Description: The world’s best Lifestyle Engineer, Zach White is sharing how losing his focus and balance ended in burnout and divorce. In his words: Nothing prepared me for the darkest days of my life. While he would never wish a tragedy on...
The world’s best Lifestyle Engineer, Zach White is sharing how losing his focus and balance ended in burnout and divorce. In his words: Nothing prepared me for the darkest days of my life. While he would never wish a tragedy on anyone, he was thankful for this experience. It forced him to ask bigger and better questions, and he was able to completely transform the way he works and how he lives, and he is going to share his wisdom with us today.
Zach shares his personal story of how losing his focus and balance led to burnout and ultimately, divorce. He reflects on the darkest days of his life and how this experience forced him to ask bigger and better questions, which led to a complete transformation in the way he works and lives.
Zach's journey is an inspiring one, and he generously shares his wisdom with us, providing insights into how to achieve balance, focus, and success in both our personal and professional lives. From his personal experiences, Zach has developed a unique approach to coaching, one that is holistic and takes into account all aspects of an individual's life.
In this episode, we discussed:
Losing focus and balance can have serious consequences, including burnout and personal upheaval.
Difficult experiences can lead to personal growth and transformation as long as we're willing to ask bigger and better questions.
Zach's holistic approach to coaching takes into account all aspects of an individual's life and can help us achieve balance, focus, and success in both our personal and professional lives.
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Connect with Sabine Kvenberg:
00:00:00 Zach: The thing that will stand between you and your dreams is fear. And so we need to step out of our comfort zone, have the courage to face those fears, and take action in our life. So if there's one thing I could tell you, it's to crush comfort and create courage because the life of your dreams will not be found in your comfort zone. And the sooner you embrace that and start living out at the edges of what's possible for you, the faster you're gonna see your life increase in ways you could not even imagine.
00:00:34 Sabine: Hello, my name is Sabine Kvenberg, founder and host of BECOME. The content will inspire you to reach your aspirations and become the best version of yourself. I feature interviews with successful individuals from various industries, delving into their personal and professional journeys and their strategies to achieve their goals. We have to become the person we are meant to be first. So we can live life, we are destined to live. That means we must overcome challenges and work through difficult times to learn, grow, and become the new more fabulous version of ourselves. I'm so glad that you are here. Let's get on this journey together.
00:01:25 Sabine: I had the pleasure of sitting down with the world's best lifestyle engineer, Zach White. If you want to see results in your life, you have to have the courage to step out of your comfort zone and pair that courage with a proven system of success, what he calls
Lifestyle Engineering. And you can accelerate more than just your career. And this is what I talked with Zach about in our interview. Not only is he sharing his story, but you will learn what it takes to have more balance. Welcome, Zach. I'm so happy to have you as my guest today.
00:02:04 Zach: Oh, Sabine, it's a pleasure to be here. Thank you so much for inviting me.
00:02:09 Sabine: Oh, let's get started by, just, tell us where you are right now. I think you are somewhere in Michigan, is that right?
00:02:19 Zach: Yeah, yeah. You found me sitting in my office, which is in a coworking space here in southwest Michigan. A small lake town. If you're not from the area, you wouldn't know it, but it's called Benton Harbor and just a mile from beautiful Lake Michigan. And I was mentioning to you before the recording, so we were finally feeling some springtime weather, which for Michiganders, is a big deal, like putting that cloud cover and cold weather behind us, ready for some sunshine and some lake life. So bring it on.
00:02:53 Sabine: Oh, right. All right. And yeah, here, the sun is out, but here in Florida, it is seasonably cold. We are in the 60s, and for, end of March, it's pretty cold. So. But I guess, it all depends on.
00:03:11 Zach: That's right. It's all relative. Uh, 67. I can't wait for 67. That's, we're still a month or two away from 67, Sabine.
00:03:20 Sabine: So Zach, you are a lifestyle engineering coach now, but you started out as an engineer. So how did you go from engineer solving problems to totally shift lifestyle? So how did that happen?
