How my mom continues to teach me about Stillness, even now

by | Mar 21, 2022

Darcy Luoma is one of America’s most highly credentialed coaches. She’s worked in 48 industries, with more than 500 organizations, and has impacted tens of thousands of leaders and employees.

When the Thoughtfully Fit book was published last year, I gave the first two copies to my parents.

My publisher had mailed me a box of books one month before the official release date. I remember how excited I was when they arrived! After everything they’d done for me, I knew I wanted to show my parents the finished product before anyone else.

Since her eyesight had deteriorated significantly and she was in so much pain from her cancer, I must admit I thought twice about giving my mom a physical copy of the book. I offered to download Audible on her phone so she could listen to it instead.

But my mom insisted she wanted to read the book herself, and she persisted for fifteen minutes each day until she had finished the whole thing.

Every week she was reading, she called me to say how a particular section had touched her. She told me she knew she needed to Pause more, but couldn’t quite find the right words for it in the way the Thoughtfully Fit core described. She thanked me.

Does your life feel out of alignment? Here’s how Lawrence Dunning managed to balance Real Estate, Jiu Jitsu, self-development and family life.


Darcy Luoma (00:01):
Hi, it's Darcy Luoma and happy Thoughtfully Fit Thursday. I'm here today live with Lawrence Dunning. And Lawrence and I met this last year when I was a guest on his Enter the Lionheart podcast. I have the forever esteemed title of being the first lioness. Is that right, Lawrence?

Lawrence Dunning (00:26):
That is Darcy. It was great. I had a little pushback from a few listeners and they said, "There's a bit too many males. We need some strong female figures." And I'm honored that you were the first, so thank you so much for doing that.

Darcy Luoma (00:38):
You're welcome. It was an honor. And if I remember right, one of the pushback was your wife saying, Hey, who are the lionesses, right?

Lawrence Dunning (00:46):
Exactly. Yes. I'm trying to get her to go on, but she's all shy. She's a relationship therapist and she gives the best advice of all my friends. And I'm trying to get her to be a bit more public. And she's like, "Give me a few months. I feel a little shy." So yeah. So she'll be on eventually, but yes.

Darcy Luoma (01:03):
I love that. And because you and I are both athletes and competitive, I'm going to get her on my show before she's on yours. That's-

Lawrence Dunning (01:12):
Thank you, Darcy. She'll be a great guest. I promise.

Darcy Luoma (01:14):
That's my goal now.

Lawrence Dunning (01:16):
I love it.

Darcy Luoma (01:17):
Well, thank you so much for joining me today. I'm very impressed with you and a couple of things like when we met, there was just so much crossover and overlap of our values and our interest in being high-performing and looking at the cross-section of athletics and how training your mind helps to train your body and vice versa. So I'm wondering if you could just share a little bit about who you are and what you do in the world.

Lawrence Dunning (01:53):
That's a great question. So, one thing, when I was listening to your audio book before in preparation, you kept saying things and I kept thinking, "Wow, Darcy's the phrase kindred spirit because I think both of us have a philosophy where there's no success, whether it's financial, career, fame, all these things, that doesn't matter unless we have our health too. And I think health is the bedrock for both of us. I see so people that are high performers in business at the expense of their health, and that always breaks my heart because I always think on a billionaire's deathbed, he's only going to wish for more time and more health. He'll never wish for more money. So I really like that about you.

Lawrence Dunning (02:38):
I've had a interesting journey through. I'm a big believer in I like to think all my success is due to me, but I'm very aware that circumstances obviously play a huge role. I was lucky enough after college in England to get a job with multiple offices around the world. So I was a trader. I was in Amsterdam after I was in London. Then I went to Amsterdam. Then they sent me to Chicago. I really wanted to go to America for the opportunity. So they sent me to Chicago and then I was on Wall Street for a little bit. And then eventually, I left and I started my own trading company. And I did very well in my twenties.

Lawrence Dunning (03:14):
And then it got to the stage where I was competing as a martial artist. I won the Chicago Golden Gloves. I was doing Jiu Jitsu. And I really enjoyed that. And it got to the stage where I had a certain amount of wealth. I wasn't crazy, crazy wealthy, I never have to work again, but I had enough wealth to have the freedom to take a bit of a sabbatical. So I took about five years where I had about 10 professional fights and I traveled the world. I had a lot of active competitions, things like marathons. And what I always thought was, I've got a very small window athletically before my body's too old to do that. And I've got a lifetime to trade, to make money.

