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You’re listening to Insights at the Edge. Today my guest is Lance Allred. Lance Allred was born legally deaf from RH complications and was raised in a polygamist commune in rural Montana before his family escaped when he was 13 years old. A former NBA basketball star, Lance is the author of a new book from Sounds True called The New Alpha Male: How to Win the Game when the Rules Are Changing. In this conversation with Lance, I was so touched by his level of openheartedness and vulnerability. He says being vulnerable is what makes the new alpha male bulletproof, and he proves that through our discussion. Here’s my conversation with Lance Allred:
I’m here in the Sounds True studio in person with Lance Allred, a former NBA basketball star who played with LeBron James on the Cleveland Cavaliers and is known as the first legally deaf basketball player. So here he is, and I’m for sure that you are the tallest Sounds True author I’ve ever met and ever interviewed, so we’ll start right there. And what I’d love to know is as someone whose hearing [is] 80 percent impaired, when you were out there on the basketball court, you weren’t able to wear your hearing aids the way you are now. What was that like playing basketball and being legally deaf?
Lance Allred: It definitely was a slow start. I didn’t start playing until I was 14. Having to learn to play the game visually, to keep my head on a swivel, to develop the peripheral vision, but also approach basketball with a soft focus, that you can let the eyes relax and you can see everything. You can see the broader spectrum and the board. And then you just learn to not—it’s not really analyzing people’s body language, it’s intuiting them. People try to analyze body language with their head, but you learn to just read it with your intuition, your heart or your gut. And you learn to read quickly what everyone’s bodies are telling you. And so yes, there were many times that I would mishear a play. I’d run a wrong play or I’d get clocked on a screen that I didn’t hear coming my way, that a teammate was telling me it was coming, and got hit hard a lot.
But that was obviously a downside. But what was really positive was that “disability” allowed me to see the game in a very different way and forced me to be very cerebral, and that allowed me to be very unique, which then allows you to be harder to dispose of if, when a team is making roster decisions. Because, if you’re fighting fire with fire and trying to be a dime a dozen like so many people think they have to do, “Oh, I got to be just like Tim Duncan, I got to be just like the guy and dunk it all the time or block it all the time,” then you’re competing for the same market. Whereas again, the disability allowed me to approach it in a very different way that coaches who were students of the game valued that.
And that’s why I was able to play for 10 years professionally despite the hearing loss because my ability to grow and adapt and scout people, and ask questions like, what aren’t people doing, and where are niches and gaps that I can feel in literally in that moment on the court in a play, find an open spot against his own defense; and also as far as skills and utilities that I had to offer for a team. So it was not easy. My very first game I was ejected because the ref thought I was ignoring him and lots of people right then and there were already saying, “Yes, he’s too deaf, he can’t do this.” And I’m stubborn but it’s more of once I get an idea in my head and I know and I see flashes of it with the hearing loss since I was a kid, I would take my hearing aids out at night and I go to sleep and I’d see flashes of things, and a lot of those things have come true.
TS: Huh. Tell me the kinds of things you saw flashes of, that’s interesting.
LA: Usually when they were black and white, if I saw them or dreamt them in black and white, I knew there was something a little bit different. And so I would follow them, even though I didn’t really understand why, I just knew I had to. And so flashes of being on basketball or in front of thousands of people. And then flashes of speaking, being at speech therapy until I was 15. Learning to speak was very difficult and I had a huge anxiety about speaking, but knowing that, OK, for some reason I know in my bones I’m supposed to be speaking and I have to work at this. As much as I hate being reminded that I’m not normal in speech therapy, I have to work at it. And other things that I won’t bore people with, if I’m making sense—
TS: You are.
LA: —that’s what I mean.
TS: Now please help our listeners understand what happened from you being a basketball star and a self-declared gladiator on the court to writing a book about a different type of alpha male, what you called “the new alpha male.”
LA: What was the genesis of that? It was two things. It was finally getting to the NBA and getting to peek behind the curtain of Oz and see that mind worth was nowhere to be found, that everyone around me was operating in so much fear and the politics of it all, when outside looking in, you see it as this silver screen happy ending and it’s anything but. And when there’s that much money involved, of course it’s going to be political. And so having—the saying goes, “never meet your heroes,” having the disillusionment of finally getting to where I’d chased a dream for 13 years—I didn’t make the NBA till I was 27, so I started when I was 14, and finally getting there through so much heartbreak and disappointment and so many miles on my cartilage in my knees, and you finally get there and you’re like, “Wait, I don’t feel any different. I still feel that if I lose this job, I’ll have no value to offer the world.” And that sent me on a real tailspin.
