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Jeff Patterson, M.A., P.C.C. is a success and leadership coach who works with innovators committed to changing the world. Jeff helps his clients elevate their vision of what’s possible, increase their impact and eliminate limiting patterns that keep people playing small. 

His recent book, The Big Thing Effect: How to Transform Your Life Forever, shows you how to go beyond what you think is possible, and leave your true and lasting legacy.

Jeff is a certified professional coach and holds a Masters of Spiritual Psychology from the University of Santa Monica. Jeff lives in the Aspen Valley of Colorado with his wife, Lindsay, and their daughters Emory and Brooklyn. When he’s not fly-fishing in his backyard, you can find him inspiring audiences around the world.

In this week’s episode, Sonya and Jeff discuss goals, commitment, distractions, the idea of incompletes, and much more.

I call those incompletes, maybe other people do too, and it’s one of the big blockers to a big thing, actually. Some people say, oh, I don’t have a big thing or they’re maybe blocked or shut down about their big thing because they have a lot of incompletes and those incompletes are leaking energy. Every time we say we’re going to do something, we put energy into a container known as that commitment, and when we follow through and complete it, it’s like you check the box, you feel good, you feel that power release. But if we don’t complete what we said we’re going to, there’s a leak. And if we have enough of these leaks, all of a sudden we begin to be depleted energetically and we feel it but we don’t know why. So cleaning up incompletes, even teeny tiny stuff, can make a big difference and help you increase your confidence, actually. It’s a big confidence booster for many people. And I find for a lot of people who think they don’t have a big thing or they’re blocked around their big thing, they have a lot of incompletes.

– Jeff Patterson

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Key Takeaways

  • The importance of goal clarity
  • Believing that you can reach your goal
  • How you know if it’s a big thing
  • Differentiating between a big goal and a big thing
  • Creating commitment internally and externally
  • What is spiritual psychology?
  • How to know when to quit something
  • The danger of small distractions
  • Managing your incompletes
  • Talking to your kids about the big thing




Sonya Looney: Jeff, welcome to the show. 

Jeff Patterson: Hi, Sonya. It’s so nice to be here. 

Sonya: Before we hit record, we kicked this off talking about coaching, and the importance of coaching and how that changes your life. I’ll start off asking you how you found coaching? 

Jeff: Well, mostly through struggle, honestly. I’ve been someone who’s always been chasing a North Star or chasing my dream, or as I call it in my upcoming book, a big thing. And that’s always led me to want to be the best version of myself, and try to move forward powerfully without obstruction. And that did not come natural to me, early in my life. So I was always interested in programs, seeing therapists, or coaches or people that could really help me get out of my own way. And so it was so helpful that I just naturally apply it. I’m somebody who loves applying things that I learn. I do it very quickly. And because I do that, naturally people kind of notice it. They’re like, hey, what are you doing there? That’s interesting, and I naturally would share it. And it was in my career in Hollywood, I was a professional actor for a number of years, and there were people that would just want to know how I stayed inspired, how I managed to create opportunities in my career when I didn’t know anybody. And it was really because of those more psychological success type tools that were not common in those days, people didn’t talk about it, then. So that’s how the journey really began. But it started early with, you know, making mistakes and feeling like I didn’t have a lot of power in my own life. 

Sonya: I think for a lot of people, they think that they don’t need help, or maybe they don’t know how to find the right help that they need. What made you decide that you were able to, number one, find somebody that actually would be able to help you, and number two, be vulnerable enough to take responsibility and say, hey, I actually need help? And most people need help, and nobody does big things in their life on their own.

Jeff: You ask really good questions. That is a very good question and it’s something I struggled with, especially early on in my life. For whatever reason, I grew up thinking that I needed to know how to do something and if I had to ask for help or get help, it meant that I was weak, or that there was something wrong with me, or that it was cheating to get help. Which is silly now as I look back, but it was through my struggling and eventually going into financial debt that really forced me to get help. My life kind of brought me to my knees in some ways, where I couldn’t figure it out and I was just absolutely stuck. And that, thankfully, opened me up because I wasn’t open before. I don’t think I was vulnerable enough. I thought I either had to have all the answers, or I was delusional and thinking that I did. 

Sonya: And how did you find the right person or people to help you? Because I think that’s a huge challenge right now. 

Jeff: Yeah, you know, finding the right coach, I think starts with a clear intention. For me, I remember struggling, and very quickly said, I need help. And in many different forms of that help showed up. It’s like when when you’re ready a teacher appears, and that could look like a coach that could look like a program. For me, I’ve worked with a lot of coaches over the years, and the way they’ve come into my sphere for me has been really organically. It starts with an intention or something I’m thinking about, and then someone shows up, and they’re like, oh, yeah, I do that. Like, really, that’s interesting. I’ve been thinking about hiring a coach, or I’ve been wanting some help. And that’s where the sparks start. And usually, it’s not one, there’s a couple that show up. So anybody out there looking for a coach, I would say set a clear intention, start taking some steps, but be open, there’s probably some help trying to already get in into your life that you haven’t even seen yet. 

Sonya: We’ll get more into your book in a minute. But something that you said multiple times is clarity, and intention. And those two things are things that were brought up in your book to help people find their big thing. And not only to think about what that big thing is, but how do you take action on that big thing, which is something that you said comes naturally to you and that people took notice of.

