Episode Summary

In this episode of Unshakable Habits, you'll hear from Tony Kitchens, author of the Gift of Pain.

Tony shares his personal journey of overcoming challenges and finding hope in the tough times that followed the closure of his business.

You'll discover the moment Tony felt a weight lifted off his shoulders and how he realized he wasn't alone in his struggles.

Tony also shares with you his insights on why men often hesitate to open up about their challenges and how it affects their mental health.

He challenges society's expectations that men should always project strength and explores the transformative power of vulnerability and seeking help.

This episode will inspire you to embrace your own struggles, seek support, and find strength in your journey.

So, sit back and get ready for some heartfelt and empowering insights on Unshakable Habits!

Key Topics

  • The Challenges of Closing a Business
  • Finding Direction Without a Backup
  • Navigating Self-Blame and Finding Hope
  • Challenging the notion that men have to pretend to be strong
  • Importance of being open and honest about one's struggles
  •  Importance of keeping commitments and promises to loved ones (including yourself)
  • The value and insights that come from dealing with challenges.

Quotes We Loved

  • "What I know is that when you imagine the worst, whatever that is, it's tough as you believe it will be. It probably will be... But the thing that you've already gone through in life have prepared you along the way, and it's been an incremental set of lessons for you... You're so much wiser than you were when you're twenty years old." - Tony Kitchens
  • "The blessing is looking back is I don't think I would have continued to have a healthier lifestyle if I would have had the business. I physically think I probably would have just died on the job, because I've known 2 or 3 people that have done that." — Tony Kitchens
  •  "The saying that I tell myself all the time is this too shall pass. Good times will pass and bad times will pass. It's what we do in that meantime when we're going through it, that's going to determine where we stand when it's over." - Tony Kitchens
  • "If we are too strong as men, and we are too prideful, and we don't want to be vulnerable and openly talk to at least the right people about what we're experiencing will never get help." - Tony Kitchens

Guest Bio & Links

Phone: (404)236-9285

Tony Kitchens is a speaker, author and entrepreneur who has experienced highs and lows in both his personal life and his business. He believes that everyone can change their perspective on fear, pain and current circumstances and use them as fuel to create an amazing life. Tony is the author of a book entitled “The Gift of Pain”.

Read Transcript

Stephen Box: [00:00:00] Imagine your business that you've had for 29 years suddenly closes and while there are external factors that caused this to happen, ultimately you take responsibility and you feel like you've let everyone down. Every single person who worked for you, every single person who depended on you, your family, their families, How would you deal with that?

Well, that is exactly where my guest this week, Tony Kitchens the author of The Gift of Pain found himself. So guys, welcome to the Unshakable Habits podcast, where we help men to prioritize their physical and mental wellbeing. I am your host, national Board Certified Health and Wellness coach, Stephen Box. On this week's episode, Tony's going to share with you his story, his personal transformation, [00:01:00] the struggles that he experienced, as well as the surprising turning point that changed everything for him.

Additionally, we're gonna talk about why is it so hard for so many men to open up to kind of shed the expectations of what society has and to really embrace the man that we want to be become. And we're gonna talk about the impact that has on our mental health. Tony's also going to give some insights about how going through these challenges, Really gave him a unique set of skills and some unique insights that he's been able to take with him, and he's been able to take that pain and turn it into a gift.

So if you've ever felt alone on your journey, if you've questioned your own strength, or if you simply want to [00:02:00] learn how to embrace vulnerability and find resilience, this is the episode for you. So make sure you do not miss Tony's story and the valuable insights he has to provide. We'll be back in less than 60 seconds.

Intro/Outro: Are you ready to break free from your old habits and create a better life for yourself and those around you? If so, welcome to Unshakable Habits, the podcast dedicated to helping men be better husbands, fathers. And leaders by prioritizing their physical and mental wellbeing. Each week we'll look at health from a 360 degree perspective with inspiring stories and practical strategies for building Unshakable habits that'll transform your life.

Join Stephen Box, a board certified health and wellness coach, and let's change the world together one habit at a time.[00:03:00]

Stephen Box: Please allow me to introduce my guest today. Mr. Tony Kitchens, the author of The Gift of Pain. Tony, welcome.

Tony Kitchens: Hello, Stephen, how are you? Thank you for having me today, and I look forward to hanging out with the audience for a little bit.

Stephen Box: Yeah, man. definitely, you know, excited to have you share your, your knowledge and, and your story with everybody today.

you know, you and I did a pre-interview not too long ago, and you shared some of your story with me, and I think it's gonna really have a big impact for people. So speaking of your story, let's actually just kind of jump right into this. So right before the pandemic, you found yourself, in a very awkward position, right?

Because you had this company that you had for 29 years, and through no fault of your own, you [00:04:00] had to close that business down. Then in the midst of kind of dealing with that, the pandemic also hit, so ca can you kind of take us back to what was going on in your life at that time?

Tony Kitchens: Yeah, that was an interesting time, Stephen, and what I would say is, for sake of full disclosure, anytime you're a business owner, you are still a hundred percent responsible for the success or failure of your business at any given point.

And so I, I definitely take full responsibility because it's my company. It was my company. However, outside circumstances created an environment where we just couldn't continue to move forward. So I had to dissolve the cooperation 29 years, primary source of income, you know, dozens of employees and probably hundreds of vendors and suppliers and other people who.

