A Message of Gratitude for iPEC

My intention for this post was to give folks some straightforward insight into iPEC’s Coach Training Program now that it’s almost halfway through. But what I’m feeling right now is grateful—like a strong, heartfelt gratitude. So instead of letting y’all in on specifics of the training, I’m going to let y’all in on what has me thankful to be going through it.

Some of my dreams now feel like plans.

I feel on track to some of the visions that in the past just felt like nice ideas.

Before iPEC started I had no inclination toward coaching or working one-on-one with folks—though when I would visualize the future I often had the thought come up that I’d be some sort of advisor or confidant to various high-impact people. As I go through this training and develop these skills—and now that I’ve started to interview potential coaching clients—I can imagine this manifesting pretty easily. This training seems to be a slipstream in the direction of goals that I didn’t realize were goals.

I feel more grounded than I have since I had a full-time job.

When I say “grounded” I’m referring to a sense that the way you’re living works. That you’re taking action, following through, and seeing results. People who are grounded feel that their lifestyle is sustainable and it makes sense and when they describe it to others they understand. And while feeling grounded is not necessarily associated with what I do (it’s a state of being, not a circumstance), I feel most grounded when I’m working on something that inspires me.

A few days ago I realized that I might be on the verge of starting a coaching business. Like really actually doing this. I never saw that coming—I thought iPEC would be more of a spectator sport for me. But now that I’ve sunk my teeth in, I’m energized and focused. I find myself generating ideas about how to move forward and taking action on them. I love the way this feels.

Sidenote—iPEC manages to work in both ways. It grounds the visionaries like me by putting us into the world and getting us activated. But it also enlightens the pragmatists. It reminds the workhorses to lighten up, raise their energy, see from higher perspectives and let go of attachment to results. This training is remarkably inclusive of all different kinds of people and belief systems—it meets you where you’re at and gets you into alignment. That deserves some gratitude imho.

It stays relevant despite my resistance.

Once in a while I find myself resisting this program. I’ve been avoiding the word “coach” and cringing when people ask me about my “life coaching program.” And once during a webinar I caught myself listening for everything I disagreed with instead of looking for the parts that resonated. It’s almost like I’ve been subconsciously looking for an opportunity to disengage.

But iPEC stays a few steps ahead of me. What they’re sharing with us is not black and white—they don’t claim to know “the right way”— so every time I get righteous about something I heard somewhere in the training, I hear someone else contradict it or offer an alternative that does resonate. There’s not much room for my right-making and wrong-making here because iPEC isn’t preaching anything. They’re exposing me to a bunch of options and giving me opportunities to discover what resonates and what doesn’t. They’re throwing me into the arena and offering support when I come asking for it.

Which brings me to my next point: I’m hungry for more.

Tomorrow is the first day of Module II—the second of three in-person weekend trainings—and for the last two weeks in my peer group calls we’ve been talking about how antsy we are to get our hands on the material in Mod II. Now that we’ve all done a little coaching using what we learned in Mod I, we’re more aware of our incompetencies and we’re eager to get some questions answered and learn more.

Almost every time I see or hear one of the trainers demonstrate coaching by working directly with someone in the course I’m impressed. They’re truly professionals. They know exactly what to ask, exactly how to handle situations—even ones that seem like a lost cause. They set clean boundaries. They know which tools to use when, etc. It’s a fluency I’m eager to learn.

Finally, and most importantly: they prioritize the energy.

As an organization (as I work with them, do their training, talk to their team members, and see the material they put out), it’s evident that what iPEC cares about most is raising peoples’ energy and consciousness.

In the coach training program, they’re less determined that we retain the details and rules and tools, and more intent that we integrate (or perhaps a better word is “remember”) what they call the “foundational principles”—things like:

“Truth exists regardless of belief or consensus”

and

“We are each a product of our own belief system.”

During Mod I we dedicated entire conversations to each of these foundational principles, and about 10 others.

More than anything, this is what I admire most about this program. It’s multifaceted and real and practical but it’s founded on deep intuitive truths that raise our energy and align us more closely with ourselves.

