The Fusion of Chaos and Love with Les McDaniel
New episode with my good friend and fellow Front Row Dad, Les McDaniel. Les is a man of love and compassion. He’s on a life mission to help people find oneness.
This episode blends some awesome thoughts around chaos, faith, control vs surrender, and Les’s unique concepts of fusion. He shares ideas around the space we create, occupy and hold for ourselves, with powerful perspective on realizing self love and transformation.
Les coaches people through his “MESS to Mastery” framework, which covers the mental, emotional, and spiritual state. He’s helping people find greater meaning and purpose in their lives.
I appreciate Les for the love and curiosity he’s shining into world. He has a huge heart and is serving the world in a beautiful way.
- EPiC Fusion
- The Surrender Experiment: My Journey into Life's Perfection (book)
- The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety (book)
[00:00:00] Ali: Welcome back, folks. I have a special friend, a good buddy, met through Front Row Dads. He's also had the pleasure of hanging out with my family in my house. We've had some amazing quality time together, Mr. Les McDaniel. And outside of that, before I let you introduce yourself, I always like to give a short plug and you are one of the friendliest, most present friends that I have in my life and I've also had in my house.
And so I appreciate how when we're together, as we were just laughing before hitting record, so sometimes we're so together and so in it that we get lost in these amazing covos of philosophy, spirituality, growth, everything, transformation, all this stuff that SPACE is essentially about. So I am very grateful to have you here, brother. How would you like to introduce yourself?
[00:00:52] Les: The, truth about me is that I love people, like you said. I just care so deeply. And my passion and my heart is really to help people find that love within themselves at the core. And I want that to be something that inspires them to live it out in the way of all the great gurus of the past, who really understood this idea of compassion and justice.
And this is a piece that's been missing. And so that's where I try to reside. And so the name of my company is Epic Fusion Life and Leadership Labs. And it's all about bringing number one, that first half of life story that we've been raised with that worldview and helping them move the story that they tell right now into the story they want to tell themselves. So there's this idea of their old self becoming their highest self.
And then the other piece of it is when you and I come together, our stories collide. And when they come together and they fuse together, it creates an even greater energetic impact in our world. And I want that piece of it to be the thing that we start to learn with, with each other and teach because discernment at its core is my heart.
And I think it's why we missed the boat on a lot of the things I've already just mentioned. So there you go. That's me. And I'm a father. Oh my goodness. Yeah. Empty nester this year, which is great. My wife is amazing. Her name's Heatherly. We've been married for 27 years this June.
I got four adult children plus a son in law who is just as adorable as ever. And that he probably would not go with the idea of being adorable, but we're going to go with it. We're going to go. He's a, he's a firefighter. He's a man's man, you know, but that's me, man.
Love being in Front Row Dads. I love being involved in your life and that's who I am. I hate those questions, you know, cause who I am, it's really about who we are and I just want to align with what my mission here is. And no matter how many times I do it, I can't do it justice because I'm just a dude, I'm a dude who loves people.
[00:02:43] Ali: You are indeed. You have a huge heart. And as you describe yourself, I realized that asking that question is interesting because some people it, immediately goes to identity for a lot of us, but you brought energy into the conversation which is beautiful.
And as you were sort of representing where your energy is now and in all the different identities or roles that you play, it's not an easy question to answer. The word of many that you chose that stuck out and that's why it's awesome, just lands with the work you're doing in the world is fusion. So we haven't had much talk about that on this podcast, and I think it's a powerful word. I think that it starts to blend a lot of things. So let's start there. Why fusion? What does that word really mean to you?
[00:03:30] Les: Well, my spiritual tradition is, Christianity. And so, at its core, there's the passage in Matthew 18, _"Where two or three are gathered in my name. There I am also."_ And, unfortunately, so many times, traditions have a tendency to hijack the greatest gifts that we've been given throughout history.
And the very basis of Hinduism and Buddhism is this whole concept of oneness. And living in the West, with our individual natures and such, we are chasing after this dream where we're always chasing after something. And, and so oftentimes it's really about propping up this ego, this, not the ego. I want to go with this body, the material factor. Yeah. And, and it's primarily because we don't understand how the, the two dark bookends that we were born between, you know, how did we get into this world? And how will we leave this world? And yet, when I think about my own life and I think about all the people that their stories fused with mine, meaning they impacted it, some for the good, some for the bad.
