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The 7 Pillars of a Spectacular Life – Dr. Tim Reynolds

 

Shana:

Hello, and welcome to this episode of Man Alive. I’m excited to be here today with Dr. Tim Reynolds. Thank you so much for joining us.

 

Dr. Tim:

Thank you for having me. I’m excited.

 

Shana:

Yeah, I’m excited to talk about the contrast of “the zombie life” and what it takes to move into something spectacular, and your book, Living Every Minute. What really impresses me is that you’re a doctor, you’re a professor, you’re a pilot, you’re a world traveler, you have a ranch; you have so many things that it’s almost hard for me to believe that you had a zombie story, but I imagine you did. I would love to start off by hearing about that because so many people, and men, have times in our lives where it feels more like we’re slogging through. Even I, and I was talking about this with someone today, recognize that pleasure is not one of the top things in my life at the moment with COVID, and homeschooling my kid, and all of that. What was it like for you in that phase?

 

Dr. Tim:

So, it’s interesting. This is how the whole process started. I’m an emergency medicine doc and I was working in the ER one day, where there doesn’t tend to be too much drudgery; you never know what’s going to walk in the door. It can be kind of exciting at times, but even in that exciting life, there are days where it just feels like you’re going through the same shift; another shift in the ER. I had a guy come in; the ambulance called it in and said that this man had poured a gallon of gasoline on himself, in his car, and lit himself on fire. So, I said, “All right. Let’s get everything ready; get all the stuff, get the airway equipment, the IVs, get everything ready. They’re bringing him in right now.” They said he had 90% burns over his body. I needed to see what that looked like to see if this was a survivable injury or not. He got to the emergency department; a 52, 53-year-old gentleman, and he’s awake talking, and he’s really not in much pain. His skin is kind of looking like a gray leather, a white, gray leather. Now, if you have full thickness burns, it burns all the way through the nerve endings, and it’s amazing how they have very little pain. The pain comes from the top layers where the nerves are. We’re used to a burn where you go, “Ow!” That’s the layer, but if you burn all the way through that, it burns right through that and the pain goes away. So, he did, in fact, have about ninety percent burns, and it was all full thickness, which means this is not a survivable injury. I basically got the opportunity for the next ten, twenty minutes to talk to a dead man who didn’t know he was dead. He didn’t know. He was still awake and talking. He wasn’t in much pain, so he didn’t really understand the repercussions. I was very curious though, and said, “What happened? How did you get from there to here?” Withholding judgment for a minute, we ask ourselves how a normal person gets to the point where they will sit in their car, pour gasoline on themselves, and light a match.

 

Shana:

Something has to be so painful.

 

Dr. Tim:

I don’t even have the courage to do that. I wouldn’t be able to strike the match. I asked him and he gave an amazing answer. He said, “It’s not one thing. Basically, I live an average life. People would think I live an average life; I go to work every day, I come home every day, I have several kids, we take care of the kids, I have a wife, we have a relationship. I wouldn’t call it great, but it’s not bad. And literally, it just feels like I’m a zombie every day. I just get up, I do the same thing; I go to work, I clock in at work, I go home, I drink three beers, I watch TV, I fall asleep. What’s worth living? What’s worth living for?” He had no history of depression, he was on no medicines, he hadn’t had any medical problems in the past, so it wasn’t like he had a psych history, or depression history, or any of those things. He was just a normal guy.

 

Shana:

Wow. There are so many things going through my head right now because some people’s reaction to life not being worth living would be, “How do I change this,” or, “How do I fix this?” For him, it was just like, “I’m out of here.”

 

Dr. Tim:

Yes, so it’s very interesting. I just did the audio version of my book, and one of the things that we did is, after each pillar, we kind of did a riff with one of my buddies. We were talking about the story, and he said, “So, he took massive action; courageous, massive action, in a negative way. What if he had chosen to take that same courageous, massive action and called you instead; or anybody, or done something? He would have taken a completely different path with the same process.”

 

Shana:

Right, there was some way that he either didn’t believe in that, or know it was possible. I think that often happens with men; there’s so much isolation, and when that feeling of dying inside happens, what I see is, if there isn’t a support system or a sense that it could be some other way, then what other options do they see, but out?