Lawrence Dunning (03:52):
What I didn't realize, which of course the benefit of hindsight was when I was away those few years, I thought I would step back in the trading pit whenever I wanted to come back and keep making the good money I was making before. What I didn't understand was life changes. So during the time I was away, the high frequency trading came in and I saw all my friends down there on the exchange. And not only were they not making good money, but a lot of them were actually losing money.

Lawrence Dunning (04:16):
So then I thought, "Hmm, I've got to reinvent myself here because I don't want to be that guy who's a 40 year old ex pit trader. There's a lot in Chicago where they don't really have too many transferable skills because the one thing about trading is they call it blue collar work, white collar pay because we were literally standing in a pit screaming all day. That's not the most transferable job skill for a lot of people. So it got to the stage where I had a very good friend of mine who was an attorney. He had his own role company and he started doing real estate.

Lawrence Dunning (04:49):
He actually set up a real estate company and we lived in the same building and we both had big dogs and we would normally text late at night and say, "Hey, let's meet at this park and let our dogs play." And he'd always talk to me and say, "Lawrence, with your accent, you'd do so well in real estate. You've got a mathematic background, so that would really help. And so he was my mentor. So eventually, I decided to get my real estate license and start working with him. And that was six years ago. And it's been really wonderful because, and I think we're going to talk about this in a bit.

Lawrence Dunning (05:18):
But at the time when I first started reinventing myself, it was very difficult because I was used to being in a position where I could have a good week in the trading pit and make a lot of money in one week. Whereas in real estate it took a long... People, saw me as this guy who was fighting and traveling around the world. They didn't see me as someone who like, "Hey, I want to invest a million dollars in a building. Can you help me?" They didn't see me as that person. So it took a long time to get that image that I'm actually working in a new business, I know what I'm doing. So it was very tough. But now looking back, I'm really glad I did it because I've grown so much as a person. If in theory, I could have gone right back to my old job and still be screaming at a pit trading all day, yes maybe I would've made good money, but I wouldn't have grown as a person.

Darcy Luoma (06:05):
And you really have reinvented and redefined yourself I mean multiple times, even in that introduction I heard multiple times. And so I'm curious, what is it that helps you to embrace change rather than fear it? So many people feel stuck or don't see a future, and yet it's too hard or scary, or the path of least resistance is to just keep doing what you're doing. How do you embrace that change?

Lawrence Dunning (06:35):
Darcy, that's such a great question. And firstly, I want to say for all your listeners that it's easy to look at someone like me that's had several career changes that have been very different and think maybe it's easy and maybe they're in a situation where they feel a bit stuck and they feel bad that they can't just change. So the first thing I want to say is it was challenging and it takes, if you work in a career, whatever the career is for, 6, 7, 8 years, you've developed this level of competency, you have your network, work is going to get much easier because you've been doing it a while. So to completely reinvent yourself is difficult. So the first thing is don't feel bad if especially initially it's very difficult and it can be mentally very daunting too.

Lawrence Dunning (07:18):
But I think the one thing that I remembered was if you can have some success in one field, there's a lot of transferable skills, even if on the surface you might not see them in rebranding yourself at something else. And I think the byproduct of the... So on the negative side, a lot of people will look at it and say, "it's very difficult. If I've worked my way up a certain hierarchy, I don't want to go back to ground four, start again. It's very difficult." But I think you're going to grow so much as a person and you just have to be a bit patient because, so when I started in real estate, I'll give you a good example. Of course, I wanted to be working with high net worth individuals. And the thing with real estate is you can the same transaction, but if one is a hundred thousand and one is 500,000, the commission's going to be almost five times different.

Lawrence Dunning (08:06):
So everyone wants to work with these big clients and everything, but they don't think about what... What I started is the first year I said, "listen, I don't care what I make in real estate. I want to hustle and I actually want to take bad business because I want to learn as much as I can about the business." So I was trying to look at... I think too many people they're focusing on just the money aspect when they change careers, but I try to focus on the skill aspect. And then the next step was building relationships. And then the last step was the money will come if you do that.