That was in 2008, and the economy collapsed later that year and I was released by the team to save money, by the Cavaliers, and I nearly committed suicide. And I had a choice in that moment, like many men have a choice right now. We can continue to hold onto the stories that we were raised with of the American dream, that X amount of dollars or how many trophies or guns on my gun rack or trucks, that means I’m important, that means I’m a good man. That means I’m attractive to women and the women will validate my status. Those are the stories I grew up with in rural Montana in my polygamous commune, but the story that an American male is a man who has all this material success around him and is so incestually interwoven with our religious and spiritual dogma, especially in Mormonism.
Mormonism is such a black-and-white linear religion, that X plus Y equals Z. There’s not a lot of grays—if you do all these things, you get to heaven. So therefore we’re conditioned as Mormons to see things in a very cause-and-effect way. That, “Oh, this man has a lot of success, it must be because he’s so spiritual and God is blessing him, and that’s why he has the church callings and that’s why he has three or four wives and my dad only has one. This must be something wrong with us,” of somehow it was a marker of our virtue and worthiness. And you don’t have to be Mormon to be embedded with that imprint of cause and effect and the status markers, especially with the movies we grow up with, I could talk for hours about the damage that romantic movies do on the American psyche of how you need to have this, you need to have this happy ending, or The Bachelor and have The Bachelor experiences, or else you don’t love me enough or you’re not alpha enough. And I’m not saying every woman wants that, but there’s enough of it still prevalent that it is very confusing for men.
And so having that experience with the NBA and having it crumble around me, I have the choice like men do, what I’m just lightly touching on right now. A lot of men are throwing fits right now that we want it to go back to the way it was, which is the exact opposite of how nature and evolution works. Never once in the history of the world has nature ever said, “OK, let me pause, put the brakes on that and I hear you. Let’s go back and have it be the way it used to be.” And yet we have been raised now, we’re living in a world of online entitlement where we have everything catered to our own personal needs or preferences that we now think that the whole world should look the way we want it to look—not just my computer screen, but that I’m entitled to have this and this and this and my soulmate should have all these 100 qualities that I expect them to have. When your parents and my parents, they maybe had two or three qualities that they can match together and they made it work, or at least tried to.
And so I had a choice to either end it and kill myself as I was going through that nervous breakdown, or it was, “OK, I can be accountable and ask the child archetype and the victim archetype in all of us to go back and begin to call forth the teacher, the sovereign, and many other archetypes.” But again, the ones that bring accountability to the surface, that say, “I can blame my parents and my culture from my reality, but I’m an adult now. It’s my job as an adult to question my truths, to question the stories that I’ve been operating with that were deeply embedded into subconscious level as a child,”
And a lot of people do put in work, and this is not some easy flip of a switch. You can’t just say, “OK, I’m totally accountable.” I mean, there is so many opportunities, and you will continually have them till the day you die, to catch yourself and your blind spots, and I know I will till the day I die. The quick is, is just can you recover quicker? As you have an argument with someone in a relationship that you’re in a relationship with, how long does it take you to catch yourself? Sure, you’re human. You’re allowed to feel these things. Enlightenment is not, “Oh, om, I’m above all of it. ” Which has been a huge marketing scheme, in my opinion, by the new age movement, saying, “Oh yes, I’m aligned, and I don’t feel anything at all.” That’s just checking out.
Whereas are you brave enough to actually face it head on and feel all the feelings that you have at the moment and allow yourself to feel them and hold them and not shame them?
And at the same time say, “OK, what stories are now being brought up that I can work on?” Stories from my childhood, stories that said, “If I have this girl like me, I have the prettiest girl on my arm, it means I’m the male and the most alpha.” And that was my challenge, I accepted the challenge saying, “You know what? This is going to be a long, arduous process of me going back and ripping out deeply embedded stories,” that aren’t just mine or generation, they’re multi-generational from my Mormon heritage, of pioneer stoicism and martyrdom and my grandfather literally being a martyr, that genetic trauma passing through the DNA, that takes a lot of work to bring to the surface.
And so men, as I’m working with them now and what this book is about, they’re throwing a temper tantrum and wanting to go back to be a certain way because a lot of us don’t have the coping skills and we were never given the space to have the coping skills to feel what we’re feeling. Instead it’s just, “Man up, puff your chest, and go be an alpha out there.” Right? The whole outdated notion of “alpha,” which is the false bravado, showing no empathy or compassion, and that it’s a dog-eat-dog world and I got to get what’s mine and survival of the fittest.
And I loved the—when people tend to stop with human development when they say, “Oh, well, humans are pack animals.” Well, humans evolved into pack animals, yes, but you’re implying then that evolution has stopped. There are three levels of consciousness, as you know: individual, tribal and greater whole. Right now we’re stuck in the tribal, and the world is asking us to evolve to a greater whole consciousness. But the tribal is the hardest one to let go because it’s the most immediately rewarding, because you see people around you reflecting back to you, your same agreements, your values and standards. But as we become a globalized world, we’re being asked to become globally conscious. And that requires empathy and compassion, skills that boys, we’re not really allowed to or taught to express and hold and utilize.
