[00:00:06.4] ANNOUNCER: Welcome to The Science of Success with your host, Matt Bodnar.
[00:00:12.4] MB: Welcome to The Science of Success. I’m your host, Matt Bodnar. I’m an entrepreneur and investor in Nashville, Tennessee and I’m obsessed with the mindset of success and the psychology of performance. I’ve read hundreds of books, conducted countless hours of research and study and I am going to take you on a journey into the human mind and what makes peak performers tick with the focus on always having our discussion rooted in psychological research and scientific fact, not opinion.
In this episode, we discuss the dangers of playing it safe in life. How we can learn to celebrate more, the power of cheering on, showing up and serving other people, how to balance the acceptance of negative emotions with amplifying the good and focusing on the positive, what it means to live life in the front row, lessons learned about living from people who are fighting for their lies, and much more with our guest Jon Vroman.
The Science of Success continues to grow with more with more than 1,000,000 downloads. Listeners in over 100 countries, hitting number one New and Noteworthy and more. I get listener comments and emails all the time asking me, “Matt, how do you organize and remember all this incredible information?” A lot of our listeners are curious about how I keep track of all the incredible knowledge I get from reading hundreds of books, interviewing amazing experts, listening to awesome podcasts and more.
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In our previous episode, we discuss the inevitable technology shifts that will be impacting our future. The second industrial revolution. The importance of having an open mind, critical thinking and seeking disconfirming evidence. We explored how to better ask questions and why it’s so important that you do and talked about some of the biggest technology risks with Wired’s Kevin Kelly. If you want to hear more about the inevitable future of technology, listen to that episode.
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[0:02:43.0] MB: Today, we have another exciting guest on the show, Jon Vroman. Jon is the cofounder of the Front Row Foundation, a charity that creates unforgettable moments for individuals who are braiding life threatening illnesses, he also teaches others to live life in the front row through teaching and inspiring others with the art of moment making.
He's also an award-winning speaker, podcast host and the author, the bestselling author of the new book, The Front Row Factor: Transform Your Life With The Art of Moment Making. Jon, welcome to The Science of Success.
[0:03:12.6] JV: Hey, thanks for having me, good to be here.
[0:03:14.3] MB: Well we’re very excited to have you on. For listeners who may not be familiar with you and your story, tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got started living life in the front row?
[0:03:24.4] JV: Wow, this is always the time when I go, do I go back to the very beginning? I’ll give you what I think is the most exciting piece of it. The short by the way, childhood version is I grew up in a great family, traveled around a bunch, dad was military.
Mom was a school teacher until she stayed at home with the kids. I’m super grateful for my family and my upbringing. What ended up happening was that when I was in high school though, this is really important to the part of the story of how I started living in the front row, was I was really short Matt, I was like, I was four 10, I weighed 85 pounds, driving a car to school.
I was either bullied or insignificant. Unnoticed or picked on, those two things were occurring in my life and that was sort of the pain that created a prompt for me to be able to want to not only step up in my life but to help others. Where this whole idea of living life in the front row came from was actually three big things that happened in my life all around the same time and this was in my mid 20’s this all happened.
One was I was asked by a mentor to rate my contribution to the world. Hey, when it comes to making a difference in the world, how would you rate yourself in a one to 10 scale? I didn’t like my answer and so that was like a big prompt for that something needed to change. I had been very caught up in myself and not serving others.
Second thing that happened was I was at a Jason Mraz show and I remember being in the very back row and I looked to the front and I saw this group of girls having the time of their life and I remembered thinking to myself that they looked like they wanted to be nowhere other than right there at that moment, at that show and they were having a blast and then I looked in the back where I was and I saw people kind of checked out.
Sitting down, not as engaged and I turned to my girlfriend and said, life is different in the front row. The front row of course being a metaphor for getting close to the things that light us up, that make us come alive and I thought to myself, this is not how I’m living, I’m living life as a spectator in the back, I’m watching everything happen, I’m playing it safe, I mean, the back is really safe right?
I see everybody, nobody sees me, it’s an easy out but you know, the front is where the energy is. I thought, that’s where I need to start playing life is there. Really stepping up and then the third thing that happened was a buddy challenged me to run an ultra-marathon and this is in my late 20’s and I had never run more than a couple of miles in my whole life, this is a huge step for me but we committed to doing it and we were training for this ultra-marathon and we thought, you know, aren’t we supposed to raise money for a charity, isn’t that what people do?
They go run and they raise money for charities and that conversation quickly turned to, what if we started a charity? What would that look like? What would be the ideal charity? That was sort of the topic of conversation and all these things that happened, it was sort of a perfect storm scenario and not only have I been thinking about contributing and now this question popped up but this whole front row experience at the Jason Mraz show and next thing you know, the words just rolled off of my tongue, Front Row Foundation and we thought.
What if we help people to have this amazing day and the more we explored it, the more we thought about starting a charity, we really dug into our fears and our loves and what I mean by that is that if you want to do something in the world that’s unending fuel. You need to really understand what you’re moving away from and towards and what you fear and what you love.
I said, well what do I fear most? Getting to the end of my life and feeling like it was insignificant, feeling like I wasted my life or feeling like I didn’t maximize my time, make the most of every moment. Then I thought, what do I love the most? I thought I love experiences? I love moments with people, I love telling stories.
Remember when we did that? You know, wow, what if I helped people who are fighting for their life? Who have their timeline perhaps threatened to be shortened and what if we help them have the best day of their life and Front Row Foundation was born and that was 11 years ago and here we are today.
That was kind of the story of who I am, how I got to where I am and sort of living life in the front row and how we got to the charity.
[0:07:19.9] MB: Wow, that’s amazing, there’s so many things I want to follow up on and dig in to. To start with, just simply, tell me a little bit more about what does it mean to you and you already kind of hinted at it but what does it mean to you to live life in the front row?
