In this special episode of the Wholesaling Inc. podcast, we tackled something very important (but rarely talked about)—the struggles and challenges men face as entrepreneurs and leaders.
Chris was joined by Richard E. Simmons III, best-selling author, renowned speaker, and esteemed leader. Richard is also the founding director of The Center for Executive Leadership, a faith-based ministry based in Birmingham, Alabama.
In this episode, Richard answered many of the questions men are afraid to ask with so much candor. He also shared some of the valuable insights and lessons that have helped him become the man he is now.
If you are a man who would like to unlock your potential and become a better version of yourself (or someone who would like to understand and support that special man in your life), this is one episode you just can’t miss!
How to Unlock Your True Potential to Achieve Maximum Results With Richard E. Simmons III
I am super excited about my guest coming on, Richard Simmons. I always tell you, when it comes to running a business, there are two sides to this, two sides of the leadership. There’s the performing side, which is the strategy and everything you have to do from a method standpoint to be successful. The other side, which I find over time I spend more on and of course is the most important is the becoming side, the being side of a leader. These are the internal things, what’s happening in our minds as entrepreneurs that keep us from leveling up.
Let me tell you about how I came across Richard because I get the question a lot of times, “Chris, how do you come across the coaches? You’re so big on having coaches and mentors in your life.” It’s funny how this story happened. My older brother will occasionally send me something that he finds valuable and he’s like, “You got to listen to this talk by Richard Simmons.” I listened to it and it hit me. I was like, “I got to get this guy’s book.” I went out, bought his book and read it. Through this, I found out that he does coaching as well so I emailed him. Richard and I have been dialoguing. We’ve had a few conversations. It looks like he’s potentially going to be coming down to Tulum to our Multipliers Brotherhood that we do.
I am super excited about Richard. Let me tell you a little bit about him. He is the author and publisher of eleven books. He runs The Center for Executive Leadership. He’s been doing this for many years. This talk is geared towards men, the challenge and struggle we as men have as entrepreneurs, as leaders, even outside of that. You’re going to know what this is and it’s going to resonate. This is one of those talks I wish I had heard earlier in the game because I personally fell into this trap early on. Your content has been super valuable.
If you’re a female, as a woman, if you want to understand what men struggle with at the deepest level, this is something that could be valuable for you to understand about the man in your life or even the sons that you might potentially be raising. Richard, I’m excited to have you on. What’s happening? Welcome to the show.
Thank you, Chris. I do appreciate it. It’s an honor for me to be with you. Let me say right off the bat, whenever I speak to a group of men and women, I’m always asked, “Why do you just work with men?” My first response is, “I believe that women are particularly emotionally and psychologically healthier than men.” I truly do believe this but as you noted, I had a woman. Her husband was a college basketball coach and they’d been married probably fifteen years at the time. She said, “I finally understand my husband and what drives him.” You’re right, it can be valuable for a woman in your audience.
Let’s hop in. Let’s get to the meat. If you’re reading, here’s what you’re going to get by the end of this show. What is the true measure of a man? How do we, as men, measure ourselves? The real question is, are we measuring ourselves against the right thing? We’re going to go through this process. What I realized is the rod that you might be considering to measure yourself, be it some type of performance, could be causing a lot of pain, stress and dissatisfaction. That language could go on and on. The first question I want to ask you is how do men develop their ideas about manhood and masculinity?
As you can imagine, it starts when they are young boys. The men in your audience can probably relate to this as they were growing up. At some point, maybe when they were 5, 6, 7 or 10, they heard these words, be a man. Usually, it’s at a time that maybe they’ve struggled, cried or not measured up to maybe their father, their coach or their brother. They hear that statement demanding them, “Be a man.”
Most young boys have no idea what that means because nobody’s ever taught them. They begin to imagine, “That means I’m supposed to be tough. I’m supposed to be strong. I’m not supposed to be emotional. I’m never supposed to cry.” It begins to mess with their lives. I read something interesting, you’ll like this. There’s Dr. Michael Kimmel. He teaches at a college up in New York called Stony Brook. I’m not that familiar with it. He teaches a course called The Study of Men and Masculinity.