Jeff: Yeah, well, clarity is something that I think is very important to me. And I’m learning more and more just how important it is. But the clarity of what I want is really important the clarity of my intention, as well as the clarity of the result that I want to create. When when the vision is clear, the resources appear. That’s been my experience. So I could spend more time getting clear, which will require less effort in action down the road. Kind of like sharpening a saw that old fable or story that you could spend one hour sharpening the saw five hours, you know, sawing down the tree, or you could spend two hours sharpening start at one hour cutting down that tree. Clarity just helps so much. And once once it’s clear then the way to get there, the actions necessary, really show themselves quickly, rather than trying to figure out how before you get clear. 

Sonya: his is something that I bump up against a little bit with goal clarity and it has to do with thinking that your goal is unobtainable or that it’s stupid. And I think in your book, the example you gave was, it was like with a fellow actor who wanted to become a lead on a TV show and you can elaborate on that, because I’m sure I’m butchering it a little bit, ut what if that person thought, well, that seems like a goal that I can’t ever obtain, or people are gonna laugh at me if I set that goal or maybe in the past, I’ve tried going after big goals, but I’ve hit a plateau every single time and I can’t ever just make it to that next level. How do people obtain goal clarity, but also have the self efficacy to believe that they can actually do it? 

Jeff: That’s a big question. There are a lot of different spokes to it. I think that is one of the telltale markers that the goal you’re considering is actually a big thing. And for those of you that were just learning about this term, big thing, the big thing, as I hold it as the most important goal in your life, at this time, it’s more than just a goal, it’s a mountaintop begging you to touch it. And it’s big for you, maybe not necessarily to someone else, but for you. And so most of the time that is the barrier for everyone in moving toward their big thing, even clarifying it because there’s some block, either they didn’t achieve one in the past, or they think it’s impossible, or the timing or they feel too young or too old or too something or not enough something. And those are to start with, it’s really nice to simply know that that’s a telltale sign. It’s a telltale sign that you might be dancing with your big thing, rather than a reason to not do it. And there are seven key markers of a big thing. Number one is you want it deeply. Number two, it scares you. Number three, it seems or may seem impossible. Number four, the how may temporarily elude you, you might not see how to do it. Number five, you can’t do it alone, you need help. Number six, you must transform in order to realize it. You cannot realize your big thing while being the person that you’re being today in the same way. And number seven, it’s going to serve people other than just you. So the one you mentioned is the impossible and that’s number three. And so what do you do when that happens? What do you do when you feel your dream is impossible? Well, for most people, that block keeps them from clarifying what it really is. And so what I encourage people to do in an instance like that, is to just clarify your big thing. We’re not asking you to commit. You’re not even going to take one action toward the big thing. Let’s just clarify what it is in its beautiful authentic boldness, as big as it really genuinely is to you, not to someone else. And when you clarify it, now you’ve got something to work with, then anything in the way will come up. And likely, it’s impossible, all my beliefs or thoughts that are not in alignment with my big thing are going to emerge and that is the exciting thing because it’s one of the reasons the big thing is so transformational is that it pulls what’s in the way up out of you, and then you can release it. And you know from your work as a coach, you spend a lot of time helping people to identify and then release those blocks. And sometimes it’s hard to find them. Your big thing will pop those babies right to the surface. 

Sonya: It requires being honest with yourself to be able to pull those out. Coaching is a way to get through that journaling is a good way to get through that. In your book, you have some journaling exercises, I think my question is about being realistic about those goals. I’m sure most people listening have heard of SMART goals and being realistic is one of those things. I don’t want to crush anybody’s dream, but if someone’s 45, and they’re like, I’m gonna go to the Olympics and it’s just not a realistic goal, what advice do you have for people who have a big thing, but maybe it’s just not realistic? 

Jeff: Well, I’ve met very few humans on planet Earth whose big thing was unrealistic. And I’ve coached people to become billion dollar CEOs. The accomplishments of the people that I’ve had the pleasure of working with are mind boggling. So it’s very seldom that I ever really have to deal with that. And if that is occurring, it’s usually because they’re not fully clear yet. Sometimes when somebody says, well, I want to play in the NBA, and they’re 45, and they’re five foot, you might say, well, that’s unrealistic, I would say, well, it’s possible, you’re not completely clear yet. What does that represent to you? What does the NBA represent to you? Is that about really making a difference in the lives of others? Usually, when you peel down the layers of the deeper motivations, the values that are desired underneath that goal, there’s something else they’re really wanting. And that’s the power of great coaches to help you get clear. And that’s part of one of my epiphanies had many years ago when I was an actor in Hollywood. So one of my dreams was to inspire and uplift millions of people. That was my dream as a young boy, and I thought I would do it as an athlete. And then I had a really good singing voice and that led me to want to move to our Broadway. And then I got an opportunity, right out of college, to host some kid shows for Nickelodeon, and that thrust me to Hollywood. And while I was there, I started doing commercials and TV work and hosting pilots and different shows. And I was very excited. But eventually, I got bored with the business of acting. And it did not motivate me the way that every pursuit had previously. It didn’t motivate me the way five years prior, the acting industry didn’t scare the heck out of me, what do I do now? So I didn’t know whether Hollywood was no longer for me. Should I become a coach? People were always drawn to me and never saying, you know, we should pay you for this. This is really good. But I was having conversations. Anyway, the short of this is, I got coaching. And as I shared with them, my desire to uplift millions of people in Hollywood, they pointed something out; my coach pointed something else. She said, wow, you every time you talk about acting in your dream of being an actor, you always end up on a stage telling people that they can go for their dreams, to go for the most important thing in their life. Do you know that? Well, I guess I do. Yeah, I do know that, but I never really had it reflected back to me. She’s like, well, are you becoming an actor so that you can do that? Why don’t you just cut to the chase? It’s like somebody hit me in the face with a two by four. I was like slept for two days, I was just staring into the into space, like, what just happened. And it was true. And all of a sudden, I saw what I really wanted underneath it all and it got really clear. I shifted my focus and all that motivation. All that inspiration was back and I had identified my authentic big thing, my new big thing. And it gave me the motivation to do the stuff that I was not doing previously. 