[0:07:33.9] JV: Life in the front row to me is a life of full engagement, it’s a life of courage and being present to the moment. You know, our charity, we help kids and adults who have a life threatening illness, see the event of their dreams from the front row. When we started it, we thought that was it. It was like, we’re going to create this amazing day and tell their story and we thought it was about the person who was fighting the illness and about the day.
What ended up happening though over the years was we realized it was so much more than that and that living life in the front row became a lifestyle. Became a way that they approached everyday of their life. We started to see some patterns emerging from that. One of them was we had created an event for a young man named Thomas Kay and Thomas was you know, fighting for his life, he was in a wheelchair, he was losing his eyesight and our hearts really connected with Thomas and his fight.
We wanted to send Thomas to go see the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand and what we had heard was that once we told Thomas he was going to be going to the event, Thomas was really motivated during his physical therapy because he wanted to stand for the national anthem when he got to the event.
What we saw was the power of hope, see, the thing about living life in the front row is like, when we look forward to an event, we call this the anticipation principle, it brings the power of the future into the present moment. Living life in the front row is about even bringing something that we’re looking forward to into the power of now.
What we underestimated, when we started the charity was living life in the front row could begin even before the event itself right? We understood the power of hope. Living life in the front row is also about celebration. One of the things we underestimated was the photobooks and the videos that we do for every recipient.
Again, we thought, this will be great for the recipient but what we didn’t anticipate was the effect it would have on their whole family. The effect on everybody for years to come. We would show up to a visit, a recipient in the hospital six months after their event and we would see their photobook from their front row day sitting on their nightstand.
Or we go visit them in their house and we’d see it on their coffee table and they would tell us, they’re like, everybody knows, you do not move this off the coffee table, that is the one thing that always stays there. We understood now about the power of the past, the celebration, bringing what was into what is.
Bringing the power of the past, not living in the past, not living with rearview mirror syndrome but living, bringing the power of what was into the present moment. Living life in the front row is about remembering what was great and all of this, this hope for the future and this power of the past came back to the power of the present moment which is about living now.
People told us over and over again, living life in the front row has taught me to value and appreciate every day. A front row life is one where you are fully engaged. What my mentor Tony Robins had said many years ago, proximity is power and it’s what you get close to, we understand that in real estate, we understand that with relationships, we understand that in so many levels about when we are close to something that makes us feel alive, that to us is a front row life.
That’s what we have found over the years is people were not only doing it on this one day but they were doing it every day. Whether it was watching a sunset, whether it was playing with their kids, whether it was doing work that you love, it was something that you were getting close to in life. That is the essence of living life in the front row.
[0:11:00.7] MB: I want to dig in to proximity’s power and I also don’t want to forget the question about rating your contribution to the world because that’s such a fascinating dialogue but before we get into either of those.
I’m curious on the concept of celebration, that’s something that I’ve been to several Tony events and he talks a lot about celebration being kind of a core component and that’s something that I feel like I personally struggled with. I’m curious, how do you teach people to celebrate things?
[0:11:28.8] JV: Yeah, that’s a good one, when I was writing the book, I wrestled with this a lot because my wife will tell you that over the years, I’ve struggled with celebration. Personally struggled. For example, New Year is a really important holiday to my wife. She’s Russian, born and raised, lived there for 18 years and New Year is a huge deal.
For me, I always thought a tremendous amount of pressure around New Year. So much so that I didn’t enjoy it, I was like, I had more fun on a Tuesday than I did on New Year’s because New Year’s just felt like it was so important that I didn’t even want that pressure. I was like, how do I even win?
Do we go totally crazy and spend tons of money or is that just buying our way into happiness and I really wrestled with this a ton. What I found over the years about celebration and through my own personal struggle and exploration, and watching other people is that we all celebrate in different ways.
You know, celebration doesn’t have to be jumping up and down and screaming and yelling although it often times is perceived to be that way that a true celebration is tons of balloons and tons of music and you know, that’s a real celebration.
There’s nothing wrong with that, in fact I love that. What I’ve also realized is that celebration could be quiet, it can be internal, it can be represented, it can represent our truest values, we don’t have to make it look like what the world wants us to make it look like.
Celebration can happen in a moment, it can literally be a second. It doesn’t have to be something that we’re measuring against some other celebration of outdoing a former celebration et cetera.
What we help people to do is we help them to realize that celebration can be looking back, looking forward or looking at this present moment. When we think about being a moment maker, we think about taking something in the past like we talked about before and celebrating it, bringing light and attention to it. For example, it can be something really small.
Like one of our family traditions and I have two young boys, seven and two-year-old. At dinner at each night, we’ll ask our family, we’ll go around the table and say, what was your front row moment today? A front row moment is just a highlight moment, it was just a great part of the day. We’ll also to celebrate failure though.
See, we have to realize that celebration can often be about what we learned from an experience, it doesn’t have to be something that was awesome, it can be like hey, what was challenging and how did we learn from that? We do our front row moment and our failure every night at dinner. There’s little ways that we can learn to celebrate life that way.
By asking the right question, what was the gift and the challenge, what was great about this? We often teach people when we want them to be moment makers and we write about this in the book and we give them tons of examples and questions is – one of them is how do I recognize or create a front row moment right now in my life?
We can turn a moment, any moment into a celebration if you will. Because celebration is a way of appreciation. Celebration is a form of gratitude and we could all be grateful, we can just say, wow, we can see the joy in so many moments in life. I’m not the first one to say when somebody’s going through a tough time, I’m not the first one to say well, hey, let’s look at the bright side.
Sometimes it’s okay to be like this stinks right? This is rough, this is terrible. I’m not talking about celebrating 24/7. Talking about experiencing the full range of emotions of life but I am talking about bringing more celebration into our world even in small tiny ways and often that’s done by asking the right question.
