Episode 191: Mastering Self-Awareness and Mindset with Phil Kornachuk

your next stop Apr 26, 2023

Building top performing leaders and teams has been a critical part of Phil Kornachuk’s life for the last three decades.

He leverages over 22 years of experience serving, leading and developing elite teams within the US Army Special Operations Community. Phil brings his unique, proven brand of forging high performing leaders, teams and culture to organizations that partner with StoneWater Training.

In 2022, Phil started StoneWater Training, a leadership development company. StoneWater Training focuses on partnering with leaders and teams to clearly define their higher purpose, articulate their critical values, craft epic goals and forge habits and practices to make them a reality. Phil uses executive coaching, company training regimens and wild, outdoor expeditions to help create meaningful impact with those he teams up with on their journey to excellence. StoneWater Training now works leaders and teams ranging from collegiate sports coaches, global business leaders, special operations officers, non-profit executives, entrepreneurs and more.

You can find Phil on his LinkedIn and check out the StoneWater Training  Website.


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“The only failure is the failure to try. Give it a shot!”


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Welcome back to your next stop. This is Juliet Hahn. In this episode, I speak with Phil Kornachuk. He is the founder of Stonewater Training. Phil has a really interesting background.



He basically dropped out of high school at 16, joined the Canadian army on the day he turned 17, ended up in the US. Army because he has a dual citizenship and then climbing the ranks because people saw the leadership quality that he had. We really talk about his journey. It is really fascinating. You can find [email protected], you can also find him on Instagram Stonewaterraining.



You can find him on LinkedIn. One of the things that I think is amazing is that Phil has eight kids. There's a few that are adopted and his wife is in medical school. And he held multiple special operations titles like he was in the army in these different divisions and multiple of it, which is really amazing. Ended up when he finally did retire, he was a lieutenant colonel.



So, I mean, really high in the armed forces. Beautiful story. You do not want to miss this. Again, Phil Kornachuk, stonewaterraining.com, his company is a leadership development company. But the thing that's really cool is they actually go out into nature and do events.



Not all of them, but a lot of them are out in nature where you're really developing these leadership skills and the companies that he's working with, the sports teams that he's working with. Fascinating. You do not want to miss this. Enjoy this episode of your next stop with Phil Kornachuk.



Welcome back to your next stop. You know, I say it every single time, but I truly am excited to have you guys meet another person that has followed a passion. Phil Kornachuk. How are you? I'm doing great.



How are you, Juliet? So, you guys, this is going to be a really exciting episode for many different reasons. You know that my dad was in the military. Phil started in multiple special operations. He is now a leadership development company.



He actually runs a leadership development company called Stonewater Training. You can find [email protected]. You can also find Phil on the LinkedIn. You can also find him on Instagram. And that is Stonewater underscore training.



Some really fun things that we're going to get into. Not only was Phil in multiple special operations in the army, he also has eight kids, his wife's in medical school. This is someone that is a high achiever. So again, welcome, Phil to your next Stop. I'm really excited about this.



Yeah. Huge honor to be here. So I want to start kind of we go back with your next stop. We go back we kind of go back to growing up, where did you grow up? And then we're going to get into path how you decided to go into the army and where that led you.



Yeah, sure. So just stop me at any point. But bottom line, I was born at a very young age, like a lot of us in a hospital in Eastern Ontario. So my dad was a Baptist minister, my mom was a homemaker, super strict upbringing, and like any kid who's raised by a Baptist minister, I decided to go the exact opposite. And I was a bit of a hellion.



So I was a high school dropout and I left home when I was 16 and on my 17th birthday. On that day, I ended up joining the Canadian Army because it seemed cooler than McDonald's, which is what I was doing at the time. No kidding. So I enlisted the Canadian army and I had people there who just really wouldn't tolerate my BS. And they're like, hey, you're part of this organization.



Here's the standard. Suck it up, buttercup. No one cares about your wacky upbringing. In a large family with a crazy strict dad, it's time to rise to the standard and play the game. So that was my first experience with leaders who kind of both pushed me, but also gave me the resource I need to succeed.



And I found out like, hey, I'm actually halfway decent at this. If I don't quit, I can do some fairly impressive things. So I knocked my high school out, did the Canadian army for about two years. And then now we're talking like the very early ninety s, and the US Army had these amazing commercials. Like people are driving rafts into helicopters and doing wheelies on motorcycles.



And the Canadian Army, like there was eleven of us and we had two guns, so we're like, have you seen those commercials? I was a dual citizen, my mom's from Louisiana, right? Literally like on a pass from the Canadian army, I came down and enlisted in the US Army to be a paratrooper because that's what the commercials made seem cool. And I'd only been on a plane like twice before in my life, so I figured I'd get more plane rides as a paratrooper. I might not land, but at least I get to take off and ride around in them.



So yeah, I enlisted. I did that. And I had some leaders there who were looking at me and they're like, you know, you've got more to give. Have you ever thought about being an officer? No.



Why would I want to do that? You guys just sit in front of that wasn't a computer. You guys are doing paperwork. That's kind of lame. I do fun things.



And they're like, have you seen the pay scales? No. And then I saw them, I'm like, okay, actually this officer business doesn't sound too bad. So again, they kind of pushed me, supported me, and I went from high school dropout to going to Gonzagi University in their Reserve Officer Training Corps program and became an officer in the US Army in the infantry. So walk, shoot, that kind of thing.



Well, and you know what? I think a lot of people don't think about is that in the armed services, there are a lot of things that people don't realize. Like, you can go to college when you're already in there. So just because you dropped out of high school didn't mean that that was your end of your story, right? You're just now dropped out of school, went into the military, and that's it.



No, you had people that saw some really good things about you and pushed you, which I think is really important in this world and really around where you could have went two ways, right? You could have been pushed and been like, fu, I'm going my own way. Or you could have done what you did and really took it and sat on it and said, you know what? Maybe I can. So I want everyone listening to think about the times in your life where you've had someone push you and did you kind of not do it, or did you really jump in with 2ft, which it sounded like you jumped in with 2ft and really took what they were saying to heart.



Yeah, I think there was a huge lesson there, too, not just as the person who's being challenged by others, like, hey, you've got more to give, but also to us as parents, friends, leaders, right, to look at someone and go, I can judge you on your past mistakes. That's pretty easy to do. You screwed up here. You messed that project up. You dropped the ball.



I can define you by that, or I can choose to define you by your potential, meaning like, yeah, okay, you're human. No one's perfect. But I think you could go further and do more, and here's some options, and I'm going to support you now. I try that with my kids. If I can get my kids.



Put the dishes in the dishwasher, it's a miracle. So this is me and you talking. We'll see later. I'll be like, Come on, just put your clothes in the drawer.



And I want to pause you really quickly because you just brought something up, which is really interesting also, is you were a teenager, right? So you were 16, you dropped out of school, you went into the military. We're raising I mean, we talked about this when we first met a couple of weeks ago, where my listeners know, I just love to see the energy, how we kind of mesh, if your story really fits on the podcast. But I don't like too much. But we did have a long conversation about teenagers because you have a ton of them.



And I think I was having a day, and then when we started talking, I was like, oh, he's got eight teenagers. I'm going to take what I was going through at that moment and really think of it multiplied. So for the fact that you at 16, went into the military and now you're raising teenagers, do you sometimes get frustrated, like, guys, this is where I was. I mean, it's almost like when our parents say, I walked up that hill with no shoes and, like, 20 degrees. How do you kind of take what your background is as raising kids?



