Needing to be right is not who you are.

In this episode I look at why we often go on the defensive about what we believe to be right, why we attack so easily when confronted with something we don’t agree with or believe in, and what that says about who we are. 

Below are the key quotations I reference from the podcast, Ram Dass Here and Now“Reality of Who We Are”, episode 86.

“You only try and protect your position when you don’t have much faith in where you’re at. Just like you only come on to other people, about their position, when you don’t have much faith in where you’re at.”

How can you have true compassion to leave others alone to where they need to be?

“A compassionate being is what he or she is, creating a space in which other people can be what they need to be, not what you want them to be.”

Not needing to be right changes how you protest.

“You’re no longer flamboyant in your protest. Your protest is somewhat more effective because you less define yourself as them.”

On choosing to look inward, without fear of what you may find.

“Constantly seeking the external hit because you’re afraid fully to confront your possible bankruptcy. Because your model of yourself has in it so much unworthiness, that you’re afraid that if you really stopped and looked, and “be-ed” it would be too ugly, too frightening, it wouldn’t be enough.”

Living OUT theme music: “Summer” by ~ Photo by Andrej Lišakov on Unsplash

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Taking risks is not about trying to be different or trying to make a name for yourself.

This is not the same as riding a rollercoaster or sky-diving. This is a risk of the soul, exposing your truth, your abilities, and your creative genius to the world.

You can’t predict anyone will care, follow you, or even support what you do — especially if you are only motivated by your ego. If the ego doesn’t get recognition (“Hey, look at me!”) your efforts feel diminished and wasted.

If you want to create something truly great and of incredible value that will improve people’s lives, you need to shut out all the voices, all the criticism, all the “You should do this” suggestions, trust your gut and risk it all.

Read the accompanying post, If You Can Accept Discomfort, You Can Achieve Personal Greatness.

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Living OUT theme music: “Summer” by ~ Photo by Yeshi Kangrang on Unsplash

Do you have a vision of what your dream life looks like? Or do you have a mission, or what some refer to as having a calling in life?

You can have all of the above. As an example, I am consciously creating my dream life every day (and sometimes I doubt it will ever happen, but that’s another story). My focus on growing my business is connected with my mission and my calling. 

So how do you create that vision of your dream life, and more importantly, how do you take steps every day to live your life by design and have your dreams, not just inspire your actions, but pull you towards your goals?

Read the accompanying post, What Is Your Calling in Life?


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This was my life over a year ago (mid 2017), trying to find a way out of personal training and health coaching. This post is inspired by a journal entry  I wrote as a result of using my own, ADD Method: Get Clarity Process. The problems I was struggling at that time were: how to position myself as a life coach, and; knowing my unique and authentic message.

Do you ever feel like you’re not doing what you are supposed to be doing?

I don’t mean laundry, work, or a project.

I mean your calling.

And why is it a calling?

A calling brings to mind someone far away, trying to get your attention. Your head is down, unaware, trapped in worry or fear, not present. 

“DARREN! Over here!”

She’s calling me (I don’t know why it’s a she but that’s what I’m sensing, now).

Something I’ve been doing for so long, for too long, isn’t me anymore. But that work has helped me become more of me, and has lead me to what really inspires me.

“We teach what we need to learn for our own growth and transformation.”

This list includes,

  • Listening
  • Saying less
  • Being present
  • Mindfulness
  • Mind-body in-tune-ment
  • Rest
  • Fun
  • LOVE 

I’ve been building parts of my business on the back of a skill set I no longer want to practice regularly. I won’t give it up. That would be silly at this point for what I can still learn from it. I only need to reframe it. I need to contain it within TEACHING and COACHING.

I don’t want to do what everyone else is doing. 

I don’t want to repeat information, technique, or skills that are so easily accessible.

I DO WANT to be fully creative. And when I’m creating, I’m present. I’m seeing, hearing, sensing, feeling, being in the moment with who I’m with.

And all of this is what “appears” to be my #1 challenge: how do I market that?