Sonya: I can relate with that so much because my job is I’m a professional mountain biker. That’s my a big part of my identity and I’ve been doing that since 2006. And I’ve had the luxury of traveling the world and taking on these really hard races. And I realized long ago through asking difficult questions…initially, I wanted to race my bike because I wanted to prove that I was good to myself and to others. But then it became a vehicle of storytelling and helping others find their best. And then I realized I just want to help people find their best. So I’ve had to ask myself the scary question multiple times, and it’s something I asked myself every year is, do I need to race my bike to help people find their best? And am I still worthy, invaluable if I’m not racing my bike anymore? My bike is kind of like your acting. I’m not at a point where I want to leave the bike behind. And I’ve asked the hard questions and continue to ask those questions. But it’s pretty freeing and amazing whenever you sift through that and realize what your. I don’t want to use the word purpose, but like where you’re finding meaning in your life and what things might be helping or hurting you get there. 

Jeff: Yes. Wow. That’s, that’s an amazing journey that you’ve been on. And to see that, so, so quickly is awesome, that you were able to really turn that around. I think most people, this is why I believe this conversation about what’s your big thing is really important. Because just like you on your bike, when you clarify your big thing, it doesn’t mean you have to leave your job, your life, it’ll just give new meaning. It’ll put things in a perspective that wasn’t present before. And that’s the way that the big thing can ignite and elevate your entire life in a way that nothing else can. 

Sonya: Something I noticed when I was going through your book is what happens if you’ve already achieved your big thing, which for you, you achieved a big thing in acting and in Hollywood. For me, I have achieved a lot on my bike. That was the big thing I was going after. And how that can evolve because sometimes chasing achievements makes you feel empty. So making sure that there’s meaning underneath that, and then figuring out well, what is the next big thing? And asking that scary question and then how to proceed from there, that can be really intimidating. 

Jeff: Yeah, that’s a good point, Sonya, because looking toward the most important thing for you, for me, for all of us, it’s a vulnerable thing because facing what we want the most also requires that we consider not realizing the thing we want the most. The gap between the two is what takes most people down. But it’s also the thing that brings people so much energy and aliveness. So it is important to know, and like consciously wrap your arms around that idea that, you know what, it’s a vulnerable, scary thing, to begin to clarify my big thing and what I most want to do right now at this time, and that’s okay. You kind of have to give yourself permission to let it be messy and to not know exactly what it is. And to just start. The truth is it’s in there, everybody has one. I’ve never met a human being that doesn’t have a big thing. Even people that have become world champions, even people that have that are the absolute best in their field, those individuals, every one of us has another big thing based on where we are at this time. So in the dog next door agrees if you can hear me telling you it is big thing is


to chase this bear, there’s a bear here, I know he’s here. So that vulnerability is a real thing. And it’s what a person must be willing to dance with if they’re if they’re going to kind of do their thing. 

Sonya: In your book, you define the difference between a big goal and a big thing. Can you let us in on that?

Jeff: The main distinguishers are the seven key markers. Number one, you really deeply want to, it’s not it would be cool, if you did it, you really deeply want it. And it scares you, it will kick up very often it will kick up unresolved emotional baggage or material from your past. If there are hurts from your past that you have not really let go of, and you’re running some story or limiting thought about who you are or what’s possible in the world that will show up. And that’s the good thing. It’s kind of like a diagnostic tool, kind of like going to the doctor and they look at you with an X ray and they go, oh, did you know that you’ve got a little cyst, we got to take that thing out. Your big thing will draw up those little blocks that you wouldn’t have seen otherwise. So that you can get a scalpel on it, dig it out, and it’s gone. So that’s one, that’s one, you know, real key difference between a goal and a big thing. And most people don’t want I mean, who really wants to feel insecure to doubt themselves. And to have that material come up. Nobody in their right mind would ask for that openly. But when you are committed to growing and being the best version of yourself, you know that’s the gift. So but that’s only one part of the big thing. And that’s, that’s probably one of the most transformational is that you get to you get to let go of the stuff that you’ve been dragging around in the backpack that is weighing you down.