I feel lucky to be doing what I’m doing.

Thank you, iPEC.

 


 

photo by Jamie Katuna ❤

Want Me To Coach You? I’ll Take 3 People for Free.

The iPEC Coach Training program is almost a third of the way through and it’s time for me to start putting what I’m learning into action. I’m officially taking clients—three of whom I’ll coach (5 sessions each) for free. 

I’m doing this for three reasons:

  1. I’ve never officially coached before. This is an opportunity for me to get some practice, build my confidence, and gain clarity on what kind of people I want to coach in the future.
  2. It’s likely that I will want to write about what I learn as I start coaching people. I’ll ask for the three people I coach for free to be open to getting written about on my blog. (Don’t worry—I’ll clear everything with you before it goes live.)
  3. I want to dive in. I want to jump off the cliff and “just fucking start.” 😉 It’s the fastest way I know to integrate what I’m learning.

So essentially, by being one of my first clients, you’re helping me out too.

BUT I’m not down to coach just anyone.

I actually want to make a major difference for the people I coach. That means we need to be aligned to a certain extent. So before you apply, understand this: I don’t care about solving your problems. In fact, I don’t believe your problems exist. I’m not interested in helping you make more money or become more productive or improve your relationship. All that stuff resolves itself automatically and effortlessly when you stop fussing with your external life and just do the inner work. I’m not willing to spend much energy convincing people of this. If this doesn’t resonate with you, good to know—it’s likely we’d be a bad fit. Let me know and I can refer you to another coach in my program.

I’m only interested in coaching people who are committed to doing the inner work. I’m interested in coaching people who are done with their own bullshit and determined to get out of their own way. I want to coach people who are ruthlessly honest with themselves; people who care more about realizing their true selves than defending whatever identity they’ve constructed. (I’m also interested in coaching people who aren’t quite there yet but genuinely want to get there.)

In other words—using iPEC’s terminology—I’m less interested in coaching for Self-Mastery (levels 4 and 5) than in coaching for Self-Transcendence (levels 6 and 7).

All that said, right now (before starting) I know less about coaching than I’ll ever know. I have a lot to learn. That’s where you come in.

 

If you’re interested, go to the “Say What’s Up” tab of my website and shoot me a message with your responses to these prompts:

  1. Put yourself into the future looking back after our 5 coaching sessions: What’s different now about the way you experience yourself and your life? Best case scenario. 
  2. How important is this to you? 

If I sense we’re a good fit, we’ll schedule a 30-minute introductory interview where we’ll get a feel for each other and decide whether or not to proceed. During these introductory interviews I will decide which three people I’ll coach (5 sessions over ~2 months) for free. If I don’t select you for the free coaching, there’s a good chance I’ll still coach you for a price. We can decide on those details together.


Photo by Jamie Katuna

Stop Giving Advice (and other takeaways from iPEC’s Mod 1)

Mod 1 is the first of 3 in-person weekend immersions over the course of iPEC’s 9-month coach training program. There were 29 of us in my training and hundreds more going through trainings around the world. Ours was led by two intuitive, bright, funny women named Sherri and Nina. So far I’ve had an exclusively positive experience of this organization so my expectations were high. And still, despite my positive expectations, I was pleasantly surprised. 

Here are three of my favorite unexpected takeaways from Mod 1:

1. I realized that the idea of becoming a coach could actually appeal to me.

I discovered that I never really understood coaching in the first place (if I had, coaching always might have appealed to me). I thought coaches were just self-proclaimed experts who made you pay for their advice instead of giving it freely. And I thought the people who paid for coaches were extravagant and not very resourceful. Why hire a coach when you could ask your friends or google it or just try harder? Why are people paying each other for information instead of sharing it generously? It felt like a backward system. I never thought I’d use a coach and I certainly never thought I’d become one. 

What I misunderstood was this: coaches—at least the coaches that come out of iPEC’s training—aren’t there to help you, solve your problems, or give you advice. That’s what consultants and therapists and mentors do. Coaches raise your energy so you don’t need help or advice anymore. They get you to a state where you’re effortlessly solving your own problems (or not perceiving problems in the first place). I love that. 