And so you have a lot of men who were raised on conditional love, on conditional values that said, “OK, if you do this and this, you made me proud.” And so even if their fathers are dead, so many men are trying to make their fathers proud from in the grave on outdated and dying stories of the American dream. And we were raised on the American dream and it’s a beautiful story, but we think now we were raised on it long enough that even if my life is really hard and I’m poor, at least I’m still an American and we’re God’s country, we’re blessed. And so you have people even having a hard time letting that one go.
And I loved—I think if you remember in the early 2000s there was a big rage against Mister Rogers, you have baby boomers on Fox News and other channels shaming the younger generations for being spoiled because we were raised on Mister Rogers, you say that we were special, so all of these kids are soft and spoiled. But that generation of people that were shaming us were people that were raised on the story that we’re special on a tribal level, we’re Americans. So it was a whole lot of pot calling the kettle black.
And so that story, deeply embedded from us as kids with the Pledge of Allegiance in schools saying that we’re God’s chosen country, that’s a huge tribal identity piece, that people are having a really hard time rectifying and coming to terms with, and so they’re throwing temper tantrums right now. They’re either killing themselves, we’re being hostile and aggressive towards others, afraid to show any vulnerability at all and say, “I’m really scared. I feel like I’m being left behind, I developed all these skills that are no longer useful. I feel like the world doesn’t even see me.” And we then have this counter-culture on the other extreme shaming men saying, “Yes, now you know what it feels like,” instead of giving them compassion and saying, “Yes, that’s really scary. We’ve been here too and we’re going to help you, we’re going to hold space with you while you do it.”
TS: Now, Lance, when you were describing the traditional version of an alpha male, I’ve got the prettiest girl on my arm, the I’m the top of the heap. I’m the best, because I’m an alpha. Right?
TS: Everyone else, you probably are jealous of me, right? Probably. What would be the characteristics if you met someone and they were a new alpha male; you’d say, “These are the characteristics. This is how you feel around the person.”
LA: Well, I’ll go through my, the backbone of my seven principles of perseverance, which I think make up of an alpha. Accountability, which I was just talking about with you. Integrity—are you the same person in every room that you walk into, and have you integrated all aspects of who you are, unafraid to show them to everyone you meet?
TS: Wow. That’s a big one.
LA: And integration, integrity, integrity is the root word of integration. So all the archetypes we have that we think only some people can see, a lot of people when I say that, especially in these corporate C-suite events I’m talking about who are Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, that are nice when the cameras are on, like the coaches I had, but behind closed doors just a nightmare. That’s not leadership because that creates a culture of double standards. If you’re changing your personality depending on who’s in the room, it tells people under you that you will throw anyone under the bus for your own game and people can’t follow that because they know that they’ll be next any moment.
And so integrity, are you brave enough to show all aspects of who you truly are to everyone? If someone asked me, like, “Well, I wouldn’t say, I wouldn’t speak to my grandmother the same way I speak to my friends,” and I’m like, I would. I may not curse as freely in front of my grandmother, but I’ll still express myself. I’ll still speak what I have to say, I’ll share my opinions. And his mind was blown that I could be that transparent with whoever is in the room. And being in speech therapy until I was 16, the ability to communicate is the thing that I’m most grateful for. And if I don’t speak my authentic truth at all times, then it was all for nothing.
Third one is compassion. Compassion is probably the hardest one. Can you—because as humans we operate so much from the child archetype world where we hear information and think, “What does this is mean to me? What does this say about me? How does this apply to my life?” When compassion forces you to get outside of your head, that even when people are being hurtful or projecting onto you, you’re able to say, and understand that people inflict pain because they’re in pain. And so being able to say, “Wow, they must be in a lot of pain. I’m going to try to put myself in their shoes and understand why they’re coming at me to take it out on me.” When you do that, you’re no longer able to internalize it. It’s the hardest one, but it’s also the one that makes you most bulletproof as an alpha male. Not the posturing, puffing your chest kind, but the one that can be vulnerable and communicate with authenticity and intimacy.
People say they want intimacy, they think it’s just roles that we were taught to play in movies. Intimacy is, “Hey, when this happened I felt really anxious, and I understand this is something that’s come up for me and I need you to know, and it’s important for me that it never happens again. And I’m taking ownership for my part and I’m going to work on what stories and fears are being brought up to the surface.” That’s intimacy. Being able to talk to somebody instead of just saying, “Oh my God, you did that. I’m so upset with me, and you embarrassed me in front of everybody.” Like you’re asking someone to play the perfect role. But being able to have intimate conversations, owning your side of the street, that’s hard to do. And it was funny that I, the deaf guy get to be the one to help people communicate like this.