Sonya: So say someone’s figured out what their big thing is, and they’ve started working towards it, but then many of us have been in a situation whether it’s a goal or this this bigger thing, where they say, I just lost motivation, or I started working towards it, but something got in the way, and it’s been 10 years since I’ve picked back up again. I can’t seem to stick to this commitment. How do I make this a true commitment instead of just something that I wish I could do or something that I keep starting and stopping? 

Jeff: Yeah, well, you’re kind of depicting my younger years as a human being that was me to a tee. You know, when things got tough, it was easy to back up and try something else, or do it a different way. And I had very sporadic results where it really mattered most, so I have a lot of experience in this area. First of all, it’s really important to be clear on the big thing, because a lot of times people are doing a reasonable goal, and they’re pursuing something that they think is reasonable, but they’re really not that motivated by it. And they’re forcing their motivation and they wonder why it’s hard to get out of bed and get excited about it. Your big thing is something that will excite you and will pull you out of bed but you have to be willing to get through those initial fears and get that on the table to work with it. But if, let’s just say somebody is clear on the big thing or whatever goal you’re up to and they’re not getting it done, creating commitment has two pieces as I hold it. There’s an outer piece which is doing what you say you’re going to do; the classic commitment that we all know, right? I’m going to do this by this date, and then you do it. Or if you don’t, you know, you acknowledge and clean it up. But there’s the external piece of action. The key piece that I think is really transformational that most people aren’t talking about is inner commitment. It’s the inner commitment that says, not only am I going to do what needs to be done, to do what I said I would do, I’m willing to be who I need to be in order to do what needs to be done. That is the key piece that very few people fully understand and know. They’re willing to take action when they can, or if circumstances allow, but what do you do when it seems like you can’t do it? That’s when this key question of, who do you need to be to do that action, to realize it, and then if you exhaust everything to deliver that way of being in service to that outcome, that’s when you surprise yourself. That’s when magic is pulled out of you, and you’re like, I don’t know how I did it. I don’t even know what that happened. It just did. That’s, that’s when magic really happens. 

Sonya: What about impostor syndrome tied into this? Because you might say, well, who do I want to be? I want to display these characteristics. I want to display these strengths. But I can’t do that because of XYZ, or that’s just not me, or I’ll never get there. How do people get past those limiting beliefs? 

Jeff: Yes, thank you for bringing that up. Because that is, that’s a real experience that I know I’ve had and so many people that I’ve worked with over the years, have felt some form of this. It’s very normal. First of all, it’s a good sign. It’s a good sign in the fact that you you only feel impostor syndrome when you’re moving towards something really meaningful. You’re not going to feel that towards something, I could care less. So that’s, that’s a really good thing. But second of all, impostor syndrome, is a misleading conversation. It’s kind of a distraction in and of itself. I believe, psychologically, that every one of us are living into a self definition of self identity that is constructed by ourself, consciously or unconsciously. So a case could be made that every one of us is an imposter. We’re pretending to be punctual, powerful, playful. We construct these identities, and then we deliver on them. That’s kind of how our ego works. It’s all a facade at a certain point. I’m not saying it isn’t. It isn’t real. And I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t do it. I’m going to back up and hit this from another angle while we’re even in mid sentence. So I believe we are spiritual beings having a human experience. And because of that, our spirit, our essence, those qualities of being, like joy, harmony, wisdom, those things I believe are in us in their fullness, and no one can give us more or take it away. That is what I would call my true identity. Anything I put on top of that, or anything I alter from there is my own human fabrication, beautiful as it may be. So some me saying I’m anything other than that full throttle spirit, in essence, in infinite potentiality, saying anything less would be an imposter. I would be pretending to be something so much smaller, so much different than I really am. So now with that being established, okay, so who you want to be. We’re all an imposter. And so you’re going to feel like an imposter, no matter what you create, because it pales in comparison to your true identity. Okay, so what? And most people stop what they’re doing, because they feel like they’re an imposter. They’re not really big enough or whatever, enough to do this endeavor. But it’s going to be every bit as uncomfortable to have any other definition too. So the whole conversation, I think, is a big distraction from just choosing the thing that you want to do and then establishing a new self identity that matches it.

Sonya: I think a lot of times people will try and focus on all the reasons why they can’t do something and instead of the reasons why they can do something. And I also did some research on impostor syndrome recently, and I did a podcast on it, which I’ll put in the show notes. But I found it interesting in this research that the people at the highest levels of whatever it is are doing experience the most impostor syndrome so people think, the more successful I am, the more I’ll feel like I deserve to be here or that I am this thing. But really, the higher and higher people get, the more they experience impostor syndrome. So, like you said, just viewing it as, hey, this is like part of the process, this is normal, this is a distraction, whatever you want to call it, and I’m going to move on in spite of this and accept that it’s probably never gonna go away and prove to myself that I can do it no matter what, I think that there’s a lot of empowerment in that. 