On the first day of class, he stands up and writes on the board, “What is a good man?” He has usually 30 or 40 men in the class. They just stared at him and they have no idea how to answer that. Finally, he might get one to say, “To be caring. To be kind.” He doesn’t get much from them and then he stands up and writes the question, “What is a real man?” They get all excited and they’ll say, “It means to be tough, willing to take risks and willing to step out.” One young man said, “To be a real man, you have to walk like a man and talk like a man.” This is what ends up happening as men’s lives develop and then when you throw in the media and social media that we have, it’s so easy for us to develop a certain picture of what we think a real man is.
What’s your finding is culturally either one, that question is difficult for us to answer as men because we’ve received confusing examples and signicals about that. If there is confidence about what that looks like, what you’re finding is it tends to be off base. This is why this message and even the book that you wrote, which is fundamentally what we’re talking about, the true measure of a man becomes so relevant. Let me ask you another question. Why do men struggle to be more transparent with other men? When a discussion like this starts to happen is this discussion not even taking place?
The heart of the book is that we all struggle with life but men don’t ever want to talk about it to anybody because we believe that real men are not supposed to struggle. We’re not supposed to be afraid. By all means, we should never get depressed. When we do struggle, what do we end up doing? We keep it a secret. Some men won’t even share it with their wives. What happens to you when you’ve got all of this going on internally and it never comes out to the light of day? It can lead up to all kinds of internal struggles. It can lead to all kinds of mental, emotional and psychological struggles.
Not to be too extreme but it’s important to notice in the book that 8 out of 10 suicides are men. Eight out of ten people that go to rehab for drugs or alcohol are men. What does that say about us as men? I read this because I was curious about it. It appears that women struggle with depression more than men but then this particular research center said, “We’re not sure because so many men never come out of the closet and share the fact they’re depressed because they think that a real man should not be depressed.” “I’m going to hold it in, box it in and never tell anybody.”
Be in the relentless pursuit of improvement. Focus on yourself and always seek to grow and continually improve.
What you’re saying is if I express this weakness whether it be depression or fear, the challenge of that is it’s challenging my core of understanding of masculinity. The reason I isolate myself is that if I talk about this, I fundamentally, from a cultural standpoint, feel that I’m going to be less of a man overall. I’ll tell you a term that a buddy of mine uses a lot. He’s been a coach for me. Via that isolation and keeping it in, it will come out but it will come out sideways. That’s that bad behavior that you’re talking about that you see occur with entrepreneurs.
That’s a good description of how so many men live. They live in isolation and they live all alone. You may see them out being great guys and full of life. Internally, there’s loneliness there and there’s isolation and it can do a great deal of harm.
This is why we started Multipliers Brotherhood. This is what you’re coming to speak to our community about. The biggest epidemic that I see for entrepreneurs, particularly men is isolation. If you go to most men and when the crap hits the fan, when hard things become hard, they don’t have one person in their life that they can get vulnerable with and open up. This is why leaders and entrepreneurs are not finishing the race well. This is why businesses are collapsing because of some type of moral misstep.
We’re talking about masculinity. I loved in your book the three B’s of how we measure ourselves growing up. This hit me so hard because I was like, “This is so true.” I can remember each phase. I’m in that third phase and I see it with people that I know in the industry. What is false masculinity and how are we starting to measure it from childhood to adolescence to adulthood?
Before I share that, one insight that is important. One of the most brilliant men to ever live was a guy by the name of Blaise Pascal. Pascal says that one of the reasons that people struggle so much in life is that we have false ideas about reality. The false idea that you brought up is a major problem in men’s lives. This idea of false masculinity.
I got this from a wonderful book called Season of Life by Jeffrey Marx. It’s about the life of Joe Ehrmann. He was a football player with the Baltimore Colts. The book is about what he teaches young men as a coach. He coaches. He talks about how we develop what he calls false masculinity. He says, “It starts with kids on the athletic field. As young boys are growing up, you have all types of different competitions. In the process, the kid that’s the great athlete, everybody begins to look at him as being the most masculine, the most successful. Those that might not have the athletic ability begin to feel that they’re inferior.”
Imagine kids on a ball field and they’re choosing sides. You’ve got two guys that are great athletes and they choose people and they start choosing one another. I never thought about it until I read this book. What do you think it feels like for the young boy that’s chosen last all the time? How do you think it makes him feel about his masculinity?
