The Five Agonies

Episode #600

Are you frustrated because no matter what you have, it’s never enough?

If so, you’re not alone. This is a common thing for married businessmen to feel, and usually, the feelings underneath are 1 of the 5 agonies. 

What are the Five Agonies?

The five agonies are:
    1. Greed
    2. Anger
    3. Shame
    4. Loneliness
    5. Uncertainty

Which agony are you in?

In this episode, we’ll discuss the effects of the five agonies in the relationship and what to do to shape the outcome by your own actions as a Powerful Man.

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Doug Holt: Hey, guys, welcome back to yet another episode of the TPM show. I’m here with my co host, Tim.

Tim Matthews: You know, I’ve been getting a real headache after recording these past few weeks. So I thought I’d try wearing these and see if it makes a difference. The ring lights, they’re so bright. I asked you about this. Maybe I just got crappy ones. Maybe I need better ones.

Doug Holt: You can adjust the settings. You know that?

Tim Matthews: Yeah, I’ve done that. Coincidentally, I have tried. Don’t judge my effectiveness based on my difficulty with getting onto the podcast a couple of podcasts ago. I have tried that. I think we should call you Dougie the Wisdom Keeper.

Doug Holt: I’ve got many nicknames, my friend. Did I ever tell you what the guys at the AR named me for the nickname? I’ve gotten three nicknames so far within TPM.

Tim Matthews: Nice. What was that?

Doug Holt: I’m gonna spell it wrong. But it’s Rafiki, from Lion King.

Tim Matthews: Is that the evil uncle?

Doug Holt: No. So Rafiki is the mandrill. He’s the shaman in The Lion King. I didn’t know the story, and the guys named me Rafiki. And I didn’t realize how big of a compliment it was. And they explained it to me. So, he’s the king’s most trusted adviser. And his advice is always heeded. However, the way he goes about it is, he walks around with a stick and he kind of makes fun of the king. And he hits the king over the head with a big stick sometimes. And the guys were basically saying to the podcast we just recorded previously, they would say I go in a roundabout way and then slap them upside the head, next thing they knew, because I was just so honest with them, right? And you know, they’re basically saying, I’m the shaman, I’m the voice for the king. they didn’t call me the king, but you know, it’s all good.

Tim Matthews: That must have felt good. I mean, you know, it’s always nice to be acknowledged for the effort that we put in with the guys. Because the AR especially is a very intense three days, four days. And you know, we stay very connected to every guy’s journey. It’s why we limit the guys at 10 per event. So, to have them call you Rafiki, I think, is very fitting. And it’s awesome. So, well done.

Doug Holt: It feels good. Especially the guys that we work with are on fire. The guys that show up to an AR, as you know- I mean, you just had an AR in the Lake District, which just seems absolutely amazing. And you see these guys get this transformational experience. They go out of the five agonies, which we’ll talk about here in a second, and then they really get to just the land of freedom, what we call the powerful man. We talked about ‘one destination two paths’ on the other podcast before. And when you get these guys, they’re really flying high. I was very grateful.

So, the guys listening to this, that gave me that name, thank you guys so much. It meant a lot to me. I did have to go Google to make sure what you told me about it was true. It was funny, a woman that we work with, Darcy, laughed. And she’s like, yep, that’s fitting. He’s kind of the jokester who walks around but drops wisdom as he’s kind of making fun of people, joking with them. I thought that was really cool.

Tim Matthews: Yeah, that’s amazing. That’s amazing. I wouldn’t want to know what kind of nickname I get. I’m not saying I’m Never been given one, but I’m sure I have.

Doug Holt: I’ve heard it. But anyway, we’ll stay away from that.

Tim Matthews: Let’s stay away from it. Let’s hope Amelia doesn’t find out what it is.

Doug Holt: Well, speaking of, let’s talk about the topic today, the topic today is the five agonies. But before we get into that, Tim, how was the birthday party?