Jeff: That’s a good way to look at it. And that is a very empowering way to look at it. In the book, I talk about shifting your way of being. I think I might not even talk about this in the book. But in life, where we’ve got a big goal, something that we’re up to, and we have our own self identity of who we think we are, right? Our beliefs about ourself, those are two separate things. Sometimes those are equal. Sometimes our big, beautiful goal matches the big, beautiful mindset, and the way we think of ourselves, and what we think we deserve and all those beliefs, right? But what happens when your mindset or your thoughts about yourself, or self identity is lower, and not in alignment with that big, beautiful goal; what’s gonna happen? Well, we all know what happens, one of two things happens: you either dumb down your dream, or you’ve got to up-level your mindset and your way of being talked about systematically, step by step how to do that, how to elevate your way of being, so that impostor syndrome completely dissipates into thin air. My clients don’t have impostor syndrome. The reason is because I coach them to create a way of being that is aligned with the big thing and on the pursuit of and while they realize it, they’re in alignment with it. And they may have moments where like, I can’t believe this is happening, but they have no undeservability. None of that stuff goes away. It doesn’t mean they start there, though, that is where they start. And they’re like, who am I to do this, and we work through all of that stuff. And that is the power, you know, of shifting that way of being.

Sonya: I wrote down a quote from your book, it says, “When you change your story, you change the way that you show up in the world.”

Jeff: That’s so cool to hear a quote from the book, from somebody else’s perspective. Yeah, so true. So true. We’re just all walking around demonstrating our self identity, whether we know it or not, living into it. But most of us are unaware of our self identity. When you say yes to your big thing, you’re going to see if your self identity matches your big thing. And that is what keeps most people from doing it. Their perception of self isn’t in alignment with that big, bright, beautiful vision. And again, the cool thing, if you only did one thing, if you only got one thing from committing to your big thing, it would be that. I mean, that would be worth it. Simply letting go of an old limited idea of who you are, and elevating that that would be that would be gifted enough from your big thing. 

Sonya: And it’s the actions that you take to up-level that that self identity to move towards the your North Star. And that was a word that you used earlier, North Star. The things that you learned along the way about yourself and the barriers that you overcome along the way will change what that self concept is. 

Jeff: totally that that completely contributes to that changes your relationship with yourself, it changes that self identity. And I just think self identity, the second you pull open the hood on that go in there and systematically change that, like I mentioned in the book, you will elevate that self identity. You will not have impostor syndrome. And if you do, you can tell yourself, oh, yeah, every self identity is fake. Every self identity is self constructed. It’s all BS, meaning it’s all self created. So why not self create the most beautiful one aligned with your soul identity you could create. And most importantly, your self identity, it has to align with the big thing. If it’s alignment, a big thing you’re golden. 

Sonya: I wanted to ask you about spiritual psychology, because I think I read you have a master’s in spiritual psychology, is that correct? 

Jeff: Yes, that’s correct. 

Sonya: And then I Googled it [because] I’m curious what that is. And then one of the descriptions I read talks about the authentic self. General psychology is about physical, mental and emotional. And then this authentic self piece was the additional piece. Is that accurate? And can you tell me more? 

Jeff: Well, Dr. Ron and Mary Hulnick, my teachers at the University of Santa Monica years ago when I graduated, they are the pioneers of spiritual psychology. In the early studies of psychology, it was the study of the spirit. And so the spirit in our kind of modern day culture has been stripped away from psychology in many circles, it’s been very clinical. So that program is really approaching the psychological process and psychology with that understanding that we are spiritual beings first and the interplay and how that impacts everything else. 

Sonya: Reminds me of Buddhist psychology a little bit. 

Jeff: Yeah, I can see some definite parallels. I could definitely see some parallels, you know, and, and I love psychology. And I also love performance, meaning I grew up as an athlete, although not anywhere near the kind of athlete that you are Sonya. I had dreams of being a professional athlete, so I have such respect for you and what you’ve done. But I think I yearn to combined psychology together also with deep spiritual truth together with what I learned in athletics, and leadership in that in many different sectors of life into one form. And I think that’s what I love about coaching is it allows you…I bring together several different kinds of ideas and energies into one space, that I think are so incredibly powerful. That just one of those isn’t as powerful, but those three or four things together are truly life changing.

Sonya:  You talked earlier about how you did lots of things and should have stuck with it longer, and you just would try something else. But when should you change and try something else? Because there are times where you’re going after something, and maybe your values have shifted, maybe something shifts, and you want to try something else? So how do you know when to listen to that versus when to ignore it and just keep going? 

Jeff: Well, first of all, you got to listen to a lot of Kenny Rogers because you do have to know when to hold them and know when to follow them. Gotta know when to walk away. That’s a great question. Because there are times when it’s healthier to back away. I think most people back away too early. I talked about this in the book, it’s one of the sections – knowing when to tap out. And I think it helps to first of all, it’s like imagine climbing a mountain, if you think you should turn around, you stop, and you need to catch your breath, and kind of reassess and slow down. Most cases, nine times out of 10, it’s resistance is sneaking in trying to keep you from doing what you said you would do. But in those rare instances when it’s not healthy, I think life does give us signals. And those signals are best determined from the inside. If we’re running so fast on the outside, caught up in busyness and running ourselves ragged, not taking care of ourselves, we won’t pick up the signs and we won’t listen to our own guidance. One of the best ways to make sure you listen to those subtle moves that your intuition is leading you to do is to cultivate your intuition and to make sure that you’re engaging in healthy self care. So many times the real gifts in my life have come in a way that were subtle, and they did not look like smart strategic moves. It came from an inkling I had. Even backing away from being an actor in Los Angeles and pivoting to coaching and speaking, that didn’t hit me over the head that that was an inkling I had inside, but I had to listen to it and explore it and there was a lot of work that I did to listen to my own inner guidance, from journaling, being coached, slowing my life down a bit, jumping off the conveyor belt of hustling and getting stuff done and staying busy. And so slowing down, making sure I’m really intimate listening to what’s going on in me and my inner guidance will really help to listen if something is not for me.

