People, especially entrepreneurs need to balance their goal lines with their soul lines. Soul lines mean personal growth, as opposed to goal lines, which mean the material side of things. Don’t spend too much focus on creating and maintaining a business. If you have a family, be present with them. Presence is the portal to everything that’s meaningful as a human being. Join Heath Barnes as he talks to coach, speaker, and mentor, Todd Musselman about the importance of differentiating your goal lines with your soul lines. Todd is the owner of Timberline Leadership where he helps and inspires people with his own personal life stories. Money and status are still important but always come second to family. Entrepreneurs tend to give the best version of themselves at work and the second best version of themselves at home. Todd is on a mission to change that so that people can really find a balance between their soul and goal lines.
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Goal Lines Versus Soul Lines: How To Be The Best Version Of Yourself At Work And In Life With Todd Musselman
I’m overjoyed to have what I now consider a good friend of mine and mentor/coach with me, Mr. Todd Musselman. He is from Steamboat Springs, Colorado, a family man, coach, and mentor. He has three kids and a beautiful wife. He loves fishing and getting the most out of life.
Welcome to another episode, Todd.
Thanks. It’s great to be here. I appreciate it.
I met Todd when he came to Vistage group. For those of you who don’t know Vistage, it is a coaching program for entrepreneurs. We meet once a month. Todd came to speak and spoke for about two hours. What was remarkable is, I don’t know if you remember this, you could hear a pin drop for the entire two hours.
Everyone was engaged. In the end, I reached out to Todd and said, “I’d love to set up some calls with you.” We’ve been meeting ever since. I appreciate the leadership you’ve given me. Todd, I’d love to hear a little bit about your origin story and how you’ve become this master of knowledge on what I like to call performance. Everyone is looking for that edge in life. What’s that edge that’s going to give us that performance that we need in life? Take it away, Todd.
I’m not sure I’m a master, but I do appreciate that. I grew up in a family business and worked with all my siblings. I got four siblings with my parents. We had 220 employees and had a great run. It was super fun. Unfortunately, in 2008, we lost our business to bankruptcy after 42 years. We lost it for a lot of reasons, but the biggest reason was we undertook an operating system conversion and it didn’t go well. It put us behind. Out of those ashes, I started this coaching career.
If I’m being honest, I wanted to do what I’m doing now for at least the last several years inside my family’s business, but I didn’t have the courage to make a move. Fear got in the way in that sense. I played small for several years, and we lost the business. I had no choice but to reinvent myself. At 47, that’s what I did. I started coaching and speaking roughly several years ago. It’s been the greatest gift of my life for sure.
What business was it, Todd?The one thing that matters in life is the relationships you create. Job, money, and status, are important but not as much as your relationships. Make a distinction between the goal line and the soul line. Click To Tweet
We did decorated apparel for mostly the resort industry around the country. It’s likely that a lot of people reading this have something of ours in your closet, baseball hats, sweatshirt, t-shirt from Vail, Aspen. The name of the company was Ouray Sportswear. It’s still ongoing. We were bought out inside of a bankruptcy. As tough as that whole experience was, to be honest, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
It was super painful and hard, but I learned and grew so much, not only individually, but we did as a family. In some ways, I’m not sure you know how to run a business until you lost one. There are so many things you learn when you’re in that process. The biggest thing we all got was one giant dose of humility. That’s very humbling to lose a business, especially after 42 years, the second generation. It was hard.
What was the immediate impact on the family after 42 years? I’m sure it was somewhat devastating.
You would normally think that, but one of the things that happened in all this process, working with my family, prior to all this happening, when we tried the conversion, my family spent seven years, at least once a quarter, in a counseling environment to work our family dynamics out. It’s usually the biggest gift I’ve ever been given as a human being. The reason it’s such a gift is I’m complete with all of my siblings and my parents. That’s a pretty rare thing, honestly.
When you say complete, what do you mean?
There are no resentments, no baggage, no nothing. We spent a lot of time clearing all that out. It wasn’t that we didn’t have them when we entered the counseling environment, but over seven years, we discarded all that. I’ll give you an example. When my dad passed in 2016, he was in hospice for ten days. It was probably the best ten days of my life because we celebrated his life with all my siblings and my mom. We had a blast. I know that sounds weird but that was possible because we’d done so much work proactively.
