BONUS WITH PURCHASE: Jini Thornton Interview
♪ [music] ♪ - [Sheri] The nine principles of exponential living empowers you to stop spending 100% of your time on 10% of who you are. Jini, exponential living, as you know, because we've had the great privilege of working together is where I champion champions on how to stop spending 100% of their time on 10% of who they are. And when you and I first started working together, I was doing a mastermind and you came to that mastermind. You participated with that mastermind group. - [Jini] Sure did. - What was going on with you that led you to that mastermind group? - I think at that time, I don't remember what year that was, but I think I had been getting a nudge, that push, for a few years before that, but I had chosen to ignore it. And so, my life was feeling very one-dimensional. I was working really hard. I was thinking I was doing a very good job of my personal life. I'm married, I have two children, and that was it. And what was happening, my youngest son was, I think, he was getti...
ng ready to graduate from high school or he already had, and my life was beginning to change. I had a major shift coming and I was ready to make a change, and I was trying to prepare for that shift. And I think your life will tap you on the shoulder and then begin to push and nudge you even more and it just got to the point where I couldn't ignore it anymore. And I've been ignoring it for a while. I would just put my head down and get busier about what I was doing, working hard or focusing more on my kids instead of paying attention to what was literally trying to get my attention. - And you said something before. You said, "Life was trying to get my attention," and you finally listened. What was that feeling? Like you said, it was pain, it was... What are some other expressions of how that was tapping at you? - Literally, it feels like a gnawing. It's just this discomfort and you just get these little signs, things that used to bring you pleasure begin to annoy you. They begin to annoy you. It's just like that normal routine, you begin to question your routine. You begin to question how you're spending your time. And I think a lot of that had to do with my age. I was coming to the point I was over 40 and it's like thinking about the fact I've lived probably close to half of my life. Is this where I want to be? Is this how I spend spending my time? Does this represent who I am and what's important to me? And so, I had to start... I finally gave myself permission to listen. - Now, if I can give this description, so you've got two sons that one's going to go to high school, one's in college, so, check? - Check. - You have a marriage that, how long have you and your husband been married at that time? - We're at 21 years now. So, probably, in the high teens. - High teens, almost two decades married. - Absolutely. - You run a very successful business, multimillion-dollar business, high-profile company, you're the CEO of that business. So, your life represents what everyone says we're working towards. - Absolutely. - Okay, so help us understand. You've got the company, multimillion-dollar company, CEO, high-profile company, you've got the marriage of almost 20 years, you have two young men that are doing great. - Right. - Did that picture cloud you? How can you not feel great about that? What's the gnawing? And this is the picture that everyone's working towards. - I don't think the picture clouded me, I think other people's perspective of the picture clouded me. Because when people are always saying to you, "Oh my gosh. You're so fortunate. You're so lucky. How have you accomplished this?" And people are constantly patting you on the back and you're just like, "Something just still isn't right. Something is still missing." - And so many people don't accept that gnawing? - Oh, absolutely. - What gave you the... - I ran from it for a long time. - What gave you the courage to accept that gnawing? - Well, I think, for me, mentally, I made a decision that when my youngest son, Cameron, graduated from high school that I was going to begin to look at my life differently. Now, I picked that date. I could've picked a date before that, but for some reason, that made sense to me and that gave me a timeline. I think I didn't give myself credit to think that I could focus on him as he transitioned through high school, getting ready to go to college, that I couldn't focus on him and focus on me at the same time. So, I set those boundaries and parameters. And so, when he graduated, it's funny, particularly when you're a young mother, I had my first son in college, I had two kids by 25, all you want to do...you're just so happy when your kids graduate and you succeeded, and it actually was a letdown for me. It was a letdown for me because I had a vision of what I thought how wonderful my life was going to be after my children graduated and they were happy, and healthy, and successful in college. But I didn't prepare for that. I had an idea of it, but I hadn't done the work to prepare for it. - So, when you say the letdown because you accomplished the goal, they're going to college. - Right. - The letdown, I'm assuming was something for you. The external accomplishment was there. - Definitely. - The internal was missing. - It