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People will surprise you, especially those who you would contend are quite different than yourself.

And through being surprised I recently learned a new word. You can see it in the title above. While I come across words every day that I have never heard of or read before, this particular one — MaLaCoiD (the capital letters have nothing do with the word, but more with the story I am sharing) –piqued my curiosity. Merriam-Webster defines the word as such: having a soft or mucilaginous structure or texture. And now you are looking at this blog post and wondering, what is Jason talking about today? Don’t worry, I contemplated this myself.

My children have two very special friendships that they created during their elementary school days in California (throw in their friends’ little sister and that makes three friendships). Those friendships have persisted despite being over a thousand miles apart. And when we recently had the opportunity to meet up with those friends all the children picked up right where they had previously left off. And I finally had a chance to meet their father (we technically said hello and shook hands at a kindergarten graduation previously, but it’s hard to say that counts).

I had heard he was quite smart when it came to computers and he created himself an opportunity to work from home, which enabled him to do so in his underwear or MC Hammer Pants (I have provided a picture in case you were wondering what these so called pants are).

MC Hammer

And yes, he was wearing said pants when I shook his hand and said hello this time around. They were of a different variety, but they did indeed look quite comfortable.

I soon learned I could learn a thing or two from this man. I would not be able to wear his pants at my place of employment (the military is not that progressive), but I knew there was more to his story.

Thanks to his 9-year old son, as I was watching over him while he was spending time with my own 9-year old daughter, I learned some fun facts about his father and those facts really got me thinking.

Being Kids

I asked him what his father does each day and he simply said, “He is an internet plumber.” I retorted with nothing more than, “What?” He then told me that he works for a company in the IT world, and receives phone calls and messages to fix people’s computer systems.

The “internet plumber” moniker struck a cord in me. It was full of creativity, humility, and humbleness…it meant I had to do some more digging.

He then said, “My dad wrote a book like you. It’s even on Amazon. But it’s not a real book like yours. It’s titled MaLaCoiD, which is a name he gave to himself after randomly picking it out of a dictionary.” I chuckled (in truth I fell out of my chair) and I then started my Google search. And that is when I learned about MaLaCoiD.

I saw several images. Some resembling someone that looked like Bill Gates. Another the image of a father who would likely understand what it means to truly relax and just be a kid with his children, and then the “oh my, this guy is a crazy weirdo.”

I saw dreadlocks. 3D glasses. Peace signs. I saw someone completely opposite of me. And that was the best part.

I began to learn the story. I learned about purchasing an Aspire, converting it into a livable space, and driving over 16,000 miles around the country following a band called Phish (and several others). All of this before children of course.

Once I was around him again I asked several questions. I learned so much about him and at the same time so much about myself. About how he had never taken a drink of alcohol in his entire life because of his father being an alcoholic and he not wanting the same thing to happen to him — we shared this sentiment. And there was so much more.

The MC Hammer pants started it all, but the 3D glasses helped me to see even deeper.

Have you gotten caught up in a single way of thinking lately? Have you caused yourself to fall nose deep into some of the great untruths of life such as labeling people one way or another? Have you turned your head from “different?” Is there something you’re curious about? Then what are you waiting for?

Commit to being “curious” again. Open your eyes and see what you want to see, not what society or school or your parents or your friends have told you to see. You may just have a new friend looking right at you.

I hope you learn to see what is actually there.

I am hoping that this message finds you attacking life with a sense of purpose, whether you are at work, at home, on an adventure or quite possibly even recovering from a recent setback.

To kick-off my monthly first Friday newsletter series, I thought I would share some insights that I gained from Disney’s Aladdin. The film itself is truly a parable on personal growth.

Yes! All you super masculine men out there…the same ones who told me I was crazy for watching The Greatest Showman, I am focused on talking to you today because I already know the ladies will appreciate this. I took my children to see Aladdin recently, and it was worth the time and the money for so many reasons. My primary motivation surrounded the fact that my girls really wanted to see it and that it was a great way to celebrate the end of another school year with them. With my cell phone turned off and no work assignments needing attention I was indeed ready for some time to just sit back and enjoy. Something I have been trying quite hard to work on.