I have to allow others to be part of this process. I need to invite others into my experience, to facilitate expansion so they can chose from the paths before them.

Clarity will come with practice, with showing up, and with involving others who want to partake in this creative process of transformation.

Living Life by Design

How did the above contemplation turn out for me?

At the end of 2017 I transitioned from health and fitness coaching into the queer coach. I was almost there! I was enamoured with the word queer, because I was also newly publishing a magazine on Medium called Th-Ink Queerly.

The ADD Method – Get Clarity free book by Darren Stehle

I processed a bit more, and dug deeper to get even more clarity until I realized that it wasn’t so much about thinking differently, instead it was about Living Out the best of who you are.

It might seem like it was a long process, getting to the point where I created a message and a brand around the Living OUT coach. It was simply part of the process, which is not necessarily something we can limit with time constraints.

All we can do is to be fully present in the process.

Creating what we most want, bringing our desires and dreams to life is how we live by design. And it all starts with getting clarity.

The outcome of this self-assessment process is to gain clarity on the reasons for your problems, struggles or challenges. Once you get clarity on what’s holding you back, you can then come up with solutions and create an action plan to solve those problems and challenges. 

This process is part of my ADD Coaching Methodology: a coaching program designed to help you,

  1. Assess the foundations of your life. How did you get to this point? What are you proud of? What is holding your back from getting what you want? How do you clear the clutter to support the foundations of your life that best serve you?
  2. Dream into the future present about how your life is. Experience what you want as if it has already happened.
  3. Design a plan to manage the micro and macro parts of your life so that you can live from your core values and live out the best of who you are. 

Get free access to the first step of the ADD Method: The Get Clarity Process

Discover how to create solutions to your biggest challenge or problem, right now. Download the free guide below, or use this link:

Living OUT theme music: “Summer” by ~ Photo by sydney Rae on Unsplash

What do you most want to ADD to your life?

It was more of a lucid dream, the kind you have just before waking up when you actually realize you’re dreaming

In my dream I got out of bed and I walked downstairs. I was looking for our dog. I went to his bed and laid on my side.

He appeared from behind me, did a few circles, and then cuddled right up to me with his head just below my chin. I draped my arm around his body and then the dream faded out and I went into a deeper sleep.

Cuddles on my birthday, a month before Reggie’s passing.

I can’t explain in words how much I want that experience again.

It is also one of the most meaningful goals that my partner, Christiaan and I both share: to adopt two or more Boxer dogs.

The three of us – summer 2015.

What do you want and dream about more than anything?

What would give you the greatest feelings of joy and love in your life?

Knowing the answer to that question starts with having clarity on what’s holding you back from getting what you most want.

The ADD Method – Get Clarity free book by Darren Stehle

The truth is that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to, but you need to know how to ADD what you most value into your life.

This is a 3-part process which is part of my ADD Methodology (Assess – Dream – Design):

  1. Assess the foundations in your life that hinder and support you;
  2. Dream into the future present about how your life is, now, and;
  3. Create the plan to live your life by Design.

Discover the first step in my ADD Method: Get Clarity.

You can download your free copy of the Get Clarity Process, below.

Why do we act mean or disrespectful towards others?

Why don’t we realize that this is a lack of self-respect?

When we attack, harass, bully, defame, or call someone names, it is a reflection of our own self-image. Our actions are a reflection of our lack of control and emotional intelligence.

It’s easy to go down the path of anger, attack, and self- protection.

The ancient parts of our brain serve to keep us safe and comfortable. They react instantly and seemingly without logical, conscious thought. They override the pre-frontal cortex, the so-called thinking or logical brain.

It’s in the moments after the ancient brain has calmed down that we realize the error of our actions. However, we can learn how to take a pause to sit in that gap between unconscious ancient brain response and logical, conscious response.

Read the complete post, How We Treat Each Other Reflects Who We Are. 

Download my free guide, The ADD Method: Get Clarity.

Living OUT theme music: “Summer” by ~ Photo by Tiago Felipe Ferreira on Unsplash

Values, communication, and respect in the dark ages of Trump.