 

Dr. Tim:

“Who am I going to tell? I’m a man. I’m not going to tell anybody. I got to keep that to myself. That’s a sign of weakness. I don’t want to be weak.” It profoundly changed me because I started thinking, and I thought, “Am I living a zombie life? Is that what’s happening?” It wasn’t to the extreme that he had talked about, but it suddenly became the biggest fear in my life. I don’t want to end up where every day is Tuesday; you get up the same way, you drive to work the exact same way, you clock in, you clock your brain in, you clock out, you go home, you drink the beers, you go to sleep, you get in bed sometime that night, and then the weekend, thank goodness, you get to take a break from that, which is terrible. Sometimes the monotony of that is worse than the worst thing that could happen to you.

 

Shana:

Wow. Yes. So, you became aware of that potential for the zombie life, or even the partially zombie life. it’s kind of like the difference I see between men who don’t necessarily think about committing suicide, but they feel like some part of them is dying inside. What happened, or what did you see, that you needed to shift?

 

Dr. Tim:

I think you hit it spot on. The large majority of men are never going to get to that point, but that story resonates with every man. Every man sees a part of that and goes, “Oh, I get it,” and so my mission became to create a spectacular life for myself, and by so doing, maybe I could then teach other people how to do the same thing. What does spectacular mean? I didn’t use the word spectacular back then. That has since happened because I had to put a name to what this looks like. What are all the components of that? What does that mean, and how do you do that in all areas of your life? What about balance and all the questions that come up? I started really digging into it and thinking about it, not just for myself, but for all the people I was teaching, interacting with, and my patients. I have five kids, so yeah, I was thinking about all of those things.

 

Shana:

I was thinking when you said that most men wouldn’t necessarily commit suicide or go that far, it’s kind of like that sense of, “I wouldn’t throw my kid out the window, but there have been moments where I really wanted to.” It’s the drudgery, and the monotony, and how incessant parenting can be, and work can be, and all of those things if we don’t have something that gives us deeper meaning, or a way to feel connected and alive.

 

Dr. Tim:

I think it goes to this idea of, and I know you talk about this a lot, creating you purpose, and values, and all that stuff, and that takes a while. That’s not, “Go sit in a cave and figure that out.” It’s easy to go sit in a cave. What’s hard is to live with your spouse. Anybody can go sit in a cave, that’s easy. Figure that out, but more importantly, are there some sort of life hacks, and tricks along the way, that you don’t necessarily have to have figured out to still create spectacular in your intimate relationship with your spouse, immediately, while you’re trying to figure out your life purpose? That’s really what the book is. It’s really, sort of, chapters about what we have actually learned to do with five kids and how to raise them; and we’re a blended family. How did we get past that obstacle, and what did we do?

 

Shana:

As a divorced parent, that soothes my heart.

 

Dr. Tim:

How do you make spectacular love and sex with the same person for 25 years? What does that look like?

 

Shana:

Give us your secrets because I love that you’re saying it’s a process to figure out your purpose and what you’re here on this planet to do. There are things that you can do in this moment. How do you have spectacular sex with the same woman for 25 years?

 

Dr. Tim:

I’ll address the first part, and then that part. Here’s the first part – I’ll let you know the purpose of my life as soon as I figure it out, and I’m fifty-eight. It’s always evolving. It’s not like you decide at age twenty-two, “Okay, that’s it.” I don’t think that really happens to any person. You decide at age twenty-two, and then at age twenty-five, you change your mind, and then again at age thirty. Take even the most driven people; someone like Steve Jobs. People say, “Oh, he learned and loved what he did.” No. When he was young, he programmed computers. He ended up leading a company that was known for music. Apple was not the same Apple he started. His mission was not the same, it wasn’t even close.

 

Shana:

If you are staying with the same mission that you have when you were twenty, you’re probably not growing, and evolving, and feeling alive. There are probably some rare people who are just born that way, like Greta Thunberg; someone who’s there when they’re thirteen, and they’re going to be there forever.

 

Dr. Tim:

Yeah, I know there are people like that, that just stay the same, like Jane Goodall, but that is rare. I think most of us are just trying to figure that out while we’re trying to create spectacular at the same time. Let me give you a couple of hints. Marriage – we invented, or I invented, what I call the thirty second make-out session. Imagine this – you’re a guy, your wife’s at her work, and you walk into her work behind her, you grab her, throw up against the wall, and you just make out with her; all tongue in, the whole thing, for thirty seconds. You say, “Hope you have a nice day,” and you walk out, and you leave. It’s thirty seconds of your life. You don’t have thirty seconds?

 

Shana:

There’s no reason why you can’t take a thirty second break. I just imagine, especially for women, and I think for most of us, as we get into longer-term relationships, it’s like sex has to be way more than outside the bedroom, because otherwise we never get to the bedroom. So, the fact that you’re bringing it into the day, really ignites that fire.

