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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.

Many of you may not even know who Herschel Walker is, and some of you may recall that he won the Heisman Trophy, played for the Dallas Cowboys, and even competed in the Olympics on the USA Olympic bobsled team. Or perhaps you heard about his daily (yes, every day) routine of something around 1000 push-ups, 2000 sit-ups, and a six-mile run (the legend has many variations). He also contends he eats only one meal per day (I heard him say it himself). He currently serves as Co-Chair of the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition. So, it is fair to say that he is a busy guy.

Playing for the Dallas Cowboys

Herschel has also been in trouble in the past. He has suffered from a mental health disorder known as “Dissociative Identity Disorder” and he made some poor decisions along the way. But he has not stopped trying to get better.

Playing for the University of Georgia

Herschel was invited to be one of the keynote speakers for the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine’s annual meeting, with the title of his talk Being a Balanced Athlete and I was there about 20 rows from the stage. He was brought in to speak about sport specialization and how we need to let children play all sorts of sports before we try to make them professional athletes at 7 or 8 years old by having them focus on only one sport day after day, year after year. His 20-minutes on stage was exceptional. At least I thought so.

He introduced himself by saying, “If you take something out of society, make sure you put something back in.”

Celebrity Apprentice

And then he dove right into what he wanted to share with all of us. He talked about how he did not only play football, did not really even think about playing in college, and how he really wanted to be a US Marine after high school. He also participated in ballet, and the martial arts.

He emphasized the fact that we will get knocked down in life, but that we must keep going. That nothing that matters will be easy.

He spoke about how athletics helps with a child’s intellect, it deters them from getting into trouble, and it can provide an opportunity to get past the deck of cards that they may have been dealt when they came into the world.

His emphasis, “Kids should not specialize in sports because we don’t know what kids can do. They need to just go out and play. They need to enjoy it all.”

This can be translated in several ways, such as pushing our children into certain careers. Help them. Educate them. Show them options. But don’t force them to do what YOU want. That is my plug for improving parenting and or being a mentor to someone. The simple truth is that we must keep trying to get better.

But I still did not tell you how I met Herschel. The talk was done and a few other speakers took their place on stage. I kept an eye on where he was sitting. I wanted to simply tell him thank you. Much of what he said lined up well with the book I just wrote. So I wrote him a short little thank you card, and I grabbed a copy of my book from my bag (I was carrying one around just in case a moment like this came up…forward thinking if you will).

Portrait of Team USA Brian Shimer (front) with (L-R) Edwin Moses, Herschel Walker, and Willie Gault 7/14/1990

And then I did it. I went for it. While they were getting ready for the next group of speakers I ran up to the front row like a kid entering Disneyland, fighting my way through the crowd. I used my military training of situational awareness, bent down onto one knee as if I was about to propose to him. I told him that his talk was “exceptional,” and then handed him a copy of my book Exceptional Every Day with the thank you card. He shook my hand, smiled and said thank you. It all took less than 30 seconds. Perhaps it was a shameless plug for my book…but I was truly grateful for his talk and would have done the same thing whether I had a book or not.

It emphasized another life lesson for me:

If you are thinking about doing something, then go for it.

I have been around a few celebrities, and am friends with a few others, but I don’t get star struck. They are just people like you and me. They want to be treated like us as well. All I did was say thank you.

Today, tomorrow, next week or next year: If you are in a situation where you have the opportunity to personally thank someone for their work – celebrity or not – do it. Don’t just stand there clapping with the crowd. Make your move. Do it right. Be professional.

Thanks for listening today!

It’s time to not let the fear of striking out keep you from doing what you want. Destroy that fear and step up to the plate…

The blog post below (he gets credit for the title as well) is straight from one of my mentors, and I found it suiting to share it today, just 48 hours after my first book made its public debut. Because the truth is, I won’t be able to please everyone with my creation. There will be a couple of grammatical errors (hopefully not too many), and I will share stories about a person or two that someone else despises. This is life my friends and as president Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed in one of his greatest quotes…

Teddy Roosevelt

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

So without further ado I introduce you once again to the great words of a man known as Seth (search his name and it will likely be the first result on Google)…

Seth Godin

“I don’t like your work”

That doesn’t mean I don’t like you.

The difference is critical. It’s impossible to be a productive professional if you insist on conjoining them.

Here are two useful things to consider:

  1. There is plenty of disliked work from people (and things) where I don’t even know the creator. I don’t like Wagner’s operas, and I never even met him. If it’s possible to dislike something without knowing the person behind it, I hope we can embrace the fact that they’re unrelated.
  2. If we need everyone to like our work in order to feel grounded, it means that we’ll sacrifice the best of what we could create in order to dumb it down for whatever masses happen to be speaking up. Which will make it more average (aka mediocre) and thus eliminate any magic we had hoped to create.