What’s wrong in the world?

What’s wrong is that I’m seeing far too many issues with people who,

  • Seem to have a god-complex;
  • Think they’re right, and you’re wrong (discussion not optional), and;
  • Seem to fight only for what they believe in, ignoring logic in place of emotional connections, ideology, or faith.

This makes me wonder, as human beings are we actually in control of our minds?

People can be assholes.

At worst we are all complicit in turning the backside of our character to face others. Why are we so mean or disrespectful towards others? Why don’t we realize that this is actually a lack of self-respect?

When we attack, harass, bully, defame, or call someone names, it is a poor reflection of our own self image. It is a sad reflection of our emotional weaknesses and emotional intelligence.

Reading the above you might think I’m being an asshole and blaming others. That’s the furthest thing from what I want to express. I am only able to express and teach from what I’ve experienced, and what I’m learning.

Hopefully I will master what I’m learning, but not in the sense of being better than anyone else. I seek to master what I learn in the sense of internalizing and recognizing my own faults and weaknesses at the same time. We need to own up to what we have done wrong, and be open to the truth of all possible variations within a problematic scenario.

It’s easy to go down the path of anger, and attack.

That’s bred into us physiologically and genetically. The oldest parts of our brain, the amygdala and the mammalian brains, serve to keep us safe and comfortable. They react instantly and seemingly without logical, conscious thought. They most always override the pre-frontal cortex, the so-called thinking or logical brain.

It’s often in the moments after the ancient brain has calmed down that we realize the error of our actions. That error is human nature. However, we can practice how to sit in that gap between our unconscious ancient brain of response/reaction, and our conscious, logical brain response.

I’m not saying this is easy! I have gotten better at it, but it’s always a work in progress.

People can also lift others up.

Lift - The Fundamental State of Leadership

Currently I’m reading, Lift: The Fundamental State of Leadership by Ryan W Quinn and Robert E Quinn.

I’m not all the way through, but the core lessons taught by the authors are the importance of how we communicate and lead others. There are two lessons I want to reference.

The first is a series of four questions that can help you look at a situation to determine an effective and positive outcome for all involved.

These four questions are (copied verbatim):
  1. “What result do I want to create? (When people answer this question to become less comfort-centred and more purpose-centred.)”
  2. “What would my story be if I were living the values I expect others? (when people answer this question they become less externally directed and more internally directed.)”
  3. “How do others feel about the situation? (When people answer this question they become less self-focused and more other-focused.)”
  4. “What are three (or four or five) strategies I could use to accomplish my purpose for this situation? (When people answer this question they become less internally closed and more externally open.)”

The second lesson the book discusses is how we are influenced by the energy and behaviour of others in our immediate physical surroundings.

If you walk into a room and someone is in an uplifting state of mind, you respond, mostly on an unconscious level, favourably. Of course, the opposite is also true. When you walk into the room and sense the other person is angry and upset, how does that feel in your body? How does you mind respond? Do you feel calm or defensive?

I would add that virtual connections also apply, given what I’ve been witnessing online. I’ve noticed more group-think and mob mentality. People react immediately based on statements that they don’t take the time to discern as true or false. They share their mostly angry thoughts, without considering the impact of their words and the effect it will have on other people.

People are afraid to take ownership.

People are so afraid to apologize, to own up to their actions, and to tell someone that they reacted in haste. We are living in an age of instant gratification. Tweet your holier-than-thou opinion and off you go, feeling better-than and self-empowered. #NoFucksGiven if you’re wrong.

Just because you’ve shared your thoughts online, and not in front of another person, doesn’t mean your actions won’t have repercussions or consequences.

Let’s go back in time about 25 years.

It wasn’t that long ago that we didn’t have cells phones or the Internet. It hasn’t been that long since we’ve had social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. The level of technological development and corresponding disruption of the status quo has been exponential over the last three decades.

This has had a profound and problematic impact on healthy and effective communication.