What can I celebrate right now is a very simple straightforward question. How can I celebrate somebody else? If you’re listening to this right now and you’re like, I’m having a hard time celebrating myself. Great, start with celebrating somebody else.
When I go out to dinners with people, we get groups of friends or I’m either with my wife or without. Often, ask myself, who at the table could we celebrate? What’s worth celebrating in life right now? I might say, hey, let’s go around the table and everybody pick one thing that they like to celebrate with the table.
You know, often times, we don’t want to brag, we don’t want to tell everybody, hey everybody, I did this awesome thing because that’s just not cool right? What if it was cool? What if we could make it cool, what if we could give them permission to celebrate?
That would be an easy way that when you’re at dinner with people, ask them, or when you’re in a conversation like – one of my buddies calls me up the other day and I have this thing that I do with most of my friends, I’m like, give me the 60 second brag? Really, what I’m doing is I’m just giving them permission to celebrate with me about what’s great in life?
Anyway, I could go on and on but those are some simple ideas about how we can learn to celebrate and why we need to celebrate.
[0:15:57.1] MB: That’s such a great question and I love the idea of focusing on how to celebrate somebody else, it takes you out of all of the ego and getting caught up and not wanting to brag and whatever else and it makes it so crystal clear and actually, sort of smile to myself as you said that and I was thinking of a particular moment where I was celebrating someone else and is having an incredible time with it.
You know, that’s a really good way to kind of get out of your own way to embrace celebration. Tell me about –
[0:16:24.4] JV: Let me actually, I’m going to comment on that too because you know, I remember one of my buddies, I won’t even say his name but he hosts one of the biggest podcast in the world and I remember he asked me, challenged me, he was like, wait a minute, if you’re living life in the front row, because I was talking about being a participant.
Don’t be a spectator in the back. He’s like, wait a minute, aren’t you a participant? I mean, aren’t you a spectator in the front row? Then people will be like, I want to be on the stage of life and I’m like great, I want you to be on the stage of life, that’s not the point. The point is, it’s about service, I think we miss the point that when we’re in the front row, we are cheering on our favorite band let’s say, right?
Ask that band if you’re a participant and you’re in the front row, you’re singing, you’re dancing, ask him if you’re a participant, ask him if it makes a difference of the front row going totally nuts for that person. See, the front row is also a metaphor for serving people, it’s about stepping up for people, we can’t always be on the stage of life.
We can’t always be the center of attention, a life of serving others, a life of cheering on people in our world, right? Showing up for people. There’s so much purpose in that, there’s so much meaning and love and joy in pointing the energy on somebody else and lifting them up.
I get genuinely excited when my friends succeed, genuinely excited. In fact, right next to me on my wall, I have my top eight, this is what I do. Top eight relationships and their biggest dream. Written, right next to me on the wall and I’m always looking at that saying if I’m in their front row of life, am I cheering them on? Are they feeling me? Are they knowing that I’m there?
Can they see and feel and witness my support of their biggest dreams? I really think that’s important about like shining the light and trust me. You know, there’s lots of opportunities for us to take the stage and sing the song and do the thing but we also need to have this be a piece of our life where we’re showing up for others and being moment maker not for just ourselves but for other people. Chances are, when you’re a moment maker for somebody else, you’re going to feel the moment yourself, you’re going to get caught up in it.
[0:18:28.3] MB: Tell me more about that, tell me what exactly does it mean to create a front row moment and to be a moment maker?
[0:18:34.4] JV: A moment maker is somebody that takes a moment and they either recognize the beauty in the moment, the joy in the moment. What we say it’s a yes moment right? Watching a sunset, beautiful example, I’m front row to the sunset because I’m in close proximity, I can see it, feel it, experience it, I take a moment to notice that sunset and breathe into it and pause and be there.
One of my buddy’s best advice ever, he walked up to me, the big fund raiser we were having. 325 people showed up, he’s one of my best friends in the world, his name is John Kane and he walks up to me and says, Jon, just take a moment, look around and just appreciate this.
A lot of times in life, we’re so caught up in doing the next to do, doing the next task, we’re missing it. He’s like, just take a moment and just look around and just feel this. Sometimes being a moment maker is just recognizing what’s already there and not always chasing what could be right? We always talk about where is the best party in town? The one you’re at.
Who are the best people to be with? The one’s you’re with. When is the best moment? Now is it. It’s really taking a moment to recognize what’s great and then it’s asking, when we want to create a moment, it’s about asking those questions, going back to it earlier like how could I make this special?
A great example of how the power of moment making and how it shows up in our life. I remember we were finishing the book, I was out to lunch with my wife, we were at this Mexican restaurant here down the street from where I live in Austin Texas and my wife and I were talking about being a moment maker and she’s like, what are some practical examples of how we can be moment makers?
That’s a great question. Our waiter, my wife immediately, we started brainstorming and our waiter came up and she immediately got it and she said, excuse me sir. Do you guys have a comment card?
He goes, he looked at us like nobody ever asks me this question. Do we have a comment card for the restaurant? We do, he brought it over and she wrote this beautiful note to our waiter and at the end, we were asking the question, how can we be a moment maker right now for our waiter and we asked for the manager to come over and we just showered the manager with complements about our waiter and how great he was, how kind he was and he lit up, the manager lit up, the waiter lit up and we were lit up because we turned what could have been a normal, everyday lunch into something special right?
There’s a ton of examples of how we can be moment makers in our lives and they’re not always going to be front row at our favorite band, they could be simple moments in life where we turn something normal into something spectacular.
Yesterday, great example. We had friends over to our home and one of our friends, 10, 20 people or so and one of our friends said hey, let’s all get in a circle and let’s go around and let everybody say your name and one interesting thing about yourself that we might not know.