I don't even like putting judgments on it, but that's what it feels like, you know. And so my worldview has been shaped by a fusion of stories. And I want to bring in more of that communal aspect, the collaborative nature of a shared story that we all have. I breathe the same air you breathe, granted, yours is a little higher altitude, but, uh, but, that to me is the essence of our story is where is it that we are completely dependent upon something other than myself.
And it's all the most important things, all of them, breathing, heartbeat, brain function. My physical reality is drastically impacted by the things that are in our environment. So when we can start to have this conversation around, what does it mean to be whole, one with one another?
Because of the fact that we are all dependent on something bigger than us. It allows us to see ourselves in a smaller way that then allows us to be less anxious, less, you know, crazy minded about outcomes. Oh no, what happens if I don't have food on the table? And yet we live in the richest nation on the earth and very few, even our homeless population is richer than rich in that regard, right?
And so, there are some natural tendencies that we already do in a fusionary sort of way. We're always telling these stories, but we're not always listening to other people's stories. And so my goal is to really share my story in such a way that it affords others the opportunity to feel safe enough. To reveal some of the hardest, darkest truths, because when you understand your mess, that mental, emotional, and spiritual state that you are carrying with you, everywhere you go, how it was formed in you, now you have a spot, your dot on the map. Here's where I am.
And then you're able to go, but that's where I want to go. So many of us are trying to go somewhere without knowing where we are. And so the only way to do that is to really understand how the stories have shaped us. And that's the fusion aspect of this, the storytelling. And we are the heroes of our story.
There's a sense of shame that we all have been raised with. Our parents used to do, my parents did anyways, you know, hey, you represent the McDaniel family, right? So there's like a limiting voice in our culture so often to only tell a certain part of the story and represent in a specific way that we feel the pressure of that then leads us to really lose who we are.
And so we have to revisit, we have to fuse ourselves back with those stories in a way that allows us to know where we are so that we can tell the story we want to tell and make it an epic. That truly is of huge proportions that allows that mission of our lives to be found in that, that mess that we have, because that's where our message really is. It's deeply embedded in the stories that we've been told and that have shaped us to this point. And the only way forward is to understand where we're coming from.
[00:07:26] Ali: Dude, that's big. So, I want to talk a little bit more about mess, which you brought up. To reiterate that, the acronym _MESS_ stands for Mental, Emotional, and then Spiritual State, which I think is awesome. And as it blends into this fusion, this is such a simple, but concise way to kind of represent who we are to your point. And then now with this awareness, or at least like being one with that in yourself, then we can start to have the convo of integrating and being oneness with everyone else. Is that kind of what I'm catching?
[00:08:03] Les: Yes. And there's a rebellion in my own mind, probably against a lot of the low hanging, easily spiritualized things that we do in this world. And by the way, there's no judgment here with regard to people doing these things. They're still being guided by things like plant based medicine or meditation or yoga or things that take us on these journeys to find ourselves. Is that we're not really going into it with a long term plan.
We're going to into it with more of an immediate gratification. So we go in and we get this huge spiritual high. We feel so charged and then we get back plugged into our life without ever integrating those things that we discovered about ourselves during those times and we just integrate right back into our mess. And so then we have to have another high.
I think that's why we have to use things that are outside of our bodies in order to give us that pattern interrupt. But really the key for me in the mess is how can you begin to no longer be dependent on anything outside of yourself?
How can you become more aware of your current practices, your current levels of understanding? And humble yourself just long enough to actually be able to unlock some of that depth within you.
We have a lot of books on our shelves. You do, I do. How many people walk around saying, oh man, I read this book the other day and book chapter reverse, here it is. And, and you're like, oh, that's so good. But how many people have really let that drop into their heart and move from this knowledge based into the wisdom space of the soul, the throne room that you are. That is the essence to me that people are just living in a throne room that was created for them rather than developing the throne that they desire for themselves and living into that more fully.
