How to Reinvent Yourself | Craig Stanland, Reinvention Architect

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Sleep, eat, work, repeat… Most of us go about our lives without wondering too much if what we currently have and do is really ‘it’, let alone what this elusive ‘it’ may look like. 

After all, why would you risk it all and not just be content with what you have, whether that’s a steady income, a nice car, or a good marriage? That will all still be here tomorrow, just waiting for you, right?

But what if it weren’t? What if one day, your whole life fell apart and you lost everything? Or what if you had to give up something big if you wished to live a truly fulfilling life? How would you handle that? How would you reinvent your life? 

In this episode, I had the pleasure of welcoming reinvention architect Craig Standland, who knows all about how to reinvent your life after watching his own crumble in 2013, when the FBI came knocking at his door, for a second round on the podcast.

In this episode we delve deeper into Craig’s current occupation as a reinvention architect, what that means, and how he guides others as they navigate big life changes and end up becoming better people because of it. 

If after this episode you are curious to listen to the first one with Craig, in which he talks a lot more about why he went to prison and the lessons he learned there, do have a listen to episode 028.

Craig is also the author of the best-seller ‘Blank Canvas: How I Reinvented My Life after Prison’, and gave an inspiring TEDx talk on the subject. If you’d like to spend even more time with him, both are really worth checking out.

Websites:


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Episodes:


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People mentioned:

  • Karen Faith (Karen Faith is an ethnographer and strategist whose work has guided teams and initiatives at Google, Amazon, Indeed, The NBA, The ACLU, Blue Cross Blue Shield, The Federal Reserve Bank, and The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, among many others.
  • Tim Ferriss (Tim Ferriss is an author, podcaster, and entrepreneur known for his books on productivity and self-improvement, including “The 4-Hour Workweek.)
  • Marcus Aurelius (Marcus Aurelius Antoninus was Roman emperor from 161 to 180 AD and a Stoic philosopher.)
  • – The IPS Academy 00:0000:51
  • – Intro 00:5104:46
  • – What most people wish for when they want to reinvent themselves 04:4608:20
  • – The most common age group Craig works with on reinvention 08:2010:00
  • – What people don’t understand about the work Craig does as a reinvention architect 10:0017:18
  • – What Craig’s own reinvention journey looked like and how he discovered the tools he uses today with clients 17:1823:00
  • – The four A’s 23:0026:02
  • – Three major components to living a rich, fulfilling, and meaning-driven life 26:0232:26
  • – How to find your core values 32:2635:11
  • – The difference between healthy and unhealthy core values 35:1139:00
  • – Exercises to establish your core values 39:0041:50
  • – How to create a system that works for you 41:5045:33
  • – The fears that held Craig back on his own reinvention journey and how he got past them 45:3350:39
  • – The IPS Academy 50:3951:55
  • – What Craig did on his 50th birthday 51:5555:36
  • – What Craig would say to young people who feel pressured to get everything right in life 55:361:01:10
  • – How to get a healthy view of success 1:01:101:04:28
  • – When Craig realized meaning and fulfillment were more important than just money 1:04:281:07:50
  • – Creating a catalyst in your life towards actions that create the life you want to live 1:07:501:14:06
  • – Upcoming books Craig is working on 1:14:061:19:37
  • – There is always a reason for behavior: Good people do bad things too 1:19:371:24:00
  • – Where to find and connect with Craig 1:24:001:26:15
  • – Final question 1:26:151:28:09
  • – Outro 1:28:091:29:08
  • – The IPS Academy 1:29:081:30:35

The transcription is, for the most part, AI-transcribed and is currently 85% accurate. We are still weeding out some minor errors.

The IPS Academy
Before we go on to the interview, have you already taken a look at The IPS Academy? The IPS Academy provides online courses from some of the best instructors out there on mental health, personal development, lifestyle, nutrition, mindfulness improving your life quality, etc. Each course we offer has been made in collaboration with an instruct who has also been a guest here on The IPS podcast. Have a look to see if there’s a course to your liking. Read the full course descriptions and check out the thousands of positive reviews from students who have taken the course by going to TheIPSProject.com/academy. Or check the description of this episode to find the link. With that, let’s dig into the interview.

Craig Stanland
That blueprint that we follow is the when I then I. When I make 100K, then I’ll be happy. Pulling back from that a little bit and saying “What does that $100,000 represent to me?” Because it’s not necessarily the money. Is it security? Is it a sense of acceptance? Am I going to be accepted and approved? And am I going to be loved? It goes right back to that first day of awareness and the willingness to inquire within as to what the object that we desire actually represents. Because I’m a firm believer that it’s very rare that we want the thing. We want how we think the thing is going to make us feel. And we also… We want the thing because how we believe other people will perceive us because we have that thing.

Jellis Vaes
Welcome everyone here to another episode on The IPS Podcast. My name is Jellis Vaes, and I am the founder of The IPS Project and your host here on the podcast. In this episode, I had the pleasure to welcome a guest who has been here on the podcast before, someone that, I mean, honestly love talking to myself. So it was very exciting when he said yes to come on the show again. And that guest is no one other than keynote speaker, bestselling author, and reinvention architect Craig Stanland. Now, in episode 28, I talked with Craig for the first time, and that’s where we actually talked in depth why Craig went to prison, why he had to spend two years in prison, and another three years of supervised vision. So if you’re curious to just learn all the lessons and also, of course, the full story of why he went to prison, then do check out episode 28, as it’s honestly a very fascinating and insightful episode. Now, just in short, why he landed in prison is because he defrauded a tech giant. Again, if you’re curious to learn more about the whole story, then check out that episode, which I will link to in the description of this episode.

Now, in this episode, I am actually talking with Craig much more about what he does today. As a reinvention architect, Craig had to go on quite an extraordinary kind of reinvention journey that led to all of the lessons that he uses today in the one on one coaching that he does with clients who are also wanting to reinvent their life or aspects of their life. If you are maybe going through a breakup or you’re doing a study that you don’t like, or a job that you hate, or you’re going through some kind of crisis or something else, then you are going to learn a lot. And this episode can truly help you on that journey as there are a lot of practical takeaways in this episode. Now, as always, to find anything mentioned by Craig in this episode, any resources, then check out the show notes located in the description of this episode. There you can also find ways to connect with Greg, find his TEDx Talk, his book that he wrote, Blank Canvas how I Reinvented My Life After Prison, and again, anything else that was mentioned in this episode. Having said all that, I do sincerely hope that you will find much value, insights and takeaways here in this episode with reinvention architect Craig Stanland.

Jellis Vaes
Craig, a warm welcome here once again to The IPS podcast. It’s truly awesome to have you here for a second round on the show.

Craig Stanland
I can’t tell you how excited I am. I loved our first episode. We’ve had conversations in between our episodes and every single time and even the 15 minutes we were chatting before recording, we always have good conversations. So I’ve been really psyched for this.

Jellis Vaes
Yeah, I mean, there’s a few guests that I’ve had on the show that I’m always like, yeah, I want to have that person on again just because it’s the things that they have to share, but just the person itself that I just enjoy talking to. And you’re one of those people. So, yeah, I’m excited for this episode.

Craig Stanland
Yeah. You know what I remember from our first and just our conversations in general, you ask great questions. Just your questions are absolutely incredible. They’re very insightful and you do something that I think is really important in any conversation, you hear what isn’t being said, and I love that.

Jellis Vaes
Okay, well, thank you. I hope I can deliver on that again today.

Craig Stanland
No pressure.