00:03:45 Zach: Yeah, well, I joke, Sabine, that I'm a mechanical engineer by my degrees, but I'm a lifestyle engineer through the school of hard knocks and life lessons. So my actual background is in mechanical engineering. To your comment, I have my bachelor's from Purdue and my masters from U of M, both in mechanical engineering. And I went into Whirlpool Corporation to build my engineering career with big aspirations and big goals. Just like most engineers who come outta college, do wanna make a name for yourself, make an impact, go get those promotions, and build a successful career. And in the journey towards that success, I made some big mistakes and I ended up burning out, finding myself divorced and depressed and disappointed with how my career had gone, but more importantly, how my life fell apart in the process. And it was the recovery from that rock bottom experience where lifestyle engineering was born, asking new questions, finding new ways to succeed, that considered my whole life's success, not just my career. And very happy to say it worked. I had incredible success after, and that's what then led to me doing this full-time as a coach and as a CEO of Oasis of Courage.
00:05:08 Sabine: Oh, fantastic. But one thing that you said, I think is so oftentimes overlooked, and that is the fact that sometimes we have to hit rock bottom to realize what we really ought to do in this world and what gives us the joy and the freedom to live a happy and fulfilled life. So when you started working and you had all the successes and your career took off, what was it that really made you realize the career is not everything? So what was that darkest time in your life that really made you, shall I say, wake up?
00:06:03 Zach: The wake up call moment in anyone's journey is always, you know, very, you know, poignant, easy to remember exactly where I was. And Sabine, I'll tell you the story in my world, at the time, everything was fine. You know, I thought I had it all under control. And I was on a work trip out in Tennessee working at one of the factories where Whirlpool has a manufacturing facility. And Sabine, I came home from the trip and I was tired. It'd been a long trip, working long hours. And I really hadn't talked to my spouse very much while I was gone. And I was expecting to come home, to her being there. And the house was empty. And I walked in and I was confused, thought maybe she went out, you know, I called, she didn't answer. And then I'm walking around the house and I found a note on the table that essentially said, I don't think this is working. I'm ready to get divorced.
00:07:05 Zach: And that moment for me was the wake up call. That's when my entire world came crashing down around me. And the truth is, looking back, Sabine, that I was lying to myself about everything being okay. The signs were there long before that moment, that things were not going well at home. But I had chosen to ignore it. I had chosen to pretend outwardly that everything was okay, and I just put my focus on the things that were working, and I ignored the things that were not working. And as you can imagine, the tension between that just grows and grows. And, you know, eventually to your point, if you don't do something, you hit rock bottom. And I'll be honest, that was a very, very painful night. I mean, a lot of tears, a lot of heartache, but some powerful things shifted that night in my life. And it began with being honest with myself and being honest with the people who loved me. You know, calling my sister, calling my mom, telling them the truth for the first time that my life was not what I was pretending it was, and I needed help.
00:08:13 Sabine: Wow, what you said was so impactful that number one, we oftentimes, choose not to see the signs. We try to avoid and ignore them because it's uncomfortable.
00:08:32 Zach: Yeah.
00:08:32 Sabine: But if we do more of those, it becomes even more uncomfortable or even worse, like in your case, you found your house empty. What I liked, what you just shared, that for the first time, you were honest, you called your parents and your mom, your sister, and really told them as it was. Isn't it so true sometimes, in family we hide what's going on and because we don't wanna show our weaknesses perhaps? So what was the process once you get really raw and honest? What was the process for you as far as getting through it?
00:09:24 Zach: Grief comes first. You know, I'll be honest, the first few days or weeks, Sabine, were just kind of messy. Very messy. A lot of tears, a lot of confusion. But the relief of telling the truth the way I did, gave me enough weight off of my shoulders to take a next step. And for me, beyond just talking to the people I love, that was going to see a counselor, getting on the calendar, going and working with a professional therapist, that's saying, hey, this is happening. I need help. I'm in a lot of pain. And the grief is real. And you go through these stages of suffering and grief. And that was very real to me. It was very, I mean, physically painful, emotionally painful, spiritually painful to go through. But I think the most important thing was the willingness to sit in that place, to just allow the pain to be present.
00:10:22 Zach: And that's something that I was dodging to your point earlier, Sabine, like pretending that it wasn't there for so long. There was a lot of built up negative energy in my life that needed to be let go. And so that was the first stage, was just a willingness to let my life be a mess for a while, and acknowledge that I wasn't as, you know, well put together as everybody thought I was. But from there, after, you know, you're in that kind of trough place. Your face is grinding against the floor of rock bottom as it were, right? You know, then you stand up and you start to just put one foot in front of the other. And what I tell everybody, who I've coached, who's gone through any form of burnout or suffering or a rock bottom experience like this, or if you're going through it right now, you have to bring the time horizon in a little bit.