That turned into like just this incredible moment for our party that would have been lost if everybody just would have been talking individually. Everybody got a voice, everybody got to know other people because it was a new group, people didn’t know each other and I think those are some practical examples of how we can be moment makers in life right?
By asking these interesting questions like, how can I just amplify this moment? See, one of the things that I learned Matt was that we have to amplify the goods so we silence what’s not. I’m going to say that one more time, we amplify the good so that we silence what’s not.
I’m not talking about ignoring all your problems in life, not talking about not addressing things that are of critical nature I’m also talking about not getting caught up in the things that you can’t change or aren’t really productive to change. I learned this lesson back when I was 17 and I got a Jeep, it was a CJ7 1983 dark green, tan top, big tires, my favorite car and you know, but had a ton of rattles.
You drive this Jeep down the road and everything would be rattling right? I remembered trying to fix all the rattles, shoving these little pieces of foam and Styrofoam everywhere to try to stop the rattling and I was like, this is worthless.
I just bought a better stereo and I laughed because I was like, that solved my problem, just a better stereo right? More of what I want, less focusing on trying to fix what wasn’t working.
That’s what we do when we’re moment makers, we amplify the good, you can always find out what’s wrong, what’s missing, et cetera and sometimes that’s important but often times it’s important to just say, how do we amplify what is here? How do we bring about the best of what is? That is a moment maker.
[0:23:13.6] MB: I love this idea and the concept of making moments and I want to do it more in my life. I feel like, whenever I go to something like Tony or one of those events, I come home, I’m really psyched up, I want to do all this stuff and for a couple of weeks or months you know, I’m really amped about it and I’m living life in a different state and I’m being, you know, I’m creating these random acts of kindness and doing all these things.
Then time sort of passes by and I lose that energy, how do you sustain it and how can anybody listening not only listen to this episode and go maybe create one moment but listen to this episode and become somebody you can create a lifetime of moments?
[0:23:50.5] JV: Yeah, I think first of all, our lives do flow from higher and lower energy, I think that’s normal and natural. I don’t think It’s actually reasonable to expect that we leave an event like a Tony event as an example and stay on a level 10.
I don’t even think that’s a proper expectation. I don’t even know that that’s the life that I would want. I mean, I want to experience the full range of emotions, I want to know the cold, so I can feel again what it’s like to be hot right? I want to know that.
What I do think is that more often than not, I call that the 90% rule because it’s like, well 90% of the time, where am I living? I want to live a certain way and then occasionally understand what it’s like to not have things. You know, I actually like remove things from my life so I learn to appreciate them again.
Like occasionally I’ll be like, I’m not going to drink any alcohol for 90 days. I just want to appreciate that glass of wine next time versus that being an everyday numbing type of activity. I want to know what it’s like to not have something to have it back again.
I remember I felt that when I went to the Dominican one time to serve on a mission trip and I saw when you see true poverty, it helps you appreciate so much more of your life and I certainly came home and lived with much more gratitude for that next week or two than I did previously and that feeling faded, I think that’s normal. I feel like number one, we need to make sure that we have events like Tony events or whatever event.
I partnered with my buddy Hal Elrod for the best year ever blueprint event which is every December we host this live event. We host a front row personal transformation and co-creation summit, that’s a mouthful, isn’t it? You know, here’s the thing. It’s about continuing to do them, it’s about going back and doing these things so that we can reenergize, it’s why people go to church every Sunday as an example.
It’s not because church is broken and they leave and then they’re only fired up for a couple of days, that’s very normal, that’s why they have to go back. It’s like going to the gym, it’s any muscle that you’re trying to tone, you have to continue to find the source and go get that. It doesn’t mean you have to pay for a $5,000 Tony event every three months, it means that you could form a community, you could find a community and it could be free but you talk to people, you create a group of people that realign with what you value.
One is getting plugged into those communities, number two, it’s creating daily habits that allow you to do that. I brought up Hal a moment ago, one of my best friends and he wrote The Miracle Morning in case anybody is listening and hasn’t heard of it. Most people probably have at this point. The miracle morning is just a practice where we do these few things in the morning to prep ourselves during the day.
Or prep ourselves for the day. Hal and I always joked that he preps people for the day and then I help people be moment makers throughout the day. He T’s them up and I help them be moment makers all day long. It’s about giving to ourselves in the morning so the way I do it is I read every day. I put something in so I’ve got something to come out later right?
I meditate every day, I read every day, I get some type, I have a policy for me that’s just sweat daily. Its’ not about when I do it, I mean, I like to workout in the afternoon like 3:00 in the middle of the day, right when I’m like burn out, I go work out. You know, that’s what I do.
I think that we have to learn how to take care of ourselves so we can take care of others. That’s truly what it is. I always say, be a moment maker for yourself so that you can be a moment maker for other people. Ask yourself, what charges you, what fuels you and everybody listening’s different right?
Extrovert, introvert, some people are fueled by an environment and some people are drained by that exact same environment. What makes you come alive? What environments, we call that, what’s in your front row? There’s three things I talk about in the book where I talk about there’s three areas of focus to be a moment maker in life.
That is, first of all, you have to have a focus on your mindset, how are you tuning your mind, what are you reading, are you meditating, how are you tuning up the questions that you're asking throughout the course of the day, how are you exercising that piece of you right? Your mindset.
Second is relationships, who is in your front row? Who do you put in your front row that’s cheering you on? Who are you, what relationships are you close with? Are they lighting you up? Then the third thing is your environment. You know, I told somebody yesterday they were visiting my house and I said, my office is setup in a way that there is nothing in here that doesn’t light me up. I made a commitment long ago, I was like if there’s something in my office that’s there, that doesn’t make me feel totally alive, it’s gone.
