Back Pain, Travel, and Our Brain | PoP 291

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Back Pain, Travel, and Our Brain

Do you find yourself so caught up in your business that you’ve forgotten to focus on your lifestyle? Can you remember the last time you felt gratitude towards something? Are you still able to find joy in the little things?

In this episode, Joe Sanok speaks about back pain, travel, and our brain.

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There are so many different things that are part of this. We have live webinars, live Q&A, you get matched up with a one-on-one accountability partner, you get put into a small group of other people starting practices, and you get the support of me and my whole team – Alison, Sam, and Emily. We give away tons of free stuff, and we have competitions in there to help you take really great steps towards starting a practice. Things like: updating your Facebook page, making sure that your website looks good, and making sure that you’re attracting your ideal client.

So, if you are starting a practice and you want the authoritative, supportive community to be surrounding you so that you can be successful, head on over to

In This Podcast


Joe shares his story about dealing with back pain throughout his life. He relates this to gratitude, both in and outside of business. Joe also gives insight into upcoming podcasts relating to focusing on lifestyle, over and above just making money. Often, when we’re in the hustle of business, we forget to appreciate the little things in life and fine joy in them.

Transitions People Go Through in Life


So, when we’re young, we have a very “me-centric” view of the world. It’s all about getting food, it’s all about my needs, it’s all about everything that has to do with me.


Then, what happens is we realize that we are a part of a family. We’re a part of a community and so we realize that we’re actually smaller than we thought we were. That it’s not just about me, but it’s about my family or my community. And we move from this individualistic point of view – this me-centric view – to what we might call a tribe-centric view or an ethnocentric view. So we go from, ‘You know what, it’s just all about me’, to ‘There’s actually less out there for me in this broader community and so I actually matter less, but I have more influence than I thought I would have, because I’m part of this broader community’.


Then what often happens is our tribe-centric view may expand into a nation-centric view, where we value our specific nation or our specific culture within that nation above all else.


But then, what often happens is, people will maybe travel a little bit and have an experience where somebody disrupts what their personal views are of individual tribes or cultures or groups. Then, we move and realize, ‘You know what, my tribe or my culture is actually smaller than I thought it was, but within this larger global human-centric view, it has more influence than I expected’. So, when we then move from that ethnocentric point of view, we move into a global-centric or human-centric point of view.


Now, what that often happens is, yes, we’ve valued a bunch of people in this human-centric point of view, but we haven’t moved to a genuine world-centric point of view. Oftentimes, we realize that there’s some integration between plants and animals and that there’s actually a lot that’s interconnected. When we look at the way that the world connects with different levels, and how when things happen in a certain ecological system it actually affects humans, we realize that actually as humans we’re much smaller than we expected, but within this system we have more power than we expected.

So, through these levels, we’ve been able to see progress and we see it in mindsets, culture, political beliefs, and religious beliefs. You can almost identify where someone’s at on this specific scale of individual-centric, or me-centric, to tribe centric, or ethnocentric, or culture-centric, to then human-centric, to then world-centric.


The last one is what happens when we then move into cosmocentric. So we see that there’s this world-centric view, but then what happens is we realize that actually the world is so small within the cosmos that is ever-expanding. I recently read that if the earth had to represent a grain of sand, the entire universe be around ten million miles wide. When you think about the expanse of the universe, we don’t yet really know what our influence on it is going to be. But, we do know that we’re much smaller than we ever thought. Our influence, however, may be much broader than we ever thought. There may be more of a universal consciousness, flow, connection, and/or energy between beings than we ever anticipated.

And, that’s what’s really interesting about what philosophers and scientists and other folks are discovering right now. So, when we look at this flow, how does this fit into our businesses? I’m not going to answer that question for you, because I think that when we look at this, and we look at the progress of what happens, it actually helps us to create our own answers around that. So, I want you to take this, think about it, go deeper with it, and tell me what your answers are in regards to how you’re going to apply this to your individual life.

