Friday Musings: Who I am & How Justin and I Got Started

A lot is in the works here at IHD! If you get a second please take some time to explore the website's new design and course selection. We are working hard to make our courses better and more accessible than ever while having a blast talking through some very exciting content.  With all the activity, Justin and I thought it appropriate to stop and give a deeper insight into who we are and how we got here.  

I'm Shane Trotter, 

I write, coach, teach, and, according to my wife, have no capacity to do anything like a "normal" person. Whether it's biking to work in the land of big trucks, taking cold showers, or being a shameless public meditator, social norms have often seemed needlessly limiting. I've never fit well into a nice box. My inquisitive nature has led to broad interests in outdoor sports, philosophy, fitness, history, travel, the Chicago Bears, Game of Thrones, and getting way too excited about good quotes. Most of all I love doing life with my amazing wife, Neely, and our two dogs (see picture at bottom of page). We are currently within the adoption process and anxiously awaiting Baby Trotter, the future truth-seeker, rope-climber, and dog-lover.

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The greatest gift of my life has been an unquenchable desire to learn. Some of my fondest early memories were of my father quizzing me on history at the dinner table. This created a sense of play in learning. My father, the philosophy professor, taught me logic, ethics, writing, a love of reading, and a belief in my power to solve problems. I learned to admire the Warrior Poet ethic- the path of passionate curiosity and strenuous living modeled by my favorite American Hero, Theodore Roosevelt. It is this seemingly contradictory combination of disciplined, stoic learning and raw, passionate adventure that drives my purpose for exploring optimal human living. As Carl Jung said, "Only the paradox comes anywhere near to comprehending the fullness of life."

My parents balanced expectations of physical and mental resiliency with an ever-present love- a combination that instilled discipline and compassion. I do not claim to have had a perfect upbringing, but I know the power I've experienced in the values of learning, physical development, and autonomy.

As all experience in their own way, I met my first great challenge at age 19. The unhealthy mental and physical patterns of 21st Century America manifested in a deep mental angst. I developed what is called Pure O- a type of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder characterized by anxiety and obsessive thought patterns that permeated each moment of my day. I hid these well behind a sterling GPA and a superficial social life. My anxiety proved to be a tremendous gift. It led me to an intense study of success, mental training, and health of mind, body, and spirit. I applied mental practices influenced by meditation, Stoicism, Tony Robbins, and every other successful school of thought I could find. I fell in love with physical training and immersed myself in its science. I graduated Summa Cum Laude and collected training certifications. Most of all I fell in love with human development and trying to better understand how humans were meant to live-to thrive.

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This passion offers truly limitless exploration that has made every day a remarkable experience. Within my studies, I've been struck by how far most people are from habits and mindsets that embrace their natural inclinations and provide an impetus for them to truly thrive. There is an industry built on telling you that buying this or that will create happiness. We expect to buy, consume, and find happiness waiting on the other side. Education has turned into an outcome driven checklist. Something to be finished so that you can reap the reward as if the process is not inherently meaningful. For most this purpose is far less transformative and reality-based and far more a means to an end. In our obsession with perception, we've sacrificed best practices. My purpose is to challenge the dangerous beliefs and entrenched unhealthy habits permeating society while promoting a more fulfilling path that honors the strength of humanity.

It is this vision that brought Justin and me together. You see, I'd gotten into kettlebell training and there was this guy on the site I wrote for, who was putting out phenomenal kettlebell training content. I'd recently begun hosting a few episodes of the Breaking Muscle podcast and figured, what the heck, I'm going to interview this guy.

It didn't take long for us to realize our unique shared values and passion. As Justin has said, we'd each found our "philosophical brother." By the end of the interview, we both had a list of reading recommendations from the other prompting further rambling emails littered with ideas and an ever-expanding list of "Hey, check this out. What do you think?" 

Finally, it occurred to me that I had to join forces with Justin. We share a vision of human potential and best solutions to the modern pitfalls inducing limited living patterns. However, we arrive at that vision with very different strengths and styles. I knew if we collaborated, we could build something great. 

I proposed joining forces to create the courses I knew the world needed- the human foundations and fundamental learning skills I'd long watched education ignore. He accepted and the ideas pored in like an avalanche. We saw a future of amazing possibilities from podcasting and blogging to creating workshops and many other self-guided course spin-offs. 

Still, timing is everything and Justin had a different adventure he needed to explore first.  I will leave off the story here for Justin to improve, clarify, and continue next week...

Amor Fati!

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