[00:09:48] Ali: That's cool, brother. So to kind of wrap that you're doing leadership and life coaching at what I would call a fundamental level, helping people be with their MESS, look at their MESS, understand their MESS. And again, it's so beautiful because we could have separate podcasts on each one of those, which we're not going to do for time.
But I love that that's the way that you wrapped things because it's such a clear way and it's a big part of my journey in like getting an understanding awareness of the mental side, then the emotional side, even the spiritual side. And I think it's really interesting.
A question I have for you is that, as you do this work with people, do you notice if there's patterns to kind of work through one first and then evolve in the other or is it more just like where do you need the most support or where have you not invested?
[00:10:38] Les: I think the challenge is, is that I don't think most people even know where to start. Right. Okay. So often I think the salesperson who's got the loudest and best marketing play, is the one that people go to and it is a pop culture kind of movement in a lot of ways.
This whole guruism, I actually, you're gonna have to remind me of the question in two seconds, but I literally thought of a reality television show yesterday as I was watching American Idol with my wife, I said, how cool would it be to marry this idea of, you know, you've got all these relational ones where people date and all this stuff, and then you got the American Idol and I just get so locked in on, wow, their gifts are coming out.
What if you had all the gurus show up and proposed gurus and the premise was we're going to flip the script on how people get to stay. And so you start to see through the gurus that are just up here who have a system, who have a great whatever, and the people who stay are the ones who live it, breathe it, are patient, they're kind, they're quiet. Just to watch this so people can learn how to discern this stuff, you know. So going back to your question, ask the question again, cause I think...
[00:11:47] Ali: You answered it in a way and what I filtered from what you just shared last, which is a powerful point is it so many people I'd say either get stuck or aren't even aware of the mental side. So it becomes this whole like popularity marketing thing. And especially in the coaching world, whereas that's important because that's a lot of where their intellectual growth and understanding comes from.
But the emotional and spiritual sides are so much more powerful from my experience. So it's almost like you have to get through the mental or even sometimes pause it and tell it to relax so that you can start to feel into those other two. Right?
[00:12:23] Les: Yeah. Before I did my plant based journey, here's what I had to do. And this is what I'm talking about, but I'm going to use plant based ceremony because people can go, Oh yeah, I get that.
I was required to get off any medicines that I was on. I wasn't supposed to drink for a month. I was, not to eat meat for two weeks prior. Not to have sex a week or two prior. I can't remember which one it was. And so there was this preparation that I was doing to go into this space where I was removing all of the distractions that were in my life, that I could go fully inward on myself.
It was hard work. Yet all we want to do is click that system online and buy the thing that promises that you're going to get to seven or eight figures, or you're going to find yourself in a matter of five days. The promises that we make are fully dependent on the individual who's participating, not the one who's presenting it.
And so, I've lived in this fear of, I don't want to present anything that I don't live by. And so the ROI on this thing has been a challenge for me because it may play out of money, but you may also decide you don't want that much more money anymore.
You may decide that abundance looks totally different. And so there's this difficulty in, in our world today around this individual idea of success and making it and all that stuff that is what people have to go through. I can't distress enough. We have to go through what we have to go through. I've had to go through what I've had to go through to arrive at this place that isn't even the final destination.
So we're all working on that process of living into that space that we occupy and understanding the distinction between who I am and everything else that is around me. Rather than I am trying to plug myself in to be like everything else around me.
And there's a huge threat around if I don't fix myself the way that they want me to be fixed, then I can't quite fit. And that is a journey that can lead you down to this place of even being lost further.
And the core of what I'm working towards is just to help everyone be able to see that their space is our space, no matter how you live your life. And in that place, there is a lovely and beautiful opportunity for you to truly capture who you are and to allow that to shift within you in a way that you can stand more confidently in your space and know that I am here occupying this space because I have a mission.
I could go on that one for a long time, but space is a real big one for me. And I mean, the literal space and also all the way into the micro to the macro. And there is a lot of wisdom when we can start to face that and live into that place. But we have to be willing to silence the noise.
And I am challenged by it. I have way too many certifications because I was like, I'm just not fit for this. I'm not fit for this. I have stories that I've told myself that required other people who are in my story to go, dude, no, we need that thing. So it's just a matter of being able to create some distinctions between the ego and the highest self and that highest calling.