Three Areas That Help Inform My Work

  1. Optimizing private practice through automation
  2. Focusing on a big idea
  3. Creating my ideal lifestyle

Useful Links:

Meet Joe Sanok

private practice consultantJoe Sanok helps counselors to create thriving practices that are the envy of other counselors. He has helped counselors to grow their businesses by 50-500% and is proud of all the private practice owners that are growing their income, influence, and impact on the world. Click here to explore consulting with Joe.






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Podcast Transcription

PoP 291

{If you are starting a practice, you do not want the hassle of not knowing what to do and you want to do it in a community. You want to be able to have that support of other people and me by your side helping you launch a practice. You have to join Next Level Practice. Head on over to to join this amazing community. It’s only $77 per month and the return on investment people are getting is insane. That’s}

This is the Practice of the Practice Podcast with Joe Sanok: Session #291

I’m Joe Sanok your host and welcome to another Practice of the Practice Podcast. If you just started listening to us, congratulations. That’s a very good decision, I’m really proud of you and we are really happy that you’re here. If you like this, we would love for you to rate and review and subscribe us in iTunes, that’s super helpful to let other people know that you like this. And if you’ve been here a while, congratulations. I’m really proud of you, glad you stuck around. Hope you are rocking out private practice.

Last week we heard an interview with Kasey Compton who built a 1.3 million dollar practice in three years, from the start to where she is now. It’s so incredible. She has actually joined the Practice of the Practice team and we’ll be hearing more from her and the rest of our team soon. I’m going to be a series around our team and some insights that those geniuses have beyond me.

Today we’re talking about a few different things. We’re talking about back pain. We’re talking about travel. We’re talking about our brain. When I was in the winter between semesters of my first year as a freshman at college. I came home and I was snowboarding. It was one of those days, if you snowboard, you just dream of. The powder was just thick. You could go off jumps and just fall on your face and nothing would happen because there was just so much powder. People don’t really think of Michigan as some giant ski destination, and we definitely don’t have as long of runs as Colorado or other places, but we do have some pretty awesome hills.

And so we were hitting these jumps all day long, just being stupid like 19 year olds. We go to lunch, probably at Burger King because that’s what I ate back then which is gross and we came back and I didn’t know that the hill had really iced up while we were gone. People had just been hitting these jumps over and over. I came down to hit this jump, it was right underneath the chairlift and I remember thinking, oh my word, I’m going way too fast. I went to slow down, so I kicked my back edge out a little bit, but I hit some ice. So now I’m heading full steam towards this jump backwards. So I’m looking away from the jump, going backwards into it. So I go off the jump completely backward and just crash and fall and didn’t have to get snow patrolled off. I snowboarded the rest of the day, shook it off a little bit.

But I remember about a week later I was sitting in my Communications class and I remember being in this gigantic class and standing up and I had pain down my legs. Through that year I kept having pain down my legs and started to go see a D.O. when I got home. My mom is a nurse, so she was well connected and actually worked at the pain clinic. So then I had all these milograms and other tests as this 19 year old. So now I’m approaching my sophomore year and still having these back pains and it’s getting worse and I start having to walk with a cane because I just can’t function. I have a handicap parking spot, I have a cane, I’m an assistant director in the dorms, I’m overseeing the RA’s because I had enough credits to be considered a junior so I could apply for that because I had done some AP classes.

And over spring break of my sophomore year my mom sent me my x-rays to the Mayo Clinic and they said we can see him immediately. The doctor there said, “ This is the worst back I’ve ever seen in someone your age. You have a spinal stenosis, which you were probably born with, which means that part of your back was tightened.” Which is why during the Presidential Fitness Test I always would have blue, which is the highest, in every level except for the sit and reach. I could never touch my toes as a kid so I would always get the red. So then it made sense, I could never touch my toes as a kid, I had this kind of natural tightness in the bones of my back, a stenosis. And then I fell and herniated three discs in that same spot.