was the internal that was missing because I had a perception of what my life would look like after I accomplished the goal, but I hadn't done the work. - What was missing? - Again, now, my kids are gone and so now, the only thing I had left was work. That's all I had left was work. My life was literally that one or two-dimensional. That's it. I had nothing else that had brought me joy. I had nothing else that I was interested in. I didn't have any other passion. - So, your 10%, you would describe it as what? - Oh, it was work. Oh, there's no question about that. Easy. It was work. - What got you there? What got you to that place where work was your 10%? - Well, because I come from a family of entrepreneurs. We work hard. And I'm from Upstate New York, I'm from Manchester, New York, and my grandparents lived on a farm, about a 20-acre farm. And if you were at my grandparents' house, your feet had to be on the floor before the sun rose. That's just who my grandfather was. And so, I'll never forget it. I had to be around 10 or 12 and I was literally picking corn and I hated it. I hated it. So as he's walking, you think about rows of corn. He's walking down the rows of corn and he looks at me and he stops, and he says, "Do you like to eat?" and I'm like, "Of course I like to eat." He said, "Then you better learn to like to work," and then just walked away. But in our family, you worked hard. And there was a lot of accolades for working hard and accomplishing. So, I think I just got in the rhythm of what was normal for my family. You went to school, you worked hard, you accomplished. So, me being an entrepreneur, although I'm very grateful for it, I'm not really surprised based on my background. It was my path. I had seen it my whole life. So, it was very natural for me to do that. So we grind and we work hard, and that's the reality of my family. That was the reality of my household. You didn't sleep late. You always had to be about doing something. And who was criticized for working hard? - Right. - Yeah. - Right. It's celebrated in our culture. - Absolutely. So, the harder I worked, the more I did, the more I was patted on the back. And what's funny, though, what was interesting, although I was working hard that whole time, I was very intentional. I had very serious rules and boundaries as it related to my family and children. So, I'll never forget it when I was pregnant with my first son, I'll never forget something my mother-in-law said. She said, "I raised my own children." And so I always knew I needed to raise my own kids and I had always had this saying that if my children grew up and spent money on therapy, it wasn't going to be because of me. They're going to have to give something else to lay on the couch... - Oh, I like that. - ...and whine and complain about. And so, I was very intentional how I design my life around on my children's activities not just things I had to be at but really being engaged in their lives, knowing all their friends, being active in school. So, I would put those big rocks in first, and then I would... - Stephen Covey. - Yes, and then I would do my work around that, and that's all I made room for. - And you know one thing, being your friend through this process with your children, I'm very intentional with my girls now. I put those big rocks in. I make sure I volunteer because that was the example you showed me of having this successful career, but that was a commitment that you made. Now, you had the children, you have the marriage, you have the business, sounds like Jini is missing. - Oh, there was nothing else there. - How did you not know that then? Or did you know that then? - I think I kind of knew it, but I kept telling myself I was too busy, that there wasn't time, that there wasn't a way. And now, having some wisdom, I just never gave myself permission. I never gave myself credit that I could figure it out. I figured everything else out, why couldn't I figure this out? So, I just put my head down and I allowed the demands. I think entrepreneurship is busy, but there's some additional trappings of the entertainment industry where it can just consume your entire life because we work in a 24-hour. You can work all day and have 32 things to do at night. - Easily. - Easy. Seven days a week. So, I think just that pace, I was building a new business. I think as a woman, I think I had a lot to prove. Primarily, men do what I do, so I just went about working. I just went about working and literally did not pay attention or really acknowledge anything else. ♪ [music] ♪ - So, I have that mastermind. So, the nudging is already there. - It's happening. - What made you go, "Okay, I'm going to start here?", because there's so many things out there. What made you go, "This is where I'm going to start?" - Well, I was already familiar with the mastermind process, so that wasn't new to me. And so, it was relatable to me. I immediately connected with that because I was familiar with the concept of it. And there were really no barriers for me. It wasn't like I had to fly across country to go. From a scheduling perspective, everything lined up where I could say, "I can commit to this, and this is a good, just a first step." I know I just needed to take a step. I was okay with the fact I didn't have the full