The Bledsoe Show

Applying the Strong Coach to parenting and relationships with Jarrod Davis

Applying the Strong Coach to parenting and relationships with Jarrod Davis

In this episode, I'm with Mr. Jarrod Davis. We're at The Arnold Classic in Columbus, Ohio. One of the things you should know about Jarrod is he's one of our coaches for The Strong Coach. We talk about how he took The Strong Coach and then Enlifted and Procabulary, took all those concepts that we're big promoters of, and applied these to raise his kids and the relationship with his ex-wife. These are things that a lot of us would like to be better in our lives. Enjoy the show

Table Of Contents

How Jarrod and I Met Each Other

Burning Man is a life most of us can only dream about compressed in one week and this timeframe is nothing for the scale and density of experiences the playa can offer. It was the only morning when I decided to dedicate some time for photography and took my camera with me after the whole night trip. And in the picture are our faithful bikes.
Photographer: Denys Nevozhai | Source: Unsplash

Mike: Can you tell the story of how we met? Because I think it's really cool.

Jarrod: We started kind of getting into the podcast space and business development. We were both real big into personal business development. We just kind of jammed on that. Then The Bledsoe Show came out and I was like, "Bro, you've got to check this shit out. This is some weird stuff." I think we got to like episode four and we're like, "Whoa. What's going on?" He was like, "I love it, but I hate Mike's laugh." I was like, "Get over it." He went to … You and Mark England we were doing a goal setting thing out in the Northeast and heard about Training Camp for the Soul.

Mike: That's right. I decided to have lunch with him.

Jarrod: He was blown away. I went to Training Camp for the Soul and you challenged him with, "You need to experience full self-expression and self-acceptance. I'm going to Burning Man next week. You're coming with you."

He went online, bought two tickets, and I got a phone call or a text message at like two o'clock in the morning, "Do you want to go to Burning Man with Mike and Ashley?" I was like, "Yes." I had no idea what Burning Man was. Then I got an email with like a list of 300 things to pack and I had to like clear my schedule and make sure everyone was taken care of. Yeah, just kind of freaked out for two weeks going, "What's going to happen to me?"

I think we started to jam a little bit. I talked to you about my gym at the time and what was going on. Then I was introduced to language and our interpretation of language within just a few minutes of being there. It was like, I think the word was pain, and you were like, "Is it pain or is it intensity?" I was like, "Oh, shit." We started to kind of go down that rabbit hole of like describe what you're going through. I was like, "Oh, it kind of feels like fire right now, kind of feels like sparkles." My experience with pain at the time was somewhat joyful and uplifting, whereas my buddy, his face was on fire. He was going through shit. I was like, "Oh." I think we did notice, imagine, feel on the way to the bathroom.

Mike: We had done some hoppe

Jarrod: Going through that was the first kind of dose of language and relationship and communication. That was an awesome experience. Then we took that little nugget, I think we were in your RV for like an hour, and then we sat in the tent for two hours going, "What the fuck just happened to us?" We had no idea that we were going to be getting an education. We thought we were going to go to a party and vibe out or whatever.

It was just language upgrade, communication upgrade. I think Ashley, she shared the hero's journey and was like staring at me and I was like, "I've got to get out of this camper. She's looking into my soul right now." We would have an hour with you guys and then we would spend two hours debriefing like, "What the fuck just happened?" That happened every single day. You told us to go to Camp Mystic and it was like relationship, consent, how to talk to other people.

Mike: A lot of communication workshops.

Setting your intention

Jarrod: I mean, to get to the conversation to where we're heading is, it was my first real application of setting intention. I was going around the circle and just I was playing my part. I'm a fan of personal development. I'm big into love and caring for people, but I never did it intentionally. It was just kind of like who I was. On the last day, everyone was going around our circle, getting ready to go out and I was like, you know what? I'm going to let go. I'm going to let go of the relationship that I'm in right now. I'm going to let go of my kids. I'm going to let go of my gym. I'm going to put the things that I generally have in the back that are being worried about, being processed, being cared about, I'm going to let those go because what's going to happen?

