424︱Beliefs Shape Your Future

424︱Beliefs Shape Your Future

Today on the show, our coaches gather together to share personal stories around the topic of belief systems, and what a huge impact they have on our current reality, and how beliefs shape your future.

Have you ever considered that what you’ve believed in the past is one of the biggest factors in your current experience of life? You see, your beliefs are at work affecting your present reality.

The problem is that so many beliefs go unnoticed in our daily lives, habits and conversations. They’re hard to detect sometimes, like a silent operating system at work in the background. We usually only take notice when we get a persistent error message or the entire system crashes!

The good news is that we can maintain and even change our beliefs to be more aligned with what we believe to be true. Our beliefs should continue to grow and improve just as we do!


belief system, people, life, guilt, struggle, teach, happy, person, talking, worth, god, joel, piece, leaders, decisions, lead, beliefs, business, leadership, perspective


Joel Fortner, Aaron West, Chris LoCurto

Chris LoCurto  00:10

Welcome to the Chris LoCurto show, where we discuss leadership and life, and discover that business is what you do, not who you are.

Chris LoCurto  00:22

Welcome to the show folks. Joining me in the studio are two of the coaches here, Joel Fortner.

Joel Fortner  00:30

Hello, thank you.

Chris LoCurto  00:31

Aaron West, who is actually not in-well you're in the studio, because you're on a computer.

Aaron West  00:37

I'm remote.

Chris LoCurto  00:39

Yeah, you are remote in Crossville, Tennessee, joining us today.

Aaron West  00:42

It's amazing technology can do today.

Chris LoCurto  00:44

So welcome to the studio, by video. There you go.

Aaron West  00:49

Thank you.

Chris LoCurto  00:51

Today, we are pausing and reflecting. We did this in Q1. This is our Q2 pause and reflect where we're taking a look back on the things that we've been discussing over the last-well the last quarter. And essentially saying, okay, we have talked a lot in the last few episodes about how beliefs drive our decision making. And so we've shared a lot of content, a lot of information. And what we wanted to do, again, is just get the coaches in here and us talk through specific personal things, specific to us, of how beliefs have affected our decision making. So today, what we are doing is we are from our perspectives, telling stories, or illustrating how important beliefs are in our lives and our leadership and our careers. And so we're gonna be speaking the three of us from, you know, personal areas. And why is this so important? So much of what we do here, whether it is in the coaching, in the business side, whether it's in the leadership side, whether it's in the life side, if it's Next Level Life, if it's our mastermind programs, our key leader programs, no matter what it is, we spend so much time helping folks to understand, or reframe, or remove things that have to do with their belief systems. Like just I'll take Next Level Life, for example, you guys can run on some of the business stuff. But just Next Level Life we talk a lot on the show about and we talk a lot in the events, about how much our belief system, we call, one of the things we talked about is the lies and how much the lies impact the decision making that we make. Every single person tells themselves lies. Every person, every person has something. "I'm not good enough. I'm too fat, I'm too skinny, I'll never be loved. I'll never make enough money. I'll never be good enough to have a great spouse. I'll never be a great leader." Whatever it is. We all have and there's 10 billion of them. Or as Keanu would say, eleventy billion.

Joel Fortner  03:09

That's a real number.

Chris LoCurto  03:10

That's a real number. It's a Saturday Night Live reference right there. Since we were talking about Keanu Reeves before we started the show, yes, we did have that conversation.

Joel Fortner  03:18

We were going to have John Wick on the show, but we thought it's too violent.

Chris LoCurto  03:22

Well, so Brian's talking about how the best mash up would be matrix for since Neo's dead. He's plugged into the system as John Wick. So there you go. That's so hey, hollywood.

Joel Fortner  03:39

Brian's belief system.

Aaron West  03:41

No spoiler alerts for any of you other people out there who have not seen Matrix 3.

Chris LoCurto  03:45

Right? Yeah.

Joel Fortner  03:46

Oh, man. we need to put a spoiler alert on the title of this podcast.

Chris LoCurto  04:00

Anyways we we are professional dorks here, folks, if you haven't figured that out yet. So, you know, when we look at the lies that we tell ourselves, if I'm believing that I'm not good enough, if I'm believing that I'm not smart enough, if I'm believing that and maybe I'm not, maybe I'm not, you know, the things that I feel like I should be, the problem isn't whether or not it's the accuracy of the lie. If it's only half a lie, or if it's three fourths of a lie or 10% of lie, either way, it's not truth. And that affects my decision making process because I take that belief with me, I run with it, I make decisions in life. So that's just the next that's one aspect of Next Level Life.

Joel Fortner  04:48

To speak a little bit more on the life side. So many things in our belief system, those nuances and details. We often don't see that stuff. We don't see it as belief system. It's just how we operate, it's how we make decisions.

Chris LoCurto  05:03

We're not talking to yoursel saying, "This is a belief system."