The bankruptcy definitely devastated individuals in my family, specifically my brother, Mark, who was the CEO, and my dad, who was the founder, took a big hit for sure. Even they would say they’re grateful for all the pain and suffering. All the growth and expansion came from that pain and suffering. All of us would say that, as hard as it was.
Whose idea was it to start the family counseling session? It seems ironic.
It happened as a result of particular dysfunctional family meetings we had to work on. Either I did or one of my brothers put a hole in the wall through anger. After that meeting, I went to lunch with my mom. My mom was playing the referee in the family business between her kids and her husband. It was horrible for her. I said, “Mom, we got to do something. I know this woman who’s a great counselor. What would you think?” We enrolled everybody, and there was no real objection. Everybody could see the need for it, so we cleaned all that up. We weren’t perfect by any means, but there was such a difference and a huge impact on all of us individually and collectively.
From that experience, what did you learn? What are the 1 or 2 things that our audience could take with us so that we don’t have to run a business into the ground before we start making money? What are the key takeaways in terms of performance?
It’s interesting because I’m going to go in a different direction a little bit easier. It may not be what you want to hear me say, but what I took from that, honestly, and not to be brutal. At the end of the day, there’s only one thing that matters in life. That’s the relationships you create in your life or not. Inside the business, I cannot tell you how many lives we touched in those 42 years and how many people shared with us that our little business was the first time they’ve ever experienced love in their whole life.
It was a very loving environment. We put our heads down and did everything we could to create an amazing business. We did, but at the end of the day, all those other things, the money, the job, and the status, none of it mattered. What mattered was our family relationships, preserving, maintaining, and growing them. My big takeaway from that whole experience is that there’s only one thing that matters, and that’s the relationships in our life.
This other stuff is certainly important. I make a distinction between the goal line and the soul line. The goal line is all in the material side of life. It’s the accumulation of wealth in material things. The majority of people in the professional realm spend almost all the time on the goal line and very little time on the soul line. If you’re out of balance that way, it can wreak havoc on you as a human being. It’s as detrimental to spend all your time in the soul line.
All they do is spend on personal growth and they’re always in personal growth, but honestly, the best arc is that one. It would be a 45-degree angle if you were balanced between the soul line and the goal line. If there was one cautionary tale that entrepreneur is to be cognizant of it. You don’t spend all your time on the goal line.Providing doesn't equal love. Presence does. Click To Tweet
There is life out there to live. Your dedication and your business will impact the soul line in regards, especially to familial relationships with your kids and your wife or husband. What I see a lot with entrepreneurs is they spend so much focus on creating and maintaining a business that when they get home, they’re not present at all. That is a huge cost in the relationship at home. It’s devastating, especially to the kids.
Even in my own life, I’ve been married for several years and luckily, we don’t have any kids. I say luckily because I see relationships hard enough, as it is not having kids. I still have issues in my marriage and most of my professional life has been okay. If I’m a good provider, I’ll have a good relationship. The two don’t necessarily go together.
It’s awesome that you said that. As you might remember from our talk in Vistage, one of the things that I try to eliminate is that a lot of people of my generation especially were handed a broken model, specifically by my father, who was handed a broken model by his father. That model is that providing equals love. It does not. Its presence equals love.
Providing is a loving thing to do for sure. I’m not saying you don’t provide. It’s very loving to provide, but so many men, especially in my generation, were so focused on providing that they missed the whole thing. They missed everything. I work with distressed couples quite a bit piece as a coach. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had it. Specifically, men sitting in a chair across from me saying, “I cannot believe my wife and kids don’t know I love them. Look at all that I provided for them.”
The problem was they were constantly preoccupied at home and never present, always thinking about how do I provide an even bigger amount of money in my bank account for my family through my business. It dovetails into that simple premise that I’ve seen a lot in my life. In my observation, a lot of human beings tend to give our best version of ourselves at work and our second-best version of ourselves at home.