Sonya: It requires slowing down to even have enough time to reflect on that because when you’re running at breakneck speed, a lot of us never reflect on what do I need or what what am I what is my intuition telling you right now.

Jeff: Totally, totally. And sometimes it feels good to be busy. Well, what am I saying? It feels great to be busy for me a lot of times, because I’m getting stuff done. And it feels you know, I feel my ego gets a nice boost when I check the boxes. And that can kind of be a monster that you feed and it just wants more and more and more. So yeah, it really takes a lot of grit these days to buck that trend, slow down and not choke your calendar with a bunch of meetings, and say no more often. And I spend a lot of time with my clients, a lot of my clients run big companies, and have a lot of people that they’re inspiring, thousands of people, and it’s hard. Really challenge them to really support themselves as what they really need to be inspired so that they can truly inspire and lead that many people and so many people when they get to the top, it feels lonely up there. And nobody’s telling you, hey, you, you really need to rejuvenate and take care of yourself up there because it’s easy to get pulled and run ragged because you’re really serving so many other things.

Sonya: Loneliness is a topic that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, and especially when it comes to high performance because a lot of times whenever we’re so focused on something, the first thing to go are our connections with others, and will default to text or just going on social media. And those in person connections support you so much and give you a strong foundation because especially whenever you start achieving success, especially when things are busy, you need those those connections. To treat those as a priority takes it takes discipline and it often is the first thing to go whenever we get busy. And I’m guilty of that, too. And that’s something that I’m working on myself. 

Jeff: Yeah, you never call me anymore.

Sonya: Yeah, I was sitting over here thinking, mom, dad, I’m so sorry, please forgive me. Because I’m guilty of this too. I can really relate to that. Especially with children, I know, you have kids, Lindsay and I have two beautiful little girls are four and eight. And we’re at a stage where life feels soulful and engaged. And we’re just like, putting what feels like 20 pounds in a five pound bag. And, and that can be very, you know, every parent knows what I’m talking about. I think, it’s just, and relationships, that’s a really good point. In not just relationships, but other self care. You know, relationships are really self care. But so is exercise. So is a 10 minute walk in nature. So is sleep. Absolutely. And we think that those are frivolous, or we’ll do that when we die. I can rest when I’m dead. That’s what I heard growing up. And I’ve even said it myself so many times until, you know, all the research comes out on sleep. And I’m like, that’s not a good affirmation. So yeah, remembering to take care of yourself and in relationships being one of the top. Absolutely, absolutely. 

Sonya: In your book, you talk about small distractions can make a big impact. Focus is a big thing right now, people are trying to take supplements and there’s just all these different ways that people are trying to focus. Can you talk about small distractions?


Jeff: Small distractions, I think can be the most dangerous, because you don’t know they’re really happening. I’m telling this goofy little story in the book where I was walking our black lab, Bailey, and we were out for a little walk back back behind the house and I felt this little pebble in my shoe. It was annoying, but I had my shoes laced up my hiking shoes, you know, they’re like high tops, and I didn’t want to take them off. And like, it’s not that bad. And I thought maybe I can shake it and roll it between one of my toes. I was doing this whole goofy thing to try to avoid it. But it was going on in my mind, I kept thinking about it. Like, should I take the shoes off or should I just keep going? And I go for a while and I’m like, I really should take my shoe off. And then I’m like, now I won’t do it. And meanwhile, so much scenery so much life has gone by me. I wasn’t looking at it. I was too busy up in my head having this goofy conversation about a little pebble in my shoe. And 15 minutes later, I stopped and like, what am I doing? I could just take the shoe off much faster than I keep up this conversation. So I did I took the shoe off, I threw it out. And as I walked I thought to myself, where else am I doing this? You know, where in my my business am I leaving the pebble in my shoe and it’s distracting me from the relationships or who I’m in front of or what’s going on? And that’s been a really powerful question. What distraction, if I were to let go of it, we change the game and what I’m doing right now. That’s a wonderful question that I love asking, can be really revealing.

Sonya: The metaphor of the pebble is so great because so many of us have had that happen and we know how annoying it is but we also know how we just tried to ignore it for a really long time and then how ultimately that stupid pebble, if we’d done it right away, we would have saved so much energy 

Jeff: Totally, and and I still do that, I have to. That’s why that question I think is so important for me to remind myself because I still get caught up in those little things that keep complaint like something I complain about or something I don’t fix in my garage you know like a hang up for the hose that fell down and I didn’t fix it but I kind of jimmy rigged it on the thing and and every time I go in there I got frustrated you know until finally I’m like, what am I doing? I probably spent hours reapplying sticking it back up and then the cursing tirade, although creative and quite entertaining for my kids, I’m sure, took time too.