The first time in his life that he, as a kid, which you don’t think about is, “I don’t measure up.” The new standard for popularity, for the measure of myself as a man, as a young boy on the ball field is athleticism. That’s where it begins. That’s the measuring rod.
What happens at this point when a young boy begins to develop a sense of value and identity. Then move on to puberty. When puberty hits, the way you keep score changes a little bit. You began to consider, “How well do I do with the opposite sex?” Not only how are attracted are they to me but the issue of sexual conquests. As you can imagine, the person that seemed in high school to be most masculine is the one who’s the star quarterback of the football team who dates the head cheerleader. That’s the way everything is measured as young men are growing up.
You get out into the workforce and you look at the marketplace. Ultimately, you began to measure your life by financial success. All of this causes us to develop a false idea of what it means to be a man and Ehrmann calls it the three B’s. It starts on the ball field when you’re a kid then the bedroom when you get into your teenage years and then your billfold as you become an adult. That’s the way so many men have developed their understanding of what it means to be a man and what masculinity is. It is a truly false view and a false understanding. When you have that particular perspective, you’re setting yourself up for all kinds of disappointment and confusion.
When I read that, I can remember all those phases. Any guy can remember where you stood and how you felt about yourself when it came to athleticism. High school and college are how you faired with girls. The billfold being the third thing is the season that continues to go on. In a lot of the business world and groups that I’ve run into in real estate or outside of real estate, every guy is walking around measuring themselves by the size of their bank accounts. That can be by the size of your business and how much revenue that you do. It seems like men, for the most part, if they don’t graduate out of this thinking, get stuck on the financial side for the rest of their life. That becomes the ultimate measurement of chasing bigger and better. Is that correct?
That’s correct. You can see what it does when you go through a financial crisis as we did back in 2009, 2010. If everything is measured by your financial success and because of circumstances that you have no control over, it goes south on you and you lose everything. Look what it does to a man’s life. That’s why the suicide rate skyrocketed during that period of time. Men thought they were failures.
The challenge is if you attach your identity, your value as a man to performance, particularly performance within business, it’s unstable. This is why it’s such a relevant topic, 2020, COVID. There are things that will come and shake the foundations of your finances. If that’s your identity, you’re in trouble because your whole self-worth, the way that you view yourself, it goes up and down with the market. I loved the way you said it in your book. “When the market’s good and my business is good, I feel great about myself. When the market goes down and even if it’s outside of my control, I feel like crap. Therefore, as the stock goes up and down, my personal stock about myself is being manipulated by the performance of the business, which is outside of my control because it’s economy-driven.”
It’s powerful. That was the piece that hit me about how unstable it is. That’s where we’re going to get to. The big question you should be asking yourself is, “If I’m not measuring myself by athleticism in the ball field or by women being the bedroom and finances being my billfold then how do you truly measure a man?” I want to go into this next question. You talk a lot about men’s fear in your book. What would you define as men’s greatest fears?
Cultivate a humble heart. That is where real strength is found.
You got to dig into it because there are layers that go into this. For most men, their greatest fear is failure. Failure for most men is a psychological death. I do believe, that so many men are not driven to succeed. They are driven not to fail. I have a good friend here. He’s one of the top commercial realtors and our city. I’ve met with him. I’ve counseled him and coached him over the years. I haven’t seen him in a while but I’ll never forget he told me this. He says, “When my feet hit the floor, the one thing that drives me every day is the fear of failing.”
At the time, I was shocked because he’s been so successful. If you look at his houses and his cars, you’d think, “How can you say that?” What happens is that he knows deep down what failure does is it can lead to shame and depression. Those in fear of failing, what ends up happening? This is pertinent to anybody in the real estate world. It causes people to play it safe. “I don’t want to fail so I end up not taking certain risks in life that I probably ought to take.” What ends up happening is that for so many men, they look for ways to arrange their lives and make everything predictable.
This is a true survey that was done where a large group of 5,000 people aged 95 and older were asked this one question, “If you could live your life over again, what would you do differently?” One of the top answers was, “I would have taken more risks in life. I was afraid to fail.” They live with great regret because of that. I’m not saying go out and take unwise risks but the fact of the matter is to ask yourself, have you arranged your life in such a way that there’s no way you’ll ever fail? If you do, you all get to the end of your life and you’ll find yourself disappointed.
