Bruce Van Horn Joins Us On The Steve Jobs Inspired Join Up Dots Podcast
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Introducing Bruce Van Horn
Bruce Van Horn is today’s guest joining us on the Steve Jobs inspired Join Up Dots business podcast.
He is one of those names that has turned up time and time again in the Join Up Dots history, so it’s with delight that we finally get them on to the show.
He is a man who quite openly states “I’m good at many things, but I know what my sweet spot is, and so focus in on this as much as possible”
And that sweet spot?
Helping people discover their purpose and passion for life.
As he says “When I’m coaching people to put the “extra” in their ordinary life and turn it into the extraordinary life they want and are capable of living, I am where I should be. Actually most of my writing is on this topic because it is my passion!”
And that my listeners is the true mark of building success into your life.
How The Dots Joined Up For Bruce
Finding that one thing that you find fulfilling and enjoyable, and subsequently will find so much easier to do to become better and better until becoming the recognised expert in that thing.
But this isn’t just another episode of a life coach that loves helping people as this guy is an entrepreneur juggling many plates at once.
And since 2003 he has also been the co-founder of CompanyBE a cloud based software which was designed and built in direct response to the challenge of running a small business more efficiently and effectively.
So with his talents listed as Author, Life Coach, Speaker, Podcaster, Personal Development, Runner, Dad, and Business Owner he is a man who is in demand.
So when did he realise his sweet spot, and grasp the fact that he could make a living out of doing what he loves?
And is he at the point now where he spends all his time only doing things he loves, outsourcing the things that he doesn’t?
Well lets find out, as we bring onto the show to start joining up dots with the one and only Mr Bruce Van Horn
During the show we discussed such weighty topics with Bruce Van Horn such as:
How the world doesn’t need another version of someone else, but it certainly needs a bigger and bolder version of yourself.
Why the hardest part of most things that we do in life is simply starting, whilst the second hardest part is making sure we don’t give up and keep on going.
How Bruce found himself at a crossroads in life due to simply depleting his energies by trying to be something for everyone….holding nothing back for himself.
How we can always look back over our lives to find the true gifts from every tragedy that we have in our personal lives.
Bruce Van Horn Books
How To Connect With Bruce Van Horn
If you enjoyed this episode of Bruce Van Horn then why not listen to some of our favourite podcast episodes such as Kavit Haria, Ted Yoder, Sean Swarner or the amazing Alfie Best
Or if you prefer just pop over to our podcast archive for thousands of amazing episodes to choose from.
Full Transcription Of Bruce Van Horn Interview
David Ralph [0:00]
Do you have a business that can’t get going or would love to create your own one that works whilst you sleep and is built around the things you love? Well, podcasters mastery is the place to go to learn the six simple steps to create a business that flourishes connecting with thousands of customers that tell you what products they want. podcasters mastery is the online route to business success. Check us out now.
When we’re young, we have an amazing positive outlook about how great life is going to be but somewhere along the line we forget to dream and end up settling and Join Up Dots features amazing people who refuse to give up and chose to go after their dreams. This is your blueprint for greatness. So here’s your host live from the back of his garden in the UK. David Ralph.
David Ralph [0:49]
Yes, hello everybody. Join Up Dots Join Up Dots Join Up Dots joint I don’t know. I feel like a football chanting today. I’ve been all infused and inspired today. And it’s not surprising when you do a job like this, and I get to have a whole morning talking to guys and ladies that are literally on fire, and today’s guest is one of those people. And he’s actually one of those names that has turned up time and time again in the Join Up Dots history. Over 445 episodes, people have been saying to me Have you had this guy on and I haven’t. So it’s a delight that we finally get him on the show. Now he’s a man who quite openly states, I’m good at many things, but I know what my sweet spot is. And I focus in on this as much as possible. And that sweet spot, helping people discover their purpose and passion for life. As he says, When I’m coaching people to put the extra in their ordinary life and turn it into the extraordinary life I did, there they are, they really sort of grow and that’s where I should be. Now actually, most of my writing is on this topic because it’s my passion. And that my listeners is the true mark of building success into your life finding that one thing that you find fulfilling and enjoyable, and subsequently we’ll find so much easier to do.
And then become better and better and better until becoming the recognised expert in that thing. But this isn’t just another episode of a life coach that loves helping people as this guy is an entrepreneur juggling many plates at once, too. And since 2003, he’s also been the co founder of Company B, or Company B, a cloud based software, which was designed and built in direct response to the challenge of running a small business more efficiently and effectively. So with these talents listed as author, life coach, Speaker podcaster, personal development runner, dad and business owner, he’s a man who is in demand. So when did he realise his sweet spot and grace, the fact that you could make a living doing what he loves? And he’s at the point now where he spends all his time only doing the things he loves outsourcing the things that he doesn’t Well, let’s find out as we bring onto the show, to start joining up dots with the one and only Mr. Bruce Van Horn. How are you Bruce?
Bruce Van Horn [2:53]
Wonderful, David, how are you today?
David Ralph [2:56]
I’m on fire. I feel like I’m like got fire running through my veins. I don’t know what’s come over me.
Bruce Van Horn [3:02]
That’s awesome. What a great way to start the day.
David Ralph [3:05]
Well, it’s in the middle of your day. So I’m imagining that that feeling of being on fire has been around for a while today. And that’s a wonderful feeling. It is. And it’s one of those things I’m sure that you felt all the time. And I suppose it’s going to be the theme of our whole show, because you are somebody that is on fire. And you you are, as I said, in the introduction, you’re one of those names. I’ve seen around a lot since the very beginning of doing Join Up Dots. You’re very out there in the online environment, but you’ve also offline as well is a bit different. Did you think that’s a different way of doing it Do people more often or not focus in on one or the other?