Mayo Clinic is this really fast moving place where I had my first meeting on Monday, I met with a specialist on Tuesday, had extra tests on Wednesday, met in the afternoon on Wednesday with the doctor, Thursday I had surgery, and I was discharged by Sunday. So then I had to recover for a couple weeks, so I missed some weeks of school and then had to make up that work and I’ve always had back pain since then. It got better, but the doctors have said that I’m always going to be 10-15 years ahead of myself so I probably have the back of an early 50-year-something man instead of a late 30-something man.

And it put into perspective just how fragile our bodies are for me at a very young age. I always kind of had that. I wasn’t the drive down the road reckless kind of guy, because I totaled my car a week after I got my license so that quickly taught me that I’m not invincible. But it has been something that has made me have a different perspective on what experiences are because the physical experiences that guys my age were indulging in were not easy for me. I loved backpacking. I loved camping, and over time sleeping on the ground got really difficult.

And then in 2001 after I graduated from college I did some travel and my back was doing pretty good at that time and so I took my grandma to Paris, I surprised her with that. Went to Thailand and Nepal and there are stories around that. I told one a while back about being chase by a rhinoceros, so if you missed that one it’s a good podcast to go back to. I went down to Haiti and worked in a medical community for a bit and then volunteered at a shelter for people in the last stages of AIDS in New Orleans. And my perspective for that year was, I hated learning in my undergrad. It was so meticulous. I had done well, but it wasn’t fun and I wanted to reignite learning as something that I enjoyed again.

In the coming week we’re going to have some interviews that step outside of private practice. And I start with this back story, and I start with this glimpse into my travel history during that time because it’s really easy to think what I do in the podcast and with the blog and with my consulting is the help people make more money. And that’s true, people make lots more money usually when they work with me, but that’s definitely not the goal.

For me, when I look at the transition for myself, from working at CMH in Kalamazoo, moving back to Traverse City and getting a foster care supervisor job, which for me was amazing. I thought I was going to have to work in a coffee shop while I worked my way up locally. Then getting hired at a community college and having a private practice that was growing, it was like, “Oh my gosh, this is the best career I could have.” But then when I discovered consulting and podcasting and doing this private practice outside of a “secure job,” I feel like the life that I get to live is amazing and if you don’t have that life, I want you to have, it if you want it, because I’m nothing special, I’m someone who kept figuring out what the next reasonable step was, put in a little bit of hustle but also set some very clear boundaries around my time. We’re going to talk a little bit about that today, too. Kind of the three-sided formula that informs all of the work I do and all of the decision that I make.

When I think about what I get to do now and it aligns with exactly who I am, exactly who I want to be, for people who aren’t at that stage, I hope that {it helps} as we talk about these bigger issues beyond just making money. Next week we’re going to be talking to Earl Wagner. He works in artificial intelligence for Google and he’s also on the board for the Enneagram Institute. We’re going to be talking some higher level thinking kind of things and higher consciousness. And then the week after that I’m going to be interviewing the author Steven Taylor, who wrote this amazing book called The Leap, which is all about people who have had profound spiritual experiences, both in and out of religion.

We’re going to be exploring some interesting things that go well beyond just private practice, but go into this better life kind of stuff and happiness and goodness and the things that make our souls come alive.

So when I was traveling for that year between undergraduate and graduate, there was this guy who I had met at the shelter for people in New Orleans, named Mr. Wonderful. Well, he went by Mr. Wonderful, that wasn’t his real name. That was his nickname. He even had this leather visor. He was probably 70 years old, but AIDS had really attacked him. He looked so old and he was in a wheelchair, but whenever he came into a room he would just light it up and the happiness he had, the joy he had, the appreciation and presence in life was profound.

And we miss that sometimes when we’re in the hustle of running a business and I want to bring us back to these things that matter. Having a healthy back is something that, even still, it’s at a pretty good spot right now, but I have these flare-ups that I am chair-bound basically at times. The ability to travel and see how other people live and the appreciation that our toilet water is cleaner than most of the world’s water, that’s really important for us to to talk about as people who want to help the world become a better place.