What I mean by that is we tend to be way more present at work than we are at home. That’s okay except for one thing if you have children. Your children have no say in what version mom or dad walks through that front door, but if you’re preoccupied or distracted by work all night, they pay the biggest price. That’s a cautionary tale or something to be aware of as you build your business as an entrepreneur. That’s all about the goal line. The soul line is the relationships you have with your kids, your spouse at home, and your own growth as a human being.
For those reading, a lot of them are loan officers who probably thought the same way I did. As long as I can continue to provide for my relationship, everything will work out. What advice do you give those people who say, “How do I spend more time on the soul line? How do I have that connection that you’re talking about?”
That’s a big topic and a deep one. The first thing that’s necessary to spend more time on the soul line is the awareness that you want to. One of my most profound and simple mantras is awareness is the first point of choice. It’s such a profound thing to take in. In other words, until I’m aware of who and how I’m being, I can’t choose between an ineffective way of being and a more effective way until I’m aware of how I’m being. It’s possible that some people, in a way that, ’s not working for them, and they’re not even aware that it’s not working for them.
How would they know it wasn’t working for them?
They have a pit in their stomach or feel out of their integrity. There’s a sense of being unfulfilled and unhappy. I know a lot of people that have built “successful businesses,” but there’s no satisfaction because they’re missing out on all the presence and magic in life because they’re constantly focused on the goal line. I don’t want to sound too woo-woo here, but it’s what I see over and over again. I’m all about supporting the holistic human being. If I’m being honest, for most people in the business realm, their business is not their biggest challenge. The biggest challenge is typically at home.
That’s my experience. I’m not saying it’s true for anybody, but I see and hear that a lot. They got the business side, but that’s not their biggest challenge. Their biggest challenge is, “What do I do with all this stuff at home that’s not working that well? Who do I want to be?” Start with awareness, and through that awareness, what choices and habits could I create differently than the ones I have now that would support me in being more present and engaged at home, as an example. I’m a huge fan of what Stephen Covey said. It’s one of the most profoundly simple but impactful statements ever uttered by a human being. He said, “If you want to change your life, change your habits.” I cannot think of a more important habit to create in your life. It is to slow down and be more present.
In your journey, how did you become aware? If those reading are like, “What am I aware of? What am I looking for? How would I know?”
If they’re reading this and there’s something out of alignment with what I’m talking about, they’re already aware of it. They’re languishing. What do I do?
What’s your advice?Awareness is the first point of choice. Click To Tweet
First, there is this thing called the goal line and the soul line. In and of itself, that’s a pretty cool, simple metaphor. Think, “How am I doing as it relates to the soul line? Do I spend any time on personal growth? Do I spend any time on being a better human being? Is it all about creating more numbers and zeros behind my name, which is all about feeling good enough?
It’s doing enough instead of being enough.
One of the distinctions I like to work inside as a coach is the profound distinction between being successful and successfully being. Being successful is all about the goal line. Successfully being is all about the soul line.
For those people reading, what do you mean by successfully being?
I will tell you what I mean. It’s not the truth. It’s my truth, but my truth would be presence. The more you can be, the better this gig is going to go, at least to me. In my experience, there’s only one place where magic ever shows up as a human being. It’s this moment. I’ll summarize how I feel about presence in a very simple phrase. It’s pretty provocative. I’ll say it a couple of ways and give you a different context in which to look at it. This is what I’d say about presence. Presence is the portal to everything that’s meaningful as a human being.
I’ll say it in a different way. In my life, I’ve worked with people in every stratum of the human experience. I have never once, not once, have I had a single person that could articulate one positive, meaningful experience they’ve had in their entire life when they weren’t present. No one has ever been able to do that with me. In a more lighthearted way of saying this, no one’s ever called me and said, “Todd, I had the greatest conversation with my spouse. We were both so preoccupied and it was awesome. It’s super fulfilling.”
No one has ever called me and said, “Todd, I spent the entire day out hunting. I love to hunt. The entire time I was out hunting, I was thinking about all the shit I had to do at the office. It was uplifting.” There’s that. If you look at your life, it isn’t that complicated. The more present you can be, the better this gig is going to go in every realm.