[00:15:38] Ali: Dude, there's a lot in there. What I want to do though, is tie it back to the word space. Cause you mentioned that a few times. I know that word's important to you. Obviously it's important to this podcast. So the question I have to kind of keep the momentum going that you've created here, is what does it mean for you to create space?
[00:15:59] Les: Well, first of all, I don't know that it is a matter of creating space for me. I think it's to see myself in space. Okay. So when I sit in my meditations, when I sit in anxiety, when I sit in the moments, the thing that grounds me the most is strangely to go as far out as I can and as far in as I can.
It's really an awareness. It's an awareness of how small we are. You know, when we play the God of our lives, we lose the space factor. We start to think that we are responsible for everyone else in our world. Guys especially, we try to fix our wives. We don't listen. We don't take it in. We don't trust and have faith that this thing that has been set in motion that's literally... we're hurling through space on a tiny little speck of sand in the middle of a galaxy that's in the middle of a cosmos among other galaxies. And it's all just a macro version of what's going on internally inside of me.
And when I can settle into that space of an awareness that there's something else at work beyond what I can even imagine. And then I can sit with the idea of, well, what is affecting me right now? My mental state, man, I'm stressed about this thing. And where do I feel that? Man, I feel that in my back, my back is killing me. Like, wow, I feel that right now. And then I can rest in that and begin to settle in the spiritual part of that and go, man, you know, this whole thing is working for me. I don't have to worry about food. It's going to rain. And it doesn't matter what I've done that day. If it needs to rain, it's going to rain.
And I can start to understand the over overwhelming abundance that life really has to offer and I can get out of my way. Get out of my way with the solutions that I think I know, or the things that I think I need and surrender to that space, then things truly start to show up differently in the most random sort of ways. We call them synchronicities.
And this is what it's been like for as long as, uh, any documentation we have of spiritual walks, it is not a spiritual thing. It's a physical reality playing out in this world and the people's only solution comes when they can finally realize they're not in control.
They don't have to control this. They can let go of it. And when they do, source, God, you know, whatever you decide to call it, that thing that's so much bigger than a name, will show up in the most crazy sorts of ways. Shows up in the people like you in my life. It shows up in Front Row Dads. It shows up in interviews that help me shape and form my thoughts. It shows up in people who just hug me.
What does it look like when people can realize that they're not alone . And our individual quests for greatness and success and getting to the top of the hill of life, that's actually something that creates a very lonely space. And yet somehow we still think we want that.
And I'm not saying it's bad to have those things, but a lot of times the people who are at the top are very isolated and alienated from our world to the degree that it creates a resistance. It creates an inequality. And that's the injustice I feel like we do in our world is we don't recognize ourselves in that one space because we're chasing after that solo spot at the top of our industry, the top of our life, the top of our family, you know. So this whole thing is swimming in the same realm of just not understanding our place in this space.
[00:19:21] Ali: Absolutely. That lands. So much of what you shared there in different ways, is just our relationship to space. So I love that when I asked you, where are you creating space, you're like, actually, I'm just being with the space. I'm acknowledging it, I'm learning from it and moving through it moving with it.
Because one of the things I strongly agree with that you said in there, Les, is this desire to control is so powerful in human society. And not that it's good or bad, right or wrong, from my lens, it's just, it's this really powerful energy. And oftentimes it creates even more of what you were describing is like friction, resistance because you start to have unhealthy separation where like someone's over here and they're leading this thing, someone's over here and we start to lose touch with balance, with harmony, with some of the things that I think space represents.
So, I love how you gave those different examples and a lot of that, like I said, just lands where it applies to every facet of our life. It applies to the work we do, applies to the people we love, the interests we have. And so thank you for giving a really cool response to not necessarily how you're creating space, but how you're just being with the space.
It leads to something else I wanted to ask you about because it's a conversation we've had in previous discussions. And with space, there can sometimes be this relationship to chaos. What does chaos mean to you? How does that show up in your life in meaningful ways?
[00:20:55] Les: So when I sit down in that space, right, and I'm with space, the chaos is there. And in a world that hates pain and runs from pain...
[00:21:05] Ali: Is it always there?
