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Have you ever felt like life was closing in on you? That one aspect of your life was putting the other areas in jeopardy. If so, you won’t want to miss this podcast! Our host, Rebeccah Silence, chatted with attorney Nick Passalacqua on the Tougher Together Breakthrough podcast. Nick shares his story and explains what Breakthrough has done in his life!
Nick was leading a stressful life, trying to get his law practice off the ground, with a wife and kids at home. He was always feeling conflicted and under pressure to be doing something other than what he was doing at that time. When he was home, at his wife’s request, he knew he should be working at his fledgling law firm. When he was on the job, he felt like he should be home with his family.
When their third child was born, she received a cancer diagnosis at seven weeks old, and priorities came into focus. Once their daughter gained a complete recovery, all the old dynamics came back full force.
For Nick, he realized that he needed to change his path. Divorce was not something that he wanted, but at this point, the relationship wasn’t serving anyone, including the kids. He was courageous and decided that he and his wife should separate. The work they did with Rebeccah helped to clarify things for both of them.
Now, through co-parenting, all the time he spends with his kids is “better time.”
Nick explains that you’re only as good as what you tolerate. Success comes from knowing what you will and will not tolerate in life. Deciding to stop tolerating certain behaviors or relationships can empower you to look at all aspects of your life and take inventory to realize what’s standing in the way of living the way you want your life to be.
If you would like to learn more about Nick Passalacqua, go to his website. We’re always Tougher Together! Please tune in to other episodes of our Breakthrough podcast and explore the human connection between us.
Rebeccah Silence, is a speaker, coach and international media personality, who survived cancer while pregnant and has impacted hundreds of thousands of listeners through her radio programs and appearances. She is the Creator of the HEALING IS POSSIBLE movement and courses and is committed to helping others heal their traumas. As a certified world-class Emotional Healing Coach, Rebeccah is uniquely qualified to facilitate breakthroughs to wellness and transformation while she inspires hope and possibility in even the most challenging times. She is best known for healing heartbreak, and her clients frequently tell her that she brought them “back to life”!
Rebeccah [00:00:00] Have you ever felt stressed and pulled in multiple directions and like you can’t win no matter how hard you try in any area of your life? Our next guest, Nick Passalacqua has been there and he’s here to share his journey of going from not even knowing what happiness was and stressed to really living that stress is a waste of time, and he’s learned how to move through stress fast, he has excelled in his career as an entrepreneur, he has been through divorce and come out the other side stronger than ever, and even more, he is a father of a child who survived cancer.
Intro [00:00:46] This episode is brought to you by the podcast services division at Life’s Tough Media. Having your own podcast and using your voice to deliver your message allows you to creatively reach all types of audiences, from clients to prospects to your most loyal, membership-based, Life’s Tough Media makes having a podcast easier than ever before. By offering robust turnkey podcast solutions with superior remote recording capabilities and with studio affiliates located around the world. Contact us today for a no obligation consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us at LifesTough.com to learn more. So, what is a breakthrough? It’s finding your way out of suffering and stuck. It’s that feeling of new energy, renewed life and excitement. When I was seven months pregnant with my second baby, I received a life changing diagnosis. I had cancer. When I told my older daughter, she said “So, you’re going to die?” And the only thing that saved my life during that time was knowing how to emotionally break through. Welcome to the Tougher Together, Breakthrough podcast. I’m your host, Rebeccah Silence. I’m a speaker, coach and the creator of Healing is Possible. In each episode I prepare you for life no matter what challenges you’re facing. I’m going to invite you into the stories of real people who are living life in breakthrough and making the world a better place. If they can do it so can you. Breakthrough is your right. Get ready to break through. Get ready for the rest of your life.
Rebeccah [00:02:29] Have you ever wondered what it would be like to triple your income and get gracefully divorced and double the number of locations of your business, all while dealing with the fact that you have a baby with cancer? You’re about to meet a real live leader and gift to humanity, Nick Passalacqua. Nick Passalacqua is a trial lawyer who, to me, radiates courage. Nick, welcome to the Tougher Together, Breakthrough podcast with me, host Rebeccah Silence.
Nick [00:03:11] Thanks for having me.
Rebeccah [00:03:13] Thank you for living how you live and leading how you lead. Who are you?
Nick [00:03:21] That’s kind of a loaded question, I guess. No, but again, I am Nick Passalacqua, you know, we operate a law firm here in central New York, dad of three, former college athlete, real estate investor, and, you know, somebody who doesn’t really have an off switch.