A new alpha is also someone who can endure extreme discomfort, that can step outside of the story and narrative of what their culture and community around them says they need to do or else there’ll be abandoned. A new alpha says, “I’m OK with being uncomfortable even if it means I am alone. Because that means I am being abandoned by people who do not see me for who I truly am. So why would I want to fight and keep my place among people who don’t see me for who I am?” And a new alpha is someone that if life throws them a curve ball and they lose their job, like I have so many times in basketball and transitioning out of basketball, with going through a divorce, they have a high threshold of being able to stay in that space and trust the process of it and say, “This doesn’t mean I’m just going to do the whole path of least resistance and float downstream.” No, it says, “I’m going to get up every day and I’m going work my damn hardest and I’m going to get knocked down and it hurts, but in this unknown area, that’s where the magic happens.”
So many people want their dreams to come true. They want the American dream, but they also want to stay inside their comfort zone. You can’t have both. And so a new alpha is someone that is unafraid of the unknown. As well, you have someone who operates quickly with acceptance and surrender. Acceptance precedes surrender. Acceptance is you allowing what is to be in a strategic way for you to come out on top. Meaning, OK, all right, as on the basketball court acceptance was the big part of what I had to do. “All right, I missed my first five shots, OK, I missed my first five shots, it is what it is. I own it. They probably weren’t the best shots, but me, wallowing in self-pity or playing in fear is not being accountable, it is not being a good teammate to my teammates. I have to own where I’m at in this moment and recognize I’m only as good as my next shot.” That allows me to come out at the end on top.
Whereas, surrender is you completely letting it be, whatever it will be. Understanding that you do not get to decide at the end how it will be. You become agnostic and you allow everything that you invested in, all the blood and tears and sweat, every dream you chased that you finally, when you can give no more after you have given and given and given for years, you finally say, I surrender it.
You cannot truly surrender until you pay the price, surrender has to be earned. So you have a lot of people loving to say, “Oh yes, I just surrender, path of least resistance.” No, those are people that don’t want to have any heartbreak. Surrender requires heartbreak. Surrender requires us to be in a space where we say, “OK, creation, I’ve done everything I can do. Can I now give it back to you?” Not in a manipulative, “Oh, look at me, I’m being a good kid, now you can give me what I really want,” which so many people think is their reward. Again, they’re trying to manipulate.
TS: I want to make sure we get through all the seven principles, but just to take a moment in talking about surrender and the price of surrender, it’s obviously bringing up a certain amount of emotion for you, and I’m curious to know what’s that about?
LA: It’s a mix of heartbreak and gratitude.
TS: What’s the heartbreak? All right, let’s start there.
LA: Oh, Tami, so many deaths of so many dreams, so many towers I’ve climbed and then the tower collapses underneath the weight of it all, that it can never be what you hoped it to be, of basketball, of family. Family that I lost when we broke away from polygamy. My marriage—and this all leads to the last principle of perseverance. Well no, I have another one. There was transformation, but this is the process of transformation, of self-actualization, where you are able to be a leader of your own life and decide for yourself what are the standards by which I choose to measure my worth as a man, as an alpha, as a woman.
And as you go through that process, the heartbreak and the gratitude, a true alpha can have heartbreak and gratitude or forgiveness and gratitude at the same time. We’re taught that, oh, we can’t be happy and sad at the same time. Yes we can. We’re humans, we’re very complex. What makes us human is not our ability to think and analyze, it’s our ability to feel multiple emotions at once. We’re fascinating creatures, and yet people have been shamed or stunted to be allowed in minds because they’re trying to feel everything with their head, that I can only feel one thing at once.
But being able to look back on the heartbreaks and the losses and the mini deaths of my identity of who I thought I was supposed to be, many deaths, and who I have come into my own through that process, and now I’m at a rich point in my life where thanks to you, I have this beautiful book coming out, but other projects that I’ve been chasing with my heart and soul coming together. And with gratitude, I see through all that heartbreak and I see how in my perfect world, my brain, my mind, I could not have written it any better, but it wasn’t really mine to decide. All I could do was show up as I was asked to and let creation do the rest.
We have to show up. We have to put in the effort. We have to work and work, investing so much. Being willing to see and acknowledge and accept that sometimes we have to cut our losses. But every time you cut your loss, you’re not starting from scratch, you’re starting from experience. My parents taught me that when you broke away from polygamy—and I saw so many other people once the truth came out about money laundering and child abuse could not because they couldn’t cut their losses. The idea of investing 40 years of their life to polygamy and suddenly is a lie? No, no, no, no, no, I can’t go there. But my parents taught me at an early age, there’s grace and dignity in being able to start over. And the one thing I have to stress with people, you’re not starting over from scratch. You’re starting over with experience. So you’re really not starting over.
