Gary John Bishop, author of Unfu*k Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and into Your Life, started out as a senior program manager for a professional development company and then segued into becoming a coach for athletes and executives alike.
What sets Gary apart, and makes this book a great and resonating read, is the frankness and irreverence of his “urban philosophy.” Gary doesn’t pull any punches or sugarcoat things. He just tells you what you need to hear to get out of your own way—and out of your head—and allow yourself to live up to your full potential. A must read for anyone, whether you think you need the help or not.
1. I really enjoyed your book, so thank you for writing it. I’m curious about what made you decide to write it?
Thank you for reading it! The thing is, I am committed to making a real difference with people, the kind of difference that would have them take different actions than they did yesterday and take their lives in new and fulfilling directions. When I looked at the “self help” category what I was mostly impacted by was the slew of books that were either some wafer thin “corporate psychology” or asking people to manifest their dreams or change their mindset or focus on abundance which all, quite frankly, occurred to me like total voodoo and a complete distraction from what makes real change happen in someone’s life. I wanted to write a book that made you sit up, accept full responsibility for the life you have, and begin to interrupt the drift of who you have become.
2. Did you always want to go into professional development and coaching? If not, how did that come about and if yes, why?
It was never on my radar as a subject I was particularly interested in. It seemed to me like a bunch of psycho-babble perpetuated by helpless people looking for an answer that never really existed. When I look back, that kind of arrogance was like a shellac across my thinking. It wasn’t until I reached a crisis in my own life that I began to take matters into my own hands and embark upon my own self-discovery and growth. Thereafter, the cracks in my arrogance began to appear. That process will continue until I die. You’re never a done deal. At some later point in my own development I realized I had a facility for giving it away and that’s what I have made my life about these last ten years or so.
3. How did you come up with the assertions you’ve based the book on? Were there others you did not include and if so, why?
I am my own guinea pig in all of this. I looked to see what assertions had worked for me and included the standouts that enabled me to make real change in my life in the book, many of which I lean on to this day. The critical factor in this book is allowing yourself the time to explore those assertions. To try them out in a real area of your life where you are suffering or stuck or stopped. To allow yourself to be impacted by and inspired by their demand of you. If you can do that, your life really is a well of unlimited potential. You’ll have taught yourself the most valuable thing you will ever learn. You really can do it. All of it.
4. Which of the assertions is your favorite? Which of them do your clients have the most trouble with?
My own favorite is, “I am willing”. It’s such a self-generative, bold statement to make for a human being, one where you can take a look at any situation in your life and find just what you needed to take it on and have it go your way. Willingness is a magical state and unfortunately, for most people, something they are completely oblivious to. I would say the most challenging is, “I expect nothing and accept everything”. We spend so much of our lives resisting, struggling, and wrestling that we just cannot seem to accept certain people and things as they are. That inability to accept is what keeps things stuck just the way they are. While I can appreciate that sounds like a completely counter-intuitive approach, that’s exactly how we work as human beings. Whatever we resist, persists by virtue of our own resistance. The things that we have come to authentically accept have no bearing on us, which allows us to focus our attention on what really matters in our lives. The challenge is in discovering what acceptance really is for oneself.
5. In the last chapter, you briefly mention that there is a theme that connects them all. Can you please elaborate on this?
They’re all about you. It all begins with you—every emotion, every experience, every thought, every strategy, and every failure. We have become blaming machines, blaming our jobs, partners, parents, finances, education, or even ourselves, none of which makes one blind bit of difference to the quality and level of accomplishment we get to enjoy. That’s one way of living life, but you should be aware you are turning yourself into a victim every time you look outside of yourself to explain where your life is. Real accomplishment, real success, and fulfillment begin with taking ownership and breaking your addiction to explanation. Why you are where you are is completely irrelevant. The real question is, what are you going to do about that now?
6. Since we’re all about action, which plays well into your assertion about not defining yourself by your thoughts, which one action can we take to get out of our own head and way?
Simple. State a promise to yourself and keep it. Have your actions start to align with what you promise yourself. Whether it’s getting out of bed when you said you would or go to the gym or to limit your spending to $75 a week, keep a promise and continue to build that muscle to greater and more adventurous promises. Your success is almost exclusively tied to the degree to which you can keep a promise to yourself.