How To Cultivate The Mind Of A Champion With Olympian Bill Schuffenhauer

The Most Important Conversations | Bill Schuffenhauer | Mind Of A Champion

With everything going on in the world right now, it seems like nobody is winning. It is a tough world out there and it can be easy to feel like we are losing. But fear not because today, we are going to be talking about cultivating the mind of a champion—take it from someone who is one! Chad Lefevre sits down with Olympic Silver Medalist and a vital member of The Most Important Conversation team, Bill Schuffenhauer. A three-time Olympian and Pro Speaker, Bill shares his experiences—the ups and the downs—to inspire us to see through tough times and come out stronger than ever. What does it take to actually be a champion? What are the differences between living life by default and living life by design? Are you just sharing memes or are you living by them and incorporating them into your life? These are just some of the things Bill talks about, leading us to reflect back about our life and the power we have to design and create what we want. So tune in and discover how we can take the reins of our lives, embodying the mind of a champion!

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How To Cultivate The Mind Of A Champion With Olympian Bill Schuffenhauer

I’m joined here by Bill Schuffenhauer. Bill, how are you doing?

I’m awesome. I’m doing so well. As we jumped on, it was like, “Long time no see.”

In full transparency, everyone, Bill is working with TMIC and helping us as part of the ground, team building, and pushing forward what we’re pushing out into the world. One of the things that we want to do as part of this show is we’re featuring people from all walks of life and in different areas who are leading and at the front edge of global transformation and entrepreneurship.

We’re covering all these different topics from entertainment to business to health and wellness to relationships. All of these different topics are covered from the perspective of what is at the source of being human. We wanted to cover also the people who are on our team because they’re very accomplished people and are here for a reason. They’ve lived and breathed the experience that we’re promoting and advocating for people to engage with around the world. Bill is one of those people. You’re a three-time medal Olympian, correct, for the US Olympic team?

Three-time Olympian silver medalist in the Olympics and then a plethora of worlds, nationals, and all that other fun stuff. I have 1 Olympic medal from 3 Olympics.

The Most Important Conversations | Bill Schuffenhauer | Mind Of A Champion

Let’s dig into it here. Being an Olympic athlete is not an easy thing to accomplish. It requires a certain amount of training, focus, commitment, devotion, and effort. I thought that would be a good place for us to start and share from your own lived experience. I’m looking around at what’s going on in society and seeing a lot of complaining going on. I’m not seeing a lot of effort. If you’re complaining, you’re not putting in the effort. Let’s start with that.

We talk about all this stuff in the whole life architecture work that we do and everything. When I think about Olympic athletes or any professional athlete at that level, you have to put in some long, tough days. You have to have discipline. You don’t have the ability to complain. You wouldn’t be an Olympian if you complained. Talk a little bit about that.

Thanks. You’re 100% right. The reality is you and I see the same thing, too, in society. We all see it. All you have to do is jump on Facebook and watch somebody’s post or Instagram or TikTok. You see that people are complaining about their lives, their situations, and so on. You hit the nail on the head. The reality is training for the Olympics and maybe anything that you want to be good at where you want to be at the top 1% of whatever it is that you’re doing is a full-time commitment. That was my job. That was my career. That’s what I live, eat, and breathe. That’s what I dreamt. That was my architect, 100%.

You’re right. You don’t have time to complain about little things here and there because all those complaints will stack up. When they stack up, you start going backward instead of moving that needle forward in any way, shape, or form. Plus, if you have good coaches, they’re not going to allow you to sit there, whine, and complain about stupid stuff because it doesn’t serve you at all.

If you do something in practice, do something in a competition, or do something in a big race, you can be emotional about it, not like it, and be like, “Maybe I could have done better,” or whatever that is, but to put real energy into complaining about that situation is not going to serve you. It’s not going to get anywhere. You have to take whatever happens, absorb it, and work with your coach like, “How do we take the next step to overcome what happened?”

To put energy into complaining about a situation is not going to serve you and get you anywhere.

We can frame this interview or this conversation that we’re having through the theme of the mind of a champion. Let’s flip it. Nobody wants to be a loser. Everyone wants to be a champion. What does it take to be a champion? We started talking about how there is a lot of grievance and complaining going on out there. We’re not seeing in society on mass, generally speaking, because there are many exceptions I know, champion culture. We’re not seeing a bunch of champions, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t correct course and that we can’t help people tap into the essence of that source, power, or champion within them.

Step one, everyone, is at some point, you have to stop pushing the complaint button and take a step back. There was that documentary that came out about Arnold Schwarzenegger’s life. It’s on Netflix. If anyone hasn’t seen that, it is a very good documentary. There’s this one scene in it. I’m trying to remember. He didn’t get picked for a movie or something like that, or maybe it was that he didn’t make number one in Mr. Universe. There was something that he was going for that he didn’t get.

He was honest and transparent about it. He was at home in his apartment in LA and was crying that night because he was so fixated on attaining that goal. He cried for a little bit and said, “I got up the next morning, looked in the mirror, and said, ‘You’ve had a cry, you little baby. Now, pick it up and get going. Get you’re a** in gear here.’”

