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Best of: In Memory of Sean Stephenson – Love Your Work, Episode 207
I decided last December that I would be taking this December off. I like to give myself some space toward the end of the year so I can recharge, and come into the New Year with a fresh perspective.
So, I’m reaching into the vault of more than 200 episodes, and pulling out some of my favorites – especially ones that are good for this time of year.
This is a fantastic conversation with Sean Stephenson, and it takes on special significance this time around.
Though what you’re going to hear is the only conversation I ever had with Sean Stephenson, I always felt a special connection with him. So when I discovered that he was born exactly one day after me, it seemed fitting.
When this episode debuted, my mother sent me a text message. She said, “Listening to interview with Sean Stephenson on my walk. Very good. I was struck at the very beginning that he was born the day after you, and what a different experience his parents were thrust into.”
When Sean Stephenson was born, he wasn’t expected to make it through the night. He was born with brittle bone disorder. Throughout his life, he suffered hundreds of bone fractures. Even as an adult, his limbs were twisted, he never grew larger than three feet tall, and he was confined to a wheelchair.
In July, I rushed from Medellin to Scottsdale to be by my mother’s bedside. She had suffered a brain hemorrhage, and – as you may have heard on other episodes – she later died.
About a month and a half later on August 29th, I was still in Scottsdale – where, it happens, Sean Stephenson also lived. I was sitting in a cafe, and I took a break from writing to open up Instagram. And I was instantly saddened more than I was already. The first photo in my feed was of Sean, and it said “in memoriam, Sean Stephenson 1979–2019”. His wife, Mindy, had posted it that morning.
When Sean Stephenson was born, he wasn’t expected to make it through the night. But he made it through forty years.
In those years, through his work as a therapist and through his writing and public speaking, Sean inspired a ton of people.
I was one of them, and when I returned to my parents house, from the cafe, I saw one of Sean’s books sitting on the shelf. Get off Your “But”. My mother had bought it after hearing Sean on the show, so I guess he inspired her, too.
Listening to this conversation in preparation for writing this intro was even more powerful than it was the first time around. I always try to get a superpower from my guests, and listening again helped me realize that I had internalized some of the lessons I learned from Sean.
Mostly that Sean has a way of helping you realize the limiting beliefs you put on yourself. The ways that you tell yourself you’re the victim. The scapegoats you create, on whom you can blame your shortcomings and failures.
I always felt there was something messed up about that: Sean was dealt a tough hand in life, and so now I feel better about my own situation? That does sound messed up, but it works.
And now that Sean is gone, this conversation serves as another reminder. A reminder to make the most of each day you’re here on this earth. Sean did that. I’m trying.
One fun thing I didn’t realize until I listened to this conversation again: In this conversation, Sean recommends the book One Small Step. One Small Step is of course the book by Dr. Rober Maurer, who you heard on episode 187. That episode is a hit. It’s worth listening to.
I had discovered Dr. Maurer’s work through another channel. It made me realize there’s so much valuable knowledge in the Love Your Work catalog. Even listening to each of these conversations several times, there’s always something new to discover.
So if you’re craving new episodes, try re-listening to some of your old favorites, as we head into the new year.
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Theme music: Dorena “At Sea”, from the album About Everything And More. By Arrangement with Deep Elm Records. Listen on Spotify »
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