Mike: For a night.

Jarrod: For a night. It hit me like a lightning bolt. I don't know what time of night it was, but it was like, "Fuck, you know what? I need to go create a relationship with my ex-wife that supports the life of my kids when they're 16 and 18 years old and they're going through some real shit. I want to be able to show up with the coolest relationship, the most loving, supporting group of parents that we could possibly be. I want to set a foundation of our family grows together." If I could, I would have teleported home right then to start that conversation.

A brief aside to that, just a few minutes afterwards, Ashley like read me. There was probably four or five minutes of her just saying who I was as a parent, as a father, as a person in a relationship, as if like she had known me all my life. It was like, "Okay, I'm exposed. I'm here." Then [Dee] said some shit that just built my confidence up more than anything else. She grabbed [inaudible] and was like, "If you two walked into a coffee shop and you walked up to the most beautiful girl, if she didn't have a boyfriend, she would say yes to a cup of coffee." It was something basic like that, but like we looked at each other pounding our chest like, "Yeah, we're the fucking man." I was just pumped up and then Skrillex happened.

Having The Conversation With His Ex-Wife

Photographer: Etienne Boulanger | Source: Unsplash

Jarrod: That was Friday night at Burning Man, life-changing. Yeah. Came home and asked my ex to sit down and wanted to talk about a few things. Dropped the kids off at school and we sat … I think we talked for an hour or two hours on the stoop about how much I loved her, how much I appreciated her as a mother to the children, how much I loved her during our marriage and the things that I found very attractive about her and that I hope that she still holds true, that I appreciated the separation that we have had. We have very black and white separation. It was these times the kids need to be switched or transitioned, the sick days. It was very quick conversations, probably nothing more than like 15 minutes. If there was anything financial, it would just be done.

It was a very vanilla divorce, which I think was great for both of us, but after having this essentially vision of what it could be, I had to have that. I talked to her about the kids are going to start to come up with issues. There's going to be things that happen at school. There's going to be things that they want. There's going to be decisions that are going to be made in the future and I'd rather be making them as a collective as opposed to whatever your mother says or whatever your dad says, or that's a mom problem or a dad problem. I wanted it to be something that we agreed on, we had a set of shared values. That was kind of like the kicking off point.

The few weeks that kind of followed were tough. We were starting to open up about what was going on in our lives over the last few years and sharing back and forth. What got me through those was knowing that there was going to be some growing pains, there was going to be some shifting that needed to happen, but if I stayed present to it, if I stayed willing to show up for the kids and to show up for these conversations, that we would inevitably get to where we want to go.

Keeping the conversation in creation mode

I listened to the book Untethered Soul. Chapter 17 is about death. Normally, I try not to bring death up in conversation because it's triggering for some people, but one of the things that I took away from that was if your partner were to die, what would you want to carry on for your children? It was a tough enough conversation, but real enough. If I passed away, what would I want the kids to know about me and how would I want my parenting to continue? "Your father would be proud because you do X. Your dad always wanted to see you guys do this or take these attributes on with you." I wanted to be able to give that to her.

That was the big picture, but then it came down to, well, how do we show up in each other's houses? Again, I didn't necessarily want it to be like, oh, these are dad's rules and these are mom's rules. Your mother is big on safety and loyalty and building relationships and empathy. How can I put that into my parenting practice, as well as I want the kids to feel confident? I want them to feel athletic, intelligent, creative. I want her to be able to carry those things on there.

That has been kind of like the nucleus of it, of what do we want to hold space for each other in each other's houses, and continuing to show up for that. It has its ups and downs. It has its challenges. It's kept the conversation in the future. It's kept the conversation in creation mode, to use some of our language, because it's about supporting the kids. Our relationship isn't necessarily about us anymore, but it's about how we show up for them and how we provide support so that they don't feel that they have to go to mom or they can't say this to dad, that they really can go to us with anything it is. They continue to show up like that. It's awesome.