 

Dr. Tim:

What I wish most of us would realize is that sex has almost nothing to do with our genitals and everything to do with our heads. My wife and I are having foreplay from the time we wake up, all day long. Sometimes it leads to sex, and sometimes it doesn’t, and that’s not even relevant.

 

Shana:

Part of what I’m writing about is, as you expand the definition of sex, you’re already having sex.

 

Dr. Tim:

You’re having sex, exactly. We’re saying the same thing. I always say, “How does Garth Brooks play the same song for the ten-thousandth time, and not only does he do it great, but it almost is better than he’s ever done it,” and the reason is, because Garth Brooks is a pro. If you’re going to be a pro at something, wouldn’t this be the thing you would want to be a pro at? How can you be a professional, so the ten-thousandth time looks as good as the first time? Part of that is just waking up and going, “You know what? I’m a pro. I’m not just going to let this slip by. I’m a professional.”

 

Shana:

What changes when that mindset changes?

 

Dr. Tim:

I think what changes is, just the way you look at her, the way you view that; there’s layers here. What I thought was sexy twenty years ago is still sexy, but there are some other layers I didn’t even know existed twenty years ago; some beautiful ones, some personality ones, some strength ones, some nasty ones. It’s all of those great things that I wouldn’t even have seen thirty years ago. I just think that’s spectacular. So, another thing I teach men is, that if you run a business, you have to ask how you know what your customer wants. How do you know? How do you know what your customer wants? How do you know what the guys on your podcast want you to do? Well, one of the ways is to ask them. What a crazy thought, right? “What else would you like us to provide? What other service would you like us to do? Who would you like me to interview? Who would you like to hear?” Well, if that’s true, and if your biggest customer of your life is your spouse, why don’t you ask her? Pam and I invented this thing about 10 years ago, where every year in January, she gives me the “best husband list.” These are the ten or so things that would make me the best husband for the year ahead.

 

Shana:

I love it. And you do the same.

 

Dr. Tim:

Then I started doing the same because once I started doing it, then she said, “All right, what would make me the best wife?” Automatically, that’s what happens. She gives me this list, and some of the things on the list I could have predicted, like date night once a week, which I wasn’t doing but could have predicted. Some of the stuff though, I never could have predicted at all. I speak Spanish fluently; I lived in central America for a long time. She doesn’t speak a lick of Spanish. One of the things on her very first list was – Say romantic things to me in Spanish. How the hell would I have predicted that? I could have never saw that, and if I hadn’t asked her, I never would’ve known. Some of the things are romantic, some are playful, some are downright dirty, and some of them are fun. Masculine energy tends to be target focused; If I have a target, I’ll accomplish the target, and now I have a target. So, then the criticism is, “Well, if you’re just doing what’s on the list, it’s not very spontaneous.” That’s what men, and a few women, but mostly men, would say, but here’s the thing – number one, it’s better than not doing it at all – number two, the reality is, about three weeks later, she doesn’t remember the list. By the time I’m doing it three, or four months later, she thinks I thought it.

 

Shana:

It’s a stepping-stone. As you’re building that energy, and doing some of those things, and creating something, then there’s more creativity and inspiration.

 

Dr. Tim:

Because you’re going to add to the list and add ideas. One of the things that we do is, we measure. People say, “How do you measure if you’re a good husband? How do you measure that?” I say, “Here’s an interesting thought.” Some things are easier to say, and some things are easier to text, so, on Sunday, I actually text her and ask her to rate me as a husband for the week on a scale of one to ten.

 

Shana:

Oh, I love it. Part of what I’m noticing in all of this is, you’re both open to feedback; desires. It sounds like you’re not taking things personally. It’s not that you feel as though you are a bad person if she doesn’t like something. You’re not making a ton of meaning out of this.

 

Dr. Tim:

She’s my number one customer. My job as an entrepreneur, if you will, is to make sure that my number one customer is happy. I have a money back guarantee. If she sends me a rating of eight, then the second question is always, “What would have made it a ten,” instead of asking what I did wrong. She will tell me, and by damn, I’m going to make sure I do that next week.

 

Shana:

Amazing. It’s really different to hear a complaint versus what the desire is. I work with couples a lot and every complaint are the opposite side of the coin of a desire. Speak the desire because then people don’t take it as personally.

 

Dr. Tim:

You don’t need to know your life’s purpose to do these things. Just start doing them tomorrow. Those are easy enough. Grab your girl and make out with her for 30 seconds. If it leads to something more, great. If it doesn’t, great; it doesn’t matter, it isn’t relevant.