Jellis Vaes
So in the first interview that we did, we talked a lot about why you went to prison and your time in prison and the things that you learned there. And we did talk also a bit about what you do today as a reinvention architect, but not to the extent that I actually want to talk about here in this episode with you. I’m going to start with actually a not very original first question, but the people that come to you who want to work with you 101 with, what wish do most people have when they come to you?

Craig Stanland
So this is a really, actually great place to start because I think it speaks to the work and it speaks to how people think when they come to me, I will start. I offer a free discovery call and I start every single discovery call the same exact way. What was the impetus for you to schedule this call? And I’ve heard some unbelievable stories from people, but there’s an underlying current and what it is, is, well, I don’t want this, I don’t want that, I don’t want this. And I’m like that’s. Really? That’s great, but what do you want? And that stumps everybody all the time. And the answer is going to be unique for each individual. But there are again, themes that come through. It is I want peace, I want meaning, I want fulfillment. I want to know that my unique skills and talents are being utilized to their full potential towards something meaningful in my life. I want to do things beyond my professional, my materialistic and financial success. They want to create something new in their lives and then again, that’s unique for each individual, but it’s that creation of something new.

Jellis Vaes
Is there like a specific age that you mostly see that come to you or is it like just very wide ranging of ages?

Craig Stanland
It is. So, marketing wise, when I put myself out there, I do target 35 to 55. I just turned 50. My journey took me through 35 to 50. And so I feel very comfortable speaking with people in those ages. I feel I can relate. I know that’s my sweet spot. However, having said that, I also have a 23 year old and I’ve had people into their 80s. So marketing wise, I’m very narrow, but who I end up working with is very broad.

Jellis Vaes
Yeah, I mean, I could imagine that wanting to reinvent a part of your life or your whole life could happen at any age in the end, right. That desire to want to do that.

Craig Stanland
Well, I’m going to jump on that really quickly. I think that reinvention is we can come to an inflection point in our lives where we want to reinvent, something’s got to give and we want to reinvent. But I would argue that a really rich, deep, meaningful, fulfilling life is one of constant reinvention. Not allowing ourselves to become complacent in one identity only, but to constantly look to evolve and expand who we are and what we want to do. Because even if we achieve our dreams, it’s very easy to fall back into complacency because of how our brains are wired. So it’s really always looking for that constant expansion.

Jellis Vaes
That’s true. That’s true. Yeah. Actually, when you are, for example, at a social event or at a bar or somewhere out, right. And people ask you what do you do? And you tell them, I am a reinvention architect. And you explain a bit about what it is that you do there, what is actually something that you feel? What part maybe do you feel people often don’t fully understand to the extent that you wish them to understand about what you do, honestly, that there’s a.

Craig Stanland
Life that’s available to them at any given time that they’re totally unaware of. Oftentimes when I explain what I do, if I was to narrow it down, two responses. One, oh, my God, that’s so cool. I’d love to talk to you. Number two is the deer in the headlights. What the heck is that? I didn’t even know a thing like that existed. I do X. I am a CEO, I’m a CFO, whatever it may be. I’m that, and that’s all I ever will be. And so when I tell them what I do, they’re just like, that’s a thing.

Jellis Vaes
Yeah.

Craig Stanland
And so what I wish people would know is just that there is something else available to them, and it’s always within their grasp, and it might even be within their eyesight. They just have to open their eyes to see it.

Jellis Vaes
It’s actually funny. I mean, with the job title Reinvention Architect, there are certain job titles. I actually talked not too long ago to Karen Faith, who is an empathy trainer, and she also has the same response every time. Like, what the hell is that? Plus also like, oh, that’s very cool. But I could imagine that you get the same kind of comments from people when you tell them what you do. But in the end, you can create your own job, right? Many jobs just got invented, right? Because there was a need for them.

Craig Stanland
That’s what I think is so cool about the world that we live in. If you see an opportunity and this is some of the work that I do with my clients, in a sense, you see an opportunity, you go to it, and you create the solution that you want to create for that opportunity. And whatever you want to label yourself, you can. There’s no boundaries on that. Really quickly, it was funny when I came up with I was working with a business coach when I came up with Reinvention Architect, and she said, what do you think you want to call yourself? I was like reinvention architect. She goes, oh my God, I love it. It’s sexy. It’s great. It’s incredible. I got this big grin on my face. I was like, oh my God. A little validation. She loves it. Only one problem. Nobody knows what the hell that is. Nobody’s going to Google Reinvention Architect because you just made it up. It’s going to have an issue with SEO. So I want you to consider that. And I said, you know what? I love the name, and I’m sticking with it. And she said, I love your commitment to it.

Craig Stanland
We’ll just make that name ubiquitous so that people know what it is. That’s our job.

Jellis Vaes
Now, wait, how did you came with that name? Did it just hit you or did you read about it somewhere? Or did you connect it to words that you really any way, how you came to it.

Craig Stanland
Great question. So when I realized that I wanted to work one on one with people, when I wanted to coach people, I started thinking about, okay, what do I know better than anyone else, right? And I flashed to this conversation with a friend who was actually talking about me dating after prison, of all things. But she was talking about dating in the terms of she goes, Honestly, I think you should have, like a really casual relationship before you get into something serious because you’ve completely reinvented your life after prison and you don’t know who you are yet. So when I’m thinking about coaching, that phrase popped in. I said she’s right. I have completely reinvented my life, and I love that, and I know that better than anyone. And when I was in prison and I got out of prison and I was doing all of the steps and the work that I was doing, I used a lot of architectural terms. I have my inner foundation. I was rebuilding my life. I was clearing the land, which is eliminating those limiting beliefs. When I journaled, I used a lot of architectural terms, which I love architecture.

Craig Stanland
I have zero background in it. But that and then reinvention. And this was in the early morning in that liminal state when you’re a little fuzzy before you’re fully awake, that kind of brilliant state when all of this is going through my brain and just like a flash, reinvention architect.

Jellis Vaes
And when did you actually decided that you wanted to do this? Like, was this in prison or was this after prison that you felt like the dots connecting? This is what I want to help people with.

Craig Stanland
So it was after prison, and I had gotten a job at a gym in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. I think we read it, talked about.

Jellis Vaes
On the first yeah, we did.

Craig Stanland
Here I am making $12 an hour. I’m seven figures in debt. And it was a great job, but I become very friendly with a lot of the members. And one of them, I finally asked, I said, Kim, what do you do? And she told me she’s a business mentor and a mindset coach. I didn’t know that that even existed. And I shared with her then and there, my story. I told her that I was wickedly successful in the corporate world, and I went to prison, and I’m rebuilding my life. And I said, I’m working on the book. I want to do speaking. And I thought I wanted to do consulting back in the corporate world because I was still in that mindset. I’m a corporate guy, and that’s what I do, and that’s my skill set. So she said, I offer a free call. Let’s get on and see if we can work together. Free call was amazing. I ended up working with her for two years, and while I was working with her, my friend was going through some things, and so I started using the tools and techniques with my friend, and I loved how it felt.

Craig Stanland
And so I came to my next session with my coach, and I said, you know, I always said I wanted to do the consulting, and that’s kind of the direction we’ve been heading. I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to go back to corporate. That’s what I know. I want to do something new. I said, I want to coach people. And she said, Pardon my language, but these are her words. She goes, I can’t tell you how fucking happy that makes me. I couldn’t tell you that. She said, I couldn’t tell you that. You needed to connect the dots for yourself. And that’s how I came to it, was actually putting the tools that I myself was learning into an application for a friend and feeling that fulfillment and that meaning, that sense of purpose, and watching them use those tools in a meaningful way is very powerful, and that’s why I connected with it.