But what made the film particularly useful when it comes to “life” is the fact that it brought many of the things we are often afraid to talk about and unwilling to work on, to the forefront.

You see, Aladdin was dealt that hand of cards that was drenched in the blood of adversity and worthlessness. The notion that when born worthless one will die worthless. The sense of being forever trapped into what you were born into. That such an idea of being “that diamond in the rough” cannot possibly happen to you or me.

Unless of course you are that someone who believes that you can indeed overcome all of it and be that diamond.

The film not only allows us to dream for 2-hours of our day, it actually teaches us how to do it so that our dreams can become a reality, and that we must be relentless in our pursuit of those dreams. And it does so in a way not found in a college course, on Facebook, an at home study program, work retreat or expensive specialty conference.

A major theme of the film lies in the idea of having that special inner circle of people to confide in — for Aladdin it was his monkey Abu and the Genie. But you can also have the wrong people at the table (see chapter 4 of my book) as the Sultan found out with his most trusted adviser Jafar who would end up turning on him. Not a single one of us is a self-made man or woman, and thus those we surround ourselves with undeniably have a huge impact.

But the list of learning points goes on and that is why I was particularly compelled to tell you about the insights that were revealed to me:

  1. Whatever you don’t know you can learn (knowledge is at our fingertips with books, the internet search engines, and yes, sometimes social media)
  2. There will never be enough money or power on earth to ever be satisfied (you don’t have to look far for this reality to set in)
  3. You must be the most powerful man in the room or else you are nothing (have you gone to a meeting at work lately? how does that statement make you feel?)
  4. Something may get you to the door, but you have to open it (does this ring a bell?)
  5. The more you have the more you want (take a moment to write down your goal; are they mostly material things?)

But the messages don’t stop here. They keep coming. One after another. From the Sultan, the Princess, the Princess’ handmaiden, the guards, Aladdin himself, and especially the big blue guy named Genie.

And Genie is the most important messenger of all because he embodies one of the most important secrets of both life and success:

You only see what you are told to see — unless of course you make a conscious decision to see things for yourself.

And what can we do to not only see better, but to be better? Well, the movie tells us this as well:

  1. Be confident in what you have to offer
  2. Possess loyalty, honor and integrity
  3. Let your heart decide
  4. Give something up
  5. Have courage and strength
  6. We all make mistakes — What sets us apart is if and when we learn from them

And something else that struck a particular cord with me:

“Duty is not always honor. We must sometimes defy those in charge and instead do what is right.”

But what got to me the most and woke me up at 0300 in the morning today:

“You will only be as happy as your least happy subject.”

I hope this one piqued your interest and increased your heart rate. Let that one set in. Let that one help you analyze your priorities, your hobbies, and your goals and dreams.

Aladdin did it right — he gave up his last wish so that Genie would be free.

And if you know anything about genies and magic lamps, you must remember that you only get 3 wishes.

What will yours be?

And as the movie clearly states,

“I hope you find what you are looking for.”

Thank you for being exactly who you are and for enjoying this journey with me. May you continue to become better in your daily pursuit of life and may your significance radiate off of the lives that you touch.

It is one thing to be patient and yet another to stand completely still.

Reasons to not stand still:

  1. You are trying to get somewhere in life.
  2. You want to accomplish your goals.
  3. You care about doing something to help others.

You must take a step forward, even if you take 2 or 3 steps back to get started. You must embrace not standing still. You cannot plant your feet firmly waiting for something great to happen to you, but instead you must make things happen for you.

Complacency gets us nowhere, except right where you are right now. We begin to trip over the truth. We lose our footing and with each passing day it gets harder and harder to move forward. You essentially need to mentor yourself. Set a higher standard. Give yourself a good helping of self-assurance, believing that you can and will succeed. Point yourself in the direction you wish to go. And then, once you have those three things in motion, support yourself and find others who will also support you. The support has to be consistent. It needs to be daily because each day you cannot be standing still.

The ground will shake. The winds will blow. The earth will rattle and you have to be ready. Are you ready? What are you afraid of? Put on your dancing shoes and start the dance of your life. If you do it right, you will get exactly where you NEED and WANT to go.