 

Shana:

It’s like short-term spectacular. The short-term becomes the long-term and that is your whole life anyway. You’re not waiting to try to create something big or something mission driven. You are just living with intention and clarity. There’s a purposefulness in the moment.

 

Dr. Tim:

You have a son, right? Just one?

 

Shana:

Just one.

 

Dr. Tim:

I heard you talk about him. How old is he now?

 

Shana:

He just turned nine.

 

Dr. Tim:

It’s just the two of you?

 

Shana:

Dad is in the picture, local, and they’re also together sometimes.

 

Dr. Tim:

In the picture but not at the house. Okay. One of the things that we did, because we have a mixed family; I brought a few, she brought a few, and we mixed them up together. We’ve forgotten since then who brought what, it’s irrelevant. They don’t remember either. It’s true, we don’t say “step.”

 

Shana:

That’s amazing. How old are they?

 

Dr. Tim:

They’re all adults now; the oldest is thirty-two and the youngest is twenty-three. They’ve never said “step” anything. That wasn’t allowed in our house. We have brothers and sisters; we had mom and dad. There is no stepmom and dad. I’m not going to say it was easy. That was a mountain to climb, but it was worth the climb. All great mountains are worth the climb. We did something that I think would be great for you right now. I wish I could say I was genius enough and that this just came to me as inspiration, but it was almost an accident to be honest with you. We have these things called Reynolds Retreat where every year we go do a thing with the family. We’ve done crazy stuff. We’ve done Kenya, Machu Picchu, and the Grand Canyon, but we’ve also done super inexpensive stuff when we had no money, like just camping in a tent. Then we try and combine some sort of service or learning with that adventure. One year in particular, I think our kids were somewhere between eight and sixteen, we were camping, and we read a book together called The Traveler’s Gift. The Traveler’s Gift comes in an adult version and a child version, and the children read the child’s version, and we read the adult version. Then, we all sat down one night at the kitchen table in the cabin and said, “All right, so let’s talk about what it means to be part of our family? What kind of rules do we have?” It wasn’t, “Can’t do this, can’t do that,” but it was, “Who are we as people?” We came up with things like – our home is a sanctuary from the world, we never criticize each other in front of other people; there was this list this list. They did it, not us. We kept our mouth shut. We had to help them in their language and said, “What else do you mean by that,” and they came up with a list. My oldest daughter, who was about fourteen at the time, wrote it up in a paragraph and Pamela helped her fix it; we blew it up, framed it, and hung it in our kitchen. We called it our family mission statement. For the next 10-plus years, every time we’d have a family night or have dinner at the table, we’d all stand up, we’d put our hands on our heart like the pledge of allegiance, and every child would read one line, and then we’d rotate around the family.

 

Shana:

What fortunate children.

 

Dr. Tim:

Here’s the crazy thing that happened – fast forward to now, when one’s thirty-two, the youngest is twenty-three, and I have five adult children who walk around with a laminated copy of our family mission statement in their pocket.

 

Shana:

Amazing. That’s incredible.

 

Dr. Tim:

I think everybody should do that. It is super easy to do, and easy not to do.

 

Shana:

I think so too. I was having a conversation yesterday where I realized that while most people really get intention and planning around business, most of us have not been raised to do that in our families, in our sex lives, or the personal pieces of our lives. I’m loving that you’ve taken that into your family and impacted them in such a profound way.

 

Dr. Tim:

It has truly been a blessing. They are so close. You’ll have some men out there who can relate to this, and some women probably can relate to this too, but it changes between when they are age nine to when they are age nineteen, and then it will change again when they are twenty-nine. There is this continuum that goes on. Another time, we were rafting the Grand Canyon together, and while we were rafting the Grand Canyon, we were reading the book, Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson. We were reading that book because we were basically realizing that the family we had, which is where all the kids come running out on Christmas morning with all the toys, was disappearing; they were in college, they were doing their own thing, we were lucky to get them home if we could. We rafted during the day and spent six nights asking how we could keep our family just as close as we had always been while we were not all together all of the time. We came up with some crazy ideas and it was their ideas. We have a family group text message where, literally all day long, everybody’s talking to each other all day, even though we’re in three different states. For birthdays, we do Zoom birthday parties. Everybody calls in and we have a big birthday party, whoever it is. We try and use modern technology to create something as if we were still in the same family. I think that’s what creates spectacular. What spectacular means to me is how do you do that. I’ll give you an example -you said in the beginning of the interview that homeschooling is a bit of a pain in the ass, which it is, and how do you turn that into saying, “Homeschooling is going to be spectacular because I’m going to do these intentional things to make it spectacular.” What would that look like?