Jellis Vaes
Okay, so let’s build a little bit on this. So I’m actually curious because I don’t think we talked really that much about it in the previous interview, but these tools that you mentioned, how did your own reinvention journey actually looked like? What steps did you take and how did you discover these steps? How did you discover these tools that helped you?

Craig Stanland
I’m going to think about how to answer this, because there were four distinctive first steps that I took, and then I can build upon that. The steps came to me very naturally through the act of journaling, through the act of a lot of time in prison. So there was a lot of thinking that I did, and so they came naturally. But afterwards, I was able to look at it and go, oh my God, there were like, four distinct steps.

Jellis Vaes
And then I afterwards after prison, after.

Craig Stanland
Prison, when I started really writing about it, when I started doing the work with other people, and I wanted to, if you will, formalize them, but I looked back and I said, wow. And they were my four A’s, and they were practicing awareness, accepting reality, accepting responsibility, and accepting choice. Those were my first four that really got the ball rolling. I still practice those every single day to the best of my ability. Awareness isn’t a one and done. Awareness is an ongoing journey. The acceptance of reality is life. Not what exactly I want right now. And why isn’t it? What do I want it to be? Accepting responsibility. Now that I’ve accepted my reality, I’m responsible for changing it. What am I going to do now and then accepting the power of choice. Every single thing that I do is a choice. Even not making a choice, there’s a consequence to every single choice. And embracing that, that I have a choice to change. It’s my responsibility to change. Those were the four initial steps.

Jellis Vaes
And when you reviewed your notes, they came out of that. It’s not like you were intentionally or that you somewhere discovered this four ace somewhere you just through taking notes yourself in prison. They just started being there.

Craig Stanland
They did. It was the most natural. So I also know, and I’ll be the first to admit this, my tools are not necessarily unique to me. I did not make any of this stuff up. I firmly believe all the world’s wisdom was written 5000 years ago in the upanishads, in the Bhagavagita Kaute Qing not quite 5000 years ago, but meditations. Marcus Aurelius and all I’ve been doing, and I think other people is regurgitating it, but in a meaningful way through the lens of our own experience. And I think that’s what’s really important to this. I’ll give you accepting reality. How that hit me was I was in prison and I was wishing that I was home sitting on the couch with my wife, my dog and my cat. My wife had already told me she was divorcing me, so that wasn’t going to happen. I was wishing I wasn’t financially ruined. I was wishing I wasn’t imprisoned. I was wishing all these things that were completely the antithesis of my reality. And as I was doing this, I’m journaling all these things. Intuition just came over me and said, I’m fighting reality here. And I got this urge to start writing.

Craig Stanland
And I fought the urge, but it was I accept that I’m in prison. I accept that I’m financially ruined. I accept that I’m getting divorced and going through almost a laundry. Everything I was wishing for was a reality that I was fighting against. And I had to practice acceptance of it. And when I did, it was about three quarters of a journal page of things that I had to accept. Not even bullet point, I mean, all the way across, going past the margins. And it really hurt while I was doing it, it stung because these were things that I didn’t want to accept, that I didn’t want to admit. But the most amazing thing occurred when I was done, when kind of like all petered out and the pen kind of trailed off the edge. I felt freedom in prison because I had given myself I was living in the past before practicing acceptance. I was living in the past, which was staining my future with colors of the past, which was filling me with regret and filling me with anxiety. By practicing acceptance of my reality, I gave myself a baseline in which to start over. It was not the optimal baseline because I was in prison, but I was actually starting from a very real place. Then I could take real action. And responsibility kind of naturally flowed from that because I started thinking about this baseline. I started thinking about it and I said, I remember writing in my journal. Okay, this is my life now. What am I going to do next?

Jellis Vaes
Interesting. There’s actually a therapy called ACT, I don’t know if you’ve heard about it. It’s acceptance and commitment therapy. It’s actually used a lot now these days, and it actually boils a little bit down to what you were doing back then.

Craig Stanland
Interesting.

Jellis Vaes
Very interesting, yes. So wait, the four A’s were acceptance, responsibility and awareness. Awareness.

Craig Stanland
Awareness was number one because I had to be aware of what was going on. Awareness to me is wickedly important, but also very quick. In a sense. It’s just being aware that as I was, I’ll use this example in what I just gave you and accepting reality. I’m sitting there wishing that things were different. It was the awareness to say, I’m fighting truth. I needed to practice that awareness to say I’m fighting truth. I am wishing for things that are literally impossible. Awareness can be sometimes very, very quick. That led me into the acceptance of reality and writing all those things. So it’s awareness, accepting my reality, accepting responsibility and accepting choice.

Jellis Vaes
And accepting choice… Can you give an example of accepting choice?

Craig Stanland
An example of accepting choice is really simple. I’ll give you a simple one and it’s very silly, but it’s I have to do laundry or I choose to do laundry. I have to do laundry. Feels like a chore. It feels like a burden. It feels like something weighing on me. I choose to do laundry is empowering. It’s a very silly, simple example. But in prison it came down to I choose to create something new out of my life. I have this gift of a blank canvas. I choose to create something new from it.

Jellis Vaes
But how do you… Because it is just a little word change that can do a lot. But how do you internally also make that change happen, that you choose to do it instead of you have to do it? Because that can be difficult for people.

Craig Stanland
I think it can be extremely difficult and I think that it comes back to awareness. It’s funny how it circles right back to awareness. And I used laundry because I think that’s a very great entryway. I have to do the dishes. I think using it in terms of chores and practicing awareness to see how it feels when you say I have to take the trash out and then planting that seed, saying, you know what, I want to change the wording. I don’t have to do anything, but I choose to take the trash out. And I think it’s also very important to understand that if you don’t take the trash out, it’s going to pile up and your house is going to stink. There is a consequence and I think that’s how we start planting that seed.

Jellis Vaes
Okay, very interesting. I do remember that you did talk a little bit about these four A’s as well in our last interview. What other things helped you on your reinvention journey? Has there been anything else that also had a significant impact?

Craig Stanland
Absolutely. And what I want to do, and this might even inform the rest of our conversation as I’m working on my second book, I’ve really understood that there was and all of this is with the gift of hindsight. I didn’t realize when I was doing it, but I realized that there were three major components to my reinvention. And I believe that these three components are the key to living that rich, deep, meaningful, mission-driven, fulfilling life. And we can go through them and we’re doing it right now. But the first one is connection. Connection is practicing that awareness. It’s a connection to oneself first and foremost. So that’s where the awareness, the accepting reality, accepting responsibility, accepting choice comes in. And so we connect with ourselves. And the next step that I started doing was as I was journaling in prison, I realized that I made terrible choices. That’s why I landed in prison in the first place. My choices were absolutely horrific. They were fear based choices. And I started thinking, there’s got to be an easier way to make difficult choices. And I was not looking for a shortcut, I had already taken far too many of those.

Craig Stanland
But I was looking for an easier way to make challenging choices. And two words kept on coming up through my journaling practice. They were filter and lens. I wanted a filter that I could run decisions through and an answer would come out the other side crystal clear. Or I wanted a lens that I could view things through where an answer would come out crystal clear. So I started thinking about what is the filter and lens that I want to operate through? And it was gratitude and it was connection, it was creativity. And so what I was doing, I didn’t realize what I was doing. And I see a small smile on your face. You might even know what I was doing. Only when I had access to the Internet, when I got out of prison. Those are my core values. I was creating my core values and I was just without knowing that I was doing I didn’t even know core values were a thing before I went into prison. And so it was just this very natural thing for me that thinks as a filter and a lens. So what I do and the work I do with my clients is one of the first things we do is establish their filter, their lens, what are their core values?