2. I noticed my energy rise.

I still don’t know what to attribute this to—but my energy (my attitude; my feeling state; my sense of excitement and clarity and creativity) rose noticeably. I went in feeling pretty neutral and open. Just blank; curious and receptive. By the end of day three I was lit up. Joyful and activated and alive. What the hell? I even found this in my doodle-notes looking back afterward:

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I wrote to Bruce D Schneider—iPEC’s founder—and asked him what it was about the training environment that raised my energy. Here’s what he said:

“It wasn’t the environment that raised you. It was a combination of a lot of things. I designed this to meet everyone exactly where they are and then take them where they want to be. Everyone is affected differently and at different times.”

He said Mods 2 and 3 will make it more clear. Looking forward to learning what that’s all about.

3. Giving advice is not as useful as I thought

This was particularly surprising. Early on in the training we got to see how worthless most advice is. And more importantly, we got a chance to feel how excruciatingly hard it is to NOT give advice—whether or not it’s being asked for.

Giving advice inherently validates and perpetuates whatever story that person is dealing with. Even if you give them a clever way to deal with their problem, you’ve met them on the level of their problem, thereby confirming the legitimacy of their problem and inviting further similar problems into their experience.

The alternative is to raise their energy to a level where that problem feels irrelevant, obsolete, or intuitive and easy to handle. The best tool we learned for raising someone’s energy? Ask them great questions.

Intuitively this is so clear to me—think about when you’re dealing with something tough and you tell a few people about what’s going on. The person who hits you with some immediate trivial “solution” is reliably the least useful conversation you’ll have. It’s the person who gets you thinking differently, reorienting the issue, questioning your approach and considering possibilities who makes a real difference. Isn’t it weird how quick we are to give advice despite how worthless it tends to be?


 

Here’s a quick video I shot about my experience with Mod 1, my stop-giving-advice discovery, and a few other thoughts related to my iPEC journey so far. Thank you Jamie for interviewing me and helping me put it together.

I Gave Up Sex for 2017. Here’s What I Think.

My New Years’ Resolution this year was to be celibate. I realize it’s only three months in, but this has already been the best New Years’ Resolution of my life.

I’ve had a lot of people ask me why I decided to be celibate and I’ve given about a dozen different answers. Here are some:

  • I want to hustle this year and I don’t want to be distracted by men.
  • I’m underwhelmed by the sex I have. It’s good but it’s not truly satisfying in the deeper way I think it could be. 
  • I haven’t been celibate for longer than a couple months since I had sex for the first time. I just wanna see what it’s like.
  • It feels like an interesting social experiment. How will guys respond? I’ll get to know people in a new way.
  • Sex has been too much of a default setting in my relationships. We just do it because that’s what we know to do. And it’s almost always a means to an end. I want more awareness around sex; more intention.
  • I’m a novice in this area. Some of my friends have these remarkably intimate sex lives. They talk about tantra and nonphysical sex and 20 minute orgasms. I don’t know anything about any of that and I’m curious. Maybe this will spark some new learning.
  • I want to get to know myself better. I think limiting external social inputs (like penises and the intentions, priorities, worldviews and beliefs that come with them) will help me better familiarize myself with my own intentions, priorities, worldviews and beliefs.
  • It’s a taboo topic. It seems like nobody’s fully comfortable to talk real about sex. Like people put on some sort of front when it comes to their sex lives. Being celibate might bring it into the conversation in a more real way. 

All those answers are true in a way—but the original truth is that midway through December the thought to be celibate crossed my mind. I dismissed it. Then a few days later it popped up again. After the third or fourth time I just decided to go with it. What’s the worst that could happen? I’ll be a little hornier than usual and I might get rejected by someone who isn’t down to forego sex? Sounds like a nice way to filter out potential assholes, practice some discipline and probably learn something. Game on.