solution, but I just wanted to begin taking some steps forward. - And how did you feel when you started to take those steps? - It's like you begin to see your everyday life very differently, and not necessarily in a negative way where instead of just becoming... I call it mass consciousness, where you are just in the flow of everyday life like everyone else. Getting up, go to work, go to bed, start over again. I began to question my participation in this mass consciousness. - Oh, I like that. - And I know better than that because in addition to coming from a family that worked really hard, I grew up in a house where my mother was extremely non-traditional. She created the life that she wanted completely. So, I knew that that was possible, but I think having children so young and then immediately I'm starting my company, I lost sight that I knew I had control to live the life and create exactly the life that I wanted to. My mom didn't have any boundaries on herself. She did what she wanted to do. She adopted two kids, she never been married. She didn't want to be married. My mother rode motorcycles. My mom had two... My mom did everything she wanted to do. So, I just started paying attention to some of the things that I had seen and experienced in my life before and said, "Why am I... The world isn't putting me in a box. I've put myself in a box. I've put these boundaries on me." So I just started questioning, instead of just doing it. I just started asking myself the why. - So, your life wasn't in a box. Company, kids, husband. You, personally... - Oh, absolutely. - ...was in a box. I think that's a very huge point. - And I put myself there. Nobody put me there. I was 100% responsible. I made those choices that gave me, again, that very narrow life. That was me. - Now, you've shared with us what got you to the 10%, right? Then you began to be conscious of this 90% that's missing. What was your journey to now begin to be open to this 90%? - Well, I had to begin to look at, what am I willing to let go? - What would you give up to go up? - What would I just give up and why did I have such an attachment to certain things? So, I literally began to think about, really from a work perspective primarily, if I didn't do this anymore, what would that mean for me? Because, clearly, I was identifying myself a lot through work, so if I didn't do it anymore whether I had a completely different profession, moved out of the country, what would that mean for me? And I began to see the meaning that I was associating with certain things. Now, once I began to understand how much value I began to place on certain things, and a lot of it too, sure, I think, really, it was routine. I'll even think that I was holding on so tight I just wasn't paying attention to my normal everyday regimen row. I was just doing it. - In
Exponential Living, one of my trainings is what do you have to reject and what do you have to redefine? So, in this process of evaluation, what did you have to reject and what did you have to redefine? - I had to reject the value that I was placing on work because it wasn't just what I did, it was who I was as well. And so, I had to just begin to separate those things. Some people work for companies. Although this is my company, this is not who I am and it's not my baby either. - Tell me a story. Tell me a moment that you started making that separation. - Well, I really started putting it in the context of my clients where I started really thinking about it wasn't so much about the work, but I had always felt this thing about life would be incomplete if I didn't have the opportunity to continue to work with these people. How can they go on if I wasn't present? And I really began to say, "If I got hit by a bus today, that wouldn't be true." And then, at the end of the day, is this all that I want my life to represent? And I just really began questioning those things, and then I have this saying in my conference room, it says, "Real change requires real change." And I just committed to saying, "I'm not going to label things as right or wrong, but I just want to really evaluate them and see what's the value that I'm getting for this." - Was it painful going through this process? - I think part of it initially was, but then it just became just the flow of life. Like I said, instead of you labeling it good, bad, right, wrong, I just started looking at things. - Why do you think so many people in your position are afraid to do what you've been doing? - Well, because I think it means that everything that they've been doing all this time is wrong, bad. - The labeling? - Yeah, it's the labeling versus just saying, "It's just part of the experience and the flow, and now I'm just ready to do something different." The other thing, too, that I kept equating it to was college. I loved college. I loved every second I was in college, but my senior year, it was time to go. Yeah, I'm still not there now. I'm 46, I'm still not in college, and there's a reason for that. There's a progression. And although I loved school, it was just time for me to go. I loved high school. It was time to go. But the thing about high school and college, it's very defined when it's time to move on. And we don't have those definitions when we become adults because once you enter