We had the good fortune of connecting with Chris Cannon and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Chris, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Throwing out my first shingle, and committing to working for myself was a huge risk. Mostly, I was able to take it because I started dating a woman who grew up in a household where people had a healthy relationship to money. Not that they had a lot of it, but rather that they pursued business interests first and foremost that aligned with their personal interests, and money was a secondary concern. Being around her enabled me to see clearly how worked up my nervous system became in the face of money issues because her nerves did not. When we are threatened, certain parts of nervous system mobilize huge amounts of arousal to face that threat. This works well in the jungle when we need to run from a tiger, but not in our office when making business choices. Unfortunately for me, I grew up in a house where money was seen as a transient commodity. We had it, but there was a lot of fear of losing it. This trained my nervous system to perceive all issues around money–especially risk–as dangerous. When I consider financial risk, the threat center of my brain is activated while my rational faculties decrease. This has made it challenging to see the risk mitigating factors that should serve as sign posts indicating an open road to success because my over-active nerves distort such factors and I merely see stop signs. The most influential learning I have had about taking risk, is to evaluate the state of my nervous system when making the choice. Are my arms and legs tense or bouncy? Is there a knot in my gut? Am I barraged by thoughts of failure? Am I angry at the facts related to the risk? All of these would be signs that I should forget the decision for a time and take a walk. Calm my nerves and revisit the decision later. The risk of starting my own business has served me tremendously. And it turned out that the fear stirred in the beginning had little to do with working for myself, and far more to do with what I learned about financial risk in my childhood. Fortunately unlearning is also possible.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I co-run a collective of body-based therapists and life-coaches called Somatic Spiritual Counseling. We focus on psychotherapy that goes far beyond talk. We wanted to establish an organization that merged the latest techniques in nervous system research with mindfulness-based therapies and coaching styles. Our core focus: therapy and coaching informed by and tailored to the client’s sense of spirituality. We apply this mission-like intention to more traditional work such as psychotherapy, couples counseling, and life-coaching; and extend it to more unique services such as shamanic healing work and plant-spirit education.
But my favorite part about this business is the flexibility. It is down to me to choose how much time I see which clients, what kind of groups I run, or if I’d rather spend my time teaching online webinars for nonprofits or writing for magazines. But to be totally honest, growing this type of business has not been easy. When your daily bread is dependent upon people showing up for their appointments and committing to face the darkest parts of themselves: you can guess that things can get a bit shaky. This is why seeking out other branches of the business such as presenting, teaching, and writing can be so beneficial. It’s the investment diversifying of the counseling world. And it’s been necessary.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
My favorite triangle in Denver consists of three points: City Park, Twist & Shout Records / Tattered Cover Books, and Rhada Govinda’s. City Park serves as a spacious oasis in Denver without fully leaving the city energy. It’s surrounded by the type of places that I like to know exist, but don’t really want to fight the crowds to enjoy them: like the Zoo and Museum of Nature and Science. To me, the idea of the places is better than the actual experience. So the park offers me an opportunity to be as close to them as I want to be, and still get a glimpse of elephants while I walk around the pond. City Park also puts me near to my favorite record store and book store: Twist & Shout and Tattered Cover. Often, I will spend a few hours going through records while my girlfriend reads books. Both places house a sense of well-deserved, “institution” status. And when I’ve picked out a few records, I drive over to Rhada Govinda’s vegan buffet. If day-glow paint is your thing, you will love this place. The Hare Krishna’s food is organic, gluten-free, and cooked with prayer for good measure. Gopaul (the man who runs the place) is the sweetest host you could ever want. Tell him I said so. To get out of Denver a bit, I would highly suggest hiking near Boulder. Just know that I am not a mountain trekker or back-breaking trail runner. The recommendations I would give are for people who want to appreciate the connection between the mountains and the city without killing themselves on the trail. There are a few foothills trails where you can appreciate where the city and trees collide: NCAR Trail (Google It), top of FlagStaff mountain, and anything near Eldorado Springs. But what I ultimately recommend is getting in your car, putting on your favorite ambient album (I love driving to Brian Eno’s, Discreet Music) and driving into the mountains. Head up Sunshine Canyon or Wagon Wheel Gap and let a sense of calm adventure brew in your chest. You will find more than a few beautiful places to pull off the road and stretch.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My shoutout goes to my girlfriend, business advisor, editor, and best friend: Emma Sartwell. Without you, I would never have taken the leap or landed in the right place.