We all have to feel. Part of emotional sobriety when we teach that in the whole life architecture work is to embrace our feelings, feel them deeply, and not repress them. Especially if you’re feeling what we call a negative emotion, you don’t want to be wallowing in that. You’re never going to attain the champion level from that place.

You went through a tough period in your life when we first got connected with TMIC and everything like that. You had a choice to make. There are a lot of readers who may be dealing with that. The economy’s tough. Maybe you don’t like the political situation. There’s lots to complain about. At some point, everyone is faced with, “I can either continue to complain or worse,” and you were at the worst part, or, “I can do something about it.” Why don’t you talk a little bit about that story and how you pulled yourself out of that?

That’s the reality of the whole complaining stuff, too. Many people get caught up in it because they hear one person complaining about something that they recognize what they’re talking about. They’re like, “I know.” Right away, they’re an expert so they join the conversation and then it starts spreading like wildfire.

When you and I met, I wasn’t coming off of anything at that point in time. I was deep into it. I retired from competing as an Olympian in 2010. I didn’t have a game plan set up for myself in my post-Olympic career and that led me down a very dark eight-and-a-half-year path. I’m transparent. I talk about this all the time as well.

I went into depression, addiction, alcoholism, suicide, and victim mentality. I was making $15,000 a month and couldn’t pay my bill. I was digging in my couches to get food to not only feed myself but also feed my pets, which I had no business doing either. I couldn’t afford pets because I was blowing money on stupid stuff.

When I retired, I got caught up in that world of complaining and victim mentality. I was like, “Why is it not working for me? Who’s going to help Billy the Olympian? Now that I’ve competed and done all this thing, where’s my reward?” That led me down a bad path. Those practices, behaviors, and thoughts that I had in those eight and a half years are the opposite of what I learned to become an Olympic champion. I retired, had a loss of identity, and tried to reinvent the wheel, if you will. The reality is all I had to do was keep utilizing the same practices I did to achieve Olympic status, but I didn’t.

When you and I met, I was pretty much at my end. I’ve been whining, complaining, and blaming everybody for the lack of success that I had after the Olympics. When you and I met, when you asked me, “I’m going to do this online thing on Zoom. It’s called The Most Important Conversations. It’s like life coaching type of stuff if you’re interested.” Inside, I was like, “Who is this guy? Life coaching? This is so stupid. What is this stuff?” The reality for me is I had nothing else. I had no other outlets, I had no other resources. Everybody had given up on me because my attitude and behavior had gotten so bad.

The first conversation that we had that I recall was when you threw it out there like, “Do you lead a life by default or by design?” I love being able to tell you this now because you know what has happened since then. I was like, “What is this dude talking about? Life by design or by default?” You continued with the conversation.

I remember myself sitting in my living room back up in Ogden with my computer, looking around at my room, and thinking, “Who is this dude?” We got off the phone talking about your technology and that we’re going to try and bring it into the Olympic and Paralympic committee. You’re like, “If you lead life by default, your life is probably not going the way you want. You’re probably not happy. Maybe you’re depressed. You don’t like your job. Your relationships are struggling or what have you. On the other end, if you leave a life by design, everything’s going really well for you.”

If you live life by default, your life is probably not going the way you want.

I was like, “Mine’s the first 1 times 1,000. My life sucks. I’m ready to give up.” I’ve begged God. I’ve begged the universe. I’ve begged friends and family members to help me out and nothing was working. The next thing I recall, you were like, “If you lead life by default, it’s not too late to take accountability for the architecture which you created, declutter all the negative things that are not serving you within that architecture, and rebuild it by design.” Honestly, you may have mentioned it a couple of times to hit the point home of what you were saying. For the first time in nine years at that point in time, I was like, “Oh, my gosh.” It was like the show Dumb and Dumber. I was like, “You’re saying there’s a chance.”

I was so miserable. I was in such a bad space. Not that I like to admit it, but I was blowing $400, $500, $600, or $700 a day at the bar when I was supposed to be running my company, taking care of my kids, and taking care of my family. I was using every excuse in the book of why it wasn’t my fault. For some reason, I’m remembering you talking about, “Go have a conversation with yourself in the mirror.” You didn’t even know how bad my life was at that point.

I shut the computer and tears started coming down my eyes because I saw a light of hope in this architecture conversation when you were talking about design or default. Right away, I was like, “I’m going to take 100% accountability that my life is horrible. It is 100% by default. Now, I have to try and take accountability for how I got here.”

When I closed the computer, I walked into my bathroom and started staring at myself in the mirror until I saw myself for the first time in 46 years at that point in time. It was weird. I’m not going to lie. I was like, “I’ve never been in this situation. What do I do?” I’m seeing myself in the mirror. It’s me but it’s not me. I started having a conversation with myself and said, “Your life is 100% by default. If we want to, we can recreate this by design. No one’s going to come save you. God’s not going to come save you. The universe, your neighbors, or whoever is not going to come save you. The only person’s going to save you is the guy that you’re staring at in the mirror right now.” Tears started rolling down my eyes.

The only person that is going to save you is the guy that you’re staring at in the mirror.

