Turn Fear Into Health, Wealth, And Happiness with Akshay Nanavati [PODCAST 184]

GTF 184 | Turning Fear

What if you could, in a few short minutes, have a process to completely rewire your brain- transforming your life, business, and relationships for health, wealth and happiness? That may seem like a hard task, but Akshay Nanavati can show you how to conquer your fear and push forward in achieving your greatest desires. From his own experiences in the military, and dealing with post-military life, he shares how he overcame the fears that kept him from moving forward in life. Turning fear to health, wealth, and happiness, he inspires us with how he approached trauma as a way to post-traumatic growth, rather than post-traumatic stress. With the belief that fear can never be crushed, but it can be utilized, Akshay shares how we should see it as part of the human experience and embrace it as a starting point to grow.

Listen to the podcast here:

Turn Fear Into Health, Wealth, And Happiness with Akshay Nanavati [PODCAST 184]

If you could turn the idea of fear into one of your greatest strengths, what if you could go out there and turn some of your potential negative emotions and embrace those and channel and fuel greatness and high achievement and high performance? What if you could, in a few short minutes, completely have a process to rewire your brain to transform your life, your business, your relationships for health, wealth and happiness? Would that be worth to you? You’re going to get a chance to do that. We have a unique expert who I’ve been looking forward to having this conversation with for some time. He’s going to inspire you, educate you and transform your life. 

GTF 184 | Turning Fear
FEARVANA: The Revolutionary Science of How to Turn Fear into Health, Wealth and Happiness

He’s got an amazing story. He served in our military in the Marine Corps for several years. Like a lot of militaries, he suffered from PTSD. There’s a lot of our military who serve our incredible country and they have these demons or these emotions and it’s one of the highest incidences of suicide. He was also a part of that statistic. He transformed himself and now through his movement, this wave that he’s making, the Iraqi war, one of the most hostile environments on the planet from mountains to caves, to the polar ice caps. He has combined life experience with years of research and science and spirituality. He wrote his bestselling book called FEARVANA: The Revolutionary Science of How to Turn Fear into Health, Wealth and Happiness. We’re going to dive into the concepts of being able to do that. I’d love to welcome our guest expert, Akshay. How are you?

I’m doing very well. Thank you so much for having me on the show. It’s a pleasure to be here.

As I got a chance to know more about you, I got inspired. I know you’re going to bring that to our audience. Before we get into some of the transformational tips, I want to give people some real context of this. You served in our military. You’ve had some ups and downs. What would you say in your history has been your lowest point or maybe the biggest mistake you feel you made that you had to deal with? From that lowest point or biggest mistake, what did you learn from it?

The lowest point was probably years after coming back from Iraq. When I was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, I got pretty heavily into drinking. I got to a point where I would down a liter of vodka a day. I would drink until I pass out, wake up, and drink again. This would continue sometimes for three, four or five days. I remember once after five days of this binge drinking, I woke up and I thought to myself, “This pattern, drinking and sobering up is never going to end.” I pictured myself walking over my kitchen, picking up the knife and ending it all. That shocked me that I would even think about taking my own life. I couldn’t believe that that thought would enter my head and that was a huge wake-up call.

I didn’t sober up right then, but that was definitely a trigger point that led me to research because I feel like the treatment that I was getting and a lot of the ways people were approaching mental health and our internal well-being was not right. Many of the people who try to take care of me in the VA were great people, but they were playing from a bad playbook in my opinion. As I researched it, I learned that to be true as well. I took on this journey to heal myself, which is what ultimately led me to this concept of FEARVANA. I’m in a much better space and I couldn’t be happier and better every way, spiritually, financially, personally. It took a while to get here.

You’re creating a movement with what you’re doing. Worldwide, you’re having this incredible impact. You’ve been on news shows, you’ve been on some of the biggest stages and platforms in the world and that continues to grow that movement. You’ve got a lot of initiatives. Let’s back up to the military because this is a place that hits and impacts all of us directly or indirectly in all of our families. Why do you feel that people who come from military have such a tough time coming back into civilian life and then being able to experience the joy and the freedom and to integrate life? Why do you think that is?