We used to write letters. When you made a phone call 30 years ago, people often didn’t have voicemail. Either because that type of virtual storage didn’t exist, or people didn’t own the physical device to plug into their phone at home.

In other words, if you were corresponding over long distance, it took a great amount of time to receive a response. This gave people more time to consider what they wanted to say, and how they were going to respond.

Now you can publish something online and someone else can comment within seconds.

If you publish something (an article, status update, or a video) that’s problematic or emotionally vulnerable, you’re most likely in a state of mind worried about other people’s reactions. If you receive negative or reactionary feedback within seconds of posting, your reactive, ancient brain gets triggered. Your amygdala fires up, takes control of your logical brain, and fires back with a most dismissive and angry response.

Re-evaluate how you want to be treated.

I’m not suggesting that sitting down for a few hours and getting clear on your values is going to solve all these problems.

I am suggesting that not enough people have given consideration to what they most value about communication, and how they wish to be treated when spoken to.

The latter is where essential humanitarian values live.

If you have ever felt bad about how you spoke to someone or treated another person, that’s a sign you were not congruent with one of your core values. If you don’t know what your core values are, it might be time to do the deep work and figure them out. This is an important part of the work I do with my clients during the Design: Evaluate Stage of my ADD Coaching Methodology.

The challenge with reactionary emotions is discerning whether or not you’re in conflict with your core values.

It’s difficult to know if you’re actually doing the best thing possible, in that moment. Some actions we take don’t feel great, even though they’re necessary. The emotion of compassion can be one of those conflicting feelings.

Straight-up compassion is one thing. But what if you have to take a particular action that feels like a difficult choice, e.g. like requiring or asking someone to act in a better manner? You may be in a leadership position as a manager directing or disciplining an employee, or dealing with someone you collaborate with.

You may direct that person to do something out of necessity, or because of improper actions they have taken in the past, but you are doing it out of compassion. Most likely this won’t feel good, but that is the Catch-22 with the emotion of compassion. Sometimes the more the decision hurts, or the more you struggle with it, the more deeply you experience compassion.

Doing what’s right or making the best choice in a situation doesn’t always feel great.

When you take action based on your core values, you are taking ownership for your decisions made in conjunction with those values.

It’s from the foundation of your core values that you can lead others in you communication. The more you are in alignment with your core values, the more you will respect other people’s ideas, feelings, and character.

Making the world a better place starts with you, and it starts with me.

Change starts with the individual. This change needs to be practiced continuously in order for us to improve and evolve our communication. We need to choose to do this together, on a conscious level, and with compassion – not just for others, but for ourselves.

Photo by Matt Collamer on Unsplash

Have you left the best parts of you in the closet?

As a metaphor, the closet can be the place where you’ve suppressed and hidden away the best parts of who you are. These are your hidden dreams and desires, which might feel too heavy to drag out of the closet.

The things we’re most afraid of doing are in fact the things that make us evolve. What we are afraid of is leaning out of our comfort zone. Comfort is safe, but it’s not expanding; it’s not where personal growth happens, it’s not where we can have an impact in the world.

How to find that spark if it’s been locked away for too long.

Many of us are looking for a way to create or get what we want, or to be “that person” who we want to be. A structure can help you rekindle that spark and live out the best of who you are.

Read the complete post, The ADD to Your Life Methodology: Assess – Dream – Design. 

Living OUT theme music: “Summer” by ~ Cover Photo by Photo by Jez Timms on Unsplash.

What best parts of you have you left in the closet?

For me as a gay man there were things I wanted to do during my adolescence that I hid away from view. I wasn’t out and was struggling to accept myself for who I was years before declaring, “I’m gay”. I wanted to take gymnastics, or try out for dance, but that would have definitively labeled me as “gay”. I wasn’t strong enough at the time to handle the finger pointing, isolation, and homophobia.

As a metaphor, the closet can be the place where you’ve hidden away the best parts of who you are.

These best parts of you can be scary. They’re your hidden dreams or desires, from deep within your personal history – layered with both self and the external judgment of others. Your dreams might feel too heavy to drag out of the closet.