Darcy Luoma (08:35):
Hmm. I mean, I'm hearing a couple of things as you're talking. One is to embrace change, it's not easy. It wasn't easy for you and it's okay if other people are fearful and scared. That's okay. Two, it doesn't mean if you decide to embrace change that you're going to have an immediate success. So you had to redefine yourself in this real estate market. And it wasn't just, "ooh, this is a good week. Bam." You actually had a long time to figure out this new career. And then three, I heard you say, you are breaking it down into bite size pieces. You weren't going from zero to $500,000. You're saying, "I want to learn. I want to serve people. I want to be good. I want to build my skills and worry about the money as I go, instead of starting from that place."

Lawrence Dunning (09:29):
Exactly. I think in real estate particularly, but I think this would apply to a lot of other careers is we have... I mean, listen, we're human. So everyone has a very egocentrical view, a selfish view, even if they're good people, you're always thinking about what you can get out of it. And obviously with your career, if you're trying to provide for your family, you have to think, "how am I going to make money to support myself." But I think if you, and this applies to a lot of different things. If you focus on the value you can give to people and the knowledge and the help you can do, the money almost becomes a bit more of a byproduct. And also, I just think mentally it's a much nicer way to go through life, as opposed to thinking, "how can I," for me, it's a commission based business.

Lawrence Dunning (10:08):
So, "how can I get a sale and make my commission." I'd much rather say, "how can I help people develop relationships and the commission and the is a byproduct." So I just think it's a really nice way, just a different lens to see your career. And particularly cause we're talking about when you change careers and you're trying to reinvent yourself. Typically, when you reinvent yourself, you don't know that much, especially at the beginning. So it's a bit of a combination, there's a little bit fake it till you make it and there's a little bit the first, however long. So for me, I said the first year I'm going to really focus on skill development. And obviously I learn every day. I'm always trying to learn different things, but set aside a certain amount of time.

Lawrence Dunning (10:49):
So I think they say, when you start a new business, typically you want to think about not making money. The first two years you're breaking even, and then the money comes after. I've heard that a lot, a lot of different business people say that. And I think that's a great metric to think. Obviously in real estate, you don't want to make nothing for two years because it's going to be hard to live. But you're not going to make too much and you really want to focus on the other things. And then that will give you the good foundation to then build your career on top of it.

Darcy Luoma (11:15):
Yeah, that's beautiful. So I reinvented myself as well. I had a career of 20 years in politics and campaigns and the political sector. And it was nine years ago, I was 41 when I walked away from all of that to launch my coaching and consulting business. And I also embraced that mindset and the research shows that the majority of small businesses fail within two years. And so stepping in and figuring out "what do I need to do in order to make it past that two year mark?" And I think some of the things you said that I'm really resonating with is focusing on providing value, building your skills, building relationships. I gave more free keynotes in those first two years. I needed a practice, I needed to put myself out there, build my reputation, I want to get testimonials. I wanted to test drive and make a lot of mistakes so I could fail quickly and increase my skills. So it doesn't really probably matter what the industry is. There's a lot of transferable lessons that you're sharing.

Lawrence Dunning (12:26):
I agree. And I had a really great mentor when I was young. I had my godfather, also my uncle, he was a very, very successful photographer back in England. And he told me when he started his career, he worked for four very successful, famous photographers as their assistants. And I think several of them didn't even pay him. And the other two, I mean, they were doing very menial work, taking care of their laundry, getting them coffee, picking food up, helping let people in to get the place, like very menial work and he's a very, very smart guy. But he said, "I wanted to learn everything I could." And it's that same mindset. And actually Darcy, it's so interesting. So again, I feel like you're such a kindred spirit because you said you reinvented yourself. My wife's just graduating as a therapist.

Lawrence Dunning (13:12):
And when I met her, she was in her, I think she was 34 when we met. And she already had several masters degrees in different things. And we were talking and I said, "listen, I hear you on the phone with your girlfriends. You are a therapist. You may not have the qualifications, but this is your calling. You're so good at it." And she said, "I've already got school there. I'd have to go back to school, get another masters degree. I just don't want to do that. I'm too old." And I said, "here's the thing." Just like with you, if you had started coaching when you were fresh, a young, probably a little bit naive 23 year old, how much of a better coach are you now after you've lived through all your experiences?

