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How to Live a Meaningful Life with Erick Rheam

George Grombacher March 16, 2023

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How to Live a Meaningful Life with Erick Rheam

LifeBlood: We talked about how to live a meaningful life, what to do when you feel like you’re out of control, the problem of a lack of purpose, and the three key areas to pay close attention to, with Erick Rheam, professional speaker, author, and podcaster.   

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Our Guests

George Grombacher

Erick Rheam

Erick Rheam

Episode Transcript

george grombacher 0:02
Well, hello, this is George G. And the time is right welcome. Today’s guest is strong and powerful Eric rrim. Eric, are you ready to do this? Yeah, George. Let’s do it, man. All right, let’s go. Eric is a professional speaker. He is an author. He’s helping overwhelmed and busy professionals cut through the whirlwind of their professional lives, they can rise above chaos and discover significance and peace. Eric, excited to have you on tell us a little about your personal lives more about your work, why you do what you do? Oh, wow. Well, I’m a professional speaker. I’m an author. I’m a podcaster. And I just went through my own journey where I was trying to figure out George, what I wanted to accomplish with my life. I mean, I went through a period where I was very frustrated that a lot of towel had a lot of energy. But I just lacked purpose. And it was just frustrating man, you know, and kind of hit a rock bottom of my life where I just was not crushing it in most areas of my life. And it was at a point where I should have been in my mind anyway, I had this kind of I don’t know, I was actually talking my daughter about this yesterday. She’s 19. And it’s kind of fun to watch her go through the process can I remember when I was at age, and she’s got all these ideas of where she should be. And no patients, you know, and so I was kind of like that I was very frustrated. I was comparing myself to people my age, it just seemed like everybody was doing better than I was. And I had really was not doing well in the marriage department was not doing well, my career was not really doing well with my family. And just got to a point where it was just really frustrated, man, I just had to figure some things out. And, you know, fast forward to where I am now. I’m 49. Now I hit my, towards 2023 2000 fives and I hit my rock bottom. And I just kind of went on this journey, this journey of, you know, I gotta figure some things out. Because when I hit my rock bottom in 2005, one thing I realized at the end of the day, where I was basically suspended for a week for my job, at the end of that week, long suspension, I realized I still had my family, I still had my, my job. And I still had I was gotten crossways with my dad, who was the best man at my wedding, him and I were best friends, we got to this huge fight, where I literally laid my hands on my father and threw him out of my house was kind of a really embarrassing moment for me. And I got to the point where I just realized at the end of that, that I still had all those things. But if I wasn’t going to change, then who knows where I would be. So it went on really this 15 year journey for me to figure some things out to kind of figure out, how can I cut through the whirlwind I was experiencing how can I rise above this chaos, because I don’t know if you experienced this, George. But it just seemed like, I always was getting this point where this phrase came very common to me like well, so once I get through this, once I get through this, well, every time I got through something, there was something waiting for me on the other end of it, it just never stopped. And I realized, well, I’m gonna have to figure out a way to combat this or it’s just going to chew me up and spit me out. And I want to be alone at the end of it. So once I figured that part out, and I ended up becoming a professional speaker at the other end of it, one of the things I decided to do was I wanted to pass this on to others. And I wanted to get the word out there. And I want to help as many people that I like, as I could get on the other side of this thing, because there’s a lot of people that I’ve run in with and I’ve interacted with, they’re right where I was, you know, and it’s sad to be there, but you don’t have to stay there. And so that’s my lifelong mission is what I want to do. It’s what brought me here today, man.

Unknown Speaker 3:15
It’s such a human thing, right?

Unknown Speaker 3:19
Such a human experience to say, You know what, this isn’t going great. But once I kind of grit my teeth and run through this wall, it’s going to be okay. But what happens is to your point, we find more walls one after another, so we need to do more work. There’s deeper work to be done. Yeah, I wish it was walls.

Erick Rheam 3:38
It was way worse than that. Oh man.

Just a straight up thunderstorm where you have no sense of being where you are where you’re going. You have no sense of of direction. I mean, the walls would be at least I’d have had it been grounded and I was like in perpetual vertigo a man just trying to figure some things out I was on a path of destruction and so was leading a destructive lifestyle. I call it the beast you know the beast is an unknown force that does seem to get in your way you know when you feel like that. You finally got some momentum in your life but you just shoot yourself in the foot you do something stupid you say something stupid like why do I continue to do this I got this pattern I could get out of and this there had to be something different. It had to be something different or is there’s no way life is going to be like this for us my life and I was only you know what probably my early 30s So I had a lot of life to go I still got a lot of life to go I’m like man, I don’t want to continue living like this. But the good news was is that I had my health I had my energy I had some pretty good people in my life at the time that I could connect with and I knew there would there had to be a path I just had to figure it out. Yeah

george grombacher 4:43
yeah, and sorry for for using the term wall because probably a tornado with thunder and lightning and cows and shit flying around through it was was probably probably more appropriate. And I do think there’s a lot of us that that are feeling that way. So

