Interview With The Mindset Coach Who Is Changing The Narrative On Men’s Mental Health
“Forging powerful minds of courage for a life of resilience, fearlessness and high performance.” These are the first words you’ll see on Simon’s Lee website and they really got us thinking…How many of us can, hand-on-heart, say we’re living up to our full potential? How many of us are not taking action because we’re crippled by one fear or another?
This is where Simon comes in…
Simon Lee is a mindset mastery coach, speaker and thought-leader who has established himself as a pioneer in a new approach for delivering personal development coaching, healing and lasting mental strength.
His unique and straight-talking style of coaching has transformed the lives of people and business owners from all walks of life, challenging them to take ownership of what holds them back and transforming it into potential instead.
The spotlight is on men’s mental and emotional health right now and we couldn’t wait to dive into this hot topic with Simon.
What is mindset mastery?
Mindset mastery is all about identifying and deeply understanding your behaviours, your lifestyle and your beliefs and then looking inwards – openly and honestly – to see yourself the way you really are. Only when you ‘drop the act’ can you make a profound change and, ultimately, turn that ambition into success.
What led you to become a mindset mastery coach?
I never set out to become a coach, it was the result of an unfolding in my own life. I had a difficult childhood without a strong masculine presence. I was raised with three very weak men, so I had to discover who I was by myself. This life experience led me to become a coach and I think that’s the right way.
This is much more than just a job to me, it’s a way of life. It’s a huge responsibility to be a coach, you have to have your own house in order first and you need to come from a position of truth and authenticity. You can’t blag it by teaching one thing and going away to live in a different way. The client definitely picks up on this and it comes out in how you coach.
How did your career evolve into coaching?
On the back of falling very ill, I used Qigong (pronounced chi gung) as a means to restore my health. I became a teacher of mindfulness and Qigong meditation. This was very early on; I was one of the first in the UK to teach it on the level that I did – going back 30 years ago! That’s when I started talking to people about their trauma and stress. I was very young but already had a wealth of experience by then.
I started treating people through movement and breathwork. I found out a hell of a lot about how trauma and stress get stuck in the body – in how you move, your posture, how you breathe. From there I started to do talks in hospitals, schools, pubs, clubs… anyone who would listen to my story!
When I became a martial arts instructor, I began to introduce physical coaching into the mix. I combined breathwork, Qigong, meditation and philosophy with more physical applications.
Read Simon’s full journey here.
Who is your coaching for? Who are your main clients?
Men in particular respond really well to my particular brand of coaching. My main clients are businessmen, business owners, CEOs… essentially any man who’s got an ambition and feels he has untapped potential. Above all, they must be ready to put in some real work and the desire for change is completely internal – not based on the expectations of other people.
When I run group workshops in offices, the management team tend to call me in when they notice a lack of confidence among the team. They might notice employees are removing away from responsibilities or have positioned themselves at a certain level and struggle to perform beyond that. Imposter syndrome is another common setback, i.e. you’ve taken on a new role but feel like a fraud or that you’re not good enough for it.
Some examples of topics I’ve taught are:
How to understand and overcome self-sabotage
How to establish the right mindset for the day from first thing in the morning.
How to change how your body reacts to pressure.
Overcome negative feelings that make you believe you can’t change or be successful.
Check out Simon’s corporate programmes here.
What are the main concerns of your clients?
The recurring themes I hear from my clients are that they feel they’re not living up to their full potential and have a real fear of failure and not being ‘enough’. As a result, they tend to fall into a pattern of self-sabotage.
What is the difference between your mindset mastery coaching and other forms of coaching?
I’ve seen clients waste thousands of pounds every month on business coaching that, ultimately, hasn’t worked. They often do the business strategy work hoping that where they are at now is somehow going to align itself with their mission. But everything starts with mindset – it’s the building blocks of everything. If they were really honest with themselves – is their current mindset congruent to the mission or ambition they’ve set themselves?
Other types of therapy, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) are also vastly limited. It certainly has its place and provides its own set of solutions to help you work through some things. What’s missing here is some really old philosophy that has been tried and tested over time and proved in the most challenging of circumstances.
My coaching is rooted in the ancient philosophy of Bushido – “the way of the warrior” a Japanese samurai philosophy of values – as well as stoicism. The men I work with are really responsive to this. Even as a young man myself discovering stoicism, I thought I’d found the holy grail!