the workplace, you set the timelines and the parameters instead of, "You got to take this course and you have to have this GPA." All that's pre-set and defined, and now you're in the work world and you have to figure it out yourself. - And there's no parameters. You just go. - You just go. - What is your why and has that shifted? - What do you mean by that? - Meaning, what gets you up every day? When it's all said and done, when someone's doing your eulogy, when someone reads your obituary, when you see that dash between the beginning and the end, what is your why? What is your why that wakes you up and keeps you going? - Well, now, although I'm still doing the same type of work, my intention is different. And I've created more space for my personal life now and it's allowed me to be more creative now since I've gotten out of that rut of push, go, deliver, move on, more business, more clients, make sure they're happy, make sure they're good. I've really started to think about what do I want my legacy to be? What is it that I want the world to know and what contribution do I want to make? And I think that's part of the shift that I've had to do. And Tony Robbins talks about there are like six or seven primary human needs. I was focused a lot on significance, and now I'm focused on contribution. So, I think they're all important at different points in our life, but now, it's just like what is the best and highest use of my time? - And what would you say to that mom or their dad who's a successful entrepreneur who's narrowed their self down to 10% that says, "Okay, well, she waited until her kids were at high school. I got this elementary-age kid." What would you say? What have you learned that...because you mentioned a couple of times that you didn't trust yourself then, what could you share that says, "If I had trusted myself, this is what I know I could have done earlier."? What would you share with that person? - Well, one thing that I think is important for parents is, whether you own your own business or you're just career-oriented, is be honest about what your priorities really are because your time tells you what your priorities really are. It's not what you say, it's what you do, and our children know it. So, we can pretend and call it something else, but our children know. So, it's not a matter of just saying, "I drop them off at school," or "I'm going to the parent-teacher conference," or "I'm going to the game." What is your level of engagement? What is your real level of connection with them and their community around them? And so, I think you have to be very intentional about that. The other thing is you need to still carve out time for yourself to work on yourself. So, I delayed it just because I thought that I needed to or I had to. But did I literally have time to, hey, spend some time, focus on myself, get clear with what my priorities are? I absolutely could've done that. - You could have done that. - Oh, there's no question about it. - You could have created that time. - There's no question. It's not like I would have to move away for six months, not like I had to quit my job. I didn't need a significant life event to get rid of everything to focus on myself. I just had to be more intentional about my time. - I love that. You've moved into the 90%. Are you at your 100% now? - I don't think I'm there, but I think I'm definitely heading in that direction now. - And what is your 100%? What does that look like? - I'm not even sure if I know exactly what it looks like, but what I do know is this is probably one of the...personally, one of the most fulfilling times in my life. And it's not because I'm happy that I've checked the box of my son graduated from college or this kid did this, it all has to do with me and not me living through something that my children have done. So, it's amazing now, just even from a time perspective, how I've given myself permission to focus on myself more. I've never worked out this much in my entire life. I've never been engaged in a spiritual community, the church that I go to, in my adult life. Not just going, it's one thing to go, but for me to be actually engaged and part of a community. And I still have time to do as much work. I think I'm doing more work than I've ever done before. - So, you're more productive? - Oh, there's no question about that. - You're more productive. One of my themes of exponential living is when we pursue inner peace, it enhances our productivity. - Oh my gosh. - We think that peace destroys our edge, when the reality is peace enhances our edge. - I can't tell you when I have gotten this much done in short periods of time. - Now, how has faith played a role in the journey? You referenced your church community. How has your faith played a role in this journey to your 100%? - I think that was probably the biggest thing that I was missing. And it was two-fold. Part of it was I didn't have a connection with a place and a community and I, again, had just put my head down and had not acknowledged that part of myself. And so, I was very intentional and I made some decisions that I need to belong somewhere, I need people to know who I am, I need a sense of community, I need to go somewhere where I have a connection and I get filled up. And when I made that decision, it