Those are some big dots you connected because what you’re describing is a domino effect in the life of the entrepreneur. Particularly as a man, if my value and my identity are in my performance, therefore if my performance fails, I have to then step back and not take risks, not go for it because when I fail, it goes to the core of my identity.
At that point, it becomes a massive limitation. I can’t go to the next level. I can’t level up because I’m so protective of my identity knowing that in order to level up, I have to fail. If I fail then it’s going to challenge the way in which I feel about myself. What’s you’re nailing is that men are fundamentally defining themselves by performance. This is a performance trap.
One of the talks that I do when I give a public presentation on this, I call it the performance trap. How do you measure a man’s life? What you said was right. I didn’t put this in the book but I wrote it several years ago. If I had to add something to it, I would talk about the fact that what people don’t realize is sometimes failure can be one of the great blessings of life depending on how you respond to it. That’s a critical piece to this as well.
If men are comparing themselves to one another by their performance, business and bank account, if that’s my measurement, how is that affecting my life as a man? If that is the primary grid or filter in which I am determining my value, what begins to happen in my life?
Comparison is so dangerous but dangerous might not be the best word. I heard someone say this, “Comparison can suck the joy out of your life.” I don’t think we realize how much and how often we compare ourselves with others, our stuff with others, our families with other people’s families or most significantly, our children with other people’s children. This is something that happens naturally to us. You would think that we could live our lives, be focused on what we’re doing and not have to look and say, “What’s my neighbor doing over here? What’s my competitor doing over here?”
For so many people, part of the measuring process is, “How do I measure up compared to them?” We compare our accomplishments. We compare our possessions. The one that gets me is how we compare our children. That’s why many parents push their kids so hard. They’re helicopter parents. They want their kids to be better than other people’s kids because it will be a reflection on them. What ends up happening, is we compare. There’re times it will lead to arrogance because you’ll look at people and you’ll compare yourself and you’ll feel like, “I’m superior to him.” In whatever realm that you do the comparison, “My kids are superior to them so I’m superior.”
That’s what arrogance can be and what arrogance is all about but then it can suck the joy out of you as you start comparing yourself and you realize, “I don’t measure up compared to everybody else. My business doesn’t measure up. The house that I live in doesn’t measure up to all the people around me. Our kids don’t measure up.” It can suck the joy out of you.
I’ve read an interesting book about an older wiser man. He was mentoring this young man who was in his teen years. He started talking to him about the comparison. He said something wise I’ll never forget. He said, “There’s nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man. True nobility is being superior to your former self. Are you superior to the man you were three years ago? Don’t look at everybody else. Focus on yourself. Are you growing, developing or continually improving?”
I had a conversation about this with a man who is in a competitive industry. It’s a visible industry. It’s the commercial construction industry. For some reason, our town has four of the biggest contractors in the country and they’re always comparing themselves. I was talking to one of them that I coach and he says, “We’ve had to learn to focus on getting away from comparing ourselves to others. Part of our mission statement now is we are in the relentless pursuit of improvement. In other words, we’re focusing on ourselves, seeking to always grow and continually improve.”
I love that quote that you gave right at the beginning of that. What are you comparing yourself against, your former self or everyone else around you? When I read your book, I take the content and I like to boil it down to a phrase that I can carry with me for the rest of my life. With this whole comparison and performance, what I said to myself is, “What I feel like Richard has taught me or the point that he’s driving me home is comparison will consume you and performance will punish you.”
The main determinant of a person’s reputation is their character.
In comparison, I’m consumed always by how everyone else is doing around me. The performance will punish me because something like the COVID will come along and if my life is dependent and valued on that, I’m going to get punished internally, emotionally and psychologically. That’s what I felt like was the big trap. I was like, “Either you’re going to be consumed or you’re going to be punished utilizing that as a grit for measurement.”
You get the message of the book. To me, if men can get this and integrate it into your life, it can change you radically and set you free.
That’s the key. It’s being set free from this. I hope if you’re reading this and you struggle with this, you are physically and emotionally filling the weight if you live in a world of comparison. I see this with women as well. I’m sure a lot of us men that have wives know what it’s like for our wives to compare themselves to other women. It’s so tough because it pulls out a lot of insecurities of, “She’s skinnier and she has better clothes.” I went through all of that living in uptown Dallas. It’s one of the reasons I wanted to get out of there and come to Mexico. Nobody cares what you wear here.