After that first conversation, I was so engaged in what you had to say and what you brought to the table from TMIC. That next day, I started decluttering everything. As an Olympian, I’m about massive powerful actions. I was like, “On a scale of 1 to 10, I’m 100 on the really bad scale. If I’m going to fix any of this, I have to utilize my skillset of what I learned as an Olympian and go full force all the way with powerful actions.”

I spent I don’t know how much money filling my entire house with brand new furniture because I thought that was going to help with my mental health and all these other stupid things. The next day, I posted everything on KSL, which is a local thing here. I was giving stuff away. I had a $15,000 Ralph Lauren bed. I ended up selling it for $500. I didn’t even care. I was like, “Chad said to declutter my architecture. Even though I still don’t know this guy, I got nothing else.”

For so many people, we get into this space where we feel like we have no hope and no opportunity because the architecture in which we created is so dark and dismal. I was like, “I’ve got to do it. I’ve got to go for it.” I sold everything I had and got rid of my apartment, my car, and all my furniture. I got rid of my pets.

At some point in time, I had 100 dress shirts. I’m like, “I don’t wear all of them.” I started getting rid of stuff that I was attached to because I thought that was what was helping me deal with my mental health and the issues I was having. I moved an hour away and started surrounding myself with more influential people which happened to be a bunch of business and life coaches, which I still didn’t even understand at that point in time. Coming from the athletic coaching world, I was like, “Who needs a life coach? Who needs a business coach?”

Incidentally, that’s the same thing that people will say when they go to the gym. They’re like, “I don’t need a trainer. I’m going to go lift the machines.” They have all kinds of injuries or things that don’t work. No effect happens. It’s the same thing. Throw the word coach out, we all need someone who has the ability to objectively look at our lives.

It’s not just anyone. You don’t want to pick someone up on the street and say, “What do you think about me?” It’s someone who’s got some training, some experience, and some ability to understand human nature, human psychology, and that kind of thing. We all need someone who’s got that life experience and wisdom to be able to look at us and give us insight. None of us are outside of that.

Call it life coaching. It has become a thing. I don’t resonate with that either. It’s mentoring or people speaking into each other’s lives. We’re in a situation in society where people are so isolated and so insulated in their own little bubble or their own world. Social media has made it even worse. Who’s speaking into your life? Who is giving you honest feedback and data input?

By the nature of our brains, we are all blind to what we become subconsciously habituated and conditioned to. For those of you who are reading Bill’s story here, reflect on your own. Your life is the culmination and the result of all of the choices that you’ve made largely unconscious and largely from your conditioning.

You have to begin by taking responsibility that if you are blaming your life on other people or circumstances, you’re not there yet. You’re not going to get out of it. The only way out of it is to look in the mirror and say, “I’ve created this life. I can un-create it and recreate something else.” That’s the difference between life by design versus life by default. If you’re complaining about life where we started the conversation, you’re living a life by default. I promise you.

The Most Important Conversations | Bill Schuffenhauer | Mind Of A Champion

The hardest thing for me to do was take 100% accountability, and it is for everyone else. It’s easy for me to be like, “That was Chad’s fault. I was part of it but Chad is the one who’s responsible for this,” or, “Lisa is the one who did that.” You hear it all the time and again. You see it on social media. When I was able to take 100% accountability, that’s when the needle started to move. It took me probably a good year to understand what that meant.

I find myself taking accountability for stuff. I’m like, “I don’t have to take accountability for that.” What I would like for people who are out there to think about are all the things in your life that you might be blaming someone else for. It’s someone else’s fault or whatever. Take those situations and find a way to be accountable for them.

What I try to remind people is not that you’re being at fault or you’re at blame, but I want you to see it through their eyes on why it’s happening. You’re still involved in one way or another. You’re still responsible somehow for that situation whatever reason. When you’re able to take 100% accountability for all the things in your life and understand what that means, you’re attaching yourself to nothing. It’s so relieving.

I recall back then before you and I met, I was begging anybody in the world, universe, God, or whoever it was to give me 1 good day or 1 hour of the year. Since I’ve done all this work and recreated my architecture by design, my days are freaking awesome almost every single day. Don’t get me wrong. I still have to check myself in if I’m complaining about something. There are some times when I’m like, “That was wrong.” I’ve had to walk up to people and apologize to them like, “I’m so sorry. I was complaining about that. It had nothing to do with you. I’m taking responsibility for that. I apologize.”

I’m not saying I’m perfect. None of us are. When you are able to start making that a practice of your life day in and day out, you can move through life so much more seamlessly and attract all the people, places, and things that you want in your life. We make it sound easy, but there’s a lot of work that’s gone into where we’re at and what we’re doing, too.

There are a couple of things I want to pick up on there. First of all, for people reading, no one gets to be a victim or a bystander in life. We have a lot of victims and bystanders in our society with what’s going on. There are people saying, “That’s not my responsibility.” They’re watching stuff go down. It is stuff that they know shouldn’t be going down in their neighborhood, their community, their schools, or whatever, but they’re not stepping up, addressing it, and being part of creating the solution which usually begins with a conversation with somebody.