Lawrence Dunning (13:50):
And I think the same with her. She's so much of a better therapist than if she'd been some 23 year old kid who hadn't really been through much. She's had quite a nice backstory, different career changes. She was a primary school teacher for a while. So she's got all these transferable skills just like you, and then she's bringing them to the new career. So of course, when you change careers and you pivot, not every skill is going to be transferable, but I think it's a really good reminder for your listeners to think, "it's not that there's a thing we have where I've spent all this time and I don't want to throw that time away and restart myself, but I'm a firm believer of, you don't... Of course, you do have to learn new skills, but so much of your life experience will transfer to your new career, even if you might not realize it initially.

Lawrence Dunning (14:35):
And it might be something as simple as one of my wife's classmates is much younger and he's struggling with clients because the people that he's helping, they look at him as this young person who doesn't really have much experience in life. And so he's struggling in that way to connect. So it might be the most, nuanced, subtle things. But I really do believe that you are so much better at your work because you transferred with all your life lessons and all the things you'd done and learned before.

Darcy Luoma (15:05):
Couldn't agree more. And I love that you were her champion and advocate and cheerleader, and that you gave her the gift of seeing something in her that maybe she didn't see in herself. We all have blind spots and you're like, "you're good at this. This is your calling." And I think that's another thing I have found on my journey is having a support team and the support system, like you were for her to be able to get past those moments of fear and stuckness and, "ah, I don't know how to do this."

Lawrence Dunning (15:41):
Darcy, that's a really great point. So I think it's so easy, especially in America, America's known. All these countries around the world look at America as this land of opportunity. And there's so many people that we might look at that, whatever field they're in, they're the elite performers. And it's easier to think of them. And a lot of them champion this, "I'm this self-made person." And I like to say I'm self-made too, because one of the reasons I wanted to move to Chicago initially was I wanted to go somewhere where I didn't have a network, I didn't really know anybody and I had to do it all myself. I wanted to force myself to put myself in a position where I had to grow. I had to grow up to survive. I remember when I was young, I grew up in the eighties and I would watch the Arnold Schwarzenegger movies.

Lawrence Dunning (16:21):
And like a lot of boys my age, he was this larger than life figure. And I always looked up to him for one reason. And it was that he had had many different careers. So he started off as this body builder. Then he became this famous actor and then he moved on to politics. But a lot of people don't know he became a millionaire initially, before he got his first million dollar paycheck in movies, he became a millionaire investing in Santa Barbara of real estate back in whenever that was, probably the seventies. So he was this very, very entrepreneurial, real estate investor, him and one of his bodybuilding friends, Franco Columbu, and they would do a lot of work investing and they happened to live in an area of course, that was booming, California in the seventies.

Lawrence Dunning (17:02):
But I always admired him because he had these different careers. And I remember he gave a speech that I remember hearing years later and he said, "here I am, this self-made man." And then he went through and he listed all of the different people that helped him along the way. And of course it was this crazy long list. And I think these are such good things for your listeners to remember is seek help. Don't be so either prideful or scared or don't try and do things on your own, just like you said, and I can list all the people that helped me. And even now, when we were talking before on my show, one thing you said that I really liked is you said, "I'm a coach, but I also have all my coaches too."

Lawrence Dunning (17:42):
And I'm the same way. Like when you and I are both on triathlons, you have your triathlon coach. I had a marathon coach for my last marathon. I have a Jiu Jitsu coach. I have a real estate mentor, my friend that owns my real estate company. I also have what I call an entrepreneurial mentor because it's one of my clients who's just the most entrepreneurial person, he's from Eastern Europe. He's an immigrant and he built himself up to be this multimillionaire. So I have all these different aspects of my life where I try to seek mentorship. And I think one thing I love is you have this arc of life. And I've noticed that I never thought about this when I was young, probably because I was young and I couldn't really be a very mentor, but I've actually had a few people recently, one good friend of mine, he said, "can you be my business mentor?"