Yeah, first off, I thank God every day that I'm not raising myself because my kids are all so much better than I was. No, truly. I just think it's a totally different world. Right. No one steps in the same river twice.



Like, with stonewater, we use all these outdoor algae's because I like to do everything outdoors. And one of the things about rivers is you change, the river changes. It's always flowing. So when I'm with my kids, I don't go, oh, when I was 17, I was on my own and doing this and that. No, I just look like, yeah, I wasn't 17 in 2022 or 2023 with all the stuff kind of we've gone through and all the different distractions present, it's different.



And every now and again, they'll hear stories about me as a kid, and they're like, oh, my dad, if we did that, you would lose your mind. I'm like, yeah, you're 100% right. Never ever paint the hamster like neon colors. That's wrong on every level. So, no, I honestly don't kind of project where I's at on them just because it's just such a different time and you see them for individuals.



So we have eight kids, but, I mean, four adopted, so everyone's got different backgrounds. And even having kind of a blended family like that, there's a lot of different dynamics for everyone. So, yeah, they're all kind of on their own path. I just want to make sure they're doing their path to the fullest extent possible that they're willing to pursue. Yeah, and I 100% agree because I don't do that with my kids either.



But I always find it interesting. I feel like I kind of grew up in a regular teenage world, but when someone doesn't, do you see them and be like, wait, why are you not doing this when I did it? So I appreciate that explanation, and so now I'm going to kind of take you back to where we were. So you went to university, became an officer, and so where did that lead you from there? Yeah.



So, bottom line, when I was enlisted in the US. Army, when I was in charge of four people or whatever, like kind of a lower level leadership position, had some officers and other folks I worked with said, hey, you should think about officer training, which I had zero interest, because that was to me, that was planning and that was paperwork. That wasn't particularly engaging to me at 21. And then they were like, well, have you seen the paycheck have you seen the pay scales? Then I looked, I'm like, Actually, officer training sounds awesome.



And so I applied. I mean, I just checked the boxes, did the work and has accepted to Kenzagi University's ROTC program. And so the army let me go to pursue that. And I came back three years later with a degree and cum laude certification in my bachelor's in biology, which I've never used since I graduated. But then I came back, and now I was an officer, and I was in charge of 45 people.



And my job was to kind of craft the vision and frame the mission and get the team behind it and sort of engage them so we could collaborate and plan and execute at a high level. And pre 911, this was all training. But then during that time is when 911 happened. And then all of sudden A, the dynamic shifted from, hey, we're training, maybe combat one day. But it was kind of this ambiguous, like, what if maybe?



And after 911, you're like, oh, snap, we're really doing things.



While I was going through this again, another example. There's this leader. He's a retired forest driver. His name is John Nicholson. He and I actually our paths kept crossing my entire military career.



But at this point, he was a lieutenant colonel and I was working for him. And he's like, hey, man, you should think about going to Ranger regiment, which is a special operations organization. I was like, yeah, that's cool, but they're in shape, they're edgy, they're smart, like, I'm pretty average. And he's like, give it a shot. The only failure is the failure to try.



So I threw my name in the hat, I tried out, and I was accepted. So that was my first experience in now all of a sudden, I went from good organizations to you started getting these elite, high performing, very selective organizations. That was a gear change. It's actually a little more intimidating when you're in a leadership role in those environments where you're the new guy but you're in charge and everyone knows what's going on, performs at a high level, but you're the one who's supposed to be kind of hurting the cat, so to speak. Or sometimes it's kind of like Gandhi said, there go my people.



I must follow them, find their leader. That definitely happened a lot. And how old were you? Like a timeline we can kind of kind of follow. So let's see.



I think I was 25. And you don't have to give exact dates, so you're still really young. Yeah, so I was 25 when I came back in as an officer. By the time I went to Ranger regiment, I think I was 27, 28, and never do math in public. So these are ballpark numbers.



It was a long time ago. Right, but I mean, just again, thinking about it's interesting to see how individuals develop. Right. They always say everyone takes a certain amount of time. It really depends on who you are, your personality, this and that.



But you're at such a young age. I mean, you really started adulthood, right at 17. I mean, if you really think about it, you really dove in. I would love to know, did you find that you were a little bit more mature? I think I know this answer from what you said before, but were you a little bit more mature and a little bit kind of ahead of yourself?



Or was it more of just an impulsive? Like, no, I'm kind of a rebel. Probably more the impulsive. I mean, I got a track record of making fairly impulsive decisions. I'd like to think I was more mature.



I'd probably paint myself, I'll tell my kids I was. But between you and I and whoever's listening, no, I was typically, let's do it, jump in, we'll figure it out. And I think one day I'm going to get over that and get better. So 48 years in county, but I think become right around the corner from becoming a little more measured. My approach to things.



Well, but if you think about it, what you were doing, you really needed that to have that impulsivity. I mean, there's people that are wise, right? You always meet someone that's like wise beyond their years, and you're like, wow, they're really young, but they're so wise. But then you also meet people that have that impulsivity, and sometimes that impulsivity is good or sometimes it's not so good. But what you were doing, you kind of had to have that impulsivity.



Yeah, I think you hit it on a really important thing. And I work with a lot of different organizations and teams where we talk about this exact thing. What can serve you in a strength in one capacity can be a liability in others. So the ability to move quickly, make decisions and commit is a huge strength. You can move really fast, you can iterate.



We see organizations that do it. They'll try ten times, they'll fail once, but succeed nine, and they'll move forward. Tesla is a great example of these other kind of more innovative organizations. That's a good approach there. There are some decisions that you should be less impulse about.



For example, 19 year old Phil married someone he knew for two days. That was a little impulsive. You should at least, like a solid five days before you make a lifelong commitment. Just throw that out there. For anyone who's on the fence a day and a half, give it a solid week.



It's something where being able to make rapid, intuitive decisions and commit and make the best, it definitely paid off quite a few times, which is why I probably embraced that characteristic. But then there's been other times where it's like blown up in my face and I'm like, hey, I need to build compensatory mechanisms and have people in my corner that can be like, hold on a minute, is this really the best idea? And just to take that pause and. I think that's so important. What you said, you need those people in your corner that know you and know when to be like, well, I have my husband, because I am super impulsive, who will be like, have you thought about it this way?



Never telling me, no, that's not a good idea. He never does that. But he'll say, like, have you ever thought this way? Or and I have one of my, one of my children, my middle son, who kind of does the same thing. And I saw it like when he was really little.



I was like, oh, you got that part that your dad has that works really well with me. It's really good just to do that pause. Because again, as you said, sometimes being impulsive is really important and actually really good. Even I'm impulsive. I'm not in the military, but I have made impulsive choices that have really paid off.



It's like, you can't think here, you just need to do but then obviously I've made choices that I was like, wish I thought about that a little bit more. Yeah, it's that whole risk tolerance, right? There's a continuum and it shifts based on your environment. There's times to move quick and times not to. And at this phase, my career at the start of the post 911 era, where all of sudden, A, it went from like, I deployed to Yugoslavia in a peacekeeping mission.