00:11:12 Zach: We're not gonna solve the whole thing in one move. We're not gonna go, create the perfect life in one day. Let's zoom, way in. I like to call it drawing smaller circles. Rather than solving for the big equation, let's just solve, for this afternoon, what are we gonna do this afternoon to make sure it's a little bit better than yesterday, to make sure we're not going back to those same patterns or habits that got us stuck in the first place and put one foot in front of the other. And as we build momentum, we can begin to extend that time horizon again and think about bigger goals and longer term dreams again, you know, entering into a new relationship. Again, in my case, all of those things. But at the start, let's just focus on the moment in front of us, right? What's the next thing we need to do in drawing those smaller circles and prioritizing a shorter time horizon because it's so overwhelming. We don't have the cognitive ability to go think about these longer term things. So that's my most important lesson from that time, was look, when you're really under pressure, when you're really overwhelmed, or if your life is completely confusing and falling apart, let's just zoom, way in. You don't need to solve everything. Let's just get today buttoned up the best we can, make the best next decision, and then we can come back to tomorrow.
00:12:33 Sabine: It's so true. Couple things that I got out of what you just shared. Number one, the willingness to sit and let it pass. And also recognize our grieve, our suffering, and not just chopping it away, because if we don't let it out, it just fester and make us perhaps bitter or whatnot, right? So.
00:12:59 Zach: Yeah.
00:12:59 Sabine: Just going through that process is a resolving process and resolving journey. And then you were able to move forward again. And what you did, you got help. And we all need help at one point or another in certain situations.
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00:15:33 Sabine: So after you went through that grieving process, and another thing that I liked what you're saying, taking one step at a time, cuz that's another thing I believe a lot of people think, oh, they have to resolve everything either in their personal life or even in business venture. If you have to go through a very challenging situation sometimes, no, you cannot go from A to Z in one step. You have to take steps in between. And those little steps, when was your decision to actually make changes in your life after you got through that grieving process that really led you to become the lifestyle engineer that you are today?
00:16:25 Zach: Yeah, Sabine, there was a point, and I wish I could pinpoint exactly when, but I really can't. It's something that came gradually through the healing journey where I realized that the passion and the ambition inside of me to be successful in my career, to make an impact with my life and in the world through engineering and through, you know, the great mind that God had given me and the the skills that I had and that was still inside me, right? Going through burnout and divorce and depression did not eliminate something that was born inside me and my purpose for life. And I still had that fire there to do something. But right next to the fire for achievement was this fear of going through something like I had gone through already. It's like, there must be a different way to go, achieve something meaningful with my life but not suffer like this.
00:17:26 Zach: And it was that moment where I said, okay, I don't know the answer to that, but I'm unwilling to do nothing. I would rather keep going and try again and fail again than do nothing. I'm more afraid of, you know, getting to the end of my life with regrets than I am afraid of failing again. And so that's when I hired my first coach. I had worked with a therapist on the grief and this idea of recovery and healing, but I knew from other people who I had as mentors and people I respected, that coaching was a powerful catalyst to forward progress and change and making results happen in your life. So I hired a coach and I presented them with this challenge and said, hey, I want success, but I don't want to go through this again. There must be another way. I need help.
00:18:16 Zach: And I began working with a coach and, you know, the rest is history in a way. I went on to five promotions in five years. I doubled my income, I had an incredibly fun time working less hours than I ever had before. And along the way, I captured all these lessons and really distilled it down for the engineering mind because, you know, as an engineer, we think a bit differently. We approach the world a bit differently. And that became the lifestyle engineering blueprint that we now coach our clients in. But it was honestly just learning as I went, how to do this in a different way.
00:18:50 Sabine:Yeah. And as you said, as we experience, as we learn, we can implement and teach it to others. So how do engineers learn differently and what's the difference between an engineering mind and everybody else's mind?