There are multiple reasons why we struggle when we come back. One of them is in the military, there’s so much structure. The structure is given to you, you don’t have to think about what to do and there’s a lot of freedom in structure. When you come out, you suddenly have this paradox of choice. There are too many choices. You get confused about what to do with your life every day. One huge reason is the structure is gone.

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Another is the meaning. In the military, whether you support the wars or not, which is separate from the politics on the ground out there, you are serving with your brothers or sisters in arms and you’re doing something meaningful on the ground who were there to help these people, separate from the politics. We were doing the best we can to help them out there.

You come back and some of these guys are working some job in Walmart or something. All of a sudden the meaning is gone, the structure is gone. Part of the other reason when coming back to the top of mental health is the way we approach trauma. When I say the word trauma or traumatic experiences or suffering or struggle, most people think of this as a negative experience. We’ve been preconditioned to believe that when we go to war, we’re going to come back messed up in the head.

As a result, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. I see that in the United States when I tell people I’m a veteran. I get it, it’s coming from a place of pure love and I fully respect that, but there’s this empathy as if there’s going to be something wrong with me as if I’ve suffered. Suffering can be such a tremendous gift. If we set that as the preexisting belief, it becomes a reality. That’s partly, we’re just not prepared for how we handle this and this is not in the military, this is general population. Definitely within the military, we’re not taught to handle these experiences and turn them into post-traumatic growth as opposed to post-traumatic stress disorder.

I got a chance to research excerpts from the book. In some of the other interviews that you’ve done, you talk about one of the biggest myths. We’ll call it mislabeling of emotions. Speak to that, on your take on these negative emotions like this disease or stress. Why do you feel that it’s a bad label and then what can people do to transform or shift into something that serves it much better?

It’s such a frustrating problem that I see all the time. It’s the same thing. We have these emotions like fear, stress, anxiety, guilt, anger that we say is negative. On the other side, we have these positive emotions. Everybody knows what the positive are, but the reality is that there are no negative or positive emotions, just as there are no negative or positive experiences. Everything is what we decide to do with it.

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Every emotion can be positive if we choose to make it work for us because the reality is these experiences are a part of the human experience. They are a part of life, these emotions. If I’m standing on the edge of a cliff and I feel fear, it’s normal to feel that. Why are we demonizing this emotion? There are so many “experts” who say, “We should be fearless. Eliminate your fears,” or how to manage and eliminate stress. Stress is a part of the human experience. It’s part of growth.

I’m sure you’ve heard some experts go out there and say, “Kill your fear, crush your anxiety.” It messes people up. It’s the biggest lie. I saw that in excerpts of your work and I love your take, so speak to that a little bit further because it’s a good path.

What happens is when people feel fear, stress and anxiety, they think there’s something wrong with them for feeling it because the world tells them they shouldn’t. I worked with somebody who said to me, “I’m waiting for the fear to go away so I can quit my job and start my business.” Everybody says you should be fearless and I’m like, “No, that’s a scary thing to do.” Embrace and channel that fear. I was terrified of writing a book on fear. It’s not a bad thing. It’s simply a re-frame of how you deal with these emotions.

Even in my guilt, I struggle with survivor’s guilt coming back from the war. Now, I have a poster of my friend up on my wall and it says, “This should have been you. Earn this life.” Guilt became my ally to sober up. That poster helped me finish my book, FEARVANA. Guilt is not a negative emotion, just like any emotion is not negative or positive. It is what we do with it and it’s literally a matter of rebranding it. When I feel fear, I don’t say, “Eliminate this.” I say, “I’m scared. What am I scared of? Why am I scared? What’s the fear? What’s the reward on the other side of my fears?” When you cognitively process that fear and the conscious brain, you can then do something about it and leverage it as an access point to the rewards and the other side of it.