That was my only operational deployment up to that point. And now it was I deployed twelve times after 911 to all the hot spots. And it was interesting when I was in the Rangers, totally had imposter syndrome as a young leader, and probably rightfully so. But it wasn't until we we got in some pretty sporty situations that I was able to, like, you know, navigate them with some competence that all of a sudden my credibility were people like, okay, you're all right. And I came in after like, the person I followed I hate this as a leader.



The person I followed in the boots, took over the platoon from was like this off the charge rock star, like, best human ever. That's who I came in before. So I was just not that person for the first year until we'd been to combat. And then all of a sudden it was like, okay.



You'Re all right right now. Do you think? Because I think this is also really fascinates me, because people get experience by actually doing and some people really need that experience to put those 2ft on the ground, to be able to kind of be like, I've done this. This is how I know other people really learn from the education side, right? They really learn they don't need to be in the field to get the same kind of skills that someone else I know.



I have to do it. That's how I learn. I'm a very tactile I need to see it. I need to do it. I need to physically be in it.



Did you feel at any time, as you said, you kind of were filling someone's big boots, but did you feel that going into 911, right, you only had, as you said, the one deployment into Yugoslavia, and it was a peace kind of keeping thing where now you're going into massive hostile times. Were there any times in your head that you were like, I wish I had my feet on the ground a little bit more before, or were you pretty confident in your leadership skills that you had learned along the way? Honestly, I'd say I was pretty confident. I mean, that was one thing especially to start getting the military is good at it, and then it just gets progressively better, I think, in the special operations community is it's what I model my business after now, right, for leadership development, because the principles are pretty continuous, whether it's business, sports, military, nonprofits, fill in the blank. The principles of effective leadership and high performing leadership really haven't changed much for about 2300 years, at least as much as I've read.



And so I felt like I had a good technical, tactical, academic background on how to lead and how to do my job as much as you could prepare for a completely unknown situation. And then I had been through countless scenarios up to that point where it's that whole saying sweat and training saves blood and battle, like, train in complex, hardest possible scenarios so that when you get to the real thing, you're like, oh, this isn't that bad. Like, my helicopter still works. When I trained, we simulated, I crashed, so, yay, we're up one. And I mean, things like that would literally happen, so I wouldn't be flippant.



I mean, I've lost a lot of folks I worked with, and I don't want to be cavalier about it, but I would say almost probably about 90% of situations I found myself in. I was reasonably comfortable that, no, we've got the right skill set and the right mindset to sort through this. And that was just me personally. But I think that's huge. And I believe in God.



But whether you believe in God or the universe, I do feel like there's people born for certain things, right? Whether you also have a parent that is kind of innately the same sort of way, or there's an uncle or grandparent, someone in your life that you really are born, that they're like, oh, I really see this trait in you. Your dad being in a role of a minister, obviously he was a leader. Do you feel like any of that kind of natural born leadership came from your father? And as you said, he was super strict.



You didn't love in there. But as you're now older, have you reflected and ever thought, like, some of that is my dad gave to me, or do you think that that was just kind of innate in who you. Were, I'm going to be totally straight up with you. I probably learned some on how to be a parent and how to be a leader from my father, but it wasn't in the way you'd think. A lot of it was, I want to be different and I'll just leave it at that.



My dad passed away years ago and God bless him, loved him, respected him, still respect them. But as far as leader and parenting, I learned a lot. As far as, okay, I need to take a different approach because this did not resonate with me or other folks in a kind of upside down way. I would say I did learn some. But I think that's important because it's still in an upside down way.



Like if your dad was such a strong human right, and had such a presence and did things in a way that you were like, it didn't work with me. It gave you that side to be like, okay, I am a leader as well, but I want to do things different. And I think good or bad, that's something that it helps us grow as people. Like, yeah, I maybe didn't love this, and so I'm going to do it completely opposite where sometimes I even find when I parent my kids, I will sometimes laugh because I'll be like, that was so annoying. I remember when my mom used to do that and I really didn't like it, but now I'm doing it and it was more of a benefit the way everything was.



A teaching moment still is a teaching moment. As a grandmother, she was a kindergarten teacher, everything. And every once in a while I'll find myself doing that and it will make me laugh because my kids will have the same kind of reaction. Like, mom, not everything's a life lesson. Not everything is a teaching moment.



And I'm like, interesting, I don't remember saying that to my mother. I think I just internalized it. But sometimes there is times where it is really important and it is a life lesson and it is a teaching moment. So this is going to bring me kind of into you're now on the ground. You definitely are born a leader.



These people kind of saw this part of you like, hey, this kid has something more than others. Let's help him with this direction. You obviously listened, kind of interpreted and went and really followed that. Whether it was like first, because it was like, oh, that's a great salary to then, wait a second, I'm really good at this. So whatever it is to kind of have you take that next step, a lot of people sometimes miss that next step because they don't look at the whole picture.



And so when you're now boots on the ground doing what you're doing at late twenty s, I mean, that's to me. I don't want to talk about what I was doing in my late twenty s. I was getting ready to get married. So I should say that maybe like mid 20s, we don't need to talk about. But you lived again, a lot of life as a young person, and now you're thrown into this.



And as you said, you were trained and so not completely thrown, but where did that then take you into your next Pivots in life? Sure. Yeah. No. And there was a big Pivot coming up.



So first off, absolutely. Especially after first major deployment with my team. And really, finally was like, you get that confidence, like, oh, okay, we can actually do this. I can do this. And the impostor syndrome quiets down a bit and it never should have been there in the first place, but we're human deployed three more times, worked some with Pat Tillman, the NFL player who later died overseas.



He was just exceptional as a human being. He's one of those people you learn leadership just from watching, even though he wasn't in a formal leadership position. So that's a total segue, but well worth anyone checking out or reading the John Crack Hour book. I think it's where men win glory about him. So just asterisk there put a pin in it.



So for me, I deployed three times. And I remember I was on deployment. It was November 2003, and I was up in the Hindu Krishna mountains of Afghanistan. It was freezing, it was snowy, and across the valley, one of the guys I worked with named Pat radios me. He goes, hey, Phil, can you come over here?



So I run across the valley. He's about a mile away, and I'm like, what's up? And he lets me know that my mother in law had died the night before, who I was extremely close with. And my wife at the time was pregnant with our first son. And I have this amazing daughter from my first marriage.



The two day one, we talked about impulsivity, wait a week. So I remember just sitting there on the sat phone where it kept breaking up, like I kept losing reception. This is 2003. We don't have the same level of technology we have now. And I'm trying to support my wife through losing her mom.



And I'm like, you know what? I don't think I want to do this again. I want to be there when we have our first kid. I want to be able to support her better. And I think I'm going to change tracks.



I think I'll finish my time. But I'll go try to be a good really focus on being a good dad, husband, just a civilian. So I ended up getting out in May of 2004. Ironically, Pat Tillman lost his life on the 22 April as I was coming back from my third deployment to Afghanistan. My son was born in 26.



His middle name is Patrick. After Pat Tillman and I became a civilian and I worked as a service. Manager for Corporate America with a team of 30. And in a way, I actually really liked it, because all the lessons I had learned in the military applied lead by example. Balance the mission with the people.



Invest in your people. Believe coach them, mentor them, show them what's possible. And it was really fun, but I wasn't crazy about the profit centric world, and there was a lack of congruence between the stated values of the business and the Lid values. The stated values were people and customers. Number one, blah, blah, blah.



