Posted by in mind

Are You a Professional Human Being?

by Sean Croxton

If there is one thing guaranteed about life, it is that we all evolve.

I can recall my early days as a personal trainer, when I considered exercise to be the solution for everything under the sun. I immersed myself in books, videos, and courses on fitness, strength, periodization, and anything else that could help me build the ultimate physical human machine.

Then I stumbled upon the work of Weston A. Price, Francis Marion Pottenger, and many other nutrition legends who convinced me that diet was a critical element of building not only a well-tuned physical body but one that enjoyed internal health as well.

As I learned more about nutrition, I became less enthusiastic about my personal training career. Since it was so different from anything else they had ever heard before, most clients seemed to be disinterested in my nutritional advice. They just wanted to work out. And since you can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet, I eventually hung up my stopwatch to become a nutrition consultant.

Working as a Metabolic Typing Advisor, I quickly learned that many of my clients had health challenges that went far beyond diet and exercise. Despite their much improved eating habits, things like insomnia, low libido, and digestive problems continued to persist. That is when I stumbled upon Reed Davis and the Functional Diagnostic Nutrition (FDN) course.

FDN blew my mind. I learned all about steroidal hormone imbalances, detoxification pathways, intestinal pathogens and dysbiosis (bacterial overgrowth), and a bunch of other cool stuff. The best part is that I could run lab tests on my clients to see where the hidden internal dysfunctions resided. Once we found those dysfunctions, I had the pleasure of helping my clients correct them through natural protocols.

Once again, I immersed myself in information, reading everything I could within the realm of functional medicine and the endless connections amongst the body’s many systems. You have no idea how much fun this was (and still is)!

As my FDN practice grew, another missing piece of the puzzle became apparent — mindset. Some clients just seemed to think differently than others. After a while, I could almost sense who would follow the program and eventually resolve their health complaints, and who would not. It all revolved around mindset.

This reminds me of one of the other reasons I left personal training — I was tired of being everyone’s therapist! Some clients would spend their entire hour dumping their problems on me. Hours upon hours of negativity would often drain the life out of me. After a hard day’s work, all I could do was sit on the couch or lie in bed almost catatonic as a result of everyone else’s woes.

I wanted to be a personal trainer, not a full-time therapist.

But the honest truth is that, just like the overlapping systems of the human body, the mind is more connected to health, disease, and the outcomes of the various programs and diets we follow, than most of us would like to admit. There’s a reason why my training clients found it so easy to vent during their sessions. It is because the mind and body are not two separate entities. They are one. And it’s about time that we as health and wellness bloggers start recognizing it.

As you may have noticed lately, my tweets and FB posts are more about mindset than nutrition these days. My radio shows have taken a slight shift away from typical health topics, and moved toward personal development. And if you could see my Amazon receipts, very few of the books I order are actually about health.

No, I’m not abandoning the real food and health movement to become a self-help guru. Not at all. And I’m not about to get all “new-age” on you. Underground Wellness will go on. Rather, my new mission is to help others to help themselves by way of taking the word “holistic” to another level.

Holistic (adj.) – characterized by comprehension of the parts of something as intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole.

After years of experience, progression, and personal exploration, it finally hit me a couple of weeks ago — a lightbulb moment, indeed. I was at the gym working out and listening to a lecture on my iPod by Dr. Maxwell Maltz, author of the infamous book Psycho-Cybernetics. As I sat on the bench, mesmerized by the content of Dr. Maltz’s talk and taking way too long in between sets, he said three words that made me pack up, leave the gym, and head home to brainstorm. Those words were…Professional Human Beings (PHB).

That was it, the missing piece of the puzzle that I have been trying to solve since my personal training days. Yes, we all want to be healthy. However, I also feel like each and every one of us would like to be pros at being human as well.

Think about it, is superior health possible if you’re in a perpetual state of unhappiness fueled by negative self-talk?

Thoughts determine our feelings.

Feelings determine our actions.

Actions determine our results.

Remember when everyone was calling the movie The Secret a bunch of baloney with its “thoughts become things” mantra? Well, it didn’t mean that we can just sit around thinking about stuff and it will suddenly appear in our lives. That’s ridiculous! What it meant was the three sentences above. When we take more responsibility for the way we think, we tend to act differently. When we act differently, we are more likely to achieve the outcomes we are striving for. But it all begins with what’s going on between our ears.

If your diet occurs to you like a big inconvenient pain in the butt, how does that make you feel? How do you act? What results do you eventually get?

See what I mean.

What I like most about Dr. Maltz’s PHB term is the word “professional”. A true professional is committed to his or her craft. To me, being human is the greatest craft of all. In my personal life, I have embraced the idea that anything can be learned — love, relationships, communication, etc. Anything we wish to achieve or become in our lives can be learned and mastered by way of diligent study, mentorship, and practice. The only requirement is commitment.