Craig Stanland
Because those are I’ll give an example and I’ll use myself as the example. It was great when I practiced those forays Right, they were really liberating and they all happened inside prison and they all allowed me to feel a bit of freedom. But I was still very lost, I was still very without direction, trying to grasp onto anything because everything was gone. As I started getting clear on my filter and my lens, I started to feel that I had direction, I had clarity, I understood what was important to me. And in a place like prison, where you have very little external agency, I was giving myself internal agency. I was becoming in control of my life because I had those core values. And that is so important for any of us, because so many of my clients, when they come to me and a lot of people, I think if we were to go out on the street of your town and just have a microphone and say, could you tell us your core values? I think the majority of people would look at both of us like we were absolutely insane. It’s something that they haven’t given any thought to.

Craig Stanland
Or conversely, and I love this on my client calls, what are your core values? Oh, yeah, I totally know of I got them locked down. We don’t even need to work on that. I got them locked down. Great. What are they? Well, I was like, you don’t have them because they need to be like this. They need to be intrinsic. You need to be able to repeat them. They need to be a part of you. And we’ll get into how we make that happen. But establishing those core values gives people a direction. It gives them a North Star that they can follow. For example, with some of my clients, if they say family is a core value, they put that number one, and a lot of people do, and it’s obviously extremely important. That’s great. How many hours did you work last week? 80. How often did you see your family? I didn’t.

Jellis Vaes
Yeah.

Craig Stanland
How does that make you feel? I feel pretty crappy. Okay, what can we do? How can we start making some decisions that are in alignment with your core value of family? Because when we start making those decisions, when we accept that responsibility, when we start accepting choice, and we make choices that are in alignment with our filter, with our lens core values, we build self trust and we just feel in alignment within ourselves. We feel congruent with our choices, and we start breaking free from that autopilot. We start giving ourselves that sense of agency. So it’s a small step, but a massive step at the same time.

Jellis Vaes
Honestly, like you said, if you would walk up to people on the streets and you would ask them about their core values, many would indeed not know what to answer directly because they haven’t given any time to think about that. Exactly. Now, I would have to say, honestly, if I would have to give like a top three myself, I would also have to think about that. I do have one immediately that I can think of, but let’s talk maybe, how do you find them? Because you could say a. Couple of values, maybe, but I could see some people that they would change every year. And I guess that’s not really your core values then, right? I mean, not to say that they probably can change in time, but how do you go about and find your true core values?

Craig Stanland
What a wonderful question. So a couple of ways of going about doing that. One is you can look to people that you admire, okay. And what do you admire about them? Do you enjoy that they are a family person who’s connected with family? Do you enjoy that they are creative, that they live with what appears to be a sense of freedom to them, that they light up a room? So you can look at that. People that you admire, what are the traits that you admire in them? Why do you do that? That’s one way of going about doing it. Another way to think about it is you could say, if money were no object, what would you do? How would you spend your time? I would spend my time in nature. I would write a book. You know what? I’d start restoring watches. And those are very niche things. But what’s behind that? What’s the thing behind that? What does that represent? So that’s another way that you can connect with your values. What pisses you off? If you see something and it’s a pet peeve and it’s like an injustice in the world and you are pissed and you are or you’re pissed or you’re hurt, you’re very sad, very empathetic for a tragedy that’s going on in the world, that’s a core value, because that’s triggering something inside an individual.

Craig Stanland
So those are three ways to start looking at the core values. Then from there, what I would suggest is a brain dump. Writing down, like, as many as you can doesn’t have to be a set number. You want to write down as many as you can just to get them all out there. I’d almost suggest letting them sit for a day. Let them just marinate, if you will. Come back to the list. When you’re in a really good place, it’s quiet. You can focus on them and reread the list, and I guarantee you there’s going to be just a handful of them that hit something, and those are your core values. The other ones get thrown away. They have to ignite something within us. They’ve got to resonate.

Jellis Vaes
Okay, and are there great answer, by the way. Great answer. Good questions to really think about. Are there wrong core values? I could imagine someone saying, like, oh, my core value is money, but maybe like you said, okay, what’s underneath that? But just in general, are there incorrect core values?

Craig Stanland
That’s an interesting question. Okay, so what comes up for me is I can’t remember the individual who said this, but it was I think I heard it on the Tim Ferriss podcast, and I’m going to use this as an analogy. Sure, he would ask people, who’s your third favorite physicist? And you have to think about that. His point was, if I ask you who your first favorite physicist is, even people who are not familiar with physicists whatsoever, chances are they’re going to say, Einstein, who’s your third favorite artist? Picasso is an easy one to throw out from number one. But when you think about number three, you have to dig. You’ve got to dig and go through a list. So that analogy applies to our core values. If a core value comes out, that might seem like the first 1 may be what you think is the right answer, but what you said earlier is to dig beneath and see is that actually genuine? And there are I call them displacement values. And those are the values that we think we should have. Those are the values when we’re going through the list, it’s like, well, I should want to do this.

Craig Stanland
I should be like this. And we want to be very mindful of those because if they’re not ours, we’re going to feel very incongruent when we follow them. So we’ve got to be mindful. And again, what’s the third one behind that? We dig.

Jellis Vaes
And I mean, the question that you said, like, what would you do if money would not be a problem? Is a very interesting question to think about.

Craig Stanland
Yeah, it really is. And you know what I think is funny about that is a lot of people, their first answer, not the third one. A lot of people again, you and I go out on the streets of your town and ask people. They’d be like, oh, I’d sit on the beach and drink daiquiris. Majority of people would be so sick and tired of that in two weeks. Because we as humans crave, meaning we crave purpose. I mean, it’s like intrinsic to us. So that’s that first answer. And when we start getting down to it, and it’s like, wow, boy, I’d love to volunteer with horses. I’m actually using somebody that I know who does that. And it’s like, why is that important to you? It’s connection with an animal that’s unbelievably intelligent. So what I’m hearing is connection is very important to you. And they’re like, yeah, I do. I love connecting with people. Okay, so connection is one of your core values.

Jellis Vaes
Yeah, well, actually, I would say at my top of my list is and it’s always been number one, helping people. Like, even when I was a little kid, that was always there. So I would definitely say that would be one of my biggest core values, helping other people.

Craig Stanland
And the great thing is having this platform, the work that I know that you do, you’re living in alignment with that core value. I can ask you, how does that feel?

Jellis Vaes
Well, it feels amazing, right!

Craig Stanland
Exactly.

Jellis Vaes
Yeah. It feels like I’m doing the right thing. That feels right for me, right?

Craig Stanland
Yeah, really quickly, I’d love to two things or a couple of things. I’d love to just invite people to think about when they establish their core values. A couple of exercises, because before I said I believe you’ve got to be able to recite them as if we recite our own name. There’s a difference between understanding something intellectually and embodying it emotionally. And I believe that our core values are something that are meant to be embodied emotionally. And the way that we go about doing this is and I discovered this in prison as well, I was like, I want these things to be so embedded in me that when a choice comes in, it’s an instantaneous yes or an instantaneous no. Like they are in my bloodstream. And so what I did for that is kind of silly, but I would write them down every single day. I would just write them down every single day. I did that for years. I’m just starting to get back into that again because I actually let the practice wane. But I write them down every single day. Then I do word association and a silly little game. But one of my core values is freedom.

Craig Stanland
And so I’ll do a word association. What’s the first word that comes up when I think of freedom? Peace. What are the first three words that I think of when I think of freedom? Peace. Creativity. Gratitude. And so I do that word association. So I start connecting them to different emotions in my life. The next thing that I chose to do was fill in the blank. When I embody the core value of freedom, it allows me to fill in the blank.