Lived in that ecosystem that I created 29 years before, [00:05:00] and it was just a very tough time. And just imagine doing anything for 29 years. So after I closed the company, which most people may not know, but it's way more difficult getting out of business than it is getting in the business. I mean, you got lawyers involved and.

Just the physical paperwork it takes and all of that. It was just a very difficult time and my attorneys told me, just go sit down. Don't do anything. It's, it's our turn to do what we do. This is what you hired us to do. And it was just interesting waking up, not checking email, not making calls, business related.

And, and I know the men can relate, it's, it's like what is your value at that point? Yeah. What's your value to the world? What's your value to your family? You've been the person responsible for paying bills and the one that everyone looked up [00:06:00] to. And now all of that is just in question, who are you and what do you do?

And that's where I found myself. And I wouldn't say it was a dark place. I don't like necessarily using that phrase. But it was definitely a, a time of looking at myself and who I was and trying to search and find a way to get out of this Yeah. And to deal with it, to manage it. And it was, I mean Stephen, this was first, it took me several months to get to the point where I knew I had to close the business.

So you're talking about several months leading up to it. Having to let people go the Monday of Thanksgiving week. Mm-hmm. And I made those calls to our management team personally. Yeah. And then they made calls to other people. But I mean, just imagine [00:07:00] being on the other end of that phone. Yeah. It, it, that's it.

You know, still to this day, that doesn't sit well with me. The only thing that gives me comfort today is that every single person. That we employed, all of them got jobs pretty soon after. Yep. I was really happy about that. Yeah. But I mean, I know that men understand it. It's, it's like, who are you? What is your identity?

Yeah. And that's where I was.

Stephen Box: Yeah. I mean, we, we can kind of dive into that a little bit here. Right? It's because not only. Is this something you did for 29 years? because even if someone's not a business owner, they, they can relate if they've, you know, been working in the same place for a long time or if your identity has been his husband or father or whatever, right.

When you have that identity and now all of a sudden something changes, right? There's a shift in that identity, [00:08:00] it can really throw you off. Cause, cause I think especially as men, right? We have a tendency to really kind of like, Hold on to our routines, right? Like, that's why it's so hard for a lot of men to create these, you know, new Unshakable habits is because they're, they struggle to let go of the old ones, right?

Even if those old ones aren't necessarily serving them in the best way, they're comfortable, they're, they're what, you know, and they become your identity. And so now all of a sudden you're having your identity literally just taken away from

Tony Kitchens: you. Yeah, and it's, it's, it, I mean, even to this day, it's been four years almost.

Imagine that, and even to this day, it's, you don't get past it very easily, although you don't live there, right? Yeah. And I'm not saying that, I'm saying you, you get stuck or complacent with where you were. But what I'm saying is, is that those are relationships, right? Whether it's [00:09:00] work or business or losing a family member, those are relationships.

Those are. Special bonds that you had with people. Yeah. And you're not gonna see those people every day anymore. You're not going to have a reason to call them and to talk to them. And that's probably one of the biggest things in business in life is, is the loss of a relationship through IMP unemployment or whatever the case is.

It's that human connection. Yeah. And that's what I miss more than anything because. Yeah. Look, business is business, right? That's not a big deal. Right? But then how do you move forward from situations like that? And I'll tell you, and, and I know a lot of people can relate to this, it's very difficult. I'm 52 and that was four years ago.

I was 48 years old. Yeah. And I don't buy into this notion that you're too, too old to, to start something new. I don't buy into that at all. But what I do subscribe to is the longer you've been doing [00:10:00] anything. To your point, the more you are in tune with doing things a certain way, and men do like repetition, we do like consistency.

Yep. We we do like a sense of surety. Yeah. So now how do you refin or rebrand yourself in a completely different way while quickly trying to get back to make money? And to provide for the people you've provided for in the past. Yeah. So there are several dynamics that go, go on in any type of transition like this.


Stephen Box: Yeah. I think you hit on something really. I. Kind of important there. You know, I talk a lot about this idea of connected health, which, you know, looks at physical health, mental, emotional relationships, your environment, and you know, an existential health or some people call spiritual health, but your connection to like a bigger why [00:11:00] and.

You just hit on like five of those, right? Like we talked about everything but physical health in there, which, you know, all those things I'm sure did potentially take a toll on your physical health. So, you know, the thing is, this is why it's so difficult to make these transitions. Like we think of them as a single problem to be solved when in reality there are a lot of problems that you're trying to solve all at one time when, when a change like this happens in your life.

Tony Kitchens: And I, and, and to your point, I wasn't sleeping. I mean, I would, I would lay, it's, it's like you lay down to escape the pain, the misery. You, you just want to closure. I would go to bed at 8 30, 9 o'clock. I just wanted to close my eyes. I didn't want to, I, I just didn't want to live in everything that I was going through.

Yeah. And. Every night I would wake up literally like [00:12:00] somebody just poured a bucket of cold water on me, or it just hit me with a bat. I mean, that's how sudden it was, and that's how jarring it was. Probably some days, 12:00 AM mm-hmm. Some days, two o'clock, some days, three o'clock, and it's terrifying. I mean, you wake up to terror.

I mean, just imagine your life just being upended and it's terrorizing. So, yes, to your point, the, the physical thing, not getting any sleep, and then the effects of not sleeping, which is you're not thinking clearly. Yeah. Who knows if you're making the right decisions. Mm-hmm. Is as bad as Covid was. And, and you know, I want to pay respect to everybody who got sick or who passed, but it was the perfect time for me because the world.