Bruce Van Horn [3:43]
You know, I think they do for me, I just decided that I was going to be in whatever places felt good and felt right. I never really had a I never went into this line of work with really a marketing strategy. Other than I’m going to do what I love, and people are going to either be attracted to it or, or not. And so I really didn’t say, Well, I’m going to focus, you know, 35% of my time on Twitter and 10% on, you know, I just never did that. For me, I just decided to go and trust that I would go to the places and the people who were meant to hear my message would show up at the right time in the right spot.
David Ralph [4:30]
But where did you get that from? Have you seen other people operating that way? Because that’s the utopia, isn’t it of just operating in that way. But of course, as small businessmen and entrepreneurs more often than not, we try to do everything at once. So where did did you see somebody else doing that beforehand?
Bruce Van Horn [4:47]
No, I actually didn’t. It was. I really made a conscious effort to not try to do what, what everybody else was doing because I think didn’t want to be what everybody else was being and that was really sort of the theme of my life for most of my adult life. I tried to be what everybody else wanted me to be. And it just never felt right. And so for me, I really sort of trusted my intuition. And my gut and and I just went with what felt good.
David Ralph [5:21]
And does does it does it work? Is that an advice that we should give out to people? Or do we need to sort of put a caveat but yeah, it’s not just play. You’ve got to hustle. You’ve got to work really hard. But if you Yeah,
Bruce Van Horn [5:34]
yeah, you want to go to Boston to LA? Yeah, there’s no just you know, sitting around the on the couch, humming mantras. You’ve got, you got to get out and do the work but you’ve got to do the work. That gives you energy, the the work that you really feel in your gut is the work that you are created in life to do and you know, a lot of my stories is about that, that transition, that transformation that I came to a place where I had to make it in my mid 40s. Or I, I wouldn’t be here today, frankly, if I hadn’t made that transition, you know, so I am always going to say that you know, the world doesn’t need another David Ralph. You know, David has the monopoly on the David Ralph and we don’t need more Darren Hardy’s, and we don’t need more Bill Gates’s, we need more people who are themselves and doing what makes them come alive. We don’t need more automatons and more clones. You know, so while there are, you know, I definitely agree that success leaves clues and leaves a trail, you know, so there are things that we can do to help us to become successful, but you’ve got to do it in in your own way. And you’ve got Do it with the integrity of wanting to just add value and be who you are, rather than just trying to capture as much attention as you possibly can. Do you
David Ralph [7:13]
know you’ve ruined one of my business ideas? I just I had everybody wanted another David Ralph, I was going to do like, Terminator versions of me, Ralph, that I could send out and you think that’s not a good thing? There’s only what I think
Bruce Van Horn [7:24]
is Dave as long as David Ralph is doing that. I think that would be a marvellous thing. But I don’t think Bruce Van Horne doing David Ralph would play really well.
David Ralph [7:35]
He’s an interesting thing, though, Bruce, isn’t it because you came to that point in your mid 40s? I came to that point in my mid 40s. Do you think the men is the mid 40s? I know we always say sort of midlife crisis or the 30 year old you know, midlife crisis, the early one. But I really strongly feel about your 40s is that moment as a man where you think bloody hell time’s running away with it. Me and my kids are getting older and I can’t be bothered to do this for the rest of my life, I’ve got to go now. And it seems to evidence in the thinking Grow Rich, where they sort of say, more men become successful between the ages of 40 and 60. Because they’ve stopped chasing after women and all that kind of stuff. And then they suddenly look at their life and their, their, their Time’s running out somehow. So do you feel that? I do. I do feel that
Bruce Van Horn [8:21]
that’s certainly my story. And it’s, it seems to be a lot of people’s story, but but that’s absolutely where I was, you know, I spent all of my, my 20s up until my 40s doing what I thought everybody doing really what I thought I was supposed to be doing, which was trying to achieve success trying to achieve happiness and significance and validation in everything that was external to me, you know, so if by the time I got to be 42 years old, if you had said Bruce, who are you At that point, I would have had to say, I have no idea. Because what I had done was I had identified myself with the roles that I played. So I was a husband, I was a dad, I was a business owner, I was a friend, I was all of these things. And I thought that I have to be the best husband, I have to be the best dad, I have to be the best employer or employee, whichever hat I was wearing at the time. And I bowed to the demands of those roles, because if somebody said, Well, you know, I think this would make you a better whatever. Then I know I adopted those spots or those colours, I became the chameleon I I rearranged who I was to suit everybody’s point of view. And I gave and I gave and I gave in those situations, until there was nothing left of me to give and you know, it’s like you You can only drive a car without oil. In the engine for so long before it just seizes up, and that’s where I came to I, I had absolutely no joy, no energy, no love left in me because I had given it all away. And there was no Bruce left was the problem and I came to the point where bridge overpasses were just way too attractive. And I did I decided that, my goodness, if I’ve got to live another 40 years like this, I, I don’t want to do this. So something has got to change. And I know that what I’ve been doing up to now just hasn’t worked. And so, you know, the the story of you know why I adopted life as a marathon. it as my life’s motto was really because of an event that happened to me in November of 2005. And my older brother came to Richmond, Virginia to run the ritual. marathon. And I was moderately over overweight. But I was radically out of shape. I at that point had an eight year old and a two year old boys. And I couldn’t ride bikes with them for more than 10 minutes before, I’d have to stop and said, Wait a minute, Daddy needs to catch his breath. But my brother came to town and he said, Bruce, you ought to do this. And I said, I should do what he said you should run marathons, but I haven’t run a mile since I was in high school
David Ralph [11:31]
if you want to do that.