Especially as a business owner, in terms of leadership, presence is the magic pill. If you can slow down and be present with your employees, direct reports, or customers, you will produce so much more profound results you cannot imagine. That is an astonishing way of being. I do a whole talk on customer astonishment. If you want to create astonishment with a customer, one of the most astonishing things is to be present with them. It’s very rare.
What I hear you’re saying is be there in that moment, listening to what they’re saying, feeling what they’re feeling, and trying to understand what’s going on in that moment rather than thinking, “What do I to do next? Is this guy going to continue to talk?” Even myself, If I go home and something happens at work, and I bring it into the house, my spouse knows there’s something going on.
I want to be clear. I’m talking about being 10% more present. I’m not talking about being 100% present. I don’t know anybody that’s remotely 100% present. What if you were 10% more present in your life? What could that produce in your life in terms of results? Not only personally but professionally. I could draw you a straight line between presence and productivity in terms of creating the goal line. That would be my perspective on that is it is about presence.
Because I’ve heard you speak before, I love what you say about conversations and being present. That was one of the things that helped me understand, “How am I showing up? How am I being present with my wife?” It’s in the conversations you have. I’d love to hear your story about how you came to understand what that meant and the impact it had on your relationship and being present.
It’s a funny story. When I was in the middle of this transition between Ouray Sportswear and going into the coaching speaking realm, my coach gave me a book to read called Fierce Conversations. I was reading this book very intently. My wife noticed that I was reading it very intently. At this point, we were talking several years ago. At that time, we had a 13-year-old and two 10-year-olds in the house. We had three young children. At that time, we didn’t spend a whole lot of quality time together as a couple. We were scrambling and trying to keep it all together. I’m reading this book, and Beth comes up to me and says, “What are you reading? You’re so into it.”
I said, “It’s this awesome book called Fierce Conversations.” She said, “What’s it about? What’s the main message?” I said, “Honestly, it is so simple. I can’t believe how simple this is and how I’ve never looked at it this way before. The premise of the book is that in every relationship in your life, everyone is based on one thing, a conversation. Isn’t that awesome? How simple that is?” She looked at me and said, “That makes a lot of sense.” She turned around and walked off. Literally, that’s exactly what happens. I get up extremely early every day and have for years. I get up anywhere between 3:00 and 3:30. I’m in my office tying flies.
I’m a big fly fisherman. Five days after that 45-second interaction with my wife, the door to my office creeks open, and my wife stumbles in rubbing her eyes. I looked up and said, “Is everything okay?” She says, “Yeah. I’ve been thinking about our conversation.” I said, “What do you mean?” She said, “You know that conversation about conversations.” I’m like, “What do you mean?”Presence is the portal to everything that's meaningful as a human being. Click To Tweet
She says, “I want to try it.” I’m like, “Now? This is against every biorhythmic God in your entire body. What are you doing?” She sat down and we muddled through one of the most awkward hours of our entire marriage. We had no idea what to say to each other. I remember when she got up and stumbled back out the door, I thought to myself, “I’m glad that’s over.”
The next morning, here she comes, and the next morning and so on. About two weeks in, we start noticing something. Our marriage is getting better that fast. That was several years ago. Unfortunately, I’m not home a lot right now with all this traveling I’m doing, but when I’m home, it’s not 5:00 in the morning anymore. It’s 7:00 because we don’t have any kids in the house, but here she comes and we’ll spend an hour together just chatting. Sometimes we don’t say anything.
We don’t say a word, but we’re with each other. It’s her effort and choice, not mine. I did nothing. She did everything. Her choice to create those conversations has absolutely changed our marriage in a very positive way. It’s funny because related to that, I have a little sticker on my computer. It’s a quote that I remind myself of every day. I have access to thousands of quotes that are cool.
The one that sits on my computer is this one, “Small things are done consistently result in great change.” The reason that’s on my computer is to remind me what an impact those daily meaningful conversations have had on my marriage and my life. At the end of the story, when I work with a lot of young couples, especially with young kids, what I notice is that they’re not having meaningful conversations. Their entire marriage is filled with logistical conversations about where the kids need to go and what we are having for dinner, but they never get down to, “How’s it going? How are you doing? What’s going on for you?
