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Entrepreneur Jesse Itzler on unplugging and "Living with the Monks"

Jesse Itzler on "Living with the Monks"
Entrepreneur Jesse Itzler on unplugging and "Living with the Monks" 05:03

Entrepreneur and author Jesse Itzler is known for taking on extreme challenges, from training with a Navy SEAL to running a 100-mile ultra-marathon to climbing Mount Washington during a snowstorm. Now the Atlanta Hawks owner and co-founder of Marquis Jet is sharing about a different kind of challenge: unplugging from his phone.

In his new book, "Living with the Monks: What Turning Off My Phone Taught Me About Happiness, Gratitude, and Focus," Itzler chronicles his experience at the New Skete Monasteries in upstate New York.


"I just wanted to learn how to have better routines and better habits and a better mindset. I feel like I'd invested so much in the physical side of my life. Running marathons, I brought a SEAL into my house, I have a trainer. But I've invested very little on the inner work, and in a world of distractions, I felt like to have the whole picture, I really had to spend a little time alone and work on being present," Itzler said Monday on "CBS This Morning."

Navy SEAL lives with Hawks owner as personal trainer 06:32

While the monks and nuns at the monastery are living out virtues of poverty, chastity and obedience to God in reflection of their Orthodox Christian faith, Itzler said the religious aspect wasn't "a big thing" for him.

"You can learn a lot when you're around people that are completely different than yourself. And they were the exact opposite of how I lived my life," Itzler said. "My life is ready, fire, aim, and it is one of adventure. So I went there really just to see like, what's their lifestyle and how are their feet always on the ground? How are they always where their feet are? And take some those lessons and apply them to my busy modern-day life."

Married to Spanx founder Sarah Blakely and a father of four, Itzler said he wanted to try to be the best husband and father he could be. So the time of solitude he spent at the monastery helped change how he expresses himself, he said.

"My wife always says when you communicate in a relationship you have to play tennis and hit the ball back. I'm not a good volley-er," Itzler said, adding, "You can't be really truly intimate – and I don't mean intimate sexually, I mean emotionally – unless you're fully present. And I struggle with that. I think a lot of people struggle with that. And spending time alone by myself thinking really helped me with that. I'm very aware when I'm with my wife to hit the ball back."

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