Jellis Vaes
I see.

Craig Stanland
I would do these exercises every day and I did them for years. Oftentimes the answers on the fill in the blank would be the same. The word association, the answer would be the same. I would try to make them different, but I wouldn’t force it if it wasn’t meant to be forced. But I start seeing how they were interwoven and how they connected to one another. And when I lived one value, I was automatically creating the other values. It’s really interesting. And the fill in the blank, when I embody the core value of freedom, it enables me to be wickedly creative in my life, which is something I love to do. I just made that up. That was the first thing that came to mind for me now live on our conversation and even just saying that aloud, it triggers some stuff inside of me in a very positive way.

Jellis Vaes
And where would you recommend people to do this? Like, would you recommend them to keep like a journal or would you recommend them to write this down and hang it on a fridge that they could see it all the time? Because I could imagine people sometimes I mean, we need reminders. We have so much in our life to think about already, right? But even our core values, we forget sometimes. Is there something that you suggest to clients to keep them reminded of these core values?

Craig Stanland
So you just listed a couple of really good ones and what I tell clients and what I tell anybody and I implore the listeners to heed. This is, again, I’m going to share a quick story because I think stories are how we learn anecdotes are important. When I was in prison, when I got out of prison, I was reading all the self help books, right? And I was trying to follow the steps that the person had put in the book to the T. I was following them, trying to follow that blueprint that they created 100% honoring what they did. And I would do this for like, sometimes only one day, two days, three days, and I would stop because it just didn’t resonate with me. And then I’d be filled with like, shame and guilt that this system that this guru created is not working for me. What the hell’s wrong with me? Why do I suck? I mean, a lot of negative self talk and what I ended up doing, I got off the self help treadmill and I started creating my own tools and my own things. But what I did was I took and this is where I want listeners to connect to.

Craig Stanland
I took the spirit of what the person was saying, I took the spirit of what they intended and I turned it into my own, as opposed to following somebody else’s blueprint to a T. So for anybody who’s listening, all the stuff that I was just saying, you can start doing that. If this is the road you want to go down, you can start doing it. But listen to your intuition and see how the exercise and where the exercise takes you, because that’s what works for you. That’s what this is about, is creating a system that is going to work for you. So that’s a long way of answering your question, is find what works for you. And you do that by experimenting. It could be on the fridge, it could be a reminder on your phone. Set daily core values and have them listed in your phone. You pull that up, it could be postit, notes, places, but the key is to find what lands with you. That makes the practice a habit, that makes it a part of your life. So take the spirit of what I’m saying and transform it into your own, because that’s also how we move from intellectual understanding, from intellectual understanding to an emotional embodiment. That’s where I think real change occurs.

Jellis Vaes
Yeah, okay. Very good, actually. Yes, because like you, many people get frustrated when you read these things on these self help books and they do it and they’re like, this just doesn’t work for me. Yeah, there must be something wrong with me. And you have that a lot with the productivity books, I think, out there. Also with self help books in general. Right. But I was recently talking with a friend, actually, about this. So yeah, good suggestion. Like customize the system.

Craig Stanland
Yeah, customize the system. Understand what the intention behind it with the intention of the author, because the author it may be a phenomenal system, but it’s what works for them. And we are all so unique, and our own limiting beliefs, our fears, how we get in our own way, those rigid systems, I don’t think can just they just can’t work for everybody.

Jellis Vaes
Like a diet a little bit. Right.

Craig Stanland
Great analogy. Great analogy.

Jellis Vaes
Yeah. You got to customize it yourself. Yeah. Fear is a huge topic when it comes to changing aspects of yourself and reinventing yourself. It can stand in the way for many people. And we’re going to talk more about fear in a bit, but were there actually any fears that held you back on your own reinvention journey? And if yes, how did you get past those fears so many? Yeah.

Craig Stanland
Okay. Something I still struggle with today. I’m going to be very frank because I think this is important. I’m not going to sit here and be this coach or this person who’s got it all figured out, because anybody who says, that’s full of crap. Yeah, I still struggle with a even though we’re having this awesome conversation and this is going to get broadcast literally across the world, I’m being seen and heard massive fear of that massive fear of being seen and heard as something that I struggle with quite a bit. And how I started navigating that was I realized, well, I’ll rewind a little bit. I made fear based choices, and that’s what landed me in prison. Right.

Craig Stanland
So again, my intuition through journaling told me that I needed to write down all of my fears and execute them one by one. My number one fear for as long as I can remember, probably about since the fourth grade, was public speaking. And I realized that if I wanted to make the most of this second chance that I had, I really had to conquer that fear. And that was a tremendous journey to be able to navigate that, to work through it. When I was in prison, I set the goal to deliver a Ted Talk. I figured that was Ted, TEDx. I figured that was the ultimate representation of conquering that, that I needed that target to go to. It took me five years after I got out of prison to actually land on the TEDx stage. But that journey through fear was an act of reinvention. It was an act of expansion, and it was an act of becoming. And that’s how we because I became the person who said, who did what he said he was going to do, because I set that commitment in prison, it took me five years but I did it.

And so our fears, that one is a huge one of mine, but I said something that’s a very important tool when it comes to fears is a Fear Inventory. I wrote down all of my fears. I wrote them down, I had them listed. And when we do a Fear Inventory, we’re getting what’s inside out. And sometimes our fears, when we just write them or we get them from the inside out, they almost dissipate on their own. We see them on paper in our own handwriting. We’re like, oh, that silly thing. Oh, why has that been holding me back? Others are major, like a public speaking fear of being seen and heard. They are very big, but now that we’ve actually given them a face, we may feel them inside and know them, but until we actually put them on paper and give them a sense of reality, it’s very hard to work on them without doing that. So for me, writing those fears down and doing that Fear Inventory was crucial to my navigation through them.

Jellis Vaes
So, by the way, for everyone listening your TEDx Talk, I will put it in the show notes because it is truly an incredible TEDx Talk. It’s been a couple of years now since you did it, right? But still a big congrats on doing it and accomplishing actually that goal that you set out, which is just mind blowing to think about now that you’ve already done this, already done it.

Craig Stanland
And it was one of the most extraordinary things that I’ve ever done in my entire life. That and publishing my book were two of the most extraordinary things that I have ever done. And the reason behind that was because it was setting a goal. Both of those were facing fears. Publishing a book is one of the biggest ways a person could be seen and heard. Maybe nobody buys it, but you are putting something out into the world that can be consumed, that can be seen and heard. And so those two were pivotal to my reinvention after prison. Like I said earlier, they were an act of becoming because I had to become someone new. And that’s really what reinvention is, is an act of becoming and to become someone new, to create something new.

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Jellis Vaes
I actually read not too long ago on your Instagram page and you also just recently, or you just shared it a couple of minutes ago as well, that you turned 50 not too long ago, right? I mean, first of all…

Craig Stanland
August fifth.

Jellis Vaes
The what?

Craig Stanland
August fifth. So just a couple of weeks from this recording.

Jellis Vaes
August fifth. Yeah. All right, first of all, a happy belated birthday. Thank you. Well, how did you celebrate it actually your birthday? Did you do something special? Because like 50 years old is a big number. You could say like the 40, 50, 60. This number seemed to be like a huge thing. Do you something special?