Lawrence Dunning (18:26):
And then another friend was asking me to help him mentor with real estate. And I think that we owe that, when you're young, of course you're struggling to build yourself. And then even if you're older and you change career, of course, when you change career, when I change career, initially you're not going to be a mentor figure. But as soon as you reach a certain level of success, I just think it's a really nice thing to start thinking about is how you can give back. I really do believe that. And I read a very interesting book called Real Estate Titans. And it was about 25, very short chapters on about 25 Uber successful real estate investors, developers, things like that. And I was blown away. But out of those 25, I think something like 22, almost all them, the vast majority was, "I was working on myself, I was getting success."

Lawrence Dunning (19:13):
And then they were all talking about, "how am I going to give back?" Because I think you get to a stage in your career where it's a bit of an existential thing where you think, "well, it's great. I'm doing well, but do I really need to buy a new house, a new car?" The material possessions starts to lose its value and people naturally, especially as they get older and they get a bit more introspective, they start thinking about giving back. So I think that's great advice too for when you initially pivot, you're struggling to learn and to grow.

Lawrence Dunning (19:44):
But as soon as you start reaching success in your field, when you start giving back, and I also really believe that it makes you better. So the analogy in sports in Jiu Jitsu is when you become a black belt, you have to start teaching. Even if you don't run a school, you have to start taking over classes, helping your instructor because you are giving back to the art. They have a big saying, and I believe that's true in any facet of life, when you reach a certain level of success, you should start giving back.

Darcy Luoma (20:11):
It's so beautiful. And it just reinforces how many of our values align, overlap, I don't know what the word I was trying to say is, and that focus on the greater good and giving back and following your heart and asking for help. I want to pivot just a little bit because I know you are a rigid performer athlete, MMA fighter, and also successful in business and ask you about routines. And if you can share any wisdom you have about how routines have helped you to be successful in so many different parts of your life.

Lawrence Dunning (20:56):
That's such a great question, Darcy. So the first thing I want to say, I like to always preface with things like this is, people might look at me, say I have a new student, who starts Jiu Jitsu. And he sees me and he thinks, "oh, Lawrence has it together. He's reached this high level, he's got a good career, he's happily married." You're never there. Life is always about, you're always trying to recalibrate. So I actually have another mentor, Roco Charman. He has a wonderful podcast. And he's one of the smartest people I know. And he just started this course called alchemy and it's on goal setting and prioritization. And I thought I was really good at goal setting and prioritization. And then we spoke for about an hour and he was breaking down the way he does it and I was blown away.

Lawrence Dunning (21:41):
So routines I think are so important, but it's something that I haven't got... I want to preface that, I'm still working on mine. It's a constant calibration I'm sure like you are Darcy. There's a wonderful saying in martial arts, it says "every master is always a student," meaning you're always learning. And I always like to say that to people just because so many people, if they're not where they want to be in life, it's easier to look at someone that is where they want to be and get a bit discouraged. So the first thing I want to say is don't be discouraged. And the one good thing about morning routines and daily routines is if you screw up today, don't worry. Tomorrow's a new day. It's a lovely saying.

Lawrence Dunning (22:22):
If you're a busy person and you have high goals and you're trying to achieve wonderful things in life, you have to have a very strong routine because especially now we're in this attention economy where our attention is being pulled in all these different ways. And then I'm a new father. My son is a year, three months. So of course the last year, three months has been very, very challenging because suddenly I have a lack of sleep and I've got a huge new commitment and this ball of fun and energy that I love being around. I'm a very, very firm believer in routines and time blocking. And especially when I think with your business, it might be the same as mine where we don't really have a fixed schedule. So I have clients that call me and text me in the morning, in the afternoon, at night, seven days a week, whether I'm in Chicago, whether on vacation, it never ends.

Lawrence Dunning (23:06):
So I have to be very, very disciplined with my routines. So I work out what's really important to me and that will be time blocked in my calendar. So for instance, I know with Jiu Jitsu, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday at noon, that's time blocked for Jiu Jitsu. So if I have a client who has to see a place Wednesday at noon, I'm going to have my partner cover for me because that's time blocked. That's my priority. Just like I know that at the end of a long day, if there's things that I can do, but it's not urgent, that will have to wait because I have to spend some time with my son before he goes to sleep.