[00:21:07] Les: Always. It's always there. Cool. At least, at least in my own perspective. And where that comes from is chaos is the essence of creation. Without chaos, there's nothing to create.
And so we have the opportunity and our friend had this eloquent way of talking about how our stress can lead us into a downroll spiral that leads to chaos, or it can lead to creativity. And my argument is we can either swim in chaos or we can build a boat. We have the choice. And we just need to know the tools and understand the tools so that we can understand that that's what's happening. And we're not stuck that that very thing that we feel overwhelmed by is the very place from which we can create that space that we desire to have for our lives.
And it can be abused. Like when people understand this, I really believe that you can create structures that are powerful and you can manipulate people and utilize it for the purposes of more chaos that is to your own benefit.
When you create hungry people and you've got access to food. Where do they have to go? And so much of the marketing that you see out there is always telling us we're not enough. And that you need more of what I have. Right. They're telling us that they're not enough is because they need to create chaos for us. And they know they have a solution that will feed us temporarily. And then the cycle can continue.
[00:22:28] Ali: That's real. That's literally marketing. Is that, how do we create chaos so people can have another pain, instill fear and pain. Absolutely.
[00:22:36] Les: And so we actually want to create the chaos so that we can offer the solution that will then provide for us. And there's nothing wrong with that, that measure of being able to be a support system. The problem is, is that it gets outta whack. And it gets to the point where that power starts to become, I've got to conquer.
[00:22:52] Ali: Back to the control you mentioned, exactly.
[00:22:54] Les: Once you gain control, now you have to conquer. And I love Alan Watts's book,_ The Wisdom of Insecurity_, because he states in this that, the idea is that transcendence being able to have the foundation rooted in something much larger than us is where it really is. But we've been chasing after security. Well, then what happens is as soon as you have security, guess what you have to have? You have to have cameras, you have to have alarms, you have to have all these things. And all the while you're always wondering, is it going to go off? Your phone beeps now and you can look and see who's at the front door and everything is anxiety ridden. It feels like it's safety for a second because you know, but what can you do about it? You really do about it?
And so this idea of the moment that I feel secure, I now have to protect that security, which makes me in theory, insecure. We're stuck. So what is it that we land on? What can we land on? And to me, that's where faith comes in. And I don't mean, you know, faith, this thing that we build our religions and our spirituality on.
I'm talking about faith that this whole thing is for me. That it's not against me. The odds of me and you sitting here having this conversation, it's unreal how many things had to transpire just right for us to be here to have this conversation. And yet my ego is like, no, of course we're here.
Do we really want to live our life in constant scrutiny over myself in comparison to others? Do I really want to have to keep up with the Joneses? I mean, man, it's so overwhelming.
[00:24:25] Ali: Exhausting. Exhausting.
[00:24:27] Les: We know that bell curve of, of information and technology has just far exceeded our ability to grow alongside of it. There's too much to consume. And what is the goal? And that's the question that I wrestle with every day is what is the goal? And the, the closest I can come to at this point is to surrender and to do so with humility and to tap into my compassion because I can understand how the most heinous crime lies deep within me.
Dude, have you ever had a thought of you know, you're watching a TV show, maybe it's a murder mystery or something and you're like, oh, I totally would have done it this way instead. I mean, have you not had that thought?
[00:25:08] Ali: I've had that thought. I've also had thoughts where I'm like watching a sporting event. I'm like, I totally should be in that game. Like I would do it so differently. Yeah.
[00:25:18] Les: We know that our ego is so, so ingrained in deeply strong. It has a role. It's just that it's been, you know, out of whack for some time. And I'm at least at this stage and I, I'm stoic enough to say, I reserve the right to change my opinion at any time with new information.
But right now at this point, I don't really know that there is any concept that can serve everyone. Because we all come at it with different understandings of every word that we speak. Love. What does that mean? Space. What does that mean? You know, I love the word awful.
Like I've explained several things in my life that I think God is awful, right? You know why I think God is awful? Because I am so overwhelmed with awe. Right. Right. Right. I, his fullness of awe. That doesn't sound, that doesn't communicate to a lot of people. So we are all just doing the best we can.
