Jason MacKenzie joins us on The SHAIR Podcast. Jason is a dad, a husband, an author, public speaker. His website: The Book of Open, is geared towards helping men become stronger, wiser, and more courageous fathers
Jason is an expert on peak human performance. He’s a father, speaker, author and coach. He teaches audiences around the world how cultivating vulnerability will liberate the strength, wisdom and courage we already possess.
He is a survivor of his wife’s battle with bipolar disorder and subsequent suicide and has overcome a decade-long battle with alcohol. When he stopped running from grief and fear he became the husband and father his family deserves.
His driving purpose is to help lift those who want more from their lives to increasingly higher levels of personal and professional performance. Jason is a strength-finder and works with you to help you ask powerful, affirmative questions about what’s best about you and your life.
His mission is to show you that you are inherently successful and then stand back and watch you fly.
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Omar: First of all, I want you to take us through your normal daily routine.
Jason: Actually my life has just recently become quite different. It’s less structured than it has been. I recently left my job and I’m really making 100% go of this entrepreneurial journey. My day is much less structured than I’m used to but I usually spend my days facilitating some master minds. I do a lot of writing, I connect with people, try to create opportunities. I have all kinds of stuff on the go like that. As far as things like hobbies and exercise routine I’m a big, big believer in the power of exercise and fitness. It’s one of the ways I think of as giving myself and act of kindness or being kind to myself. I’m really quite an avid exerciser with weights and cardio, like bike riding and a stuff like that.
Omar: Excellent. I’ve seen … We’re connected on Facebook so I see a lot of your working out. You’re in phenomenal shape. Has that always been the case? Have you always been in that, I would say athletic; an athlete type of shape?
Jason: Not really. I’ve always been an active worker-outer but what’s changed for me over the past few years, and I’m sure we’ll get into this, is the reason that I work out. I used to work out as a way of trying to either cancel out the abuse I was doing to myself or punishing myself for what had happened the night before. It was really purely physical. It was a purely physical endeavor so I never gave any thought to the spiritual, emotional, and mental aspects of health and wellness. I just thought the more I drank the night before, the more I punish myself, the harder I’d try to work out. It’s very hard to take steps forward. Regardless I was relatively fit physically, all things considered. Since I’ve sobered up and strengthened myself again emotionally, spiritually, mentally I realize now it’s really all about developing yourself as a whole person. I’m much, much physically fitter than I ever have been in my life.
Omar: Yeah. I can only imagine because if you’re in shape and your drinking, as soon as you quit the drinking you can take it to a whole other level.
Jason: Oh yeah, absolutely. It’s funny, one of the things I’m sure people are very familiar with is, I had no idea how much I was hindering my progress. I couldn’t even see it, right? As soon as I released that boat anchor from my neck it was just like I took off. It still amazes me to this day to be honest with you.
Omar: I love it. Tell us a little bit about how you maintain your personal spiritual condition on a daily basis.
Jason: One of the main ways I do it, and it might sound a little corny, I just try to find ways to be of service to people. I really … That’s what my life has become oriented around is finding ways to help people. Whether it’s sharing my story with them or sharing my struggles with them or just listening and helping and maybe guiding them through some of the things that I’ve been through or giving them a different point of view on something; I do a lot of that. It feels so good. Once I started doing those things much more the things that felt good, I realized how bad the things that made me feel bad actually made me feel because I had something to compare them to. Trying to dedicate my life more to that is an amazing way of keeping my spiritual condition robust.
As far as routines go; I meditate. I’ll be honest with you, I struggle with that a little bit. I feel like some days the mind is just racing but it feels good to me. It feels good to be doing that and it’s a journey. I get that it’s a journey. I’m not looking for some kind of immediate solution here.
Another thing I do is that I read affirmations. Those are very powerful for me because in a way I’ve defined what I want more of in my life. I’ve articulated the choices I think I need to make to create more of that in my life and I’ve identified when I’m going to make them. When I read them out loud to myself, when I started doing it I did it in the basement because I knew my kids would make fun of me if they heard me.
Omar: I know the feeling.