Unknown Speaker 5:00
What is what is the starting point? How do I when I’m feeling like I’m at that rock bottom? And that shitstorm? Yeah, yeah. Well, you know, it’s funny because one of the things I did when I got suspended because my I was in a leadership position at a young age, I was on a fast track to really probably become a superintendent or a general manager, I worked in utility business a time. So

Unknown Speaker 5:23
the problem was, is that I was in a leadership position, and I just got out of the military. And I was treating folks like soldiers, you know, in the military, it’s just, you know, you’re trying to survive. And so I had not really made that transition yet. And they were having none of it. So they reported me, they said, I was I was abusing my power, which I was, I mean, I was treating them, they were civilians, they they weren’t carrying weapons, they weren’t going to battle for crying out loud, I needed to calm down. And so they when they basically said, Don’t come back to work, spend that that week on your, you know, going through this, this process I went through, I found myself in a I got in a car one day on a Monday when I normally would go to work. I don’t know about you, George, but I’m a routine type of guy. And I needed to do something. So I had to get in that car. I felt like I need to get in that car. I needed to drive somewhere. So I just told my wife, I’d be back to back a little bit later. And I took a drive and I found myself at the time I lived in Loveland, Colorado, northern Colorado. Have you ever been there? Have you ever been? Yeah, that’s beautiful. So I took a drive. And before I knew it, I found myself in this small little town called nyuad. Colorado, it’s about 15 minutes outside of Boulder, about 45 minutes from where I lived long enough where I couldn’t get away. But short enough where I could get back if my wife needed me. And I set this little coffee shop, it’s in this picturesque little town, right downtown Colorado, think of a Hallmark movie. And this was like a hallmark set, right? There was this beautiful little coffee shop kind of owned by one of the locals. I grabbed a cup of coffee, I sit at this cute, quaint little table that overlooks the downtown, I just started sipping some coffee and just thinking about my life. By the end of the week, the thing that I realized I lacked was I lacked some level of significance in my life. And what I realized is that, you know, when you when you have, if you don’t have purpose, you’ve got energy, but you don’t have purpose, that dangerous person with no purpose is dangerous. And that’s where I was that energy and talent, but no purpose. So I lacked that. And I was dangerous as a result of it. I needed to get some purpose, I needed some kind of significance in my life. So where would I begin? Well, one thing I did, I’ve always read and I truly, I truly believe this being an author now that when you write stuff down, something magical happens, you know, we get in our heads a lot, George, right. I mean, we live in our heads. And sometimes you just gotta get that stuff out of your head and on paper. And when you get it on paper, it starts to detangle your thoughts, it starts to help you focus a little bit. So I pulled out a piece of paper, nothing prompted me to do this. It was just I had to start somewhere. And I decided for the first time to write down, you know, what is a meaningful life look like for me, you know, really, what is it that I want to get out of this life, I’d never really kind of put it on paper before. So I just laid it out there. This is where I want to be. It’s where I want to be in my career. This is where I want to be with my family. This is where I want to be personally and I just try to write some things down just to kind of give myself an idea. That was the first step for me just on a foundation of okay, let me see where I can take this thing. So the first step I think for anybody is if just write down and ask yourself, Where do you want to be? And it’s funny, because then that turned into a five year vision was turned into a 10 year vision. And and what I’ve learned, do you have kids, George? I do. Yeah. How old are your kids? six and three and one on the way? Oh my gosh, dude, you are knee deep in it. So you know this now as a young father, right, you know that the days are long. But that three year old? Are you kidding me right now? The days are long. But here’s the thing, man, the years are short, that six year old right there. Girl or boy? Two boys. Now two boys. All right, well, that six year old before you know it, you’re going to be sending them off to college, it’s going to happen tomorrow. So five years happens really quickly whether you want it to or not, and it’s going to end time doesn’t stop. You know, one thing they talked about in the book, when I lost my sister, it was a very profound moment for me, my sister and I were very close. And one of the things I realized when I was flying home to her funeral.