Maybe you are living life through the lens of a victim and being a victim where life happens to you. You’re not taking responsibility if you’re like, “That’s happening to me.” Things happen, but they’re not happening to you. It’s not personal. Your job is to see, “What can I do to step in to take some accountability and responsibility to shift the trajectory of that thing that’s happening and not sit back, complain, and be a victim about it?” That’s an important thing for people to get. It’s a mind shift and a frame.

The other thing I want to point out with what you were talking about is the effort. People need to re-think and re-relate themselves to effort in life. The way I like to look at it is if you think about your own life, the only time that something has ever been completely amazing and that you felt alive is when you’ve put effort into accomplishing something and you’ve accomplished it.

In fact, in most of those circumstances, it’s not even the end product or the accomplishment. It’s only at that moment that you look back at all of the work that you put in. When you won the Olympic medal, that moment was great. Sometimes, I almost find those moments are anticlimactic once you reach them because you’re looking back and you’re like, “It was the journey of all the work, the effort, and the grinding it out where I was most alive.” Incidentally, that probably, I’m guessing, may have been one of the things that contributed to the tip over the edge that you went through. You won the medal and got the notoriety and all this stuff. I’m guessing the high was so high. It was like, “Now what?” You get into this identity thing. Is that what happened?

You’re 100% right. Several years ago, I created one of my many quotes. It was, “Plan your race and race your plan, but be prepared for the unknowns.” I had planned my race and raced my plan to perfection up until I retired. That was unknown. I didn’t plan for that. I was way high up on top of the mountain. I did three Olympics. I am an Olympic silver medalist. I had fulfilled my story that we had talked about years ago to change my stars and be this kid who came from nothing, from the streets, homelessness, and foster care to compete in my own hometown and win an Olympic medal not even a block away from where I used to eat out of garbage cans.

Everything went perfectly to plan until I retired. It was like dropping myself off a 30,000-foot cliff. I was like, “Now what do I do? I don’t have the tools and resources. I feel lost. I need to recreate myself. I need to redo this.” It was such a dark, horrible space. Now that I’ve done the work several times over, that’s what I appreciate exactly what you said. It’s the journey. It has been great to walk downstairs, grab my Olympic medal, and show and share it with people, but there are so many more stories and experiences over the years that were greater than the actual medal itself. It’s unbelievable.

It’s the same thing with my life or my journey since you and I met to where I’m at. It’s great that TMIC’s going well. It’s great that the technology companies and everything else are going well, but the journey in between all of that is the real story. That’s what makes me excited to share what we do with everyone else because it is what it is. We see so many people, more stuff that I learned from you, that are full of near wins all day every day. Everybody wants something and they want to put no effort into it.

I saw a post on social media. There’s this big, long line of cartoon people. There’s a sign above and it says, “Trade your old golf club in for a new one.” The other line which doesn’t even exist but a guy is sitting there, saying, “Come take golf lessons.” Nobody’s in the line to get lessons. Everyone’s saying it’s the club. It’s not them. They don’t want to take accountability for their lack of ability.

It’s the club. It’s the circumstances around them. No one wants to look in the mirror and be like, “I’m going to take accountability for my own life because it sucks or whatever it is and figure out how I can move the needle forward without trying to replace my job with a completely different job.” Go get training. Go get a coach. Go get a mentor.

There’s a saying that we talk about that has been around forever. I’m sure there are lots of them. Give a guy a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a guy a fish and he’ll eat forever. The reality is that’s what we’re talking about. If you want to change who you are and you want to change your environment and your architecture, go learn how to do it.

I love aphorisms and all of these types of sayings because they’re so true and to the point. There’s this other one. Wherever you go, there you are. No one escapes their life. It’s their life. You’re in it so you’re bringing your life wherever you go. Yet, we continue to look outside of ourselves to blame for the way our life looks. We’re the common denominator.

Other people have the same circumstances that we may have. They’re taking it on, transforming their life, and not being a victim. They’re going to get a different result. The mind of framing which is our little talk here around the mind of a champion is taking responsibility. It’s knowing that you have the creative power to design and create the life that you want.

I’ve read about this woman in New York City. She was a Black woman and a single mom working a crap job. She has two kids. She always wanted to get a Law degree. Somehow within her, the tenacity of her life, decided that she was going to get it come hell or high water. She would go to work at her job, come home, and feed the kids dinner. The neighbor would watch the kids and put them to bed while she went to night school and got her Law degree. She became a lawyer. She quit at the grocery store or wherever it was that she was working and started working for a law firm. It completely transformed the life of herself and her family.

Was it easy? Heck no. Can you imagine working at a grocery store all day and going home to feed the kids? Thankfully, a friend next door was willing to sit in the apartment and be there. You’re at night school all night. You come home and maybe grind out six hours of sleep, and then you are back at the grocery store. It took four years at least. What is a degree?

It’s not easy if you want to do it, but you can either complain and nothing will change and it will get worse or you can look yourself in the mirror as you said you did and decide that you are going to be the architect of your life. That’s going to mean, as it always will, letting go of some things. You were talking about the physical things. You decided to take massive action and start selling expensive furniture that you had bought where you had tried to fill that hole.