Lawrence Dunning (23:39):
So I think we have to be so disciplined with our time blocking, we figure out what is important and then we put that as the priority because there's a wonderful Steven Kobe's book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. He said, "we're always struggling between urgent things that aren't important and important things that aren't urgent." And I think that's such an important distinction because for instance, exercise is a good example. I could say, "well, I can miss Jiu Jitsu today because I can go tomorrow."

Darcy Luoma (24:06):
It's not urgent.

Lawrence Dunning (24:07):
Exactly. But it's important. Whereas I have a needy client who has called me three times and text me, but I know he's needy and it can wait an hour. It can wait an hour. So I think it's very, when you deal with people, you have... I don't work in a business. Very, very, very, very occasionally in real estate, things are very... If it's a bidding war and a multiple office situation, that's important and urgent, you have to be on top of that. But in general, things can wait an hour. You don't have to drop everything for this. So I think that's very important is too many people get confused on the urgent things that aren't important and they're not moving them towards where they want to be in life.

Lawrence Dunning (24:46):
But the last thing on routine specifically, there's one of my favorite quotes and I know Tony Robbins talks about it, but I don't know if he came up with it is he said, "we always overestimate what we can do in one year and we underestimate what we can do in 10 years because it's 10 one year periods stacked on top of each other." I'm a big believer in if we... So I give a perfect example. I want to lose 20 pounds and that's a lot of weight and it's going to be hard. But if I say, "Hey, I want to lose half a pound a week for 40 weeks," it becomes much more manageable. So it's going to be a routine of eating a little bit better and maybe exercising a little bit more. It's not going to make a difference, one day, two days, one week.

Lawrence Dunning (25:32):
I'm not going to know it's a huge difference. But if I add it into my routine over time, there's this wonderful phrase. "When you're doing everything right in your routine, you make time your ally. And when you're doing everything wrong, you make time your enemy." And I love that. And now it's you because it's so true, you can be wonderfully healthy and you have this great routine and you exercise and you eat well and everything. And you spend a weekend where you fall off the wagon. On Monday morning, you're probably going to look pretty much the same in the mirror. You're not going to change dramatically in a few days, but if you kept doing that, you're making time your enemy. Everything's going to fall by the wayside. And it's the same with any positive habits. You have to be a bit patient. I'm a big believer in getting your routine set so it aligns with your values and where you're trying to go and then you just let time do its work.

Darcy Luoma (26:17):
And that consistency is key. And that this is the last question I want to ask you, which I am just so impressed with. And I'm guessing it probably has something to do with routines and consistency that you for a long time have read one book for a week. How do you do that?

Lawrence Dunning (26:35):
I was very lucky Darcy. I grew up in England and my dad really wanted me to be active and also to read. So I didn't have a TV in the house till I was about 14. Of course, that's a very different world today. I couldn't, not really have screens in my house. I use screens for work and the internet, everything, but because I grew up with that habit of reading, it was something that I didn't realize was so important to me until I lost it. When I was focusing on fighting, I was so conscious about the brain trauma that I was, "okay, maybe I'm losing some brain cells, but I'm going to force myself." And in those periods I had a bit more downtime than I had now and I wasn't married, I would probably read two books a week.

Lawrence Dunning (27:15):
I was such a avid reader because I'm a very curious person and I always wanted to learn and I was very... It was almost like this conscious thing, "well, if I'm getting damage to my brain, I want to be using my brain and balance out." And then when I started in real estate, especially as we were talking the first few years when I was hustling so much and running around, I realized later on that my reading had really fallen off the wayside. I didn't stop completely, but I barely read. And if it was reading, I was trying to learn about real estate and the Chicago market and things like that. And I noticed this profound drop in my happiness level. So now I've made certain things where if I go to bed and I've realized I haven't read at all, I will read a bit before bed, but there's certain things I do where for instance, when I travel and I'm on a plane, I'll never get the WiFi.

Lawrence Dunning (28:01):
I'll always get a coffee. And sometimes I'll read a whole book on a four hour flight to California or something. So I think traveling is a great time to read. And then for me, I'm in the car a lot for my work so I love audio books. But some people retain information much better, visually reading I'm that person. So audio books, sometimes I have to re-listen to something a couple of times. I don't feel like I take it in too much, but I think the one thing about reading is talking about mentors, Darcy, some people just aren't lucky enough where they live or their social network or their family. Maybe they just don't have access to these inspirational figures. But I think, of course I've never met a dead historical figure like Churchill, but I've read four of his biographies.