Rebeccah [00:03:44] Yeah. And to me, that’s a sign of breakthrough. I mean, you’re literally living life exactly how you dreamed that you could.
Nick [00:03:56] Yes. Or at least on the way there and closer every day. All right.
Rebeccah [00:04:02] Tell us more. What does that mean?
Nick [00:04:05] For better or for worse, I guess I’m a person that’s rarely satisfied. I always just have that itch, that urge, that feeling that there’s more to be achieved even with, you know, even with the level of satisfaction or comfort within your own skin, there’s always growth to be had and development to be made.
Rebeccah [00:04:33] Why are you so committed to growth when it would be so easy to be comfortable?
Nick [00:04:42] Again, I’m never happy with the status quo. Like once I’ve achieved it, like great and we have a saying around the office, like the status quo of today is no longer acceptable tomorrow.
Rebeccah [00:04:55] And where did that come from?
Nick [00:04:57] I don’t know. I just kind of came up with that to kind of instill—as we grew the staff—this feeling of that’s great, but whatever we’ve done, tomorrow, there’s no reason we can’t at least attempt to surpass it tomorrow.
Rebeccah [00:05:11] Yeah. An then the next day, and the next day and the next day.
Nick [00:05:14] Exactly.
Rebeccah [00:05:15] Tell us about life before breakthrough and then tell us about breakthrough and what it means to you and what you’ve learned.
Nick [00:05:29] Yeah, life before our breakthrough of any kind, I think, is stressful, you know? And for me, that’s the telltale sign when any type of growth or breakthrough needs to occur, because like I’m someone who does not stress typically, and it’s a frustration for some people around me and in my life that they can’t understand why I don’t stress about most things at all. I mean, like I’m like, nope. Whatever. Because, you know, and my response to them is always like, what is stressing about that going to do for me? Is increasing my stress level going to help solve the problem? Right? Or provide me with some kind of solution, or is it just going to cause me to drive myself nuts? Right? And like with things like that, I’m a very utilitarian type of approach. Like what is it going to do for me? If it’s going to do nothing for me, I’m not going to do it. And that’s kind of how I approach stress. And if it serves me no good, I just don’t allow it to happen. You know, I’m like worrying about it is going to do nothing for me, so I don’t bother worrying about it. I mean, obviously that’s not always the case. You know, as things level up and stress levels level up, it’s inevitable. But for me, I’ve come to learn—I didn’t always have this awareness—but I’ve come to recognize the increased anxiety and stress levels, meaning something’s happening or not happening that should or shouldn’t be that you need to address. So, stop putting it off and procrastinating or this feeling is going to get worse. Certainly isn’t going to get any better.
Rebeccah [00:07:16] Yeah, and paint the picture of life before breakthrough. How were you living?
Nick [00:07:23] Stressfully. Right? I mean, everything I did, I was questioning it myself. Right? And it transcends all aspects of your life. If you are needing a significant growth or breakthrough in one area, if you try to convince yourself that, well, it’s just in that area, everything else is OK you’re full of it and you’re fooling yourself, because that absolutely will permeate through you into everything you do. Right? So, you know, my marriage had trouble for a bit before we went our separate ways. And I wore a lot of that on my shoulders. Right? And I’m a yes man. I like to please people and that became an issue. And, you know, being made to feel that I was picking certain things or activities over my family when it wasn’t the case. I mean, I’m a very social person, too. You know, I got torn with who do I appease? Right? Myself, my business, my spouse, my employees? And it became this huge internal tug of war. Right? So certain time would come like 5:15, 5:30, and I’d be getting messages are you coming home, coming home yet? These kids have been a handful when you coming home, when you coming home? So, I feel guilty, like, yeah, I should get home and help with the kids. Knowing I had a list of things to do at work, right? Then I’d go home and I wouldn’t be as present with the kids because I’d be thinking in my head, oh, my God, I got this to do, I got this to do, I got this to do. Tomorrow is going to be a nightmare. I’ve got to catch up on all this stuff. And I’d be worrying about the things I should have been doing at work. So that no matter where I was, I was pulled in what seemingly was opposite directions, right? If you’re at work, you’re not spending time with the family like you should be, if you’re with the family you’re not spending time at work like you should be to build it and grow it and do the things you want to do. Right? And so it was one of these vicious cycles because my family life wasn’t what I wanted it to be. I was frustrated and distracted. My work life wasn’t what I wanted to be because I wanted… I mean, it was and it wasn’t. We were still growing and things, but I kept thinking to myself, where would I be if I could invest the time and dedication and attention that I want to, without being jilted into feeling as though I’m neglecting my family. An exchange. Right? So, it was a constant internal tug of war. And mix in, me being a very social person with a spouse who became less and less social. And then there’s a tug of war there, right? Within my own personality, well, I would like to go socialize, but she doesn’t want to. So, what do I do? Do I appease her? Or do I appease me and have some kind of a release or reward for the hard work I’m putting in, things like that. So, it was a constant internal and sometimes external battle and dialog.