Did that title catch your attention? Well, it caught mine when the question was asked of me, not by one, but by several individuals. Prior to the publication of my book Exceptional Every Day I would randomly talk about the messages inside of it with coworkers, friends, strangers and patients. I would share my “elevator speech” and the idea that my aim was to simply help people “edit” a few of their priorities to actually make them “priorities” so that they could truly begin a voyage to design a life that they actually want to be a part of. I was simply sharing parts of my book. And not just to get them to one day buy a copy. Not even close. I was sharing to so that they could grow and help others grow.

I was investing in the idea of “30-seconds of your time can change another’s life.”

But the question was asked. And I would smirk and then reply, “Why is writing about Tiger bad?” The looks I would get. The replies to my reply. Some so disheartening I don’t even want to tell you. Quite simply I was told, “The man ruined his family. He cheated on his wife. He is a horrible person with a terrible addiction. He cannot even play golf anymore.”

And as I have said since the beginning, I don’t condone any of the “bad” or “immoral” things that Tiger Woods did. But I also leave the judging to a higher being. Tiger has made mistakes, just like you and I. He will continue to make mistakes, just like you and I. Unless you are a narcissist and you never make mistakes…which I don’t think you are since you are reading this blog.

And then I saw this in the newspaper recently…

And as I wrote about Tiger in my initial manuscript back in 2018, I thought about the time I first met him, the time we talked on the football field at Stanford University, and it all sunk in. Every last word. He is human. And I thought, “Tiger will win again.” I even felt that he might pull off a big win in 2019. I told my wife this just a couple of months before my book published. I then thought, what if he does it right around publication, and sure enough he did. He won the Masters Tournament…the coveted green jacket…just days after Exceptional Every Day made its debut.

I was truly excited for Tiger when I saw the news on the 15th of April 2019 that he had won. I am not golfer, although I should probably learn since my daughters are interested.

I was excited because Tiger showed all of us that failure does indeed lead to success. That falling off the horse does not mean you cannot get back on. That mistakes are a part of life, and that many who reach the top rung of the ladder will fall down. What matters is that we keep trying to get better. That we keep trying to become EXCEPTIONAL.

…when you actually open your eyes. You think you have seen it all. You think you understand the human condition. You think you know all about empathy and feeling the pain that someone else feels. But you don’t. I don’t. None of us do.

And then you see it. You see two young men in high school, one carrying the other on his back. You take a step closer and you realize the one being carried is missing his legs…legs he lost during an accident with a train at the age of 10. The carrier has a smile on his face as he skips across the gymnasium floor. You have no idea that he is essentially blind and can only see a couple of feet in front of him. Two young men smiling despite their disposition. One named Dartanyon, the other Leroy. Wresting would bring them together.

Dartanyon and Leroy

Former ESPN producer Lisa Fenn brought their unique story to life. She first made it into a short film, less than 15 minutes in length. And then a few years later, after remaining in the boys lives and forming a bond that could not be broken, she wrote a memoir titled Carry On.

I finally met Lisa in April 2019 when she was invited to be a speaker a sports medicine conference. Her keynote address blew me away. What I heard that day was not a person up there on the stage speaking, but rather a heart. And of course I had to know more, so I stood in line to get a book. I then met her husband and we exchanged numbers and began to form our own relationship. The power of connection. The power of being in the right place at the right time. The power of actually being able to see when you open not only your eyes, but more importantly your heart.

You quite simply need to read her book. At the very least research the story of Carry On on Google and start diving in to this incredible union that was formed between three unlikely teammates.

Stay blessed my friends. Keep opening your eyes and your hearts wider than you ever have before.

If you care about your health and wellness, then you have definitely heard, seen and maybe even felt the non-stop discussion taking place on what is healthier: low carb or low fat? There is not one easy answer to that question, and several others that surround the topic. One researcher finds “this” to be true, and another said the opposite; one doctor makes a certain claim, and another refutes it. Fad diets continue to take the stage, and some last longer than others.