Unknown Speaker 9:15
And I was actually it was sad for me. But also, it gave me really good perspective. When I was on that plane flying home, it was like my world had stopped. But in reality, the world didn’t care the world just kept going, you know, the world keeps going with or without you. And so if you don’t take grab a hold of it, and least have a little bit of a vision of where you want to go. And I think the vision has to be in three areas. It has to be how you what your application is, right? You know, what’s your vocation? What’s your vocation, so how you’re going to make money. We all got to live with survive. We all got to, you know, live. So that’s number one. The secondary, it’s gotta be you personally, you know, because you got to think about what is it that you truly want to carve out for yourself. And the other part is gotta be with your

Unknown Speaker 10:00
Family now for you and I, we’ve got kids, but so people aren’t, they’re single, they still have a family, it could be close sister brother, could be your mom, dad could be a really close friend. We all have people we think as family and carve those things out. And so I think that’s the first step. And it was just you got to start to visualize where you want to take life. And then I run through a whole methodology of what to do that do it that once you get it, but that’s the first step. I think it’s such a powerful thing. And everything you’d said talked about really resonates with me a lot. Energy. And no purpose is a very, very dangerous thing. And it’s particularly when you’re really capable person, your military background, you’re used to being in positions of authority, but with without that rudder it is it is a very dangerous thing. And I can I can certainly identify with the value of putting pen to paper and just the cathartic experience of thinking about and writing about what is it that I really want? Because it seems so obvious to talk about, but I know that I didn’t do it until I was, you know, in my late 30s, also.

Unknown Speaker 11:04
So such a powerful thing. Yeah, yeah. And I’m really into biographies. And I love listening to biographies. And it’s so funny, because these biographies, when you list these people that are very successful, they all go through the same process, you know, and when they just, they had all this energy in the world, all these things they wanted to do. But the no really pack at the get there. And if there was a period of time, they just went through a frustrating period. Some of them do really silly things. I was just reading about Tim Allen, home improvement. The guy who started that he was in prison, you know, he was doing drugs, and he found himself in prison, because that was the result of his rock bottom heating, you know, he couldn’t get out of it until, you know, he kind of got stuff back on track, but he went through that process. I’m reading Barack Obama’s

Unknown Speaker 11:51
biography right now. And I’m in that part where he said he wished he’d go back to his former self and just tell his former self to relax to just relax, you know.

Unknown Speaker 12:01
And so, I ran Lance Armstrong, you know, Ronald Reagan’s, I just love reading these stories. And they all have that same. It’s almost like Hollywood pinned it right. It’s all that same process. People ran it. Listen, this podcast right now are knee deep in it. And when you’re deep, deep in it, it almost feels like, Man, I gotta get out of it really fast. I hate that I’m going through it. In some ways. It’s necessary, I think, for you to experience a little bit of that friction a little bit, that conflict also make a few mistakes, hopefully not life changing. Sometimes it is. But what my dad always taught me my dad was a lifelong police officer, he said that never trust a person without a limp, right? So if a person is not walking with a limp, they haven’t truly lived. You know, if you see someone who’s walking perfectly, no scars, nothing like that, then you know, you’re dealing with someone who hasn’t experienced life. So it’s okay to kind of go through and make some bad decisions and get some scar tissue from it. That’s just part of life. Nobody escapes it. But the key is, though, you can’t stay there forever, right? It’s one thing to be in that situation and figure out what to get out of it’s another thing to be there perpetually. And that’s the key. We don’t want to be there forever. Yeah, certainly, we all have things probably a lot of things that we’re ashamed of that we have regret for. And that’s that’s okay. To your point. But what’s not okay is is just languishing it and wallowing in it. Because even if you don’t have a family to our to your point, there’s still people who are depending on you and relying on you. And

Unknown Speaker 13:30
how do you I guess I was going down the path of that we owe it to our certainly ourselves, but to others. How do you think about that? Yeah, well, I think it’s a defined rock bottom, you know, so I open up my my my talks, when I do keynotes and stuff on this very topic. One of things I open up with is that we all hit a rock bottom moment, but I don’t define rock bottom as what happens to you. Because things happen. That’s just life on planet Earth, right? You’re gonna hit with financial stuff, you’re going to be hit with stuff you can’t control. My son was in a car wreck yesterday, in fact, and so I was not ahead a whole day plan wasn’t expecting that, you know, you can’t help that that stuff happens to you. Rock bottom for me is when you let the people down that are closest to you. Right? So that is rock bottom because I believe as human beings, the one thing that we need more than anything that we feed on is the relationships that we have good, bad or ugly, we feed on those relationships and when you let those people down, that’s rock bottom. And so that’s why I think that and that’s what happened to me when I was letting people closest down to me that’s that’s usually when people get themselves in trouble because when you start letting people down to me, that’s the that’s the very essence of what it means to be human being it is hard to to remedy that unless you’re intentional about it. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 14:47
So we’re going to we don’t have time to cover all the different steps in your process. I’m curious today do you still write is that still part of what you sort of daily habit or weekly habit? Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 15:00
Actually, I go through phases, because there’s different phases of my business I’ve got actually created my own publishing brand. And so one of the goals I have is to write a new book every two years one, because it’s part of my business being a speaker. But two, I love the power of transformation that goes through it, and three forces me to evolve. So I’ve actually started the process of formulating the next book idea I have coming out, it’s called the 21st mile factory. I’ve already I’ve actually,

