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Janine Bolon: Welcome to the thriving solopreneur show. This is Janine Bolon. And today, I have an exceptional guest in this regard. I mean, you know how excited I get with all of my guests. But today I am very excited because I have the inner voyager with me, and I am going to talk a little bit about Matthew and what he has done, but the joy that I have is the love of the sea, the love of the inner journey, but as well as the external journey that you have any time you are on the open sea, and you cannot actually visualize land. There is no land around you, and you are just out in the middle of the sea. That is an amazing place to be, and not everybody has that opportunity or experiences that in their lifetime, especially if they are landlocked and have never been able to get out to a coast.
So this is what I am excited about is having a lifelong surfer, Matthew grew up on the coast of New Jersey. He allowed his love for the water to lead him to the experience of living on the coast of, listen to this, Hawaii, California, Oregon, Florida. He has visited many of the world’s oceans. He spent the last 20 years traveling nearly 40 countries as the United States Merchant Marine Officer. Yes, we will ask him to talk a little bit more about that.
Captain Matthew Schwab has led others through a seemingly insurmountable challenges while sailing the world, and one of the really cool things about this was after experiencing his spiritual awakening through multiple, not one, people, multiple near-death experiences, aptly termed the inner voyage. Matthew made it his mission to support other leaders in navigating the uncharted waters of fear and isolation to achieve spiritual breakthroughs and personal and professional growth. Thank you, Matthew, so much for joining us, as it is really exciting to be able to have you on the show today.
Matthew B. Schwab: Thank you, Janine, it is an absolute pleasure to be here. This is a couple of months in the making, and it turns out that we are both in Denver, Colorado the time that we are doing this, so that is quite serendipitous. I love it.
Janine: I thought it was hysterical when you were like, wait, where are you? Wait, I am since knowing where I am too, you know, it has those funny things. Well, let us just dive right into it, because not everybody is aware of the culture around seamanship. So let us talk about what it means to be a Merchant Marine Officer.
Matthew: Yes, and thank you for that opportunity because raising awareness for the Merchant Marine is very important. It is how we get all of our goods, essentially. So the Merchant Marine is a department, it falls under the Department of Transportation under peacetime and wartime. It becomes another branch of the Department of Defense within the military, and they work hand-in-hand with the Navy and the Coast Guard. And even the army, the army has the biggest fleet of ships, that I do not know if anybody knows that, but the biggest fleet ships at any branch of the service.
So it is a very structured environment. It is almost militaristic, but it is not. And on a ship, you have a structure of officers and unlicensed personnel who work harmoniously to achieve a mission whether that is to get the goods from Port A to Port B or to provide the military with logistical support for everything they need for their mission or even offshore drilling for oil and gas. I have done all of those, so it is very interesting. It is constant, continuous, rapid change. It is literally a fluid environment, and it ends up setting you up for an amazing amount of growth, internal and external. And that, there is constantly things happening.
In fact, when I walked away from the Merchant Marine after 20 years, I had to slow down, I had to learn to slow down when I became an entrepreneur, to understand because I was used to moving so fast. But at the same time, that takes a huge external stress on you. So it is more of bouncing that internal mindset and external experience when you get into a entrepreneur state of mind. So, yeah, so the Merchant Marine afforded me a lot of opportunity to be able to lead the people of all cultures and races, and I have worked hand-in-hand with these people through some life-or-death circumstances.
We have had one story I can share, and it speaks to the amount of change that we can have. It was about 4:09 in the morning, and we are off the east coast of Africa in a pirate waters, and we had a security detachment on board to keep us safe in these pirates. So the way they had mounted, they were Navy personnel and they were mounted around the ship. And one of them, got off watch at 3:45 in the morning, and we had ammunition on board for the Navy, and the gentleman went to go have a cigarette at 3:45 in the morning of the back deck and flicked the cigarette. What he thought was into the ocean, but it ended up being into where we kept our trash, so that ignited, and spontaneously combusted, and I was Chief mate at the time, right underneath the captain. And at 4:09 in the morning, you had to go from 0 to a 115 seconds. So I got out of bed, I ended up being in command of fighting the fire in my pajamas. And there is a 125 souls on board that you had to keep safe, and we had $90 million of the Navy’s conventional ammunition in the holes. And we put the fire out 15 minutes so that training that we had weekly during our fire drills really paid off. We had one guy, kind of lose his mind, that we had to bring back into reality. But that happens.