Also stopped at the same time when my life kind of stopped. Yeah. Right. So I was able to at least [00:13:00] be by myself, to sit outside to really contemplate everything that was going on because the whole world was shut down. So I couldn't do anything but think about it. Yeah. And you wake up in the morning terrified of what's going to happen that day.

Especially you want to hear from your attorneys. Then you go to bed at night, you just wanna sleep during the day. You don't want the phone to ring. Yeah. Because it's probably not anything good. Yeah. And that, that was my life probably for six or seven months. Well, several months before. And then about a year after, a year after that, it was when my phone rang.

It was just, It was the end of the world every single time, and I just, I would turn my phone off just to be able to try to take a nap for 20 minutes in the afternoon. Yeah. And think about this. That was a situation that I couldn't [00:14:00] control. Mm-hmm. What about the people who are proactively now trying to change their direction in life?

Yeah, but they have this backup that if it doesn't work out, they can revert back. I didn't have any of that, and I'm sure there are a lot of people in that space as well. That, what do you do when you don't have a backup option?

Stephen Box: Mm-hmm. Yeah. And I think, you know, the, the thing that people might be kind of thinking to themselves.

Okay. Tony, I, I hear you. I, I, I'm there, right. I've, I'm either getting close to that point, which we'll, we'll kind of come back to that one and talk about individually if you're, if you're, if, if the world hasn't burned down on you yet, but you're on the verge of it. We'll, we'll come back to that and discuss that separately.

But for those guys who they're like, yeah, I've been there. I know exactly what you're talking about. I, I had some of the same experiences that you had, and maybe they're still stuck there. Maybe they haven't figured out what that next [00:15:00] step is. What was it for you that helped you start moving forward?

Tony Kitchens: I specifically remember this day, Stephen, and I wasn't an introvert.

I wasn't a hermit. But I just didn't want to be out amongst people. Yeah. Because I'm genuinely a happy guy. Right. And, but I just didn't want to be out with people. I didn't, I didn't. And I, I don't pretend whatever I, I'm feeling you can see it on my face. Yeah. But I remember this one night, I believe it was New Year's Eve, it was right between Christmas and New Year's Eve 2019.

Mm-hmm. And a friend of ours who, who had a, we were living in Puerto Rico at the time. He had a, a villa not far from us, maybe a mile away. And he wanted us to stop by to just hang out with him and his fiance. Just a couple of friends ours, just to get together. Cause we hadn't seen him in several months.

And I told my wife, I don't feel like it. I just, I don't, I don't want to go, [00:16:00] I didn't want to get dressed and go everything I was dealing with. Yeah. And I said, I don't want to go. And his name is Bruce. He was persistent. He was like, no, we gotta get together. I'm only going to be here for a couple more days.

I need to see you guys. And I said, I just don't want to go. I told my wife and she said, well, Bruce said that he's gonna stop by, they're going to go by Kat's house, which is his his fiance. They're gonna go by her parents' house who live there, and they're just gonna stop by for a few minutes on the way.

I said, okay, well that's better because I'll be home. I don't have to get up. And Bruce. Another buddy of mine named Ray and myself were sitting down at my house outside at night, probably about 8 30, 9 o'clock at night. Already passed my bedtime. The street lights are on, and Bruce asked me, he said, Hey man, how's business going?

I said, it, it's bad. What do you mean it's [00:17:00] bad? I said, I just had to close the company down a few weeks ago and now I'm dealing with attorneys. And I said, I just don't know how this ends. You know, I got bank loans, you know, corporate bank loans, lines of credit. And I said, it is just, I don't know what to do.

And he looked at me, he was sitting on my right side in the chair. He looked at me, he said, you know, I'm gonna slap you upside your head, right? And I said, why? And he said, you're not sleeping, are you? I said, Nope. He said, you just feel like it's just. This narrow path and, and all you can see is just this dark tunnel.

That's exactly right. He said, and you wake up in the middle of the night terrified. And I said, yep. He said, same thing happened to me. And I said, really? And this guy is a very, he's a big guy at a really big corporation. I'll put it like that, and. Now I'm kind of [00:18:00] sitting up in my seat a little bit. I'm like, what do you mean?

And he told me about a real estate deal that went bad. Mm-hmm. He's, he wound up having a lot of legal trouble. He lost a lawsuit. Bottom line is he was experiencing those same effects of trauma that I was experiencing only years ago. Everything, I mean, Stephen down just every single detail. He knew exactly what I was dealing with.

Exactly. Yeah. And he said, you know what he said when I got out of that, he said, I did the same thing again. And now I'm laughing at him. I'm like, what's wrong with you? I'm like, wasn't once enough. And that was the moment, Stephen, that night, I slept like a baby. Here's the lesson for the audience. If we are too strong as men, if we are too prideful, [00:19:00] if we don't want to be vulnerable and openly talk to at least the right people about what we are experiencing, yeah, we'll never get help.

In that moment. The reason I remember that moment so well, and I actually wrote about it in the book, I actually guy's named Bruce and I told this story. Mm-hmm. Was that it was because I said things aren't going well, that Bruce was able to help me imagine Stephen. If I would've said, ah, you know, business is business and, and then we start talking about cars.

Yeah. For the beach. Mm-hmm. I would be in a totally different place. He gave me so much hope. Yeah. And the universe will send you the help that you need when you'll open your mouth and ask for it. Yep.