Sometimes, it also means leaving relationships, geographically moving, and doing things that are new or maybe uncomfortable. It’s only by doing those things that you’re going to be able to get to a place where you get a level of emptiness in your life that you can build inside of and build on top of. You got to declutter your life and get rid of the noise and the stuff that was there.

By default, you let it into your space. At the time, you were taking no responsibility for what you led into your mind, your mental diet, and your energy space. It’s physically who was around you, where you were, and who you were hanging out with. Another aphorism is you become the five people that you spend the most time with. We hear these things in the culture. We love to like them as memes on social media. We all agree with it. I’ve always been someone who’s like, “I’m going to test that thing. Is that true? Why do we say it? If we’re not going to live by it or test it, then we shouldn’t say it.”

Here’s what I know. Meme culture has been a huge thing. Maybe it’s changing, but on social media, everyone’s always like, “Here’s a good one.” They’re sharing memes. My question is, “Are you just sharing memes or are you living by those things? Are you incorporating them into your life?” Most people can’t say they live by that stuff.

I would agree 100%. I’m in this moment because I am getting further away from even wanting to be on social media. I understand it helps with business and so on. I know a lot of people I know here locally and realistically around the world who are posting these memes. They will take a Michael Jordan and post a thing on there with Michael Jordan.

I’m like, “You don’t even know anything about that. I know you. I know what you do day in and day out. You don’t practice that.” I’m holding back because I don’t want to be that person that starts calling people out. I’m like, “Maybe it’s a beginning for them.” There are so many people. It goes back to the near-wins. They’re like, “If I post something inspirational on social media, I’m good.” You’re not because you’re not practicing it. You’re talking about it.

Back when I was growing up, we always talked about it. There are people that talk the talk and there are people that walk the walk, so which one are you? When you do an AAR of your life of where you’re at, an After Action Review of your life, who are you? Are you truly showing up? Are you implementing these practices? Are you going to a Tony Robbins event and engaging with that information? Are you going to a Jack Canfield event or a TMIC event? Whatever it is that you’re doing, are you taking that stuff, putting it within your architecture, and rebuilding yourself by design?

Are you the guy or the girl that’s talking about, “Michael Jordan said that you’d miss 100% of the shots you never take?” That’s true, but are you doing that in life? Are you willing to do it? We’re falling into that realm of talking about failure and stuff, which is part of your architecture of success. It’s how you get better. You’ll see people that post these memes one week, and then the next week, they’re complaining about the same thing that they posted from last week. It is like, “What are you doing here?”

From my world of sports, if you want to be a great Olympian, this has to be your architecture and practice day in and day out. One of the other things when we talk about architecture that you taught me as well is you can’t build an architecture of new within the walls of the old one that never worked. I see so many people doing that and it drives me insane. I want to shake them and be like, “Look what you’re doing. The solution is so simple. It’s right in front of you. Stop doing that.”

It reminds me of a friend growing up. We were 14, 15, or something. They had this old rickety rotting fence around the house. His father was like, “Can you guys go out and paint the fence?” I went out there with him. We had a bucket of white paint. He wanted it painted white. I’m looking at this fence. I grabbed one of the parts of the fence and started moving it. The wood crumbled and I was holding onto latex paint. I said, “Your freaking fence is rotten. By painting this, you’re painting on top of the paint with a bunch of sawdust inside. It’s barely a fence.” He’s like, “I’m not going to argue with my dad. Let’s just paint the fence.”

We painted a rotting fence with a fresh coat of paint. The paint was the only thing holding it up. It’s a metaphor sometimes for people’s lives. We may have lives that are rotten inside. Instead, we keep dressing it up with the paint and all of the extra stuff. It’s not driving nice cars or wearing nice clothes. None of that is wrong, but if you’re rotten inside, that’s not going to get you anywhere. It’s going to sink you deeper.

You can have all that stuff, but come by it honestly. Take responsibility and accountability for your life. Design your life. Attain success in a way that aligns with who you authentically are. I’m a big believer in driving nice cars and things like that. You should enjoy life, but do it from a place of total authenticity and alignment with who you are.

Build yourself into a champion. Become powerful. There’s no power in being a victim. There’s no power in complaining. That’s the thing I find so disappointing when I look at our culture and what’s going on. Whether it’s political, in business, or whatever, there’s a whole lot of powerless people posing as powerful people. They’re not powerful because they’re whining and complaining about everything.

It goes back to that one of those sayings. It’s a combination of what you’re saying. It’s like slapping lipstick on a pig.

We did that on a fence and it didn’t work very well.

It’s interesting, too. Back in the day, post my retirement, I’d see all these people being successful and all these people acquiring things like nice cars and all that stuff. I was, too, but not in the right way. I drove a $150,000 Mercedes. Realistically, I couldn’t afford it. I’m going to say this, and if people want to come after me, it’s fine. I was the ghetto kid with the fake chains pretending to be this big baller and showing up. In reality, inside, I was the fence.

I would sit there and complain to the universe, God, or whoever, “Why is this not happening for me? I competed in three Olympics. I won an Olympic medal for our country. I should be handed everything I want on a silver platter now.” We saw how well that served me for eight and a half years. I nearly lost my life. I’ve done the work and will continue to do the work until I am six feet under. I will still continue to do what I do and practice it day in and day out. All the things that I want in life are showing up on my doorstep.