Janine: That happens a lot more frequently than we care to even suggest a lot of times, when you were thrown into a fight or flight response, in this case. Yeah, and so one of the things that I like to ask people that have had that military kind of background, if you will, is that civilian life when you come back into it, is rather messy. Once you have, and that is one of the things you actually, it is a culture shock that you have to get used to again, is that civilian life is just messy. So you want to talk a little bit about that?
Matthew: Sure. Yeah, it was actually very structured in the Merchant Marine. I thought it was chaotic, but when I stepped off the ship and walked away from who I thought I was, as a captain in the Merchant Marine, and had a kind of shed that identity, and step into the light that was the inner voyager. I saw, when I essentially came out of isolation because that is really what it was.
I was in isolation for 20 years, on a ship, transporting goods back and forth across the oceans in a steel box, essentially. And you are meant to, you are forced to deal with a lot of things emotionally, mentally, spiritually, even. And as a captain, you are at the top, you do not have anybody else to talk to or vent to. I mean, now you do with the technology, they are on ships and Wi-Fi and whatnot, but yeah, it was when I stepped off the ship and I came out of isolation and found my purpose and passion and the Inner Voyager. Literally, the entire world went into isolation.
So when I walked down the gangway, I looked up, and I could say to the universe, to God, I said you got to be kidding me, this is complete irony. And yes, there is many facets of civilian life that are messy, and I think what we have to get to the understanding and acceptance of, is being vulnerable with ourselves, not authentic, and vulnerable with ourselves to accept the fact that life is messy, that things are going to happen regardless of how much we think we can control them. And I believe that when we learn to let go of control, to be vulnerable, to let go of control, and there is a lot of power on what I just said. Be vulnerable enough to let go of control. Life, we find, ends up happening more for you, and not to you. And when we can understand this, we can kind of step back and learn to surf life a little easier, because there is many aspects that we have to be willing to understand within ourselves.
I mean, we have our physical reality, our physical experiences, but then we also have our mental body, and we have to understand why are we thinking, why we thought the things that we have for so long, and how that shapes us. And then we have our emotional body, and we have to understand and allow the emotions to come through of everything that has happened to us in life, the way people have treated us, the way we have allowed others to treat us. So we have to have that level of emotional understanding, and then we step into the spiritual side. And who are we? Why are we here? There is so many questions that get answered and that just opens the door for even more questions.
So I think that is a very, you know, this is the man thing, that does not happen very often. To say that, you know, we need to be vulnerable with ourselves, and the experiences that happen in life. Because I have done all that manly things, I have had the success that what people term, or thinking in terms of success, like I have been through that, and its purposeless, it is empty. There is no action in it. So I think that when we can understand and get vulnerable with ourselves, especially with the things that we fear, because that is very relevant today, fear and lack of understanding of ourselves. Because everything external, social media, it all wants our attention and it all wants us to be a certain way. And that does not mean anything when it comes to us, because it is our life. We are the captain of our own ship, and by letting go of that control, all the pieces fall into place, because the universe knows what you want, God, infinite intelligence, knows what you want.
So the question is, are you strong enough to let go of the control, to be vulnerable enough to feel what needs to be felt in the experiences that you have in life? Patterns that keep coming out, experiences that you keep having, over and over again. That may seem like your Bill Murray from Groundhog Day. Those things are being put there for a reason. And the minute you feel them, you allow yourself to feel them, and allow that emotion to come through, and pierce that via the veil of fear, and get down to the root cause of, why am I feeling this way? Why it is this feeling of shame keep coming up, surrounding money, surrounding relationship? Am I a good mother? Am I a good father? Is their shame surrounding that, is their guilt surrounding that on how you raise your children? Is there a certain paradigm of success that you feel you need to meet, or you think you need to meet because your parents have printed that on you in a certain way, through words, actions, deeds, feelings, and thoughts. What does that look like for you?
I think the moment that we can get internal with ourselves, and be willing to get vulnerable, and feel more, that is when life truly stops to get messy and starts to go on an amazing voyage.