Here is how my life has changed since starting celibacy:

My love life has improved

Weird right? I was ready for the guys in my life to cut me out for this. The opposite has been true. Guys have seemed noticeably more engaged.

The main guy I was sleeping with took it like a champ. He said something like “Cool. I can wait. What made you decide to do that?” Since, we’ve gotten closer than either of us expected. The time we spend together is intentional now—we make plans and try new things and look forward to seeing each other. He said that my celibacy has motivated him to stop sleeping with other women too. I never saw that coming. Now I take him more seriously than I did before. He’s not just a hookup buddy anymore—now we’re learning together and exploring edges neither of us have explored before. It’s exciting. Gives me heart eyes.

Another guy I met at a retreat. We felt a connection instantly, and within about half an hour I told him I was celibate. His response shocked me: “Nice! That’s a relief actually.” We spent the rest of the week together, participating in the retreat, going to eat, laughing, having deep conversations, touring around the island… it was a blast. I felt like myself. Like my full, free, authentic self—something I don’t usually feel with a guy until after months of dating. By the end of the retreat we both said how grateful we were that we hadn’t been hooking up—we wouldn’t have built such a solid connection if we had been. Since the retreat we’ve stayed in close contact despite being on different continents: collaborating on projects, exploring deep interpersonal stuff, this guy has become one of the closest people to me the last few months.

I’ve been on dates with a few other guys too. Their reactions to news of my celibacy ranges from curiosity to excitement. Seriously.

One guy—someone with a background in tantra and a lot of sexual wisdom—told me how intuitive I was to do this right now. He said celibacy would connect me to my own sexual energy without the distraction of others’ expectations and desires and agendas. Connecting more to my own energy would make it easier to develop myself in the ways I wanted to. It was cool to have someone give me kudos for something that probably contradicted his preferences. 

Another guy indicated he wanted me to stop seeing other men and invest more in my relationship with him. That surprised me—a guy wanted to invest in an exclusive relationship knowing I’d be celibate for another 9 months!?

Without exception, celibacy has increased the intimacy and quality of my romantic relationships. Surprising huh? Men have been more supportive and present and vulnerable and transparent. I’m connecting more deeply with them without the distraction of sex—something that apparently was a bigger distraction than I knew.

I’m more confident

The same day I made the decision to be celibate I noticed feeling funnier. More outgoing. Less inhibited.

There’s probably something politically incorrect about this comparison, but do you know how grandmothers don’t give a shit what people think of them? I remember my Grandma Marge being the biggest badass when it came to dealing with other peoples’ dominating personalities. She had this loud, overpowering man that would come over and try to tell her stuff once in a while. I dreaded him. He’d walk up to me—face-to-face—and say things like “Cory, what do you think about global warming?” The worst. But she’d just interrupt him and take her sweet time talking about anything and everything she felt like talking about. The squirrel that comes by her window sometimes, the recipe she’s going to use for her soup tonight. The problem with her water filter. Whatever. And when she got tired of him she’d ask him to leave. It was ruthless. It impressed me—how was she able to do that? His dominance just didn’t register for her. She was the source of her power and didn’t consider otherwise.

Here’s my point: celibacy has given me more of my Grandma Marge’s confidence. I’m not exactly sure what that’s about—but I know I’m not trying to appeal to anyone sexually right now. I’m not trying to seem sexy or cute or girlfriendly. I’m thinking about learning stuff and understanding myself and others and making things happen and living my life. I’m not paying attention to what guys think of me the way I was before I was celibate.

And paradoxically I’ve been getting more attention from guys than I ever have in my life. I’m pretty sure this is related to the increased confidence.

I have more bandwidth

This might seem like an obvious side effect of cutting something out of your life for a year, but I didn’t expect it. I thought I’d be spending more time explaining to people why I’m celibate, defending my decision, beating around the bush, and expending extra energy trying to avoid the topic (and the scenario) entirely. But it’s been a piece of cake. Nobody has pressed me on it.