Lawrence Dunning (28:45):
I just think he's such a fascinating person. And his life story is so interesting and so many ups and downs and he had to keep fighting back and then he would have success. Then he would lose it, come back. For me, someone like that, he can be a mentor or if not a mentor, an inspirational figure. So I think we have all this wisdom and you have a wonderful book. I've actually started writing several books and I haven't finished, which is something I have to work on. I have to add that to my routine, Darcy. But I think it's so wonderful. I'm sure when you wrote that, you developed a lot. And one thing I loved about your book is it's very raw. And I think if you are in coaching or if you write a book like your book Thoughtfully Fit, you have to go all in.

Lawrence Dunning (29:30):
And I remember I had the audio book, when I was listening to your audio book, I remember thinking it was before we spoke. So I hadn't had any connection with you yet, but I remember being very impressed by being so vulnerable and raw. And I think that I actually found a lot of inspiration in that because when I first started writing a book back when I was a trader, I was writing a book about just the wildness of the trading pits. And I remember I wanted to talk about these characters and these stories about these wild characters, these wild traders. But I knew them all. And I knew that some of them would be upset if I shared this information. And it became a very tricky thing where you don't want to upset people or maybe, you're laying yourself bare.

Lawrence Dunning (30:10):
And I love that about you is if you're going to write a book, do it the right way like you did, and just be vulnerable and people resonate so much more, I resonated so much more with you because I thought, wow, this lady has courage and everyone can look at a courageous person and get inspiration from that. So I think reading is such a wonderful thing and it's becoming harder and harder and I'm not some wonderful person that isn't... My attention is diluted from my phone as well. I'm just like everyone else. So talking about habits, if I really want to read a book, a lot of time, I'll find a comfy spot that my phone is not even in the same room. I have to guard against the distractions, just like everybody else.

Lawrence Dunning (30:56):
But again, talking about priorities, just like with exercise, that's something that's time blocked in the calendar, reading for me is so important, I get so much out of it. I've grown so much to the person. But even if I didn't, I just enjoy learning about new things. I just think it's almost like if you've never traveled and you travel to a few places, suddenly you become much more curious about the world. And it's like that with reading. I find the more I learn, the more I'm fascinated by things. And someone will be talking about something and mentioning an author, and I really want to get this guy's book and talk about what he's doing. There's so much great wisdom out there. Take advantage.

Darcy Luoma (31:34):
I love that Lawrence. And it is so clear that you invest in yourself deeply and that you are just wanting to learn and grow. And I can't wait to read your book. Whenever that comes out, I want to have you on the show. Maybe we'll see if I have you or your wife on first. [crosstalk 00:31:57]

Lawrence Dunning (32:03):
I find your book, no seriously Darcy, your book was very inspiring to me because your story, it was painful. I could just imagine you struggling with some of this stuff, putting it on paper and putting yourself out there. And I find that very inspiring.

Darcy Luoma (32:19):
I'm so grateful for you to say that because the first 48 versions, the first 48 drafts of that book were not that vulnerable. And I kept digging deeper and kept on getting more raw and also at the same time, going through therapy and getting stronger so that I could put out the real version of my story and how Thoughtfully Fit helped me. And one of the things that is throughout the book and that we end every Thoughtfully Fit episode with is how to engage your core. And your core is to pause, think and act. So for those of you who are listening. I mean, Lawrence you are so inspiring.

Darcy Luoma (32:59):
I'm just going to invite you. If you are sitting here listening to Lawrence's story and feeling like you're stuck or feeling, "oh my God, how could I ever do what he does? Or how could I reinvent myself," just take a moment to pause and to think and ask yourself some questions, what's really important to you. What are your values? What's the cost of not doing whatever it is you're craving and wanting to do and scared, and then act, take one step. Just like Lawrence said, "don't take the $500,000 client right at the beginning, take one step to move in the right direction. And Lawrence, as we close out, I would just love for you to share, where can people get more of you?

Lawrence Dunning (33:50):
Well, thank you, Darcy. I am on anything business related. It tends to be on LinkedIn and it's just my name and same on Instagram, my name, and then-

Darcy Luoma (34:00):
Lawrence Dunning.