literally just began to unfold for me. And so, I've made a commitment to that. So, I've made a commitment to so many other things in my life, but I literally made a commitment to and for that. And that's been huge for my walk. Yes, definitely been important. - One second, okay. So, when you say it's been huge, how do you, as it relates to the faith part of you, how do you define peace for you? - Well, I think... - Can I tell you something funny? - What? - Every time I ask someone that question, they always start with the deep breath. They always feel the peace before they actually express it. I love that. - Right. It's funny. I'm looking at...and I have the sign right underneath me that says peace and it's right across from my desk. It's like I hone in on it regularly. - Yeah. When you're on that call and they're going crazy, you're like, "Yes, keep talking because I'm looking at the reality here." - And what it says is, the author's unknown, "It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart." And that's what I've been working on. I think initially, I did not want anything unsettled in my life. I didn't want trouble. I didn't want to work hard anymore and then I had to come to terms with the fact that that's not real. - Right, he said, "Peace, be still," because everything is always all over the place. - Absolutely. So, I had to learn how I had to change because a lot of those things, I can't control. I can only could control me. - And how did you change? - Well, I think literally having to stop. Literally knowing that I could have peace in the midst of turmoil, in the midst of significant challenges, personal and professional. Peace is a choice. It's very intentional. It's a choice and so it's a practice, too. So, I'm not saying that I never get flustered, or frustrated, or some other choice words I could use, but I have learned I can choose to what degree I participate and how I participate, how I show up. - I love it. - So, that's been big for me. ♪ [music] ♪ - Is there anything in your journey that we have not touched that you want to make sure we touch? - I think the only thing that I hear most of the time, which is always heartbreaking to me, is from women who always think that they have to choose. They can have this or they can have that. You can do this or you can do that. And it's heartbreaking, particularly, when I'm talking to young people who've already made that decision, that if I have my career, that means I'm giving up. And I'm thinking how painful that has got to be, how disappointing that's got to be that you're picking this or this. And who said that? - Yeah. And literally, that was the last piece I wanted to talk to you about is that your life is the definition of end, which is a part of the exponential living journey is end. - Absolutely. - What do you think that they've missed along the way that makes them think that it's in either or? - Well, I think it's a few things. One, it's a lack of role models. I think that they've heard the story, and the people that they've seen have shown them that it can only be this way. And then it has to be this tremendous sacrifice that you have to forego all of this in order to get this one thing. And it's not true. There is no rule. It's amazing what I have seen some women accomplish at meetings, children in tow, working things out. Now, it's more required of you, yes. Do you have to master your time? Absolutely. Is it easy? Most of the time, it isn't but it is absolutely, positively doable. - And what I share with my clients and others is you're going to pay a cost. - Oh, amen. - When you choose to be single or not have children, there's a cost you pay. And when you decide or you choose to have the family, there's a cost you pay. And I know there's this illusion that you're paying a cost to have a family but you're not paying a cost when you choose to be single. And the reality is, you're paying a cost. - Oh, absolutely. - You're paying a cost. - Right, and it's very disheartening when I hear people lying to themselves and say that it's okay and it really isn't. - And it's not. - And it really isn't. And it's hard for me because a lot of women will say, "You don't understand because you got married so early." Yes, I do. So, it doesn't matter along the line where it happened, you can have what you want. Now, are you willing to do the work? - Right. And when they tell you that, point me out. Say, "Well, no, because my girlfriend was 36 when she got married, 39 when had her baby." So, you can diffuse that, "You know what, Jini? You don't get it." "Well, my girlfriend, Sheri, she was 36." - It happens all...yes, you can actually work in this industry and have a family. Yes, you absolutely can. - Well, you know, Gerald told me when I first started working with him that I couldn't have that. And that was the seed that was planted for exponential living and it's the thing that I've worked so hard when I ask you your why. A part of my why is to be that example. A part of wanting to capture you is so people can see the interview I'm doing tomorrow, another woman, Joy Pervis, successful business, married, children, because I want not only women, I want men to see... - To know that it's real. - ...that it's real. - And my thing is when women are saying that, it's like