And with all that, and the many times I’ve had to start over so many times in my life with basically nothing in my bank account, and each time I look back and I see how creation and life has had my back, even when I didn’t feel like it did. And I see how all of these experiences have set me up to be in a beautiful place that I could not ever have imagined in my own logical, analytical, left-brained head that it was supposed to look this way. And so that’s the gratitude, is the heartbreak and the gratitude that I can feel at the same time.
And so a new alpha is someone that is able to hold the heartbreak of life because that’s the life. So many people while trying to cut corners on life, trying to avoid heartbreak, when heartbreak is really, heartbreak is our greatest teacher. So many people are trying to find these fancy algorithms, help me find my soulmate faster. Whether it’s a data point say on this match, “Oh my gosh. OK, all right, good, they won’t break my heart.” They won’t teach me anything, is what they’re really saying. And the new alpha is someone who is unafraid of heartbreak because they know that as they work through it and they’re transformed through it, they will have so much gratitude in their heart for the lessons they learned through that process about their own self and their own higher conscience and who they really are through the dimensions, not just in this dimension alone.
TS: As I mentioned in the beginning, Lance, you’re here with me in person for this conversation. A lot of the Insights at the Edge episodes are recorded from a distance.
LA: Oh, yes. OK.
TS: But here you are, you’re with me and we’re connecting eye to eye and I can see the tenderness and vulnerability in your eyes. I can see how much you teared up in describing your historical heartbreaks and what it brought up for you. And you said this very powerful sentence, “It’s our vulnerability that makes us bulletproof.” How do you experience being bulletproof in your vulnerability?
LA: I’ll use a short story at a simple level to help people begin to go there with me. I dealt with a lot of bullying as a kid, with my speech and hearing loss. And I had an uncle who began to challenge me and say, “Oh, are you going to cry deaf kid?” But he would also tell me Helen Keller jokes, and as politically incorrect as that may be, he taught me the ability to laugh at myself, the ability to own all of who I am. If I own it and I show up to the world, this is who I am, I take away all their ammunition because there’s nothing that they can expose. They don’t have me over a barrel anymore.
Now going further in that vulnerability, deeper vulnerability of being able to say, “These are the emotions I feel and this is what I have learned in the process, ” As you go through that work of identifying your emotions and integrating with them and acknowledging them and seeing them, you develop a self-intimacy that is more fulfilling than any external romantic or familiar relationship, and you have that self-intimacy where you have allowed and acknowledged yourself to grow and continue to grow. Seeing yourself at the age of 5 and 10 and 15 and all of the mistakes you made, but all the awesome things you did, seeing how all the archetypes within your psyche continued to grow and learn to integrate and worked together through that. That is a self-intimacy where you’re able to say, “This is who I truly am, and I am unafraid to show it to the world because everything is just a mirror.” If I’m not rejecting myself, but I’m truly integrating with who I am, people can’t reject me because I’m not operating from a place of lack, expecting someone else to come in and feel a void that I need.
When I’m operating from a place of vulnerability, saying this is who I truly am and I own that and I love all those aspects of me, and what we’ve been through into the current fulfillment of who I am now, I then am able to give more: give more unconditional love, give more compassion, give more empathy. And so if people want to try to shame and laugh at it, it’s like people looking at you from a bottom of a mountain and you’re on top of the mountain in complete solitude, at peace with who you are. You don’t feel alone. And people down there in the trenches laughing at you saying, “Oh, it must suck to be you,” you don’t even know.
But they can’t comprehend because they’re still down there trying to make sense of, “OK wait, I’m still chasing these old stories. I need a soulmate out there, I need someone to complete me because the movie said this is the way it has to be. The Bachelor said this is the way it has to be. And if someone can play a role in that story for me, then that means I get to be happy and I get my dopamine high,” which we have been conditioned to think is happiness. It’s not, it’s just a dopamine high and it can’t last. And we are junkies with a dopamine high, whether it’s porn or romantic movies, both of them creating unrealistic expectations of the opposite gender, demanding humiliation of the opposite gender, and they’re impossible standards to fulfill.
And so people are operating with that. And what I hear when people say “soulmate,” what I’m really hearing is someone say, when they say, “Oh, you didn’t read my mind. You just don’t get me.” What I’m hearing someone say really is that I don’t want to have to communicate. I don’t want to have to be an adult in a relationship. And again, here I am, the kid that was in speech therapy till I was 16 working so hard to catch up with everyone to finally communicate and looking around, I’m like, why the hell is no one communicating, what’s going on? Everyone’s a mind reader now, that’s intimacy?