Joel Fortner  05:05

Yes, exactly. Until you show up in Next Level Life and we start peeling back all these layers, the lies, why the surface of all responses there. "Why are you making decisions like that?" And it's all of a sudden, it's like, "Well, I've never even had anyone talk to me about making decisions like that, let alone, why don't have any perspective, I've literally never talked about why I make decisions the way that I do, because I've never had anyone around me to everyone asked me, 'Why did you say that? And why do you think that and you've connected that piece of information to this piece? And earlier, you said this, when I lay all that back out to you, what do you think about that?' And it's like, man." And so this reminds me even the event I was just reading last week about, you know, one of the things after the event, she said was that this causes you to look at the world around you in a totally different way. And so much of it had to do with a reframing or learning more about her belief system. So for instance, like one thing that people struggle with a lot, especially people who come from a guilt background, that there's a lot of guilt, there's a lot of shame, there's cycles of self-sabotage with guilt and shame, and not feeling good enough, and that people trapped themselves in that cycle. And the belief oftentimes is, "I have to work my way out of it, I have to prove my worth. And I have to be good enough. And I have to drive at these goals. And I have to be this way with people." And it's a decision making process. And there's such a belief of, "I have to work to earn my worth. That I'm not good enough as it is. So I have to work and I'm constantly chasing a moving line." And you'll never ever chase it. And so what's included in that belief system? It's, "Well I got to work. But also I can't ever give myself grace, I can never give myself forgiveness." Let alone, "I can never receive it from the Lord." And you stay trapped in this cycle. And just to get into a little more like the power of understanding belief systems. When you pull back all these details, you're really able to see, "Do you see the nuances of how you're making decisions because of what you believe?" And it's why it's so incredibly eye opening for people.

Chris LoCurto  07:23

Absolutely. Aaron, you got anything on the leadership side?

Aaron West  07:26

Yeah. And I was even gonna say, I mean, what you're describing Joel is a lot of what we hear from our clients, when we do one-on-one coaching, you know, whether mastermind clients, whether we're doing Key Leaders program, or whatever it may be, you know, it's so funny how many of these people are thrust into a leadership role or into a business ownership, and one of the things we hear is, "I don't know how to lead." What does that look like? And their whole belief system is shaped around what they have experienced, in their own life, even go back to some root system stuff and things like that, that we explore Next Level Life, but understanding that, hey, what you think leadership is, may or may not be right. And what we're gonna do is we're going to reshape, we're going to reform some of those things to help you see what true leadership really is. And it's so funny how many times we come out of those conversations, and they go, gosh, that was common sense. I don't know why I wasn't really thinking about that. But  they just experienced a new mindset on things. And it's really like, well, that really wasn't that dumb. You know, it really was actually very easy to do that. I wish I had just thought about that the first time. So it's very interesting to see that perspective from our clients as well.

Chris LoCurto  08:34

Well, I say it from time to time, you know, you're taught how to lead by those who lead you. And sometimes we think, "I should know better." And yet, many times what we discover is nobody taught us, right? "Well, but I'm a smart person." Yes. But still, until that reframing happens, until we help that person to look at leadership from a different lens or through a different lens, until they learn their worth is not in, you know, hiding their failures, and their identity isn't having the title. It's you know, the greater purpose of making people great and guiding people to being successful, and all those pieces. Until they actually hear that-and from somebody who's an expert who's done this before-they still continue to walk through going, "I don't know what I'm doing. I know that I have this title. I do my 47,000 tasks each day, and maybe I say hi to a team member; so I'm not really leading anybody. I know that I should be doing stuff, but I just don't know what it is." And then reframing that into a way of hey, here's what it looks like to lead somebody else to success, which of course, we always start with. Hey, let's remove all the crap that's holding you back. And help you to see the the flawed thinking, right? And again, it's it's flawed thinking, why is it flawed thinking? Because it's coming from humans, we've learned how to lead people from the people who lead us. And it may be that the only leadership that we ever had was parenting, right? Instead of actual good quality leaders in business. So, those are the things that we are talking about today. What does it look like to change our belief system? Or what does it look like to have our belief system drive us? And I'm just gonna jump out here. I'll get started on one of the things that you hit, Joel. And, you know, it's not from any specific situation, I could share, probably 4000. But for me, one of the things that has held me back my whole life, is guilt.