When I walk into my office, I feel juiced, I feel excited because everything is designed with purpose and meaning. I’m looking at a front row recipient over on my wall, I’m looking at like pictures of my kids, I’m looking at my friends and their goals. I’m looking at a dry erase board that says create on me, I’m looking at a calendar that says, this is our year and this is what we’re doing, I’ve got quotes hung up but it’s about creating an environment that makes you come alive.
Those three things again where mindset, relationships and environment. That’s how we shape ourselves so that we can help shape other environments for other people and create experiences that make them come alive.
[0:28:51.6] MB: Kind of like the idea that on a plane, you’re supposed to put the oxygen mask on yourself first, right? And it reminds me of a quote from the Dali Lama where he said that I think the question was how can you be happy in a world full of so much suffering and his response was, who can you help if you’re not happy yourself?
[0:29:09.1] JV: Yeah, that’s it. My mom used to say, hurt people, hurt people.
[0:29:13.8] MB: That’s a great – yeah, that’s a good one.
[0:29:16.1] JV: It’s just like, if we’re hurt inside then we tend to go out and we express that to the world. It’s also that if you have been helped then you can help others, right? A helped person can help others you know? If you sometimes you need to help yourself, you need to be the lead rescuer for yourself you know?
Participate in your own rescue type of deal. If you feel like you’re drowning, if you feel like you’re struggling then first of all, participate in your own rescue and be around others that will help you. But it’s a team effort and you have to be involved.
[0:29:50.8] MB: In a world where change is one of the only constants, people and businesses must be adaptable. This episode of The Science of Success is sponsored by our partners, At That Moment, a new podcast about the pivot that changes everything. Sometimes we recognize the need to seize the moment and change course. Other times we have no choice but to pivot. These moments can bring uncertainty, fear and the looming possibility of failure but they can also open doors for discovery growth and change.
In each episode of That Moment, people share their stories of taking risks and finding success in business and in life. In the latest episode of That Moment, you can hear from the woman who is helping Ford pivot from a car manufacturing company to a software company and a former FBI agent who discovered an entirely new approach to finding cybercrime once he left the bureau. Be sure to check out and listen to That Moment wherever you listen to podcasts.
[0:30:52.2] MB: Tell me a little bit more about the 90% rule and specifically this is something that I wrestle with a lot which is the tension or the balance between the idea as you called it amplifying the good versus the other side of the coin which is introspection, digging into your past and your negative emotions and really embracing and accepting those. How do you balance those two things?
[0:31:16.9] JV: I balance it in a way that ultimately in the end you look at what result you are getting. At the end of your equation, how much time you’re putting into each of those, do you end up feeling alive or do you end up feeling sad and down because if you end up feeling sad and down you’re putting too much energy on what’s wrong, right? We should ultimately address that, we can feel feelings of sadness or discomfort. I think that there’s a great deal of energy that comes from when you’re fed up and you’re angry.
Like I have gotten to the point where my house is so dirty and I’m pissed and then I just go do something about it and I find a tremendous amount of energy from being pissed off and angry. As long as that translates into something that eventually you go, “Ah I did it” you know? I feel better here but if you’re not getting the relief at the end then you’re not ultimately taking enough action on what’s wrong in order to solve it right?
And there’s seasons, it can last for different lengths sometimes. It might be 10 minutes, it might be 10 weeks. I’ve had times in my life where it goes on and on. It feels like it might not ever end but sometimes we need to have faith that there is a bright side at the end. Sometimes we need other people that have that faith for us and say don’t worry this season will end. It’s coming, trust me. I can see it, I know it, I feel it.
The 90% rule for me is about what happens most of the time. I talked to people about this, whenever I have led teams over the years I talk to staff members about being late as an example. If you are late occasionally, it’s no big deal. Now if you are on time 99% of the time if you are on time, if you are late one time people will forgive you. It’s when being late becomes your norm, when there’s always an excuse and I think that when it comes to daily habits or disciplines.
I don’t know anybody that really does things that they teach even seven days a week or 100% of the time, right? Somebody teaches health and they still have days where they eat junk food. They still have days when they are not going to the gym or working out. For me, the 90% rule is most of the time. You know when you think about the quality of your life, I am not going to say that I have bad days or bad moments or moments where I need to be introspective or think about what’s missing or what’s wrong.
And what can I do about it but I need to know where am I spending the majority of my time. How do I show up most days? So I don’t work out every day. I don’t eat healthy every day. I’m not a great dad every day. I am not a great husband every day. I am not a great business man every day but most of the time, I strive to be and I think that’s where we need to be operating from in our life is the majority rule. The majority of our emotions and if we’re not there, well then we need to read a book.
Dig in with our journal, surround our self with some people that have figured that out and start working on ourselves and working on our situation, our activities that we’re spending our time with, where we live. You know our environment makes a big difference to how we feel. That’s why we moved to Austin, Texas because we looked at community, culture, climate, where are we going to thrive and just like any, nature will tell you to look outside and just ask.
You talk about oxygen but it is not the right amount of sun, right amount of water, right fertile soil, you’re not going to thrive. You’re not going to hit your highest potential. Somebody listening today might be in the wrong line of work. They might be in the wrong relationships. They might be living in the wrong areas. Their home might be dragging them down, their office might be dragging them down and we need to consciously make choices that light us up.
That make us come alive and some of those will be easier to change than others. Some people listening going, “Oh I can’t move. I am stuck with all of these things” and I’d say that might be true on some level that for you, transition might be a little harder but if you set that goal and start asking questions and start making steps, one step. You know we move to the front row of life we do that one seed at a time, one step at a time and that’s how we do it.