Sonya: Along those lines, this is a little bit off topic, but there’s this book I read a long time ago and I don’t remember much of it, but it was called The Success Principles by Jack Canfield, I think was the author. And one of the things in that book was about little messes, visual things that you see, and how what you’re talking about with the hose reel, you see that that’s screwed up, and you put that up and it wasn’t quite right and it’s bothering you. And every time you see it that’s mental energy that you take on without maybe even realizing it. It’s a small distraction that you might not even realize. We do that so often in our space, and I am very, very guilty of doing this and especially with like a toddler who, basically entropy is his his main goal in life right now. But you just see things all around you and your brain is like, I gotta do something about that. I gotta do something about that. And then you don’t do anything about it. And that’s why it feels so good to organize your closet, finally, after all that time, because you’ve put so much energy seeing it, and then you finally do it. It’s like this weight has been lifted to clear space for something else is more important. 

Jeff: Yes, beautifully said. It’s like you see right into my soul, Sonya. You know what’s going on don’t you? Have you been talking to my wife? I call those incompletes. Maybe other people do too. And it’s one of the big blockers to a big thing, actually. Some people say, oh, I don’t have a big thing, or there may be blocked or shut down around their big thing, because they have a lot of incompletes. And those incompletes are leaking energy. And every time we say we’re going to do something, we put energy into a container known as that commitment. And when we follow through and complete it, it’s like, you check the box, you feel good, you feel that power release. But if we don’t complete what we said, we’re going to, there’s a leak. If we have enough of these leaks, all of a sudden we begin to be depleted energetically, and we feel it, but we don’t know why. So cleaning up incompletes, even teeny tiny stuff, can make a big difference and help you increase your confidence, actually. It’s a big confidence booster for many people. And I find for a lot of people who think they don’t have a big thing, or they’re blocked around their big thing, they have a lot of incompletes. And so we make a list and sometimes they take one day a week, and they just do one incomplete and they check the box and get it done. And after a little bit of time, all of a sudden that energy returns to them and they begin to see themselves in a new way. They see what’s possible in a new way. 

Sonya: I’m just thinking about all of my incompletes that I’m embarrassed are out there. But another way of talking about these incompletes, which is the flip side is sometimes to avoid going after the big thing and to procrastinate, and l we’ll start doing all of the incompletes and then never actually get started on the big thing because well, I have this I gotta do everything. So what about that side of things? 

Jeff: Yeah, really nice, nice, nice catch there. I love that because it’s so true. You know, I gotta clean up my Facebook page, or I need something to eat this second, or something bigger. I’ve got rearrange the closets. Although my closet can be messy, I’m okay with that, if that happens. So yes, to me, I love that under resistance, I log that under some part of us that is not aligned with what we’re doing, which is why when I’m working with somebody, we take a lot of time to slow down, first of all, to get clear on the big thing, but really also to get clear on who they need to be to realize the big thing, making sure it’s aligned. So that those those kinds of things don’t happen. But I think that’s one of those things where having a practice of some kind of self reflection or working with a coach, your coach is going to help you to see stuff like that, and you’re not going to get away with it. I do not let my clients get away with that unless it doesn’t show up, or it’s really under the radar. But usually, I see those things in a heartbeat. And truthfully, most of my clients see those things, too. It’s just nice to have somebody with you. And you kind of acknowledge it and say, oh yeah, I know I need to do this, but gosh, it kind of feels it feels a bit intimidating. And I don’t really want to have to face this, but I know I gotta just do it. That helps. It helps to get some support around that. 

Sonya: I’m going to shift gears here and I’m going to ask you about working at Nickelodeon because now you’re a dad. Has that impacted how you parent or how you communicate with your kids at all? 

Jeff: Yes, it has. Well, first of all, I use slime a lot in in our family as well as with cream pies. I’ll share this I didn’t I never anticipated being asked that question, so thank you. That’s a fun question. So if I yell, raise my voice with my daughters, which I don’t want to yell I really try not to lose my temper but I occasionally lose my temper. If I do, my kids know that they each get to pie me in the face with a cream pie. And, and that obviously came from my Nickelodeon days where I hosted the live kids game shows and we would pie kids. They got slimed and all that stuff. So and my daughter thinks it’s very cool. So I try to make as much as I can. Everything we do with the hat. I try to make it a game or turn it into a game. You know, picking up the toys, it’s the 60 second pick up how many can you get? We set the timer, and then I pretend I’m like the host. And here comes Emory coming around the bend. We got five seconds left, gonna be yours at Emory. Brooklyn she’s coming in. I probably wouldn’t be doing that these days had I not had that experience. 

Sonya: What show was it or maybe it was multiple shows. But what was it called? 