What if you fully came to embrace these potential emotions? What if you started to realize that right on the other side of fear was your biggest breakthrough? What if on the other side of the guilt you might be experiencing your biggest breakthrough and transformation? What if on the other side of anxiety was your biggest breakthrough? Any of these feelings you’re feeling, you’re not alone. The reality is your success, your transformation and your breakthrough is on the other side of that. Akshay, we talked about these negative emotions that sometimes they get mislabeled. Why do you feel negative emotions can be your greatest gift or your greatest opportunity?

If you want more out of life, if you want to evolve into something new, you’re going to have to do something you’ve never done before. That means engaging your fears, it means taking a risk. It means putting yourself in a stressful environment. Think about it in terms of physical. If you want to grow your body, you have to put it under stress. You balance that with recovery. That’s why you need both. You need stress and recovery. It’s not about you need to put yourself in these states, 24/7. You balance it with both, but whatever you want to achieve, you have to get outside of that comfort zone.

GTF 184 | Turning Fear
Turning Fear: If you want more out of life, if you want to evolve into something new, you’re going to have to do something you’ve never done before.

You have to be scared. You have to be stressed out. Engaging suffering is the greatest thing you could possibly do in terms of your own personal evolution. I ran twenty and a half miles marathon and it was brutal. I was exhausted, but I love it. That’s how I evolved. That’s how I grow. You need to engage your demons, engage the stress, and engage the fear because they will allow you to tap into something that you don’t know you have within you. I’ve experienced that firsthand, that’s why I love the Marines. That’s why I loved all my experience in outdoor sports and ultra-running.

It’s amazing because we live in a society that un-trains us for real success. It has us shy away from stress. Stress is considered a bad thing and it’s like this. You’re very fit, you do a ton of running and we’re going to talk about some of the causes you’re running for and the movement you’re creating. Let’s say you and I are in a gym and we’re working out. We eat the same diet and we trained for the same amount of time. Let’s say we trained an hour a day on an average.

Over the course of 90 days, only one thing that would make the difference outside of some metabolism, but after 90 days to six months, there’s only one thing and it holds true in exercise and it holds true in business. It holds true in life and relationships. All of it is what you’re alluding to. I want to use this simple example because so many people miss it. I know I’ve missed it. I’ve struggled with it too. What’s that breaking point?

Number one, we’ve got to step out of our comfort zone to identify what that breaking point is, but there’s only one thing, so we can have the same nutrition habits. We can have the same amount of time to work out, but the one key differentiator is that intensity. This twenty-mile run that you did, what are you doing? You’re putting yourself under a greater amount of intensity for a certain window. You have to adapt and then there’s the recovery.

If you did twenty miles every day for the next two months straight, you might burn out because you’re not giving yourself that recovery. It takes the intensity and it takes the recovery and being able to stretch that and stretch it and stretch it. Sometimes you break. I know I have. I’ve broken it, but that’s how you learn where is your sweet spot. You talk about this idea of the second dart syndrome that I love, which is a concept around Buddha. Speak to the second dart syndrome, what it means in the context for how people can transform their fear into health, wealth, and happiness.

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It’s one of the most valuable concepts I learned in terms of my own growth of getting out of some of these dark places I’ve been. Neuroscience and spirituality have both shown that we don’t control what shows up in our brain. Neuroscience has shown that picking up the glass of water next to me, my brain is registered that action milliseconds before I’m consciously aware or before I take the action. Spirituality says the same thing. Buddha says, “We’re all stubbed by two darts of suffering.” Let’s say for example, I stub my toe against a door. The first dart is the pain in my toe. The second dart is when I say things like, “This door is stupid, I’m stupid. God hates me. Bad things only happen to me. Why is this house like this?” We’d go on this downward spiral of that self-talk.

The second dart syndrome is basically that. It’s that downward spiral because what happens is we experience fear. The world taught us to be fearless, then we feel bad for feeling fear. I’ve experienced this when I went climbing with my wife, she felt that she was terrified on the rock wall, and then she thought to herself, “Why was she scared and I’m not scared?” It wasn’t because I was braver than her. It’s because my brain had developed more references than hers because I had climbed a ton of things before that. She felt fear and then started demonizing herself and felt like a coward for feeling it. That was second dart syndrome.