Stephen Box: I, I love the fact that you bring this up, right? Because I've been asked by people, why do you always tend [00:20:00] to start every interview where like, The lowest point that the person was at.

Right? Like, why, why do you start your interviews there? Because, no, most people don't do that. Right? Most people always start with like the high notes of the person's story and and the reason I like to start at the low point is for exactly what you just said, because there's something so powerful, especially I think for us guys when we hear it from other men, right?

When that other guy. Can, whether it's looking you in the face or whether it's, you know, talking to you over your car speakers or in your headphones or whatever, but when they can say, I know what you're going through, because I went through it. Also, it just knowing that other people have been there by itself gives you hope.

You don't even have a plan yet, but just knowing that someone else has been there and they survived, it gives you hope.

Tony Kitchens: Yeah. And, and, and you're exactly [00:21:00] right. And that's exactly what I felt. I mean, I literally, it was like I was on a sugar high. I, like, I had three cups of coffee after I talked to Bruce.

Yeah. I was so happy. I felt literally when people say like a weight weight had been lifted, I felt like I was holding like two 80 pound bags of, of, of dirt Yeah. Of topsoil. Yeah. And somebody said, just put it down over there. Yeah, and it was, that was a turning point. Now, that doesn't mean that problems went away, but no, this, this idea that we feel exactly, this idea that we feel lonely.

Here's the thing that, that I tell people is my wife was a witness to what I was dealing with. My son was a witness. Other people were witnesses to what I was dealing with, but I was experiencing it. Yeah. And you want to [00:22:00] be connected with someone who has experienced it, not just witnessed. Yeah. Just like a car crash, all of us can describe a car crash that we've seen in our lives.

Mm-hmm. Now, fender bender, or a really bad accident, there are few of us who can talk about being in an accident, which is completely different feeling. Yeah. So when you're in these times, Just like you and I can relate, it's, you know exactly what I'm talking about. You can feel it. It's probably taking you back to time that you've had a challenge and you can remember and you start daydreaming and thinking, oh my God, y'all remember that?

And oh man, and here's the thing. It wears you out when you talk about it. It literally will, you'll have to take a nap because it drains you that that much of your energy, because your emotions have to go back to a place where it was extremely painful. Yeah, and I think that's another reason why men aren't really forthcoming, [00:23:00] because it drains us.

It will wear you out to even just remember everything that you were going through during, through a traumatic time, but, Yeah. That turning point will only come when someone else can help you. Yeah. And the only way you're going to get help is to be open and honest about what you're dealing with, and then the help will follow.


Stephen Box: So, so Tony, let's, let's actually back up here for a second because I, I want to acknowledge something here. There's gonna be some guys out there that are listening to what we're saying. They're like, yes, you're, you're right. Just even hearing Tony's story, just knowing that I'm not alone in this, gives me hope, and I'm feeling better already, but there's another guy who's listening to this right now, and they're not getting hope from it, and instead they're focusing on all the things they did wrong.

They're beating themselves up for it over [00:24:00] and over and over again. Every time they revisit this situation, every time they think about it, they're just beating themselves up. What, what would you say

Tony Kitchens: to that guy? That's okay. That's what I would say to him. Yeah. This notion that, that we, we think that's going to be okay is, is, is nonsense.

It's BS to be quite candid with you. That's just some guru trying to get you to buy into their program. Right. It doesn't happen like that in real life. Yeah. It's been four years since I closed that company. I had a nightmare the other night. I mean, literally two nights ago. Mm-hmm. Just the, I mean, it was terrifying.

Yeah. And it was just, it was my mind going back because of a conversation I had earlier that day with somebody that I used to work with. That used to work with me. Just having a conversation with them had nothing to do with business. Yeah. And it just triggered this idea and my mind took me [00:25:00] back to that place.

Yeah. When my mind was quiet. When does that happen? At night. Yep. When you're, when you're sitting there, you're not listening to, you're not watching anything. Access points are closed. Your ears and your eyes, they're closed. Yeah. And I just had a nightmare. I, my, my mind literally took me back to right when everything started to go wrong and it was terrified all over again.

Four years later, it doesn't end, but that doesn't mean that you build a guest house for your pain, so to speak. Right. How, how do men deal with that, or how do people deal with that in general, is allowing yourself to be human? Yeah. And I remember a buddy of mine telling like, you're only human. I said, yeah, but you know, I'm strong.

I'm tough, you know, I can get through this. I wasn't being natural. What I was saying is I've been through worse. Yeah. But you know, his point was my best friend. He said, look, but you're still only human. Yeah. Your mind is only going to allow you to process [00:26:00] certain things at, at certain periods of time.

Yeah. So for the person listening said, that's all good, but I'm still beating myself up. I don't necessarily beat myself up. But I acknowledge every now and then when my mind takes me back, I acknowledge it. It's my responsibility. Yeah. And whatever part that I played in my business closing, I have to live with that.

Right. It's not neglect or anything like that, but you're still responsible. We want to take credit for when things are good. Yeah. And most of the time we shouldn't because that's just life. Right. But we also have to be responsible for the things that go bad. Even if we didn't create 'em. So I'm responsible.

I don't beat myself up because what I realize is this, it's not going to change anything. So even when after I had that nightmare, I didn't get on the phone and start trying to figure out how to call off former employees and say, I'm sorry, one more time. Right. I can't do that. So [00:27:00] we have to allow ourselves to be human enough to say, you know what, yeah, this is going to be with me for a little bit.