Craig Stanland
So I’ll tell you what I did, and I’m not saying this is like lip service to support everything that we’ve just been talking about. I did what was important to me, and I went and I worked out on the beach. In the morning, my fiance and I had breakfast outside one of our favorite places on our village green, where we could just watch people. I live in a great town where a lot of people collect cars, so a lot of fun cars, and I love cars. Cars are one of my passions, so I can watch the cars drive by. We just had our breakfast and then we went to the beach, which is honestly something that we do every single weekend, but that’s what I wanted to do for my birthday. And we thought that we’d go out for a celebratory dinner. We had reservations at a really nice restaurant. Both kind of looked at each other and we’re sitting on the beach, we’re just enjoying ourselves. I said, let’s cancel the reservations because I don’t want to rush from here. And I wanted to live in my core values. I wanted to be in peace, I wanted to be creative, nature, awe, wonder. Some of my core values, I combine all those three, actually, and that’s what I wanted to do. And it was so it was really chill and really laid back, and I wouldn’t change a thing.

Jellis Vaes
Amazing. By the way, you just said fiance. I remember last time that we spoke… You were mentioning girlfriend. Is this still the same person?

Craig Stanland
Still the same person. Yeah, we’re getting married in three weeks.

Jellis Vaes
Wow. Congrats. That’s big, man. That’s big. Wow. In three weeks?

Craig Stanland
In three weeks. And tying to what I just said, we’re getting married on the beach because we both it’s a shared beautiful it’s a shared core value of ours that we love nature. In the fall, we do a lot of hikes in the summer. We’re on the beach. We will even walk on the beach in the you know, I know this is going across the world, but I live in Connecticut, in the States, and it gets real cold in Connecticut on the water. Okay? But we bundle up as long as it’s above 30 degrees Fahrenheit and it’s not raining. We’re going for our beach walk in the evening. It’s how we both wrap up our day. We have really meaningful conversations. We look for sea glass and it’s just a great way to unwind. So, I mean, it’s one of the things that we share. So we’re getting married on the beach, one of our favorite beaches, and we’re very fortunate that we live five minutes from the beach, too. Wow.

Jellis Vaes
But that’s so beautiful to hear for me. And you are truly such an amazing example of someone who really reinvented his life to something amazing, really. So I’m very happy for you. Really. You did build out this incredible life now, right? But before that, before you went to prison. And correct me if I’m wrong on anything that I will share now, but you worked 13 years in a corporate job, right? Had success there, had tons of money, a house, cars, a well, ex wife. And then you defrauded a tech giant, and then it all kind of got completely flipped upside down, right? And many things got taken away from you. You had to reinvent and rebuild a complete new life or most of it in your 40s. Now. I think for some listeners, that idea of having to start over again at a later age might be terrifying for some people to think about. And I’ve seen a lot of young people in their twenty s or in their early 30s who worry so much about making the right decisions in their life and having to succeed and who just feel so much pressure to not make mistakes and not make wrong choices. Basically, the question that I’m kind of trying to get to is what about starting over again and reinvention? Have you come to feel and deeply understand deep down within you that you didn’t know before prison that you could say to anyone right now, listening, who feels this pressure of getting everything right and succeeding at all cost?

Craig Stanland
This could be answered in a ton of different ways. And it’s a great question. It’s a huge question. One of the first things that comes to mind for me is the importance of defining success for oneself. Not society’s version of success, not what we think we should be, what we should do, but what success means for us. Because there’s only one person on the planet who knows the definition of success, and that’s you. That’s me. And for ourselves, that’s it. It’s defining success. What I believe we are conditioned to do is we’re given a blueprint for life, right? We are given this, go to college, get a good job, get a 401K, have health insurance, get married, have children. The blueprint varies from family to family but I think it’s fairly definitive across most people and we end up following that blueprint. And that’s when we start hitting in our 40s where we realize that we’re living in a life that’s out of alignment with who we are and what we want to do, right? That’s why I think in our 20s, it’s really important to define success for ourselves so that the earlier we can realize that we’re following somebody else’s blueprint, the earlier we can to create our own blueprint.

Craig Stanland
And then within that is to I’m going to circle back to those core values, getting really crystal clear on those core values. If we make a choice within our core values and we know that we are not looking to intentionally harm anybody else because then you’re not living in alignment with your core values, whether physically or mentally or whatever, as long as we’re not seeking to do harm, it’s very difficult to make a mistake. It’s very difficult to make a mistake. Things might not work out the way that we had hoped they would, but if we take that as an opportunity to learn and to grow from there, that’s where we start seeing real change in our lives. I know for myself if I’m not making mistakes, then I’m not expanding enough. I’m not living the way that I want to live if I’m not making mistakes, I hope to screw some stuff up every week. And it’s realizing that I think what we really do when we live in alignment with those core values and we are trying to create something new in our lives that is going to eventually give back to somebody, whether it be our family.

Craig Stanland
Because even if when we live in alignment with our core values, we start showing up for ourselves better, we show up better for our families, we’re going to have an impact. And that’s a really long way to answer that question. And it’s only even just one avenue because there are a lot of different ways that we could take that. But I’ll narrow it down, I’ll distill it down. The only mistake that we can make is to not attempt what we want to do.

Jellis Vaes
A lot of people have a very diffuse idea of what success should be and it does come from society. Society didn’t do such a good job on that I think either where money is most of the time determined. If you have a lot of money, you are successful, right? It’s not so much about how fulfilled are you, but more about how much money do you earn, how can you get a healthy view about success? Many people have success, like I said, with money or fame or status. And that is, for them, success. And they try to build up to that by doing some job that they hate or by doing a study that they just don’t really care about or it’s making them just miserable. But they feel like, okay, that will bring me success. That will bring me acceptance. That will bring me, deep down, love. Do you know how a way how you can just look through that and see what true success is? And I don’t know if I’m clear with what I’m trying to say.

Craig Stanland
Actually, you’re very clear and it’s a very big question. And what I think one of the ways that we could do this is let’s use because money is that thermometer, if you will, that most people measure success on goes back to that digging past that first answer and getting down to the third and fourth. What does money actually mean to you? It’s very much that blueprint that we follow is the when I then I, when I make 100K, then I’ll be happy pulling back from that a little bit and saying, what does that $100,000 represent to me? Because it’s not necessarily the money. Is it security? Is it a sense of acceptance? Am I going to be accepted and approved and am I going to be loved? It goes right back to that first day of awareness and the willingness to inquire within as to what the object that we desire actually represents. Because I’m a firm believer that it’s very rare that we want the thing. We want how we think the thing is going to make us feel. And we want the thing because how we believe other people will perceive us because we have that thing.

Craig Stanland
So looking at that and understanding that and accepting that what is behind that? Like I said, money is it security for me. I loved my I remember we talked on our first episode. I loved my $10,000 watches. I wore them like a shield. I loved those watches. What did they represent? They represented to me a form of status so that I could be approved and worthy and enough to other people, right. What are other ways once we start establishing that? What are other ways that are more joyful for us as opposed to studying the thing that we don’t like, studying, working the job that we don’t like? How else could I have been very easy for me with my hindsight to look back and say these things? But what other things could I have done to achieve that level of acceptance, feeling of worthiness and feeling of adequacy that I was trying to accomplish through the acquisition of my shiny objects?

Jellis Vaes
When actually and how did you realize for yourself that meaning and fulfillment were more important than solely money? Because in the end and correct me if I’m wrong, right, but what got you imprisoned was this pursuit of chasing money the whole time because it gave you acceptance and deep down love. But when did you realize that meaning was more. Important and fulfillment.