A few years ago, I had this conversation with myself. I was like, “What’s the difference?” The difference is I’ve been doing the work. I don’t complain about my life. I take accountability for it. I have goals. I surround myself with positive, influential people. I don’t hold onto the ones that I thought were my friends. You can’t have those two worlds and expect them to find success.

The question was, “Why didn’t I have it back then?” It was because I wasn’t doing the work and I wasn’t prepared internally to receive the gifts from the universal that were right there for me. Once I started doing that, everything started falling into place. That’s one of the hardest things for me because I want everyone around me to start having the same amount of success in life as I am, but it’s their journey. They have to be willing to step into that space, take the accountability, and all that stuff. All we can do is lead by example and, hopefully, by energy, bring these people into our space and support them.

The Most Important Conversations | Bill Schuffenhauer | Mind Of A Champion

We haven’t even talked about this, or we have a little bit, the whole TMIC principle, The Most Important Conversations. What is the most important conversation that you are choosing not to have with yourself and that is holding you back from taking that next step in success? Whatever it is, what is that conversation that you’re choosing to try and stuff away in the closet and not address in life?

I hear it from my wife all the time. When you and I met, I couldn’t sustain a relationship. Now, I’ve got one of the most amazing partners on the planet. When she gets to hear a lot of our calls and stuff, she’s like, “It is amazing to listen to you guys talk on a phone call. If you guys could somehow get the principles of TMIC to every person on the planet, this would look different.” I said, “The reality is we only need to get 1% now and then and continue to build on that 1% and we’ll start making a change.”

The reason it works is because it’s not topic-related. There is nothing wrong with going to a conference or a workshop or taking a course or something about a topic that you’re interested in. If you want to learn how to do something better around a specific topic, then maybe you need to take that course, whether it’s building something, designing something, or learning about business. Maybe you’re creating a business. There are things you need to learn about business to do it well like finance, accounting, and marketing.

I’m not saying there isn’t anything to learn. That’s not our interest. What we are doing with TMIC is we are interested in the source of who you are, where you’re coming from, and what you’re bringing to anything that you choose to do. It’s about tapping into your own internal power and realizing that not only are you powerful but that all of us are individually so powerful that we are the creators of the life that we’re living. We are either creating by design or by default.

We don’t realize it when it’s by default. It’s usually we’re assuming that we’re caught up in the moment of life when things happen to us. It’s like we’re in a river and we’re being carried downstream, but we forgot we can swim. We can swim to the shore. We can choose if we want to stay in that river or if we want to go to a different one.

Take any courses that you want. What our work will be about is about you first having the most important conversation with yourself. There’s going to have to be conversations with other people because it’s through conversation that human beings co-create reality. Our socially constructed reality is the result of communication with one another.

If you’re in a relationship you don’t love, how did you get there? You said yes. You had a conversation and said, “I’m going to be in this relationship,” whether you’re married or not. You might have thought, “I fell cajoled into it. I didn’t want it but she made me feel.” Already, people are making you feel something so you’re not taking responsibility.

You said you’re not taking responsibility for saying yes, so you’re in a relationship that dogs you and you don’t want to be in. It’s a victim mentality. The only way out of it is to stop it. I’m using that as an example. It could be a job, friendship, or your health. It could be, “I can’t help it. I can’t stop eating that stuff.” You’re a victim. The ice cream is marching out of the freezer to your couch and is jamming itself down your throat. You have no say in it.

If people start to think about the fact that they are powerful, you’re denying yourself your authentic power. When you say, “Someone made me,” “I can’t,” or, “It’s because of this, that, and the other thing,” all you’re saying is you are not powerful. That’s what I hear. If there’s one subject matter we’re teaching, it’s you. You’re learning about you. You’re digging into who you are, what the essence of your power is, and what you can do as a creative individual to create a life by design that you love as opposed to tolerating a life by default.

That’s hitting the nail on the head right there. What you said is we’re teaching people about them. If we reflect on when you and I met, my excuse was I had lost my identity. I didn’t know who I was. I was so lost. For the readers, you’re more than welcome to reach out to me sometime and I’ll tell you more details. When I say lost, my life was an absolute disaster. I was an alcohol addict and victim. I was in trouble with the law. It was everything you could think of under the sun. My health was bad. My doctor was telling me if I didn’t make some changes, it was going to get worse.

I checked every box on the list of things going wrong in my life. TMIC helped me learn who I was and the power that I truly still had inside me to create the life I wanted by design. I did that and continue to do that. I stopped making excuses and stopped blaming everyone else. I am taking that accountability. What got me into that dark space was whining, complaining, and taking zero accountability. I was like, “It’s not my fault.”

I joke with my wife. She’s funny. She and I are so similar. I love her to death. I’m so grateful to her. Anytime something goes wrong in the house or something’s left out, I’ll be like, “You left that out.” She’s like, “You left it out.” I’m like, “You don’t want me to take accountability for that, do you?” It’s joking around, but that’s reality. It’s even some of the small things. It’s even taking some accountability for somebody doing small things in your life. We have to start somewhere.