Lawrence Dunning (34:01):
Lawrence Dunning. Exactly. And then I do have my podcast Enter the Lionheart. That was a passion project because I realized it's like we were talking about earlier about giving back. I realized that I have this incredible network, whether it's a direct network or it's friends of friends, of just some very unique, interesting people. And it covers a lot of topics because I'm curious about a lot of things. I'm curious about psychology, finance, psychedelics, history. I'm interested in so many things, athletics, health. I've got so many interests. Your story was wonderful. I'm so glad that we connected.

Lawrence Dunning (34:37):
And there's a lot of people like both of us that have these wonderful stories and I think it's so helpful. I know for myself, I get so much out of audio books and a lot of good podcasts, they're like a little audio book. This is like a little audio book on reinvention and habits and goal setting. And I get so much out of it. So I think it's my duty to give back and share some of the people that I know. So it's a wonderful passion project. So Enter the Lionheart, it's on iTunes and Spotify.

Darcy Luoma (35:05):
I get so much out of your podcast listening to it. Thank you for putting yourself out there in the way that you do. And thank you for joining us today.

Lawrence Dunning (35:12):
Darcy, this was such a treat. Thank you so much for having me.

Darcy Luoma (35:14):
Yes. Everybody have a great Thoughtfully Fit Thursday. Thank you so much for joining us. Take care.

An unexpected insight

Upon finishing the book, mom called me again.

“Darcy,” she said. “I’m surprised. I have to say, that wasn’t the book I thought you’d write.”

“Huh, why’s that mom?” I asked curiously.

“Your whole life, you’ve always been so disciplined and motivated. As early as seventh grade, you started training for the Junior Olympics! You’ve never been the sort of person who gives up on things easily.

So I thought your book would be all about grit or resilience. And while it was about that, there was so much more. I loved how you talk about the importance of slowing down. And being intentional about how you show up in your relationships.”

The value of stillness

Today, as I was writing this blog post, I was thinking about what my mom said. And you know what, she’s right. This hasn’t been an easy lesson for me to learn. I’m a recovering workaholic. Only recently, in the year of playfulness, have I started to take weekends off (okay, well I try to anyway). Yes, I’m still a work in progress, even in my 50s.

Over and over again, my life has shown me the importance of Stillness, whether in coaching sessions or dealing with angry protestors storming the senator’s office.

With Thoughtfully Fit, my inspiration for mental fitness comes from my lifetime of physical fitness. If you’re training for a marathon, your muscles rebuild and grow stronger on your rest days. So it doesn’t matter how intensely you train: if you don’t rest, the only thing you’ll do is injure yourself (trust me, I learned this the hard way!).

One of my go-to rituals for Stillness is cutting vegetables. I know it sounds strange, but there’s something mindful about that simple, repetitive chopping motion. It gives me time to rest and sort out my thoughts between the challenges of running my business and parenting my teenage daughters.

America’s struggles with downtime

Many people I coach have their own difficulties with Stillness. There’s something about our culture that seems to say: “You should be working all the time, otherwise you won’t make anything of yourself!” As a country, we have some of the longest hours and least vacation time in the Western world. So we’re in “action” mode all the time, and then we get frustrated when we make suboptimal decisions while exhausted and on autopilot.

So why don’t you give it a try?

Thoughtfully Fit One-Minute Workout inside the Thoughtfully Fit Wheel

1. Pause: The next time you feel overwhelmed, take a few moments to stop and reflect. You can always afford 5 minutes!

2. Think: Allow your mind to wander. Don’t look for a solution; simply observe your thoughts as they come up.

3. Act: Take the next mindful step, and be sure to schedule time for Stillness on a regular basis in the future.

My mom died four months after I gave her a copy of Thoughtfully Fit. In her final month, she couldn’t read at all. I’m so incredibly grateful that she was able to read the whole book before passing. And for how she continues to inspire me, even now.


This week, we’re recommending Minnesota Now, Cathy Wurzer’s show on Minnesota Public Radio. As a proud born and raised Minnesotan, Darcy appreciates the show’s focus on “real people sharing real stories”… You can count on the radio to be set to MPR anytime Darcy and the girls travel north!