And so I think there's a sense of humility that we have to continue to grab in our space to continually remind ourselves, this is not who I am. I am not this moment in time. I'm connected to just this bigger thing, you know.
And how would that impact our businesses is unbelievable because all of a sudden your people would feel they matter. That their chaos is actually something that you want to understand because you know, that that's where creativity resides, protecting ourselves from that. And, oh, I don't want to let them know where I'm weak. You instead have this opportunity to talk to the people that you work with and say, how would you solve this?
And they're like, I don't know, cause I'm dealing with blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And you're like, oh man, that looks like that's got some creative paint colors of chaos that we can use to actually begin to create this masterpiece together. So that, yeah. Man, that's a lot.
[00:27:06] Ali: There's a lot. Let me reflect a couple things back to you. So first, I love how you you quickly described chaos is the essence of creation. And you gave all these amazing arguments that there's such a light to be seen in chaos, because we often think of chaos as a dark thing. Whereas the way that you describe them, like, holy cow, it's such a healthy reminder to just be like, there's always going to be some method of chaos.
I see it with my family. I see it in my work. I see it in nature. And if nothing else, it's just this root, this essence of creation, which is beautiful. And so to be with that, to understand it.
The other thing you said, which is a really powerful word. It's a part of my journey. I feel like it's a part of our collective journey, especially as we're having this conversation and leaning into space and being with each other, oneness, is surrender.
So you gave some great examples on how, when we start to lean into surrender and really embrace it, we get out of this whole control based thinking, control based society, and things start to flow. Things start to, for me at least, start to move into acceptance instead of resistance.
And that's where chaos, fusion, all the awesome things we've been talking about, just start to exist. They start to blend in a way that they share the same space. And I think surrender is such an important part of it because it's hard.
And if there's anything as we're discussing this in real time, Les, I realized that you and I had a conversation quite some time ago, probably two, maybe even three years ago, we're talking a bit about this. And I remember going and reading the surrender experiment via your recommendation. And after I read that book, It wasn't the book that changed me. I was so immersed in the story and then understood how it could apply to my life. And then I started practicing it, which is something else you mentioned.
It wasn't like I just intellectualized and said, Hey, you should read this book because it's all about surrender. I was like, this book was powerful for me. And now I'm going to start surrendering, which I did. And it's exactly why we're here now. It's exactly a part of my story. It's exactly part of all these things that you've mentioned.
And if there's anything I would say to really like summarize or validate how important surrender is in my life, I've gained so much more peace from it. Prior to surrender, I was in control. You know, the whole " by me" philosophy, I'm the creator of my destiny, which was cool, but it was not peaceful.
Whereas now the last almost three years I've been living in this world of more surrender and I just have more peace. So, I feel like that's a big part of your journey as well.
[00:29:57] Les: Oh yeah. Yeah. I mean, I have this image of, I think it was two episodes of Ted Lasso ago. You're are you a Ted Lasso guy?
[00:30:06] Ali: Because of you. And I love that show.
[00:30:09] Les: So, I'm so bad at all the names. So it's going to be like, it's good. It's going to hit me. The guy who's grumpy, uh, Oh, this, the old star, Roy, Roy, Roy is driving. Like he's, he's like onto Jamie and Jamie's trying to, you know, train, train, train. He's trained them all the time and they go and they find them.
They find some bikes when they're in Amsterdam and Roy doesn't know how to ride a bike. So he gets on the bike and like, he's just all over the place and doing all this stuff. And it wasn't until Jamie says, "look where you're wanting to go." And it was in that moment when he quit trying to control the thing and looked where he wanted to go, that he was able to ride the bike balanced and everything.
And the control is the thing that keeps us sitting there and we're rigid. And we know that that stiff muscles don't fire well, but we run around this world, stiff necked and stiff muscled and, and we're like, so struggling to control our situation, when all we need to really do is set our sights on where we want to go.
And that, that's not like a surrender of my will. That's not a surrender of, you know, what I want or any. What it is, is it's, it's me trusting that I have to be connected to, to source. I have to be connected to myself in a way that's moving beyond the ego.