We should turn it into a game. For couples, see how many things you can take accountability for in the day. Even if clearly, it’s their thing, own it and see how that shifts the energy. Play a game like that. It could be a fun game to play.

It’s the accountability game.

It’s a fun game. Is there anything else you want to cover around the mind of a champion? We’ve covered a lot here. Your story is phenomenal in terms of an example of someone who reached a mountain peak, fell down the valley, and is climbing back up the mountain peak. In a way, maybe you weren’t taught the same way that we teach it in TMIC. We didn’t invent the principles. These are principles in how human beings live a life of power.

When you’re an Olympic athlete or any kind of athlete, the coaches that work with you, that’s what they’re there to do. They’re there to be on the sidelines, observing you and helping you course-correct and direct because we all have blind spots. There are things that are invisible to us in our lives that we can’t see. The coaches that you worked with were able to develop you as a person as well as develop you as an athlete. There’s a very strong connection between the physical development of the body, the relationship to the mind, and the discipline that’s required to make those things sync up and work together. You already dabbled in that.

I’m sure maybe a lot of readers have had their own micro experiences. Maybe there are some athletes reading. We’re not superhuman. We can lose connection to ourselves. We can feel disconnected from ourselves. Life happens. Sometimes, we find ourselves caught in the moment of the river, so to speak. At some point, you either are going to go over the edge of the waterfall and die or you’re going to pick up by your bootstrap, swim to shore, and rebuild your life.

That’s what we’re interested in. It is helping people rebuild their lives. It’s a life by design that they love and take full responsibility and accountability for. It’s ultimately about you becoming a powerful person. This is the last question I have for you. When you were going through all of that and letting go of stuff, I don’t know, but I’m assuming there were maybe people in your life you had to let go of. What happened there to create that canvas where you could start fresh again?

I’m glad you brought that up because I wanted to leave everyone with this last thought. Going back to that time when you and I met, I was introduced to TMIC, life by design or by default, and taking accountability for it. It gave me this thought back then, and I still live by it, that I’ve done a lot of cool stuff as an athlete and a human being before TMIC. I competed in three Olympics. I am an Olympic silver medalist. I competed in national championships, world championships, world records, national records, and all sorts of stuff.

As I reflect on that old architecture, there’s a lot of great stuff with it, but there’s also a lot of bad stuff with it, like partying, drinking, and all that stuff. I’m not telling people what they need to do. I want to be an example for you on what could be for you. A couple of weeks after our first initial call back then, I had this conversation with myself again. I want to encourage people out there. You have to have these conversations with yourself. That’s what’s going to help you make it a reality. I was like, “I’ve done a lot of amazing stuff.” As someone who wasn’t truly in alignment with life, I still was doing some things that didn’t serve me.

In this next chapter of my life, as I continued to start to get in alignment and declutter the negative things, I said, “What could I create in my life if I had no more excuses? What would it look like?” No excuses. I wake up every day and live life 100% by design. There’s a point to everything I do when I wake up. I don’t have the excuses of, and I’m going to say it because that’s where I was, “I got a hangover. I can’t show up for work. I’m sick,” or whatever the stuff we tell ourselves.

I said, “What would my life look like if I had no excuses?” For those reading, it doesn’t mean I don’t have excuses sometimes, but they’re far less than they used to be. You said I already have a lot of the tools from going from homelessness to the Olympics, so what if I took all these tools that I’ve acquired over time and these TMIC principles to heart? With zero excuses, what could I create?

I’m living that life. It’s been phenomenal on where I am and what I do. I’m dictating when I want to retire from the “grind”. You and I have talked heavily about how when I’m done with some of the grind and the stuff I’m doing, it’s full-blown TMIC. You and I will probably be next-door neighbors or whatever. I realized that I had a choice and I’ve got this magical life that could either be magical or I could keep being the guy that’s complaining and whining about everything in life, “Things aren’t going this way. It’s my boss’s fault,” or whatever those excuses are. I was like, “I don’t want that anymore. I want to take 100% accountability for my own life and see what I could create with the tools, resources, and people around me,” and I did.

When I had to start decluttering, it was people, places, and things. Let me emphasize the people thing. People also included family members of mine and people that I thought were my best friends that I had to declutter because, in reality, they were my drinking and partying buddies who didn’t serve me. I had to address the hardest things that were hard for me to let go. As I look back, it was the very best thing for me to do. I’m living a life by design as much as in alignment.

I want people to remember. Back then, I thought all the stuff that we are doing now was woo-woo. For those that are reading, as a team, we’re studying and doing meditation in the morning. I never would’ve thought of myself doing that stuff. When I gamify it, because that’s what makes sense for me as a former athlete, I’m like, “That’s another tool for my toolbox for me to be better, in alignment, and lead life by design.”

Don’t get me wrong, I still have thoughts that show up, but I recognize them and don’t let them control my life any longer because I’m in control. I’m like, “I know if I start to drink or whatever, it’s going to take me down a path that I don’t want to go. I’ve already been there. I don’t want to go back there again. Why continue to abuse myself again when I’m the one doing it?” It wasn’t easy and it hasn’t been easy, but the reward is going to be so much greater than what life was in the old architecture.