Beach Body claims to have all the answers you need, and Weight Watchers sees the company’s stock price soar for several months, and then it tanks just as quickly as the sugar spike that happens when we choose to indulge in a high glycemic, sugar-laden snack. But one thing is for certain: those Snackwell cookies that were once seen as the golden ticket for cutting fat out of our diets are not good for us.

Those along with Twinkies, Hostess Cupcakes, Coca Cola, cigarettes (I know this is not a Carb or Fat, but they are terrible especially since for the past year I have focused on their deleterious effects on bone healing) and well lots of other products that are usually found on the end-caps, or eye-level sections at our local grocery stores, gas stations and hospital cafeterias (this makes no sense at all). Why are they so prominent? Because Sugar and unhealthy Fats sell.

The debate is different when we are talking about healthy fats and good carbs. But that’s not what this article is about. A future one is coming your way on that subject.

Just a few trans fat options

Today I want to update you on some of the latest research pertaining to carbs vs fats and the risk of developing cardiovascular disease also known as CVD. Mounting evidence suggests that a high carbohydrate diet (likely due to highly processed foods) is associated with a higher risk of death or “mortality” (for those of you who prefer medical lingo), while consuming fats (likely the healthy versions that start their names with Poly and Moly and yes, even Saturated, but not Trans) is associated with a lower risk of death.

If you gather a bunch of studies completed over the past several years you will see that there is no significant effect of saturated fat consumption on death rates, CVD, coronary heart disease (CHD), ischemic stroke, or type 2 diabetes mellitus (British Medical Journal August 2015). And if you look even deeper into the existing research you will see that total fat intake and saturated and unsaturated fats intake were not significantly associated with increased risk of heart attacks or CVD deaths (same journal article).

So I could be wrong and you should talk to your doctor before you decide to change your diet dramatically, but I am also willing to bet that most doctors are not up to speed on eating right and exercising so you may not actually get the medical advice you deserve (and you would not even know it since that is why you are seeking help in the first place). It’s not something that your doctor, or many others, likely focused on during medical school or during their follow-on training (i.e. residency, fellowship) unless like me they had the desire to understand the science and more importantly how to go about informing their patients.

And if you want to learn more about the truth, but in a fun-loving, perhaps a little PG-13 sort of way, check out more at Dr. Jimmy Westbrook’s site: http://www.drjimmywestbrook.com

My favorite super food

If I were in your shoes, I would start looking for a few more healthy fats to incorporate into your diet – avocados, walnuts, almonds, salmon, and the list goes on – and eliminate a few more of those unnecessary carbohydrates, especially corn-based products.

So do it today. Make a list of a few healthier fats and go out and buy them. Seriously. At least pick up one or two items and start making some great changes to your daily meal routine, even if it means adding a few slivers of avocado to that pizza or burger you picked up on the way home.

Here is to your health, which is just another part of The Process.

Maybe? Sort of. Not really. But yes, they could mean those things.

Have you ever caught yourself saying, “I can’t afford it?” but then you end up buying other things that perhaps you just don’t need. Or let me put it to you this way, perhaps in a more visual sort of way…you contemplate spending $100 on one thing and you decide not to do it, only to see your credit card, debit card or PayPal account add up to the same amount after a few other items land into your real or more often than not “virtual” shopping cart. And if you have even more money at your disposal the contemplation (good and bad) can escalate.

And then there is the time issue. We often tell ourselves we “don’t have the time.” This is especially evident when it comes to eating right, exercising, cleaning the house and helping in our communities by volunteering to make a difference. We only get 24 hours in a day, or 86,400 seconds if you want to look at it another way. We put limits on our time, more than we put them on anything else.

When we contemplate such things as not having enough money and not having enough time, we are essentially saying “this or that is not a priority for me.”

If you have picked up a copy of my book, hard cover or digital, and you have read even just a single chapter or two, you would know that it’s a treatise on priorities, and how to make them work for you. A way to rethink the things that not only matter most to you, but things that should take up a little more of your time and even a little more of your money.

For me, when I care about something, I can get so much done. And as many of my mentors have taught me, one way to choose to care is to be clear about your priorities. To not just set goals, but rather to be intentional in what you need to accomplish. To dive into the details and be a little more specific.