Janine: That is quite right. I have to agree with you on the fact of when I became an entrepreneur, and I decided I was literally going to chart my own course. And what I encourage people to do, is decide what you want your life to look like, and once you know what you want your life to look like, then you fit your business into the cracks of the activities. And when you do the reverse, which is you go after the money, and say, I will live life later after I have X amount of dollars, that is living life exactly backwards, from what is helpful.
So with some of the stuff that you were talking about, talk to me a little bit more about the wording that you choose to use on your website, which is, why is inner voyaging the future of human transformation? Because you were very specific in the word choices that you used. And so I would like to learn a little bit more about that.
Matthew: Sure, yes. We spend so much time with our thoughts or feelings, and our beliefs in the past, instead of bringing them more towards the present and allowing ourselves to hold the future into the present, instead of dragging the past along with us.
So when we are able to, and I can give some practical application to this as well, because I do enjoy giving the actionable items providing the value for the listeners, based on these esoteric or philosophical concepts, when we are able to understand that the thoughts that we think, are oftentimes not our own. The feelings that we feel are based on, because we have so much going on, there is so much static, that we confuse the static with signals, or that we confuse the static for true signals, that we end up getting stuck in the past, and we lose the awareness of that.
So when we start to ask ourselves, I love asking the question why. Why am I feeling this way? Why am I thinking this way? These thoughts are not my own. Oftentimes, when you ask that question, it kind of detaches any emotion or any control that you have over the situation. It creates a neutral playing field for you, and that emotion you are feeling or that thought you are feeling. So that thought or that experience that you are holding on to, it kind of loses its grip because you are coming at it from a neutral standpoint. You are allowing yourself to be vulnerable to that emotion.
And when you ask yourself why, a scenario may come up when you were bullied on the playground, when your parents told you that you were not going to be successful on what you were trying to do, or you felt some shame when you are bringing home Cs or Bs, and your parents thought you should have got As. So when we start to understand why those situations happened to us, instead of thinking and projecting onto others the emotions that we are holding on to, then we literally start to become our future.
And something that I really like to do is temporarily called the fear-setting, where you create a terrible situation, the worst-case situation. I like to take the situations that have happened to you and write them down, and literally learn to feel the fear that you hold on to. Because once you learn to do that, once you learn to friend your fear and friend, you will lower the emotions of shame, guilt, apathy, pride. Then, everything else that you wanted, that you have created in your vision board, that you have wrote down how you want your life to look, it falls into place. So being the future, and being a future human, being the future of being, and the future of human transformation, it literally is going back to our foundation, continually.
And replacing the quicksand that is there with granite, through greater understanding of the things that have pained us in life. And when you do that, you can now build an empire upon that granite, because you cannot build an empire on the beach. You cannot build an empire on quicksand. So it takes that inner strength and the vulnerability to dive back into yourself and say, I want to understand why so-and-so treated me like that, and why I am holding on to these emotions. That is the most powerful thing that I found that you can do, and the quickest way to growth, to become the future of who you want to be.
Janine: One of the things I really enjoyed when I was living in Japan was frequently, you were taught to question why to use that word all the time. And so I was in elementary school, and I really do not understand what that was all about, but it was fascinating to me as I got older, how using why, during a situation, not when I was highly emotional in that moment, but when I would had a chance to kind of let the dust settle in my own head, and then said, okay, so why am I reacting this way? Well, because XYZ. Well, why do I react that way? And why, and you just keep asking why. I found out that was a very ancient technique used in India in meditation to drill down to what was the absolute core issue or core chakra, if you are into that kind of thing, that was being activated. What was it that was making you go into a fight or flight response, or something like that.
So speaking of fight or flight, I did want to ask you about one of the things that I saw on your website, which was how you believe in scaring the crap out of yourself. Like hey, you know, I really believe that you need to scare the crap out of yourself to have certain kinds of change. So if you would not mind going into that just a little bit for the people?
Matthew: Sure, absolutely. So I will bring up, we have talked about it, esoteric and philosophical concepts, but I want to bring it back down to something very tangible, and that is the relationship with money. And this could probably trigger a lot of people, and I will just start it with a little anecdote about my experiences.