I have one final comment. I want to address this so people don’t get the wrong idea. You’re right. You’re accurate when you say it. When we talk about decluttering our lives, sometimes, there are people in our lives who are not aligned with who we authentically are and who we want to be in the world. That doesn’t always mean that you have to completely ostracize and extricate them from your life. You have to decide that.

Sometimes, what I’ve seen happen is someone will say, “I have this friend who maybe has been my friend for 15 years, 20 years, or whatever that’s my drinking buddy. They’re not aligned with who I am designing myself to be. I don’t want to be that person anymore because that person has created the life that I’m trying to get out of. I don’t want to hang out with this person anymore.”

You don’t want to cut someone out necessarily. Sometimes, you have to, but if you don’t have to, it can create an opportunity for you to share and say, “This isn’t what I’m committed to anymore. I’m cleaning up things. I want to create a life that looks like this.” You don’t often have to tell these people, “Don’t call me anymore.” They often will stop calling you because if they’re not aligning with who you are becoming, they’re going to find you boring, uninteresting, and all of this kind of stuff.

When we talk about decluttering, I don’t want people to get in their heads, “Now I have to get rid of everyone in my life and call them and tell them never to call me again.” That’s not what we’re talking about. Although sometimes, if it’s abusive and destructive, that’s necessary. As you change and design yourself into who you want to be, you have to be willing to accept that one of the consequences may be that people will leave your life because they’re confronted by you, don’t align with you, and want to keep doing what you did with them in the past. You’re not doing that anymore so they find you boring.

Whatever the reason is, they will declutter themselves. If they won’t, it’s destructive. Sometimes, you have to say, “This isn’t a good fit. I don’t think we should remain friends.” If it’s a family member, that can become a little bit sticky, but you still sometimes have to do what you have to do if you’re committed to creating your own life by design.

Here’s the thing I’ll say. When you speak the truth about who you’re creating yourself to be and designing yourself to be to someone, they may not like it at the moment but don’t rob them of the opportunity to reflect on what you’ve said 1 year, 5 years, or 10 years down the road. It has happened to me so many times. There are people that it didn’t work out or maybe they stopped calling me because I’ve changed too much or whatever, and then I get a call from them often years later, apologizing. They’re like, “I see what you’re saying. Do you have any suggestions?” Sometimes, they don’t call or maybe they haven’t yet. I’m still going to get calls in the future.

Don’t rob them of the opportunity to see you show up in your power. That will help change their thinking and their perspective. It may not be immediately. We’re all interconnected, so even when you don’t think you’re having an effect on someone, you are. That goes vice versa, which is why we have to clean our space up.

If you’re hanging on to that person who’s your party friend or whatever and you choose that’s not the life you want to live anymore and everything’s your choice, yet you still hang out with that person, you’re still allowing that person’s influence into your life, whether you think you are or not. It goes both ways. I wanted to be clear about that because it can sound a little cold sometimes to say, “I have to declutter people.” We care about people, but we don’t want people in our space who are not aligned with who we’re creating ourselves to be because it’s going to make it that much harder to accomplish.

Also, we’re robbing them of the opportunity to learn from our experience and perhaps even start to nudge at the edges of, “Maybe I want to design my own life. Maybe I can do this.” You lead by example. One of the principles of power is, “Don’t tell people what you’re doing. Show them.” It’s way more effective to show them. Let them see you. If they don’t like it, they’re not going to call anymore. That’s probably what’s going to happen.

I 100% agree. For the readers, too, what I’d like them to understand is I was as far into a deep, dark hole as you could get. There were some people that I had to cut off, and there were some people that I eventually transitioned away from. They will exit themselves out. I still see some of these people now and then. I’ll go up, give them a hug, say hi, and ask them how they’re doing. Most of them are still doing exactly what they were doing years ago. That’s their story and their journey. I wish them the best.

For me, because my personality is a massive, powerful action, I didn’t want to extend my runway of figuring out all this stuff when I knew I could figure it out much sooner than later. Don’t forget, too, that this is your story and your journey. It’s not going to be like mine. You have to look in the mirror and ask yourself, “What needs to be done?”

You have to look in the mirror and ask yourself, “What needs to be done?”

Thank you so much for sharing your journey, the ups and downs that you’ve gone through so that we can learn from that, and what it takes to have the mind of a champion. One of the things it does take is the ability to rebound when you’ve fallen. None of us are immune from having those periods in life where we fall. It’s not about whether you fall that defines whether you’re a champion or whether you get back up.

This is a way for people who are feeling down and out. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Start to take some responsibility and accountability. It’s not a blame thing or a shame thing. It’s that you are powerful but you’re not tapped into it. You’re not connected to it. That’s what we’re here to help do with the show.

For any of you who want more information, go to TMICGlobal.com or TheMostImportantConversations.com. Check out some of the stuff that we’re doing there. In particular, this program is called Whole Life Architecture which we’re talking about. It is a program designed to help you connect to the authentic person that you are and your power and build a life by design and not by default. Thanks so much again for joining us. To everyone reading, we’ll see you next time on another episode.

 

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