Bruce Van Horn [11:34]
Yeah, I laughed at the man. And I said, You know what, I live in a neighbourhood where absolutely everything I need is within a five minute drive and most of everything that I want is within a 10 minute drive. So I don’t even want to drive 26.2 miles or 44 kilometres, you know, unless I’m going on vacation, you know, so why would I ever want to run that far and might be brother’s not a life coach, a motivational speaker or anything like that. But sometimes people say the right words at the right time, that absolutely changed our lives. And he said, Bruce, the hardest part about running a marathon is making the decision to do it. And I didn’t believe him. At that point. I thought the hardest part about running a marathon was what?
David Ralph [12:23]
Bruce Van Horn [12:24]
yet what the actual running part, right? And so, but over the next couple weeks, his words haunted me. And I thought, you know, what, if my older brother who’s a year and a half older than I am, if he can run a marathon, I can at least hit the gym and hit the treadmill and try to get in better shape so that I can, you know, hang out with my kids a little bit more than I do. And so I had I had a goal of being able to jog and that’s using the term very loosely, one mile without walking. And David, my goodness, I didn’t think Africa there.
Do you belong to a gym? I have no
David Ralph [13:05]
happy to have him in my life.
Bruce Van Horn [13:07]
never been to a gym in your life. Great.
David Ralph [13:11]
I would rather like
Bruce Van Horn [13:15]
a gym in November is no place for a moderately slightly overweight but out of shape, middle aged white guy. It’s just not a great place to go because you go there first thing in the morning. And first of all, it’s already full of people who have been there long before you even woke up and so you wind up getting on a treadmill next to this, you know, late 20 somethings super bikini model, probably mom of four. Still might be in a Yeah. And she’s got the ponytail and she’s got the treadmill just and she’s just cruising and you’ll just has this really straight Sexy sheen of perspiration on her she’s not sweating, but she’s just crushing it. Then there’s this 400 pound guy next to you in the Nike hoodie that says Just do it. And he’s been there since before you got there. And all he wants to do is lose 200 pounds. And he’s he’s just walking, but he’s got his headphones in and he’s going and he’s going and he’s sweating up, and you’re just in all of his determination to change his life. And then of course, there’s the guy who’s across the room lifting you know, 500 pound free weights and you’re sure he does an Iron Man triathlon every weekend. So it’s just not a motivating place to be. But nevertheless, I I finally reached my goal of being able to to jog one mile without walking and to stop you
David Ralph [14:55]
there boys. Because Yeah, interesting bit is your Bruce Almighty moment. I’m fascinated why those words that your brother said hit home. Why have you assessed that? Really? Oh, absolutely. Yeah. And what was the answer to that?
Bruce Van Horn [15:09]
Well, the answer didn’t come until the next summer. Because I was I was still a miserable, unhappy person. I was grumpy. The few friends that I had left called me er from the Winnie the Pooh character. And I was just no fun to be around because I had a long list of all of my problems. And I had a long list of exactly who was to blame for all of my problems. And, you know, I reached the goal of running a mile, I very quickly was running two miles. Then it became spring in Virginia. And so I started running outside, I ran a neighbourhood five K and then a 10 K. And then I decided I’d take my brother’s challenge to actually train to run a marathon. And it was During the summer of 2006, I was out on an 18 mile long run one Saturday morning, and I was getting up long before the sun came up. And I had this course that I like to run. And it was just out and back. So I’d run nine miles out, turn around and run nine miles back. And I knew, just because I got the enjoyment of it that as I was running out towards the west, that I was running towards darkness. But when I would turn around, I would see the sun rising in the horizon. And it was always just a beautiful sign. And one particular morning, I was out doing that run, I turned around and I saw the sun. And it was literally like God spoke to me. I didn’t hear voices, but it was literally one of those oh my god moments, because I and I came to a dead stop in the middle of the road. There’s no traffic at that time and I’m watching the sun. Come up, and it hit me like a tonne of bricks. Because my brother’s words were right. But I had misunderstood my brother’s words. He said the hardest part about me running a marathon is making the decision to do it. See, I thought that he meant making the decision once. But what it occurred to me was that it’s a decision that you have to make every single day to change your life. And I had done that with my body. I had, you know, I learned very quickly that if I rolled over and went back to sleep and skipped a run, that I was actually training myself to do that the next morning, but if I got up and I actually laced up the shoes and got out there, just the act of doing that was training my mind to train my body to make it easier to get up and Lisa lace up the shoes the next morning. And what occurred to me was that I had been making the decision to train my body. But that same principle, apply would apply to every single area of my life. And so, you know, while I was doing that run, you know, God and I were having this long conversation where I was telling him all the places where he had disappointed me and was letting me down and hadn’t really been the Santa Claus that I had wanted him to to give me everything I thought I should have in life. And it occurred to me that Bruce, you don’t have marriage problems, finance problems, health problems, relationship problems. You don’t have this unhappy with your life problem, and there aren’t all these people who are to blame for your situation. You have one problem, and there’s only one person to blame. You have a thinking problem. And Bruce is the only one to blame for that. But we
David Ralph [18:57]
need some music there. That is quite powerful, profound stuff, isn’t it? Did you get home and share it with people? Did you go in and go? Everybody get up everybody get up your bed is changing, or did you just go home and creep around because we’re all in bed?
Bruce Van Horn [19:14]
Yes, sort of that I really kept it to myself. But I really was motivated to, to change my life and to to see I was not a great reader of motivational work. But part of my story is that really from the time I was 14 or 15 years old, I all I ever wanted to be in life was a writer. And I loved reading. I loved writing. I went to college and was an English Creative Writing major. I won several pretty prestigious writing awards, and that’s all I ever wanted to be. And so what is a guy who only ever wants to be a writer? What does he do the day he graduates from college? Well, of course he takes a job for IBM in high tech computer sales. Right? That’s the only logical thing the guy should do.