The extra bandwidth comes from having a clear, explicit container on something that used to be hazy or unclear. I like the example of Obama’s suits. Apparently Obama has like 50 versions of the same suit so he never has to spend any time or energy picking out his outfit each day. He just knows. It’s an area of his life that he has automated entirely so he can spend his mental energy on stuff that matters. 

That’s how this feels. It’s relaxing to not have to think about something that I used to have to think about.

Free bandwidth is strangely appealing. Less distraction means more energy to think and write and read and learn and try things I’m curious about. I’m spending more of my brainpower on areas that excite me and fuel me.

Downsides:

None yet. It’s only March though so I’ll keep you posted 😉


Photo by the lovely and talented Josh Smith

Trusting The Process: Reflections Before Training Begins


This post is part of a series I’m doing as I go through the transformational 9-month iPEC Coach Training Program.
Click here to learn more and read the other posts.

Note: As a prerequisite to the iPEC Coach Training Program, participants are required to write a book report on Energy Leadership by Bruce D Schneider. Bruce is the founder of iPEC, and Energy Leadership is the foundational theory behind the training. For those who’ve followed my blog, I based Why I Feel Good About The Election on the 7 Levels of Energy model which was outlined in this book. As I reread parts of the book for the assignment, I was energized to remember how unique this organization is. Here’s what I wrote:


For the last few months I’ve become more and more transfixed by deep spiritual growth. And to be honest, I’ve had a tough time writing (or talking, or being social in general) because all I can think about lately is stuff that I don’t understand yet; concepts that feel exclusively intuitive. Ideas like enlightenment and transcendence—nothing I’m confident to explain or confidently transmit to the people around me.

I’ve felt silent and disconnected. Blank and clueless—like somehow despite all the learning and development and transformation I’ve had lately I know less now than I’ve ever known. None of my opinions stick. Nothing I say feels accurate. My thoughts have no traction. It’s disorienting and confusing. I’ve been less able to relate to people in person and I have been scared I’ll lose my ability to relate to people through my writing.

But as I read through Energy Leadership and the 7 Levels of Energy I’m reminded about what drew me to this organization in the first place: range.

By range I mean it includes the full spectrum of human experience. This model is a simple roadmap that applies to anyone no matter where you’re at. It starts at experiences familiar to most people—everyday relatable stuff like irritation and anxiety and anger. Then it moves through perspectives we associate with mastery and happiness and success and making a difference in the world. And it ends at deep spiritual awakening; the kind of self-transcendence we associate with buddhism, ancient yogic traditions and ascended masters. This single model bridges the gap not just between different points on a single road, but between different paradigms. In this model, worlds that most of us have a tough time reconciling are now inseparable parts of the one human path.

In other words, no matter where you’re at in your life, this applies to you. There’s a spot for you here. You’re included. I almost forgot that this inclusion applies to me too. Remembering this was a relief.

The way this model works is simple. There are 7 Levels of Energy that range from low (Level 1) to high (Level 7). The lower your level of energy, the worse you feel and the more “real” and heavy your world feels around you. The lowest level, Level 1, is characterized by victimization. At this level you feel like everything happening to you is beyond your control. As you raise your energy, the weight of the world lightens, you feel better, and you experience yourself more as the creator of your experience. You regain control. Level 5 for instance is the level of opportunity. At this level you feel creative and energized and engaged. You are literally more yourself the higher your level of energy.

Surrounding these 7 levels are three concentric circles. The innermost circle is the circle of “Self.” In this circle it’s about me. I’m angry. I’m upset. I’m not getting enough of what I need. The second circle is the circle of “Self-Mastery.” This circle is about leveraging what you’re working with and optimizing it. Empowering yourself, accomplishing your goals, effecting change and mastering yourself and your environment. Here’s what Energy Leadership says about the second circle:

When you resonate within the second circle of awareness, you’re relatively happy and secure. You have a strong ego. On the chart, this equals a strong sense of self. This means you’re not afraid to be who you are. In other words, you’re comfortable in your own skin. Your focus is on having instead of needing.