And this brings us to The PHB Quadrant, a concept I finalized this morning while doing inverted rows on the TRX. (I swear I get the best ideas when I’m at the gym.) To be a Professional Human Being, I believe that we must seek expertise in the following four areas of our lives:

Health Mastery.

Self Mastery.

Wealth Mastery.

Help Mastery.

Like the systems of the human body, all four of the above are interconnected. For example, mastery of self involves taking control of the mind and the thoughts that go through it. Remember, thoughts become feelings become actions become results. Sorry for repeating myself, but this one is key.

And let’s be honest, real food can be tough on the bank account. Lack of attention and focus on wealth, or the mastery of finances, can limit one’s options at the supermarket. No money. No healthy food. It’s an unfortunate reality, but still a reality. I don’t mean that you have to be super rich to afford real food, but wouldn’t it be nice to purchase grass-fed meat, pastured eggs, and free-range poultry without all of the stress and sacrifice?

The last component of the quadrant, Help Mastery, is by far my favorite. There is nothing more fulfilling, enriching, and rewarding than stepping outside of ourselves in service to others. As John Demartini says in THIS INTERVIEW, to accumulate wealth, you must find someone to serve and something to sell. My buddy Antonio Valladares of Healthy Urban Kitchen sent that audio file to me on November 29, 2008. I’ve listened to it so many times I can probably recite the whole thing to you.

Life is too short to hate our jobs, or to expect to get without giving, or to be an expert in a particular field while barely making ends meet, or to bang our heads against a wall as we try to follow some rigid diet and exercise program without the proper mindset to follow through.

So, I invite you to hang out with me on this blog, as I learn and share the art of becoming a Professional Human Being. You’ll learn all about my fascination with the human brain and its influence on success and achievement. You’ll learn how you can break free from a job you don’t love, and how you can move toward creating one that falls in line with your passions. You’ll learn how to create time freedom, as you stop trading your hours for dollars. You’ll learn how to read faster and retain more information. And I’m super excited to learn how we can use particular foods, herbs, and supplements to sleep deeper, think more clearly, and simply be more productive people in general.

Why would anyone not want to learn this stuff?

I’m getting pumped up just writing about it!!

This is my passion that I wish to share with the world. Be on the lookout for the debut of my spin-off radio show, on which I interview a who’s-who of success, personal development, wealth, and money management experts.

Also, keep your eyes peeled for the Real Food Summit coming this June. Because when it’s all said and done, it’s really all about Just Eating Real Food. JERF!!

So, what does being a Professional Human Being mean to you?

Leave a comment and let me know what you think.


Aspiring PHB



35 thoughts on “Are You a Professional Human Being?

  1. Jon Ham

    PHB. Love it man. I work with some highly successful people who are PHB’s and the most impressive ones exercise daily, read lots of books, eat Real Stuff, and are completely engaged in everything that they are doing in the moment. It all starts between the ears, and giving your brain a happy physical ecosystem from which it can thrive in.
    Looking forward to reading more on this subject, it’s a good one!

  2. Bobby Fernandez

    Very inspiring Sean. Reading your evolution reminded me of my change in trajectory away from medical school towards my current path of what I call the study of excellence and performance psychology (Sport and Exercise Psychology).

    The concept of Professional Human Being reminds me very much of what George Leonard explained in his book, The Ultimate Athlete. It is a book I read during my years at SDSU that changed my approach to the human potential. His thesis is that we are all athletes despite our sex, age, ability, etc. He explains various activities (diving, flying, dancing, running, etc) and how they are interconnected with the consciousness of the universe and our very beings. It’s a wild ride.

    One of my favorite exerpts:

    “When speaking of human potential, certain qualifications are necessary. Not all of it can be used for creation and elightnement. Many of the circuits in our body and brian must be redundant if life is to persist. Some of our capacities must be dedicated to low-order survival needs. And as we create higher levels of order, we must also deal with inevitable disorder. But even after we have made these provisions, it is still clear that we are operating at only a tiny fraction of our ture abilities. Stydying nature, we find that systesm are created to be used to the full. What is the purpose of all the unused human capability? What is the destination?”

  3. Darren

    Wow…glad this clicked for you Sean. I’ve been thinking a long the same lines every since I became a trainer. It was a struggle for me to offer all of my experiences into an hour of bootcamp each night. I feel as though exercise is just one component of being a well rounded person and so many other things go into this thing called health. I’ve always felt to many people offer fitness as a way to sell products etc but no one is teaching people how to be a PHB. Thanks for putting it into words and moving forward with your vision. That’s what’s up!!!!