If someone cares enough to dislike our work, the best response is, “thank you.”

Thank you for taking the time to consider it, thank you for caring enough to let me know…

You can choose to listen (or not) to the rest of the feedback, but all you’ll learn is how one person reacted to something you built.

…so friends, followers of this blog, people who decided to stop by today…thanks for reading a few words from Teddy and a few from Seth…if you feel any inclination to read a few more words from me that may in fact help you re-prioritize your life, check out my new book, and if you don’t want to check it out, I am thanking you anyway. Have a blessed day!

I am truly grateful beyond any words that I can type upon this blog post for the support of blog followers, friends, colleagues, and people I have never ever met before. Many people would look at today as quite a special day in my life: the actual publication of my first book. And I get it to an extent. It is a day of special thanks to all of the people that have crossed my path throughout the years. Thanking everyone is truly an impossible endeavor. This book, like most, is a compilation of effort. It is a story of life.

Everyone who had an impact. All of those who did the HARD work to make this book a real thing over the past 14 months — for those of you who don’t know the book world — I sure didn’t — 14 months is QUICK, very QUICK. No one wrote the book for me. There was no ghostwriter, or second author. What you see is what you get and I cannot turn back now. Those that offered to sign releases so that I could talk about you in some small way (many who would not sign them — I get it, and I am not mad at you) — THANK YOU. Those that read an advanced copy to provide your endorsement, THANK YOU…many turned me down so it was not automatic in any way, shape or form and it makes your comments all the more valuable. Those that sent me text messages, emails, and even picked up the phone to cheer me on. Those are the events I will remember.

I wrote a book with the intention of helping people CHANGE. Yes, that very difficult six-letter word. It is the hardest thing to do, especially when set in “our” ways. Thinking about your priorities, especially when someone else like me brings them up in a book, is no easy task. The person in the mirror staring back at you each day — that is who you must answer to. And if you need a reminder you will see it in the form of a poem at the end of the book.

I invested time, energy and money. You could call it a sacrifice of sorts, and I might agree after a bit of an argument. It is hard to call it a sacrifice after some of the things I have seen in my life. Hard to call it a sacrifice compared to the single mother who is working three jobs and living in a hotel room with her three school aged children. Hard to call it a sacrifice when thousands upon thousands of kids are shuffled through the foster care system, most of them (not all of course) because those that birthed them were not ready to be called “mom” or “dad.” Most difficult to call it a sacrifice when people, right now, are suffering from cancer and other limiting diseases.

Today is just another day. I am at work. Not sitting at home drinking champagne or getting celebrated on Good Morning America. My little one is at speech therapy for an hour still trying to perfect those special sounds that many of us take for granted.

The book is a vehicle for change. It is a platform that I hope to use in the years to come to help more people find their WHY, reestablish their purpose and priorities and design the life that they actually want.

Perhaps the book is not the perfect one for you, but perhaps you know someone that would benefit from reading it or even skimming it. My goal was to get it into a few SPECIAL HANDS, whether in paper form or electronic, so that those SPECIAL HANDS could then keep sharing the message. Because we all know this to be true:

You don’t simply learn and change by reading a book. You change when others exemplify the qualities that matter, and then you decide to take them on for yourself. A child changes when his or her parents decide to do something different. A college student finds his or her purpose when the professor sees he or she as a human being, not just another number. A patient is willing to change when his or her physician listens before speaking, and actually acknowledges the “hurt” they have inside. We are all vehicles for change. We can all become better. We are all truly Exceptional Every Day.

I often reflect on how smart my children are. I don’t compare their “smartness” to other kids…I despise when parents do that…but rather compared to me. At the ages of 7 and 9, I was not even close to where they are. Perhaps it has to do with how my wife and I are raising them, or maybe I am giving myself too much credit.

Recently while laying my little one down to sleep, the one that has been wearing hearing aids since she was around 6-weeks old, she inquired about a small “skin tag” that she has on the tragus (that piece of cartilaginous tissue closest to the side of your face) of her right ear. She began asking me a series of questions:

  1. How do we take it off?
  2. Will it hurt to take it off?
  3. Will it bleed a lot?

Of course I provided her with a few daddy-doctor answers. And after that, she continued talking, this time making statements, vice asking questions:

  1. But if we take it off it, it will be harder for you to find me if I get lost.
  2. I am afraid my hearing will worsen if we take it off since my right ear is my better one.