Jason: What has happened to me is … Repeating them and adjusting them over time as my life changes and my needs change, it started to become clear to me the things I was doing that didn’t line up with what I wanted to create as per my affirmations. It’s like a baseline or an internal sounding board for myself. That has been a game-changer for me.
Omar: Initially, what was keeping you from getting clean or staying clean when you first realized that you had a serious problem with alcohol?
Jason: What was keeping me clean was, I think, my hero complex. Because there was a very short period of time for me before I acknowledged to myself that it was problem to the time I stopped, it was only a couple weeks. I had moments but yeah, I think what was stopping me was that I was … Actually, what it was was I was too terrified to acknowledge the truth about myself; that I was living a life that I didn’t want to live.
Omar: At what point did you have that spiritual awakening, that ‘a-ha moment’ in your own recovery when you accepted that you were powerless over drugs and alcohol but for the first time you developed this hope that you really could recover this time?
Jason: That would of been the day; August 30th. I had zero hope up until that moment. It just was amazing. Now I feel like I’m a different man. I’ve overcome a lot of the problems that were causing; that I was trying to run from. That immediate moment, that was the first time I ever had hope. I tried to quit a million times but it was just the last time that worked. That’s such an important thing. What if I’d given up? I’m so glad I didn’t give up. It was a million and one-th time that worked.
Omar: Do you have any favorite books that you would recommend, including your own of course. Give us some that you would recommend and tell us a little more about your book.
Jason: A book I’d recommend, I suspect you’ve probably read it based on what we were talking about earlier, is the Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod.
Jason: Yeah. That was the book that honestly after quitting drinking probably changed my life the most. It showed me the power of doing these activities that I thought were absurd before.
Jason: Like meditation, affirmation. If you had tried to get me to do that I’d be like, “Oh my god”, I would have just dismissed you immediately as some kind of nut job, then drank a beer. That one was really changed my life. That’s probably as far as practical, actionable advice that’s really changed my life is that one.
My book is really about my journey into becoming the man and father I was always able to be. I give a lot of my story but also a lot of guidance and advice on what it means to be a vulnerable man and how to debunk the myths that are associated with vulnerability; it will make you weaker, it will expose you to risk or all these things. I walk the readers through the traditional stereotypes, debunking the myths, and then what vulnerability really means to a man and a father, and then how to start incorporating it into your life. Some practical steps you can do. How to expand your emotional vocabulary, so you don’t come home from work and go, “Huh” when your kids ask you how your day was. You actually can be open and honest with them about the things you feel good about, the things that scared you, the things that maybe you found challenging, and be able to engage them in your life.
The very last chapter I close with, this is for all the guys out there, is how to make love like a man. How vulnerability and intimacy brings you closer together with your spouse. When you’re … You make love by creating love all day long. I talk about that, about how to become a better husband to your partner and how that flows into your overall family relationship and makes things more harmonious and benefits your kids. It’s a real deep dive into vulnerability but it’s written from a dudes point of view so it’s not like watching Oprah, let’s put it that way. It’s from one brother to another.
Omar: On that note, what is the best way for our listeners to find you and reach out to you?
Jason: The best way is probably my website: The Book of Open, thebookofopen.com. You can email me at jason@thebookofopen and Twitter is @thebookofopen. It’s a pretty common theme there.
Omar: What is the best suggestion you have ever received?
Jason: The best suggestion I have every received is probably from my wife. It’s to stop seeking answers and just ask more questions. She does this a lot, sometimes it drives me crazy. She’s a question-asker; what else is possible, what can I create from this, how is this serving me? It’s not so much about finding the answer right away. It’s just about continuing to ask questions and those questions will trigger insights into your life about different choices you can make. It’s just been a huge, huge help for me.
Omar: If you could give our newcomers only one suggestion, what would that be?
Jason: If I could give newcomers one suggestion I would say to share your story; your authentic story. If you need help ask for help. You will be amazed at the people who are surrounding you who will help you.
SUGGESTIONS FOR THE NEWCOMER
“…share your story, your authentic story.”
See you then!
Disclaimer – The opinions shared on this show reflect those of the individual speaker and not of any 12 step fellowship as a whole and though we discuss 12 step recovery and the impact it has had in our lives we do not promote or endorse any 12 step anonymous program.