About Michael Highstead

Michael Highstead is a Life and Business Coach who specializes in turning breakdowns into breakthroughs.

Leading from the practical view of helping you achieve measurable results, and listening from the experienced view of having been through hell and back himself, he is uniquely qualified to guide you through the unconscious limitations of your own thoughts, feelings, actions and behaviour.

Having made separate fortunes in business, real estate and the stock market, and with more than 30 years experience consulting, coaching and counselling people from many different walks of life, whatever beliefs or barriers are currently obstructing you, Mike can help you find your way.

A Day In The Life...

Hi, I'm Mike Highstead.

I always enjoy reading the About page when people describe themselves in the third person. Here lie their most glorious accomplishments, their virtues, their reason for existing — all told as if penned by someone else.

I won't do that here. I won't write about myself as if it were possible to be objective about my own character. Instead I'll just tell you what I do. The short version is, I write. And I coach.

If you want more details, here's the extended disco remix...

Everyday I wake up. Typically around 5:00 am, looking like this photo. But with a lot more drool. Not mine, my dog's. I don't keep a clock or phone in my bedroom. In the morning, the only alarm I have is when Wilson, my two year old hound, jumps up and starts slobbering all over me.

Of course, if I try to hide under the covers, he takes that as his cue to start wrestling with me.

I love this. There is just no stopping the dog who needs to take care of business. If I don't immediately get up and take him for his walk, he'll just keep on licking my face until I do.

I throw on some clothes. Sweatpants and jacket if it is cold out. Shorts and t-shirt if it is warm enough for swimming. I walk directly into the kitchen and drink a glass of water. I don't think about this. It is my cue to get things started.

I grab the dog's leash.

He grabs a lacrosse ball. (His favourite toy distracts him from chomping on the leash and challenging me to a tug o' war). Together, we head down to the lake.

I used to have two dogs, but Shadow tragically passed away. I'm not quite ready for another. I can imagine Suha, my late wife, smiling to hear me say the same of her.

Although it has been five years since Suha died, and though she would be the first to say move on, my recent attempts at new, intimate relationships have only shown how much I still love and miss her.

She made me believe in angels.

For now, it's just Wilson and me. We start our day together by spending about thirty minutes at the lake, with him constantly swimming out to fetch sticks as far as I can throw them. He never tires of it.

Most of the year I live in Canada. When it's warm out, I will often join him in the water without reservation.

Sometimes, I will jump in the lake with him even when it's freezing cold. But that is not the norm and usually takes some Wim Hoff stoking.

Non-negotiable are the series of questions I ask myself every morning.

I have different sets of questions for different things I like to focus on. What am I happy about? What am I grateful for? What am I committed to? Asking myself these and other questions puts me in command of consciousness. It helps me get set to win the day.

Perhaps this is too much information, but after we get back from the beach, like clockwork I have my morning constitutional. In this regard I am as regular as my dog. We can each be relied upon to consistently give a shit.

Next, if I haven't already had a morning dip in the lake, I will jump into the shower. Typically, for the first few minutes, I alternate between extremely hot and extremely cold. I use suddenly varying temperatures with controlled breathing to flush all physical and mental resistance, and strengthen my immune system. Of course, part of my "controlled breathing" includes howling like a banshee as both mind and body wonder why the hell I keep doing this to myself. After two or three cycles, once I have fully acclimatized to both hot and cold extremes (with no heart attack in between) I'll gradually settle on a nice warm soothing temperature to get myself cleaned up.

After that it's time for breakfast.

Before heading back into the kitchen, I open up my phone. But only to hit PLAY on Spotify. I make a point of never checking messages until after breakfast, when I am sitting at my desk. Meanwhile, it's Zeppelin, The Black Keys, Jack Johnson or whatever I am in the mood to hear. I'm an advocate for random acts of dancing.

I have two or three protein shakes throughout the day. The first, for breakfast, is usually made with pear and spinach. I might also have some toast and avocado. Or eggs if I feel ambitious. I'm not much of a cook, so the ol' blender gets a lot of use. Mostly greens, though I also drink a lot of fresh-pressed watermelon juice.

At 7:00 am it is time for work.

On my desk I have two computers. An Imac and a Surface Pro Laptop. I fire them both up. On the laptop, I open my daily planner. Before settling in to work, I want to make sure I am aligned with long term views, mid-range milestones, and immediate tasks at hand. To accomplish this, I use a software program called Clickup, colour-coded post-it notes, and one of my favourite business tools: a big-ass whiteboard.

Now is also the time to check my messages. For that, I use my own, home-grown management software called MobileOffice.ai, combined with an app called Lead Connector. Used together, these two programs automatically sort, filter, and even answer a lot of phone, email and text messages for me. Without these management tools, I am too easily seduced into wondering if any of that communication is more urgent or important than my writing. It never is. It is always just another form of what author Stephen Pressfield calls "Resistance" to tackling the job at hand. To craftily aikido my own resistance...

Every workday I have two required skill periods.

My daily skill periods, along with the previously mentioned morning dip, are essential to my productivity. More than personal lexicon, morning dip and skill periods are terms of deeply ingrained behaviour. Habits long-left over from my formative years as a boy at summer camp.