No, intimacy is being able to go to the depths and say, “Hey, wow, when this happened, it brought up this trauma that I am so grateful, that I didn’t even see in my blind spot. So I get to work and do some self-healing and integration, some self-integration. And as I do that, I know I won’t be projecting any bullshit onto you because I love you too much to do that.” But no, people would want to be able to say, “Oh, well yes, I wanted this, I wanted that, and you didn’t bring it home today, so I’m upset.” That’s not intimacy, are you kidding me? But it’s subconscious. So much of it is subconscious and that is where the work is, being able to catch yourself in your subconscious patterns. When people say “do the work,” it’s become kind of cliche now, but I try to tell them that “do the work” to me means being able to be alert enough to catch myself in subconscious patterns where I am projecting a perceived lack onto another person or an expectation onto another person and understanding that’s my job to take care of, not someone else’s job.
TS: Now Lance, one of the curious things to me when I was reading The New Alpha Male was how you introduced a heart drumming practice.
LA: Heart drumming, yes.
TS: At the end of each chapter on these seven principles of perseverance, you take the reader through a guided experience and heart drumming is the basis of these practices that you teach. And I was wondering if you could introduce our podcast listeners to heart drumming and if we could do something together.
LA: Well, yes, let’s just do one on—I’ll kind of give some preface is that these were coping skills that I developed and arenas, that I’d be in the basketball arena and before the game to calm myself down, I would find a place and lay on my back or sit in the chair quietly and just start doing some breathing exercises, not knowing that you can call that meditation or whatever. But then as I got older, I began doing, “OK, you know what? Let’s get in my body.” But intuition led me, I started beating on my heart. So it just gets you into—studies have shown that a drum sound helps your brain get to a theta state faster.
LA: So the Eastern meditation, my brother loves Eastern meditation. He served a mission, LDS mission in Washington, DC by Vietnamese speaking. So he goes back east to Vietnam all the time. He loves Eastern culture and he can just sit there and go “Om” and sit in silence, but I never could because my brain’s gone, I’m out here, whatever. But also I didn’t like it because I realized now looking back that people think is like, it’s about leaving the body and shutting off the mind or whatever. But what I found for me, the drumming helping me to bring it to theta state faster and then the heart drumming allow me to say, get in my body. So my mantra is I’d be like, “Rebound and run, rebound and run. Stay in your body, rebound and run. Stay in your body.”
Because when we’re basketball players, if we’re analyzing, we’re a step behind. We’ve been taught and we’re so in love with stats now, as you know, that people are telling us to get outside of our bodies. Whereas the basketball players, stats, scouting, all that, they inform us, but they don’t drive us. The good basketball players, they inform us. I know this guy wants to drive with his left, but I have to trust my intuition and my instinct and stay in my body. And you play enough basketball you know, when you’re aiming your shots and you’re overthinking it, you’re going to miss your shots.
TS: You can frack anything up by overthinking.
LA: Absolutely. And so let’s just go ahead and do a really quick brief one if you want. It’s just, oh gosh, I have om.
TS: But you developed this heart drumming on your own. That was your own kind of intuitive—
LA: Yes, it was me.
TS: So I think that first of all, that’s interesting because I mean Sounds True’s published now, thousands of programs, and I’ve never heard from another spiritual teacher, meditation teacher, a heart drumming practice as the core of the practice. Certainly drumming, yes. And working with the heart, but not like, pounding rhythmically, repeatedly on the heart. So what an original contribution, I think it’s cool.
LA: Well, thank you. That’s good to know. But it wasn’t mine, it didn’t come from me, it came from creation and I’m just a bridge. That’s all. But what’s beautiful about it too, is that the best basketball players are masculine and feminine. That masculine is shooting the ball, feminine is passing the ball. If you’re always shooting every single time you touch the ball, you’re going to get benched. If you’re always masculine, too masculine, you’re going to get checked out of the game. If you too feminine, always passing it, you become easy to guard as well. You get benched. So it’s about being able to hold masculine and feminine, which is in the heart space, in between, in the center of masculine and feminine. Being able to be brave enough to hold them at the same time. And so unconsciously what I was doing, I look back and like, I was getting my heart to open up by pounding on my chest on the heart chakra, as I now know what to call it, it was me getting my heart chakra open to be more present in my body.
And so what I would just do, well let’s do—the quickest one, for example, I would do before a game, is I would do the heart drumming, but I would inhale slowly for 10 seconds, 10 beats of my heart. And then I’m going to walk you through it. And then you hold it for 10 beats, and then you release it for 10 beats. And it is perfectly natural to feel the claustrophobia when you do it, but you embrace it and you’re brave enough to go in to the heart. When we get the claustrophobia is when our head is still trying to control it instead of just allowing yourself to go into that heart and center your body. So let’s just go ahead and do, let’s do three rounds of 10 by 10 by 10s, and you’re going to do with me?