But it won't control me, nor will it stop me from moving ahead. Yep. That's I think, where the important part is. So for me, in order to move ahead, I had to find something else to do. Yep. And one of the things I did, I sat down and I started just typing in the journal, just I opened a Microsoft Word document and I just started typing.

Yeah. And that was the way for me, I. To go back and think about every time I've been in a tough situation and how I was able to get through and, the important part of that diary, which became a book. But the important part of that was me recognizing that one, this is not the worst thing I've ever been through.

It's just the most current, which feels like it's the worst yo and times in the past when I've lost a [00:28:00] parent. Things of that nature. I didn't think that I would be able to smile or laugh again. Yeah. But I realized I was able to, at a certain point, don't remember exactly when, but I was able to. But the thing that I would tell everybody is the saying that I tell myself all the time as this too shall pass.

Yeah. And there are very various forms of that. Yeah. Good times will pass and bad times will pass. Yeah. It's what we do in that meantime, when we're going through it. That's going to determine where we stand when it's over. Yeah.

Stephen Box: Yeah. Something you pointed out there that I really appreciate is, you know, we all have our own systems and, and things that we utilize in our coaching, right?

So, so whether we're, we're speaking, coaching, consulting, whatever we're doing, we all have our own processes and everything that we like to utilize. Where I, I [00:29:00] love that you pointed out is you know anyone who's telling you like, oh, just do these three things and everything will be great, is someone should be willing to say, look, this is a process that I know works because I've used it myself.

I've used it to help other people. It's a good process, but by no means do I think that my process is a 100. Percent fit for every single person in the world, right? So I'm never gonna go out there and go, this is the absolute best way for you to change your life, right? Because that will be foolish. But for the person who it is, right, for it could be life changing.

So I, I just love to say that you pointed out like, Hey, look, if you got people out there, you know, telling you like, Hey, just follow my system and everything's gonna be okay, run, run, run for your life.

Tony Kitchens: And Stephen, the thing is, there are so many people who have a really big megaphone who tell that story.

Mm-hmm. And people pay them Yeah. To get fixed. [00:30:00] And, you know, you, you do coaching, I do consulting and I tell business owners and then individuals that here's the reality. It's exactly what you just said, Stephen. It's, I can help you look at things in a different light. I can help you change your perspective.

Mm-hmm. But if, if you're in business, you have to implement. Yeah. If it's your life, you have to take the steps that you decide are best. I can offer you again, what has helped me. Yeah. But nobody can fix you except you. Yeah. No one.

Stephen Box: Yeah. I, I, I tell clients all the time, like, I can't make you do the pushups, right?

I can't make you put down the fork, right? I can't make you take some time out to sit in silence. I can't make you [00:31:00] work on your relationships. I can't make you change your environment. I can help you figure out what changes you need to make, but at the end of the day, it's up to you to take the actions.

Tony Kitchens: Yep. And with, with us men, and I think here's another notion that has been disproved many times in my life, is that we are pretending to be strong. Mm-hmm. That we are trying to put on this macho front. Yeah. Well, let's clear that up because that's part of this process. Okay. Is I cry many times throughout this process.

It wasn't a sign of weakness, but what it was is it was me having a tough time understanding whether I was going to, to be able in the future, to honor the commitments I made to my wife, to my sons, to everybody around me as a provider. Yeah, right. [00:32:00] And you know, when men shed a tear, it's not necessarily what's happening in that moment.

But it's us looking at ourselves over our life saying, are we keeping the promises that we said that we were going to keep? Yeah. Right. Are we going to be able to keep those promises moving forward? Yeah. And for us it's just that realization that, okay, this, it's in question now. Yeah. And that is something to, to grieve over.

Yeah. When you have to, when you have to ask yourself that question. It's a, it's a tough thing. It's a tough thing. It's not that you're weak or it's not that, oh my God, this, no, it's, it's you coming to grips with the goals and dreams that you've had in your life. No. And right now you're at a this inflection point where you may not be able to use the vehicle that you were in to accomplish those goals and those dreams.

Yeah. [00:33:00] And I think that that's the other piece that I want the men to understand is think of life as a journey. Think of life as a road trip. Wherever you live in the world, there's a road. Yeah. Your job, your business are simply vehicles. Mm-hmm. To drive you along that road. That's it. Yep. And sometimes you're going to have a passenger, In the front seat with you or in the back seat.

That passenger may be your significant other, your wife, your husband, whoever that may be, and the back seat may be your kids and your friends and family members. And along that road trip, some of them may decide to get out of the car because they don't want to be in the the car anymore. Yeah. Including the person sitting shotgun that's closest to you.

Right. That doesn't stop the journey unless you decide that you're also going to give up on that journey. Yeah. You may get a flat tire. Mm-hmm. Or you may have [00:34:00] an accident, but you don't give up on the journey. You go rent another car. Yeah. You change the tire. Yeah. And then, and in the case of this really big change in life, like I experienced, I think part of the eye-opening process for me was understanding that it was just a vehicle.

Yeah. That crashed. And there are a thousand more vehicles out there. So I got out of a, out of a luxury sedan, meaning that it was something that I had known for so long, it was very comfortable. Mm-hmm. Now I had to get into a Hummer, the military style Hummers. Right. The Humvees where the seats are. Just that old canvas sitting on some metal.

It's not comfortable. Yeah. It's not a, a smooth ride. You got those big nobby grip tires on it. Every pot of hole you hit, you're going to fill it. Yeah. But I needed to be in that vehicle to get me [00:35:00] over that tough terrain. Yeah. And that vehicle for me was riding that vehicle for me was reading I, I was sick of reading.