The second you accept what is the fear, the stress, the guilt, whatever it may be, it’s the same thing how I navigated post-traumatic stress. The world told me symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder equate to disorder. What I came to learn, that’s not the case at all. If I come back from war and I jumped at a loud noise, that’s a normal human response to war, where my fear brain learned to say loud noises equals death. It doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with me. By labeling it a disorder, it fuels into that second dart syndrome. The core of that very spiritual concept, but that definitely says accept what is. From acceptance, then you can transcend that and take action in service of something meaningful and greater than yourself as well.

It reminds me of something someone shared with me and I’m certainly no expert at it. I’m pursuing it regularly, which is you or I are not our feelings. Sometimes people take ownership of their feelings and that’s where we get into a lot of different trouble kind of speaking go the way you articulate it, which is it is what it is and it is acceptance. You are not your feelings. They are two separate things if you choose to take that approach to it.

One of the fascinating things that I saw on one of your articles was that a family that suffers together, stays together, which is a quote from Bobby Maximus, an MMA fighter. Speak to that in the relevance. If you’re looking for a way to transform your fear, your anxiety, your guilt, potentially what many perceived these and turn them into your greatest opportunity and gift, we’re going to walk you through Akshay’s five-step blueprint in playbook of how to be able to do it. Speak to the idea of the family that suffers together, stays together.

GTF 184 | Turning Fear
Turning Fear: When you suffer together, you break down some of that wall of otherness.

I heard that from my gym mentor and my fitness mentor, Bobby Maximus. I absolutely loved it. I’ve experienced this personally in the morning. When you suffer together, you break down some of that wall of otherness. It sheds the masks we wear because when we’re suffering we’re so immersed within the self that the truth comes out. Sometimes it can be an awful thing. I’ve seen people do awful things. This is why even more like it brings out the absolute worst and the absolute best in humanity. You see people jumping on grenades for sustaining their fellow human beings, but you see people also upcoming awful atrocities. In the Marines, the brotherhood that forms, the camaraderie that forms in this experience we’re stuck working together, we experienced pain together.

It’s the same thing in my gym. When we suffer, working with Bobby Maximus, it builds a camaraderie because you tested yourself and you’ve tested yourself as one in this environment. It allows you to rise above yourself and transcend yourself, to ultimately become a part of the collective whole as we rise above ourselves. It’s suffering, and it’s also play. It’s experiencing humanity at its extremes. When you do that, you get out of the mundane, out of all the mass out of all the things the world tells us we should be, and we become who we are. It allows you to tap into something greater and deeper, which is what builds that human connection in such a tremendously powerful way. I’d experienced in the Marines. I’ve experienced it on many of my runs I’ve done across the world and in the gym. It’s a beautiful experience when you get to taste that.

What advice would you give to somebody that might be sitting there feeling like they’re the only one going through what they’re going through and they’re alone and they’re feeling isolated? The reason I bring it up is because I was going through something like that. It was a very low point in my career and it was hard and then I found a better way. I’d love to hear your take with all the research you’ve done in neuroscience, in your experience. What advice would you give to somebody that was feeling isolated on their own completely alone in dealing with the demons or negative emotions or some of these adversities?

One thing, reach out to people closest to you. Connect with them and get that human connection. The reason we experience these low moments is an access point to a deeper connection. Reach out to people who are close to you, get that support, talk to somebody, reach out to me. I would love to support you. I’ve seen people suffering. I’ve lost friends to suicide, to addiction. Reach out to me. I’m always there. Connect with somebody and the recognition that you’re not alone, read stories about other people’s suffering. I’ll tell you what the value when you realize you’re not alone.

When you think of your meaning, think of it in service of somebody else. Click To Tweet

I’ve worked with somebody who was struggling with alcohol addiction when they see me and if they don’t know my story, they think that perfect. I’m not saying this to brag, the point is that when they hear my story, it suddenly had a huge impact to somebody has shared with that I’ve gone through drug and alcohol addiction. Suddenly it was like, “I’m not alone. I can rise above this, too.” Recognizing that everybody’s battling their demons is tremendously powerful and transcending yourself in that engagement of the demons.