David Ralph [20:14]
Everybody, isn’t it you know, yours isn’t a different story, every single one, you know, for example, me, I went through college, and I wanted to be like a pop star. So I ended up in banking, and then I didn’t show once the two most boring jobs you can possibly do away from being a pop star. So yours yours is common. I think yours is coming town.
Bruce Van Horn [20:36]
Oh, it is it is and and I was good at it. That was part of the problem. And I I made a fair amount of money and I allowed that to to really rob me of my dreams. But one of the things there and as I look back and this is why I love your show, because I talk about it is that we can look back over our lives. and realise that there were no accidents and no coincidences, every part of our life was meant to be to lead us to the person that we are now. And when I was early on in my career at IBM, most of the sales training that I received was, it was good as far as getting the job done. But the motivation was go out and sell this hundred thousand dollar computer system to this company, not just because it’s going to help them in their business, but you’re going to make a tonne of money and look at all the stuff you can buy with this tonne of money. And so there was the motivation. Yet I had this older gentleman come up to me and he said, Bruce, I want to give you something and he handed me this was long CDs didn’t even exist then David This is a bit mid 80s cassette, is it? Yeah, so I got a set of cassette tapes by a guy named Zig Ziglar and it was a set of tapes called See you at the top. And I listened to these things and I thought, Oh, this is cute. This is corny. You know, I love Zig Ziegler’s stories that he tells and I just sort of, you know, I listened to them. I thought that was great. And then I put it away. And that morning, as I was standing there with my oh my god moment watching the sun come up. What came screaming back to me was a voice that I had not heard in almost 30 years. And it was Zig Ziglar with his Yazoo City, Mississippi accent. And it says, Son, you’re suffering from stinking thinking. Yeah, yeah. And that’s really what it was all about. So I did set about I had heard the phrase I couldn’t attribute it to anybody even though the late Wayne Dyer wrote a book with that title. I had heard that you can change your life by changing your thoughts. I didn’t really believe it. But I knew that I had followed the formula that everybody told me I should follow in order to achieve success and get happiness and significance in life. And it had not worked for me. So I was at least willing to give it a shot. So I devoured all that I could devour as far as motivation. So I read Napoleon hills Think and Grow Rich. And I read everything by Dale Carnegie and Wayne Dyer and jack Canfield and Tony Robbins really wasn’t around back then. You know, Denis waitley, and, you know, all of the greats of, you know, the founding fathers of this transformational thinking, movement. And I just devoured all of their stuff, and really what it came down to, as I gleaned, you know, the week From the chaff, what really came out to me was the happiness. I always thought that if I had more things in my life for which to be thankful, yeah, that that would make me happy and I’d be a more thankful person if I had more things in my life for which to be thankful. But what I learned was that it’s it’s not people who have stuff for which to be thankful, who are happy. The happy people are just thankful for what’s in their life. And so I set off every morning, just like I would do my my runs. I would get up every morning and I started keeping a gratitude journal. And I started writing down I wanted to at least write down five things every single morning for which I was thankful. And David when I started this practice, I started with absolute utter in sincerity. I would write down things like I’m thankful for the bowl of cereal. I’m thankful for a cup of coffee. I’m thankful for a kitchen chair to sit on and I was writing these things down. But deep down in my heart, I was not thankful for them, but I was going through the motions anyway, writing down things that I really thought I ought to be thankful for.
David Ralph [25:21]
You say that because I had jack Canfield on the show, and multimillionaire hugely successful every day, he walks around his house saying, I’m grateful for that picture, and I’m grateful for that telephone. He can’t honestly be grateful for a telephone. So it doesn’t matter whether you you know, insecure and not doing it for the right reasons or the fact that you’re just doing it.
Bruce Van Horn [25:44]
For me, it was just the the discipline of doing it. Because what I noticed after I did it every single day, and what I noticed, after about a month or so of doing it was I started looking back Over my list and the list really wasn’t changing and sadly enough, there’s there’s probably a few things that I listed just now that you’re thinking Wait a minute, there are probably some other things on this list that should be showing up. Like the fact that I have two sons. And you know and that I’m
David Ralph [26:21]
sorry Bruce. I didn’t want to say about you bad man.
Bruce Van Horn [26:24]
Yeah, you know what those didn’t make it to my list. For the first many, many weeks it was bowls of cereal will always win out over key exactly many weeds. Yeah, many weights is what it’s all about add. But I started looking back over my life or out over my list. And I noticed there was something changing about me. I was still putting them down. But I thought to myself, you know what, I really enjoy a bowl of mini wheats and if I woke up tomorrow morning, and I do didn’t have a bowl of cereal. I’d miss it. I like a cup of coffee. And if I weren’t able to drink a cup of coffee tomorrow morning, I would miss it. And so what occurred to me was the all of these things that I was taking for granted. I thought, you know, if someone were to come and take those things away from me, I would miss them. And that’s where I started to find real gratitude. And that’s when I started to put down things like I have two amazing boys in my life in but I have two boys, they’re now 18 and 12. In the year 2000, in between my two sons, my wife and I gave birth to a daughter who died tragically. So and yeah, you know, and so that was that. That was another part of my story. When I was 42 years old. I had filed bankruptcy in my mid 20s. Because of my ego and the money went to my head. I started my own company and took lots of bad advice. And I ignored lots of really good advice and wound up losing everything that I had earned. And then shortly after my daughter died, we had just mountains of medical debt, we spent $1.2 million trying to keep her alive for eight days. And, and I tried to dig out from under that for a couple years, but just couldn’t make it anymore. So, so that’s where I was feeling like a failure. But this this whole process of realising that I had, I had done absolutely nothing to take care of Bruce to do the things that Bruce needed to do to take care of him. I thought that I had to be the great provider, I had to be the great husband. My my marriage is a is a whole other story of it. I’m a single dad now with full custody of my boys, because throughout all of since she was about 16, it really didn’t start to show up in very dramatic ways until well into when we were married, although there were always warning signs. My wife has severe schizophrenia. And so trying to manage her medical condition throughout our adult lives, in and out of psychiatric hospitals and real medical hospitals was always a challenge as well. So I was all I was completely drained. And I realised through that process, that I can’t be anything other than me. And I learned there’s this great metaphor. I don’t know if you’ve ever had. Do you know, the rabbi Daniel Lapin?