Chris LoCurto  10:53

And here's the funny thing. And I discovered this, a few decades into life, that a lot of guilt, a lot of my belief system of being guilty was driven by accusation, a lot of it was driven by a situation where somebody was looking to me to be their worth, to be their happiness, to them being okay. And when things didn't go the way that it should go, then it was my fault somehow. Even if I had zero to do with it, even if I was not even in the same room, the same city, somehow it's my fault. You know, something I've done, I've said, didn't do, should have known, whatever, aligned with this person, or these people, actually, I should say that, not being happy. So much so, that as I walked through life, I was constantly looking to please people. I always felt like I was the problem, I'm the reason why this person's not happy. I'm the reason why they're not doing well. Any second, now they're gonna recognize that I'm there problem. So whether it was in relationships, or friendships or whatever, or even leaders that I worked under, I was always looking, I was waiting for that shoe to drop that was gonna say, I'm the problem, I'm the fault. So when I actually was the problem, or what I was the fault, the amount of guilt was heavy. I mean, it was huge. So when I look at big mistakes that I've made in my life, and our message here is you know, learn from your mistakes. Try not to do those again. Everybody's gonna screw up, you're going to do stupid, and we got to this place, because I needed a shift in my life and praise God, God gave it to me, where he helped me to see the lies, and he helped me to see how much that was driving my decision making, the guilt that it was holding me back. And He helped me to see what guilt is mine, you know, the stupid that I've done in life, because I've done tons of stupid. You know, I think everybody needs to get to a place in life where they recognize how much dumb that they've done, and how much they've hurt people and how much they've messed things up. But a part of that, because I do believe that's healthy to recognize when you make the bad decisions. But a healthy part of that is also recognizing when you aren't. When you're not responsible, right? We're not talking about being a victim here. If you've been through Next Level Life, you hear me say, or you hear us say, "Take responsibility for the decisions you've made." However, a belief system in mine is guilt, and I don't know what you guys are going to hit on. But for me, that excess guilt, that amount of not being able to let things go, or taking on things that weren't mine, you know, taking the guilt from people situations and carrying that with me, for a decent amount of my life caused me to hold back. And the reason that it did is because I didn't want to do something, I would hold myself back because I was afraid of putting my neck out there, I was afraid of putting myself in a situation where I became the responsibility of somebody unhappiness. And man, I think back on in my earlier days of things that I could have done, or things that I would have made really good decisions on, or experiences that I could have had, or risks that I could have taken, that I just held back. Because I believed if I do this, I may hurt somebody else. If I do this, I may cause somebody else pain. If I do this, somebody else will look at me and go "You're the reason I'm not happy right now." And that affected me greatly. It's still something that decades later, I still deal with this. It's something you know, and again, what we teach Next Level Life is we give the tools of how to work through this stuff, how to deal with this, how to how to get rid of it very quickly, or at least as fast as you can, and get on to truth, right? So there's things that have held me back even later on in life where, you know, I immediately recognize myself stepping into a guilt role, even if I'm even if I'm not guilty, right? Or, I am guilty of something, I am guilty of stupid or hurting somebody or whatever the thing is, instead of looking at it with a right measurement, instead, I over weigh the amount of guilt that comes with it, I do something, and I beat myself up, you know, 10 times more than I should, because of, "Oh my gosh, I've just affected that so badly." Praise God, we have tools to deal with that stuff. Because there was a time in my life, where that would just stay, it could stay for years. There are things that could, you know, drive decision making for years, there's things that could drive me to be cautious for years, or to lose out on friendships or whatever, for years, because of how much I hated feeling like I was the reason that somebody was struggling or suffering. Having been hit upside the head by God, on recognizing that, and a lot of other things, and so much of the stuff that we teach, you know, that's where I feel like God helps me to have the tools to discover my worth in Him, that my worth isn't in people, my worth isn't in people pleasing, my worth isn't in making somebody happy. And one of the best pieces of information that I feel like God shared with me, you know, decades ago was that I can't actually make anybody happy. I can't make you happy. Besides the fact that happiness is purely a choice. I either have to choose to be happy or choose not to be happy. It's not like Joy. Joy is like almost, you know, for me, I'd say a spiritual feeling that is like almost involuntary, right? But happiness is a choice. I can choose to be happy right now I can choose not to be happy. So for me, I went through so much of my life looking at, you know, can I make this person happy? Can I avoid making them unhappy? And praise God when he helped me to see, that's not my job. That's not my role. It's not my responsibility. And it's completely irrational. Because no matter how much I try, maybe I do something, and you choose to be happy. But how many times for those of us that are you know, "I'm a people pleaser. My name is Chris." "Hi, Chris." Aaron raised his hand. How many times have we actually stepped out and done something that it's like, this should really make this person happy and that person just kind of looks at you with the, you know, the deer in the headlights look of like, what? "No matter what, I'm not going to be happy. Sorry, I'm in a funk, I'm in a mood." So I think, you know, like I say, one of the favorite things for me was when God helped me to see this and give me the tools to shift out of that it doesn't mean that the guilt feeling doesn't come up, it just means that I handle it differently. Means that I get to it faster, it means that I solve it faster, it means that I get to quality perspective faster, what we teach all the time in Next Level Life or the leadership programs or whatever is whenever it appears that that somebody is guilting you, first ask the question, "Did I do something wrong?" You know, be honest, don't be a victim. This isn't happening, you know, to you, unless you let it happen to you. But for the love, if you did something wrong, take responsibility, take right responsibility, handle the situation. If it is not that, and somebody is being controlling, manipulative, whatever, then healthy boundary, immediately. I'm sorry, that's not truth. I'm not receiving that. And of course, we walked through a bunch of other tools in it. That has changed the second half of my life. That has changed for the most part. You know, there's still some things that I've had to work through that have taken longer than, you know, a one minute conversation. But that has changed the second half of my life of being able to put healthy things in place and be able to teach people and be able to help people to see, "Oh my gosh, that is what I'm doing, I am responding that way, I am a people pleaser, I do receive all of the responsibility for somebody's happiness." And so that was a big piece that affected me for many, many years. And praise God, that God wants us to see, he wants us to see our mistakes. He wants us to understand our mistakes. He wants us to understand the consequences to our mistakes. But he also wants us to change, he wants us to be in a right mindset, he wants us to have a right belief system, he wants us to understand, you know, what is a right level of any thing like guilt, so a whole lot of information.