I read a book a week. Although I love, I've been doing that most of my life, was reading a lot, but that was a bumpy time and I needed the correct vehicle Yeah. To drive over the terrain that I was dealing with until I can get back onto smooth roads. I could get back into a sedan or a sports car. Yeah. So us, me, and we can relate to that.

Yeah. So that loss of a business, that loss of a job that was just a vehicle and that was a very eyeopening thing for me. And the bumpiness in that Hummer. That Humvee, yeah. You know, you can, it is what it is, but you still have to move forward.

Stephen Box: Yeah. Right. Yeah. I, I think a, a key thing that that's standing out for me here is we, we talk about this [00:36:00] identity, right?

And, and I think that's where guys get into trouble when they start thinking about this, this metaphor you used of the different vehicles is we don't see the job as a vehicle, right? We don't see the business as a vehicle. We see them as our identity, right? And the thing is, That's not who you are, right?

There. You might have an identity of, you know, c e o or business owner or husband or father or whatever, but those titles aren't your actual identity. Your identity is what kind of person are you? What are your core principles? What are the things that you believe in? What are you willing to stand up for?

Right? Those. Are your identity and those identities can be in more than one vehicle. You don't have to always have those identities stuck in that

Tony Kitchens: same vehicle. You're absolutely right, and that helped me a lot. [00:37:00] Exactly what you just described helped me a lot, and what that told me was, okay, at the core, at my core, who am I?

Mm-hmm. What could I take from who I was yesterday and apply it to who I am today? And it's the same person. Yep. But now what I know is that when you imagine the worst, whatever that is, yeah. As tough as you believe it will be, it probably will be in some cases. Most of the time it will not be. Yeah. But the things that you've already gone through in life have prepared you along the way, and it's been an incremental.

Set of lessons for you. Mm-hmm. It wasn't one situation that prepared you for everything you're gonna go through in the future. It was the death of a loved one in the past. It was a relationship that went bad. It was a job that you lost. It was a business that closed. It was a friend that [00:38:00] betrayed you. It was the person who ran over your cat.

Whatever it is, there are these, these life situations that when you stack 'em up, And you look at them, you say, wow, how did I get through any of those? Because Stephen, if you, if, if you tell somebody what they're going to go through a year from now, they won't believe you. Yeah. And then you tell 'em on top of that, but you're going to get through it.

Yeah. They say, I would never imagine being in that situation. I would never imagine having to go through that. Yep. And then when they do, how do they move past it? One of the things is you have to remember who you are. Mm-hmm. And you're absolutely right. Right. You know, you're absolutely right. You, you are still a human being.

Take all the titles, toss 'em into garbage for a second, and you have traits and characteristics. You have morals, and you have ethics, and you have values. Yep. And those things, if you [00:39:00] look at those things, you deep down dig deep enough. You gonna remember that you didn't give up when something else happened in the past.

Yeah. When you were criticized in the past. You look beyond that. Yeah. And those are the steps that all of us can take. Not necessarily 1, 2, 3 steps, but I mean, stairway steps. Yep. You step one, one, you get a little bit higher. You get a little further along. Yeah. You step up another step and you remember that.

Okay. I got through that too. The next thing you know, you're on that second level. Yeah. That second part of life. But you're so much more prepared for the second part of your life than the first, because now you have experience enough to know what the pain was. Yeah. That you can get past it. Yeah. What the experiences were that you never thought that would occur.

And they did. And you got past them. Yep. You're so much wiser than you were. When you're 20 years old. [00:40:00] Yeah.

Stephen Box: Yeah. One thing I I always talk to clients about is where are the, the successes? Where are the small wins, right? So even if you go to do something and you mess up 99% of it, right? Like, let's just say 99% of it goes horribly raw.

What was that 1% that went right? And how can we take that 1% and do more of that, right? Like, that's, that's really what we're talking about here. It's like not just going, oh man, things are horrible. Let me just give up. No, you, you've had all these things in your life that have given you different skills and different insights that you now have an opportunity to go out and apply.

Tony Kitchens: If anyone, and I know they have, anyone in your audience has ever been on an airplane, big or small, you step on that plane and you look to the left. That's the cockpit on big commercial planes. It's to the left [00:41:00] side. Yeah. You want the person who's been through turbulence, who's been through storms, who've been through electronic malfunctions.

Yeah. Scary landings. Too much wind on the runway when they're about to land. Yeah. You want the ones who've had unruly passengers on their planes. Yeah. That's who you want. When you are out on the seas, you want a captain has been in a storm, literally. Not the church storm. The real storm. Yeah. Right. You want one who understands how to read a map in a chart.

Yeah. That's what. Men develop into when they've been through something. Yeah. When we've been through things. We are the perfect peer group for other men looking to figure out how to get through what they're going through today. Yep. Right. Yep. And no [00:42:00] knock to the young pilots, but be great pilots once they, once they've been through something, yo.

No problem. We're not, we're not taking that away from anybody that's young. Cuz we were young and we still are young compared to some people. Right. The point is, is that we have an extreme amount of value now you and I do. And the men listening because we've been tested. Yeah. And we're still here. And I'm smiling and you smile.

We are all smiling. Yep. Because we now know that we have a set of skills. Still is from a movie, a very unique set of skills that we can apply to our lives, but more importantly, that we can share with other people. Yeah. And that's a gift. Yeah, that's a gift. So you and I are having this conversation right now.