I'm not going to throw out the name of the company, but what would actually happen would be like, Thursday, they'd be like, hey, we got to hit our numbers. Cut two people off your team by tomorrow, because we got to hit our P and L numbers or whatever it was. And I'm like, Wait a second. I thought we were all about people, and now you're telling me, arbitrarily fire them, and there are some other practices? I'm like, okay, this is kind of BS.



I'm not down with this. At the same time, the wars that we thought were kind of tapering off were actually picking up. I had friends getting hurt. I lost some friends. And I'm sitting here wearing a suit and tie and making a decent salary, but I'm like, this doesn't feel like where I'm supposed to be.



So after about a year and a half of being a civilian, I put a packet in and go back to the military. And I remember telling them, like, I'll drive trucks. I'll cook. Just bring me back in. I don't care what I do.



Huge irony here. And this is the army being insane obracy at this point. They were pulling people back to active duty against their will. So people who had gotten out like me, they're like, hey, actually, you know what, Juliet? We need you back.



You're coming back in. And you're like, But I have my kids, and I'm a school teacher, and I've got a life. And they're like, yeah, sorry. Country needs you. We still got you on the book, so you owe us a few more years.



They're pulling people against their will in about 30 days to come back and serve. I'm sitting here going, hey, Zimfry guys, Ranger done. All these cool schools. I have three deployments under my belt. Put me in coach.



And they're like, yeah, we don't really have an effective system for bringing people who want to come in back in. They had a system, but it was like it was not well run. And so I beat my head against the wall for about four months to try to come in and finally called. It was actually John Nicholson, the guy who's retired four star general. Now I was like, hey, sir, all I want to do is come to work.



I want to come back and serve. And long story long, I did end up, coming back in, they put me right back. Sort of where I left off. And I was doing some military schooling at that point because I now, as a captain gone up a level in rank and same thing, someone who is like and I had been looking at becoming a Green Beret and going the Special Forces route. And one of the instructors at this school now, keep in mind, I literally was like, I'll come in and drive trucks.



Like, I don't care what I need to do. I just want to serve. I don't feel right living this life when my friends are living a much different life and at higher risk. So I'm in this school learning how to be a good infantry company commander and captain. And one of the instructors there is like, hey, he was a Special Force guy.



Did you ever think about that? I'm like, yeah, I thought about it. I dropped a packet, then I got out. So, you know, that shift of sale, I'm fine. He's like, well, let me make a call.



And so next day I know he comes back and he goes, hey, I don't know where you're at for readiness, but if you want, you can go to try out, so you can go to our Special Forces Assessment Selection. He's like, but it's in, like, two weeks. Yeah, sure, let's do it. Worst thing that happens is I die or I don't make it, and at least I tried. So I went to tryouts in SFAs.



Special force assessment. Selection isn't not a course you die. And I've been dramatic there, but bottom line is, like, fear of failure was not going to stop me. So I'm like, yeah, let's do it. So I got picked up, and then I went through about two years of Green Bray training.



After that, some of the best leadership training I've ever done with that pipeline, because they did such a great job of building these scenarios. It was like a choose your own adventure book from the 80s. Like, if you do this, they would totally rework the entire exercise around your decisions, and you would deal with new ramifications, whether they're good or bad. They taught sort of constant management. It was amazing.



And then I began my career as a Green Beret. Now, how many kids at this point did you have and where was your well, I'm going to have you answer that first. It's another math problem. Let's see. So I had my oldest daughter, my son.



My next daughter was born right as I started Special Forces training. So I'm at three at this point. Okay, and how was your wife? Did she see that you weren't feeling fulfilled and loving what you were doing? And was she supportive?



Was she hesitant? Yeah, she was actually really supportive at that point. She had been looking into med school after her undergrad, and then when she lost her mom first, she supported her mom through cancer and then lost her. So that kind of derailed a lot of her initial career plans. And then it was like, hey, let's build a family.



Timing for med school is not happening. Let's build a family. We went down that route. So she was actually really supportive. And as I'm saying that, I'm like, I don't know why, because she's signing up for me being gone six to ten months a year.



But no, she was really supportive, and she was like, go for it, be the best. You right. But if you see the person that you love, the person that's there, knowing that they're not in what they're meant to do, and you could feel it and you know that you have things at home, I would assume. I've obviously never been in that situation, but it's like, I want this person to live the best life. This is the person I married.



You were obviously in the military when you guys met, right? And so she knew what she was kind of getting into. And it always fascinates me because I speak with a lot of NFL and professional athletes, and what I think a lot of people don't think about, and if you really, really think about it, is you're doing something at such a level, and then all of a sudden, one day, it's like, boom. It's not like you can taper out and kind of be like, okay, I'm going to take my time. I'm going to take a couple of steps back.



It's like you're going from 100 to zero. And when that happens to someone, it doesn't matter how strong mentally you are, you're going to go through stuff, you're going to really go through mental, but also physical. I know. Just for myself, I mean, I played college sports, and I remember and even now, as an adult, if I don't work out, if I'm traveling and I don't work out to the level I typically do, which is not crazy for a week, I feel it. My family feels it.



I become a grumpy, grumpy person. It's annoying. It really annoys me that my body can't be like, okay, you didn't get a chance to work out. Now you're going to be a grumpy lady. But it does.



So I'm sure your wife felt that there was something missing, and so obviously she wanted to support you. I'm putting words in her mouth, but I do think when you have someone at that level in your life that you already committed to, it's like, okay, I need to kind of be there and support them. But it has to be hard also on her side, right? You're away. What could happen?



She loves you. She doesn't want anything to happen. But life is life. No, I think that's spot on. And she had been a college athlete, too, and she is a high performer, and I think she understood, like, you're at 40% in this role right now.



You need to get back into the fight, figuratively, literally, and kind of be the best you in the current environment. But yeah, it's a great point. Right? Well, it's true. And then people don't really stop to think about it.



Like military, professional athletes, you're at a level like, you have such routine, every day it's the same, and then all of a sudden it's like, boom. I mean, things are going to happen. We need more support, in my opinion, in that back end of when people are coming out of the military, when they're coming out of professional, that role. Because again, you chose to kind of take a step back. So it is, but it, it doesn't matter whether you choose to, you don't realize what's going to happen to your mind, your body, everything around you.



And so the fact that you were able to go back in because you're like, no, this is really where I feel the best, where I want to be. And that you had that support is really important. So now you're a Green Beret, and you're kind of at the top, top of your game. Now, where did that go and what did that look like? Yeah, so now I went from working with relatively large organizations, numbering the hundreds of people, to working with really small teams of ten to twelve.



And now instead of going out with just a bunch of Americans on missions, we were basically embedding with Iraqis, with Afghanis, with Filipinos folks all around the world. And we were speaking the language, eating the food, integrating training, going out on missions with them, fighting alongside them, losing people alongside them. And it was pretty powerful time. Probably my most memorable experience, my three years as a such forces team leader, a Green Bray team leader. It's the same thing.



Just the people I served with and sort of the things we went through, it was pretty rapid, back to back deployments at a pretty busy time in the arena of global affairs. And yeah, it was like I said, it's memorable, for lack of better words. And it's one of those things you look back now at where some of the states those areas are, and you get a bit of a pit in your stomach. I do personally, you're like, wow, that was a lot of blood, sweat and tears for what? But you still have those discrete individual memories of, hey, but while we were there, we did the best we could with what we had.