Tim Matthews: The birthday party was a little bit subdued. You know, he’s getting old. I’m so glad I took that time with him. You know, it means a lot. It means a lot to me, but even more so to Amelia, as you can imagine. And yeah, it’s just sad. But at the same time, it’s great too. Bittersweet.

Doug Holt:  Good, good. Well, again, let’s jump into what are the five agonies. So I’ll set this up, Tim, and I’ll let you knock it down. So guys, we have something that TPM that we’ve identified over the years working with literally tens of thousands of business owners, and something we’ve noticed for all men, business owners or not, but especially for business owners, they enter something that we call the five agonies. And guys, what I want you to do as Tim describes these five agonies, I want you to think about which of these, if any, apply to you.

Tim Matthews: Yeah. So, the way that these five agonies came about is through Doug and I being lost in them ourselves. You know, these five agonies are what the men experience when they’re wandering through no man’s land. Imagine no man’s land, it’s a very dark, dreary place, it’s incredibly lonely. And it’s a tough place to be as well, because no man wants to admit that he’s in no man’s land. And in no man’s land, there are five agonies.

The first agony is greed. Now, obviously, that doesn’t mean to say you’re a greedy guy. But, what it does mean is, no matter how much you have, it’s never enough. Whether it’s how much money you have, how much happiness that surrounds you, it’s a constant story of, ‘it’s never enough, and I should do better, I should have more’. And it keeps you trapped on the hamster wheel of hustle, forever chasing, forever running, forever buying the next car, the next home, the next holiday, the next watch, or waiting for that moment where the penny drops that you finally arrive, because people finally give you the validation and significance that you’ve been striving for all along, but you’ve been striving for it through external needs.

Now, as a business owner, you’re used to solving problems. So, when you walk on through the door in an evening, and your wife turns away from you instead of turning towards you, you get frustration, because – hang on a minute. Look at where we live, look at the life of provided, how can you not be adoring me, and worship me as I walk in through his door?

You do not understand how hard I work for it. You don’t get the stress and the pressure that I have to deal with in order to provide in this way. And they’re all symptoms of the first agony of greed. And then, when it starts to frustrate you, because you can’t seem to solve the problem, typically, that’s when it comes out in sharp words to the wife, or you shout at your kids for acting their age. And you’re in the second agony of anger, at that point.

You feel angry, you feel restless, you’re feeling irritable. Maybe you snap at your staff, whatever it may be, which then leads to the third agony of shame. Because you promised yourself you wouldn’t do it again. You promised yourself that this time it was going to be different. You told your wife that you would be home earlier. You promised your kids that you’re going to be there for them for that sports date. But you arrive late, you stay at work, all because you’re fueled by the first agony of greed, which again, is a virtuous cycle. And the shame stacks. And all that happens is, you enter in a cycle of shame, sabotage and sedation. You feel ashamed.

So then, what you do is, you sabotage, you push people away. And then you sedate. Whether it’s food, alcohol, drugs, work, drink, whatever it may be, you then sedate yourself. Which then leads to the fourth agony of loneliness. Because you feel isolated at this point, you’re pushing people away that you love. You don’t want to, but it’s just happening. Consciously or unconsciously, you’re pushing them away. And you start to tell yourself a story that maybe it’s just better if you’re not around.

So, you arrive home later, you avoid doing things with the kids. You begin to feel like a stranger in your own home. Maybe it’s the holiday season and you’re watching Thanksgiving, or whatever it may be, unfold in front of you, and you get ignored and left out of conversations. Maybe it’s your wife who’s talking to her parents over the phone, and, again, you’ve been left out of the conversation. You begin to feel increasingly isolated and increasingly lonely, which then leads to the fifth agony of uncertainty. How long can this continue?

You’re waiting for the moment where it all falls apart, because you know that you can’t continue like this. You know that your business can’t continue to operate in this way. You know you’re not going to retain the players that you’ve worked so hard to get if you continue snapping at them, and if you continue driving them so hard. You know your wife isn’t going to stick around forever, and just tolerate and put up with this.