When you think about it, it that's a gift to the people who are listening, who are dealing with something today. Yeah. Or in very recent times. And the [00:43:00] thing that I can tell them for sure. This. It's not just a matter of time that you're going to be okay, but it's a matter of you understanding that there have been a million people who have been through something just like you're going through or worse.

Yeah. And if they made it, they're no stronger than you. Yep. The thing that probably got them through was finding someone else who they can talk to and share their experience. That person being able to look back at them. Mm-hmm. And say, I have as well. Yeah. And you don't even have to provide solutions. You just have to say, Hey, me too.

I have as well. Yeah, I, I've

Stephen Box: always said that any time that you are trying to help someone else, you only need to be one step beyond where they are.[00:44:00] That's it, that's all that's really required is for you to be one step ahead. Right? And, and yeah. I mean, you, you've mentioned like the airplane analogy. We all want the pilot who has already been through literally everything, right?

But, but here's the, the funny thing. Even if you have the pilot who's been through all these different circumstances, there's still that chance that that one thing that's gonna come that they haven't experienced is what's gonna come up, right? And the beauty of it is it's their experience through those other things that allows them to navigate that situation.

So even the younger pilot, maybe they've only dealt with two things, right? But now when that third thing comes up, those previous two experiences help them be a better pilot in that situation. That's how you get to be the grizzle veteran who's been through eight different things because you grew consistently and you were able to survive each one of those things based on what you had previously learned.

Tony Kitchens: Yeah, and, and you, and you [00:45:00] made me think of one other thing in, in my personal journey, was that I was open enough to accept guidance and perspective from others. Yeah. That was huge. If I would've just been stubborn and stuck in my ways, ah, this is, this is different. My situation is different. Or you don't know what you're talking about.

That was, that was real estate. That had nothing to do with this to Bruce. Then the shame on me. Yeah, because help is help. Yeah. The thing is, is the circumstances will probably always be different. Yeah. Right. So people in your audience, maybe they didn't have to close the business. Maybe they haven't been dealing with some of the things that you and I have dealt with, but that's not necessarily an important thing.

The details. Yeah. The important thing is that we all faced difficult times. Whatever those look like and are looking like today, and we're just [00:46:00] saying we're in this same boat together. Yeah, you're scared. I've been through this before. I'm not as scared, but we're in the same boat, which means. That if I make it, you're going to make it.

We're in the same boat. Yeah. Period. You're not gonna fall out. Yeah. Right. But I think it's us letting our guard down and being willing to just accept. A conversation with someone else just to get the perspective. Yeah. Yeah. I, I

Stephen Box: wanna kind of shift, focus here for, for a second and kind of talk about your, your book a little bit.

But I wanna preface this with this idea that I know for a lot of us men, we want to get everything figured out. We wanna have this great plan, and we feel like if we can plan things, then we can strategize enough. We can just avoid the problems, right? And listen, in an ideal world, that would be great. You know, if you are someone who is relatively healthy right [00:47:00] now, you're not overweight, I would love to be able to teach you how to exercise and eat and recover and, and sleep better, and stress less, and all those things so that you never get to be 80 pounds overweight like I was.

I would love to give that to you. But even if I help you avoid that problem, you're still gonna have something else come up, right? No matter what happens, no matter how much we plan, what precautions we take, we can't eliminate every potential problem in life. And here's the key guys, we don't want to, you know, Tony's book is called The Gift of Pain, right?

Not the Gift of Avoiding Pain, not the gift of playing in ahead, right? It's going through these circumstances and coming out on the other side with that gift. so Tony, do you want, do you wanna maybe share a little bit about the, the book and just kind of talk to us maybe about like what do you feel was really the gift that came outta your circumstance?

Tony Kitchens: Absolutely. I mean, [00:48:00] we alluded to it, well, we didn't allude, but we spoke about a little bit ago. I had to sit down after I closed this business and remember how I got through tough times, and I did that by just sitting down and typing because I, there was no one who I knew of that I can speak to about this difficulty that I was dealing with.

It wasn't that people weren't out there, I just didn't know who, and I just typed. And I just typed and a hundred thousand words later, I said, this is really good information. Not because it was coming from me, but because it was helping me. Yeah. And that's when I said, I need to figure out how to organize this in a way that maybe I can share with other people.

And ultimately it was 353 pages of stories and situations about my life and how I dealt with those things. And the reason why I came up with the gift of [00:49:00] pain was I, during that time when I was trying to figure things out, COVID was there. I remember walking out the back of my house. I was going toward my office, which was maybe 50 yards away.

Yeah. At home. And I told my wife, I said, you know the gift of pain? I said, it will wake you up early in the morning. It'll keep you up late at night, and it'll push you beyond what you ever thought you can do. To avoid going through that exact same pain again. And the title of my book, if you look at it, the word pain, if you flip, it's in blue.

If you flip the book upside down mm-hmm. The word will actually read gift. And that's the purpose of the book after it was finalized, was how do we change our perspective? On pain. And to your question, how did, how did that help me? What [00:50:00] I, I look back and here's the thing that I know probably for sure.

Okay. Without being over dramatic, but the thing that I know is I remember feeling like I was probably going to have a heart attack. I didn't physically feel pain in my chest or my arm, nothing like that. Yeah. I just felt emotionally that things were just so far off the rails that one day I just, my body was just physically not going to be able to continue.