The Transition Period In The Family

Photographer: Anna Pritchard | Source: Unsplash

Mike: Can you give us an example of something that's happened in the last year and a half? It was about a year and a half ago you had that initial conversation, created a foundation. Can you give us an example or several examples of things that have happened where you know that you were able to show up and she was able to show up in a way that was new to your relationship and likely unique in that most people in your position, they're not doing it like this?

Jarrod: Yeah. A first example would be I saw, in one of our transitions out, I saw a list of house rules of things that were like, don't hit your brother, don't do this, don't do that. It was a list of don'ts and it was focusing on what you don't want.

Mike: One of the things we do in The Strong Coach is we focus on what you do want.

Jarrod: Focus on what you do want.

Mike: Because most people's minds are conditioned to focus on what we don't want, what we want to avoid, which is normal.

Jarrod: Right.

Mike: It's normal human behavior. I think it's part of the natural evolution of our consciousness that we have to be intentionally setting what we do want. Yeah.

Jarrod: Yeah. How do you direct these little guys that are just balls of energy and emotion and they're just exploding everywhere?

Mike: How old are your kids

Jarrod: They're nine and six now. If one of your rules is don't hit your brother, what would you want them to do? Give your brother a hug. Are you guys hugging right now? Focusing on, telling them what to do rather than say like, "Clean up your room." That might be affirmative, but if you're saying it in a negative tone, be like, "We keep an organized room. This is where your shoes go." It's these directions that the kids are easy to follow, as well as-

Mike: How'd that conversation go? You go, "Oh, by the way, I noticed that you completely fucked this up." No.

Focusing on affirmations

Jarrod: Oh. Yeah, well, it started off with like the word game. I was like, "Are you familiar with affirmations or negations?" It's hard to remember the details of that conversation, but it was, "Can you explain it?" The negation would be focusing on what you don't want, the nos, the shoulds, the coulds, and focusing on the affirmations, being on what you do want, on the positive light of it. Then I brought up like the house rules and said, "What I've been doing with the boys has been, 'Hey guys, this is where your clothes go. This is the bedtime routine that works the best.'" I felt like I was training them more than I was like punishing them or corralling them.

That was on my side. I felt like I continued to practice those things, but I was like, how do I get my kids to start in on this as well? I knew I needed to keep it simple because they're not going to … Well, I guess I didn't give them a chance to speak in full sentences at that time, but I was like, what are the values that I want them to carry with them? One is confidence, intelligence, athletic and creative. I would say this to them before bed, I would say, "Who are you?" They would say they are these things. I used that in their daily practice. If they do something that shows confidence, I'll be like, "Ah, [Odin 00:00:21:59], that's confident," or if [Leif] does something that's super creative I'll be like, "Leif, that's so creative."

Affirming those habits and those patterns so that they feel confident, they feel creative, they feel intelligent, they feel athletic. It was a way for me to connect with them in these one-word statements, and it's a way now for me to coach them through things. If they're struggling with anything, it's like, "No, you are creative. Show me some of the work that you've done. See? You have this." They have proved that they are these things as opposed to having to convince them that, "Dad, I'm dumb." It's like, "No, you're intelligent. You've been intelligent your entire life. Look at these grades. Look at the things that you do."

Behavioral changes seen with his kids

Mike: You started talking to your kids differently. What behavior changes have you witnessed?

Jarrod: I think we shared this the other night. A little bit of breathwork went into this as well, but my youngest was playing basketball for the first time, the ball comes hurling from half-court, just smashed him in the face. I think-

Mike: What's a behavior you've seen change in kids?