Aaron West  20:49

Chris I actually want to jump off of something that you said there because I think it's so important with the people that listen to this podcast. And it's not just the business owners. But one of the things that you started talking about, and it really hit home for me, and you guys need to know, this whole podcast here is not scripted, we have no idea what each other's gonna say on this, which is what's kind of fun about this. But you talked about worrying about making other people happy. And I think about the leaders, especially the leaders that I have been a part of helping them who are not business owners, who are not the CEOs, who are not the top presidents, but how many times they go into meetings, they go into conversations with their leader, and they go, "I'm doing this to make my leader happy. I'm doing this so that this person will be happy with me." And how many times that wrong mindset, like you were just talking about can take us down a path that we don't want to go. And I'm going to kind of ask a question. This wasn't intended, but I kind of have a question. How do you as a leader then how do you work your way out of something like that? What does that look like for you to realize, "Gosh, my job is not making my leader happy. That's not what I'm supposed to do."

Chris LoCurto  22:06

So for me the the biggest answer by far and people have heard this a bajillion times on the show is you've got to get to a place where you discover what your true worth is. So for those of us that are believers, if you ask a Christian, what is your worth? They will say, "Oh, being a child of God." Which is a right answer, it's a part of a right answer. But then whenever I get that, I go, "What does that mean?" And you will just see that. "Uhhhh...that I'm God's child?" "Yes. Yes, absolutely. What does that mean?" "You know, I don't know." And that's, that's about the distance that they can go on that answer. The truth is, I am a child of God, he is my father. But He is, not me, which I am, but He is a phenomenally loving Father, who has chased My heart, my whole life, who has come after me, my whole life, who has pushed me to live as much of a right life so I can-salvation is not through works-but to have salvation, and then to have a right relationship with Him. And has pushed me to teach other people and to have better relationships with others. He's saved me. It's so interesting. A lot of people don't see this. We're talking about it probably in a couple of months in our in our Bible study, but when you see Joseph's brothers, so if we go back to biblical times, and Genesis 38 ish, when Joseph's brothers plot to kill him, and then Reuben and Judah, like, "Don't kill him, let's just, you know, let's sell them or let's, you know, throw him in a pit or, you know." Judas, like, "Let's sell him." Interestingly, a lot of translations say that they sold him to the ishmaelites. But that's not actual accurate translation, the Midianites come along, pull them out of the cistern, they sell him to the ishmaelites. God protected the brothers. These are these become the tribes of Israel, right? God protected them from themselves. He protected them from murder. He protected them from even the consequences that would come with selling, now there's plenty consequences that came anyways. But there's so many times when I look at my life and I go, "You've saved me from my own stupidity." Only an incredibly loving father does that. Then I look at the blessings that I've received, which are just immense.

Chris LoCurto  25:01

There's no lack of of god bless again my life. Why would he bless me so much like that? Because of how crazy in love He is with me. So then I bring it down to kind of a human form and I look at "Well, I'm a dad, what do I want for my kids? You know, how do I want to bless them? How do I want them to have? You know, what do I want them to know about themselves?" And one of the things for me, and again, I'll point back to Meg Meeker on this conversation, we had I don't know, 10 years ago or so. Where she helped me to recognize like for me, when I would look at a child I'd be, "Oh, you're so cute. You're so adorable. Look how pretty you look in your little dress. Look how handsome you look with your little tie." And the very things I teach people not to do with adults, I would do with little kids. And she helped me to say she's like, "Yeah, no compliment the character that you want them to have. Focus on that." Oh, my gosh, how ridiculous. This is something I teach all the time for adults, right? Focus on the qualities and characteristics you want to have. And that helped me to see something, a great father isn't focusing on surface level worth. He's focusing on the things that matter to him. The characteristics, the qualities that matter to him. So there's very long answer to your question. But when you can get to a place of actually looking at your worth, in God and what he says your actual worth is, and all the things that he's done for you, and given you the opportunities to have those relationships. And seriously, I could talk about this for about another four hours, on what your worth and God is, then it helps you to look around and go, "Wait a second, my worth isn't in my leaders eyes, my worth isn't in the judgment of a leader. My worth is what God says my worth is, my worth to this leader is what I can do for this leader inside of this business. Not to make that leader happy." So when you look at it from that aspect, then hopefully you show up every day and go, "Well, I'm getting paid to do a phenomenal job. And so my worth to the business is that I should do that, I should bust that, you know, I should make that happen." Now, one of the things we teach here is that, you know, when I look at people, I don't look at your worth Aaron, as somebody who's supposed to come and do a job here, I instead look at your worth, as how God sees you, or at least to the best of my abilities, to see what he says your worth is. And that's way more powerful to me. Because if I can help foster that, then what you're going to do as a job is just going to be, you know, 100 times better. Does that answer that question?