The third circle is “Self-Transcendence.” In this circle it is no longer about you. There is no ego, judgment or assessment. You are one with the world around you. Here’s what the book says about the third circle:

You are flooded with absolute passion for all of life’s experiences and are able to tap your talent for being deeply creative. You have now touched the core of who you truly are. At this level you have the potential to manifest almost anything into your life in an instant. Most importantly, at this level you are able to consciously use any of the lower levels to your benefit.

Bingo. This distinction between the second and third circles resonated with me big time. For the last few years I’ve been working at self mastery. I’ve been working to be more productive, get the most out of myself, reach my potential, build a brand, and show up powerfully and effectively. I’ve been grinding to achieve this ideal version of myself. Familiar?

But recently all I’ve been able to do is stop, go inward, meditate, listen for my intuition, and relax the stimulus of distraction. I’ve taken time off from friends and activity and gone on long, quiet hikes or sat alone in my room and stared at the ceiling. No lie. I’ve been unproductive according to my previous standards. And in some way I like it. It feels true. I feel quiet and curious.

And also a tad paranoid. What if this state is incompatible with the iPEC training I’m about to start? What if I’m unable to get back into productivity / mastery mode? Will I have to postpone what excites me most (diving further into the circle of self-transcendence) in order to make it through this 9-month program?

No. Not at all. There’s room for my experience here. Not only that, but this organization and the model they use has a context for the edge I’m exploring. The third circle is where I want to go. With this program I’ll have guidance and structure that supports my deepest, most personal goals and intentions. That’s special.

It was a nice reminder that I’m exactly where I need to be.


Musical [side] note: I’ve been listening to my Big Vibe | Winter 2017 playlist on Spotify as I write (follow it for your own good. Best playlist I’ve made).

The song that resonated with me as I wrote this post was Yellow Brick Road by Rexx Life Raj. It’s the 15th song down the playlist. This lyric stood out in particular:

“Mentally I been ahead of the curve. Crazy how that shit’s a gift and a curse”

What Am I Getting Myself Into?

In March I will begin iPEC’s 9-month intensive coach training program.

I don’t know what to expect. I don’t know how much work it will be. I don’t know what kinds of shifts are going to happen. I don’t know if I’ll like it. I don’t even know if I want to be a coach. This is a big commitment. What am I getting myself into?

But I’m excited because here’s what I do know:

I know that the people who come out of this program impress me.

The few people I know who have gone through it are a noticeable mix of grounded and visionary. They’re credible and awake. They’re curious and they produce results. They’re the kind of people I’d trust with big projects and sensitive personal explorations. They’re the kind of people I want to be around and be.

I know that iPEC feels good to me.

I’ve had a few one-on-one conversations with Bruce D Schneider, the founder of iPEC and author of Energy Leadership, and this guy is a rare breed. Remarkably intuitive, articulate, insightful and kind. He told me that one of iPEC’s missions is to become the “highest resonating company on earth.” In other words, iPEC is on a mission to be the best-feeling organization to work for, participate in, collaborate with, and even learn about from a far… in the world. How epic is that?

The way a company feels to work with is usually closely aligned with the way it feels to interact with their products or services. I just finished writing Get Out of Your Way (my ebook) in partnership with iPEC so I got an up-close-and-personal peek behind the scenes. Everyone is pleased as punch. I don’t know how many times I heard someone mention feeling lucky to be able to work their dream job. Plus they’re all solid and practical. I worked directly with Michael, their head of marketing, on producing the ebook and the best word that comes to mind to describe Michael and the whole process is this: effective. Clear communication. Practical, simple, supportive, done. I don’t know much about their training program but I know that the people who work for this company feel good.

I know that there is certainly some relevance here for me.

Based on the reflections I’ve been getting from friends lately, becoming some sort of coach or facilitator is something I will probably start moving into. My friend Darian recently reached out to me and said this:

“So I fully believe that you have created a market for yourself. That you could do a lot for the people who follow you just by offering consulting or life coaching, spirit guidance, etc. Whatever it may be. Someone – right now – needs your advice/help.”

