The Art and Science of Personal Transformation

I wish I could tell you that total life transformations are a linear, step-by-step, wash, rinse, repeat program that anyone can mimic in a plug-and-play way.

They are, alas, anything but.

Individual goals, circumstance, emotional well being and psychological bent matters.  Environment matters.  Motivation to change matters.  The interplay between coach and client matters.

That is to say, that to nurture transformation is to manage a torrid matrix of ever-changing variables.  In other words, it ain’t easy. Not for the coach.  And for damn sure, not for the client.

It is easy, however, for an observant coach to assess a client’s life and create a laundry list of items and habits the client needs to change in order to better his life.

It’s much more difficult for the coach to then tease out those things that the client is willing and able to take on in the now.  Those things that (1) will pay immediate dividends to the overall outcome, and (2) build the client’s confidence for further change.

This, in fact, is where the art comes in.

And when substance addiction is involved, the process is even trickier.

Progress… in Spades!

I’m happy to report that the #chainstogains project is continuing to steamroll right on along, and Kleat Norris, aka the “Big Cat” has made tremendous progress thus far.   He’s hardly even the same person that began this journey back in early October.

Let’s take a quick look at what that initial “laundry list” looked like, then look at what and why I decided to first attack what I did.

  • Heroin addiction
  • Extremely unhealthy diet/sugar and carb addiction
  • TBI history
  • Smoking habit
  • Heavy drinking habit
  • Inverted sleeping pattern
  • No exercise regimen, extremely poor shape
  • Initial body fat level of 30+ %
  • A “shot” central nervous system
  • Jobless, broke and directionless

And those where just the easy to observe.  I’d add to that already daunting list a tendency toward depression, or at least mood swings.  Probably exacerbated by the severe TBI.  A topic we’ll dive into at a later time.

As well, we can see how many of these afflictions in and of themselves set up negative feedback loops.  Being jobless, broke and directionless leads to a feeling of worthlessness and non-contribution which leads to depression and the need to dull that pain of depression via opioids, nicotine, shitty food and, well… you get the idea.

To say the least, it’s one hell of a cycle that’s a challenge to break.

Now, if we had any advantage at all going in, we did start with a complete change of environment, and this allowed for a (relatively) clean break from the opioid addiction.  It also allowed for an immediate diet overhaul and quick phase-in of an exercise program.

Welcome to the world of the bus/bike commute…

But that same change of environment, coupled with the numerous and extensive lifestyle overhaul also contributed to an immense amount of additional stress for the Big Cat to have to deal with.  And limited coping mechanisms to help deal with that stress.

And going back to training 101, we know that we have to achieve a stimulus/recovery balance to affect progress.

That said, I had to pick-and-choose which issues to take head-on, and how hard to push on those issues.

So if you were to armchair quarterback this process, you might wonder why I waited so long to attack the smoking habit and abysmal sleep patterns.  Was I being negligent in letting those issues slide for as long as I did?  Could I have attacked them sooner?

We’ll never know.  I have to make judgment calls according to moment-by-moment feedback from the client.  I have to pick the battles that can be won now, in order to win the overall war.

In the same way that proper management of a prize-fighter does not mean throwing the fighter to the wolves in hopes that he’ll survive the assault, proper management of a life transition requires a deft hand.

Phase II

Transitioning from a life of opioid addiction to that of a healthy, contributing entrepreneur is NO easy task.  But the Big Cat is doing it, and with flying colors.

What is our focus in Phase II of the process?  Here’s the plan:

  • Continue refining and dialing-in the diet
  • Continue with the progressive exercise programming
  • Steady ramp-up of the entrepreneurial apprenticeship
  • Folding-in a smoking cessation plan
  • Curbing alcohol consumption
  • Improve quality, duration and timing of sleep.

On that last point, we’re taking someone who essentially lived as a vampire for many years, and shifting back to a biologically-normal sleeping pattern.

And we’re going to use everything in our arsenal to positively affect the outcome.  From proper sleep hygiene (dark, cold, quiet, lack of “screens” prior to bed, etc.) to ID Life Sleep Strips.

Sleep is the most potent recovery mechanism we have.  And now is the time to leverage that for maximum results.

Stay tuned!


And… stay tuned for an upcoming, nuanced discussion with the Big Cat.  A discussion series that may eventually turn into an ongoing podcast.

Because transformation and the breaking of habits that drag us down affect everyone within the client’s orbit.  Those with the addiction, and those who love them.

And in as much as every transformation is different, they all follow the same “hero’s journey” arc.  Our hope is to help illuminate that arc, and provide some from-the-trenches observation.

Heal thyself, harden thyself, change the world ~



  1. Keith, I was daunted on behalf of you both when you started this journey in the full focus of public view.

    I’m so pleased that it’s working out. You must be so proud of Clear. The changes that he has made are truly impressive.

    Good luck to you both.


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