TS: I’m going to do it with you, you talk me through it.
LA: OK, ready?
LA: [Begins tapping heart] Hold, release. Catch your breath, catch your breath. Give yourself a second, keep beating, you still have two natural breaths to calm yourself. Then you go again, 10 beats. Hold, release, catch your breath. Natural breaths for two, the last one. Release. [Tapping stops] And whenever I take the time to do that, I always played well. There was a discipline and it was a practice. It allowed me to get out of my head and just go flow. To get into the zone or the knowing field or the field that Rumi referred to, “Beyond the ideas of wrongdoings or right doings, so there’s a field and I will meet you there.” That was what some athletes call the zone, where you’re not thinking, you’re not analyzing, where you just are and you’ve stepped into the game of creation and you’re one with it and you’re not trying to control it. Where you’re able to accept every missed shot because that’s what was supposed to happen, because that’s what happened, and you just flow with it all in complete surrender, knowing your worth isn’t attached to any outcome because you’re just dancing, as your mom would say.
TS: I shared with Lance before we started this interview that my mother wasn’t a big sports fan, but she did love basketball because it reminded her of dance, which she enjoyed watching so much. So that’s your reference there, Lance. Now, when I asked you to introduce me to The New Alpha Male, you talked about the seven principles of perseverance, and interestingly you have a definition of perseverance in the book, which I thought was very interesting: the ability to adapt. Now, I don’t think most people would think that’s what perseverance is, the ability to adapt. They’d think perseverance was something like stick-to-it-iveness, or you know. So tell me how you define it and why you define it as the ability to adapt.
LA: Great question, you’re awesome. I love this question. Perseverance is the ability to adapt when the plan doesn’t work, while still holding onto the vision or the dream. Stubbornness, which many of my coaches had, was the inability to adapt, holding on to some false sense of identity that, “Oh, I’m a stalwart, I’m a last bastion of this generation. People are soft now.” And as I say, the inability to adapt is soft. That it takes courageous people who are able to see that the rules of the game are changing around them. And as a basketball player, I could throw fits if I wanted to, if the refs weren’t calling the game the same way they were in the second quarter when it’s now the third quarter, because refs in the halftime they watch films and they make adjustments. I could sit there and pout and they made a suddenly changed call from what they were calling earlier and say, “That’s not fair, go back to the way it used to be. Make America great again,” but I’m going to lose the game if I play that way because I’m in my head.
I’m not present, I’m not persevering, I’m not adapting to the rule of the game while still having the long-term goal of winning this game.
Persevering is being able to do whatever it takes with integrity, being true to who you are at all points and being brave enough to step into the unknown. Saying, “I don’t know where this is going to take me but I need to go here. I need to be able to evolve and adapt as I keep my eye on that long-term goal.” Stubbornness is just saying, “Nope, you changed the rules, I wanted to go back this way, and I’m going to throw a temper tantrum until someone goes back to the way it used to be,” which is what a five-year-old does, and what still many adults do because the child archetype is controlling so much of their life.
TS: One thing I would say from my own adult development process is it’s not that easy to grow up out of the child and having that tantrum throwing, it hasn’t been easy for me. It’s not easy, still not easy. I’ve been at it a long time, it’s not easy. I have a lot more awareness of it. Give me your shortcuts, Lance, for how to help the child in us not be running the show, pouting when we don’t get what we want, et cetera.
LA: A fun thing talking about archetypes, before I knew about Carl Jung or Caroline Myss’s work was with my hearing loss I’ve always watched people and I would recognize similarities in them. Why is this person in Ukraine reminding me so much of my cousin Bobby in Montana? What’s going on, this is crazy. Is he a doppelganger? But what I realized now is that they had similar archetypes, the same archetypes as their dominant archetypes. Now as Jung told us, the Child, the Saboteur, the Victim, and the Prostitute are the four archetypes, survival archetypes we all have, there is no escaping it. And they’re survival archetypes, so therefore they are imprinted into our brain stem, so they’re always going to be there. Until the day you die, your Child will rear its head, and we do not shame it. The trick is, do we catch it faster and do we recover quicker? That’s the litmus test we should be having instead of “Om, I’m so enlightened.”
It’s, “OK. Wow, Child reared his head today, what story needs to be readdressed or what story did I didn’t even realize needs to be addressed?” And so lots of things. It’s simply just saying, “OK, wow, OK, I see you and I hear you, Child archetype. I’m going to allow myself to feel what it is I felt in that moment of childhood memory, when that trauma or story was embedded into my psyche and subconscious of a fear of abandonment or entrapment, I’m going to feel it. I’m not going to shame you until you grow up or get out of my life, but I am going to feel you.”