  4. julia pokorski

    This is super exciting!! Thanks Sean! P.s. I hope you do learn about herbs.. there are so0o0o many!!

  5. Bobby Fernandez

    I think what happened with the healtcare model is also happeining to the fitness industry. As more research is done, we begin to think we can offer magic bullets. This is at first, nobly driven by a desire for truth and understanding of the complexities of the human form; but commerce soon follows the research once it’s all boilded down in to a pointed, marketable commodity.

    The technologies we have developed have their place in the system but the more we come to rely on them, the more the consumer demands them. Eventually the art in healing/training/coaching is just washed away for the delivery of the right program. Moreso than ever, the consumer is in want of that golden algorithm. Do x for y amount of days and you will get z as a result. This has never been true in anything having to do with human beings yet it is the idea we all find so comforting when confronted with the latest (lack of) health statistics.

  6. John McLean

    Great stuff…congrats for reaching this place in your life and work. You are exactly right, it all goes together–our mistake was to separate body and mind in the first place! That’s why fully half of my book the “No-Carb Revolution” has nothing to do with food or weight loss, and everything to do with reconnecting body and mind into a whole that is greater than the sum of the parts!

    This is a beautiful journey we are all on together!

  7. Robert North

    The average person has somewhere in the neighborhood of 68,000 thoughts a day, 90-95 percent of which are negative. This is the first energy crisis.

  8. j

    you’ve pretty much hit it head on. the basic umbrella principals apply to every type of person at every level. its all connected. its hard to eat properly with low cash flow for instance. life is a day to day opportunity for personal evolvement in all areas of being human. we’re here to learn.

  9. Peggy

    The best professionals in any endeavor strive to never stop learning. When we coast through life on autopilot: eating what’s put in front of us, moving when we absolutely have to, meditating on whatever pops into our heads, we aren’t learning about ourselves or the world around us. Just like the stressed mom’s motto is “Do the next thing,” we should all “Learn the next thing.” Keep moving mind, soul and body toward whole ness!

  10. Janine

    Hey Sean!
    Long time no speak! I’ve still been creeping on your stuff. This is by far one of your best post. Sooooo much along the line of what i’ve been reading/ learning/ trying to implement in my life the past years. And i find it very hard too, as a personal trainer, to convince people that it’s not ALL about exercise. Or it’s not all about your ‘job’. Everybody is so caught up in the bigger things, they forget how to actually stop and listen to the music. You need all the other things in order to make you a well rounded healthy human being.

    Looking forward to your next exciting discoveries 🙂


  11. Hurd

    I like the direction you are taking. I began my journey in 2008 and have come a long way. Everything is interconnected and for everything we now know there are still millions of things to learn. I like the blog idea. I think it gives more opportunity for interaction. I look forward to the evolution.

  12. Joy

    I love the direction of your blog toward mindfulness as a key component of wellness. I can’t wait to see what else you bring for your audience! Keep up the good work!

  13. Matthew Allen Miller

    Great stuff, Sean! I’m glad you’re moving in this direction. I’ve spent the last year or so self-educating myself on health/nutrition and think I have a pretty good grasp on a lot of it, so I have less of a need to immerse myself in health/nutrition podcasts, blogs, etc. these days. It’s funny that you bring up the concept of a “professional human being.” I recently started a blog/website called Real Human Fitness and Lifestyle, and the major theme is my concept of a “real human.” My page description is as follows: “You deserve a real human life. Real Human Fitness and Lifestyle is dedicated to the development of lifestyle habits that honor what it means to be a real human being, which means becoming healthier and happier, because that’s what we deserve from our lives.” A real human, of course, eats real food and moves in ways natural to the human animal. But real humans don’t obsess over numbers or stress out over their progress in the gym. Rather, they engage in physical activity because they enjoy it! It’s play. An expression of the physical nature of their humanity. Even further, real humans believe that they deserve the best for themselves in their lives; this means enjoyment and fulfillment. They escape the rat race and don’t chase after material objects. They don’t stress out over politics and allow political nonsense to interfere with their lives and and personal relationships. I think my concept of “real human” is pretty similar to your “professional human being”, although perhaps you’re taking it even further! I like that. Sorry if this seemed like a plug for my blog; just wanted to share my thoughts on what it means to live a truly human life. Look forward to the next chapter of the Underground!

