It took me a while, but I finally managed to catch up with Stan for a conversation that sheds further light on what it means to “know and be known” at Unbridled. As much as we value vulnerability and authenticity as a community, I think we can all admit they can be easier said than done. Stan included. But in true Unbridled spirit, relaxed and unrushed, a very reflective Stan Bullis responded exactly as I knew he would to my questions. Completely candid. Completely himself. Full of heart.

“I’m a paradox,” he admitted, as he searched for five words that describe who he is…setting the tone for this deeper glimpse into the soul of our very real leader.

Faithful // Fearless // Generous // Insecure // Lonely

The word that comes to mind for me is catalyst: one who provokes and speeds significant change and action. That pretty much sums up what Stan Bullis is all about. It also explains what he’s up to these days. The man is on the move. One week that may be literal, as in traveling to Barcelona. Another week, he’s in back-to-back meetings up in the Pioneer Room with like-minded visionaries, entrepreneurs, and “captains of industry” — covering a different kind of territory and charting the course for completely new paradigms in business.

Of course, we know him as founder and president of Unbridled and UnbridledACTS. Fearless leader and friend. Visionary and force behind Emergent. Rock-star entrepreneur and bucket-list musician. A man of boundless creative energy, fueled by a relentless pursuit of his own unique contribution and destiny, along with a passion for seeing others discover theirs as well. And after reading his responses here, the hope is that you’ll know him better than you did before…because of his desire to “know and be known.”

Name one thing we might be surprised to know about you (a secret talent, out-of-the-ordinary experience). 

I’m an ambivert. People tend to see me as extroverted at work, but I’m really much more of an introvert. Just ask Cindy…at home, I’m more of the silent type.

What did you want to be when you were a kid, and what do you still dream of doing and being today?

Oh, that one’s easy. I always wanted to be a cop. Still do…which is why I watch six hours of cop shows a week. I actually think I’d be a really good cop. You know, the kind that lets you by on a really bad day, but doesn’t put up with any BS either. It has to do with my passion for justice. Another dream is that I would love to be able to sing and have rhythm…{which may explain why he’s also a fan of shows like “The Voice.”}

Share a life lesson you’ll never forget that will benefit all of us.

That’s a hard one…there are so many. {After a long pause, this bubbled up with a slight crack in his voice…} If we can let go enough, forgive enough, love enough, and be present enough, the desires of our heart are right in front of us, just waiting for us to see them. It’s like a treasure hunt, and everything is an adventure.

What keeps you awake at night (real or imagined fears and anxieties), and who do you tell?

Sleep apnea. {I laugh out loud, thinking he’s being funny, then realize he’s dead serious.} I’ve always been a really good sleeper and anxiety really isn’t a deal for me. What’s different for me is that being awake at night is actually a restful thing. It’s when I get the strategies and ideas for Unbridled and Emergent. They come to me in dreams and visions. Sometimes I’m awake all night processing what I see and hear. Then I may chew on it for months before sharing it. I process things with Cindy, obviously…and with Scott and Tim. I’m a deep processor, and am constantly stretched and challenged by what happens at the ACTS house. Doing life together there has a powerful influence on my hopes for the culture here at Unbridled. It’s the most real and raw and rich environment I’ve ever known…and I want the same for this community.

What does honor mean to you and how do you honor the people in your life?

I see honor as something different from the way most people use it. The definition has more to do with esteem associated with some kind of victory…athletes, wars, great achievements…and is usually connected to someone else’s loss or failure. To me, honor is about being transparent with people. Showing up in a way that lets them know their presence is valuable and that I believe in their inherent goodness. When we’re free to be ourselves, and we allow others that same freedom, it’s really honoring…and the canvas gets really colorful, too.

What have you done that you’re most proud of and hope to be remembered for as your legacy?

I’d have to say it’s the discovery that we’re all created with a unique contribution, and having the opportunity to participate in unlocking people’s destinies. That’s just cool… It’s so fun to activate the process in people and watch them become authentic and pure in who they are, especially when they land in that place of authenticity in their 20s and 30s instead of their 50s. Then, to see resources come to them, attracted by their true identity and purpose, so they can fulfill their dreams and destiny. We’re advancing a cycle of generational blessing…and that changes everything.

When was the last time you reconsidered the possibility that a forgotten dream could still come true?

I feel like I’m living a dream every day. And the more I lay down my script, God gives me a better one. So, my dream is to continue laying my script down. I mean that…and it’s good to have conversations like this to help me remember.

How do you tend to react to work stress, e.g., pet peeves, communication breakdowns, or personality clashes?

{He laughs out loud and takes out a piece of paper to jot down his cycle…} First, I extend grace, then that moves falsely into avoiding conflict, followed by the realization that it’s not going away. Next, I define actionable consequences, then I activate…and come back around to extend grace. {In the middle of the circle he has just drawn, he adds three more essential elements of the process: quiet, God, and a glass of bourbon. Then, it’s my turn to laugh out loud.}

What has been your most defining moment at Unbridled?

In 2015, when we started pursuing unique contribution and collaborating in each other’s destinies. I literally felt myself stepping into my own destiny…and nothing’s been the same since.

Who has most influenced who you are today? What inspires you about them and how do you carry their impact forward in your life?

I’d have to say, the spirit of goodwill…no, the spirit of grace…has been most influential in my life. It was Cindy who first gave me unconditional grace. She gave me the freedom to be bad…and I was completely amazed by that. I’ve never seen anyone work harder than she does for her own wholeness…or known anyone willing to fight as hard as she has for mine. She’s the epitome of “fierce love” for our family and for others.

When are you happiest in your life, and why?

At home on the couch watching cop shows with my family. Lights down. Cozied up in blankets. Together. It’s a rare sighting…especially for Cindy, who would rather watch anything but cop shows. But to me, there’s nothing better.

{This is the only question that required no deliberation. None was needed for Stan to leave us with this final snapshot of who he is and what makes him happiest. Picture the scene, and you’ll see Stan Bullis in a way you may not have seen him before. It’s a joy to know you, Stan…and you honor us by allowing us to know you more.}

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