So when I graduated from the Merchant Marine School, I started sailing. And I did very, very well, financially, right out of the gate. So I knew what success felt like and I never knew what that struggle really felt like. So the universe and God set up a scenario in my life where I met my now ex-wife, and she had a business idea, and this taught me so many things. So many things, even until this day, and this was 6 years ago.
So she wanted to create this business, and I told her that I would be an investor in it, and I drained every account that I have ever had. And I was 15 years of my life, well 15 years of that point. 15 years of my life of sacrifice and being away from home, to fund this business. So I was trying to live out the dream that I wanted, a success, through her. And by that, it took away everything that I thought was important. Like, I put a lot of emphasis on money. I will say to the extent of greed. And because my father was a banker and he was very money conscious, so that just spilled over into me.
So I had to understand, in order to become that which what I believed I am becoming, I had to go through this experience and understand what that lack feels like, and understand the shame around not having money, and understand what the guilt feels like of not having money to be able to provide. Because that is all that I have wanted to do, is help and provide, and heal.
And that is true for many men and women, listening. We all want to provide. It is part of the 6 Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, right? So we want to provide for others, but being able to be in a position, and understand what that lack or what that shame of being broke has to show you, is so powerful. But it scares the crap out of you because you have to go into that fear cave in yourself and see yourself for who you really are.
Strip it all down, strip it all away. This is an exercise I do often as I strip everything that I have had, away. Is Matthew happy? Take the captain title away, take the inner voyager success away, take everything away that I have, and strip it down, and be willing to feel that. Like, take a painful situation that you have had in your life, and pour that into this exercise, and truly feel that.
And once you do, you liberate yourself from it. So any obstacle that comes your way, you are training yourself. Or if something is more difficult than anything, it is going to come your way anyway. So life and things become a little easier, and they flow better. So, that fear chasing exercise is very strong, very powerful.
Janine: Yes, it is. And one of the things that I have enjoyed about my particular career path has been, I was lucky enough to stumble upon what I call now the 60/40 principle, which is what I use to help people with the mindful money program and help them overcome a lot of training regards scarcity, and lack of abundance, and all that, whatever the new word happens to be for that decade, right? I wrote a bunch of books on it. But the thing that I run into over and over again, is what you were describing, which is, because you are afraid of falling back into that pit, a lot of people are in a state of fear and are unable to really relax enough to enjoy where they are now. And so that is one of the things that you were kind of describing.
So we are definitely going to have you back on the show at some point, but any last-minute thoughts you want to give to people? We have got about two minutes left.
Matthew: Last minute thoughts? Your thought each day that scares the hell out of you, do it intentionally because then, you are giving up control, you are experiencing vulnerability, you are feeling fear. And then you are stacking that on top of your purpose and your passion in life. And then when you can do that, you are creating a very potent cocktail that no one can touch you. You become a greater version of yourself, greater than you could ever imagine.
And something that I encourage everybody to do is, I just shared this with the president of the company last night, something that scares you, something that fears you, write it out. Sit down for 10 minutes and write something out. Because we are all taught to be happy on social media and grateful, but if you are concentrating solely on that, the things that have ached in life are still there. They are not going to go away. So when you allow yourself to intentionally feel that, through writing and feeling, you are going to grow much faster than you ever have, you ever dreamed of.
Janine: And for a lot of people starting their own business, it is the most terrifying experience they can possibly have. And I just want to let you know, that the path of entrepreneurship or being a solopreneur is basically the path of self-development. You basically have to, really, as I like to say, snuggle with those demons that you have. Because once you snuggled up, you will realize, oh, they are really a lot more gentle than I thought they were going to be.
So, Matthew, thank you so much for being with us today. How can somebody get a hold of you?
Matthew: Thank you very much, Janine, for having me. LinkedIn is good. www.theinnervoyager.com. We are working on creating a community surrounding inner voyaging, and a safe place for us to grow and discuss the things that fear is on life and how we can apply that practically into the success we want for our business.
The Inner Voyager experience is the podcast that is coming out soon, and that will all be through the new site which is under construction currently. And that is at www.theinnervoyager.com.
Janine: Wonderful. Thank you so much for being with us. And this is Janine Bolon, signing off with the thriving solopreneur show. Remember, keep your feet solidly on the ground as you reach for those stars, and know that you do have the strength within to get there.