And were we always right that we make mistakes and policy and politics and whatever. You have your circle of influence, which is typically your choice, maybe your actions, if you have your full physical and mental capacity, and then you have your circle of concern, the things that stress you out and bother you. And again, that's the politics, the policy, what's happening on the global field. But when I look back and go, hey, what were we doing? Were we doing the best we could in the most legal, moral, ethical way possible, given the circumstances?



And I'm like, and if we can say yeah to that, then, okay, no regrets. It was what it was.



It was a pretty special time. Like I said, it was fast paced. It was all over the place, but kind of Sears in your memory. And then it was a classic. General Scott Miller, different guy who's kind of a mentor and now a friend of mine.



He recently retired. He sort of asked me he came out to this little base I was at and said, hey, what are you doing next after your team leader time? I'm like, I don't know. And he sort of pointed me in the direction of another organization, sort of another, like, throw your name in the hat, give it a shot. And I won't go into any details about that one.



But I ended up kind of going that route after being a Green Beret. And from there, that's where I spent the majority of my military career. And it was well, can you tell us what it is, or is it classified? Yeah, I won't go into the name of the organization. Now I'm so curious.



Okay. No, I get it. But then I'd have to throw my computer in the bathtub.



I kind of got it, but so how many years then and now? Were there four kids, five kids. Where was the family? Always with the math. Always with the math.



And the kids just don't ask me birthdays. Okay, let's see. I won't. Let's see. My fourth kiddo was born, and I've got, like, basically in my head, my kids are tied to different deployments.



Yeah. No, I'm sure. Right. So my fourth child was born on my second Iraq deployment when I was a special forces team leader, and then I'd been in first special forces group, and then I left there and went to work for this organization in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. And that's when we adopted our first kiddo.



It had been a three year process. Just amazing. Kiddo, international adoption. He joined our family in 2012.



Yeah. So now I guess I had five kids for the majority of that time. Okay, and now, did you guys all live in North Carolina? Was that something that the whole family could do, or was it where you still had to be stationed away? Yeah, no, I mean, I was gone a lot for work, but all of us were in North Carolina together.



And then my oldest daughter, she lived with her mom probably the majority of the time, but she lived with us for a little bit, and it was one of those moments. It's actually she's 16 or 17 and dealing with high school, just being 16 and 17, and I'm overseas, and I remember she's doing silly things, nowhere near as silly as I did, but I'm trying to parent her via Skype at the time, and I'm like, this is really hard. And that was one of those moments. And I'm like, you know, I think I'll do my 20, but then I really need to, like, I want to raise my family, all these other kids, like, start and finish high school, same town, with family around. And with me there not that that will necessarily make things better, but man, trying to parent teenagers through a computer screen, I was like, yeah, I think this is it.



I remember telling two of the people I work with. One was my boss, and one was kind of the senior enlisted guy. And I'm like, yeah, I think we do good work and this matters, but there's lots of other people can do this instead of me. But I'm the only person that can raise my kids. I think at 20 at this point, I think I was at 16 years in or 17 years in.



I was like, I think I'm going to go dad hat, put my dad hat on. But I think that is such a beautiful thing because, again, it's bringing you back to kind of your childhood. You wanted to do things a little different with your kids, and you've had this career, then you kind of paused it, and then you went back in with the support of your wife and having these significant times, right? It was first your mother in law passing, and you weren't there, which had to be, like, such a kick in the gut. And you wanted to be there, I'm sure, for her, but also you wanted to also be there for you because you also were mourning the loss.



And then as your kids are growing, you adopted. I mean, I know we can get into so much. You're probably going to have to come back on your next stop. My listeners know that when I start diving in, because this could be like a three hour because I got so many questions. But you guys chose to adopt, which I know we shared that.



I have a sister that's adopted, so I'm always fascinated how that kind of works. But again, we could bring that into another podcast. But then again, you have teenagers that are going through stuff that you feel, okay, I'm being pulled. And we all have these times in our life, right, where we are here and we really are here, but then we're getting pulled into a different direction. And sometimes it's like, okay, how long am I going to be pulled in that direction?



Is this something that I need to really keep coming up? Is this something I need to explore? Is this something I need to kind of ignore and push away? And the fact that you were like, okay, I need to be there again. So how did that look?



Did you leave at 20 and then where did that kind of journey take you? Yeah. So I I kind of communicated that to some folks I worked with, and they sort of did the I roll. And they're like, Phil, everyone says that you're in a good position. You're not leaving.



That's how you feel right now? I'm like, no, I'm pretty sure this is the path I need to take.



And they gave me some great jobs after that.



I was on a good trajectory within the organization, within the military, writ large. And at one point I'm looking around going, you guys should be giving these jobs to someone else, like someone who's going to stay in for 30 and wants to be a general. I'm going to work my ass off while I'm here, but I don't need to be a general. At the end of the day, I want to be a good dad. That's what matters.



My last hour of life. And I sort of gave my notice when I got 20. I'm like, okay, I think this is it. And they're like, whoa, whoa, whoa. You were serious?



I'm like, yeah, no, I was serious the whole time. And they're like, well, where are you going to go? What are you going to do? I'm like, I'm going to go to Montana. I'm going to probably go to school and figure it out.



They're like, well, maybe we can help find you a job out there in the military and you can just take a year, cool your jets, recenter, you've been going pretty hard, and then maybe we can bring you back in to this organization. Maybe we can kind of pick up where he left off. I'm like, okay. I mean, I'm not going to say no to being moved to Montana and working out there and having my rank and military salary. So working with these different organizations, they found a job where I went from this organization that had some of the best green, braves and rangers and other special office folks.



I went from that to Montana State University. ROTC Instructor And I was kind of like a lieutenant colonel without a job because they had lieutenant colonel who did all the admin, video conferences, paperwork, and then there was captains and majors who did the instruction, and then there was me kind of given like, do what you think you should best do. And I'm like, I really want to teach leadership and help make good officers. And I think a lot of people could look at that being like, oh, my goodness. It's like going from the NFL to teaching pop Warner football.



And I think it would have been easy to be like, I'm just going to put it neutral and ride this out. And instead, I'd say it was probably some of the most impactful two years of my military career. As silly as that sounds, it doesn't. Sound silly at all because it also shows where what you're doing now, I mean, stole wall training. Right?



I mean, it totally set you up for what you this was the part that you were supposed to be doing for this time, to be training you to get to where you are. I really believe that. And I think that's beautiful that you actually see it, too. That two years was something that was more significant than anything, because, again, it set you up for where you are. So I'm sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt, but I think that makes me want to scream.



I love it. Yeah, scream if you got to get it out. Better out than in. But you're totally right. And I've just always been of the mindset kind of grow where you're planted, right?



Like, just point the right direction, keep taking the next step, and what will be, will be. And so, yeah, it was an amazing time, and it totally opened doors down the road to what I what I do now. And it's really neat because when I was working Ranger Greenberay, other organizations, when I was working with Truly Elites, the best and the best in the world, I could set conditions, but everyone was pretty established and pretty proven. There like, no one got to where we were without having their act together in a big way. They had the disciplined habits.



They were purpose driven, value based, top performers. I was not going to revolutionarily change anyone's life or shift their paradigm on what it is to be. I still have an important job and I was part of the team. But your impact is not as much. And I've talked to folks who coached the NFL and they're like, yeah, it's kind of the same.