Priorities my friends are what help us not only complete the journey, but actually enjoy it. Our priorities don’t offer us more problems unless that is how we choose to see them.

Today I want to challenge you to rethink your priorities. Start with YOU, think about your WHY and your PURPOSE, reevaluate how you choose to spend time with those at your TABLE and then start to think about how your “work” and your “passions” are lining up. These are just a few of the many that I talk about. What are you waiting for?

And a friendly reminder in case you did not see it on Facebook or Instagram…and please don’t worry about buying a book, as I would love for you to just stop by and say hello.

After I posted a few thoughts about some things I learned from Justin Timberlake (see post from March 6th) I received an anonymous comment that I did not want to overlook. I could feel the commenter’s pain, but also their confusion. There were hints of insecurity, contemplation, and joy. And those three things don’t tend to lead to a symbiotic relationship very often. The person appeared “stuck.” Commenting that he or she was okay being alone, yet at the same time yearning to be loved.

Look, I don’t pretend to be a love therapist, the initials after my name don’t give me that right either. There really is no license or board certification for such a profession — and there shouldn’t be because love is manifested in all of us differently. It speaks its own unique language with many dialects and interpretations that not a single one of us can truly comprehend its translation by another. But what is true is that if you are seeking love from another person, then perhaps you need to spend more time loving yourself first. Because you cannot digest, feel, absorb or quite literally comprehend the love of another person until you accept it from the person you know better than anyone else.

So today, look at yourself in the mirror. Start reading Chapter 1 of my book, or reread it or simply skim it or just answer the questions at the end of the chapter. Take some time to focus on YOU. Love yourself. Not in a conceited, pretentious, “I am better than everyone else” manner, but in a gentle, open-minded, and sincere way.

Please share your comments so that we can keep adding to this dialogue; to this language of love. And I will start with the first comment:

“If I need someone to love me so that I love myself…then I am not free.”

I also stumbled upon this…

Well, after a little anxiety and being nervous throughout the recording, my first podcast interview went live this morning. The support of this blog from people like you, along with the recent publication of Exceptional Every Day made it possible.

Greg Voisen, the host of Inside Personal Growth, reached out after reading my book, and with years of experience in the personal growth and development business, along with a podcast that has now developed over 14 years, I felt extremely blessed to have the opportunity.

I hope that you will share this episode with your family and friends so that we can keep the message flowing.

A few more podcast interviews are lined up and each one will surely be different as we bring the messages in Exceptional Every Day to life.

Beyond Grateful!

And please leave a comment or rate the podcast so that Greg can keep creating.

You can choose how to listen below. Make sure to click on Episode 710 or do a simple search if it does not pop right up.

  1. Inside Personal Growth
  2. Google Music
  3. Stitcher
  4. Spotify
  5. Soundcloud

From April 25th through April 27th hundreds of college football athletes waited eagerly to see if their cell phones would ring and their names would be called. Some knew they would be drafted in the first round, others the second or third. But the draft is seven rounds in length and there were 254 selections this year. Some young men were less optimistic of their chances. The truth about hardly anyone actually going professional in sports was apparent because only so many actually make it to the highest levels and it involves a mix of skill, hard work, genetics, timing and of course LUCK.

Jordan Kunaszyk and Patrick Laird, University of California Berkeley

This year two young men that I care deeply about were in the mix. One I wrote about in Exceptional Every Day, the other taking the time to read an advanced copy of the book during the 2018 season (a little busy, along with the fact that he has his own website – you need to check it out if you have young kids and want them involved in a summer reading program) and providing his endorsement that lines the back cover. Throughout the 2018 season, these two young men (along with another very special one) engaged in weekly communication with me. From short phone calls, to empowering text messages, we were putting The Process to work. And while they did not win all of their games, the growth that took place in their lives was invaluable.

Most of us expected Patrick and Jordan to get drafted. We kept our ears and eyes open. But their names were not called. Neither filled one of the 254 selections made by the 32 professional teams. Many of us felt empty. We did not understand. Our hearts ached for them.