David Ralph [29:43]
No, I’m not aware of him.
Bruce Van Horn [29:45]
Yeah, just he’s got this. Well, he. He’s got a show of his own but he wrote a book called, thou shall prosper. And and he’s a Jewish rabbi. And there is this there’s this great metaphor. It is part of Jewish tradition where a father pores, pores wine into a cup, and the family holds a plate underneath the cup. And as he pours the wine into the chalice, he pours all of the wine into the chalice until the cup overflows. And then what’s leftover gets caught on that plate. And it’s from what is caught on the plate that they pour into the other cups, and then distribute to the rest of the family. And what the metaphor is, is you can’t take care of anybody unless your cup is full. And I was completely depleted yet I had convinced myself that depleting myself in the service of others was generous and taking care of myself was selfish, and so many miles isn’t it but the mask
David Ralph [30:57]
drops down from an aeroplane you got to put it on yourself. Bingo,
Bruce Van Horn [31:01]
exactly. So now, I am a much better dad than I ever was. And I’m a much better everything than I was. Because I only have one goal now to be the best Bruce I can possibly be. And out of the overflow, out of the love that I have now where I had nothing but emptiness and bitterness, because I was completely drained. I now conserve from a position of emotional abundance and resources that I didn’t have then.
David Ralph [31:39]
Let’s play some words now. And bam, it’s gonna take us on to the next stage of the conversation, but it sounds like you’ve had a pretty rough time and these words, talk about this perfectly.
Unknown Speaker [31:50]
You mean nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take it keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done.
David Ralph [32:06]
Now, obviously, the death of your daughter and your marriage, obviously terrible, terrible times, and I don’t want to drag you through that. But are you stronger now? Because of it? It is within in both those situations?
Bruce Van Horn [32:21]
Yeah, yeah. So well, I’ll take you through some of that, because what I say now and I never, ever would have imagined, I would never have dreamed, and I don’t ever try to convince other parents who have lost a child. You know, we are just not built to bury our kids. You know, which is not 15 years later, David, I still can’t talk about it without crying. Because it is so powerful in the moment. There was absolutely nothing about that. That just didn’t suck. You know, I was angry. It wasn’t right. It wasn’t Just where was God when I needed him all of that stuff that we go through as part of the normal grieving process? I can tell you right now, David, the death of my daughter 15 years ago, was not a tragedy. It was one of the greatest gifts I have ever received, and her short life. Well, I didn’t understand the purpose of it. And purpose is a tough thing to nail down sometimes, because purpose is often what we decide to make it. She hurt her little life has impacted 10s if not hundreds of thousands of people around the world who have heard me talk about her. And so there’s purpose. There’s there’s gift. And so as I was improving myself, I started writing again, you know, and so that was about the only declaration that I made. About my, my real self development was I came home from my office. And I declared, you know what, I’m going to be a writer. And you know, I say this with respect because she was always doing the best she could with her own emotional resources. She just looked at me and said, Really? Don’t you have enough responsibilities? Are you sure you’ve got time for that? And so I took that for what it was. And I was just like, you know what, I’m going to be a writer. I’m going to go back to my love. And so I started writing again. And, and so I did that for a while I had a guy notice what was going on in my life, and we had known each other for about 10 years. We were not even remotely friends. We had never done anything socially. His son and my son were both at the same age. And we went to different schools, but somehow or another, our kids always wound up on the same scale. teams or on opposing teams. So we were like basketball court and soccer field dad acquaintances. And we had known each other for about 10 years. And at one soccer game, he came up to me said, you know, Bruce, we don’t know each other really well. But I just want to say, there’s something radically different about you recently than there has been over the years, what’s going on in your life. And so I started telling him a little bit about my journey. And he
David Ralph [35:28]
said, What did he save? And what what do you think he saw?
Bruce Van Horn [35:31]
Well, I think he saw a total change in in the way I carry myself and because our body language reflects what’s going on inside us. And so when I was the E, or what was me, life sucks kind of guy. I reflected that. And so now I was moving through space with more confidence with more grace with more ease. Yeah. Then previous and those were some of the things they noticed. Anyway, he asked me to be his life coach, I had never actually even heard the term before. So what in the world is that? And he told me what his perception of it was. I said, Well, that really just sounds like a cross between a psychotherapist and a good friend. And he said, Well, yeah, that’s right. And I said, Well, why don’t we get together for coffee once a week or something? And he said, we can we meet for coffee, but I’m gonna pay you. I want to hire you to do this, not just as a friend. And that took me some convincing, but that’s what really launched me in the life coaching business because he referred me to two other people. And I found that when I was doing that, like when I was writing, I was coming alive. It was what I was meant to do. And instantly I started telling one of my friends about this, who I went to high school with, and he said, Bruce, that’s no surprise what all of us were surprised when you went into computer sales. You were always the We could come and talk to you about our problems. And you always had an encouraging word or some wisdom. And
David Ralph [37:08]
busta, that’s what you should have said.