One method of thinking about this, one way to think about this is the transition that people go through. So when we’re kids, when we’re little, like my 3-year-old, she’s just moving out of this. We have a very me-centric view of the world, where it’s all about my needs and who I am. But then at some point something disrupts us, something shows us that we’re a part of a family or a part of a tribe or a unit. And when that happens, we realize that we’re actually smaller than we first thought. We are smaller because we’re within a family, but we actually have more influence because people who have different abilities than us can help us and care for us.

And then at some point during our early childhood we realize that, “I’m not just a part of a family. I’m a part of a school or a church or some other group and my family is not as important as it used to be, but now I actually have more influence over the rest of the world because I’m part of this larger community. ” And that’s the way we move from family-centric to tribe-centric. And then at some point, usually in our teens, we realize that our small tribe – our church, our group, our school, or whatever we associate ourselves with – is actually smaller than we think. But we’re part of a nation. We’re part of this group that has a common direction hopefully. And our tribe is actually smaller than we thought, but our impact is so much greater.

Often times when we start to travel, when we start to see how other people live, people outside of what our every day norms are – if we’re part of a predominately white Northern Michigan community and we go to Nepal or Haiti and we see people who don’t look anything like us, but they still treat us amazing. They are wonderful people. They have a certain humanity that is all aligned. We want our families to do well, we want to be able to care for our kids, we want to be able to have experiences that give us joy in our lives. Music definitely transcends cultures and when you have those experiences you realize that your nation is much smaller than you thought, but your impact on global humanity is much bigger than you thought.

And then you start to realize, wait a second, as humans we interact with our natural world in a much different way. We have an impact there. We are not the center of it all and we’re actually smaller than we thought, but now our impact on the greater humanity, the greater world, the greater environment is bigger than we thought. And then, what researchers are just starting to figure out – quantum physicists, scientists, string theorists – is that we are way smaller in regards to our impact on the galaxy, the cosmos. We may say this shift is into a cosmic-centric point of view, but that we might have more influence than we thought, that even though we’re smaller in one context, we’re bigger.

These things are really fascinating to me. My friend Paul Kolak, he and I talk about these things all the time. My wife, Christina, and his wife, Diane, all four of us go deep into these things. This is what many of our weekend conversations are like. And when you start to think about that framework I just sketched out, often times if we’re at a human-centric point of view or a global-centric point of view where we say, “Our impact on the world is so big, we’re doing these things for the world and hurting it and we need to care.” If we speak to someone who is more of a tribe-centric or a country-centric point of view, we just want to pull them up to where we are. But when we think about what was it that helped us kind of level up, or evolve in our thinking, it’s often not debating people into it. So I think that we can do better in that area.

So how do we bring this back home? We kind of went way out into the cosmos, now we’re going to zoom back into you and me. What informs my framework for kind of what I look for? Well, whether it’s the Next Level Master Mind group and people that are going to be a good fit for that or how I live my own life, there are really three different areas that help inform my work.

One is having a business or a private practice and optimizing that. So if you have a counseling practice, like many of you do, making sure that you have addressed the low-hanging fruit, making sure that you have optimized your practice the best that you can so that you can spend time without worrying about money as much on those big ideas. That you’re able to then shift to have your business be more automated and that it’s not taking up as much time, you’re taking things off your plate, you’re taking hats off, things are scaling like they should and then you go after your second part, which is your big ideas. So that could be a world-changing podcast, Keynote, e-course, something that is impacting the world for the positive in a specific area.

And then the third part is lifestyle. I’m not all about working 70 hours a week. I feel like I miss out on things when I work that much, that time with my family is really important and so setting those clear boundaries on when does my weekend start and end. When does my day start and end? What are the habits that I have that will help me get the most out of the three days a week that I work? So that I can put energy into the things that matter.

In the coming weeks we are going to explore these big topics that on the surface have nothing to do with private practice, but I would actually say have everything to do with private practice.

Thanks for letting me into your ears and into your brain. I’ll talk to you soon.

This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is given with the understanding that neither the host, the publisher, or the guests are rendering legal, accounting, clinical, or other professional information. If you need a professional, you should find one.