Craig Stanland
There were many, many examples that came up in my life, and a lot of them were the result from journaling and specifically writing the first book because I had to explore a lot of things. But I’m going to share one story in particular that I think really speaks to this. I was coming home from the gym that I worked at after prison. I couldn’t afford a winter coat. I just didn’t have the money. It was really cold in Brooklyn, New York. I mean, like wickedly cold. Massive wind chill. My walk from the subway station was about 17 minutes to my apartment. So I’m just freezing and I’m miserable. It’s dark, I’m freezing. I’ve got like another 14 minutes left on the walk. And I start thinking about it and I go, man, do you remember when I made more in one month than I’m going to make this entire year working at the gym? Do you remember when money wasn’t an issue? Do you remember when I could buy anything I wanted to and I had VIP status at all these restaurants? Remember when life was just absolutely incredible and amazing and there was a voice inside me that stopped me dead in my tracks and said, life wasn’t amazing.

Life wasn’t incredible. You freaked out every single month how you were going to pay the mortgage, how you were going to pay the five-figure Amex bill. Every single month was a juggling act. Taking from one pocket, putting it into another. It was the most stress filled existence that you could ever imagine. You had so many balls up in the air. Think about now. You have a beautiful apartment in Brooklyn, New York, with a balcony. You don’t make nearly what you made, but you don’t even stress about money. You know you’re going to make rent. You know you have food in the fridge. And this really gets to the point of your question. You’re working on a book that supports your mission, and you do that seven days a week for 2 hours a day. That’s something you never had when you were in corporate world. And I will tell you something. It was in that moment with my little thin windbreaker jacket and zero degree temperature, I actually felt warm. I walked home the remainder of those 14 minutes and I was warm. I walked with a spring in my step and it was just like this total reframe and shift of perspective and being very honest with myself because I was giving myself a line of BS when I said how great life was before and I was able to reconnect with what matters. And that’s one of those instances when I realized that meaning and fulfillment far outweigh money.

Jellis Vaes
Okay, beautiful story.

Craig Stanland
Thank you.

Jellis Vaes
I just have a few last questions left. Okay, so this is a question that I am so curious about, and I’m very curious about it because I myself do not know how to answer the question. Yeah. One of the things that you see in people’s story like your own, is that who were living in a certain way that was not making them happy or who were just feeling unfulfilled, is that there was some kind of catalyst in their life, something that broke aspects of their life and made an urgency to change things. Right. And for you, it was that you went to prison and there’s probably other catalysts that have been there in your life too. Right. But what I am very curious about is, have you figured out some way to help people create their own catalyst and to help them take this step and to feel some true feeling of urgency, to want to reinvent their life? Because there might be people listening who have a lot of signs that they are in a relationship that they’re unhappy in or that they’re doing a study that is just not making them happy or a job or whatever. And they know that there are signs, but they’re just not taking a step. Do you know some way that can create some kind of urgency in their life to take a step?

Craig Stanland
I’m going to tell you the first visceral thing that came up for me, and it’s actually tattooed on my right forearm looking up at me, and it’s memento Mori. Remember, you will die. And I think contemplating our mortality is so critically important to say, I’m going to die. And it reminds me of I’m going to not get the quote verbatim correctly, but from Marcus Aurelius, and it’s stop whatever you’re doing and ask yourself, am I afraid of death? Because I won’t be able to do this anymore. And I think that to me, I can’t think of a greater sense of urgency. We are all going to we’re all going to die. And we tend to ignore that. And we think that it’s this so far out future thing and I have that tattoo and it’s upside down to you, it’s right side up to me. And so it’s a reminder, but it sometimes even becomes wallpaper and I forget. And it goes right back to that awareness to constantly practice the fact that our time is limited and our time is limited and it’s going to pass with or without us. How do we want to live within the time that we have?

Craig Stanland
And is it worth staying in the comfort of complacency, even if that complacency? I use the word comfort, but we can grow very comfortable in our discomfort. It’s very easy to do that because change is just a little more uncomfortable and that’s what we fear. But it’s do I want, when I breathe my last breath, to say that this is how I lived my life. That I think, to me, is one of the ways that we create that urgency.

Jellis Vaes
I agree. I actually agree with you. Yeah. That is using that to live more right now. You could use that for that reason. And I was actually reading a book, and I actually think this could be helpful for people, too, right, is to read books from people who had a terminal illness and to just hear about this journey that they went through from the time that they got diagnosed to the day that they died. And I actually was reading a book a couple of days ago Tuesdays with Maury, and he’s a social professor, I think sociology professor, exactly, who had a terminal illness. And there was actually a quote that I just think of right now, is that everyone knows that they’re going to die, but no one believes it, because if we would truly believe it, we would live differently than we would live right now, or many people would live differently. But the quote that you wrote down on your arm, that is a great way to get reminded to visually see that, that you are going to die. Actually getting a tattoo like that. I honestly think more people should do it.

Craig Stanland
I have Memento Mori on the right forearm, and I have Amor Fati on the left forearm, which is Love of fate. So those to me go together really well.

Jellis Vaes
Yeah, really. People should get a tattoo. People should get reminded of this because, like I said, a bit like back in the interview, we need reminders all the time, and we need reminders about the fact that we’re dying, because in the end, everyone has a terminal illness in a way, right? Like, we’re all slowly dying right now.

Craig Stanland
The moment we are born, we start dying. It’s a perspective that I think more of us need to take if we want to create real change in our lives. One of the fears I have now to going back to fears is I forget I heard it first from Wayne Dyer, but it’s like, don’t die with your song still inside you. And that’s a fear of mine, is to not get the books that I want to write, because I’ve got many. I’m working on number two. Number three and four are kind of in the works as well. It’s very important for me to get them out. I don’t want them to die inside of me, and I think that’s really important.

Jellis Vaes
I actually want to talk just a little bit here as the last part of this interview about the books that you’re working on. And if you have something, any tease or something that you can share about it, of course. But I do remember from another time that we were talking that you were working on one book, but you just now said that you were working on more books. Is there anything that you can share about the books that you’re writing?

Craig Stanland
Absolutely. Because I don’t think that anything that I’m creating is so original that I’m worried about somebody taking it. But it is my story and nobody can take that. So I’m very happy to share. The second book that I’m working on is going to be very much a Reinvention blueprint, and it is going to be a lot of what we talked about, and it’s going to be my journey. Shorter chapters, easily digestible, but it’s going to literally cover those three segments that I said that I believe Reinvention contains is that connection with oneself. Create, creation and contribution. So really it’s going to be my steps through that. So really quickly. We already went through a lot on connection, but that’s establishing how I establish my core values, doing my fear inventory, clearing the land, getting rid of those limiting trying to get rid of those limiting beliefs, at least identifying, seeing where I’m putting the brakes on myself, setting that real deep interconnection with oneself, then moving to the act of creation. And that’s going to be now that we’re connected with ourselves, we can start creating our own blueprint, our own definition of success.

What is it that we want to create and then the literal actions of doing that? You want to write a book, it’s sitting down to write a book, it’s building that self trust to show up for yourself every single day and to create whatever it is you want to create, you want to do. I have a client who’s into Japanese woodworking, which is really cool. You don’t use screws, nuts or bolts or anything. It’s all connected, right? You fit the wood together without any fasteners. Really cool, very fascinating stuff. But actually creating what it is that you want to create, taking those steps. And then the third is going to be that sharing it with the world or with a friend or with somebody, it’s contributing it and giving it back. So it’s going to be my steps written in memoir format through that with the hopes that because I really believe that we connect with stories I could have very easily. And sometimes when I’m writing it, I go back and forth where I think about, should I make it prescriptive? Like establish your core values, do the fill in the blanks, do your fear inventory. And if it doesn’t land with me as much as me writing in the first person, which is something I really enjoy doing. And so that’s book number one, number two, or number three.