Aaron West  27:58

Absolutely. It was just a great thought because it went took me down a path, even I've experienced that before of where, gosh, I'm so focused on making my leader happy that I realized that that wasn't what I should have been going after. And you know, hearing our clients talk through this and struggle through this and want to be able to speak into that piece for them as well. What is it they need to be seeing instead of going "Hey, instead of my mindset being on, how do I make my leader happier? How do I make my team happy? What should my mindset be?" And I think you answered it beautifully there. So thank you for sharing that. I appreciate that.

Chris LoCurto  28:35


Joel Fortner  28:36

I think something is came to mind, as you guys were talking was, especially in a leadership, like in a business setting, is as leaders how important is it for us to have alignment and belief system within the team? And that something as we're actually when we're leading well, we are teaching and we're coaching, we're training. And so much of that is in this whole thing that we say, "How do we do it here?" And it speaks to culture, but it really speaks to alignment and that, are we teaching belief system? So if you've got a bunch of people on your team, that all believe this is how we should act as a team. Just stand back and look at that, you  look at the chaos and the difficulty that you're having, and why the actions and attitudes and behaviors are all over the place. And as a leader it can be completely frustrating and even hopeless at times, are like what do I do with these people? And it's, "Well I need to learn how to lead people." And one of the biggest first steps to that is, you know that when we're really teaching, you've got to get yourself freed up so you can now go lead more and we teach what leadership really looks like heavily focusing on the culture of the team. You're teaching so much belief system because you're putting boundaries in place. You're teaching core values you're teaching, these are right actions, and these are wrong actions. These are right attitudes, and wrong attitudes. And it's like we're massaging the team into place. But it's not in just behavior. Because behavior follows belief. We're actually instilling, "This is how we believe here." So think about how difficult- I think about Aaron how difficult that situation you lined out is, as you're a leader, reporting to a leader, and you realize, "Man, I really don't want to be aiming and making you happy." But what if you work for a leader that that's their goal for you, is they want you to make them happy. And because maybe you're that leader, you know, leader listening to this, and it's like, well, that's something we need to work on and to adjust. Because it's not about happiness here, when it comes to really what you're talking about, Chris, it's what are the beliefs in the team and in the culture that I want, and I start to lead those because I look back, you know, when I reflect on our team, or I reflect even on my family, is that we're trying to have unity around what do we believe as a team, and then we go on to train the behavior part of it. And what do we have more of? We have more unity, we have less conflict, we get more done, everyone's is happier. You know? How about that how that works out at times. And there's all this goodness that flows from that. So I think is an encouragement to leaders that are listening to this is, go after training belief system within your team train belief system, within your home, especially as believers and in God, we're training belief system, that we raise up our kids, and that's all they ever know. All they ever know is the Lord. All they ever know is the Bible and commandments and what righteous living looks like. But it has to be led somewhere.

Chris LoCurto  31:54

Yeah. And I think, you know, something I've shared with the team forever, is, you know, every now and then I'll say in staff meeting, don't come to work for me, come to work for the Lord. You have today, you have eight hours today to come in and busted for God, because he has His will and his purposes for you. Go do that. If you do that, I don't ever have to worry about you. I don't have to manage you, you know and leading you as is super easy, or it's not very difficult. But if you come into work for me, if you come into work for Chris LoCurto every day, now I've got to manage that. Because now you have expectations, you're going to be looking for things in me, you're going to be looking for, you know, did you make me happy? Are you taking that responsibility? You know, have you gotten enough pat's on the back today? Everything's going to be about Chris. And it's just a colossal waste of time. Now again, that that does not mean that we don't respect the owners, the leaders, all that kind of stuff. What I'm saying is, is that I don't come to work for me. Now, I own the business but still, that's that's a philosophy I've had for many many years, is that I'm coming to work God's given me this opportunity today to go bust it somehow; coaching writing, speaking doing a podcast whatever it is, focus on making God happy. The great thing is I don't have to focus on making man happy, so.

Joel Fortner  33:25

Yeah, I think-so on that- like that's, I mean to be vulnerable with everybody, everyone here in the room, and everyone listening; when I struggle the most is when I come to work and it's for you. When I come to work and you're on my mind, or you know what I'm saying? But when I struggle the most is when I'm not keeping right perspective focusing on, why am I here? And I'm coming to work for you, because I'm fearing disappointing you, or I'm fearing failing and that disappointing you. And then to kind of like tie a whole bunch of things together here, of what we're talking about of coming to belief system, where does that come from? You know, there are direct linkages back to my root system in my past absolutely, of why I will come to work. And all of a sudden I'm in this like, I'm bracing and it's fear driven. I feel out of control. You know, I become a victim. You know, this is how Chris is going to respond to that. It's this completely toxic cycle. And but I can see so well, where are these things come from, like in my past and in my life, and then when I can, it's like, well, how do I get out of that place? Rather than Coming to work and then realizing, wait a minute, where are you at man? It's like, look at now how you're responding, take responsibility for what you're doing. And then you're able to shift your thinking using what we teach. It's like you're literally able to just shift your belief system or cancel a lot of your belief system that's so ingrained, because it's now shifting to right perspective, on it is about God. And it is about truth and perspective of, first of all, who is your leader? Who's your best friend? What are his attributes? What's his character? How do we respond to things around here? Why is this such a big deal if you did fail at that, and you start pounding that historic belief system and punching it in the face with truth and perspective, but then another powerful tool to go to is all that you're grateful for. What am I grateful for like about that the God has provided? What am I grateful for when it comes to this person that I'm now fearing? Becausewhat I feel what I have found, and I share this in Next Level Life all the time, is, when you're being a victim to somebody, that's who they are-I mean, they are your enemy, they are the attacker, they are that person in your mind. Well, then all of a sudden, you force your thinking to go to cancel all that. What are all the things that you love about that person? Why are you grateful for them? Where's your gratitude? And it's incredibly powerful to breaking down that victim mentality fuel just toxic cycle.