Bruce Van Horn [37:10]
Yeah. Right. So my life sort of came full circle, and things were really starting to go well, and I thought, Okay, well, you know, life has really kind of sucked up to this point. But now I’ve hit my stride, I’m running, I’m writing, I’m helping people shape their lives using the same things that I had done for my life. Life is good. And then February 14 2013, happened in my life. And that was my that’s Valentine’s Day. February 14, it was my son’s 16th birthday. And in most places, big 16 is a big birthday to celebrate. And my but so we we play A big celebration for my son turning 16 years old. So we, we reserved a room at our favourite Italian restaurant in our neighbourhood. We had all of our family there. This wasn’t a party for his friends, it was a family or deal. So we had aunts and uncles and cousins and, you know, things like that. And unfortunately, my wife’s mental health had been deteriorating over the last several weeks leading up to that. And in the middle of the restaurant, she was having a full blown schizophrenia conversation with the painting hanging across the wall, on the other side of the room, and we were about to open presents, and unlike honey, we’re about to open presents, can you please, you’ll focus and she held up a finger and said, Yeah, just just a second and she went back to talking to the painting. And then she turned very slowly, very dramatically. Eyes totally dilated, and she said I have amazing news for us all. I’m taking us all to see Jesus tonight. And end of birthday party, police the whole shebang. And she has not been in in our homes since then. The courts awarded me full custody of the boys she, we see them, you know, we I still provide for her in many ways, but she can never ever have unsupervised visits with them. The voices that she had heard all of her life were disturbing and upsetting and created all kinds of weirdness in her life, but they had never been dangerous. And so when the voices told her to kill the boys, that was that was a rock. I mean, a rocky place to be. And the other thing that I had done really, really, really well David was I had lived To my boys, I had protected them. I had shielded them while I knew she had schizophrenia. I never shared that with the boys. This came as a total shock to them grand. Yeah, three days later, my 16 year old was so traumatised by he became suicidal. And so I had to hospitalised him. And so over the next year, we had to learn as boys, three boys living in a house together. We had to relearn I had we had developed so many unhealthy communication techniques, I had taught my boys how to lie. I taught them how to walk on eggshells to whatever we do, we cannot upset your mother. You know, so if they get in trouble at school or in the neighbourhood, they’d come and talk to me about it, and then say, Okay, well we’ll we’ll deal with this but we have to craft A story to tell your mother so she doesn’t just go off the deep end. And so we had to undo all of that we had to learn healthy communication. And we really started to hit our stride there. And we, we got much closer to each other in those times. So, Austin was 16. Carter was 10 at the time. And so I’m planning that, you know, the next year is going to be a great year. So when we both their birthdays are within the same week. And so, for birthdays, 17 and 11, we’re going to have a big party, we’re going to enjoy life. We’re going to look at all of the progress that we’ve made in the last year I published my first book during that year. My life coaching practice really exploded during that year, so we had a lot to celebrate. And so it’s like okay, well we got knocked down like you’re you’re rocky
thing there, you know, we got punched in the face, but we got back up. And now things are back on track again. And, you know, we tend to think that when things are going really, really well that they will always go really, really well. And when we think that they’re going bad that they will always go really, really badly. But life isn’t about that life flows. Absolutely.
David Ralph [42:21]
Why do you feel drawn to share those deeply, deeply personal stories?
Bruce Van Horn [42:27]
Well, because of the very same story of the sound clip that you just shared, that it’s not about.
It’s not about the events in our lives.
And so look, let me do one more quick story and then we’ll we’ll tie that together with a really neat bow. And so, February 14 of the of 2014. We did have a really nice, wonderful birthday celebration, and then on February Where he 17th Three days later, I had just put my youngest on the school bus to go off to school. And I was sitting down at my table writing in my gratitude journal eating, what? cereal put, exactly I was eating my bowl of mini wheats. Now I do eat other things. But I that morning again I was having a bowl of frosted mini wheats, and my phone rang. And I looked at the caller ID I was expecting this call, but I was expecting different news. And there are moments, David that we we all experience it in various ways. Where you it’s it’s like you have this psychic connection with with whatever is going on and you know in advance what’s going to happen and so while I was expecting the call, and I was expecting a certain outcome from that call, the moment I wrote The phone over and saw the caller ID. I knew exactly who it was. I knew exactly what he was going to say. And I knew that eating breakfast and writing in my gratitude journal that morning would be the last normal thing I do for a very long time. And it was my doctor. And I had just turned 50 years old. And he said, Bruce, I have no idea how to tell you this. And when your doctor calls and says, and you can tell he’s holding back tears. That’s not a good sign. And he says you’ve got stage four prostate cancer.
So I sat at my kitchen table and I cried just like I am now.
