What’s Touching the Mat, Your Feet or Your Face?

A few years ago, after experiencing many years of stability and success, I separated from my second job in three and a half years. It was certainly a traumatic experience and one that just 5 years before seemed completely impossible.

As a career manufacturing operations senior and executive leader, I’ve built successful team after successful team, and high-quality product after high-quality product. I’ve developed leaders who have developed leaders. I prided myself on being able to improve just about anything in which I come in contact.

At networking events, at introduction, I promote myself as building high performing people and high performing organizations. I have done both throughout my career.

Five years previously, while I was at the peak of my success to date, I was fulfilled and enthusiastic about my life. My potential was limitless. I am highly motivated by learning – so I read daily. I went back to school to get an MBA. I always feel best when my body is conditioned, so I exercised daily. I love being engaged with individuals who are wiser, more intelligent, and more successful than me, so I surrounded myself with a great network of intellectuals.

Then something happened.

Life got in the way. I lost my course. I lost sight of my motivators, feel-good activities, and the need for professional growth and inspiration. I became stale. My life stalled. I still worked, led organizations, and showed outward motivation, but inside I was dying – slowly and assuredly.

After my second separation, I recognized the need for a full personal inventory. Here was the damage:

  • Deteriorating relationship with family – no meaningful connection time, just occupying the same room at the same time.
  • 270 lbs. of flab on a 6-foot frame (not a good representative of the United States Marine Corps).
  • Had not read a professional book, or magazine in about 3 years.
  • Had not exercised in about 3 years – TV surfing excluded.
  • Ate whatever my dehydrated, undernourished body desired.
  • Slept little, with low quality sleep being the norm. Sleep patterns were irregular.
  • A growing list of home improvement projects weighing on me, due to low energy levels.
  • No short, medium, or long term goals.
  • No spiritual foundation.
  • Face and body lying flat against the mat.


After this inventory, I was demoralized, but it served to jump-start a rebound. In my opinion, this list was the most important achievement in my life to date. Without facing reality, I was doomed to continue to live exactly as I had in the weakened state.

6 months later, after many hours of physical, emotional, intellectual, cognitive, and spiritual hard work, I was renewed, energized, refocused, and willing to accept and conquer life’s challenges. I reengaged life on life’s terms, and became more confident than ever. Here is my inventory.

  • Regularly connected with my wife and children in their favorite activities – live music with my wife, and playing volleyball and board games with my children. It’s about their fulfillment, which fulfills me.
  • 210 lbs. with a good bit of muscle – still some flab to shed.
  • Read approximately 50 professional, life, and spiritual books over the course of six months.
  • Exercised 147 days in a row, including lifting weights, running, and swimming.
  • Three high protein, no processed carbohydrate meals a day. Consume a protein shake after each workout. (OK, and I had pizza on my birthday).
  • Slept 7-8 hours nightly, waking up refreshed.
  • Knocked out a significant portion of my home improvement projects. Feel the pressure lifting from my shoulders due to the shrinking project backlog.
  • Set short, mid-range, and long term goals – professionally and financially.
  • Prayed and meditated daily. Connected weekly with others who share common beliefs.
  • Journal daily, noting morning statement of gratitude, mission statement for the day, evening inventory of wins for the day, and to-do’s for the next day.
  • Complete list of tasks that I need to complete daily to stay on track in each key area of life. These tasks include weighing-in, eating health meals, connecting with family, reading, praying and meditating, and journaling.
  • Live life in the present.
  • Feet firmly on the ground.


I owe these life-transforming improvements to a few significant changes I made.

I recommend these to anyone wanting to recognize significant improvement over time:

  1. Hire a coach

– It is harder to maintain an objective perspective aboutyour own life since you reside in your own skin, while owning your thoughts. Life is easier to navigate with a trusted, objective person with whom to reflect, establish goals, and monitor progress. Without a coach, 0% chance that I make the progress I have. Even my coach has a coach!

2.Honor your body

– Your body is a temple, treat it as such. Increase good intake, at the expense of intake that does not nourish. Slowly ease off of sugars, processed carbohydrates and foods, and excess sodium. Exercise daily. Yes, and I mean daily! It’s easier to run ½ mile or get in a short lift each day and remain motivated, rather than skipping Saturday and Sunday and trying to get back in the groove on Monday. Consistency is key, even if you have to replace a preferred workout activity with 15 minutes of air-boxing. Anything helps, and after a while, you will begin to need daily exercise. Your body will crave it.

3. Live more intentionally

– Inventory your habits and what your life looks like. Identify bad habits. One by one, replace bad habits with good habits. Be intentional in making changes, but do not try to swallow the ocean – go slowly, and increase good habit to bad habit ratio according to your own ability to adapt and maintain the changes. Do not set goals that are demoralizing – establish goals that motivate you, and allow you to succeed. Your mind and body will automatically demand more aggressive goals as you improve. There are great habit-tracking apps available. Set goals, execute, and watch yourself master and improve.

4.Journal daily

–You will enjoy the journey when you can retrace your wins and accomplishments. Set goals and measure yourself to the goals. Expressing gratitude first thing in the morning, and establishing a mission for the day is a fantastic way to keep you focused on positive thoughts and success.

5.Meditate and/or pray

– Connecting to God, Higher Power, Energy Field, Divine Intelligence, the Universe, whatever you want to call our Creator, is key to recognizing the true potential you have. You are more than a body and conscious thought. Explore, and you’ll find a fantastic connection that will energize you more than you can imagine.

Take these steps, slowly if necessary, and you will recognize a transformation that will allow you to be powerful, present, and prosperous. Take these steps at your own pace – just start today.

Pick your face off the mat. Life is much more fun standing on your feet.


A version of this post was previously published on mikekitko.com and is republished here with permission from the author.


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