Through all of this the reality of her adversity came to life. I forgot about how gifted she is. Her ability to read music and play violin so eloquently. Her energy to get up at 0600 (or earlier) each morning and get more learning and schoolwork done in one hour (on her own) than most kids do in an entire day. The fact that for the past 3 months she has been teaching herself Italian on her own. I could go on. I am a proud father. But then she asked the ultimate defining question:

  1. What would you do if you were me?

I was blown away. Most kids at her age, those much older than she, and more adults than I care to count, don’t possess the emotional intelligence (AKA Maturity) to ask such questions because they think they have it all figured out. Little did I know that she had in fact been picking up on the personal development coaching that I do. She caused me to realize that I need to ask more questions like the last one she posed to me.

While others may not have the answers we are searching for, their “experience” may in fact help us find a better way to “create” ours.

Exceptional Every Day officially publishes next week. If you order now, the publisher tells me it will arrive at your doorstep on the actual publication day of April 2nd. I hope you will grab a copy and let the empowering process begin.

Over the past 3 months I have been blessed with the opportunity to reengage into a relationship with a childhood friend. We had spoken only a couple of times the first few years after high school. He had joined the service and I was finishing college and getting ready to do the same. A couple of more years went by and I recall having a conversation or two. And then, like most things in life, we got busy living our lives. It was as simple as that. As simple as seeing a palm tree while sitting on the deck of your apartment (not something I have gotten to enjoy while in Texas).

A simple palm tree

There was no toxicity between us. No falling out. No jealousy. Simply two boys from a small town that grew up playing sports together and even wearing the same number on our respective teams during high school. He jokes he could not play basketball during those years of high school because I had his number. I wish I could have said the same about playing football, but I never played the sport and likely would have been terribly hurt trying. He had the talent that kids from larger towns and cities get recruited for. But that is another story. This one is much simpler.

Anyone who knows me could attest to the fact that I put a lot of stock into three things – TIMING, DISCIPLINE, and WHO LUCK.

Those three things enabled me to reengage with my friend. Thanks to some timing with the release of my new book Exceptional Every Day, the Cal football team going to a bowl game in Arizona in late December 2018 (that took lots of discipline), and a very big helping of WHO LUCK, I was able to join the team for their game.

I had no idea that my old friend lived not far from the stadium. Just one week before the game I had sent him a friend request when I saw his profile on Facebook. If you really know me, then you also know that I did not have an account with the social media mogul until the fall of 2018. It’s not my thing. And perhaps I was a hater, but I now see the positives that can in fact come from it. I also see all the damage and negative aspects of the platform, but I will let you be the judge of that.

Back to that initial request. He sent me a reply on messenger (another social media connector that I had not used previously) and it simply said, “Val, how can you send me a friend request and not write a message?” He essentially called me out, and I loved it. That “call out” connected us. He even used my childhood nickname. I almost forgot my name was Jason during those last 5 years of primary school because no one used it.

Thanks to one of my closest and dearest friends at Berkeley, a few extra tickets were offered to me for the bowl game. I immediately thought of my friend. If he could make it, I could see him for the first time in 21 years. That is a long time by anyone’s standards. And he did make it and we spent about 40 minutes together catching up just before the game. Those 40 minutes led us to many more text messages and REAL conversations about life. Thanks to some timing and a big helping of WHO LUCK (that allowed me to build many lasting friendships with the coaches, staff and athletes at UC Berkeley), I was able to see an old friend again and essentially start a new relationship. A healthy one. One with no strings attached. One as simple as a palm tree seen off the deck, or a bicycle that serves its purpose by getting you where you need to go.

A simple mode of transportation

Today, why don’t you take just 5-minutes (start a timer if you must) to consider the relationships you have in your life. Especially the positive ones. The ones where you are authentically happy for the other person. Where the interaction is simple. Where the gratitude is priority #1. Don’t waste lots of time scanning Instagram and Facebook today. Instead make a simple connection that may have passed like the wind. Reach out to that person. And if they don’t answer or return your message, then keep going.

I am sending positive energy your way, and I hope this call to action is simpler than you ever imagined.

It really doesn’t matter how you start out in life. While the beginnings often dictate the journey ahead, nothing says it has to be a certain way. What matters is that you at least make an attempt at getting to where you want to go. That you don’t allow the path of those who preceded you to write your story.

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It’s your life!

If you don’t make the choices that will allow you to see what you want to see and do what you want to do, then you will truly never live at your capacity. What you may not know is that your capacity has no limits. You can always do more. You can always be better.

The only person stopping your progress, your achievement, and the course of your journey is you. There is no secret formula or must read book. There is no training program or motivational speaker needed. All of these things can help you along the path, and they are often very wise investments, but the bottom-line depends on you.

Voltaire

The start was not up to you, but the middle, the growth, the decisions and the destination are at your fingertips — don’t allow them to slip away.

A simple call to action today…decide where you want to be tomorrow?

And I don’t mean physically, but rather your mental state, your mindset, your focus on growth and development. We are never too old or too young to implement changes that will indeed alter our tomorrows.

The journey has begun

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