But then I was like, Alright, here we go. Let’s go. Let’s do this. Let’s figure out what we’ve got to do. So from that moment on, it was just a barrage of doctor’s appointments, body scans, blood tests, more doctor’s appointments, trying to figure out what do we do with this? My cancer was advanced enough that prostate cancer is a very, very treatable thing when it’s caught early. Mine was not caught early, and at 50 years old, that’s very, very young. And so I won’t go through all of this. But guys, if you are anywhere close to 50 years old, and you have not had your prostate tested, you’ve got to do that because there are no symptoms, no symptoms whatsoever. I was tired. That was my only symptom. I was exhausted all the time. But I was, you know, considering I’m a single dad with full custody of these boys. I’m running a business and managing my household. I’m still Running, who wouldn’t be exhausted? So I just figured it was normal. But anyway, the my doctor said, You know, I can do the surgery, but given how young you are and how advanced your cancer is, I don’t want to do your surgery. I’m going to refer you to the guy who’s the best in the area. And we’re going to get you on his schedule. Well, they called and said, Well, he’s booked up for at least six months, and I didn’t have six months. And so he said, He’s like, you know what, I played golf with them, I’ll call them and we’ll work it out. So I went from February to April 7. So just two and a half more months to have my surgery. And it was supposed to be a one and a half hour surgery. And one night in the hospital. it wound up being a five hour surgery and I was discharged from the hospital after a week, not because I was ready to go home but because the insurance companies We’re not paying for it anymore. During the operation, I lost 70% of my blood on the operating table. And at one point, the anesthesiologist said, Doc, you’ve got to wrap this up, we’re losing him. And, you know, so of course, I’m completely out of it. I didn’t realise any of this until I woke up. And I could immediately tell on the faces of the nurses and my mother who was there, that things had not gone well, I you know, over the next hour or so I learned what was going on, and how much blood I had lost during the surgery. through no fault of my doctors, my doctor saved my life. Because I had a, an anatomic anomaly in my gut that most people don’t have, and he had to deal with that. And in order to get all of the cancer, he had to cut all of those blood vessels and let me bleed when He did the surgery, because he couldn’t cauterise the blood vessels. We won’t go into all the technology of that. But so he allowed me to bleed while he did his work, and then very diligently sewed everything back up to stop the bleeding just in time, while I had just enough blood pressure left to keep my heart running. So he was brilliant. But there’s one thing that happens, you know, when you go to the doctor, when you have you had any major surgery? No, I’ve
David Ralph [48:32]
had a few things you’ve got to check out but nothing major. Yeah,
Bruce Van Horn [48:35]
so you know, so that’s awesome. No gym, no major surgery. You try to avoid those things, if possible. But one of the really cool things about going and being in a hospital after you’ve had major surgery is that there are these just amazing drugs that they can give you so that you’re not in any pain. Well, the problem with those drugs is that they all lower your blood pressure. So my doctor said, Bruce, the next foreseeable future is going to be miserable. Because you’re going to have to do major abdominal surgery without any pain medication. And, yeah, so so we won’t go through through all of that, but but I had these experiences in my life and dealing with pain in the hospital. I mean, such brutal pain, that you can’t even really imagine it. I had to really, really focus my brain and just not think about the pain but focus on just breathing. And it was during that time, that I had some epiphanies which really led me to the next book that I wrote. And but the to answer your question,
This is the problem when two podcasters get together, we just go and go and go
it’s not the events in our lives because, you know, natural disasters come through, you know hurricanes, common floods, common they wipe out entire communities without any respect for, you know, who were the wealthy people? Or who were the good people or and who were the bad people. Natural disasters are, are not prejudice at all in one way or the other. They affect everybody equally. And so if everybody has lost all of their possessions, why is it that some people fall into the depths of despair and commit suicide, or, you know, commit crimes or whatever, and others pick themselves up and rebuild. So it can’t be the events in our lives. And that was always the problem with my life. I always thought that events in my life were what caused my outlook. You know, I was always a surly, grumpy, unhappy person, because I had had these tragic events take place in my life. But that was the aha moment that I had had when I was running. It’s not the events, it’s the thoughts. It’s the story that we tell ourselves about why these events happen. And so if you tell yourself a story, in which you are the victim, and you deserve better than this, and you know, or just, I must, this must be punishment for something that I did. That’s not the right story. It’s not a story that empowers you. It’s not a story that lifts anybody else up, let alone you. And so that’s what that that’s why I can now say that to bankruptcies, the death of my daughter, the tragic situation leading up to My divorce stage four prostate cancer and there’s a whole host of other things that I’ve not included. Those weren’t tragedies, those were all gifts. Those were all wonderful things. And they are wonderful things that have made me what I am now. Because of the way I have reprocessed, my thoughts about them and their gifts because I’ve decided to make them gifts, rather than to make them curses.
David Ralph [52:31]
Well, let’s play the words of Steve Jobs that really sort of emphasises what you’ve been talking about. And of course, is the whole theme of the show. This is Steve Jobs famous Join Up Dots speech.
Steve Jobs [52:43]
Of course, it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college, but it was very, very clear looking backwards 10 years later. Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connecting your future. You have to trust in something, your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path. And that will make all the difference.
David Ralph [53:18]
So do you have a big.in your life Bruce, or is it a collection of loads and loads of dots? Oh, it’s lots and lots of dots.