They're fairly established. It can be a challenge for an average coach or assistant coach to have a huge influence on some of these, especially somebody who's been playing for 15 years. Right? Like who are you? And then I went to ROTC, and I these 18 to 22 year olds, and they didn't know exactly where I came from or what I did, but they'd kind of look at the uniform, dress, a lot of stuff.



And so I had credibility with them. And they were also at an age where they just like multiple click. So they got to listen to 22 years of, hey, just some thoughts, but if I could go back and do it again, I'd make sure I have my purpose dialed in. Think about your values. This isn't fluffy stuff like live your life backwards.



Tell me about your funeral. Best ever, and let's work backwards for there and what's that person look like today. Whether it's as an officer, whether it's as a student, son, a daughter, husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, friend, whatever, let's be that person today. And I tried that Philosophy, and this was now seven years ago or six years ago. So now I'm seeing these people in their mid twenty s, and they're just crushing it, and it's like proud dad, sad dad moment.



I'm like, I'm so proud of how well you guys are doing now. I'm a little sad that I was nowhere near as squared away as you at that age. Like, I was still learning like muddling through the dark. And there's a husband and wife couple that I had the privilege of instructing for a couple of years, and they were the first husband and wife couple to get through US. Army's Ranger School.



Really challenging school. Ironically, she beat him through it. He had to do one phase over, and she smoked through it, and they were just awesome humans. And I'm like, I feel so blessed as part of your story. And in my head at night, I like to imagine I was pretty big part of the story, but reality, I was a small influence, but still huge pride in that.



Yeah, because now I want to take it back to the officers that saw the leaders that saw something in you at that young age that then shaped you. And so it sounds like that was going to be my next question to you. Obviously, that husband and wife couple, you saw something in them, and you maybe trained them, not trained them, but you gave them a little bit more I don't want to say, like, tough love or insight or whatever it is. When you're a leader and you see something in someone that you know that they can do it, you give them a little bit more direction. Not that you're not giving someone else, but maybe you gave them.



Do you know what I'm saying? Does that make sense? How many of those kids did you come across? Do you feel that you were like, yeah, I saw something different, and I knew that I needed to push them a little harder, or I saw something different in this one that I knew I needed to kind of teach in a different way. I mean, that's like parenting, what you're doing and then what you're doing in your business now.



So if you can take us through that a little bit. Yeah. First off, I like to think not just in that position, but there as well as what I do now, is you start to realize, like, everyone, regardless, first off, everyone has a story, right? We've all got trauma, we've got ups, we've got downs, we got wins, we got losses. But when you realize the story to date is only part of it, and when you can see people for their potential, that's when you can really unlock some powerful things as a leader.



So I like to think when I was working with, I don't know, a couple of hundred college students over time in that ROTC program, I think we had like 100 and something each year. So, again, do the math. But some people, I like to think I saw potential in each of them, and I did try to make a point to engage at some level, but when you look at them, you kind of mentally triage. We all have our biases. We see the world.



We're a product of our experience in genetics. So you look at them and right wrong or indifferent, probably 10% to 20% of them, whatever you do, you can be the worst instructor, the best instructor. They're going to succeed. They are going to knock it out of the park with or without your help. And then realistically, that truth is there's probably, for whatever reason, about 10% that you could pour into them, but they're just not going to get there from here.



Maybe they don't have the commitment. Maybe this isn't really them. Maybe they've just got some things that can't get past. But the reality is they've got to sort some other stuff out before they move forward. But the ones I really enjoyed working with is that middle block who it's like, could go either way, and can you help them set their sights higher and then give them the tools they need to succeed and help give them a bit of motivation and push?



And again, there's the same we had in the organization I worked at Fort Bragg that goes, hey, someone who needs to be driven isn't worth the driving. If you're working with an elite level of team, if you need to be a cheerleader or a drill sergeant to get results, you're not in an elite level team. That's very transactional. That's like, I've got to entice you or threaten you to make you your best. I don't want to work in that organization, and I applied that to every group I work with.



Now. It's like I'll try to illuminate some opportunities to you. I'll try to arm you with the right tools, but I'm not going to push you too hard, and I'm not going to try to pull you. Like, at the end of the day, it's got to be you, because if I have to push or pull you, you're only going to do it while I'm there. And that's not sustained growth.



I think part of being a leader is, what's your legacy? What's the team look like when you leave? And if the team is only succeeding because you're present, you're RA the cheerleader or the hammer or whatever, then that's great while you're there. But even on a good day, humans are only going to probably live about 85 years. So at some point, that comes to an end.



But if you can plant seeds and build a legacy and establish a culture, now you have a self sustained team, get out of the way. And that's what I try to do there. And then that it's. Funny, that bled into, like, the football team coach, who's now University of Texas Jeff Choke, like, hey, man, come talk to my players. Put a boot in their ass.



And I had to explain. To them that I don't do that. I mean, I can lay out some principles, thought, share some examples of stellar humans, but they have to want it. And we started working together and it went from talks to kind of little more like workshoppy type things. Now it's like, hey, let's totally pull them out of their comfort environment.



Let's level the playing field. So the kid who's like a rock star starter is going to be next to the walk on guy who probably will never touch the field on game day. Let's level the field. Mix them up all different positions, break all the clicks apart, put them in small teams and get them in the mountains on the water and let's challenge him. And we did that and then we framed it.



So it wasn't just like, let it suck. It was, here's why we're doing this. Here's our end state. It's a competition, so perform. And this is your training for this day.



Help from a bunch of other Seals and Rangers and other folks came in and gave me a hand with it, but it was crazy to watch how quickly the team bonded and the culture established and then you could tell them, hey, this is who we want to be and how we want to do it. And that team went from unranked in 2017 to back to back. They went to National Champions Championships the last two years. Different coach, same culture. And I'm so in touch with the current coach, Brent Vegan.



They totally get it and I get to see them once or twice a year when I'm lucky and love it. Right? When did stonewater training? When was that born? And you kind of really set it up.



I know what you're doing now. You've touched on it a little bit and we'll get a little bit more into that. But when was the times after that 20 years that you were like, this is what I need to do? Was it clear? Was it like you had some bumpy roads there if you could take us through that a little bit.



Yeah. No, it was unclear. So my wife had put herself through PA school, physician assistant school. So pretty demanding program. We both have master's degree.



She's very adamant that not all masters are created equal. Like, mine was like reading books and writing a paper once a month and hers was like 16 hours days for two and a half years. So she was a PA, so she had a good job. So financially we were okay. And I was retiring as a lieutenant colonel, which we were going to be fine.



We're living in Bozeman, Montana. I was totally in love with it and I'm like, I just want a job where I'm outside and can carry the legacy of some of the people and organizations I served with, where I can carry the best of that forward. The memory of friends I've lost the things that really stood out about some amazing leaders I shared. How can I pass that on to other organizations to carry forward? And so I started a company called Lead 406 406 B in Montana's area code.



And it was pretty much we'd just go off grid into Yellowstone and we'd work with executives and coaches and things like that. Again, we'd spend a day talking about leadership skills and where they're at, and then we'd go out in a totally ambiguous environment and they'd practice it and they'd lead themselves. And we were just watching them succeed or fail and then debriefing on each, and then from there, extrapolating. Hey, what's the parallel? Like, wow.