Let me also mention this, it’s about your best seat in the house. So if somebody is listening and they go, “I am not a front row kind of person” that’s fine. I am talking about your front row. I don’t want to be front row at the movies. I don’t. It’s not the point. It’s about the best seat in the house for you. Where do you get the best view, the best vibes, the best energy, the best excitement? You’ve got to be honest with yourself about where that is.
And we always say, you don’t always choose your seat in life but you can always choose to have a front row experience. So if you are listening right now and you’re like, “Well I can’t change that right now” great. You own the seat you’re in. No matter what seat you get in life you can always choose to have a front row experience but I will tell you this, if you don’t like your seat in life either own it or move. Own it or move. So either just rock what you got or figure out where you want to be and go get it and that’s it.
[0:36:27.7] MB: So tell me more about the idea that proximity is power and how we can cultivate these relationships and these people around us to help us live life in the front row.
[0:36:40.2] JV: Well proximity is power is simply about what you’re close to. It is about the thoughts that you are close to, what questions and affirmations are you holding in your head all day long. Are you going through the day asking, how can I be a moment maker right now? What’s great about this? What is the next most effective to-do on my list? What activity can I do that by doing it makes everything else irrelevant or unimportant? So that’s a one thing question, have you ever read that book by Jay Papasan and Gary Keller?
[0:37:12.9] MB: No I haven’t.
[0:37:14.1] JV: It’s such a good book. It’s an amazing book. Yeah, it’s called The One Thing and it’s about asking this primary. It’s about asking a big question about what’s the one thing I can do that by doing it, it makes everything else irrelevant or unnecessary, I think is the question but I think it’s the thoughts that we hold close. So the front row is the metaphor of what we’re close to right? That’s simple. It’s about what we’re close to.
Our thoughts whatever we’re thinking, whatever questions we are asking I think questions drive our lives. That’s not a new concept. So many people teach this right? This isn’t my idea. That is an age old concept that has been taught by so many people but we have to sit down and actually craft and think about what questions are we trying to answer. If somebody goes through their day asking the question repeatedly, what is great about this situation?
What are the gifts in this challenge or any situation for that matter, whether it would be a challenge or something positive? It’s what the gift in this, how can I amplify that? How can I best utilize all my available resources both inside myself and outside of me in order to make something that is not only beneficial for myself but everybody around me? How do I create a win-win-win? So our questions drive us. That’s our mindset and that to me is the most important thing.
Because what we know in dealing with people who’ve been fighting for their lives and this is what this book is about. The book is about everything that we’ve learned about living life from people fighting for it. Let me say that one more time, this book is everything we’ve learned about living life from people fighting for it and what we’ve noticed is that people have this extraordinary mindset, they take any situation and make it great.
Let me give you a perfect example, let me tell you a story about a woman named Nikki who a couple of months ago, I had the privilege of taking Nikki to a Dallas Cowboys event. I was her host, her husband John, they came in from New Jersey and a huge Dallas Cowboys fan. Nikki is originally from Dallas and we do limousines and dinner and there’s gifts and it’s all sorts of fun stuff for their front row day. When we were in the limousine heading to the game, Nikki was telling me about how sometimes she goes out in public people will look at her with disgust.
And she was referencing the fact that she was going through chemo and radiation and she had lost her hair and she didn’t wear a hat or something like that that people would look at her with disgust and the minute she said that my heart broke. I was like, “Oh it’s terrible” and I was angry and I was sad and I had all of these emotions and immediately she followed it up by saying, “And it makes me happy” and it was the last thing I was expecting her to say.
So I dug deeper, I said, “Tell me why is that? What about it makes you happy?” and she said, “It makes me happy because in order for them to look at me with disgust that must mean that they have never personally gone through chemo or radiation or fought a disease like I have and they most certainly have never had a loved one go through what I am going through because if they had, they would never be looking at me that way so I am happy that they have no context for my situation”.
And the minute she said that I was like, “Whoa!” that is a great example of somebody who has an empowering mindset to look at their situation and to make the most of it. So I am inspired constantly by people in our charity that look at their situation and still find the joy no matter what’s going on. I’ll give you another example, somebody once said to me, “I’m grateful for cancer” and I said, “I’m sorry?” and they said, “I’m grateful because cancer not that I would want it again”.
“Not that I would wish it on other people, that’s not the point of being grateful. I’m saying it happened, I can’t change it that it’s there so I’m choosing to see that I’m grateful for the gift that it provided which was that my family came together in a way that I don’t think we would have come together without this. We let go of the bickering. We let go, we forgave so many of the things that we used to think are important that we’re no longer important and we just focused on the love”.
“We focused on how precious life is” and the truth is while somebody in our organization may have gotten the news that they’re life is being threatened that, “Hey you are battling this” and sometimes they’ll say, “You have X months to live” or this is terminal or whatever that might be but truly, anybody listening today, guys every single person that’s listening there is an end for us. We are all going to die. We all have a timeline that ends at some point.
And as much as you possibly would want it to be, if it’s a 100 or a 125 years or whatever it is, there is still a timeline but imagine what if you live up to 300 typically and somebody came to you and said, “I have bad news, you’re only going to live to be 100” right? You have this illness, it’s called being human and you’re only going to live by 100 but it’s like we all have a timeline and our lives are just made up of a bunch of moments.
You want to have a great life? Great, string together a bunch of great years. What to have a great year? 12 great months, want to have a great month? 30 great days, want to have a great day? 24 great hours, you want to have a great hour? 60 great minutes. How do we manage the moment though? See we think that sometimes life will be great when we “blank” or that once we achieve this or once my business is or once I have kids or once my kids grow up or once I graduate college or once I –
But the thing is this is now. This is it, this is where this is all happening so managing our mind is the key to managing the moment and managing the moment is the key to maximizing our lives no matter how short they may be or long they may be and the truth is that none of us really know because you could do everything right. You could brush your teeth and eat healthy food and exercise and wear your seatbelt and do all of these things but I’ll tell you what, when the time is here the time is here.