Jarrod: I don't know if self-soothing is the right word, but an awareness that they have control of their body and their situations. For this example, Odin was playing basketball for the first time. He was five at the time. A ball comes hurling across the court, smashed him in the face, and his reaction is normal. I mean, he's hysterical, he's breathing hard, he's doing his thing. I walk over to him and it's like, "Odin, Odin, no, no, what's going on? Are you okay?" He's like, "What's going on right now?" He's like, "I'm trying to breathe." He's like working himself down. It's like, "How do you feel right now?" He says that his face is hot and it's burning. I'm telling him to breathe. It's like, "How do you feel now?" He's like, "It's going away." It's the cutest thing and I feel so sad, but you could hear him talking through the experience. It was very similar to the pain experienced at the beginning of this where it's like he's talking about intensity. He's not just focusing on how bad this is. He's actually noticing that this sensation is subsiding.

Mike: He's becoming the observer in his experience when it's an intense experience because it's one thing to be an observer when you're meditating, like, "Oh, I'm noticing my thoughts. I'm noticing my feelings," but can you do that when shit hits the fan?

A five-year-old is pulling this off. If he's doing this at five, he's going to be a ninja by the time he's 15.

Jarrod: It's like, "You're okay. You're okay. Everything's going to be fine. Suck it up." That wasn't it. It was staying there and just letting it just kind of cool off. Then I was in tears and I like ran back up to the bleachers and he was off playing again.

Mike: Yeah, teaching your kids to be with whatever is and be okay with that. Beautiful.

Learning Your Kids' Language

Crayons beside child coloring
Photographer: Aaron Burden | Source: Unsplash

Jarrod: One of the mantras that I created going through The Strong Coach program was that I learn from my children. Every single time I say it, I know it's true. I can see something that they're doing that I get to learn from. They teach me so many ways to play, to express myself. They catch me on things that I say or that I want to do about goal … They ask me about goal setting. They're just these sponges that see, hear and feel everything. You have access to that as a parent.

Giving your kids a voice, giving your kids an ear, you're going to learn so much from them. It keeps you chill. You have so many … After a while, like why don't you get this? Why don't you know this by now? You've said it. You've seen it said. As opposed to like hearing a kid … I think that there was a book, Happiest Toddler on the Block, and it was great. It was like having a tantrum of a two-year-old and they're like, "I want this, I want this, I want this," and then mirroring them going, "You want this, you want this, you want this," just so they have a voice. They're heard now. Then you can have a conversation with, "I know that you want a cookie. We have dinner coming up in a little bit. Can we save the cookie for afterward?" You're going to have a much more stable conversation with this two, three, four, five year old.

It was right around this time that we started to hear more about childhood development and what's happening to the children that are getting to the age of six, seven, eight years old. It really woke me up to what am I doing around them and listening to what they have to say. At one point in time, Leif was like, he came back with homework that was like, what's dad's favorite drink? It said wine on there. I was like, "What?" I was having wine like three nights a week, but that's what he saw me as like this special drink. I was like, "You know what? I'm going to start drinking water for dinner from now on." That became the thing.

I stopped drinking wine, started saving money, started to lose some weight. It was like wow. My eight year old just helped me level up my life from his homework.

Shifts in communication with his kids

Jarrod: Currently, my kids live in Hawaii. I live in Boston. My connection with them is … I think people see it as a big struggle at first. There are parts of that, but I FaceTime with them four times a week and I go out and see them every quarter. When I'm there, they know it's on. I tell them each time I'm going to come beat them up and like I'm going to wrestle them till they fart. I get to just go and be a kid for this time, and I get to create an experience each time with them, and then try to provide support through these like FaceTimes. It's been getting better with some applications. My youngest one sends daily reports on like what he does at school. I was just talking to my ex when we were walking back from the Arnold and we were laughing and loving how my six year old articulates and projects himself when he does these like speeches about the work that he's proud of. It's like, this kid doesn't talk like this anywhere else.

It's just awesome that I have that connection with him virtually. My oldest gets to share videos that he makes and whatnot. Our communication just shifted. Our communication just shifted what we have. We're using the resources that we have to make the most of our communication. That also spilled into my relationship with my ex is that we had … We were having good conversations, but there was some things that came up for us. Even though we think we were working on things well together, there were things that were looping patterns and looping behaviors. There was things that needed to heal. There was things that needed to be talked about, but we had to wake up and realize that we needed help. We needed a coach. We needed someone to be there.