Jeff: Yes. Well, these were the live game shows. We did them all over the world. But one of the stationary shows that I did was at Universal Studios, Hollywood. And that show ran for three years. That was called Totally Nickelodeon. And another one I did with called Game Lab. That was a live show we traveled all over the world doing and a third one, U-Pick Nick. U-Pick Nick was another show that I did a live game show for them. Yeah, that just seems like a lifetime ago. But it was one of the things I loved about it. And how it was really aligned with what I do today is their corporate Nickelodeon’s corporate mission was simply empowering kids. And it was all about empowering people, empowering kids. When I was in college, I hosted a live call in show for kids on Nebraska Public Radio, where they would call in and I would coach them, I would give advice, or just listen or give them exercises. I wasn’t a coach, and I didn’t pretend to be a coach. But somebody in the journalism department there really saw something in me and said, you should do this. That’s something I think I could also say about our big things. Most of us, our big thing is tied to something we’re really either good at or love and we may not even know it. We may not even see it because it’s so close to us. I’ve always been coaching people even since I was a little kid. I’ve always been able to sit with somebody. I see things when I look at them. And I can see their future. And I can see how to bypass roadblocks just it’s like a knowing I have. And I’ve had it since I was very little. And I think I just never thought that was a thing. I didn’t think it was special. I just assumed everybody had that thing. And so when people were asking me to have coffee with them and spend time and talk with them, I’m like, what do they want to have coffee with me about? You know what I mean? And they would leave and they’d be hugging me? And they’re like, can I pay you for this? Like, why would you pay me, you’ve given me so much coffee, I’m probably not going to be able to sleep for a week. But I think so many of us have something that’s special to us. It’s so close to us, we don’t see it. And I think that’s one of the real important things to slow down and look at it and observe and ask yourself and ask others around you. How do you see me? What’s that thing in me that is undeniable. Sometimes we need outside perspective to help us see that, can be really empowering. And it can be really fun. 

Sonya: I’m gonna go back to talking about kids again. So a lot of times when you ask a little kid what is their big dream? Or what do they want to be when they grow up? They will unabashedly tell you something that might change over time, but it might sound ridiculous to an adult. How can you apply these principles to a kid where maybe their big thing is a little bit out there? Or maybe you should do everything you can to support them to go after that big thing. How can these principles be applied to kids?

Jeff: I think they’re very applicable to kids. The reason I say that is because as a little boy, I had a big thing. I didn’t call it that. But I think all kids are by nature dreamers. And even if that dream is far fetched, as we talked about earlier, there’s something important at the heart of that dream that is important for that kid to move toward, and most importantly, to bring out from himself. See, I believe that goals are actually the soul’s game to draw out our true nature. And I believe that we’re drawn to certain goals because we instinctively know that if we go for that it’s going to require we bring out those parts in a way that no other goal could bring out. So that’s why I think it’s so important for kids and young adults to have this conversation. I think we should all be mindful not to pressure or to make them think that that makes them worthwhile. We’re not worthwhile because of our big thing. We’re worthwhile because we are infinite beings because we’re just whole and complete as we are. A big thing is not to do something because it validates you, rather, you’re already valid and now that’s the reason to go for your big thing. Because we are natural born creators. We don’t need it. But when we do it, when we say yes to it, it will unlock those forces, those energies, those qualities in us in a way that nothing else can.

Sonya: My biggest takeaway from today is just adding more nuance into something that I’ve been thinking about a lot, which is: use the example of the person that wanted to go into the NBA. And you said that maybe it’s not just about the NBA, it’s uncovering what’s underneath that. You just repeated that. Again, whenever a kid sets a big goal is figuring out what is underneath all of that. My big thing when I was a little kid is I wanted to be a pro soccer player. So underneath all of that, I wanted to be a pro athlete, and I didn’t even realize it and why. And something else that I think about, which goes along with what you just said about validation, is a lot of times we’ll ask ourselves, what do I want to achieve? And something I’ve thought about with that is asking instead, how do I want to feel? Because sometimes, what do I want to achieve versus how do I want to feel are out of alignment, and we’ll try to achieve something so that we can feel a certain way. But then achieving that thing won’t actually make you feel that way. So you helped me add more words and more nuance into that whole conversation that plays on in my mind and with my clients as well. So thank you for that. 

Jeff: You’re welcome. And I talk about that in the book with the feeling fix that everybody who’s after any goal or any endeavor, and there’s always an internal feeling associated with that goal. And if you uncover it right away, you can begin cultivating that quality from within you immediately so that you then bring that quality to the creation of that outcome. It’s an absolute game changer in terms of coaching.

Sonya: So where can people find your book, and maybe even get coached by you? 

Jeff: Oh, thank you for asking. You can find out my book, find all about it, at And right now, if you go there, and you check out the book, you can order the book right now, you can also sign up for the seven telltale signs of a big thing. I really develop that out so that people can really look and start moving toward their big thing. And I’d also like to give your listeners something special, if you’d be okay with that. So anybody that’s listening today, if you go and grab the seven telltale signs of a big thing, number one that’s going to help you, it repeats, but it goes in depth of what we were just touched upon earlier in this interview, but it will go into depth and you will be able to see definitively if what your endeavor you’re considering is a big thing or not. And for everybody listening, if you will reply, like once you get that email from me and download that, if you’ll reply to that email and say, Jeff, can I please have the three free chapters of your book, I’d like to give everybody the first few chapters of the book just as my gift because those first three chapters really started helping you clarify your big thing. And even if you have a big thing, it will make it even tighter. I would love to help people get a jumpstart on their big thing. It doesn’t cost anything. It’s easy to do, just download it, and then reply to that email that you get from me from that download. And just say Jeff, please give me the the free chapters of your book. I’d be happy to send that out to anybody listening today. 

Sonya: Awesome. Well, thank you so much. And thanks for sharing your wisdom and some fun stories that maybe people haven’t heard yet. 

Jeff: I loved your questions. I had so much fun, and I can’t wait to continue listening to your show. I love your interviews you have great questions.

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