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Aww Shift

Nov 8, 2023

In today’s episode, our guest is Adam Jablin. He is on a heroic journey to create an extraordinary life, but he has to navigate his challenges, including addiction, drinking, and medications. You've seen people overcome similar struggles, and there are always inspiring stories about how they use that experience to make a positive impact on the world. That's what this man does. If you're looking to hear about someone's journey of overcoming adversity and achieving incredible things, especially while battling similar challenges yourself, this episode is perfect. So, without further ado, let's begin.

[5:45] Why should I listen to you? 

I care deeply, and it's because of my genuine concern for people. I value human connections and strive for meaningful interactions. When I converse with you, you can expect someone who respects and values you, someone who communicates from the heart. 

[6:20] Where did you enter into life that led to this journey, and is there a particular point at the very beginning that you consider a good starting point?

I come from the era of the 80s and 90s, where masculinity was epitomized by figures like Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. I was raised to be a 'man's man,' tough and rugged. However, my response may seem somewhat contradictory to that image. The truth is, I've always possessed a caring and compassionate heart, a deep desire to help people, and a genuine love for serving others. Now, let me take you back to my earlier statement. Growing up in the 80s and 90s, these larger-than-life characters made me feel somewhat out of place, as it didn't align with my natural inclination. I'd even recall instances in football where I would tackle an opponent correctly and extend a hand to help them up, only to hear my coach demanding that I leave them on the ground. This innate caring nature I've had since birth wasn't something I initially embraced or understood, especially in a world that admired action heroes. 

[9:10] How did you develop these qualities? Was it through life experiences or through building rapport with others?

I genuinely believe that this is something inherent in my nature. I should note that I didn't have an exceptionally challenging upbringing. My mother was nurturing, but my father embodied the typical 'man's man' persona. There was a clear polarity in my household, and my father was determined not to let me grow up as a 'mama's boy.' He often reiterated that he wouldn't allow me to become too soft. Nevertheless, I think there was a degree of nurturing in my upbringing that I naturally gravitated towards. Despite the challenges, including family struggles, alcoholism, addiction, and the ups and downs of life, this caring nature has always been a fundamental part of who I am.

[11:45] How do you balance setting high standards for your child in their chosen pursuits without making them feel like a lesser person?

My son has developed a deep passion for bodybuilding, and it warms my heart to see him embrace this love. He's been studying not just the current generation of bodybuilders but also legends like Sean Ray, Dorian Yates, Jay Cutler, Ronnie Coleman, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Frank Zane, and even had conversations with Michael Hearn. I've been fortunate to share this journey with him. In the gym, it's important to communicate and encourage one another. I remember a moment when my son and his best friend were training together. His friend cracked a joke just as he was about to lift a weight, and I noticed my son laughing and losing focus. In that instant, my coaching instincts kicked in. I re-racked the weight and told my son that he could joke once he finished his last rep. It's not about being overly tough but ensuring he stays focused and motivated. We should cheer him on for those extra reps. Anthony, you should take this as a compliment because, having spent time with you and your family, I see that your son greatly admires and respects you. You're like a mentor to him. You inspire him and encourage him to give his best, not allowing him to back down. 

[13:23] How did you navigate challenges with unsupportive parents, seeking acceptance and love, and progressing through such situations?

I believe there were some accurate emotions at play. My father had a strong desire to mold me into a responsible, capable man. With the perspective of time, I've come to realize that I wasn't always the central focus of his attention. He carried a heavy load of responsibilities, and even when he seemed distant, distracted, or upset, it wasn't necessarily about me. He was a driven, busy figure in the business world, often referred to as an 'assassin.' Many of my cravings for approval, acceptance, and love stemmed from a need to connect with him, to earn his affection in any way I could.

[14:40] Can you discuss personal challenges you faced in your journey, how they influenced your path, and the role of your early years?

When I was growing up in New Jersey, I was the chubby kid, often referred to as 'El Chapo' by my dad, although he didn't mean it in a harmful way. It was a different era back then. There was a movie in the 80s called 'The Goonies' where a character rolls through a chimney, and my friends would have me reenact that. Fast forward, our family moved to Florida, a non-union state, where I could enjoy the pool every day. I used to swim with my shirt on because I was self-conscious about my weight. My parents noticed how upset I was and decided to make a change. They started buying me fitness magazines like Flex and Muscle and Fitness, got me my first bench press and some dumbbells, and stopped taking me to fast-food restaurants. They replaced my usual McDonald's order with healthier options like grilled chicken and apples. It was a different time, without the wealth of information available today, but I absorbed everything I could, just like you and I get to see with today's youth. In just four years, I transformed from the overweight kid to the fittest in my class. The questions changed from 'How many Oreos did you eat last night?' to 'How much can you bench?' The girls started noticing me, and I began hanging out with older kids, which also introduced me to drinking. Surprisingly, alcohol seemed to fix something inside me that I didn't even know was broken. That broken piece was my constant craving for my father's love and attention. When I became more confident with my physique, I felt like I could finally be seen as his son, like someone who could live up to his standards. I channeled this desire for approval and acceptance into muscle-building, alcohol, and other pursuits. It was my way of seeking validation and striving to be a man in his eyes.

