We hear a lot about people saying, “We’d like to hear from more people who have experienced some of our events, LifePlan, StratPlan.” We have somebody who has been through both on today’s show.
Brent Van Haren is joining us today to talk about the impact that LifePlan and StratPlan has had on his family and business.
“That’s a good question. StratPlan was pretty powerful for us in our business. I think I told you afterwards in the first couple of months afterwards that it was by far the most impactful thing that I’ve been a part of in the business.
I’ve been there about 8 years. It has helped change our direction, changed our understanding of who we are. It’s really allowed us to focus on what we need to rather than just what we thought we should.”
Your dad had just gone through LifePlan. What did you experience going through that event? Obviously, the event itself was big and intense. Here you’ve got your dad that’s just a couple of days out of LifePlan. What did you see? What did you experience? What did you notice?
“I think the first thing, my dad’s a high D and raised by a Dutch farmer. Emotions aren’t really worn on the sleeve at any point. The first thing I noticed is just how open, and vulnerable, and then emotional in a really healthy way that he was for the first couple days.
That was really powerful. There was only 72 hours between the LifePlan and the StratPlan. He was still riding high on the LifePlan wave. It was intense, but immediately I realized how much I wanted to attend the LifePlan.”
You came down and did your LifePlan. What was that experience like for you?
“What was it like? It was probably, other than the birth of my daughter, as far as a 48 hour period goes, it was the most powerful 48 hours that I have had in my life. It was just so eye-opening and beneficial for me.
To be honest, it’s been about 10 months, and the longer I am away from it, the more impact it has had. It allowed me to really start to put into place some of the things that I learned.”
What would you say was the most profound thing that you learned in that process?
“There are a lot of things I learned in that process. For me, the thing that was hardest, that we spent 2 hours of you drilling into my head one morning was that I’m not responsible for other people’s well-being.
That was a hard one for me to get my head wrapped around. That took a while. My number one talent that we identified is a happiness transfer agent, conducting people on the happiness train. :-) I was able to acknowledge that that’s a real strength. I had never really looked at it that way.”
A strength because you are talented at it. It’s something that you do great! Pre-LifePlan, would you say that’s where you got self-worth?
“Yeah, it was very much a burden that I put on myself. I felt I had to make other people happy, or bringing them forward, or that it was my responsibility. It’s shaped a lot of areas in my life.”
Are you still able to use that talent now in a different way?
“I get to embrace it for what it is and not feel that it’s my responsibility. I have a brother in the business. I don’t feel like it’s my responsibility to make him happy, or to make him feel a different way. I have an impact on that, but it’s not my responsibility.”
What would happen pre-LifePlan when you were trying to make people happy, or make a person happy and it just wasn’t working? How would you feel and what would tell yourself?
“I don’t have a lot of negatives when you look at the things that put the brakes on, but that would be one of them. I felt like I had to bring someone out. Number 1, sometimes they just don’t want to be.
Number 2, it’s just not healthy how much energy I invest in trying to do that. I can’t say it was a conscious thing, but it was something that would really weigh on me. It created a lot of stress in my life.”
What other things were profound for you in the process?
“I always knew I didn’t have physical boundaries. I didn’t know that I didn’t have emotional boundaries. It ties in with that responsibility, that sense of responsibility that I had for other people’s well-being.
I had zero boundaries in my life, and it also created a lot of stress. I’m a high D/I personality. My wife is a 99 S/C, polar opposites. My need to just do things that other people ask to make other people happy and to do whatever, created a lot of stress in our relationship.
The understanding and the ability for me to process and say, “Do I want to do something? How is that going to impact my real goals, which are, my family and my spirituality, and the other things in my life? Is this something I have to say yes to?”
It brought stress to your marriage, your relationship because would you say that you were a people-pleaser?
“I had to say, “Yes” to everything. I still struggle with it. It’s something that I’m still working on. I’m able to acknowledge it very quickly if I’ve over-committed and if we have created that stress. I know where it’s coming from. I’m able to fix it quickly.”
As an individual, would you sum it up as health? The greatest change has been your healthier emotionally? Healthier in where you get your self-worth, your self-esteem?
“Absolutely! I feel comfortable with where I get those things. I know quickly now if I’m out of line, if I just need to re-adjust.”
I think that is one of the most powerful things on the other side of LifePlan!
You have the tools to be able to go, “Ah, there it is. All right, back off of that and move forward.” I love that freedom of being able to know what it is and see what it is. Did you come in with reservations?
“There were definitely reservations. I was working myself up the day before and the morning of. I was praying for honesty, openness, vulnerability, just wanting to make sure that I was just in the right place, that I was honest with myself. I was worried I would dodge some of the harder things if I could.”
What made it safe for you not to do that?
“You say it a lot, but I don’t think people really realize it until they get to know you that there is just zero judgement in the process. There is nothing but openness, and engagement, and sincerity. That made it easy, knowing who you are. Also, the value that I knew would come of it.”
You plugged these things into your life, but you also go back to a business that has recently gone through. Dad’s gone through LifePlan. He’s got big changes in his life.