Let’s start to bring this home because people are reading and going, “You guys had diagnosed the problem here. What I need is a solution. Don’t leave me hanging here.” The best part of your book is this solution you’re about to bring. I hear people talk about things like this but then you brought it home. Before we go to how do you truly measure a man, I do want to hit on this one last question before the final question. You have a chapter about life’s greatest paradox. What is that?
This is so important. I’ve written a whole other book on it called The Power of a Humble Life. The paradox is this, strength is found in humility because arrogance leads to weakness. I was reading something about the Pentagon Papers and a lot of your readers do not even know what that is but it had to do with the Vietnam War. It looked like the United States became apparent. In order for us to win the war, we would have to put up so much more money and lose the lives of so many. We should have just pulled out but we didn’t.
In these Pentagon Papers, one of the things you learn is that Lyndon Johnson, the president and I’m not picking on him, this is documented. He says, “We can’t pull out because it won’t make me look manly if we do that.” You have to wonder how world events have been shaped. This is a big picture over time because of our pride and our arrogance.
Harvard did a study on why leaders fail. There are several factors on why leaders fail but one of the main ones was arrogance. Jim Collins wrote a wonderful book called Good to Great. After it, he wrote a book, not as popular but good, called How the Mighty Fall. He studied companies. There were once large and profitable and how over time they faded and eventually collapsed.
He said, “They went through five stages. The first stage is arrogance. They believe, ‘We’re so good. We don’t have to change anything we’re doing. We don’t have to continually improve.’ That was what started the process of them going down the tubes.” I get in and talk a lot about what humility is and how you cultivate a humble heart. To me, it’s an important thing because that’s where real strength is found. There’s a lot in that chapter that your readers will find profitable.
Thank you for that. What you’re saying is resonating with me. I’m putting myself in the shoes of a man reading this going, “This is all over me. I’m resonating this.” How do we truly measure a man? What is the thing that I should be comparing myself against in a healthy way? What performance should I be gauging?
What I’m going to share with you, for all the men in the audience, this is what we need to be teaching our young boys as they’re growing up. Most of them measure their lives based on how they perform, their accomplishments, how much they accumulate as they get out into the workforce. If you think about it, they’re focusing on and they’re driven to accomplish, perform and achieve. In the process, they don’t focus instead on, “What kind of man am I becoming?” That’s a whole different issue.
It’s all in the book and I speak to each of these at length. It starts with your character. Character is everything. We all have reputations. You have a reputation with the people that know you and some people that maybe don’t know you but they know of you. The main determinant of a person’s reputation is their character. To me, the most important character quality is humility.
Second, this is a biggie is wisdom. Do you possess wisdom? Are you growing wiser? Wisdom has so much to do with the choices and the decisions that you make. Most people in our culture will say that there are choices and decisions you make, most of them are moral issues and you have to make good moral choices and that’s true. Most of the decisions you make are not moral issues. They’re judgment issues. “Should I do this deal, make this investment, take this job or marry this person? How do you raise children? What are my priorities?” These are all judgment issues. If we have wisdom, it assists us in making good life decisions.
Finally, everybody reading this will agree, your ability to love, to have strong substantive relationships. There’s not anybody reading this that would not agree that life is bankrupt without good relationships. You can pursue strong character something that you can develop. You can pursue wisdom and you can pursue better relationships. When you get to the end of your life, if people look at you as being a man of strong character, one of great wisdom and one with great relationships, that’s what real manhood is about.
I don’t think that there’s a person reading that that doesn’t hit. Don’t you find the challenges, particularly in American culture, the men that are elevated, the ones that are writing a lot of the books and on social media, are elevated simply because our culture measures a man by the billfold? It’s because they’re a billionaire and they’ve sold X company, they’re automatically on the pedestal.
Here’s what I’ve seen. There are some of those guys that I know and even being involved in bigger networking groups with guys that are worth tens, hundreds of millions of dollars. Even though they have all that money, I would meet these men that didn’t have character and no wisdom. On top of that, their relationships being with a wife and kids was an absolute wreck. I’m asking myself, “Why is this person still being put on a pedestal within this community?” It was simply because the measurement was the billfold. When you step back and you look deeply into the happiness in that person’s life and their overall health, they were miserable.