So, you become very uncertain. Which domino will fall first? will it be me, because of the anxiety and the depression, the frustration, the sleepless nights, the medication, the ill health or stress? Will it be me that falls first? Will it be my health? Will it be my relationships, my business? Maybe you start to repeat old financial patterns just again, to sabotage yourself and prove subconsciously to yourself that you’re not worthy of all this, you don’t deserve it.

And at that point, the uncertainty is where a lot of men reach out to us. However, I wish they’d reached out to us so much sooner, so they could avoid having to go through all five agonies and just realize when they’re the first one, realize when no matter how much they strive and it’s just never enough, recognize the symptoms, how they constantly move the goalposts. Okay. Well, when I get to this point, that’s when. As soon as you get to it, the goalpost moves, and it moves, and it moves, and it moves. operating from a have-do-be mentality. Okay, when I have the house, that’s when I’ll arrive home on time, and then I’ll be a great father. So I’ve just got to get the house. I’ve got to get the house, I’ve got to get the house. It can easily be avoided.

Doug Holt: I mean, guys, when you listen to what Tim says, where are you in these five agonies? I know every time I hear it, Tim, I always search back for myself, I look at myself currently, to see where, if anywhere, I’m experiencing one of the five agonies. And you could be slipping in and out of them at any time. But also, you can see where you’ve been in the past. I know for me, I’ve been in all five agonies in the past.

When my marriage was at its lowest point, you know I really felt- like, the holidays, I was like a stranger in my own home to some degree, right? A stranger to my wife, a stranger to my friends and to my extended family, my in-laws and things of that nature. So, you really can feel it that way, going through there. And you know, it plays an important role. These five agonies of No Man’s Land leave you in a place where it feels hopeless. Right? That’s a very common thing we hear from men.

And maybe you guys listening to this can relate. Guys start wondering if they want to find a permanent solution for a temporary problem. Meaning, guys start looking at like, well, maybe they’d just be better off without me. They don’t need me, why am I even here? And they start contemplating suicide, taking their own life. At that point, you might as well try something else, anything else. And just try something different. Look, I get it. It’s not your fault. Right?

The five agonies are how people sell you things. They sell you the brand new car, the lake house that you can’t quite afford, but you’re gonna get hope that you’re gonna get out of that agony, you’re gonna get out of that pain, because as soon as you buy that new car, you’re gonna feel better about yourself. You’re not just gonna get the new, you know, Ford pickup truck, you’re gonna get the Platinum. You’re gonna get all the bells and whistles, and it’s going to make you feel good. And it does, it does for the first couple of weeks or months. But after that, it’s just another truck. Right? It’s just another vehicle. It gets you to the grocery store, gets you around town, nothing more, nothing less. Right, just another vehicle. Then you have to go start searching to fill the other agonies: porn, alcohol, drugs, gambling, Netflix, watching your favorite sports team over and over again, while you’re just sitting there drinking a beer, wishing things would get better as they continue to get worse. And this is why the agonies are such a problem. But there are antidotes to these agonies. Let’s give the guys three ways that they can break free of these agonies. Give us one.

Tim Matthews: Yeah, I think the first thing is, you have to understand which agony you’re in. I mean, these agonies, they’re as predictable as going from A to E in the alphabet. You cycle through them, from greed, to anger, to shame, to loneliness, to uncertainty. You just do. So where are you in the process? And you get to be clear with yourself about where you are In the process.

Doug Holt: I’ll say, guys, like the agonies, like anything in life, there’s foundations. There’s certain things they’re just very fundamental. And what I always see when I find a guy that we work with that’s in one of the five agonies, the first thing I know with pretty good assurance is that they’re not doing their morning routines, their ARS specifically. Now, you can add things to the ARS, but you need to go through it. If you’re not sure what the ARS is, it’s an acronym. You can go through old podcasts, we’ve talked about it.