[18:56] When did you start drinking and how did it affect you, knowing others may relate to this experience?

I started my journey with alcohol at a young age, and it began innocently enough. It wasn't as if I had a drink and then suddenly found myself carrying around a paper bag filled with booze at school the next day. It initially revolved around Friday and Saturday nights during middle school and early high school, occasionally spilling into weekdays. What I quickly realized was that alcohol provided a boost to my confidence, not arrogance. It was like a different version of me emerged, one that could engage with anyone. However, the desire to drink again grew stronger, and I wasn't content with just the weekends or post-game celebrations. I even obtained a fake driver's license to buy alcohol. When I got to Arizona State University, known as the top party school, I wholeheartedly embraced the sex, drugs, and rock and roll lifestyle. Alcohol became my first commandment, an ingrained part of my identity. It progressed over time, and it's what makes alcoholism and addiction a disease, not just a disorder. This disease has four key components: it's progressive, meaning it gets worse over time, chronic, always present, primary, and potentially fatal. I had no awareness of being an alcoholic or an addict at the time; I saw myself as a 'work hard, play hard' kind of person.

[22:48] What was your wake-up moment that prompted change? 

I'd like to express my gratitude for having me. I'm not sure if I mentioned it before, but thank you for inviting me to your home, the auto-shift, and the truck's house, and for the quality time I spent with you and your wonderful family. My journey had different stages, and the 'aww’ moment for me was my intervention. It was a moment when the people who loved me the most surrounded me and read heartfelt letters, all following a similar format. They expressed their love and admiration for me and then delved into the reality of what I'd been doing. They recounted instances like when I drove my nephew while drunk or nearly slipped with my daughter down the stairs, using these memories as a plea for me to seek help. That was the initial part of my 'aha' moment. The major part came nine days later when I entered a treatment facility. It was there that I had a profound spiritual experience. For me, it wasn't an intense, blinding, spiritual awakening like Bill Wilson's, but rather it felt like a part of my ego was dying. This transformation manifested in the form of a panic attack. My heart rate skyrocketed, well over 180, and it was a distressing experience. But this mental shift was necessary for a new version of me to emerge. When I surrendered and accepted the need for change, my heart rate returned to normal, and I left the facility as a new person. This experience showed me that sometimes, something within us needs to transform or 'die' for a new, healthier version of ourselves to emerge.

[25:36] Did you have a support system or was it more of a personal journey?

I was never alone. You may have heard of the poem 'Footprints,' where a person talks to God about two sets of footprints turning into one during their hardest moments. From family intervention to a treatment center with excellent support, I learned to be authentic. I used to put on a fake smile to hide my problems, but even then, I was never truly alone. God was always there. 

[38:20] Did the work you do in building a pathway to personal development connect with or influence the Hero Project in any way?

Certainly, the Hero Project is my coaching program, but it's unique in that it's not a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, it's tailored to each individual's specific needs. We guide individuals through the Hero's Journey, which typically involves a separation phase, like breaking free from addiction or fear. Then there's an initiation process where we teach new skills and beliefs, helping individuals become more empowered. However, often the biggest challenge is confronting inner demons or fears that reside within us. This may involve difficult conversations or making courageous choices. Ultimately, in every hero's journey, there's a return home, not as a conqueror, but as a better, more evolved person, leading by example. That's what my life is all about – guiding people through their own Hero's Journey.

[40:30] Do you seek that turning point where people decide to work with you, or do you try to address their hesitations when they're unsure if it's the right fit? 

Many times, people come to me when they've reached their own version of rock bottom, whether it's spiritual, financial, emotional, or mental. Often, it's a family member, spouse, agent, or sports team that reaches out, convinced that the person is ready for help, even if they claim not to be. My role isn't to convince but to establish a common language, using metaphors like 'tires win the race' to make them understand the need for change and participation, whether they're athletes or entrepreneurs.

[43:58] What promise did God make to the world when he created you? 

He promised the world that: You will get through the hero’s journey but you will have a great time doing that. 

Key Quotes 

[38:00-38:04] Reawakening in the spirit is a chance to get through difficult things or situations. 

How to connect with Adams Jablin