And I have to be real, I have to look in the mirror, but when I do that and I can see myself just holding on so tight. To everything that I want in my life. It's in that moment that I go, man, I can't do anything right now because I'm holding onto what I think it looks like rather than opening up my hands and relaxing my body and allowing myself to breathe.
And then, I can set a vision because I can see clearly up in front of me, rather than head down. We miss all the opportunities when we're like looking straight down and trying to control. And surrender is nothing more than just taking the time to look up and, and trust that when you look up, you will know, you were created to move in that direction. There's nothing to do except commit to it.
You will have actions as a result of that. But it's not you trying to manifest it. It's you trusting that it's already been done. It's already being done. It's the, I am statements, right? We are sitting here because I am, and you are, and we are resting in the larger I am of the cosmos and God and source and all of those things.
You know, being reactive in our world is what got us here. Reactivity is nothing but control. Responsiveness is a trust. It's the difference between being responsible for and being responsible to.
Responsible for is, I got to control, I got to fix, I got to make it work. Responsible to is, I have a role to play in this, and I'm going to lean into my role, and whoever wants it is welcome to participate in it. That's where fusion can occur. That's where we can come together, and we can start to talk, because it's not just my information that I've got in my head from how I've been formed, but it's a willingness to listen to other voices with new information, or even old information. And, and allowing that to also inform what I know.
Because my way of life has been restricted to a few hundred people at a time. And we live in a world of billions. How can I ever imagine that I've got some sort of control over space and time all by myself? It's a way just to slow ourselves down in this journey that we're on.
It's just, it's an opportunity for us to truly breathe into where do we want to go based upon what we know about ourselves and our mess. And how it really wants to direct us. And getting an alignment between that and this physical reality that I'm living in. That's my quest. That's how I work with folks.
When I'm working with my clients, you know, the greatest gift I have is to just let them walk them through their story. And then all of a sudden they begin to see, Oh my goodness. Wow. I didn't realize. I mean, it's mind blowing the, the, the stories that we have out there, you know.
And that surrendered space is that place that you can begin to do that. And that is a crazy story. _The Surrender Experiment_ is a crazy story. Yeah. And, I want to live into that. I want to be okay with the hard things as well as the good things, because how can you ever appreciate anything if you don't really go through something that's challenging?
You know, entitlement comes when you start to protect something that you think you're owed and that's a recipe for unhappiness.
[00:34:51] Ali: Dude, a lot of great metaphors in there. So thank you for wrapping that and bringing this like really healthy closure to surrender and what can come of that.
It kind of lends into the final topic I wanted to discuss with you, which is transformation. So, I know you've had your relationship with transformation, I know you've seen it in others. And then, as you started to share, like, being able to hold space and coach other people, what does that look like for you now?
I imagine it's changed. In my world, it's changed a lot. But, I'd love for you to spend a little bit of time just talking about, like, what does transformation mean to you?
[00:35:33] Les: Well, the simple answer, if there is one, is it looks like nothing changes and you're okay with it. It's just this ability to sit with what is and to still love yourself.
I don't know if you're guilty of this, but man, I can beat myself up really quickly when things are not going according to a plan. When I'm trying to control things and I get...
Oh, technology's the best. You know, today I had none, but sometimes when I'm like, all right, I got a podcast, you know, all right, I'm going to, I'm going to do this podcast and I sit down and I'm like, I got all this high end equipment. Dude, I can rip myself.
You would think that like the devil comes out and then rips Les McDaniel to shreds. And it's ugly and it's nasty. Right. So that does not produce happiness. But there is something when I can go, Hey, you know what, maybe I should just use AirPods today. Let's go. So let's just grab the phone and the AirPods.
Okay. Well that none of that worked. Right. Well, let's just not record today. Because it's not working out, you know, it's surrender. So when you can release that, so transformation really is all about awareness.
The homework that I give people is, how many times can you catch yourself in that space? How many times can you catch yourself doing that thing? You can only catch yourself so many times before you do you want to do things? You go back to the distractions and the ways that you avoided it before, or you look deeper.
And transformation is in the looking deeper. It's be okay when you're not in the greatest health. And maybe you're overweight, maybe you're not feeling great. And you can look in that mirror and you can begin to see the full picture.