Definitely human connection, but when you’re ready for it and this requires when you’re ready for it, you have to be at the point. When I was suicidal, I couldn’t do this then but now it’s engaging with solitude, being still with your demons. When you transcend that point that you’re not in that dark place, then engage it. Be with it, sit still, and that’s been tremendously powerful because it isn’t about eliminating your demons, it’s about bringing them part of you. Your demons and your divinity, your greatness and your darkness can coexist as one and when you allow them to coexist, you can rise above yourself in such a powerful way.

As you were describing that, what popped up for me was this framework of number one, reach out for a hand because you’re not alone. There are plenty of people who want to help if you would reach out. I’ve been there, and I want to hit this home is if you’re there and you’re like, “I’m alone and I don’t know anybody,” go find somebody. Reach out, whether it’s online or in your area, your community, a church. There are all kinds of places that you can reach out and get someone who will be there for you. Number two is lend a hand.

One of the ways to transcend and transform is to give a hand to somebody else and realize you have value and someone else’s struggle can be you helping them get their greatest breakthrough. I’ve done this where I’ve been at my lowest that I’ve gone and donated time at an old folk’s home. To be there and sit with somebody who’s by themselves, it’s helped transform my spirit and my mind. The third part, you blend it in, which is sitting still. Lend a hand and ask for a hand of help. Give a hand of help and then sit still in that meditative type state. It’s amazing what can happen to you.

We’re going to take a deep dive in and get inside the mind and the heart of this man here. He’s transforming a lot of lives. He can transform yours. Akshay, we’ve covered a lot already. We’ve talked about your background, your lowest point, how you transformed it. We talked about some of the ideas from Bobby Maximus. We talked about how to take those emotions that many mislabel in a negative way and how to shift the perspective to have them serve us in a much healthier way.

You have this five-step blueprint and there’s an acronym for it. Tell us about the five-step blueprint and then walk us through because it was such a simple plan that anybody could use in a few minutes to get started, to give a greater level of relief, of comfort, of certainty, and confidence. That usually can be the best first step for somebody to get that next level breakthrough.

The five-step blueprint is LMNOP. It’s easy to remember. This is an accumulation of the years of research I put into it initially to heal myself. It led me on this deeper to figure out how do we all navigate our demons in our suffering. The elemental P is the idea of we’re not our feelings. This system, this five step-formula, allows you to rise above your feelings and service of the thing you’re working on.

GTF 184 | Turning Fear
Turning Fear: If you think of your goals in terms of serving somebody else, that can help release oxytocin in the brain, the love hormone. Oxytocin helps you transcend your fears.

Here’s how it works. L is Label. You want to label your emotion. Neuroscience is showing if you simply label your emotion, it reduces activity in the emotional part of your brain and increases activity in your prefrontal cortex, which is what I call the human part of your brain that’s related. It’s an awareness, so essentially by labeling it, you’re saying, “I’m rising above the emotion by labeling it.”

There are two parts of the L: Label and Language. You want to shift your body language into something more powerful and confident. I’ve done this with people and they’ll be sitting there very slouched, depressed. Sitting up tall, walking tall, it shifts how you feel in your being with them. The next part is your M. M is Meaning. Ask yourself, “What is the meaning that you have created to the event causing the emotion and the emotion and/or the emotion itself?”

I could have a fear in the meaning of the fears that I’m weak. You want to be present to what is the meaning. My wife had this, the fear that she felt the emotion that you have subconsciously created. We’re getting conscious of the meanings that you are subconsciously creating because we’re always creating meanings. Plenty of research has shown the brain creates meetings to situations and emotions to everything. The N part is the essence, I believe, and N is it’s not you. You’re not your feelings. What you’re telling yourself, “This is not me. This is my brain stuck in a pattern that I’m not even in control.”