Located on Beausoliel Island in magical Lake Huron (home to the most astonishing 360-degree aurora borealis), Camp Kitchikewana was where I spent one glorious month every year, for eight consecutive years of my youth. Growing up, that is where I always felt most at home. Mind, Body and Spirit alloyed to the environment, and forged by a young, enthusiastic commitment to the camp motto: To be the best that we can ever be.

This picture was taken at Kitchi in 1978, when I was fourteen. Just a few years before it seemed everything in life began testing my resolve.

Each daily skill period gets about ninety minutes of my undivided attention.

This is my time to write professionally. Until I am finished writing, everything else must wait. But there is only so long I can sit in front of a computer. Most mornings, I will only manage about three hours total before reaching the point of diminishing returns.

Once I'm finished, no matter what I have written - two hundred great words or two thousand lousy ones, I don't worry about the results. I have once again put in my time and it is enough. I may write some more later in the day, perhaps out on the deck with my reMarkable tablet (another really cool tool). For now, at least I have hit my daily quota.

After writing is my virtual "stand-up" meeting.

At 11 am it is time to check in with my management team. At any given time, I'm usually involved with several different projects. On weekdays the daily zoom call helps to keep everyone on my team focused on what is most important. In one of my companies, The Possible Man, LLC, we're currently developing a new service called 5-Minute Project Management. There the emphasis is on helping business owners improve their ROI of both time and money. Our daily stand-up, which requires accurate reporting of strategic KPIs, is a testament to just how much can be accomplished when people are clear about their intentions, and accountable for their words and actions.

Our midday stroll is typically the longest and most leisurely.

After the meeting, Wilson and I usually walk down to a local cafe and sit outside for brunch. Or we'll go for a short drive and he'll wait in the truck while I go in and grab a bite somewhere. Either way, after brunch it's time for another walk. Here on the coast the environment is magnificent and there are many places to explore. The woods, the mountains, the beach...

Now it is a time for me to contemplate whatever projects I currently have on the go, and simply enjoy the moment. Afterwards, I head back home, noting on my tablet any useful insights or ideas I might have had while walking.

In the afternoon, though I am usually back at home, I like to avoid sitting at my desk. If some great idea or storyline just won't leave me alone, if there is some interesting correspondence that has arrived, or if there is any other important business that has suddenly come up, then yes, just like with the dog hounding me in the morning, I will give it my attention.

By and large, though, my afternoons are reserved for client calls. Whenever possible, I prefer taking those calls outside.

Sometimes, my afternoons are spent hiking with clients in person. This has become kind of a "thing" for some of my local clients, as the combination of walking and talking outdoors continues to be mutually beneficial.

Generally, my work day ends around 3 pm.

This is when I like to have my daily workout. Sometimes I'll go to the gym, sometimes I'll exercise at home. But no matter where I am working out, I always include at least 20 minutes of stretching. Also, throughout the day I drink a lot of water. Having been (once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away), both a certified personal trainer and a kundalini yoga instructor, over the years I have learned to appreciate structure, balance, flexibility and hydration, as well as strength, stamina, appearance and nutrition.

Funny though, when people speak of fitness, I often hear them talking about health of Mind, Body and Spirit. Yet I rarely see them practicing the one thing that perfectly aligns all three: Breathing exercises. Conscious breathing continues to make a real difference in everything I do. It is the first step to awareness, managing state of mind, and embodiment of experience.

After the gym is Free Time.

Free Time is another sacred term I have heavily associated to my days at summer camp. The only reason I mention it here, is because there is one more Kitchikewana tool that more than fifty years later, is still part of my everyday regime: Using ship bells as a signal to switch gears.

Though I don't use an alarm to get up in the morning, I do have various alarms set throughout the day. They are all the same sound. Ship bells. Not just ordinary ship bells. Loud-As-Fuck ship bells. My ship bells serve to shock me out of any lassitude or tunnel-vision, reminding me to change activities and/or context as required.

For example, no matter what else is going on, everyday at precisely 4:07 pm, if you are anywhere within 100 miles of my phone (ok, I'm exaggerating just a little) you will know it is Wilson's dinner time. Why? Because that's when those LAF ship bells start clanging away!

All I can tell you is it continues working well for me. The proof is, even when I forget my own dinner, Wilson has never missed a meal!

You can toggle the sound of my ship bell alarm in the bottom left corner of this video.

And that's an average day for me.

Might sound simple, but over the years it took a lot of hard work through some terrible complications distilling my own essence of simple and fulfilling.

Conclusion: Totally worth the effort.

The only other thing I'd like to add is that I am truly blessed to be the father of two magnificent kids. Jon and Misha. Also, after more than four decades, I gotta admit to feeling proud their mother and I are still friends. God knows relationships are not easy. But somehow, even though we divorced more than twenty years ago, Robin and I continue doing right by each other and our progeny.

At this point in my life, having been through pretty much every major stressor you can think of - success, failure, affluence, bankruptcy, marriage, divorce, disease, death, suicide, addiction, prison, parenthood, business ownership, business loss, home ownership, homelessness - there are many things I've learned.

Including this from surfing...

Listen to your heart.
If you cannot hear your heart, JUMP!
It will start to beat so loud that you cannot miss it.

© 2023 Michael Highstead