That's what I felt. Mm-hmm. And when I looked back on the closing of the business and all, now you have time to reflect. Yeah. When it's quiet and I look back and I'm thinking to myself, How did I handle all of this pressure for all of these years? Mm-hmm. That I'm feeling now. I'm like, I now feel the weight of having all these vendors and employees and [00:51:00] overhead.

Like, how did I not feel that just a month ago? Yeah. It's because you're in it. You're on the hamster wheel. Yeah. Right. Your muscles burn typically once you stop. Yeah. Once you get off that treadmill for an hour. Then your legs are like, oh my God, what? What? What is that about? Yeah. But as you're pushing through, they just keep moving.

Yep. Keep moving. And that's what I felt the blessing is, is looking back, is I don't think I would've continued to have a healthier lifestyle if I would've had the business. I physically think I probably would've just died on the job, because I've known two or three people that have done that. Yeah. Right.

Because you don't know how to get off of the treadmill. Right. And the other blessing and gift from that is, even though I thought I was present with my family, my wife recently told me, I mean literally like within the past year mm-hmm. We're sitting down and having [00:52:00] dinner and she said, this is the most present you've been in like 10, 15 years.

I'm like, that's not possible because I've always been present, but. Again, this is a person witnessing and I'm experiencing. Yeah. And in that case, the witness was more accurate than me being the experienced person, person going through it because I was physically there for every event in my, my son's life.

Mm-hmm. But she's right in the back of my mind. What are my employees doing? Are we getting vendors paid on time? Are clients paying us on time? Yep. Right. It's always there. But now I'm more present. Although life still will give you, like you mentioned, challenges. Yeah. But it's different. Yeah. You're better equipped for him.

Stephen Box: Absolutely. So, so one final thing. we, we, we promised for the guy who maybe kind of feels like things are starting to head in this direction and they're scared to [00:53:00] let go. Right? They're scared to change vehicles because this is all they've ever known. I think we've already given them a a lot of context of things that they can apply, but if you could just tell them one thing, one piece of advice that you could give them right now for what that next step might look like for them, what would it be?

Tony Kitchens: Talk to someone because that's the only way you're gonna get outta your head. It wasn't until I talked to my attorneys, I talked to two attorneys. Mm-hmm. And it wasn't until I talked to them and my accountant. Yeah. And when I talked to my account, it had nothing to do with with money. Yeah. It was just a decision about what I was going to do.

Yeah. And I had to get out of my head because I wanted to hold on. Everything I knew was tangled up in this company. Everything, every single thing that was good in my life was tangled up in this company and I did not want to let that go. And I understand [00:54:00] that it's difficult. It's hard, and, and even though it's tough that you, you always think that, it can get better tomorrow.

It can get better tomorrow. Sometimes that vehicle is, you're gonna blow a head gasket. Yeah. The, the axles are going to fall off where you cannot physically, you've used it up that job. It's, it's over that business. It's over. And the thing that I would tell 'em, the one thing I would tell them is, is talk to someone who has experience dealing with this type of thing.

And then I think Stephen, next question is gonna say, where do we find them? Well, you are a good resource. I'm a good resource. They're a bunch of good resources. Yeah. Some paid, some free. But find the person who's been through something traumatic. Yep. And get with them. Just talk about the perspective. Yeah.

Not necessarily the incident or event, [00:55:00] but the mindset, the feelings that you have around these things, because that's what changed for me. It was the emotional part that said, okay, I do have to let it go. Yeah. It wasn't that I had a backup, but emotionally it was me understanding that particular role. In my life was over, I would have another role, a different vehicle to trust that that would happen.

But this old one, I just had to let go in order to save me as the human. Cuz the vehicle would not move by itself. Right. I can get in another vehicle, another vehicle can't get inside of me. Right. So you have to preserve yourself first before you can change vehicles.

Stephen Box: Yep. Absolutely. like the old airplane analogy, since we're talking about flights earlier about, you know, put on your oxygen mask before helping those around you.

Right? Correct. Well, Tony, really appreciate you, coming on today [00:56:00] and, and really sharing your, your story and your insights. And I know guys got a lot out of this. so guys, if, if you really did get a lot out of this interview, would ask that you go over to the unshaped what happens.com website, look on the podcast page, find Tony's episode a, and there's gonna be a place on there where you can actually leave rating, your feedback.

Some of the highlights that you, that you actually got outta this episode, and we would love to hear what big insights you actually took out of this. so if you guys want to, you know, do that, I'll have a link also in the, the show notes where, make it easier for you to find that as well. so Tony, if someone wants to work with you directly, what's the best way for them to get in contact with you?

Tony Kitchens: The easiest thing to do is just give me a call, 4 0 4 2 3 6 9 2 8 5. Or you can send me an email, Tony, t o n y, @tonyrkitchens.com. I'm very responsive.

Stephen Box: Okay, awesome. And, and I'll [00:57:00] have both of those and the, the show notes as well just to make it easier for people to get that. Cuz you know, I know somebody might be driving down the road right now going, wait, I missed that was as, and we'll have it in the show notes.

Don't crash. It's, you know, let's. Don't do anything crazy here. but Tony, again, really appreciate you, coming on today, man, and sharing all the, the insights with us. And I just wanna remind everybody out there that while none of us are born Unshakable, We can all become Unshakable.

Intro/Outro: Thank you for listening to the Unshakable Habits podcast with Coach Stephen Bachs.

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