I worked with this kid who was diagnosed with depression. It was an awful diagnosis. What happened was that every time she felt sadness, she said, “It’s because I’m depressed. I have depression.” It became a part of her self-identity. Instead of saying something like, “My brain goes through a state of sadness from time to time, but I’m not my brain and my brain is not me.” The N part is you’re just saying, “This is not me. This is my brain,” and separating yourself from that.

The O part is where you opt for a new more empowering meaning, so you’re opting for a new meaning to the event and the emotion. For example, when I was scared of writing my book, the only reason I was scared was because I cared enough about my message. I didn’t want to put something garbage out there. I was terrified that it would be garbage, which allowed me to take it more research to putting more effort into the books.

Suddenly, my fear became an access point to love. A good thing is when you think of your meaning, think of it in service of somebody else. Neuroscience has also shown that if you think of your goals in terms of serving somebody else, it can help release oxytocin in the brain, which is the love hormone and oxytocin and helps you transcend your fears, it doesn’t eliminate the fear. I’m not saying this process will make the fear go away, which is not the point anyway, but it helps you rise above those fears in service of the next step, which is P.

P is Purpose and Preemptive strikes, so this is where you’re taking an action in line with your purpose. Whatever that action is each, even if it’s a small action. When I went to the step with somebody who I was working with who struggled to get on the computer to write, they would retreat and go to the TV. Initially, he would write for two minutes. You’re just taking some new action just to rewire the brain pattern that’s P, this first part and the second part is preemptive strikes where you’re preemptively preparing for obstacles you know will show up. They did this research with people recovering from hip and knee replacement surgery and if they wrote down in detail that, “I’m going to walk at this time, and I’m going to take a shower at this time.” Basically, planned out in detail what they’re going to do, how they’re going to do it, they recovered three times faster than those that did not. It triples the success.

We’re part of one big human family. We have the same fears, the same struggles, the same passions, the same dreams. Click To Tweet

I’ll give you an example of how I did a preemptive strike once. I woke up in the morning and I hadn’t slept much the night before. I had two client calls and I had a five-mile run scheduled the next day. I knew that I’d be fatigued and wanting to go take a nap. I have to combat that ahead of time. What I did was I wore my running shoes. I put on my running watch. I wore my iPod. I stayed ready, so I made it psychologically easy as possible to go out the door. You want to always be prepared. I know this thing is going to be an obstacle, how can I be ready for it? When you preemptively prepared, you’re far more likely to succeed. This simple process, I still use it all the time. It helps me transcend my suffering even when I’m hitting a low point in a run or in life. I still sometimes struggle with stillness and solitude and I embrace it and go through this and it allows me to channel it.

What if you could put the LMNOP process in place? Label it, the language. Your body language means a lot. You’re a meaning machine, so what does it mean to you? It’s not you, it’s not your brain. Opt for a new meaning, then the purpose and preemptive strikes to take those small little actions so that you are on a path of momentum. What would happen for you if you put this in place? Not only does science show it’s a revolutionary simple technique and strategy for you to start getting your next big breakthrough. You’ve given us a glimpse of how people can go in and transform their fear and negative emotions into health, wealth, happiness, freedom and a whole lot more. If people want to go deeper with this and get access to the book, get access to some of the great resources you’ve got, how can people reach out to you and connect with you?

You can reach me at Fearvana.com. Feel free to connect, if somebody is going through any of those moments, my email is Akshay@Fearvana.com. I’m happy to serve in any way I can. The book is available on Amazon. It’s FEARVANA. All the profits of the book had gone to charity. I wanted to get out there more. More of that book obviously goes deeper into the whole thing and I’m confident it can help people and we’d be supporting good causes with it as well. Any of those methods is a good way to go. I feel confident that the book will make a difference. I put my heart and soul into this. It will make an impact and anything I can do to serve with either the book or reach out to me.

If you are looking for a simpler way, a better way, a new simple strategy to put in place, he can certainly help you do that. Akshay, I am very fascinated by your background. You were brought up in India, correct? 

Yes, first eight years in India.