But those of us in the mix, knew that The Process was not actually over. After the draft is completed, many teams sign up additional players to join their rosters as undrafted free agents.

And our hope was on the rise. Jordan received his phone call, and so did Patrick. The Carolina Panthers and the Miami Dolphins figured out that these two young men deserved to continue their careers. If anything, they deserved a shot to compete for a spot on an NFL roster.

After all, that is all either of them desired: simply an opportunity to compete.

Patrick Laird signing his contract

While we have no idea how these young men will fair, we know one thing is certain, they believed in The Process, both evaluating their priorities and making changes when needed along the way.

What is happening in your life today? What priority needs a little evaluation? Don’t try to tackle all of them at once. Just pick one. If you need a little extra direction, pick up a copy of the book, it provides a road map to help each and every one of us get better day after day.

I really was. There were roughly 70 to 80 women. I wanted to actually count each and every one of them, and I started to, but then I caught myself looking like a weirdo as I rotated myself in my chair moving my eyes up and down the rows in the conference room. And since I typically sit in one of the first few rows, it looked even worse as I had to completely turn around in my chair to count those behind me. I was in Houston at the annual American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM) Conference. It was day 5 of 6.

And I was at a talk that I did not want to miss for several reasons: 1) Dr. Cindy Chang who had been what I would call an “indirect mentor” of mine was part of the panel, 2) the topic involved leadership, 3) two of the other women on the panel, like Dr. Chang, had held the position of president for AMSSM in the past and were trailblazers for the profession in many ways, 4) many other reasons.

The title of the presentation: W.i.LL – Women in Leadership Lead

Intriguing title. And something that resonates well in today’s society. I knew it would be 50 minutes of great energy and discussion, and that I would gain valuable insight. And it was. 4 women took their turns at the podium (one decided to remain seated during her talk, and that gesture alone was impactful).

As I have written in prior blogs, and preached to myself, my children, my coaching clients and my patients, be careful what you decide to shy away from when an opportunity presents itself, as you will surely always learn something that can help you on this journey of life. A lot of other men missed out on quite a special presentation.

A few days earlier with Dr. Chang

So what did I learn and reflect on during the talk that day…

Speaker number one emphasized:

  1. Go confidently into the room
  2. You won’t always walk-in and be one of them
  3. Stick to your values

Those were powerful ideas that can help all of us eliminate our fears, demand equality and strive for success.

Dr. Chang was up next. And just to tell you a little bit more about her…

  1. She is obviously Asian
  2. She is a wife and mother
  3. Team USA Chief Medical Officer at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics and 2012 London Olympics
  4. 13-years as the head team physician for UC Berkeley athletics
  5. She is starting a brand new sports medicine fellowship at UCSF
  6. She is well-known when it comes to primary care sports medicine across the world

And I could go on and on…

Dr. Chang spoke about things people had said to her during her time as a sports doc…

“You are too motherly to our athletes.” “You never played football, so how can you possibly take care of these players.”

Her stories went on. Her determination to overcome them was powerful. She made it a point to tell everyone in the room that day that you don’t have to play a particular sport to care for the athletes who play that sport (this can be translated to many service jobs/careers in life). She told the ladies in the room to find a pact of strong, successful women to surround themselves with. She spoke about being ambitious, unafraid to fail, to lead and to ask for what you deserve.

Two more physicians followed her. They spoke about getting paid for the work you do and to fight for it. One thought provoking exclamation dealt with finding your seat at the table, and if there was no seat for you in the meeting, then:

“You should bring your own chair.”

The energy in the air was stronger than the winds that were passing through Houston on that day. And they were pretty rough.

And I was the only man in the room. Nothing to be afraid of. I am the only man in my house. We can all learn when we are willing to drop any bias we might have. We can all learn when we are willing to open our ears and close our mouths. We can all simply learning by just being there in the moment.

What will you do today to learn something new, or at the very least to reflect on something you may have learned in the past, but pushed into your distant memory?

Next time you walk through the crowd take a second to rethink your steps and perhaps decide to walk a little bit slower.

The journey has begun

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