I essentially had a conversation with my two youngest children who at the time were probably sophomores and freshmen in college. I asked this question, “Take Mrs. Cooley,” and I can’t remember the other teacher’s name. It was a man who taught mathematics. These two high school teachers had a huge impact on my children. I asked them a question, “Do you consider Ms. Cooley and Mr. Hurry to be successful people?” They teach high school. One teaches math, one teaches English but they had a profound impact on my children’s lives.
Rarely are we given opportunities to really grow like we are being presented now with COVID. The key is to recognize how this can be used in our life.
I said, “Compare it to,” I won’t mention the person’s name. He’s on the Forbes 400. He’s in the top ten. I said, “Here’s a man with $50 billion but he’s been married four times and nobody likes him. Historically, his goal has been to surpass Bill Gates on the Forbes 400 list as one of the richest people in the world.” That’s what his life is. I said, “What is true success?” That gets back to false ideas about reality. What you said is so spot on.
Let me hit this last point, which is important. This is 2020 and we’re in COVID. If I’m measuring myself based on performance something like COVID is going to come and challenge that. Trust me, I don’t care who you are listening to, top or bottom. The amount of depression, fear, anxiety I’ve seen going around the real estate community is unprecedented. Guys might come on and act like you got it all together but I’m telling you it’s all BS.
Here’s the thing. If I flip it to character, wisdom and love, COVID strengthens those things, a pandemic, a downfall in the economy. I grow wiser because of the challenging circumstance that I’m in. It causes me to value the relationships in my life more because it reminds me of what matters most. If I’m experiencing this the right way, I will strengthen my character through difficult choices and decisions. Rather than my identity going up and down because of a crisis, when it’s measured the right way, crisis strengthens me rather than throwing me into depression.
I would add this. It has the potential to do that depending on how you respond to it. The response is everything. Rarely are we given opportunities or grow like we’re being presented now with this COVID. The key is to recognize, “How this can be used in my life to strengthen my character, to increase my wisdom and to greatly enhance my relationships?” If you can see it that way, it can be a great blessing in your life, which is a great paradox as well.
That’s the way your books helped me see it. That was the reframing I took away from your book. I want to say thank you for taking the time to create that content, to write that book because when I read it, it was at the right time for me to step back and go, “Am I measuring myself as a man in the right way during this crisis?” It was beautiful and powerful. For those that are reading, pick up the book, The True Measure of a Man by Richard Simmons. The other book you have Richard that you recommended, what was the title on that?
It’s called The Power of a Humble Life. If you read the first one and it impacts you, this is a follow-up to it and it will resonate, I assure you.
I know you coach and do other things. If someone wants to reach out to you because they’re like, “I don’t want to start following this guy. I love his content,” or, “I’d be interested in learning more about coaching.” How do people reach out to you?
Probably the best way is the organization I work for, The Center for Executive Leadership. We have a website and then I have my personal website. Either one of them would be helpful. My website is RichardESimmons3.com and then you’ve got The Center for Executive Leadership, TheCenterBham.org. It will get you to all the blogs and the books. We have all these recorded messages I’ve done. Having done this for many years, we’ve got a lot of material.
Richard, thank you so much for your time. What a great conversation, a transformational conversation. I appreciate your time. The rest of you, thanks for reading. Until next time. We will catch you soon to add more value. Talk to you soon. Thanks.
- Richard Simmons
- Multipliers Brotherhood
- The Center for Executive Leadership
- Dr. Michael Kimmel
- Season of Life
- The Power of a Humble Life
- Study – Why Highly Efficient Leaders Fail by Harvard Business Review
- Good to Great
- How the Mighty Fall
- The True Measure of a Man
About Chris Arnold
Chris Arnold is a 15 year Real Estate veteran who has closed over 2500 single family real estate transactions in the DFW metroplex. Chris is the founder of multiple companies that are managed by a US virtual team, which allows Chris to run his organizations while living in Tulum, Mexico full time. His passion for leaders has led to the creation of Multipliers brotherhood which serves the top 5% of real estate entrepreneurs out of the US. Most recently Chris has launched his REI Radio coaching program. This program is designed to teach real estate investors the marketing stream that everyone knows about but NO ONE is doing!