they're competing or comparing themselves to men. Stop doing that. - Stop doing that. - Yeah. - Yeah, we're not men. - We aren't. - And we don't have to be. - And we don't want to be. - Right. - We don't want to be. - But we're in Atlanta, so. - Yeah. That is true. There's got to be some benefits. But stop allowing men, stop trying to compete with these men or not, and live your life on your terms. You get what you tolerate. And so I think it's just this thing, in order to compete and to do what you have to do that you can't have any ties in, you can't have this and you can't have that, but who said that? Who made up the rule? When you're saying that and then these men leave and they're going home to their girlfriends and their wives and their lives are complete. They have children, they have families, and you're going home and... - Sitting in the dark. - And you've made a decision that you're really not even happy about. So, it's just the lies that people tell. - And it breaks my heart. - Particularly when you don't have an opportunity to intervene before, it's to the point where they think it's too late. It's harder for me when I'm meeting women who are my age, I'm 46, and who are hurting. - When my agents kept trying to get me to stop focusing on high achievers and they were like, "You can't focus on high achievers." And they didn't understand my passion, though, is for that person who has made those choices and now they're in that second phase. - You start taking inventory. - Oh my goodness, and here's the thing. You know how many books, and lectures, and webinars, and people there are that can tell you how to get to success, but there's not a whole lot of us out here that says, "Okay, once you get to that point that, you know what? You're 42, and you realize that you really could've had children," you're devasted. A good friend of mine, she had a moment where she literally cried for two days because she finally realized, "I lied to myself." - All this time. - And what does she do with that? I know we talked about your 100% but tell us, what's your new normal? Because you've been on this journey now, I know I've shared this journey with you for a few years now. Describe your new normal from your perspective, not from someone looking in but from you looking out. Describe your new normal. - What that looks like for me professionally is I've given myself permission to be creative, I think, for the first time. Or I can say, "This is what I have been doing, but there's a component of some things that I really, really want to do. And I've allowed myself not only to explore it but to move forward with that." - What you really want. - What I really want to do. - Not what looks right, not what pays the bills... - And not what people expect of me based on my education and my experience. So, I've spent a tremendous amount of time, energy, effort, and resources on moving that forward. Because, again, like I said, the closer you get to 50, time matters so much. And I want to be very intentional about how I spend my time. I think my life is, I guess, multidimensional now, I guess, where I have given myself permission to have more of a social life than I've had in I don't know when. I've given myself permission to have adventure and spontaneity, where I've allowed myself to get engaged in my community differently. I've allowed myself to get engaged with church differently where I never thought I had enough time to do that before. I've just shifted the priority of my time, and like I said, I can't tell you when I've gotten this much work done in my life. So, as for a parent, it's different being a parent to young adult children. So, although, obviously, I still have a responsibility and they're still just as important to me, I obviously have more mental space now and I'm not driving here, picking up here, dropping off here, a professional taxi cab driver that I was for... - You was Uber before Uber. - If I got paid for that, I would never have to work again. Although, obviously, my family's still important to me, the better that I have become, I think, has made me a better parent. I think it's definitely made me a better spouse and partner because I'm not just suffering at my own life anymore. So, I think it's made me more whole and complete and I think it's made me a better role model and example for my family, too. I see how they're getting engaged differently because that's the other problem, too. I saw the people around me copying my behavior, push, go, work harder, more, more, and then missing a lot more to their life than that. So, just being honest about what I want to do, how do I want to spend my time, what really, really is important to me. - And you said professionally. Does that describe you personally as well? What is your new norm for you as a person? How would you describe yourself as a person? - How would I describe myself differently as a person? This has probably been the most open I've ever been. And I think I've also been less judgemental and hard on myself. Instead of judging things...that's the thing about high achievers, we can be so hard on ourselves. So, I think I've definitely given myself more grace, yup. And I think I've learned to just enjoy the journey more. I am Jini Thornton and I am exponential living. ♪ [music] ♪