8.9.18 | Photo Credit: School of Man
Todd Pettyjohn is leading the way for the modern day man. As Chief of Operations for School of Man, a Little Rock, Arkansas based organization that gives men the skills to be successful in body, business and life, Todd has learned how to intentionally create the life HE wants to live. The past year has taught him how to tap into his purpose and live from that aligned place…and now he’s teaching other men how to do the same.
We asked Todd about moving from a place of complacency into a more passion driven life, how his priorities have changed in the process and about how any man can get started with a lifestyle change now…
TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT HOW YOU WERE FEELING, IN WORK AND IN LIFE, BEFORE YOU WERE INTRODUCED TO SCHOOL OF MAN?
I was stuck in the daily grind, wanting more out of life. It’s easy in our society, even expected, that we choose our life’s work based on how we can earn the highest income. We all want what’s best for our family, but maybe it’s time to reevaluate what best really means. Our society tends to define best for us. Society says that success equals driving a certain type of car, living in a specific neighborhood, wearing the right clothes, etc. Society lies to us in saying we can’t be happy unless we have these things. But what do we sacrifice while chasing what society defines as best? Health, relationships, connection, peace of mind? The list could go on and on. I had to get clear on how I define best, and for me it entails healthy relationships, deep connections, positive impact on the life’s of those around me, pursuing my passions and always striving to live with integrity.
SO YOU LEFT THE COMFORTABLE, TRADITIONAL AND FINANCIALLY REWARDING STATUS OF CORPORATE AMERICA TO JOIN A STARTUP ORGANIZATION THAT YOU ALIGNED WITH. WHY?
That’s easy, purpose and passion. Life has a way of creating an environment conducive to change and it’s our responsibility to recognize the opportunity for what it is and act on it. So often, in my own life, when these opportunities presented themselves I played it safe because it’s hard to step outside of our comfort zone and try something new. It’s even harder when there could be negative financial consequences for you and your family. The only way to take that leap and pursue this new adventure was with the support of my beautiful wife, Stacey. Without her by-in and support this endeavor would not have happened for me.
TELL US MORE ABOUT THE PREMISE BEHIND SCHOOL OF MAN…
I like to define School of Man as an environment creator. School of Man created an environment that allows men to make positive and lasting change within their lives. What first attracted me to the program was the physical aspect of their training, but what has been most impactful is the mental and emotional training. School of Man takes a holistic approach to a man’s health. If a man is physically fit but emotionally disconnected with his family, is he really considered healthy? NO. It is only when these things are in balance is a man truly healthy.
HOW HAS SCHOOL OF MAN IMPACTED YOU?
It made me self-aware in areas that I needed to address, because we all have blind spots. If those blind spots are never discovered and addressed then at best we are living sub-optimally and at worst we are stuck in a negative loop and keep repeating the same mistakes again and again. For me it started with the first EQ or Emotional Intelligence lesson, “The Mask of Masculinity” by Lewis Howes. In this lesson we deconstructed the false ideas of what society has determined a man is. Then we reconstructed a more accurate image of what a man can me. School of Man focuses on areas like connecting with people at a deeper level, how to positively express emotions, how to be a better father, a better husband, brother and son. It’s a holistic approach, the whole man and not just the physical aspect.
DID SCHOOL OF MAN PLAY A ROLE IN YOUR DECISION TO WALK AWAY FROM LIFE AS YOU KNEW IT?
It was the catalyst that drove my decision. I had often dreamt of taking the leap and leaving the corporate world, but never had the courage to step away from the comfort and familiar to the uncomfortable and unfamiliar that comes with being being an entrepreneur. There is excitement in taking the leap but it also comes with a lot of uncertainty and I believe you have to embrace both. You have to celebrate your wins and learn from your failures; just keep moving forward. It’s simple but it’s not always easy.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE A MAN THAT FEELS LOST AND WITHOUT PURPOSE IN HIS CAREER, IN HIS HEALTH OR ELSEWHERE IN HIS LIFE?
I can relate to that because at times, I’ve felt lost, stuck and defeated. In my experience with School of Man and working with men from all walks of life, backgrounds and races, I believe this is common to so many men. But I also say there is hope, there is a way out. There is no magic pill or shortcut. Creating lasting change entails hard work mentally, emotionally, and physically. Most importantly I believe a man needs a strong and powerful WHY. Every man’s WHY will be different but every man has to dig deep and embrace their WHY. Without it when things get tough, and they will, he will quit. But when a man is anchored in his WHY, it gives him the strength to get up and keep moving when he gets knocked down.
WHAT’S BEEN THE MOST REWARDING PART OF FOLLOWING YOUR HEART AND ALIGNING YOURSELF WITH THE MISSION OF SCHOOL OF MAN?
The most rewarding part of this journey is seeing the positive impact we are having in the lives of the men. Look, this program is not for everyone. But if a man is serious about change and wants to challenge himself to improve his mental, physical, and emotional game then this program is for him. What we do is simple but simple does not equal easy. On the contrary, it’s hard.
IT SEEMS LIKE THERE’S A SHIFT IN THE WELLNESS SPACE, AND EVEN FOR MEN, AROUND LIVING IN ALIGNMENT WITH A MORE SPIRITUAL SIDE OF YOURSELF. WOULD YOU AGREE?
Absolutely, and this program lines up nicely with this shift. I think we’ve come to learn that when we take a fragmented approach to life we can get seriously out of balance. What good does it do to have all the money in the world but your health is so poor you can’t enjoy it? You can be the most physically fit person in the room but can’t connect with people. But what we are seeing now is more and more people taking a holistic approach to a lifestyle change. When we do this, the changes we make have the potential to be more permanent.
WHAT KIND OF MAN WOULD YOU CONSIDER TO BE A GOOD FIT FOR SCHOOL OF MAN?
The training program is scaled to accommodate men of all fitness levels. We take a baseline fitness assessment for each man and the goal is incremental improvement. This is not a quick fix program, it’s more about creating new healthy habits that translate into a new lifestyle. We arm a man with the knowledge and skills for what it takes to be healthy long-term.
HAVE YOU SEEN THIS PROGRAM IMPACT OTHER LIVES BESIDES YOUR OWN?
There are multiple stories I could share with you, stores from men of all walks of life. But the one that stands out the most to me to share with you today is the story of Class 002 member, Rick. Rick grew up without a father and at a young age a baseball coach stepped in to fill that role. Unfortunately, this new male role model sexually abused Rick to the point that he attempted suicide. Rick had never shared his story before he joined School of Man. During the 1st EQ session Rick opened up and shared his experiences with the rest of the School of Man team. In doing so, his teammates stepped up and showered Rick with love and acceptance. It took a lot of courage and trust to step out and share this story. Of course everything discussed within the sessions are confidential and never shared with anyone unless permission is given, and Rick has granted School of Man permission to share.
ARE THERE ANY DAILY HABITS YOU FOUND SUCCESS WITH DURING SCHOOL OF MAN THAT YOU CONTINUED WITH AND ARE NOW AN INTEGRAL PART OF YOUR ROUTINE?
Rise early + exercise and take time each day for mindfulness.
WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING AND/OR LISTENING TO?
I am currently reading Own the Day, Own Your Life by Aubrey Marcus.