Now What? The successful man’s guide to mental health.

June 2023

By Mike Shaw, Founder, Initiative for Performance Optimization & Self-Empowerment (iPOSE)


Success, as many men define it, often conjures up images of big houses, fast cars, and fat bank accounts. All of the above are worthwhile markers for financial gain but not really true measures of success. I have worked with many captains of industry, all with immeasurable wealth, most of whom were struggling with everything from their weight to marital problems to severe depression. These clients would regale me with their tales of conquest… high school valedictorian, full scholarship to a university, youngest to make partner, membership to the most exclusive club, and so on. I listened with great intent, efforting to hear some indication of joy and fulfillment. But In the end, I always asked the same question, “Now what?

You’ve made the climb, reached the goal, attained wealth and station… Is it Nirvana? Do angels sing when you walk down the street, and flowers perk up as you walk by? Sadly, the answer was almost always no. For all the studying, hard work, office politics, and social climbing, they never learned about happiness, well-being, and mental health. Therefore, these otherwise “successful” men struggle.

What I offer here is not the blueprint for mental well-being but a list of suggestions to walk another path. I seek to help you find ways to enrich your soul and open yourself to all the wonders that lie beyond the bank ledger and company charter. The list is not compiled in any particular order. The items are not things you do once; check off and move on. Integrate them into your every day. Find what fulfills you. Embellish as you see fit, and then share with someone who needs your newfound wisdom.

  • Seek Excitement. Not to be confused with thrill-seeking, although if that’s your jam, go for it. Remember how you would get excited before the first game of the season, a first date, or the first day at a new job… that kind of excitement. Find a new interest, or rekindle an old one and drill down on it. Become an expert. Share the process with a friend, child, or life partner. Get absorbed in something sheerly for the joy it brings you. You don’t have to be the best at it. Just enjoy. Some of life’s greatest pleasures are the simplest. That’s why little children are so giddy. They derive pure joy from each experience. That is the goal.
  • Engage and Appreciate. Notice everything. Look for the beauty you’ve been missing. When was the last time you sat with a piece of art you’ve collected? I mean, really observe it and let yourself drift toward the mindset of the artist who created it. Take a walk through your garden, or any garden, and feel the sun on your face and revel in the colors of the flowers and the wonders of the season. Listen to music, whatever kind you like. Rock out to anthems from your youth or discover a new genre. The point is there is beauty and abundance everywhere, and you deserve to experience it. Let your guard down and the beauty in. It’s addicting. I promise.
  • Build a deep “No Judgment” relationship. Pick a friend (or coach) with whom you can share your deepest thoughts and questions. They should be willing to do the same with you. You should both delve deep into the topics you discuss, but never judge each other or the topics. You need to feel uninhibited and safe in your exploration. Actually, finding answers is irrelevant. This is merely a discourse to expand your mind, let ideas that have been suppressed enter your consciousness, and allow your mental energy to flow. You may be surprised by the creativity that results from having an agile mind.
  • Become more Interested(ing). There’s an old saying, “Only boring people are bored.” The flip side is also true. If you want to be considered interesting, become interested… in everything. When you ask someone how they are doing, listen to how they answer. Don’t settle for the standard, “Great, and how are you?” Ask intentional questions, and then follow up with more. This is called high-level communication, and it will change your life. Throughout my 30-year career, I’ve worked with some of the most incredibly accomplished people in the world. The most memorable people that were most impactful in my life exhibited these qualities. I would always leave our meetings feeling seen, heard, and empowered. The lessons I learned still serve me today in business, parenting, and creating and maintaining meaningful relationships. My biggest reward? Hearing people say the same thing after meeting with me.
  • Stop being right. We are living in an extremely polarized environment. Lines have been drawn, sides have been chosen and common ground has been obliterated. While this modus operandi may serve the politicians and power brokers, it destroys the quality of life on an interpersonal level. What do I mean by “stop being right?” Seek to understand rather than to argue and dominate. When faced with a difference of opinion, take the opportunity to learn and gain perspective. For example, instead of saying, “I’m right and you’re wrong,” thereby ending the conversation, try, “I disagree, but I’d really like to understand how you arrived at that conclusion.” One sentence makes all the difference. You have now opened the line of communication, shown respect for your counterpart’s thought process, and most likely elevated their respect for you… and you will learn something whether they change your mind or not.
  • Choose joy over anger. Anger and irritation are part of life. There’s no way around it. For some reason, we dwell on what irritates us instead of what makes us happy. Remember, you have the power over your mood. Ultimately, the accountability lies with you, which is awesome because that empowers you to determine your (re)actions. Anger can last a lifetime or a second. Consider what angers you, apply the aforementioned techniques to your process, and let it go. If you can’t change the irritation, you either have to discard it or dig deeper into the root cause and change that. It’s hard to walk your illuminated path while carrying unnecessary baggage.
  • Smell the roses. Goals and aspirations are awesome. I’m a huge fan of bettering myself and striving for improvement. But you must take stock of your achievements and blessings and honor them with the gratitude they so richly deserve. The chase is exhilarating, and I get it. There is a fine line, however, between exhilaration and exhaustion. Reward and relaxation are good for the soul. The insatiable need for ‘more’ is fueled by the ego. Balance it with a walk on the soul side and accept your gifts and abundance. Remember, he who hunts and never eats is doomed to starve and die. He who feasts and gives thanks is energized to hunt again.

Please read through this list daily. Engrain these techniques into your thought process until they become habits. With time you will find yourself breathing more easily, smiling and laughing more frequently, and being rewarded with the love and kindness we all seek and deserve.



Michael Shaw is the founder of iPOSE, the Initiative for Performance Optimization and Self-Empowerment. Michael specializes in improving his clients’ quality of life through Guided Introspection, Highly Intuitive Language and Listening (HILL), Self, Process and Influence Mastery, and superior Fitness and Nutrition Programming. In addition to adults, Michael works with teenagers and young adults to help them build healthy self-images, life skills, and strong bodies.

If you, or anyone you value, needs help with positive mental health strategies, please inquire about booking a free strategy session at