Chris LoCurto  36:34

Yeah you can't be a victim without a villain, there's always going to be a villain somewhere. And how have I responded, when that's a struggle that you're experiencing?

Joel Fortner  36:44

And so to add to that, like when I'm not self-managing well, the response is never terrible. It's not this enemy attack, it's not this, it's not a negative response. You know, there will be sometimes there will be historically you'll push in on the thing that we're talking about, but you see all the struggle with it, and around it. And then we end up getting to the struggle. And there was a time in the last six or eight months, like when Heather and I were both struggling with something, we were quickly able to get to perspective on what we were struggling with as people. And then we were able to talk about it with the team. And the team gets to learn. And they get to see their leaders being vulnerable about it. And we're able to go right to, "Oh, man, look at all the things that we did there of like that were control struggles and selfishness and defensiveness." And all these pieces that are just as we teach those surface level responses that are within you. And then they pop up in this really, all this surely drives to one of the things I wanted to talk about today was how belief system gets passed on. Because again, I can make these linkages of because of what we're trained to do around here is to where does that come from? Is look at how that look at the behavior that I have, that I can exhibit as a result of belief system lies all things in route system, left uneducated. How could I go about living my life? Well I look back and look at all of the years I lived and not knowing the things that I now know. And I can see why, like in MaryBeth in my early years of our relationship and dating and engaged and the first, we guess one or two years of marriage, like looking back and reflecting on those struggles and looking at how I contributed to conflict. And I'm like just checking boxes. I'm like, yep, yep, yep, yep, yep. That's all unchecked struggle. It's all unchecked belief system that's leading to those choices of how you're relating with your wife, let alone looking at how I would respond to people, people pleasing, approval seeking. You know, I remember I was sitting at a Mexican restaurant. I can still picture it, it was so emotional, this thing that happened, especially for a high I people pleaser like me, is I'd won this thing-I don't remember what it was it was in college and like but a lot of my class didn't know it. And I was like, I want people to know it. And so I found a way to weave it and work it in to what I was saying with all of my friends sitting there. And I wove it in but not so well. Because my high D friend in the class, she turned to me and was like, and she just straight up called me out. And it was a big check. And it was major accountability because I knew what I was doing. I knew I was seeking that approval and that worth from people but I just couldn't resist the bait. And I went for it. And but then I have to look back at these things and reflect on seeing look at yourself, look at why you were doing things like that and making those kinds decisions because of your belief system and what you were taught.

Chris LoCurto  40:03

Yeah, it is crazy powerful the day we actually recognize that we're doing it, like even in the moment. And it's best when you know what's coming. You know, it's it's so funny-doing what we do. It's a once in a great while it's like, you know, you're you're about to say something, because you know, you're looking for worth shut up, just knock it down, right? But I think such a painful moment like that being called out like that, is also one of the most powerful things. It's even more powerful, if the person is like, "Hey, I do that too. I've experienced that." Instead of, "Joel, you're you're being silly." Instead of that being a "Hey, brother, listen, I see you're struggling. I struggle with it too." How do we fix the struggle? What is the struggle, and really helping somebody to see, "Oh, my gosh, I'm not alone in this." Because I think that's what we think when somebody calls us out, especially the high I's. "Well just got attacked." Then it becomes like 10 times even worse, "Man, I sucked at getting this this point across and getting some worth from people. And I got attached to the process. Now I'm really in pain."

Joel Fortner  41:20

One huge failure.

Chris LoCurto  41:22

I'm just a big failure, and then guilt comes in, so.