  14. Kieba

    Right On Sean!
    This is the Best Article I have read lately!
    It Ties it all together Holistically. I am evolving in the same direction being a Fitness trainer for over 25 yrs and Natural/raw/Paleo type nutrition consultant now working on tieing in the MindSet skills as my boyfriend is one of the top Mind Set coaches in the country working currently mainly with business issues.
    It IS the Optimal Professional Human Being Lifestyle…..tieing all of these together Holistically and then contributing and giving to others.
    Thank you for your Underground and going deep to nail all of the key points to being a PHB right on the head!
    Rawk on Sean!
    off to my jungle gym to train my self….I too have the best ideas while in the gym or in the pool! “Coach Kieba”

  15. Rolondia Duran

    Enjoying my first full participation in a blog. I regularly download your podcasts since I live in my cell phone carrier’ s deadzone. I live in an isolated forest in Alabama, very different from my from my former home in San Diego.
    Seeking mastery of health, self, wealth, and help take place within an environmental and social context . PHBs honor the earth and their social commitments . Ecoego. We make garbage every day but how often do we compost? I have known a few PHB types who help everyone else and are inattentive to their own children and spouses. I admire that Sean takes regular breaks to refresh his batteries. That is sane, realistic and balanced!
    Gotta go n pick up my dog’s poop, mow the weeds around the 64 degree pool we swim in to help trigger cold thermpgenesis, then plant some herbs before I sit at the computer to learn how to download photos. I am grateful for and enriched by Sean and all you fans!

  16. Amy

    Wow- talk about something showing up at the exact moment you are ready to hear it! Your energy and enthusiasm really comes out in your writing. I’ve been slowing making the transition to becoming a professional human being. I am very much looking forward to getting to that point in my life, and I’m enjoying the journey to get there!

  17. UW Sean Post author

    I dig it, Bobby. George Leonard is the man. I read his book Mastery many years ago. We must tap into that unused human capability. Most of us don’t know it’s there.

  18. UW Sean Post author

    Thanks for reading, Darren. It’s almost analogous to the medical industry. One doc specialized in one system, while another specializes in a different system. As personal trainers, we focus on the physical to the neglect of everything else. This is quite the quandary, since it is very difficult to help personal training clients with all aspects of being a PHB. But awareness is key. Thinking we can solve a person’s ills through exercise alone will set you and the client up for defeat. But to be able to point them in the right direction to master the other PHB quadrants is key.

  19. UW Sean Post author

    Thanks, John! Mindset is so key. I did something similar with my book. The last chapter is all about the mind. We can give them all of the diet and lifestyle tools, but it takes a well-tuned mindset to put things into practice.

  20. UW Sean Post author

    Hi Janine!

    Yeah, it’s been a while! Hope you’re doing well.

    Glad you liked my post. Thanks for reading it!!


  21. UW Sean Post author

    Thanks, Rolondia!! I like that term, Ecoego.

    Enjoy the forest, my friend. And thanks for reading and commenting!

    I’ll be growing herbs very soon. Excited!


  22. Dave

    To me being a PHB is dedicating your life to optimal living. It is having balance while striving for physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual well-being. It is playing to your strengths while working on your weaknesses, and learning from your failures to achieve success. It is about taking life’s journey one step at a time and using our experiences as the ultimate lessons in self-improvement. Outstanding blog, Sean. Keep on inspiring us so that we can inspire others.

  23. Sarah

    I am a psychologist in private practice and at one point, to recover from being in the mental “health” field, I took a break and became an aerobics instructor and a certified personal trainer. I agree that mindset is important, but from my experience as both a psychotherapy client and practitioner, I don’t think it all boils down to “Thoughts determine our feelings. Feelings determine our actions. Actions determine our results.”

    Long before we had thoughts, as infants we had only sensations and feelings. Traumatic events are imprinted into us in pre-verbal form if we had those experiences before we had the cognitive development to process them. As adults, often we aren’t driven by our thoughts, but by parts of us that aren’t readily available to our conscious mind. This is why, despite our best intentions, sometimes thinking our way out of a problem or doing affirmations just doesn’t work.

    Don’t get me wrong–I love your podcasts and all the info you bring us! Just wanted to share this other perspective.

  24. Sunita Banerji

    Professional Human Being! Wow what an idea and what a thought to sum up the ideal of perfection that a human being can attain. Stripped down to the basics, these three words seems to lay bare your very soul and asks questions which one is forced to answer. I think a professional human being to me would mean being answerable to myself for not scaling the very peaks of achievement that lies dormant within me. It would also conduct myself with discipline, ethics and dignity.

  25. JP Ramirez

    I’m super inspired by your latest blog posts. I’ve downloaded a few of them to my Instapaper where I can really marinate on them. I’ve also just downloaded DeMartini’s ‘Gratitude Effect’ onto my Audible app, and I am just loving it. Thanks so much for the inspiration. I’m tackling a few of the DeMartini worksheets right now and working up a plan on better aligning my thoughts and actions to my values. Why wouldn’t I!

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