 

Shana:

One of the ways that I do that is to look at how I could turn this into a gift or an opportunity for growth, for knowledge, for service. As I’m attempting to figure out what homework to give my child because the school is not giving what I think is actually in any way challenging; the social interaction is lacking in all those things, I ask how I can look at that as something that’s growing me, and that’s growing our connection. It’s knowing that there are some gifts there. Even today, as my kid went to his dad’s house, I thought about how quiet it would be in the house five days a week while he was at school, but some of the things that are hard are also powerful and beautiful.

 

Dr. Tim:

What if you changed the definition of homeschool? I’m making this up. What if homeschooling was in Hawaii? It doesn’t have to be a home. Maybe the definition of home needs to change. What if homeschooling was on my ranch in Texas? I’m just making crap up. It doesn’t have to be the definition.

 

Shana:

It doesn’t have to be the definition. As you’re saying that, it’s like, it could be in a different location. If I didn’t call it homeschooling and I was just thinking, wow, “This is Ari and I learning to be more independent and resilient and playful about life.” There are so many things.

 

Dr. Tim:

What if it wasn’t homeschooling? What if it was life education? The great thing is, “You don’t have to go to school so I can really show you what life’s about. Let’s go. Let me take you to this place and show you this thing that I never would have got to do if school was happening, because I wouldn’t have been able to take you. I wouldn’t have been able to do this thing. We wouldn’t have been able to spend this time doing.” You can turn it around, just a little bit. I always tell people that you can have a barbecue on the weekend, but what if you have a barbecue, invite all the neighbors, and have a reverse roast, where instead of saying something negative, everybody says something positive?  You’re creating a magic moment. You are creating a moment where everyone says, “Remember when we did that?”

 

Shana:

It doesn’t matter that you may not know your purpose yet or all of those things that make up the bigger picture; it is actually doing it in the moment.

 

Dr. Tim:

I don’t know what anybody’s purpose is, but I know that it has to rhyme with service if they’re going to be happy. It’s serving somebody to be more than themselves. I think the problem with the cave concept is that it’s all about me. If something is going to really have meaning, it’s going to have to rhyme with service. I’m not so sure that I’ll ever figure my purpose out. Maybe that’s for other people to figure out when I’m gone. Maybe they can see my purpose better than I can. You may think you’re doing a thing and then after you’re gone, people may say, “She did that, but the real thing that she didn’t even know that she was doing was this other thing.”

 

Shana:

Thank you so much for having this expansive perspective and the ability to be creative and intentional and empowered in the moment.

 

Dr. Tim:

I think that’s what creates great life, honestly, it has for us.

 

Shana:

Amazing. What do you want to leave men with, what feels important?

 

Dr. Tim:

What I would sprinkle on top of that is the idea that you need to have some adventure in your life. I don’t want to make a huge distinction between men and women, but I’m going to say this anyway, if you’re a man, particularly, you need to have some adventure in your life. You need to have something that scares the hell out of you every once in a while. It doesn’t have to be jumping out of an airplane; I’ve done that plenty of times. It could be just driving a different way to work today. You don’t have to drive the exact same way every time. It can be greeting your spouse surrounded in saran wrap and nothing else. I would say, sprinkle everything we’ve talked about with some adventure. Your life is a sculpture; every day you add some clay, every day you do some molding, every day you do some scraping. When we leave, we have the sculpture that we left. I think if we just realize that, we’ll start to live our day a little bit differently.

 

Shana:

Thank you. I can feel that my own nervous system is more relaxed and at ease having this conversation. Thank you so much.

 

Dr. Tim:

Absolutely. Thank you.

 

Even men at the top of their game find themselves wanting more from life. Whether it’s more meaning, a bigger impact, unshakable confidence, a hotter sex life, more money, deeper love, solid friendships or a powerful legacy: how can a man actually reach the end of his life and look back without regret?

Man Alive is a series of bold, raw and gritty conversations with experts on success, power, sex, love and legacy. For the past 15 years, host Shana James, a love and leadership coach, has worked with thousands of men and women around the world and collaborated with hundreds of teachers and coaches. Shana doesn’t buy into the need for rules, games or limitations. She works with men individually to find their unique power and keep them from settling for less than amazing.

https://shanajamescoaching.com/

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