Then you joined the Marines and were part of the Marines crew. You are not from this country and then you joined the Marines to serve what some call the greatest country. For you, what was your reason for you feeling compelled to join the Marine Corps?

I had gotten out of a lifestyle of drug addiction pretty heavily. I lost two friends to drugs. I was easily headed down that path. I was the first person in my group to start going to harder drugs. I watched the movie Black Hawk Down, it’s a very powerful war movie. There’s a scene where these two guys, they sacrifice their lives for one of their fallen soldiers and that person is still alive as a result of their actions. They received the Medal of Honor posthumously and I remember that sacrifice triggering something in me, the courage it takes to be able to do something like that. That’s the finest of humanity in my opinion, to be able to everything for our fellow human beings.

After I read the book, Black Hawk Down, and read book after book on military and combat, that was it. I stopped doing drugs overnight. It took me about a year and a half to get in the Marines because I have flat feet, scoliosis, and a blood disorder. Two doctors told me that boot camp would kill me because of this blood disorder, so I had to navigate my way into this. Get some medical waiver and stuff like that, but that was it. I wanted to serve something where the good of the group is much more important than your own personal well-being. The Marines, all that matters are your men and your mission and there’s something tremendously beautiful and the ability to transcend yourself in service of others.

Thank you for your service. It’s a gift, it’s an honor. What would you say the military taught you about leadership? The greatest thing that it taught you about leadership?

GTF 184 | Turning Fear
Turning Fear: There’s no such thing as a bad squad, only a bad squad leader.

To build leadership within others. In the Marines, they always used to say there’s no such thing as a bad squad, there’s only a bad squad leader. It’s one building leadership the other’s taking full responsibility for everything. You can have some guy in your squad screw up and then you can say, “It’s his fault, but no, it’s your fault if you’re the squad leader.” That idea that you take full responsibility for everything. You own it, you’re a man or your responsibility, and it’s your job to build them into better men, to build them into betterment. I went to Iraq as a Corporal. I was a non-commissioned officer out there and it’s such a tremendous place to lead because you have to put everything above yourself.

It’s like a life-threatening situation, so it’s not leadership in another context in a life-threatening situation, it’s about your men. It helps you experience that self-transcendence. Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning puts it beautifully. He says, “Self-actualization is a side effect of self-transcendence.” When you can transcend yourself in the service of others, you actually actualize yourself as well. That was beautiful, taking full responsibility and the ability to cultivating greatness within others is what it boils down to.

You have some big focus and causes that you are going towards. Some we can talk about and some are so big we can’t talk about them. You have one where you’re going to be over in Liberia. Talk about that cause, why you’re doing it and how you see it impacting people.

One of my lifelong missions is to run across every country in the world. Running is one of my vehicles to serve beyond my business and the nonprofit and everything else I’m doing. I’m going to be running about 26 to 30 miles a day for eleven days across Liberia. We’re supporting a few causes, one is related to water and bringing sustainable water. Another one is we’re building the first sustainable school out there to help teachers create a whole atmosphere that it becomes self-sustaining. We’re building that out. Using my run is a vehicle to bring more awareness to these causes and also to show people. Because we’re living in such a divisive environment.

In the United States, across the globe as well, where I want to do this run is to show people and had experiences like this as well that no matter where we’re from, what our race, religion, nationality or sex, whoever, what part of one big human family. We have the same fears, the same struggles, the same passions, the same dreams. I’ve seen that and that’s why coming back to the topic earlier, a family that suffers together stays together. I’ve seen on my runs that when I’m going through this suffering, it brings people on board. I had strangers invite me into their home for water when they see me suffering and in when I was midway through Luxembourg. I want to do this to tell the stories of these people out there.

It takes a handful who can believe in the impossible and achieve. Click To Tweet

Liberia is also a postwar country. They’ve gone through crazy suffering. One of the guys who was helping me plan this run is a tremendous beautiful soul. He helped rescue 20,000 child soldiers after the war. We’re incorporating this to build the school, to help promote and to share some of these stories that one water element as well. Whenever we run across different countries, we will be supporting the causes that are needed most in those countries as I grow and continue to do this and all different ventures. I got some big things in the works down the road as well. I’m excited about it and nervous of course, scared, which is a good thing. It’s going to be quite a journey.