The company has just gone through a huge event, StratPlan, big changes in the company. How do you see the business coming out of your LifePlan? How do you see it now? How has that helped?
“It’s a lot easier for me to embrace what I do well and not get trapped in the things that I don’t do well, which has been the previous years, the last 4 years before StratPlan and LifePlan.
I didn’t really realize how much of my role was things that just aren’t natural to me. I wasn’t very effective at them and wasn’t the leader that I wanted to be. The LifePlan really helped me understand what I’m good at; allowed me to embrace it.
It allowed me to focus on more of my strengths rather than some of the things that just don’t come easily to me. Personally, that’s definitely impacted me. As a leader, I meet with all of the people that I lead, 1 on 1 every other week.
They’re like mini 1 1/2 hours sessions of LifePlan now instead of before it was just focus, how are we doing. Now it’s all about the individual because I understand so much clearer now.
It doesn’t really matter what is happening and how they execute the job if there’s some stuff underneath that we just need to understand and talk about and be open with. It’s really changed how I engage with my team.”
You’re really experiencing how people bring their root system to work every single day?
“It’s amazing once the curtain’s pulled back on that! We really dig a lot deeper with my team members and understand each other.
I am able to share what I struggle with so much easier because I know. That makes a big difference in how open we can be with each other and where we can get as a team.
We have a phenomenal team here. It has had a huge impact. We’ve been focusing on culture as of StratPlan. That was a big thing that came out, is how we communicate, what our culture is. This has really helped be a catalyst for that even more that it would have been.”
Your Dad went through. You went through. Your brother went through. You guys have sent 3 other leaders through. Why and what are you seeing there?
“There’s a different understanding now of each other, a different patience, not just with each other who have been through LifePlan, but just with people. It’s so much easier for me to look past the behaviors because I understand that they come from someplace else.
We’re able to really just engage with each other as people rather than as business acquaintances, or whatever. We just really engage as people. It’s really shaping our company to be a pretty phenomenal place to work.”
Power in team members, and leaders going through. It’s not just one person who’s realized this and is trying to change a culture, but now you have a team of people that are in it together, working to change the culture. Does it make it easier for you to lead?
“The big thing that I think it helps me as a leader is so much of it comes back to understanding myself. It’s so important for me and for really anyone to understand who they are. I am able to engage with others.
It’s changed every aspect of how I lead. There’s just this openness and comfort with me and with others that is just so different than before.”
I want to step back again just a little bit. We’ve talked about you. We’ve talked about the business. We’ve touched a little bit on what it’s like coming home. What’s the experience like now as a husband?
What is the experience like for you? What is life like now for you? How do you see your daughter? What adjustments have you made as a husband? What do you see as a husband? What adjustments and what do you see as a father?
“I was talking to Stacy, my wife, about how I’m trying to be deliberate with Addie, our daughter. I understand I’m not going to do everything right. I’m at least trying to be deliberate in what of my natural behaviors I push on to her, or I encourage or don’t encourage within her.
One of the things that you really helped me see is that I get self-worth by being productive in any given moment, so trying to make sure that at some point I instill a good work ethic in Addie.
The ability to choose and find her self-worth from the right places, from her spirituality and other things, not just from what she thinks other people want to see.”
For anyone who’s out there, there’s a lot of people listening, business owners, leaders, individuals, stay at home moms, that have not gotten around to doing LifePlan. “I’ll get it. I need to, yeah, I need to do that. Ah, I’ll get to it.”
That is one of the things that we hear a lot is people saying, “You know, I know I’ve needed to do this for 2 years.” What would you say to them about getting in?
“My dad has been through LifePlan, my brother. I have been through LifePlan. It changes generations. It’s going to change Addie. She’s going to have more awareness for her children, or the people that are close to her in her life. It has a long lasting impact. I would never have realized these.
There’s just nothing else in my life I ever would have encountered that would’ve helped me see that. To have that big of an impact, is pretty amazing. That’s where some people do have a lot of anxiety, or concern about the experience, about the 2 days that LifePlan is.
I just try to really look at the big picture, 2 days of discomfort, I’ll say, is worth a lifetime of better choices, and better understanding, and better decisions. For me, it’s a no brainer to invest the time, and the money, and the effort, and the discomfort to come out on the other side so different and so aware. It’s amazing.”
Last question. If you could go back to a young Brent Van Haren, what would you tell him?
“I made a lot of decisions when I was young for other people. Still working on that today. I wouldn’t change any of the trajectory of my life because of my amazing wife and daughter.
There are plenty of decisions that I look back on and don’t understand myself. There are just a lot of things that I would’ve changed about me and my need to please others rather than just a passion that isn’t a need to make others happy. A lot stems from that for me.”
That’s one of the best things that you can learn coming through LifePlan, is that the thing that you’ve done that unfortunately you got self-worth from remains the thing that you get to do most likely. It’s from a completely different direction, different purpose.
QUESTION: What is holding you back from LifePlan?