Sometime we make excuses for ourselves like, “I’m too old. It’s too late. I don’t know if I can do that. I’m don’t have the time. I’m having fun doing other things right now.”

What we’re most afraid of doing is what makes us grow and evolve.

It can be unnerving to lean way out of our comfort zone. Comfort is safe, but it’s not expanding; it’s not where personal growth happens, and it’s not where we can have a positive impact in the world.

If something feels scary, if you think you might not be able to do it, that’s actually a good sign. It means that whether you succeed or fail you will learn something; you will grow and become a better person – assuming your look at the experience as developmental.

It can be challenging to find the spark if it’s been locked away too long.

How do you feed that ember to create light and illuminate what’s been hidden away and dormant for so long?

This is where coaching can help. Many of us are looking for a way to create something impactful, to get what we want, or to be “that person” we want to be – but in reality we already are that – but our spark has been dimmed.

A structure can help you rekindle that spark and shine light on the best of who you are.

The ADD to Your Life Methodology: Assess – Dream – Design

What’s the the biggest reasons people fail at getting what they want or achieving their goals? Is it a lack of passion, preparation, a goal setting system, or resources?

Possibly, but the biggest reason people fail at their goals is a lack of clarity. This is why I created the ADD Coaching Methodology. My method is designed to help you get crystal clear on how you got to this point in your life, to purge whatever is holding you back, reinforce your strengths, and then help you solidify your dream into a flexible, effective plan that will help you efficiently reach your goals.

The ADD-itional benefit of this method is the ability to quickly figure out why something might not be working for you.


The ADD Method is based on 8 steps:

  1. Assess your life and foundations to know where you stand.
  2. Purge the physical and emotional clutter to make space.
  3. Reinforce the foundations of your life to support your dream.
  4. Dream yourself into the future present of who you already are.
  5. Evaluate what’s most important to live out the best of who you are.
  6. Live by Design with structures that supports your dream.
  7. Refine your goals and adjust your values to match.
  8. Review the process and your commitments.

The ADD Method – Get Clarity free book by Darren Stehle

Want free access to the first tool in Step 1: Assess?

Enter your name and email address below to get my free guide, The ADD Method: Get Clarity.

A process to get clarity on the reasons fo your problems, struggles, or challenges.

Imagine that you are living your passion every day.

You know what drives and excites you. It’s so obvious that other people know it too. You are internally motivated to do the work to get what you want, because you are in alignment with what you most value. You do creative, exciting work that is congruent with what’s most meaningful to you.

Consider what you are procrastinating about

What have you been saying or telling yourself that you want to do, but you’re not doing? Ask yourself this question, “What about this thing is causing me to procrastinate?”

If you come up with answers and solutions to take action, great! You’re on your way to completing that goal.

But if you’re stuck as to why you’re procrastinating, or don’t know what steps to take to spark your desire and live out your closeted dream, the ADD Method can help.

Knowing your biggest problems and struggles – and how to solve them – will allow you to make the biggest leaps forward in life and succeed at accomplishing your goals.

Think about your life, right now…

The ADD Coaching Methodology will help you achieve a level of clarity about your life that you may never have experienced. Instead of being pulled in multiple directions, you will have an internal compass that guides you due north with every decision that is congruent with your values and goals.

Once you’ve been through the ADD Method, you can repeat the steps for yourself at anytime should you feel stuck or uncertain about what to do next. If you find yourself procrastinating, repeating all or part of the ADD Method will help you quickly identify the problem, and solutions to leap forward.

Ready to ADD the spark back into your life?

Want to bust that life-long dream out of the closet, dust if off, and start living out the best of who you are? Let’s take the first step, which is getting to know each other.

Coaching is personal, relational, and about trust and appreciation. I want to know that the two of us will connect and feel good about working together. I’m sure you feel the same way.

Click the button below, which will open a new tab. Answer a few questions, and once I’ve reviewed your message I’ll contact you to book a complimentary discovery call.

Cover photo by Ylanite Koppens from Pexels