And there’s two opposites to the—you have the Child and you have the Victim, and the Victim is someone that’s, the child says, “Oh my gosh, I need someone to take care of me. I need someone to save the day, I need someone to protect me.” The Victim, very strong in me as well, and is really prominent, actually, in deaf culture, Victim archetype is. And I’m fascinated with it. I don’t shame it, I’m fascinated with it, love the study it. The Victim says, “The world is conspiring against me,” which when I hear people say conspiracy theories, I hear not only the Victim, but also people saying, “I am special enough that the government would single me out to go out of its way to make my life miserable,” It’s self-lionization.
The opposite archetype, the empowered archetype of the Child is the Sovereign. The Child says, “I need someone to protect me and help me and save me.” The Sovereign says, “I am sovereign, no one and no thing has dominion over me. I create my fate.” The Victim, the world is out against me, nothing ever goes my way.” The opposite, the empowered archetype of the Victim is the Teacher, that says, “Wow, I’ve had struggles, and I choose to alchemize these struggles to help other people learn.” Just by simply talking to our archetypes that we have is the biggest shortcut you can take. Acknowledging the survival archetype and not shaming it, saying it needs to grow up. Acknowledging it, saying, “I hear you, and now I choose to alchemize it. I hear you and I feel it, and now I choose to alchemize it.
TS: Very good. Very good. OK. Lance, I have a final question for you.
LA: One last question.
TS: I feel like you’ve hinted at something, but I want to make it really explicit. What you’ve hinted at is how important it is for men to grow into this new alpha male in order for our culture to move out of its tribal investments into a new type of world, respect, interdependence, understanding. So make that explicit about how this growth into the new alpha male is actually critical for the collective to flourish.
LA: We cannot be shaming men saying they need to change, they need to grow and then throwing stones at them and saying, “Ah, now you know what it feels like to be marginalized as an American male.” It is a team effort. As women are now being empowered to step into the authentic space, many women who have been extremely wronged—and here’s the catch of life, though. Those who have been most wronged are those that creation is asking to be the strong enough to show grace, to stop just short of full and equal retribution. Holding those who have done them wrong accountable, and stopping just short of an eye for an eye and saying, “I see and I have compassion for what you were taught as a young boy to do, to make your place in this world, that would mean that you would be safe and not abandoned, and protected. I see those conditions that you were raised with and I choose to hold compassion for you, and I want to grow with you.” As a team effort; men can’t do it alone.
With the women rising and the age of the women in this corporate world, which is fun and exciting to see, it’s not suddenly their turn. While many women should say it should be their turn, but again, the greater whole, the survival of the planet and our species, we can either keep going back and forth on this pendulum, annihilating each other, where those who had been most wronged be brave enough and heart centered enough to stop the pendulum just short of retribution and say, “This is where it stops and this is where we choose to hold compassion and work together as a team to evolve into a higher conscience as a human race.”
And we’re at that point now. We truly are at a critical point where we should be asking ourselves as a human race, do we want to continue to live or do we want to go extinct? We’re coming into that crossroads and at that crossroads, that discussion demands that we have to move out of tribalism, that we have to move to the greater whole. And understanding that the stories of the 19th and 20th century of American materialism and capitalism, the world can’t sustain it anymore. And we have to be brave enough and authentic and vulnerable enough as men to say, yes, it doesn’t work for me anymore and I’m going to be brave enough to have the awareness and strength to decide for myself, these are the new standards for me that I choose to operate from a heart-centered way and I will decide whether or not I have lived a good life, not by someone else’s metric.
TS: I’ve been speaking with a new alpha male himself, Lance Allred, the author of book, The New Alpha Male: How to Win the Game When the Rules Are Changing. I have really been touched by having this chance to meet you in this way and to feel you, to really feel your presence, your authenticity, your clarity, your passion. I’m really moved, Lance. Thank you.
LA: Thank you Tami, this has been an honor and I wouldn’t, as someone who dreamed of being able to communicate and express and had to earn this place to express, and the fact that you stay true to your dream, I can only imagine how many times you were hanging on by the hair of your chinny chin chin or the skin of your teeth, ready to throw in the towel, but because you didn’t give up, because you showed some perseverance as an entrepreneur, you’ve empowered someone like me that she needs to express themself. So I have a lot of gratitude towards you.
TS: Thank you for listening to Insights at the Edge. You can read a full transcript of today’s interview at soundstrue.com/podcast and if you’re interested, hit the subscribe button in your podcast app. And also if you feel inspired, head to iTunes and leave Insights at the Edge a review. I love getting your feedback, being in connection with you, and learning how we can continue to evolve and improve our program. Working together, I believe we can create a kinder and wiser world. SoundsTrue.com: waking up the world.