00:19:08 Zach: Oh, we don't have enough time on this podcast to talk about all of the differences. You know, if you are an engineer, you already understand and appreciate some of this and most people know at least one engineer. And you can point to some of the stereotypes that are common. So let's just, you know, be honest about what these things are. For one, generally speaking, we'll paint with broad brushes here, more introverted, more shy, generally speaking, they see the world in a black and white way. And I'll include myself in this. I used to be this way because we're trained to go find the right answer. And mathematics and science and most of the schooling that we go through is all rooted in learning the principles and applying them to problems in a way that finds the solution. And we end up in this very narrow approach to living where everything has a solution and often it's one right answer.
00:20:03 Zach: Then we come outta college and go into our careers. And it's hard enough to face the reality that there's more than one way to design something or to solve the problem. Then you add on the complexity of all the emotional and social intelligence required to work on these complex cross-disciplinary teams. And it really can be overwhelming for a lot of engineers to adapt to that. On top of that, let's put even one more layer. The engineering mind is trained to go find everything that can break, everything that can go wrong, all the points of failure in every system. That's what we get paid to do. And we wanna take everything to a point of failure in life. It's like, this is the way we think in terms of design. Well, anybody who's in psychology or cognitive behavioral therapy or coaching will tell you, if the thing that you focus on constantly is the negative side, if all you're looking for are points of failure and what can go wrong, that's what you're going to continue to get more of and create, especially in your relationships. And people get frustrated at engineers for always, you know, shutting down their ideas or telling them how things can go wrong or not. Well, let's forgive them in a way cuz it's the only thing we're taught.
00:21:22 Zach: And that creates a lot of problems in our relationships and in our lives as well as in your career development. So that's just naming a couple of obvious ones, Sabine. There's more, but we need to adapt the way we think about career growth and then lifestyle design. This idea of balancing the rest of our lives in the context of those challenges. You know, how do we overcome that in a way that engineers can wrap their heads around, which means systematically in a logical way, in a way that's gonna align with their strengths. Not just go tell an engineer, hey, stop being like an engineer. Like, that doesn't work. You can't just tell somebody to stop being themselves.
00:22:03 Sabine: No, that's so true and I really admire that you tackle that from that perspective, being an engineer. I mean, our two worlds can't be any more far apart because I'm on the total of the spectrum. I'm a creator. You know, I'm a performer. I'm just like.
00:22:26 Zach: Yes.
00:22:27 Sabine: Hey, show me the world, right? And math was never my strong point. I am not getting satisfaction with solving problems. I mean, I do, right? But you know what I'm saying?
00:22:41 Zach: It's different. It's different.
00:22:42 Sabine: It's just different, right? But as you said, the engineers in this world and even if you are not an engineer, you might be an introvert, you might be a problem solver. That's your mentality, that's your personality. And those people are probably looking for a coach like you who can approach it from that angle. So I like that.
00:23:10 Zach: Yeah, you're right. It's not unique to engineers, that's just a group that I really resonate with. But for example, we have a client in our program right now who works in sales, but her mindset is an analytical one, and she has some of these same qualities in her approach and her background. And you would think, sales, how is it possible to be an introvert and succeed in sales? Well, you'd be amazed, you know, it's not uncommon for someone to end up in a place where they are constantly having to face some limitations, where their personality doesn't serve them in their role. And this is an example where someone says, okay, I really need to overcome these things in order to be successful, even more so than an engineer might. And so, yeah, there's a lot of people who connect with this approach, who may not be in STEM professions.
00:24:01 Sabine: And you also have a podcast called the Happy Engineer Podcast. So tell us about that podcast. Who are your guests and what you're trying to achieve with it?
00:24:15 Zach: Well, the Happy Engineer was named that because at the end of the day, if you get big success in your titles and promotions at paychecks, but you hate your life, then we have not succeeded yet. So I really believe, Sabine, what we're all looking for here is to love the journey towards our dream and our vision. So the Happy Engineer is an entire series of conversations around that idea. How do I build my career to the level that I want, whether that's CTO or just senior engineer, it doesn't matter. But also balance what I love in the rest of my life, to honor the time I want with my family, to take care of my health, to really look at myself as a whole person and not become a victim to some of the cultural challenges of, especially big organizations where the pressure to deliver can be so high and engineers are stressed out.