What happens then is they rely on date nights to create their marriage. There’s nothing wrong with date nights, except when there’s no foundation underneath them, they become so pressure-packed. You have one opportunity to connect to your spouse in a month, and there’s all this pressure. They usually don’t go very well. That’s what I took away from all that.
The thing about conversations is it’s so incredibly interesting to look at, at least for me. Every conversation in our life, every single one, is an opportunity to change lives. You never know when it’s going to happen. I’m pretty sure of one thing. You’ll never change a life, at least not in a positive way, if you’re not present.
If you’re open to how those conversations can change your life, I’ll give you one example. I don’t want to take up too much of your time, but I did two talks in one day in Greensboro, North Carolina. I got on the plane and was exhausted. I did what I think a lot of people would do. I looked for the biggest headphones I could find out of my bag and put them on my head. I basically sat down and did this to the guy next to me.
It’s like, “I don’t want to talk to you.” About 45 minutes into that flight, I had to go to the bathroom and thought to myself, “It would be weird if I went to the bathroom with the headphones on, so I took them off.” I went to the bathroom. When I came back, I didn’t know if the guy was waiting for me or something, but I sat down, and before I could put my headphones on, he said, “Are you going home?” I said, “As a matter of fact, I am.” He said, “What were you doing in Greensboro?” I said, “I was speaking to a couple of groups in Greensboro.” “You’re a speaker. What do you speak about?”
I said, “I speak on mindset.” “What do you mean by that?” I said, “I speak about performance and mindset, and how much our mindset determines our performance on any given day as an entrepreneur, a parent, and a spouse. I work inside of these two mindsets.” He said, “What are those?” I said, “I work inside the two mindsets, the victim mindset and the ownership mindset.” I went through it and described what those look like.
I said, “The victim mindset is driven by reaction. When we’re reacting to life, that’s when we go to the victim side.” With those words, I looked over and saw tears starting to stream down this guy’s eyes. I said to him, “Are you okay?” He goes, “No, I’m not.” I said, “What’s going on?” He said, “I’m also going home because my fifteen-year-old son is in suicidal ideation.” Good, bad, or otherwise, I’ve been there. I’ve had a distressed child, and it was easily the worst period of my life.
The most challenging and yet most rewarding in some ways as we’ve made our way through that. It’s been several years since that all happened to me. With that one sentence that he wanted to share with me, we had this profound conversation on the plane for two hours. I don’t remember the plane ride. This guy opened up to me, and I shared with him my story with my son. At the end of the thing, he said, “I haven’t told anybody what’s going on for me other than my wife. I’ve been too shamed and embarrassed.”
I said, “First of all, thank you so much for sharing it with me. You changed my life. I’m so grateful for you to trust me enough to open up.” He said, “I don’t know what happened, but it happened. I’m so grateful that you share with me about your son. It’s been so helpful to hear that there’s another side to this. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel.” My son now is doing wonderfully, and I’m so proud of him. It was a great reminder. He said, “Every conversation is an opportunity to change a life and maybe even save one.” You never know when those life-changing conversations are going to happen. He changed two lives that day by opening up, not only his son’s but also my life.
One of the things that I shared with him, which I’ll end with, is when I was going through this period with my son, I started working with my coach. His name is Steve Chandler. He’s an amazing man. Like this guy, I hid from that experience. I was so ashamed that my son had depression. It’s like I was holding a beach ball underwater. I held that ball in water for about six months, but finally, I couldn’t do it anymore. I finally turned my hand up in a session with Steve.
I broke down and shared with him everything that was going on. He was amazing. He sat there and had this loving essence about him and held the space for me. After I was done purging, he said, “Todd, I’m so grateful you shared all that with me. I have so much empathy for you because I’ve also had a distressed child. My daughter sounds likely your son.” I couldn’t believe my coach had a distressed child. I thought he was perfect.Whenever feelings show up, honor them. It's not your job to change somebody else's feelings. That's their job. Click To Tweet
Maybe he’s even more perfect for that reason. Anyway, he said, “Todd, when my daughter was up against it, somebody came along and shared something with me that changed my life and my relationship with my daughter.” I said, “Steve, I’m desperate. What did this person shared with you?” He said, “The premise is so simple, but it’s powerful. What this guy shared with me is that no one ever got a feeling wrong.”