Aaron West  41:26

Well. And it's so funny, Joel, what you were just talking about being a high I myself. Gosh, I struggle with a lot of the same same things that that you were just describing right there. And talking about that whole change piece and going into and learning about what our beliefs are, and how we pass those things on. You know, even for me, I think back to you know, I've had some great leaders that I've worked for, I've had some leaders that aren't so great, I want to be nice, aren't so great. But one of the things and here's a vulnerable point for me, one of the things I remember having a conversation with Chris LoCurto, a couple of years ago, there in the offices, and I made a comment to Chris, that I said, "Chris, you know what you're one of the best leaders I've ever had, I want you to know that. Dude, I'm going to be real, I put you on a pedestal." And he stopped me right there. Chris, you stopped me at that point. And you walked me through what that really meant. And it changed the way I looked at that from that point on, it changed the way I saw you, instead of looking at you as somebody that I needed to get approval from, and get acceptance from, and want to make sure I didn't disappoint. I realized you are somebody who want to be on the same level with me. That you are somebody who wanted to go, "Hey, we're in this together." And it changed my perspective a lot on that piece. I'll tell you, I'm going to jump back to my first job that I ever had. I worked at a paint and appliance store-but one of the things that that that I did, I worked at a paint appliance store and worked for a great friend of mine, he owned the place. And so it was my first job out of high school between high school and college was working the summer. And I was there about four weeks before I quit. And I told him I sent him a letter about how bad of a job I thought he was doing running his business. I'm 18 years old. I had the audacity to do that. Yeah, looking at what's funny is I actually found that letter that I sent him a couple of weeks ago, and I realized how wrong I was. I mean, massively wrong, but I had the audacity to sit there and go, "Hey, you're not doing your business, right this way, this way, this way, this way, this way, this way, this way. And so because of that I'm not working for you anymore."

Chris LoCurto  43:53


Aaron West  43:55

And I was like, okay, so I went on to college, and I worked for a couple of other places. Then during college, I learned a little bit more about humility, I learned a little bit more about how to how to actually be a good team member. In a business, learned a little bit more about how business actually runs. And there was this incident that happened that was very eye opening for me. And it was the thing that happened in November of 2008. I was in Cancun, Mexico on entree leadership. And it was the first time I'd ever heard anybody talk about personality styles. And that right there began a journey for me of going wait a second, what I have been taught about business, what I have learned about leadership, all of these things, all of my beliefs on these things. Were were not accurate. They were things like you just talked about. There were things that we had to learn from the people who had taught us. But it was it seemed like such common sense that I went, wait a second hold up. I want to take this thing and go further with it, there's more to this than just a personality style. Once I started learning about personality styles, I began to see things where I had messed up, I've began to see my own immaturity, and my own life, but I began to see where other people were struggling as leaders, I began to see this piece and that journey for me is what led me to even go deeper. I'm going to admit, I'm a high theoretical, so maybe I might have read a number of things then on, on personality styles, and, and other things like that. But it took me on a journey to where I wanted to learn more about how does business really work? How do these things happen? And I remember sitting down with you a number of times, going, "Hey, help me understand this, hey, walk me through this. What does this mean? Why do we do it this way?" Because I realized that my beliefs on what we did as business owners as leaders was not right. It was not accurate. There are pieces that were great. There were pieces that were fantastic. But there are a lot of pieces that are missing. And I needed to fill that gap in. And so understanding that I can change my beliefs, I don't have to be locked into, Hey, this is the way we've always done stuff. And this is the way businesses run. This is the way, you know, the experience I've had is this is the way things are going to be done. Realizing that I could grow in that realization, that I could make those changes, and then just steal off of Joel's thing, then realizing what I could do pass it on to other people. learning that and being able to pass on that stuff. That's just huge for me to be able to recognize that piece and understand, it doesn't stop. And I'm not done learning, I can go and tell you that. I'm not done learning about this, I still want to continue learn more and more and more and pass on more and more and more.

Chris LoCurto  46:41

Yeah. I think I love the humility of being able to look back and you know, the vulnerability that we're all sharing here and being able to look back at just when we're stupid, of thinking, you know, that we know what we know. But the thing I wanted to touch on was the the pedestal piece, because too many people want to be on that pedestal, right? Too many people allow people to put them on that pedestal. And when I was at Etrade, so not a whole heck of a lot older than you were back in those days in my early 20s. I learned very quickly, because I started my leading like everybody else that had taught me. But I learned very quickly, that if I was the smartest person in the room that nobody else was needed, right? And so if I was going to be this amazing guy than what in the world that I need everybody else for? And it really quickly taught me and by it, I mean God, God really quickly taught me, you're no better than anybody else. You may be better at a thing. You may have different gifts and talents. But the way that God sees people, he's not a respecter of persons. So to put people on a pedestal in the first place, goes against His way of looking at us, right? We are supposed to be brothers and sisters, and by the way, a great thing to know is in the Hebrew, there's no word for hero. Because you're not supposed to be like anybody else. You're supposed to be the best version of yourself. Right? So for me that is that is so funny. Because whenever something like that has happened, like when you share that, I don't see you and I as any differently. I don't think about it that way I think of, "Hey, this is us doing this, this is us going and making this thing happen." Now I do see my absolutely see my responsibilities as the owner of the business as, as the CEO of the business and everything. But I look at that as a role responsibility, not as a "Oh, well, I'm better." Because that man, the funny thing is on the last person on the planet, who would say "I'm better." I'm the one who's like, well I probably suck way more than you do so. So for me, that pedestal piece is just something that we've got to recognize of, you know, how much it holds us back because then it holds you back. If that's, you know, and I want to be cautious with this. It doesn't mean that we don't look at people with specific, you know, maybe we have somebody that's kind of a father figure or a mother figure in our life or somebody who's like an older brother, you know, plays that role in our life that there's nothing wrong with that. It's the, "Hey, this person is better than me. This person belongs in a higher place than me this person.." Whatever. We do that on a consistent basis and we don't recognize, A) it's not fair to the person although many people on pedestals want to be on pedestals, but it's not fair to from for me because I don't want to be there. That's the last thing I want. Because if I'm if I'm there, then you see me differently than I feel like you should see me. And God forbid I take a second and think that I deserve to be on that pedestal that, that just would suck. But the bigger pieces that it holds us back as individuals, right? It keeps us from having a right view of the person, but it keeps us from having a right view of ourselves. Because what does putting a person on a pedestal say, "I'm less than this person." Man, oh, man, show me biblically. Show me where God says anybody is less than somebody else. When it comes to the body of Christ, right? We are all you know, according to our Messiah, we're all priests. He's our high priest. There's an equality that comes with that. Some of us have different gifts, some of us have different talents, I might have get different gifts and talent than you have. But it doesn't make any of us better than anybody else. And I love what Paul says, "Don't say that you're on my team. Don't say that you're on Apollo's team, you're not there are no teams. There's Jesus. There's his team, there's Yeshua, his team. And that's it." So great stuff, powerful, powerful stuff to share.