Bruce Van Horn [53:25]
I mean, I’m coming up on 52 years old. And so I can look back over my life. And one of my favourite books is by the late Dr. Wayne Dyer, called I can see clearly now which is a Join Up Dots book. You know, he talks about all of the just the tragedies that happened in his life from you know, the time, you know, at a very young age being placed in an orphanage and in foster care and, and all of these bad things happening but we can like Steve Jobs says we can look back over our lives. And if we choose to identify them as such, and that that’s the thing if we keep telling ourselves that our lives have been nothing but tragic random events, then we’re not doing the job of joining up the dots. We’re not. We’re not using that as a springboard to move us forward. But if we can look at our lives and say, you know, what if it weren’t for this experience, you know, when when the year I graduated from college, my grandfather was dying of cancer and his his spread to his spinal column and he was quadriplegic as the cancer moved up his spine. He chose to stay at home, and I was the only one who wasn’t gainfully employed right away. I did take a few months off right out of college before I went to work for IBM, and I cared for my grandfather until he died at that time. My thought it was a tragedy. This was the person that I probably loved the most on the planet more. So even then my mom and dad, I loved my grandfather, and couldn’t understand why he was dying that way, although he said some amazing words to me that I didn’t understand until years later. And so I can see that had I not taken care of him, I would not have known a lot of the things I knew about how to take care of my wife and her conditions, I wouldn’t have known a lot of different things, had I not met these people or that people if I hadn’t had this business failure, and recognised what I did wrong, I would not have known how to start my next business and let it be successful. So yeah, we we can do that. And it’s it was because I was already doing that mental work, that I could take the tragic situation at my son’s 16th birthday party and I could take the announcement have cancer and say, Okay, you know what, this is hard. I don’t know what’s on the other side of this. But I can look back over my life and see that things have worked out. So I’m going to trust that there’s a reason for this. And I’m going to try to glean from it everything that I can to make me stronger. Rather than tell myself a story that makes me weaker,
David Ralph [56:29]
powerful stuff, throws you a remarkable man, and you’ve had so many trials and tribulations, but it seems like it’s all pulled together for you, and I’m positive, but the future is gonna be, it’s just gonna be a glorious one. And you’re gonna look back as an old man and think I’ve had a good life. I’ve had a hell of a life and whatever happened to you?
Bruce Van Horn [56:49]
It has not been boring, that’s for sure.
David Ralph [56:52]
Well, this is the part of the show the end of the show really called a sermon on the mic when we send you back in time to have a one on one with your younger self. And if you could go back In time and speak to the young Bruce, what age would you choose? And what advice would you give? Well, we’re going to find out because I’m going to play the theme tune and when it fades, you’re up. This is the Sermon on the mic.
Unknown Speaker [57:18]
With the best
Unknown Speaker [57:19]
bit of the show.
Bruce Van Horn [57:35]
Bruce, this is your almost 52 year old self talking to you. When you are probably 16 years old, and you’re feeling small and you’re feeling insignificant and you’re wondering, will you ever have any kind of impact in the world will you ever be able to give and receive love Will you ever be able to experience joy and happiness? And I’m here to tell you, Bruce, yes, you are going to experience so many things of life. And what I want you to do is to not tell yourself a story where you are not big enough or strong enough or fast enough or attractive enough or wealthy enough. Stop telling yourself a story that basically says that you are not enough. You are enough. And when you get to the point where you have traded your self worth, for a worth that you’ve placed in the hands of other people claim it back. You are not the roles that you play. You are not the best friend, you are not the best dad, the best husband, the best employee. employer, you have got to be the best, Bruce. Find out as soon as you can, what makes you come alive, what fills you with joy and do those things, because that’s what’s going to keep your batteries charged. Because there’s going to come times in your life where you’re going to need all of the reserves that you can possibly muster. You’re gonna go through deserts, you’re gonna go through Briar patches, you’re going to go through lonely periods. But if you can go through those, knowing that you are worthy, that you are lovable, that you are capable, and that you are loved by your Creator, that you are loved by so many people on this planet that you’re not even aware of. Let that be the fuel that moves you forward. You’ve got an amazing future ahead of you. You and you can create the life that you want to start dreaming. Again, don’t let the the mundane rigours of everyday living and raising a family and you’re buying groceries. Don’t let that stop you from dreaming about the life that you want to someday live. Because as you as you dream, that’s when you create an every day. Get up. Be thankful for what you have, because that’s what’s going to create for you more things for which to be grateful. Your happiness is not something that’s dependent on situations or material things. Happiness is something that comes from you. It’s a decision that you have to make every single day to choose peace, to choose joy to get out and be the best. Best Bruce, that you can possibly be. I look back over your life, and I love you so much. It’s going to be an amazing wild ride. So let’s raise our hands up in and ride this roller coaster of life and see it as an exciting thing rather than a terrifying thing.
David Ralph [1:01:25]
Bruce, what’s the number one best way that our audience can connect with you sir?
Bruce Van Horn [1:01:30]
Bruce Van Horn comm is probably the best way there’s the all have the links to social media Twitter has been just a great thing for me. 387,000 Twitter followers why that many people in the world have any interest in what this middle aged guy has to say is amazing to me, but I love everybody who interacts with me on Twitter and Instagram and all of the the social places But all of those links are at Bruce Van Horne calm there’s my life is a marathon podcast. There is my my new book called worry no more in which I talk specifically about how to how I dealt with cancer and how I was able to, you know, move through that and eliminate a lot of the worry in my life but all of it the hub is Bruce Van Horn comm
David Ralph [1:02:26]
where I have over links on the show notes. Bruce, thank you so much for spending time with us today. joining up those dots and please come back again when you have more dots to join up because I do believe about joining up the dots and connecting our past is the best way to build our futures. Mr. Bruce Van Horn, thank you so much.
Bruce Van Horn [1:02:44]
Thank you, David. You are changing the world by what you do. So I owe you a debt of gratitude and I sir am thankful that you are in my life.
David Ralph [1:02:55]
Appreciate that Mike. Thank you Listening to Join Up Dots I’m sure you agree that is a deeply raw and open podcast episode where the guests really sort of laid it out. And that’s what Join Up Dots is all about is providing you with a show that you don’t know what you’re gonna get. I never know what I’m gonna get. And that’s why I think it’s becoming so powerful. So thank you so much for listening. And as always, I will see you again in the next few days. Cheers. See you later. Bye.
David doesn’t want you to become a faded version of the brilliant self you or wants to become. So he’s put together an amazing guide for you called the eight pieces of advice that every successful entrepreneur practices, including the two that changed his life. Head over to Join Up dots.com to download this amazing guide for free and we’ll see you tomorrow on Join Up Dots.