I literally said, “What do you mean by that?” He said, “No one ever got a feeling wrong, Todd. How can anybody ever get a feeling wrong?” I said, “I never looked at it that way, but I get what you’re saying. I get that, but how does that relate to my son?” He said, “Let me take a stab at something, Todd. If you’re like me, every time your son comes home and you’re sad, you try to change his feelings. Don’t you?”
I’m like, “Have you been in my living room and my bedroom with him? That’s exactly what I’ve been doing. Every time he comes home, and he is sad, I try to show them all the reasons to be happy in his life and all the great things he has going on in his life. The problem is every time I tried to change his feelings, that made him wrong, and it had shamed his life.”
With that simple tool, I went home, and it wasn’t five days later, my son came home. I could tell he was off. I didn’t try to change his feelings. I held the space for him and got curious. I ask a simple question, what else? I asked that question three times. I’ll be damned. What happened was amazing. It was like magic. It took him only about twenty minutes to process all that upset. He was out the back door to play with his buddies. Whereas in previous times, when I was trying to fix him and make him better, that would be a 2 or 3-day process to work through all that.
It’s one of the things I would say about all this and how this relates to being an entrepreneur. When we’re starting a new business, a lot of times, we can get down and dumps. We make our feelings wrong. We try to hold them away and resist the sadness, the fear, the scared. All I noticed in my own life is whenever I honor my feelings, they tend to work through. When I resist my feelings as an entrepreneur, parent, or spouse, and I make them wrong, that’s when they linger out there like bad BO. One of the final things I would say in terms of this whole business endeavor that your folks are on is that whenever those feelings show up, honor them either with yourself or your direct reports, your spouse, whoever they are. It’s not your job to change somebody else’s feelings. That’s their job.
As husbands, males, or business owners, we, at least I, find myself allowing people to feel what they’re feeling and allowing their emotions to be there and not trying to fix it or tell them what’s great about life. It’s being with them. I’ve read somewhere that emotions get stuck inside of us if we don’t process them. I don’t know if it was your dad was the same, but my father grew up in an environment with my parents where you don’t share emotions and what’s going on. Every time you get to an issue where there’s emotion involved, the subject has changed. In our lives, we see the collateral damage that has. I loved what you said that no one’s ever got an emotion wrong.
It’s more powerful to honor them and hold a space for them. It’s not your job to change someone else’s feelings. That’s their job.
Todd, I appreciate you being on the show and sharing us to be a peak performance. All it takes is to be present with the person you’re with at that moment and be in the moment with them.
Obviously, there’s way more to it, but that foundation of high performance is presence. It’s everything. Without presence, nothing works. I could show you so many examples, but we’ll stop there. I so appreciate the opportunity to be in conversation with you. I’m guessing that didn’t go the way either one of us thought it would, but it went where it went.
What’s the best way for the audience to connect with you?
Send me an email at Todd7424@gmail.com. That’s the best way.
I appreciate you being on the show. I appreciate your guidance and leadership. I look forward to having you on the show again. Thanks, Todd.
Good to see you. Take care.
About Todd Musselman
Todd is a powerful and effective leader who combines his background as a business owner, sales representative, and entrepreneur to produce strong, measurable results in the fields of cultural dynamics, leadership development, motivational speaking, and executive/life coaching.
As an organizational/leadership trainer, Todd brings over 25 years of experience working in his family-owned business. As a speaker, Todd’s creative blend of stories, humor, and music has provided an inspiring and lasting experience for a large variety of teams and organizations for the past 20 years. As an executive/life coach, Todd utilizes his extensive experience and passion for transformational leadership. His approach to coaching is experientially based, drawing on his years working with employees and customers. Todd lives with his wife and three children in Steamboat Springs, Colorado where he enjoys a life centered on his family and the beautiful outdoors which surround them.