Once you tap into those values, they become a way of life. There’s nothing more powerful – you can lose everything else but you can never lose those values that are trained and ingrained into your character.
“Even the best business coaches in the world won’t be able to help you grow your business if you don’t have the right mindset.”
What does a typical session look like with you? What’s your approach?
The first session is the big one and can take up to 2 hours.
I’m a bit of detective, peeling back the layers to expose how my client lives and how their minds work. I can make significant changes when I understand how they view the world.
The type of things I’ll explore are:
Their working week and any routines
Nutrition and exercise
What media they consume
Background and childhood
Ambitions and drivers
From there I can build a bespoke programme to forge a new character. There are exercises to do at home too – my clients must be willing and serious enough to want to change.
Tell us a bit more about forging new characters…
Often people are unsure of who they aspire to be like, so I’ll prompt them by asking “who do you like to watch in the movies?” and James Bond comes up a lot! They go on to explain that Mr Bond is focussed, doesn’t care what people think, does things with conviction, is strong and powerful. This is a big clue – they like watching him because they want some of those traits to be incorporated into their own character.
Now, it’s important to caveat that I’m not trying to mould anyone into a carbon copy of a killer spy! It’s about equipping them with the traits that are going to empower their life and fill in the gaps.
If a person’s nature is introverted, I’m not going to go against that nature and turn them into an extrovert and vice versa. It’s about bringing in new, enriching qualities that allow them to communicate and thrive in their workplace and personal life. For example, a man might be intimidated by his wife or colleagues and more assertiveness could improve those relationships, make him feel better about himself and empower him to live authentically.
What is the most common mistake people make when trying to achieve a goal?
All too often I find people have fallen into the trap of being motivated by the wrong things. They are focussed on all the things that could go wrong and the failures that might happen – everyone does it! Even business owners say they’ve called upon my help because “I cannot let this happen”.
Instead, we need to shift the focus back to what they’re trying to achieve and where they are going. Small changes like this make a massive impact over time.
What have you got coming up next?
I want to change the narrative around ‘masculinity’ and make it more empowering and enriching for everybody.
Specifically, I’m focussed on seeking out more speaking opportunities to be able to raise awareness and connect with more people. I absolutely love running group sessions, particularly in the workplace, because I love the connective energy that comes from a room of men realising that they can make those lifelong changes.
A couple of months ago, I was called in by GBNews to speak on TV about helping young men deal with anxiety. There was such a great response and I’m thrilled that GBNews have invited me back – watch this space!
A question from our audience – what are your thoughts on ‘toxic masculinity’?
The term itself doesn’t make any sense because it’s the lack of masculinity that’s toxic.
I think ‘toxic masculinity’ started on the fringes of social media and then became a buzzword that people use to attach to stereotypes of men with large egos that negatively impact society. Masculinity isn’t a bad thing – what you’re actually looking at is fragility, male fragility.
Hear me out – I don’t mean fragility as in talking about your feelings but I mean fragility in the way that you have a low self-esteem but you’re not going to admit it or do anything about it but you’re aiming to get to a position of power. Whether it be power over a woman, over the rest of your family, or, in the worst case, over a country or a nation. There lies the toxicity.
I had a masterclass in my childhood, raised by three weak men who were cruel, violent and abusive. They weren’t, what I’d call, masculine. A man who is aware of his own weakness but won’t admit it – THAT’S the toxic person.
It’s the LACK of masculinity that’s the real toxic area and why, to me, that term doesn’t make sense so it’s no wonder it is confusing people.
Any final thoughts to share with our readers?
Brian Jacks is a Judo Olympic medallist and was once my coach. Many years ago, he said something to me that I carry through to this day:
“This training is going to be so hard and so tough that it’s going to raise every chink in your armour, every fear, it’s all going to come out… and we want it to. Because if it stays locked away, it’s going to come out in the worst possible way.”
People look at stressful situations often as purely negative but it is only within a sufficient testing ground that we find out if our values, character and resilience stand up under pressure. Ultimately, we should seek out enough discomfort so that we grow stronger and learn more about who we are.
Want to know more about Simon’s work?
Simon Lee is a name that holds some serious gravitas – he’s definitely one to watch!
By Ruby Plenderleith