say matter most.
Brant Menswar: I don’t have to do anything other than know that if I program them into my day, there’s no question as to whether or not people are going to have that experience with me, and the control freak in me absolutely loves that ability to speak those things into existence, because in reality, I never have to compromise.
John Jantsch: I love that idea, because calendar is something we all habitually do anyway, so-
Brant Menswar: That’s exactly right.
John Jantsch: … to actually then add that is not going to be too much of a stretch, maybe, for people. I love that.
Brant Menswar: Absolutely. Super powerful, and easy, and that’s the goal.
John Jantsch: So Brant, where can people find out more about you, and your work, and your books, and of course-
Brant Menswar: You bet.
John Jantsch: … Spotify is one of the places, right?
Brant Menswar: Yeah. For Big Kettle Drum, anywhere you grab music. We’ve got Spotify channels, we’ve got Pandora channels. We’ve done it long enough to have at least that level of success, where you can actually find us outside of our website. For me, personally, anything on the speaking side, anything on the values, purpose side, it’s all under brantsmenswar.com. That’s where you can find links to Rock ‘N’ Roll With It and the book.
Brant Menswar: But the new book right now is going to be called Black Sheep, and that comes out in October of next year. But I am incredibly excited about that book because it literally spells out exactly how to do the things you and I just spent the last 20 minutes talking about.
John Jantsch: Awesome. Well, Brant, it was great of you stop by, and I know I’m going to see you soon, but hopefully we’ll run into you out there on the road.
Brant Menswar: Love it. Thanks so much, John. Appreciate it.