Rebeccah [00:11:07] I love what you brought up about what I call compartmentalization. There is no “oh this area of my life is the problem, and this area of my life is working.” How we show up is how we show up. So, now, can you paint the picture for us of the breakthrough moment that had this you’re pulled in multiple directions, living for everybody but yourself, shift and change?
Nick [00:11:37] Yeah. So, it got to a point where I was in this vicious cycle, right? I would work, I would go home, I would go to bed, I would go round and round we go with no real, you know, the affection in our in our relationship had fallen off for a number of different reasons and I own my own parts in that. But I sought out rescue, right? You’ve talked about rescue energy. And I saw that out. And for me, being a social person, it was just like going and hanging out and oftentimes that would lead me to a bar, right, or just socializing. And then, you know, that dialog would come in and say, where are you? What are you doing? And that deteriorated some of the marital trust. But nothing else changed. Trying to include my spouse in social events and outings or just date nights with no avail. It came to a point where I realized I couldn’t keep doing what I was doing for myself, for my kids, for my health, for my business and for my marriage. Right? So, you know, it was a constant battle within myself to figure out how to pull myself out of that habit, because there was… There wasn’t anything comparable… you know, you study habits and how to break a bad habit and implement a new habit of routine, right? A lot of times they’ll tell you in order to break a bad habit, it’s most effective if you find a new habit that’s better to replace it. Rather than going cold turkey and then you’re kind of longing for that habit or wondering what if we’re getting bored and you fall into that trap? And for me, there was nothing that I could fill that in with, because no matter what I tried to fill it in with, activities, time, attention, other than my family I was made to feel like, how dare you? Anything ever comes up, you choose that over us. Which was like this baffling juxtaposition to how I felt about it, right? My thought was, well, no, I’m doing these things, so I don’t do those other things that nobody likes. Right? I’m bettering myself doing this, doing that, you know, and it got to a point where it became clear that there was one major roadblock, unfortunately, and that was my relationship.
Rebeccah [00:14:35] And so what was the breakthrough that had you willing to be courageous and begin the process of leading your life in a new direction?
Nick [00:14:46] It was an ongoing dialog for a long time. I don’t know. I mean, obviously there was something that switched at some point. And, you know, I had been on a personal development journey for a number of years, and I suppose at the time I kind of had not. She tried and kind of jumped ship. But any time any drama within the relationship came up, it was always this. You broke this, you fix it. You do it. Yeah, I want to fix this. You do it. I mean, hell, when we engage with you… [inaudible] were ’17, maybe fall of ’16, something like that. It was an ultimatum from her. It was You fix this. You broke this, I’m giving you three months to fix this or I’m out. And we went through it and during that time we found out we were pregnant with our third child. And when she was seven weeks old, got diagnosed with cancer. Stage 4, high risk neuroblastoma. So whatever B.S. we had going on, went about as far to the back row as you can possibly imagine, of course. Nothing else was an issue. That was it. Obviously, you know, as a parent, you put the blinders on and you go through that and nothing else mattered, you know. Our 4,000 square foot house over here didn’t matter, you know, my big Mercedes, they mean shit. You know, it was about managing the other two kids, trying to manage a business which, ma’am, at that point, that was mid-November of 2017, I had just hired my first employee in February of that year; my first attorney underneath me in July of that year; and then in October, our second assistant. And then the first one had just quit shortly before that, so I had one attorney and one secretary working for me, that was it. My wife at the time lived in the hospital with our daughter for about 45 days. I would work till I could leave, which sometimes was one o’clock in the afternoon, sometimes 3:30 in the afternoon or something, four o’clock… If I had the time, I’d stop home and change, I would run out to the hospital in Syracuse, which is an hour from where we’re living so that my wife and son could shower, sleep, you know, go down and get some food or have you leave the room. And I would sit with the baby until 1:00, 2:00 in the morning, drive home, get home at 2:00, 3:00 in the morning, sleep for a couple of hours, get up and do it all over again for 45 days while trying to juggle the other two kids that were between my in-laws and my parents. You know that all of a sudden mom and dad are