But they’re not getting through the ARS or their decompression. A lot of people talk about morning routines. Those are a dime a dozen. We have a very specific one that we take the men through. But we also have an evening routine or a decompression routine, because we deal with business leaders. And guys, you know as well as I do that, just because you walk out of the office doesn’t mean that business stops, doesn’t mean the problems with payroll, with HR with all the other things that are going on, whether you’re doing M&A or anything else, they don’t stop at 5pm, when everybody else is used to clocking out.

So you need to have a decompression routine before you go home. Now, this is the same for you guys that work at home. I work at home. We still get to have a decompression routine before we go back into the home, before we go back to our wife, before we go back to our kids or our friends. Otherwise, we take the stress, the anxiety and the energy from doing business back into the relationship. And that further integrates us, or further ingrains us into the five agonies.

Tim Matthews: The fastest way to cycle through these five agonies, and not only get rid of them, get to the root of where they’ve come from, and rip that root out and get rid of them- In my opinion, the fastest way that I have come across is the AR. And I don’t say it to plug the AR. Going to the last podcast, I’m just being honest. It just is. There might be something else out there that does it faster. I don’t know. But what I know from my experience is, it’s the fastest thing I’ve seen get to the root for men.

And you know, it’s also what they tell us too, and seeing the results that the men experience on the other side of this, when they walk in through the door, when they arrive home, and seeing the integration that happens in the weeks after the AR. It’s not some kind of ‘pump me up event’ where they just come in and there’s a bit of hoo-ha, and then they leave, and the high the event wears off after a couple of weeks, and they’re back to ground zero. That’s not what this is about.

There’s an integration that happens over the following few weeks that sees people go from their wives literally not wanting them to be in the house, to their wives asking them when their next gonna go on a date. There’s literally messages that are coming through in the chat right now from the one that was on last week. And it happens time and time again. Guys go from having no relationship with the kids, to having the relationship they always wanted with the kids.

And obviously, that has an effect with the wife as well, because it’s very attractive to a woman when she sees the father being the father that she knows he can be. And in business, we have guys that stop selling themselves out for the money and actually start doing things that are meaningful, and making money in a way, within the current business or otherwise, that actually is in alignment with how they want to operate in the world. And being able to break free from the patterns and their habits of just buying things and living somewhere just so it looks good, just based on what other people will think. They leave all that stuff behind. And it’s freeing, quite frankly, and that’s the words that those guys use. It’s not my words.

They often tell us how freeing it is to be able to leave no man’s land, essentially, and the five agonies behind. Because the five agonies are heavy as well. IT’s kind of hopeless. So, if you are open to it and you can get to an AR, I’d strongly encourage you to consider it. Whether you go or not is another thing, but strongly consider it if you want the fastest path to get to the root of this and remove it.

Doug Holt: I love it, guys. Guys, there are three options for you to get out of these agonies. They’re called agonies for a reason, right? And two of these things don’t cost any money. You just got to do the work. You got to be able to get out of the agonies. And something that’s interesting, for some of you guys, you’ve been watching the news you’ve heard about the chat GPM a lot of people are talking about. It’s this open AI source that’s out there on the internet. You know, a lot of very brilliant people have opened it up. I’ve worked with AI previously. So, even playing around with this, guys, I asked the AI machine, how do you define a powerful man?

And I’m gonna read it for you, because I think it’s applicable. Part of what the AI came back with to me in the response was, in general, a powerful man is someone who has the ability to shape events and outcomes, either through their own action, or by directing the actions of others. Now, we’re not asking you to direct the actions of others, but a powerful man has the ability to shape events and outcomes through their own actions. So, what I am asking you to do is take action. Take action so you can shape the events and outcomes in your life. Get out of the five agonies, get out of no man’s land, and do what you need to do, boys, to get the results that you want. Guys, we’ll see you next time on the TPM show.