You are such a blessing. You are having a global impact doing what you do. We can all learn a lot from it. You’re transcending running into a vehicle to have an impact. You have that opportunity to take something that others might see as mundane or a throwaway gift or activity. With a 30-degree viewpoint of it, you can use it to transcend and create a vehicle to make a difference either in your local community or worldwide.

I love what you said about being a part of a bigger human family. If more people had that view, where would we be if we realize that we’re brothers and sisters at the end of the day, at our core? You’re having this global impact that you are, your business is successful, you are a bestselling author. Let’s talk about your home. If you were going to turn to your wife and thank her for what she stands for you, allowing you to do what you do, what would you turn to her and thank her for most?

I’m going to put this in the context of my parents here because I mentioned my wife. We’re in the middle of navigating a tough divorce, it’s been a beautiful new kind of suffering for me to go through, to be very frank and vulnerable about that. Let me put the answer to focus on the question and answer in the context of my parents. I would thank them for the constant support and the willingness to support your craziness. Some of the things I do, like three months after I did get married, my wife was very supportive of me skiing across Greenland. I went across on a 190 pounds sled for the month across the ice cap. Supporting a vision is not saying, “Let’s go do it.” It’s the belief in the vision.

I also have a lot of people telling me what I do is crazy. I shouldn’t do it. I’ll hurt myself, but it takes a handful who can believe and achieve and who can believe in the impossible. To say, “Here is your belief.” They stand by me in every way, of course there is direct support, but thank you for the willingness to share the belief in me, and give me the means to go do it. Whether it be logistically supported in every way to give me the means and the love and the support to say, “Go crazy. Achieve the impossible and not going to stop you anyway.” Having that belief, having allies who say that whatever craziness you want to do, why not push farther? Why not try harder? Why not create something bigger?

GTF 184 | Turning Fear
Turning Fear: Building a positive relationship in suffering is the single most important skill you can absolutely develop in life.

With that idea of pushing harder going for it, what would be one, two, three action steps you hope our audience would take from our show and go do?

Build a positive relationship in suffering. That’s the single most important skill you can absolutely develop in life. A great way to do that is to exercise. Almost anybody barring like some serious physical injuries can go do that. It’s a great way to practice the building that positive relationship. It has taught me, it saved my life twice from drug addiction and alcohol addiction. It literally saved my life and it has helped me grow my business. It’s taught me that running a marathon, you put one foot from the other, you go to a lot of pain, but eventually you get there.

It’s literally the same exact thing. You learn from people who’ve done it before. Find the avenues, whatever your vehicle to support the channel that vehicle, find people who push the limits of that vehicle to be impossible. I have a lot of runners that I followed. See what they’ve done and how they’ve done it. Create your own impossible dream and then build that positive relationship to the suffering so you can take one step forward every single day. The only person you got to compare yourself against is yourself. You’re better than you were yesterday, you’re on the right track.

Akshay Nanavati, thank you for being with us. I want to encourage you to take action with what Akshay’s been sharing with you to transform your fear, your pain, your guilt, your anxiety, your suffering, the health, wealth, and happiness.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

About Akshay Nanavati

GTF 184 | Turning Fear

After overcoming drug addiction, PTSD from fighting the war in Iraq with the US Marines and alcoholism that pushed him to the brink of suicide, Akshay Nanavati has since built a global business, run ultramarathons, and explored the most hostile environments on the planet, from mountains to caves to polar icecaps.
Combining his life experience with years of research in science and spirituality, he wrote a book called “Fearvana: The Revolutionary Science of How to Turn Fear Into Health, Wealth and Happiness.” Of the book, The Dalai Lama said: “Fearvana inspires us to look beyond our own agonizing experiences and find the positive side of our lives.” He is donating 100% of the profits of the book to charity.
He is now on a mission to run across every country in the world and turn Fearvana into a global movement to help our human family find bliss through struggle.

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