Jellis Vaes
Yeah. Do you have any date?… How far are you with the book?

Craig Stanland
So I have a deadline for my crappy first draft, November 15 of this year. I hope to have it published by about the same time next year.

Jellis Vaes
Okay, all right, so maybe we will talk again more about the book next year. All right.

Craig Stanland
I would love that. Number three is going to be so this is a really fun one, is I believe this ties into a lot of what we’ve been talking about, of following somebody else’s definition of success, following that blueprint from somebody else. I believe that we spend the majority of our lives chasing the things that we believe that we should chase, to be approved, to be accepted, to be loved, to be happy. So we are chasers. And then what ends up happening? We find that we’re not fulfilled. We don’t have a sense of mission. We don’t have that sense of meaning. We feel oftentimes at middle aged, in a midlife crisis, an existential void within us, that something is missing. And what I propose is that we have to transform ourselves, we have to reinvent ourselves from a chaser of things to a creator of meaning. And it’s going to be honestly, it’s going to be very much in the format of because he’s a huge inspiration of mine. Stephen Pressfield’s it’s very much the idea of turning pro. It’s the difference between a pro and an amateur. And it’s the chaser versus the creator and how the chaser shows up and how the creator shows up. And so that’s the format of number three. And then number four is going to be just another memoir. And it’s really going to… If I’m willing to go there, it’s fear of mine, but going into my childhood and just some of those influences and how I ended up becoming a chaser and doing all those things and what were the holes that I was trying to fill and how I was able to navigate those. So those are the loose frameworks for the next three books.

Jellis Vaes
All of them are very interesting topics. And also the last book actually very interesting topic as well, because people who, for example, landed in prison aren’t per se bad people, right? It’s just that our past might have caused some sort of behavior in us that just led to some bad behavior in the end. But that doesn’t mean that you inherently are a bad person, right? And yeah, behavior stems many times from the past. So there is a reason why some behavior or where behavior comes from and has to do a lot with our environment.

Craig Stanland
I think when… And I’m glad that you brought that up. I think when it comes to people who are incarcerated, it’s very easy for society to point at them and say they are bad people. And I’m not going to lie, there are some people in prison who are bad people. They are bad. But there are a lot of people who did a very bad thing who are not bad people, but they had those influences from childhood. And I’ll share a really quick story. I volunteered for an organization here in the States called The Five Ventures, and the woman shared this story about somebody who committed horrific crimes. And they don’t gloss over the crimes that he committed as anything. They were not absolving him from his behavior, but they said, I want you to understand something about this individual. When his mother gave birth to him, I think literally on the streets of New York City. She put him in a trash can and he was found in the trash. And he went into the foster system where he was abused and he was told because he was found in the trash from all his foster families that he was trash. He grew up his entire life believing he was trash. And nobody can condone his behavior. But I think we can understand, if you are told that you are trash, how are you going to respond to society? You’re going to treat it like trash? And I don’t think we can be that shocked when somebody does something like that when we actually learn about their past. And I think the media does a very bad job of covering that. It’s so and so did X, Y, and Z. And we all get enraged. And what a terrible person. They should lock them up without understanding the behavior that may have been not even behavior, the pain that may have been driving their decisions.

Jellis Vaes
100% agree. 100% agree. There’s actually a very beautiful project called The Compassion Prison Project, and I’m actually thinking of interviewing the founder who created that project. But it’s basically about this, that there is a reason why some behaviors are there and that’s many times from our past. And she goes around in the US to prisons and does work around Compassion. And there’s actually a very I don’t know if you’ve ever seen it, but it’s actually a very beautiful video in a way, where she stands in the middle and she creates a circle with all the prisoners, the people in the prison, and she reads a list of things and asks, like, if this happened to you. Step into the circle. And it could be something like if your mom or your dad ever yelled at you, step closer into the circle and you see this whole group of people taking a step closer until they’re so close to each other that they are hugging each other just to show that there is always a reason for behavior. So sure, it’s bad people, but there are reasons why they do things. Anyway, interesting book. Interesting book to write about. Very curious about that one, too.

Craig Stanland
It’s going to be a challenge for me. I started working on the second book, I think, via writing. That’s how I think is through writing. I wrote over a million words to get to the 50,000 that are in my first book, Blank Canvas. I’m doing the same thing on this, where I started realizing… That’s when I realized I had three different books in the works, and I finally sat down and said, like, I need to focus. And it was very cathartic to do that. But writing that last book, that memoir, talking about the pain, that was very challenging to even start on the subject of that. So I think probably I think what I have to do is go in the order that I am going. So I become a different person who actually can write what I need to write by the time that I get to it.

Jellis Vaes
I see. I mean, it makes sense, actually, that order. Yeah. Okay. Craig, we could keep on talking for many more hours. I could ask you so many more things, but I want to be respectful for your time. Thank you for the amazing answers that you just each time give and for the person that you’ve become and the work that you’re doing today. Thank you so much. There is one final end question that I have for you that I also asked you last time, but I’m just curious to ask it once more. Each time it brings maybe a little bit of a different answer, but before I ask that question, what is the best place for listeners to connect with you, to check out your work, to maybe book a coaching session with you? Where would you love to send people to?

Craig Stanland
Craigstanland.com. On my website, you can book your discovery call there. You can also read some of my blog entries I post multiple times a week. There is a link to my Ted Talk there. So it’s a really good central repository for people to start. My book, Blank Canvas How I Reinvented My Life After Prison is available on Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com. And you said you’re going to put the link to the Ted in the show notes as well. And I’m on LinkedIn and Instagram every day, so those are great places to come check me out.

Jellis Vaes
So for everyone listening, it will all be found and linked up in the show notes. The last end question that I have for you, from everything that you have seen, experienced, lived and learned in your life, what is the one thing you know to be true?

Craig Stanland
I love this, and it’s going to be a little bit different than what I answered before, but for me, one thing I know to be true and this is something I struggle with and that’s why I’m going to answer it is I am worthy. I am enough. And I find the deepest sense of meaning and fulfillment when I unlock and unleash my potential and my unique skills on something more significant than myself. And I am worthy. And enough of the joy that comes when I do that.

Jellis Vaes
Craig, thanks again for being here on the podcast.

Craig Stanland
Thank you so much for having me. I always love our conversations. Additional motivation to finish the next book so that we can come back next November and have a conversation about it.

Jellis Vaes
Yes. Plus, I mean, once it’s written and it’s finished, I will also put it in this episode and in the previous one. I will each time keep it up to date with the books that you’ve written.

Craig Stanland
You’re amazing. Thank you so much. And thank you for. Also, I said this on our first episode, but it bears repeating. Thank you for having this platform so that people can come on and share their stories, share their wisdom, because that’s how we grow. That’s how we grow is by learning from other people who have walked the walk and you having this platform and you walk your walk yourself, which I’m. Always I admire you tremendously for. So thank you for what you do.

Jellis Vaes
Thank you.

Jellis Vaes
And that concludes this episode with reinvention architect Craig Stanland. I do hope that you found some practical takeaways here in this episode to help you on your own reinvention journey. If you’re currently going through one now to find anything mentioned in this episode by Craig, such as his TEDx Talk, the book he wrote, Blank Canvas How I Reinvented My Life After Prison, or anything else, then check out the show notes located in the description of this episode. Or you can also go directly to theipsproject.com/podcast and search for Craig with that. I thank you for joining me and Craig here in this episode. And who knows, maybe I get to welcome you again on another episode here on The IPS podcast. This is your host, Jellis Vaes, signing off.

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