I once knew a guy in Virginia Beach who was a Navy Seal, survived massive amounts of overseas travel and battle and literary was in his car sitting at a traffic light when somebody ran a light and hit him and killed him. That was it. There is not anything that you and I or anybody listening isn’t going to be doing today that somebody else wasn’t doing when it’s their last day whether it’s talking on a podcast, brushing your teeth, driving a car or doing anything else.
The point is we need to make the most of our time. That’s not meant to sadden anybody that is meant to motivate you to maximize this moment. That is meant for you to remember that tomorrow is guaranteed to nobody and you are not going to do anything to earn tomorrow entirely. It’s a gift to you. It’s given to you, it’s a gift and it’s your job to open that gift and use that gift and maximize that gift and that’s what moment makers do for themselves and for others and we do that by managing our mindset.
[0:44:29.7] MB: Such a powerful lesson and I love the point that we often think that we’re going to be happy when X happens when in reality, we have to focus on the present and we have to pursue and enjoy and live in this moment.
[0:44:44.1] JV: It’s what you have. That’s what you have and talk to anybody who’s achieved that thing and I am not saying there’s not moments of pride or joy when you summit the mountain but very quickly that turns into what’s the next adventure right? Erik Weihenmayer, do you know who he is, Erik Weihenmayer? He’s the only blind man to summit Mt. Everest. He is a blind man who summited Mt. Everest and on his way down the mountain, one of his friends turns to him and says:
“Erik don’t let summiting Mt. Everest be your greatest achievement” and he said that motivated him so much that he then went onto kayak through the Grand Canyon, the Colorado River, 277 miles blind and you just think about his point is that summiting Mt. Everest or doing these things is just a part of his adventure and it’s just onto the next thing and that life is just about training for and experiencing all pieces of the adventure.
But the true adventure is in the preparation. The true adventure is in getting you there that’s why we realize this wasn’t about just a day. It’s not about a front row day. It’s about everything that happens leading up to it. It’s about the day yes but it’s also about everything that happened in the past. Your life is a mixture of all of that. Celebrate what was good, write the story the way you wanted in the past, have some hope in the future and that’s different than wishful thinking.
I want to be clear about that. Hope is not weak. Hope is not “I wish things to be different”. Hope says, “I have a vision for the future and I can do something about it” that’s hope and then living in the moment through that process. You’ve got the past, you’ve got the future, you bring the power of the past and the power of the future into the present moment and you maximize now. That is the essence of what we wrote about on the book.
That’s what we’ve learned from everybody who has been fighting for their lives and we do that by simply asking the right question and the right question is how do I recognize or create a front row moment right now in my life. If we do that, we win the game.
[0:46:52.2] MB: I love it. It’s so inspiring and I can tell you are incredibly passionate about it and I want to integrate this more into my life. I want to create front row moments and I am really excited to be able to get all of this wisdom from you. I want to now circle back because there is another question you talked about at the very beginning of the conversation that to me is also really interesting and inspiring and that was the idea of rating your contribution to the world and on a scale of one to ten, tell me about why that question is so powerful.
[0:47:25.4] JV: Well I think it is an awareness. I think for so many of us that we are unaware of our lives. When you think about enlightenment, think about that word like it’s just the lights are on. Enlightenment is when the lights come on and you can see finally what is going on. Mindfulness which is huge right now but we say huge right now but how many thousands of years has mindfulness been huge right now in different parts of the world.
It’s just turning the light on. It’s about being quiet enough that we can hear the “hell yes” in our heart. It’s about quieting long enough to be able to know what is your inner guidance system saying and I think that often times that’s the big key and so when somebody asks the question we become, “Hey I never thought about that” like my favorite thing to hear is when I ask the question and somebody says “That’s a great question” or when they don’t have an answer.
Or when they pause because now I’ve given them something new to think about. Here’s a great thought about questions too. I’ll just give you a tangent. The best questions aren’t always the ones you want an answer to like if you were in a conversation and you’re asking questions, the best questions aren’t the ones that you want an answer to. As the person who’s asking the question, it’s the ones they do. See when I am in a conversation with somebody, I’m at a party and I am talking.
I am not asking questions that I want answers to. I am searching for the question that they want an answer to. You want to light somebody up? Ask them a question that they’re like, “Wow that’s a great question” because they want that answer more than anybody. That’s why one of my favorite questions that is so simple and so easy is what dream is making you come alive right now. You know why I’m asking that question? Because they need to be reminded of it because they want the answer.
Because they want to talk about that or I’ll even ask the question, “Hey what is one thing that you love to talk about that you’re not getting enough time to talk about right now?” It’s just simple and direct. I don’t even ask sometimes like, “what’s the question you wish people would ask you more often?” Right? It just gets right to the heart of it but when we think about questions just one to ten why that is so powerful is it’s an awareness.
For me my answer was like a three, I was just aware of that but I want that to be a 10. I want my contribution to the world to be a 10. I want to give and be significant. I want to leave my mark on the world so that I didn’t feel that my life or my gifts was wasted. That would be the greatest tragedy is that whoever had given me this body and this life and this spirit that I didn’t want to throw that away and I also know that there’s a lot of people that need to step up or this isn’t going to work.
I just want people to know that this isn’t going to be a happy ending for planet earth if people don’t step up. This isn’t just going to all workout by itself. The environment, the amount of trash we’re producing, the amount of waste, the way we treat each other at times as a human race this isn’t going to work out. The civilization and this doesn’t mean the doom and gloom, it’s just to say no this isn’t a bunch of BS. This is going to collapse unless we do something.