00:25:09 Zach: Engineers are struggling with dealing with all these demands, especially when you add a spouse and some kids and a mortgage and all these other challenges of living life. So the Happy Engineer Podcast brings guests from engineering, you know, folks who've succeeded at this and are living on the other side of the lessons learned, as well as people from these other disciplines who can help us to address areas where we're not strong. You know, health coaches or mindset coaches, people who can really dig into the areas that an engineer may not explore very often on their own. Because we tend to be drawn to the sciences and we love to listen to tech speak and that kind of thing. So it's a very well-rounded set of conversations because I really do believe we wanna be well-rounded in our success.
00:25:54 Sabine: Absolutely. Absolutely. And I go onto podcasts with the wisdom that I can contribute to the audiences and, you know, it's all about that balance, right? And when we are open to listen to the other person or to the other “side,” just in general, it is very important to be open. Otherwise, we are getting so narrow minded, so almost, like the horses with those, what you call it, the sight.
00:26:33 Zach: The blinders. Yeah.
00:26:34 Sabine: The blinders, exactly. And you see it in all areas, you know, of personal and work related politics. Oh, my goodness. If we are not open to listen to others, then we can get really, really stuck.
00:26:49 Zach: No doubt.
00:26:50 Sabine: So, yeah.
00:26:51 Zach: Well, and you are a great role model of this, Sabine. I mean, I love your content. I actually just listened to episode 41 of Become with [Brandon Kumar Sammi]. He was on my podcast as well. And just the power of those conversations and the idea of becoming what this whole show is about, it begins with that openness. If you don't lean into a growth mindset and an open coachable spirit, then you're gonna miss that opportunity to become the best version of yourself. So I think there's no one better to talk about this than you.
00:27:23 Sabine: Oh, good. Good. So, well maybe I'll… can tell something to your listeners as well and contribute to your listeners. I would love to, but well, we are out of time. Oh, my goodness. You know, I always like having wonderful conversations. I could go on.
00:27:42 Zach: I know. I know.
00:27:43 Sabine: Forever and ever. So if people want to get in touch with you, what would be the best way?
00:27:51 Zach: Thank you, Sabine. And for what it's worth, I agree, we could go all day. I understand why Joe Rogan and some of these other podcasters have three and four hour long episodes because it's so fun to have these chats. You know, you mentioned the Happy Engineer Podcast already, and if someone out there is listening who wants to hear more from me or get deeper into lifestyle engineering, just wherever you're listening to become, jump over and give a follow to the Happy Engineer. You'll find us on all the platforms. But if this really resonates for you, maybe you are an engineer or you know one who really needs help with this and is looking for support to build their career and get to the next level, it would be an absolute honor to give you a free coaching session and share with you what we do and how we support people and see if it's a fit to work together. So if that's you, then grab your phone and send a text message right now. The word, Lifestyle. The word Lifestyle, send that to 5-5-4-4-4. It's one of those short codes, really simple, Lifestyle to 5-5-4-4-4. We'll send you the information to get on our calendar. And if it's a fit, we'll get you a free session with me and provide as much value as we can. So it'd be an honor to do that for your listeners, Sabine.
00:29:02 Sabine: Oh, fantastic. And I'll make sure to have that information in our show notes as well. So if there would be one piece of advice that you would give, not only engineers, but just in general, maybe a quote or something like that, what would that be?
00:29:20 Zach: The thing that will stand between you and your dreams is fear. And so we need to step out of our comfort zone, have the courage to face those fears, and take action in your life. So if there's one thing I could tell you, it's crush comfort and create courage because the life of your dreams will not be found in your comfort zone. And the sooner you embrace that and start living out at the edges of what's possible for you, the faster you're gonna see your life increase in ways you could not even imagine. So crush comfort and create courage, that's a decision you'll never regret.
00:30:00 Sabine: Thank you so much. That was just a perfect ending for this podcast, and I wish you all the best and I look forward, having another conversation.
00:30:11 Zach: Thank you so much, Sabine. You're amazing. I appreciate the invitation and blessings to you and your amazing audience. It's been a pleasure.
00:30:18 Sabine: That was my interview. And if you enjoyed it, give us a five star review, leave a comment, and share it with your friends. Thanks for listening. Until I see you again. Always remember, serve from the heart, follow your passion, and live the life you imagine.