When you're in charge and you're stressed, you just totally talk over everyone. You go into vapor lock, you don't see anything, and you start shutting orders that don't always make sense. Does that happen when you run this other company that you're the president of? He's like, yes, that is my default setting. Okay, now let's work back it's.



How do we deconstruct it? And so you have these really sticky, powerful memories that you can't just get from reading a great book or going to a hotel conference room. John Maxwell, I'm a big fan of his. I've gone to some of his trainings. I'll walk out, I'm like, It was awesome.



And you'll ask him, what was it about? Like, try to remember. And that's just trying to remember, forget applying it. But if you go, yeah, you remember that time we were in the water and it was 43 degrees and you had us rehearse flipping the raft, and we had to do it before we got into the rapids. And we learned the importance of rehearsals and looking out for each other and following the process.



I will never forget that. Now I apply that to my finance business. So the model worked great. One of the attendees, good friend of mine, she actually was like, hey, we should work together. Which sort of turned into she ended up acquiring my company.



I worked for her for about a year and a half. She's in the Midwest, and my wife and I are both always at this point, we'd adopted three more kiddos, a sibling group who joined our family, older adoptees and all kinds of adventures that came with that. Some of them were teenagers when they joined our family from totally different culture. We had some stuff going on, but I was now working for this other company. They're based in the Midwest.



There was some travel there. We were still running a Montana program. And then my wife, because being a PA wasn't enough, a challenge for she felt really called to be an MD. So she applied to and accepted into med school as a 41 year old mother of eight because I guess that's what you do. So we ended up moving out to Oregon, and that really was the genesis for stonewater, where, just logistically, it was a challenge to work with this other amazing organization that was based in the Midwest, and it's like, hey, I'm sitting on top of 4 million people in Oregon.



There's all kinds of opportunities for purpose driven, value based leadership. Let me see if I can make this model work here. So as a dad of eight with a wife fully engaged at medical school, I left a comfortable, salaried career with a great organization to entrepreneur in a totally new environment where I had no connections and make it work. So my risk tolerance is fairly high. And that was about seven months ago.



No, well, I mean, that's the thing. Obviously, you were set up to do big things, and I love so much it takes me back to you dropping out of high school, and then now you have your masters, and that's what I want people also take away from it. It doesn't matter if you dropped out of high school. It doesn't define you. You can still do other things.



You just have to kind of explore, listen, figure out what is it doesn't define you. Just because you dropped out of high school doesn't mean you have to be working at McDonald's for the rest of your life, that you have greatness in you, and you have to explore it, because, again, it fascinates me. And I love that you kind of had those leaders that were like, no, I think there's something a little bit more here. There's a little bit something more here, and that you were opened. Right.



We have to be open minded. I think that's a lot of times people just assume, no, I dropped out of school, or I had this happen to me in my life. So this is what's defining me. We can change our own narrative. Yeah.



That is so huge. I think it's human nature. We define ourselves based on our past, and the reality is the definition of you is an ongoing process.



I ran some pretty challenging screening processes, for lack of a better word, and I won't go into huge details, but there was a tendency sometimes to stereotype and bias. Like, this person's going to make it, she'll make it, he won't, blah, blah, blah, whatever. And there's this old soul I worked with, and he's like, you're not the same person today that you were yesterday. Like, you're a new person. Every day you're faced with new choices.



Other people will judge you based on yesterday, but you're not that same person. You can take that knowledge and move forward, or you can let it cripple or define you. And that cuts both ways. Yesterday's successes don't guarantee today's successes. Yesterday's failures don't predict today's matter of fact.



They're all just lessons if we choose to apply them. So I love the whole mindset approach. I just in the middle of recording one about mindset of the victim, the judge, or the soldier. What mindset do you choose? I'm the victim.



Everything else impacts me my past, other people, the environment, the government, whatever. And then you're powerless. I'm defined by how society defines me. Judges, points, fingers. At least I'm not as bad as her.



I'm better than them. The judge also cuts yourself. But then a soldier is like, hey, I serve a higher purpose, and in winter lose. I'm marching forward. I'm not stopping until I'm on the other side of the grass.



And you just keep going. You ignore the environment. You don't ignore it. You acknowledge it, but you fight through it, and you just don't quit. Failure doesn't set you back.



Failure is just another tuition payment. It's amazing. I love that. I love that so much. So tell us a little bit about how, if someone's out there going, okay, this is all amazing.



So what is stonewater? I know it's a leadership development company, but where and who are the people that you're working with? So if someone's listening to this and they're like, this sounds amazing, is this something that's for me? If you can take us through that a little bit, sure. So I work with individual leaders as well as kind of executive teams.



So let's see people. I've worked with small mid sized businesses. I used to say that was my niche. But now I've got some global organizations that I'm working with their executive leadership and running some programs for them. I basically operate three pillars within Stonewater.



So the first is one on one kind of leadership coaching. Executive coaching. I'm a certified advanced, certified professional executive coach. And that's where we work with the individual kind of in their environment and try to help them really hone in on their purpose or defining values. And how does that play out?



Not just professionally, but also personally. So I'm a big believer that effective leaders, really long lasting, effective leaders are good leaders. Good leaders typically spring from good people. Good people are people who have a clearly identified purpose and values that guide their action. So pillar number one, working with individual leaders.



Pillar number two I'll do with organic executive teams, meaning do it on financial industries. You've got your executive team of six, and whether it's remote or ideally in person, because I'm a big fan of the experiential stuff like make it sticky and memorable. We'll work with that team whether it's, hey, how do we want to lead, recognizing that everyone leads different. But how do we want to collectively lead the team? How do we want to define our organizational culture and how do we build our match?



How do we raise leaders within our organization? You've hit on the theme of people kind of poked me and identified potential and nurtured me. How do we have organizations do that to grow from within? And each one of those is broke down in kind of four month blocks. I'll do with teams and we'll try to incorporate some retreats and other again in person is where I really thrive.



Although I'd say about 80% of my book of business is done remotely. And then the last and probably my favorite thing, because it's kind of like the funnest, is where I'll run these small group programs where it's four to nine diverse leaders. You might have a college coach, you might have a global executive, you might have some other nonprofit leader. We bring them together. There's usually six weeks of prep work, physically, mentally, even like emotionally and kind of soul searching before they come out.



A lot of quantifiable metrics and testing we'll do to give everyone that self awareness. Then we'll come together, we'll teach them some technical skills, review leadership skills, get to know each other, and then we'll go for an experience. So, like, at the end of May, we're going to be going in the Santiam River in Oregon. Each of these experiences has a theme and the team leads themselves through it. So we'll rotate like, Juliet, you're in charge.



Here's your task. You have 2 hours to do ABC. You'll do it, we'll finish, we'll critique it. Then it's like, okay, Phil, it's your turn now. You're going to do something totally different.



But can you apply the lessons we learned from Juliet's sequence about, hey, she communicated really clearly, but we need to. Whatever those lessons are, you keep applying it going forward and drawing out the parallels. And so by the end of it, it's all shrouded in ambiguity. No one knows what they're going to do or how it's going to turn out, which is a great business model because when things go wrong for me, everyone thinks it's part of the plan and I just let that roll. Like, yeah, we wanted those two bears to come out right there and eat your lunch, right?



So those are the really powerful ones. And what's really cool is we'll finish up one of those programs. I did one in February and it was all in the mountains and in the water and actually in the city of Portland. So it was this crazy mix. It was all about adaptable, leadership.