And one of the favorite things that I remember who said it but they’re like, “If not you then who?” Is it always everybody else? Is it always the government’s job? If you are parent listening to this, do you send your kids to school being like they’re supposed to educate your kids? Is it the government in your local community that is supposed to make everything great? Are other people supposed to pick up all the trash in your neighborhood?
We are supposed to do this. It’s us, it’s nobody else. It’s you and me and the people listening right now. It’s our job, we’re responsible. We are a part of this team and so I think that when the question was posed, that turned on a light for me. I hadn’t thought about that and then a bunch of other things cascaded from it but when we become aware of what’s good in our lives and what’s not good in our lives, what’s missing and what’s there and we have a careful balance of that.
Where are we, where do we want to be? What does level 10 look like? What does ideal look like? Where are we now? Be honest with yourself like if you’re overweight be honest with yourself. If you’re a crappy parent be honest with yourself. If you are treating your spouse like crap be honest with yourself or your girlfriend or whatever. If you are treating yourself like crap be honest with yourself. If you are drinking too much be honest, right? Just be honest about where you are and don’t beat yourself.
I didn’t say beat yourself up I said be honest. Different. Know where you want to be and ask what is the next step? What is the very next thing I need to do? What’s the highest value activity? What can I do that by doing that one thing that would have the biggest impact on everything else? And then do it.
[0:52:08.1] MB: So great and this is such a relevant thing and I totally agree, what you’re saying aligns tremendously with the mission of our podcast which is to try and help people become a little bit smarter, a little bit wiser, take their action into their own hands, become more self-aware and understand yourself so that what we’re talking about earlier put the oxygen mask on first so that we can help to build a better world.
So that we can unleash the incredible power of humanity to solve all of the challenges that we have before us and to me, one of the things that you touched on which is the importance of self-awareness. We hear it again and again and again. It’s almost cliché on the show at this point because so many guests come on and talk about if you are not aware of your own problems of your own limitations, if you don’t have an honest clear vision of what issues you’re facing.
You are not going to be able to take some of the first steps that are necessary to walk this path and to live this journey.
[0:53:07.8] JV: Yeah, a hundred percent. People have also used the analogy of the GPS. GPS you could punch in whenever you want to go but the first thing it has to know is where are you.
[0:53:18.6] MB: That’s perfect. So Jon I’m curious, for somebody who’s listening now that is amped up about this and wants to become a moment maker, wants to live life in the front row, what is one simple piece of homework you give them that’s an action step they can take right now or today to begin that journey?
[0:53:38.2] JV: Well my first invite is read the book. Get The Front Row Factor, a piece of every book goes to support Front Row Foundation so you will be helping create the next event and it is the best of what we’ve learned from these incredible nearly hundred people that we’ve served over the last 11 years. So the wisdom in there, it’s stories, it’s compelling. There’s science to back up all of our ideas, there’s great specific strategies. That is a year and a half worth of work for me compiled into 260 pages.
People tell me it’s a quick read, many people have told me they’ve consumed it in one sitting and I think that’s my invite. So just get the book and check it out and learn from all these people that we have. What I’d also say is that if you don’t have access to that in some way, shape or form then my invitation is to ask yourself the question what makes you come alive. Who makes you come alive? What environments, what people and what thoughts, what questions when you ask them make you come alive inside?
Where you feel engaged because you have asked that question. When you get that “oh yeah” type of response and spend time with those right? You are managing your mindset. It’s like anything, you are not just born with an incredible mindset. You work on that and then you work on your relationships. You work on acquiring, keeping, growing your relationships and then you work on your environment. Where you are spending your time.
You’re literary your physical environment and how can you take right now your biggest dream you are chasing, write it down and hang it up on the wall. Write down, sit down, think about your best relationships and what are their dreams and hang it up on your wall. Write down the question, how will I, how can I contribute to the world in a way that I’m proud? That makes the biggest difference for others. Write down some form of that question and hang it up.
Write it with a dry erase marker on your bathroom mirror. Write it on your bathroom mirror with lipstick or with anything around, with shaving cream, I don’t care what it is but just create an environment that makes you come alive. Do these things for yourself and for others and talk about it. You know at the end of our book we invite people to what we call the Front Row Moment Experiment which is like all right listen for eight days, capture at least one front row moment every day.
Document it in the way that you can, if it’s just in a journal great, if you could do it on Facebook and share it with others, great. Hashtag Front Row Moment, share it with the world, do that for yourself and you’ll start to inspire other people. They will actually say, “What’s a front row moment?” you’re like, “Oh front row moment is a moment that makes you come alive. It could be anything from watching the sunset to playing with your kids to closing a sale at work” or something like that.
But it’s just a moment where you are connected to something that feels purposeful, meaningful. So maybe that’s the one ask is guys, go out there and create a front row moment for yourselves and others today and you can do that in any way. It could be small or big but do something that creates a front row moment.
[0:56:46.1] MB: And where can people find you and the book online?
[0:56:49.5] JV: Frontrowfactorbook.com will get you directly to the book. You can go to frontrowfactor.com and you can get access to everything there which we’d love to hear from everybody. If you’ve enjoyed this show and you want to send me a tweet @jonvroman. Connect with me on Facebook, Instagram but the website has everything, frontrowfactor.com.
[0:57:11.0] MB: And we’ll be sure to include all of that in the show notes at scienceofsuccess.co. Jon thank you so much for coming on here and sharing your inspiring journey and all of this wisdom. It’s been a great conversation and it’s been an honor to have you on here.
[0:57:23.1] JV: Oh thank you, I appreciate it. This has been a blast.
[0:57:26.4] MB: Thank you so much for listening to the Science of Success. Listeners like you are why we do this podcast. The emails and stories we receive from listeners around the globe bring us joy and fuel our mission to unleash human potential. I love hearing from listeners, if you want to reach out, share your story or just say hi, shoot me an email. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear from you and I read and respond to every listener email.
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