Unknown Speaker 15:32
you met craigory, right? The film producer from Canada. Yeah, he’s actually probably going to come down to where I live in Indiana, we’re going to start filming a docu series based on this book. But I do write, I don’t write consistently other phases where I don’t write consistently, consistently, because I have some other projects I’m working on. But I’m always communicating. So it’s not necessarily always writing. But I’m always either speaking, or doing something creatively, that takes the stuff out of my head, and brings out to the world. In fact, every Wednesday, in fact, when Wednesday is my favorite day of the week, because it’s a day I keep blocked off to be creative. So tomorrow, I’ll be working on my own podcasts and some things on that. Some new, not some new, but updating some some speaking gigs that I’m working on. So I have that creative outlet. But when I start the that new book, the 21st mile, then I’ll probably go through a nine month period where every day probably starting around 5am. All right, consistently, every single day. And I gotta tell you, that that’s my, that’s my happy place. My Happy Places when I’m writing, if if I could wake up every day and do nothing but write, and I’d be okay, financially, I would definitely do it for sure. Because it’s that transformative. It’s that purposeful. And it’s it’s that healing for me to do that. I love it.

Unknown Speaker 16:55
Is it ever too late to be exploring these kinds of things? Oh, yeah. Yeah, everybody should. You know, I do journal once a week. So I do a in the book, I talked about doing these personal retreats, that is very important, I think you should do a weekly retreat, at least one or two hours, I do mine on Sundays, I think you should do a quarterly retreat. That’s two days where you stay separate. And then I recommend doing an annual retreat. In fact, I just finished my annual retreats last month, and I got on a train in Indianapolis and took it to Seattle across seven states. And three time zones took me three days to get there. And just totally just got deep into my head and my soul to pour out these things. But what was cool about it was I would go back George, and I would sift through my my journal. And I was almost like going back and reading my my life story. And going back and looking at the things I was struggling with I was going through at different points of the year and it reminded me some things that I’d forgotten about. And I think it’s so important to do that. I’m not saying you have to be sit down and like, Hey, dear diary, I’m not selling I’m out there, I’m just talking about just take some time to write some things that are on your head in your head and ask yourself some fundamental questions on a weekly basis. You get any type of journal that asks you some of these these questions that kind of get you started. But just doing it weekly, I don’t do it every day. I do it weekly. Just doing that is also very important as well. Yeah, yeah. I think that there’s a lot of wisdom there. And rewarding, funny, useful to go back through your old museums as well. So yeah, yeah. And it’s hard to read my own handwriting. In fact, I have one son, his name’s Ryan, and I always make fun of them and tell him like, Dude, did you write with your left hand because his penmanship is horrifying. But my wife reminded me is like, here’s isn’t that great either. And she’s writing buddies. I sometimes I read my own stuff. And I’m like, Oh my gosh, like it’s hard for me to read my own stuff.

Unknown Speaker 18:54
It’s, it’s, it’s it’s your own cryptic language. So so nobody else can read your secrets, Eric. Yeah, it was kind of interesting, too, is I was listening to I listen to these autobiographies on my headphones. I like to walk. I walk every day for about 45 minutes just to listen to stuff like that. And he was talking about he wrote his book in longhand.

Unknown Speaker 19:15
And so that he just found that even better to be able to just write things out in longhand. I think he’s probably his that’s, that’s his age coming out. You don’t even I couldn’t do that. But, you know, he found that that was very cathartic for him to write out in longhand as he was doing his book fact. It was so cathartic for him that I haven’t read. I think he has two volumes. His biography is actually two volumes, which is unbelievable. Who’s that? Barack Obama? Oh, okay. I didn’t realize that. Yeah, I read all the presidents I don’t have a political affiliation. So I don’t want this but I read all of them on both sides. I just I’m just fascinated by totally. People that you know, made an impact.

Unknown Speaker 19:56
I love it. Well, Eric, thank you so much for coming on. Where can people learn

Unknown Speaker 20:00
More about you.

Unknown Speaker 20:02
Eric is a professional speaker. So if you are an organization or company, or you’re a conference that is in need of speakers, please do consider Eric. So where can we find your speaker information? Where can we find the book? Where can we find the podcast? Yeah, I think the best place is go to my website, Eric It’s spelled er IC K. R H. E a. m. George. I am the only Eric ream in the world. So if you Google me, there is no other Eric Green. I think my mother bless her heart. She must have been forward thinking when she gave me that name to realize that someday that was going to be important for Google purposes. There you go. Thanks, Mom. If you enjoyed as much as I did, so Eric, your appreciation and share today’s show with a friend who also appreciates good ideas go to Eric Or just typing Eric Hareem into your favorite search engine and he is the one and only

Unknown Speaker 20:57
can make a connection. Thanks again, Eric. Thanks, George. I appreciate it. But, and until next time, remember, do your part by doing your best

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