not around much, you know, kind of like at the drop of a dime. And so that brought up a whole different world of stressors, right, like I’d never experienced, of course. You know, and it wasn’t like, oh, I got bills, I got you know, everybody got those and I’m not downplaying them, but all of a sudden, something like this happens and those. I mean, it’s like, take my car I don’t give a shit; foreclose on my house. Right? And luckily, business kept going and growing through that. But, you know, I’ve said to people before, if it wasn’t for me having the drive starting the end of ’16 into the beginning of ’17, to start changing the path of the business and start really pushing the growth of the business, I would have been shut down. I would’ve been out of work, I would have been damn near bankrupt. I would have been looking for a job as soon as my daughter was released from the hospital because I would have been belly up, you know. So, you know, and through that, in hindsight, you know, it exposed some additional relationship differences and dynamics in the mentality and the approach to that. But then once things got—my daughter is doing great now—and once we’re out of that, for the most part, you know, she was like a two and a half year process between all the various treatments. Then we start settling back into a somewhat normal routine. And sure enough, all that stuff that went way back here in the back seat starts creeping up towards the front again, right? And it’s all the same stuff. They never got addressed, they never got remedy, they never got resolved. It was just there, way back in the background. So, we had more important problems at the time, you know, so a lot of the same stuff started coming up, you know, pushing me in that same direction of doing things I didn’t want to do… I wanted to do it, so I did it, right? I don’t want to say I didn’t want to do it, but I knew it wasn’t healthy for me, for my relationships, but I didn’t know what else to do. I didn’t know, at the time, I didn’t know a better rescue. I didn’t know a better escape or respite from what I was experiencing. And then I just, you know, again, continuing on my self-development throughout that whole process with audio books and seminars and YouTube and working with you, and you know, it just became abundantly clear that neither my wife at the time nor myself had any idea what happiness looked like.
Rebeccah [00:21:10] OK, so this is a breakthrough moment.
Nick [00:21:13] Right. You know, I love her to death, still care about her. You know, it’s a very amicable… Luckily for us, like I said, there was nothing scandalous that ever happened that led to the split. It was just kind of one of those things that I think we both realized it was time. You know, she kind of brought it up, so, you know, I think we should look at going our separate ways and, you know, in some variation of that and for… I don’t know long before that; she brought that up before, and I was always the one, you know, kind of groveling, saying, whoa, whoa, whoa, let’s make this work. We’ll figure this out. And it was, again, it was never like any particular one thing. It was the totality of my conduct, her inability to kind of relate to everything I was going through from a financial stressors standpoint and you know, I didn’t always feel very comfortable and open talking shop at home, like coming home and venting about my day. You know, it was always kind of a one up thing like, oh, you think you had a bad day? Let me tell you about mine. I’m like, well, listen, this me saying I had a rough day in no way takes away from if you had a rough day. Right? We’re both entitled to have bad days. Sometimes they’ll happen on the same day. Just as I’m saying, I had a rough day, is not in any way, suggesting that you didn’t or couldn’t. So, I just repressed a lot of that stuff, you know, which again, caused me to look for an outlet to hang out with people from time to time that I could vent and talk about that stuff.
Rebeccah [00:23:06] Yeah, I remember divorce almost being like the worst case scenario in your brain.
Nick [00:23:12] Oh, it terrified me. It absolutely terrified me. I mean, looking back like before everything with my daughter’s stuff, I was… you name the reason for the fear and that’s what went through my head. The stigma of divorce, you know. You know, just I hate failing at anything, right? To me, it was a failure. Like, I’ve played multiple sports growing up, you know, played very competitive, international travel soccer when I was growing up. I played Division One football in college; still played, you know, recreational indoor soccer and up until Covid shut everything down and everything. I just… I’ve always been extremely competitive and I’ve always been a horrible loser.
Rebeccah [00:24:05] Nick, those kids are so lucky to have you. Your ex-wife is so lucky to have you. What have you learned about happiness and how has the process of being so willing to move through the breakdowns into breakthrough impacted your company, your career, your finances.