Joel Fortner  51:14

So as I sit here, and I like especially I listen to you guys, and we talked through this, and I think about everyone who's listening to this show. I think my encouragement to all of you all listening is, is don't settle, go after education go after learning, go after perspective. Especially when you recognize that man, I've got some things that are maybe wrong in my belief system, or I've got a lot of behaviors and things that are going on that just aren't right, that I'm feeling stuck in life or in leadership in business, I'm not sure what to do or how to lead people well, you will be surprised how much of that actually comes from your training and your from your belief system. And, you know, I can personally attest to this, you know, in my 20s, were so many of my reckless years. And I can look back now and see how much of my belief system was driving a lot of bad decisions. And then I get into my 30s. And I look at my decision making was getting better, healthier, more mature. And it was so much because of the people I have in my life. And because of the information that I was taking in, that was helping me become a better person. I mean, just better decision making all across my life. And I'm now I've been really feeling so grateful and blessed for so much fruit, but just blessing that's come and where I look back and say, Man, if I hadn't had that outside perspective, information and influence, I would not be where I'm at in personally in my life today. And my life is not devoid of struggle and difficulty. It's there. But it's, I think as I just, you know, put this out there, it's go after information, go after perspective, if it's something with us, and it's Next Level Life or coaching, just reach out and get information in choose to grow.

Aaron West  53:17

Well, and I'll add to that to not only just going after information, but implementing, you know, I love to learn a lot of stuff. There's so much stuff that I have waited way too long in my life to actually implement. And so not only learning it, like you said, Joel, but now being able to go and implement and put it into practice. That's where the difference comes in.

Chris LoCurto  53:38

Yeah, we don't say it enough, we say it all the time. And it's still not enough. This is a practice, this is a practice, it's practice, you must practice this stuff to get good at it. And here, we have three of us being- Brian, if you want to jump in and share vulnerable stories now. Okay. So we have the three of us sharing vulnerable stuff that had we not done the practice and worked our butts off to get to a place A) to recognize it, B) to use the tools to kick it in the teeth and see to make healthier decisions going forward, we wouldn't be able to do this show. Like we literally wouldn't be able to talk about this because we'd still be stuck in it. And I think that's the powerful piece is that you have to get educated. You have to implement it. And then you have to recognize it's not happening tomorrow. You know, it took me decades to get to a place of carrying that much guilt in my life, and it took me years to walk out a lot of it, and again,  it's still something that pops it's rears its ugly head up from time to time, but had we not all busted our butts, implemented, and then practice the daylights out of it. We wouldn't have a show to share right now. So powerful stuff. Well, folks, hopefully this is helping you. We hope that this style of wrap up this pause and reflect is helpful to be able to look at the things that we've discussed. Hopefully, you've been listening to the last quarters worth of episodes, it will make a heck of a lot more sense if you have. But even if you just take from today, the understanding of what you can do to shift, what you can do to change your belief system, the first part of that being recognize how much of your decision making comes from your belief system. And if you've got some jacked up belief systems in there, like pretty much every person walking the planet, then we got to do something about it. What is that thing going to be? Get that right education, implement the daylights out of it in practice, practice, practice, use those tools. By far, seek your worth in God. Well, gentlemen, thank you for joining me today.

Joel Fortner  55:52

You're welcome.

Chris LoCurto  55:53

In studio even if by video.

Joel Fortner  55:55

It works.

Chris LoCurto  55:55

Good stuff, good stuff. So, folks, as always take this information, change your leadership, change your business, change your life, and join us on the next episode.

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Meet Chris LoCurto


Chris has a heart for changing lives by helping people discover the life and business they really want.

Decades of personal and leadership development experience, as well as running multi-million dollar businesses, has made him an expert in life and business coaching. personality types, and communication styles.

Growing up in a small logging town near Lake Tahoe, California, Chris learned a strong work ethic at home from his full-time working mom. He began his leadership and training career in the corporate world, starting but at E'TRADE.