More and more I’ve been getting requests or suggestions from people about co-leading retreats, hosting events, public speaking, consulting with teams, and helping folks one-on-one with whatever they’re dealing with. I’m looking forward to having the confidence and the skills to be able to say yes to these things.

I know that I’ll love being part of an international community.

My friend Claire will be going through the same program at the same time but in the UK. I love the idea of being part of this global program filled with people who are developing themselves in a specific way. I love knowing I’ll be able to talk to Claire and share insights and collaborate and scheme—knowing we’re on the same page despite being on different continents.

I know that it might be confronting and triggering.

My friend Mark who is now finishing the program recently told me this story about his first day: He walked into the room, looked around, and literally walked right back out. He had to give himself a pep talk in the hallway to get himself to walk back in. He said at the end of that module he knew he was in exactly the right spot. I love that. I love finding stuff that reveals hidden tension or resistance in myself. Because, like Mark, I know that if I go toward whatever feels triggering or confronting, I’ll grow in a way that’s important to me.

I know that whether or not I become a coach, these skills matter.

Do you notice how some people are like mirrors to be with? They reflect back to you your own brilliance and blockages and light and darkness, without much projection about what it means or what to do next or whether it’s good or bad. These are my favorite people to spend time with. Around them I feel free to be authentic and honest. Around them I can count on learning something about myself or about something that matters to me. These are the kinds of people I would want to build a business with or start a project. They add value and momentum and clarity to my life. And whether or not they’re operating like a coach, these are usually people who have developed their skills as a coach, and are therefore more effective communicators and collaborators.

I know something bigger than a coaching certification happens in there.

I’ve talked to a lot of people— program participants and iPEC employees— and from what I understand this is not just a coaching program. Not at all. But I’ll let you know what really goes down in that program once I start. What am I getting myself into? Wish me luck 😉


For the next 10 months, I will be writing 10-20 essays about my experience going through iPEC’s coach training program. I will tag these essays “iPEC” so you can find them all in the same place.

If you want to get an email each time I post one, either sign up on my blog to get email updates or sign up here to download the ebook and get put on the mailing list for the rest of my iPEC articles.

How to Become a Social Minimalist

“How do you make sure you surround yourself with the very best people in your life? The ones that push you to be the very best version of yourself?”

Zachary Bonczek asked me this in response to my “Ask My Advice” article.

My answer: Become a social minimalist. 

What is social minimalism?

Perhaps it’s best to start with what social minimalism is not. Social minimalism is not choosing your 5 favorite friends and ditching the rest. Social minimalism is not ignoring everyone until you finally want to hang out. Social minimalism is not trying to have as few friends and social interactions as possible. 

None of that.

Social minimalism is the philosophy of minimalism applied to the way you spend time with people.

This is how The Minimalists define minimalism:

“Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.”

In other words, minimalism is cutting out all your trivial distractions so you can spend your time and energy on the things that matter to you.

It’s a surprisingly comprehensive philosophy: Yes to the things, experiences, thoughts, and decisions that move you toward your goals and give you energy. No to the things, experiences, thoughts, and decisions that do anything except move you toward your goals and give you energy (even if that means keeping you where you’re at).

Do those 46 mediocre, rarely-worn shirts hanging in your closet add value to your life? Or do they clutter your space, consume your bandwidth and distract you from the 8 shirts you love and actually wear?

The more stuff you’re dealing with the less energy you have for each thing, including the stuff that matters to you. The less stuff you’re dealing with the more energy you have for whatever’s left. The more energy you give to things that matter to you and energize you, the more alive and free and awesome you feel. 

This is the simplest route to fulfillment I can think of: give most of your energy to whatever matters to you and energizes you.

Now apply this to your social life.

How often do you hang out with people by default? Just because “it’s what we always do”? How often do you say yes to an invite when you feel neutral or even less than neutral about it in that moment? How often do you invite people to chill just because?

These moments are the social equivalent to those 46 mediocre shirts. Except it’s way more than 46. And when one hangout turns out to be surprisingly fun, you use that to justify the thousand other times you wasted your time.