We do this well with others. I had a, um, experience with Heatherly, not too long ago. It was right before bed. I gave her a kiss and then I stopped and I looked deep in her eyes and I go, it just hit me. I know what makes this so special. I see you right now.
I looked at her and I said, in that moment when I just kissed you, what I kissed was the girl that I kissed the first time, the first time that we made love. I kissed the girl that I said yes to. I saw the woman who bore my child. It's like this flood of all at once memories that make a collective life of her.
That moment wasn't there for me to say, you are so sexy. And I mean, there are times that that is, but even that is still informed by the full picture of the life that we have shared together.
And I feel that that is the nature of transformation is when you can begin to not just see the present moment as a thing that you lust after or envy after, or you compare yourself to, or all those things and wish that you were somewhere else.
But instead it's when you can go and look at the full picture. I am here today because I resisted X. I didn't want to be like blank. And those are all valiant things that for me and for my mess, for my mental, emotional, and spiritual state are integral to my transformation in my health as a human being. That's the core of it for me.
I mean, dude, when I see you, like you described our relationship beautifully at the very beginning. Because what I remember are the boy, and the girl, and the mom, and the dad, sitting in a room, loving on me, loving on each other, playing together. And then I remember going to dinner, and taking the walk around, and, and, you know, and just, like, Everest.
[00:39:01] Ali: Everest is on your shoulders.
[00:39:03] Les: My shoulders, and, you know, and Sepia's just, just like, right there, and just like, let's go, let's go, and just, that's us, right? That's our oneness. Yes. That experience together.
And I know we've been on Front Row Dads retreats and that oneness is what happens when we all let go and surrender to the moment. And when we don't, it's miserable for the person who doesn't. True. It's always miserable for the people who don't surrender to the moment.
I want to remember you as this whole picture. We don't talk about, look at him, he's dead. Look at him, his eyes are closed, like at our deathbed. He's wearing a suit. Doesn't he look great? I mean, we might say some of those things. No, we go and we talk about the whole story. Yes.
And it's redemptive because it's the pain, and it's the, it's the power of the beautiful states that we got to witness with one another. It's all of those things, and it's that collective that is beyond time. And that is the legacy we truly leave behind is , what kind of imprint, what is the DNA that I drip everywhere I go. It's contagious.
And it can be going the way. And I want my contagion to be one that is beautiful. I want everyone to want to catch this. I can't make that for people, but I would love that. That would be amazing. If we could all actually, I don't know if it would be great. I mean, you think about that, we've got to have a little chaos, right? You gotta, you gotta have someone disrupting it. So have fun.
[00:40:30] Ali: Oh, man. What a beautiful answer, man. Just the way that you described that. Definitely not a way that anyone's described transformation on this podcast. And even as you shared some of that, that felt new, man. That felt, it was just so full of Les, so full of life because we've had such awesome convos in this realm, but we haven't had that exact convo.
And so thank you now for just sharing that, but for also bringing that nostalgia back when you spent some time with us, cause that was a really nice experience with you and you just wove it right in there.
Brother, I went on at a clock today. Otherwise, you and I are going to create a mega podcast.
[00:41:10] Les: Mega podcast?
That's a different podcast. That's a fun podcast. If you ever watched it, the mega, mega, the podcast is awesome.
[00:41:16] Ali: Oh, really? Okay. No, I haven't. But yeah, but this today is a treat. It's always a pleasure. Do you have any final words before we wrap up?
[00:41:26] Les: I love you. I love your family. I want to honor you and the space that you continue to hold for others. And, you know, you're a great friend and I just wish we could hang out more. Although I got you next week.
[00:41:39] Ali: Yes. Yeah, dude. Thank you. Yes. The love is mutual. You mean a lot to the Jafarians and to me. So thank you for being here. Thank you for being in our life. I will see you in Utah. Yes. And then until the next time, my brother.
[00:41:56] Les: Peace to you, bro.
Ali is a creator who's passionate about guiding people to their truth. That's a fancy way of saying he wants to help people realize their most authentic life. He's a father, husband, podcaster, blogger, technologist and many other things that inspire him to stay curious and learn. He's also a huge advocate for nature, hiking, adventure, testing physical limits and experiencing the natural world.