Nick [00:24:26] Everything. It’s transcended everything in my life. A lot of different people say it, in the personal development space, but you don’t understand its accuracy till you start applying it and seeing it, that you will never achieve anything greater than the lowest standard you’re willing to let someone else subject you to. You’re only as good as what you’ll tolerate, right? So, stop tolerating the bullshit, and it’s funny how you’ll see the bullshit start falling away. Right? I wasn’t willing to tolerate being unhappy anymore. I wasn’t willing to tolerate the feeling of a tug of war between work and my family. And people say to me, no, well, you still got kids, you still got work. Yeah, but guess what? Tonight I have the kids. When I’m done with this podcast I’m out. I’m at home by four o’clock, 4:30, right? When I don’t have the kids, I’m here in this chair till 6:00, 7:00, 8:00, 9:00 p.m. if I have to, and I don’t have the anxiety of, oh, my God, I should be home with the kids, right? And then because I put in that time that night, if I have the kids the next night, I have no stress at all about checking out at 3:00, 4:00 to be getting the extra couple of hours with them. And now we’ve grown… I mean, when I started this practice, started working with you, I was a solo attorney. I think I might have hired like I said, I had my first assistant February 2017, right? Since that time, February of 2017, we’re now at seven employees. OK, we bought an office since… we’ve rented and converted a 4,000 square foot office in Syracuse. In addition to the 5,000 square foot office we have in Utica. From ’16 to ’19, we had almost a 300 percent growth in revenue. December of 2020, we were named the 36th fastest growing law firm in the nation. By law firm, 500th based on revenue growth from ’16 to ’19. 2020, when a-hundred-year-old law firms were being put out of business we posted a 47% growth over 2019. And this year already we’re trending towards another roughly 50% growth, over 2020. Because I’ve got my shit straight.
Rebeccah [00:27:27] Because you’re in breakthrough Nick.
Nick [00:27:29] Because I’ve got my priorities straight, starting with what I am and am not willing to tolerate.
Rebeccah [00:27:37] Well, and I just want to clarify this for our listeners. It isn’t about not letting anyone shit on you ever again. It’s about when and if that happens, knowing exactly who you’re going to be and having the boundaries, right? And that’s one of my favorite things about our work together Nick, is you’ve been so responsible for “This is how I’m going to live. This is what I’m letting go of in terms of how I was living.” You’ve decided there’s a way you want to live that got so clear that you were unwilling not to create it for yourself. And it’s OK when people have different values. It’s OK when people get to the point where they’ve taught each other everything there is to teach each other, and then there’s the next season. And so, I have each guest give homework to the listeners. My suspicion is your homework is don’t tolerate. Is there any more to it than that?
Nick [00:28:34] Oh, man. Yeah, I mean, take stock in yourself and what’s going around you, right? Because you might be saying, oh, I don’t know why I tolerate this stuff and that’s OK. So, at one point I would have sat down for the same thing, and I probably did. I mean, in hindsight, I’m sure there was plenty of times where I sat down and said, what’s wrong? What is going wrong? What can I change, to change everything? Right? Starting with, like, my relationship. What can I do to change that? What can I do to improve some aspect of life, to then hopefully have that, you know, transfer over to other aspects of life? So, it’s not always very clear, you know? I’ll admit that. You’re not all of a sudden that say, oh, you know what, Nick? You’re right. I’m going to stop letting, you know, Joe Blow at work shit on me and treat me poorly. It’s not always that easy.
Rebeccah [00:29:32] Nick, you are an example to all of us. Thank you for sharing your heart, your story, your heartbreak and the breakthrough journey you took to get where you are today. Part of the mission of the Tougher Together, Breakthrough podcast is to inspire people to connect to that toughest part of themselves, regardless of circumstances. And you’ve modeled beautifully what that looks like for everyone today. Thanks for listening to the Tougher Together, Breakthrough podcast with me, your host, Rebeccah Silence and special guest today, Nick Passalacqua. Get ready for the rest of your life.
Nick [00:30:10] Thanks for having me.
Outro [00:30:14] Please note that the content of this podcast is not meant to be therapeutic or to replace any personal growth work that you are already doing with a coach, therapist, or mentor. Take the content, have it inspire you, and then keep working with your support system. Breakthrough is your right. Breakthrough reminds us that we’re tougher together and that we’re connected to possibility even in the most challenging and possibly darkest times. I’m Rebeccah Silence, creator of Healing is Possible and proud host of the Tougher Together, Breakthrough podcast where we come together and we tell stories of real breakthrough that exist for you as well. Get ready to break through, get ready to live more free, and get ready to experience more breakthrough. Because that’s your right. Join us on the Life’s Tough Media website and stay tuned for more. If you want to get in touch with me visit rebeccahsilence.com. Your time is now. Your breakthrough begins now.