And the leaders who came out, what I love is they still meet, like I'd say, biweekly monthly. Some of them are local, some are on the East Coast, but they still connect and stay in touch. And what I love is, like, I get CCD on the emails, but I'm not driving anything. They're just organically building it. Because when you're in a leadership role, it is lonely as heck.



And so I love when I can bring them together and they're like, who do you talk? I don't get good feedback from my director force. No one will tell me when I'm messing up. And these people connect and then they start bouncing things off each other and sharpening each other. So I totally love it.



I sort of set the conditions, facilitate the topics and some of the academic instruction, but then the environment really takes it from there. And my job is just to capture the lessons, let them find it in their debriefs, and then go, okay, was this fun, Kayaking, or what's the application here? And when they go, oh, I get it, they'll never forget that experience, and they'll never forget the application. Hopefully that answered your question, because I went all over the place. No, you were great.



No, that was perfect. You gave us the one, two, three so you guys can find [email protected] and so they can reach out to you that way and find out kind of all the information there. So I love this. Again, I said we could talk for hours, but I do have two questions that I do kind of want to end with. What do you miss most about being a lieutenant colonel?



So what I missed most about the military experience as a whole, I think, honestly, it was just that concept of very viscerally serving something much higher and more important than yourself. You were serving the nation and the ideals that built a nation. And that's not saying it was perfect, but you were committed to something bigger than you. And again, I'd seen people who took that commitment right up until the last second of their life, and they believed it, and they lived it. So that purpose and just how vivid it was, I miss that, and I do take that to my life now.



It's different, but no one's guaranteed tomorrow. So it's like, live your purpose. Write your story. You don't know when you run out of pages. Make it worth it.



I love that. Okay, so then my last question for today, till next time, but what is some advice that you can give people on raising eight teenagers? Not some advice. I shouldn't say that. What eight teenagers?



What are some things? And I know that I kind of know this answer, but if day to day you have a win, that you're like, oh, my gosh, okay, that just made today a little bit better that you can kind of tell my listeners. So if they're raising kids, they can be like, okay, let me look at a win, because we all have it, right? It's like, oh, my gosh. Everything's always turned upside down when you're raising teens, you know that they're going through emotional stuff.



You're trying to help them. If you're an empath and you feel everything, you're feeling everything, and you want to help and you want to make it work and you want to fix it and you can't do it, and you just sometimes have to step back, and it's really exhausting. So one win that you can share. With us, like an actual win from my kids type thing? Like a concrete situation story or a concept?



No, just something that you have that you're like, okay, that was a win. Oh, now, I saw it happen, like, five days. Again, it could be just simple. Like, I screamed to put your stuff in the dishwasher, and two kids do it now without me having to ask them. Again, just something simple that you have seen that is just like I mean, you have eight.



My wife and I will talk sometime, usually at night when we're exhausted, like, oh, my God, what do we sign up for? And we call those, like, rays. Alight. Like, what what ray light did you have today? And I think for me, really cool things are.



Even last night, we're sitting we're sitting around the dinner table, right? I've got three teenage girls at home. My fourth daughter, she lives lives up in Seward, Alaska, and she's 26, so she's past the drama phase now. But I love it when the kids will call out each other in a complimentary fashion. So, like, my one daughter, Ben C.



Goes, hey, dad, it sounds silly, but it was cool because he was genuinely complimentary. She goes, dad, Tigan was like, working out out in the gym. All my kids are pretty athletic. She's like, have you seen how friggin buffer arms are? She does aerial gymnastics, so she's really good at climbing silks and Lyras and stuff.



She's like, dad, Tigan is friggin ripped. And my mother daughter is kind of like, oh, yeah, but Bency's got a track. Yeah, she's got to track me today. She's like, yeah, she's got to track me today. And she's like, really good too.



And these are girls that do not normally get along either, so it's, like, really cool to hear them. So when they'll compliment each other or they'll genuinely highlight something, not because they want screen time, but they genuinely highlight another, I'm like, okay, there's hope. Or when I watch them proactively proactively do something. Like when they see someone else made a mess or did something and I'll just be watching them, and they don't know I'm watching, and they'll go pick it up or put it away or do something. And I'll try to capture that moment.



Be like, hey, why'd you put those dishes in the dishwasher? Were those years? They're like, no. Why'd you do it? They were there.



I mean, why wait for someone else to do it? It needed to be done. And I'm just like, tears. Proud dad, proud dad moment. No, totally.



On an aside, it is because the dishwasher is like, everyone has to empty it. Not me. I mean, I do, my husband and I do, but it is the kids chores. And I feel like for years I've been like, okay, if you see that it's clean, just empty it, because you're going to have to why do I have to say, hey, can someone empty the top? Can someone empty the bottom?



Can someone load? Why do I have to do that? Like, you're old enough now that you should just really do it. And I have to say, for the last number of months sorry about that. For the last number of months, I have a couple of kids that have been doing it proactively, and it literally makes me like, oh, they just knew how happy this made me.



Maybe they would stop doing it, but no, if they just knew. It's just simple things like that as parents, that it's like, okay, all my like, hey, can you just do this? Hey, can you just do that? So I love that. Can I say one more asterisk extra thing that sort of makes me proud that I definitely, as I think about it, I see in all my kids.



So eight kids, they all have wildly divergent goals, views, personalities. But what I love is each of them are kind of pursuing a level up within their chosen field. So I've got a son. It's super athletic. He's, like, ultra disciplined, but working out at home on his own.



And he helps others. He'll bring other people. I'll have, like, 14 inch boys working out my garage.



My daughter, who does aerial gymnastics, she'll go down the garage. She'll just work on her own. She does art on her own, like, these cool, productive things. One of them, like, Kpop dances. It's a thing.



She will practice these crazy, complex dances in a room, and then the only time I see it is if she posts it somewhere. But it's just like they're pursuing excellence in their chosen fields. And I just love that because I'm like, you know, I was told you had to either be a doctor or a lawyer, maybe an engineer to succeed in life. Otherwise you were nothing.



My one daughter works in shipping business in Alaska. I've got a son who's pursuing a degree in archaeology, maritime archaeology in Toronto. And my other kids, it's like, no, go where your heart is. Do it well. It'll buff out.



It'll just pursue your passion. And so to watch them do that, I'm like, it's not about success is not a quantifiable mountaintop. It's a journey. And you just keep stepping until one day you wake up and you go, I'm not alive anymore. And then you get to look back and be like, what did I do?



I don't really know what happens, but in my head, that's kind of maybe what happens. We'll see. No, I love that. Well, I have to say thank you again so much for joining your next stop, you guys. You could find Philstonewaterraining.com.



You can also find him on LinkedIn. You can find him on Instagram. Stonewater underscore training. I mean, this episode, it just filled me up today. I love everything that you've done.



I love the stories that you created and shared and what you have created for the legacy of your family, but also for others to kind of really bask in what you have trained so hard for so many years to do. And now you're offering it to others, which I just think is beautiful. So thank you again for joining your next stop. No, thanks. It was a huge honor.



I appreciate it. Yes. You guys, you know what to do. Like rate review share. If you listen to this and you're like, oh, that's so interesting.



What a great story. But you don't share it with others. You don't know who needs to hear this. You don't know who needs to actually use Phil for her services. You don't know who is going through something in life.



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