April 08, 2015 2 Comments

When Caleb started having honest conversations about personal struggles,
it  changed his life for ever. 



Real Conversations About Overcoming Struggles

Caleb Bacon got sober from drugs and alcohol a little over seven years ago -- and he found that his biggest aid was talking to other men about their own lives and difficult experiences. What he learned was transformative. And surprisingly entertaining.

Caleb says, “I had always been happy to talk about myself, but rarely would I open up about things that seemed scary.”  

(He classifies “scary” as anything he thought would make someone else think less of him -- whether true or not. Sound familiar?)

Yet, after opening up about his problems to other men, Caleb became more inspired, more motivated, and better equipped to change his life. He has now put these conversations into a form to help inspire many others: The Man School podcast.




Honestly, Vulnerability Can Change Your Life

Today, we talk with Caleb about the power of being honest with others -- and yourself -- and his 3-Step process that has helped him overcome countless challenges:


CogniTea: You started Man School partly as a result of the challenges you personally faced. When you decided to start the podcast, were you seeing particular problems among other men, or an opportunity in the market?

Caleb Bacon: One branding problem I’ve had is that many people often assume my show has a misogynistic slant or caters to chest-thumping fratboys. Neither are true. I just find that there’s a special level of honesty when it’s just two guys [who] are willing to open up. I believe that by sharing such conversations on the podcast, other men might open up to each other. And from that, their lives will improve. I know countless men in my life who’ve benefited from opening up. Also, it’s really not that hard! I promise.  


“Man School” was never meant to be instructional from a mechanical standpoint. I never found much success in being told what to do. That’s why Man School doesn’t showcase academic understanding, but what’s been learned by men who have had a particular life experience. Therefore, they are the kind of expert that I most value.





In conversations with guests, frequent topics revolve around personal struggles. What struggles or challenges have you faced while running Man School?

I’m a big believer that it takes hard work to grow up. Simply “getting older” isn’t enough. Well, not for me at least. I’m 34 and I feel like I’m only starting to feel like an adult. I got sober at 26, entered therapy at 27, and so on. I’ve done a lot of growing up since I started Man School. My problems these days are the best kind: quality problems. For example, last May, the love of my life said “yes” to my one-kneed offer of marriage.


Having never been engaged before, no one ever told me what a struggle it might be to plan a wedding. It’s been a bright flashlight on highlighting issues in me that I didn’t even know were issues. Also, a few months back the sitcom I had been writing on for a few years was canceled. That means I need to get back in the job market, but first I have to finish writing this script I’m working on. The tough part about that is I have to make my own schedule, stay productive, stay motivated, and not loaf too much in the California sun (as I write this my pool is calling my name…).  


A difficulty with running Man School is in putting out quality content on a consistent basis. It got tough when my television writing hours were through the roof, and it can be just as tough when I’m technically unemployed, but locked in my office for long hours trying to write my butt off.  And even when I make more time for the show, I don’t ever want to do podcast episodes that are just two guys shooting the breeze. That means it’s more work to find great guests.




How were you able to get clean, and quit drinking? Do you have any advice for people facing their own struggles? 

There’s a phrase I’ve heard in recovery circles and in therapy that I love: “Uncover, discover, discard.”

It’s a three-step process that I find perfect and simple. And I need simple. I have a mind that overthinks even the most trivial of things, so having a format helps significantly. I’m also over the egotistic male battlecry of “I don’t need anyone else to help me.” That’s because I need other people. The proof is in how successful my life has been since I started accepting help (that’s success both on the inside and the outside.).

As far as " Uncover, Discover, Discard," I’ll explain it in terms of my drinking:  

1) Uncover. I needed to know that my drinking was a problem in order to do anything about it.  After all, I tried to convince myself that my drinking wasn’t a problem for quite a while (or that I drank because of valid reasons... thus, the drinking itself wasn’t the problem.) But it got to a point where it was undeniable.  

How can you Uncover? If you’re ready to admit something to yourself, admit it. And tell someone else too.  

2) Discover. I needed to learn about my issue. Why was I drinking? Was it out of depression?  Was I just in the middle of a wild phase? Or... was I just an alcoholic? I didn’t want it to be that last one, but turned out it was. So, I had to learn what that meant, and what to do about it.

How can you Discover more? Therapy. Support groups. Internet communities. Just seek.


3) Discard. I had to discard alcohol and drugs. Also, self-seeking behaviors that were consistent how I was when I was actively alcoholic. Behaving in a way that made me want a drink just didn’t work anymore.  

How can you Discard? By this point in the process, you should know what needs to be discarded. Then the big question is: “What do I do with my life now?” I believe that living better doesn’t just mean getting rid of character defects, but in adding new behaviors and habits and are helpful to both yourself and others.



As a result of your podcasts, you have the opportunity to converse with other guys who have faced interesting, exciting, or difficult personal situations. After hosting over 80 episodes, have you found any themes about  overcoming adversity? 

It’s fascinating to see how similar such different problems can be. Most people dig out of holes the same way; And that’s just a little bit at a time.

Tackling large issues can seem impossible, but just chipping away at something -- day by day -- is really quite manageable. I find specific plans like that to be more helpful than just getting pumped up. But I also do like some rah-rah inspiration. Hearing how well others are doing -- especially when I know where they’ve been -- always pumps me up.  



What’s next for you? What can the community help you with?

I need to finish this script. Anyone can feel free to write me and make sure that I’m making progress! I would be thankful for that. A little extra accountability always helps me. Then... I need a new writing job.

(Hire this man!)


You can connect with Caleb on Twitter and Instagram, and be sure to check out the Man School Podcast for life changing conversations.


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