Having a mediator

Again, through technology, there's apps. We have a mediator who lives in Texas. I'm calling from Boston and she's calling from Hawaii and we chat for 45 minutes and it's someone there to hold space for each other to share. She's been able to share her anger and her frustrations and the things that she's going through as now being the sole parent most of the time. I'm able to share vulnerably about my reactions or my experience. I get to be vulnerable in this scenario because I couldn't be vulnerable in the one on one. I had to be this macho guy. I had to hold my whatever it was, but I had someone there to support me, to allow me to open up and say that this is how I feel or this is how I felt before and share my side of the story.

I think it's been three months now. Some shit went down in her life and she felt confident enough and comfortable enough to call me up and we were able to have a conversation about being support for each other as well as how this impacts our kids and how we would like to be there if things come up. We just got to practice what that was like to show up for each other. I've had some stuff going on in my life in the last few months and we were able to … The reaction there was tough, but we also had some conversations afterwards that kind of came back through and said, "Hey, this was my reaction. This is how I would like to show up the next time something like this comes up." Our communication has been able to develop and we've been able to show up for each other with a lot more empathy and just a lot more compassion, because life can be challenging at times.

What you need are people in your life that can support you through that and that can be there for you and hold space for you. We're realizing now that we can be that for each other and it doesn't have to be all at once. The whole premise of this was 16 and 18 years old. We've still got 10 years. Keeping that trajectory in the distance has been huge because whatever comes up, there's going to be some pickups in there, we can still think about what we're trying to create for them. The conversation is moving that way. It's been great, but it started off with the vision. It started off with the like, what do I really want for these beautiful little humans, and then making that first step.

Some of the guys that I've talked to about this, they're met with confrontation upfront. They're like, "Oh, yeah, my ex wife won't go through that," or, "Yeah, right. That won't happen." It's like if it's worth it, you'll just keep showing up. You might have to wear a lot of armor at first, but like the end result is worth it. The life that you want to live 10 years from now is worth whatever struggle that you have to go through right now if there's a potential that this future life exists.

Closing Thoughts

Mike: There's a quote we like to use which is, you can be right or you can be in love. That comes from Landmark. That's something that comes up if I ever feel like I need to defend myself or I want to win. I want to win the argument. No, no, no, no. You can be right, or you can be in love. Being in love is way more enjoyable. I want to spend my life in love. I don't care about being right.

Jarrod: Yeah. Even just like, you don't even know that you're bringing it with you, that there are like these old behaviors, these old patterns. You might hate them. You might've grown from them and say, "That's not me anymore." Those still party. That's still happens.

Still part of memory, but giving yourself some compassion, going back and saying like, you've got to love yourself. You've learned from that. I love you. Maybe you fucked up. I love you. We all did it. We all fucked up. No one's living this perfect life. Being able to give yourself compassion and look back there and say like, "I've learned. I've learned from this. I'm growing from this. This is where I'm going," and being able to show that, paint that big picture, paint that life that you want to live, the person that you want to be, the person that you're becoming, I guess, and then just continue to show up for that. That's the integrity part. Paint this picture and then align yourself with that thing and put the blinders on.

Mike: Shape yourself.

Jarrod: Shape it. It's not even that difficult. The journal exercises are simple, right? 15 minutes is write down what you want. You won't do it because you think it's impossible, but it's 15 minutes of journaling of what you do want for your kids 10 years from now.

Mike: I love it. That's a great start. We're going to wrap up. We're going to podcast some more this weekend so you're going to hear more from Jarrod, I promise

Jarrod: Awesome. You can find me on The Strong Coach Instagram, Community Manager there. If you follow us, I'll talk to you. On my personal side, I'm the condor, big guy, big wingspan.

Mike: What was the personal IG?

Jarrod: TheCondor55. Take flight. Yeah, but I'm always on The Strong Coach Instagram side of things. Chat it up. I'm always in the background of something cool.

Add comment

FlowStated EventBrite

Lastet Episode