I’ve spent my career helping self-made billionaires, Fortune 500 executives, small-business owners and every level of entrepreneur get the most out of their businesses and lives. Working with them, I’ve learned the benefits of focus and presence. But they’re not always easy to achieve.

It’s largely accepted for people to be overwhelmed, maintain levels of high anxiety and lose awareness of their health and environment — especially entrepreneurs. Travel, family drama, holidays, packed social calendars and drastically irregular (sometimes harmful) diets can all increase the amount of pressure in our lives and the noise we have to deal with on an ongoing basis. They cause stress, which can be harmful to our health and affect our overall performance.

Some studies have shown that stress can also be beneficial. It’s a natural, evolutionary physiological response to our environment, to danger or urgency, and it can temporarily increase your focus and awareness.

Unfortunately, this temporary boost in cognition is short-lived, with awareness only focused on what’s causing stress in the moment. When this happens over a long period of time, we can actually become dependent on our stressors to generate positive momentum, or the feeling of moving forward in a positive direction. We can unknowingly enter into what I call “Negative Adrenaline Loops,” where we seek out stress to stimulate the production of adrenaline and feelings of productivity. As time goes on, we will need more confrontations, more situations that trigger an adrenal response and purposefully cause stress in our lives to feel like we are moving forward.

One of the greatest examples of this — and how you can avoid Negative Adrenaline Loops — is my friend Ryan Stewman, the Hardcore Closer. A twice-convicted felon turned hyper-successful sales trainer and CEO, Ryan’s the last person you’d accuse of meditating. He’s brash, outspoken and lets people know exactly how it is … often in very colorful language.

Shortly after meeting Ryan, I learned he was caught in a cycle of aggressive behavior. He’d wake up in the morning, check Facebook to find something that frustrated him, and then pick a fight for a boost of adrenaline to drive him through the day. He admitted that when things were going slow, he’d go looking for conflict because it helped him feel like he was in momentum.

This Negative Adrenaline Loop was limiting his business growth and ability to build a team, but also affecting his relationships with his fiancée, children and his ex-wife. So we started working together to understand his behavior, consciously make decisions about how to avoid conflict, and change some of his habits to increase awareness throughout the day.

The transformation has been remarkable. His team has grown and so has his company. His relationship with his fiancée and even his ex-wife have both improved. His following has become even more passionate and nearly doubled in size. But just recently I saw a Facebook post that I never could have predicted. Not only is Ryan meditating and using the Muse headband to increase his awareness headed into 2017, but he posted a picture of his two sons meditating with the Muse too. In the post he wrote about his thoughts on “being a good parent and doing what’s right. Instead of Adderall to calm my boys, I’m teaching them about meditation and focus.”

Ryan is not merely looking to improve himself and his business through greater awareness, but he’s giving his children an entirely new opportunity to develop that same awareness and an understanding of how to emotionally self-regulate.

Throughout my career as a consultant and coach, I’ve become 100% convinced that being aware and learning to breathe are two of the greatest advantages you can have to perform at the highest levels … and meditation is key to achieving both.

To learn more about getting started or optimizing your meditation practice, check out my Meditation Starter Kit.

Originally published at www.choosemuse.com.

Originally published at medium.com