Your social life could use a clean out and you know it.

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” — William Morris

The social equivalent of that quote is this: spend time with those who move you toward your goals or empower you to accomplish your mission (those who you know to be useful), or those with whom you love spending time (those who make your experience beautiful).

Here’s the caveat—people change all the time. Our moods change, our priorities change, our interests change, our thoughts change. I’m not a proponent of the popular tenets to keep your circle small or cut negative people out of your life — humans change too often for that to be a legitimate solution. It’s unnecessarily drastic. You only resort to cutting someone out of your life when you don’t trust yourself to make positive, discerning decisions in each moment. Otherwise you’d just be honest and choose not to hang out with them every single time you didn’t want to hang out with them. Then, whenever you do feel interested in them and they invite you to something that excites you, you’d go. No major friendship decisions needed.

Instead of eliminating people from your life and only keeping your favorites (like you would with material possessions) think of social minimalism like a brain update; a new mindset. It applies less to who you spend your time with and more to how and when you spend your time with them.

Here are the two criteria you should use to become more of a social minimalist:

When deciding whether or not to spend time with people, at least one of the following must be true in order for it to be a “yes.”

1.  It’s relevant. You’re up to something. You’re scheming or building or collaborating or solving a problem. You’re partnering on a project. You’re coordinating your friend’s birthday. You’re watching the big game. You’re meeting up to meditate for half an hour. One of you needs advice and the other has advice to give. There’s a reason to get together. There’s purpose. Spending time together is useful. It’s aligned with what matters to you.

— Or (or better yet, And) —

2.  It’s energizing. The thought of getting together is exciting. Tune into this feeling. You know how some invitations feel like an internal mini-victory? Like hell yes perfect timing that’s exactly what I want to do. And other times you only go because you couldn’t come up with a good enough reason why not? (If your first response upon receiving an invitation is to look for a reason why not, it’s not energizing.)  It’s energizing if you’re both eager to spend time together. It’s energizing when you find yourself nodding or smiling as you imagine it. There’s a dinner party and you have a good feeling about it. Your hilarious friend invited you to lunch and the thought of sitting across from him laughing is the best thing you can think of. Your group of friends from college is back in town and you cant wait to get together and party like freshman year. There’s someone you’re crushing on and you want to ask them on a date. You know this feeling.

If you make sure to check the box for at least one of those two standards from now on for all social get-togethers, you’ll have the best social life you’ve ever had in 6 months. (That is a totally trivial amount of time— I have no clue— but I’d bet on it if someone wanted to test it.)

Side note: I realize that some relationships are seemingly mandatory or locked in. You’re circumstantially obligated to spend time with someone and it’s not as simple as saying “I’m not feeling it today.” I get it. Think of social minimalism as a muscle to strengthen. This is a skill you are practicing, not an immediate overhaul of everything in your life. The better you get at being socially discerning in other situations, the more insight you’ll have about how to deal with your current situation.

Back to Zachary’s original question:

“How do you make sure you surround yourself with the very best people in your life? The ones that push you to be the very best version of yourself?”

You surround yourself with the very best people in your life by having a social standard that honors your time, energy, and bandwidth. 

You attract the most fulfilling and rewarding relationships into your life (and nurture the ones you already have) by being honest about what matters most to you in each moment, and confidently declining default or suboptimal social options.

It’s not about the people. It’s about getting into alignment with your true self; with your intentions and goals and values. What matters most to you? How can you spend your time in accordance with those priorities?

The more aligned you get with what really matters to you (and the less distracted you are by what doesn’t) the more naturally you will generate an environment that supports your lifestyle. You’ll start to like your friends more and they’ll start to like you more. You’ll develop a better relationship with your own time and bandwidth. You’ll learn to trust yourself to be discerning—so you won’t have to cut people out or make any sweeping decisions as a result of burning out from too much time doing stuff you don’t care about.

And, as a result of this new bar you’ve set for yourself, the new people who make it into your life will be more and more aligned with you. Social minimalism is an upward spiral.