Chuck J. Rylant is a bestselling author and high-performance coach who helps his clients achieve their life, personal finance, and business marketing goals. He has a fascinating background as a use-of-force expert witness in homicide cases, law enforcement trainer, and retired police detective and SWAT team member. Rylant is the author of the bestselling books How to be Rich and Shots Fired.

Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?

My earliest childhood memory was walking alone in the snow to kindergarten at age four. I often wondered if this was one of those embellished stories we tell to our kids about how hard we had it, but 40 years later I finally asked my dad about it before he passed away.

I was born in Vermont and moved to California at age 5. My mother was severely mentally ill and in and out of mental institutions. My father had his own issues that left me virtually parentless for much of my childhood. These experiences were obviously challenging, but they forced me to be self-reliant at a very young age and that has served me well throughout my life. You can read all of the fascinating details here.

What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?

It took me a long time before I realized that everyone is crazy in their own way. We often think we are unique in the fears and struggles we endure, but that’s not true at all. It’s liberating once you discover that all of us are struggling through this human experience and trying to figure it out. 

What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

Regardless of the industry, there are typically ladders placed to control the projection of one’s life. It’s often a mistake to begin climbing the ladder without thoughtful introspection as to the motivation for stepping onto each rung.

For example, before I retired from law enforcement, I noticed many officers would end up selling their soul to move up the ranks, only to find out they hated being in management once they got there. When asked why they promoted, the answer was often, “Because that’s what you’re supposed to do.”

It’s important to remember that ladders are placed there by people at the top as a carrot to control behavior, and pursuing that carrot is not necessarily in the best interest of the individual.

Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?

I previously shared here about how the last time I saw my mother alive was in a jail cell. On that night, I was the on-call homicide detective and called into the police department to find that my mother had been arrested during one of her many mental illness breakdowns. I had been estranged from her for many years, and I learned the hard way about resolving past conflict before it is too late. 

What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?

I have learned not to wait for permission from any “authority” before pursuing whatever I want to achieve. Instead of seeking approval, I have adopted the philosophy that if someone else can do it, then so can I. After years of coaching and teaching, I’ve noticed that most people are unconsciously held back waiting to be anointed by an authority before pursuing their dreams, and this is a mistake.  

What is your morning routine?

I typically wake up about 7:00 without an alarm and then make the dumb mistake of grabbing my phone and looking at email and social media. Then I do some reading in bed and sip on a 7-ounce Coke Zero for the obvious health benefits 😊. Honestly, I just hate the taste of coffee. After a little reading, I write a little each morning and start my first coaching call at 9:00 on the days I do not have an early class to teach. 

What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?

The most valuable habit of my life is to always be working on some personal growth goal. As has been said, it really is about the journey rather than the destination. It’s very important for my mental wellbeing that I set a goal and consistently work towards it, and before I get there, I set the next goal. This provides me meaning and purpose for each day. 

What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?

I set small, but easily obtainable goals for each day. For example, if I’m writing a book, I commit to one page per day before doing anything else. Some days I exceed that goal, but I make sure to hit my minimum daily page count. By setting a small daily measure of success, it allows me to get an early victory, even during the days I don’t feel motivated to do much else. 

What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?

It’s hard to recommend books, because everyone needs different wisdom during various stages of their lives, but everyone should read Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. It’s particularly relevant today in helping put the state of the world into perspective.

A lesser-known gem is Winning Through Intimidation by Robert Ringer. Although the title likely prevented the book from becoming mainstream, it provides a reality check about business and life.

Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?

Even though it’s not always true from a mental health perspective, Friedrich Nietzsche’s “That which does not kill you only makes you stronger,” often got me through many difficult times when I was younger.