The Process LLC © 2019

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.

I am learning to use fewer words, talk less and listen more. It has been an ongoing process, and one that requires a great deal of intentionality. You see, setting goals is a good thing, but setting intentions is so much more powerful. Intentions cause us to actually do some work and to put in real effort. It is one thing to say I want to win the game, quite another to make sure I give it everything I have when I actually participate in the contest. I might lose the game (as I often do), but I can always give it everything I’ve got.

Today, as we venture into the last few weeks before my book becomes available I wanted to give you a list of five things to ponder as you begin your journey of being intentional when it comes to becoming a little bit better each day…or shall we say Exceptional Every Day!

Set intentions and act on them

-Use a calendar

-Create a daily checklist

-Track your progress and you will see yourself with a newly defined eagerness to improve

Read…Read…Read

-It works like compound interest in the financial world

-Don’t look to fill your time with reading, but instead make it your time

Get up early, or at least a little earlier than you normally do

-You can truly get more done

-Less distractions and an easy way to eliminate a little chunk of your anxiety

Learn how to say NO

-Those that find true success learn to PASS on things

-Don’t always rely on the easy YES, but instead think about what you are saying YES or NO to

Be a “connector”

-Don’t look at networking to serve yourself, but instead build relationships that last

-Build a community of intention oriented people rather than a contact list of people to ask favors from

I know the 5 “key points” of today’s blog are not all inclusive, and there is some room for interpretation, but I do believe it is a great starting point. I want to see you succeed and I definitely want to see you live the exceptional life that you deserve. Have an amazing day, and why not make it an exceptional one while you are are at it!

I may not be a singer, songwriter, or dancer. I am quite horrible at all of those things. I can’t hold pitch and have two left feet. I have two daughters and they would prefer a father who can do all of them. They have been trying to teach me and it is not really working out in my favor. But at least we are getting a few good laughs in.

And then JT came along. Well, he has been around for awhile now, but I just hadn’t paid all that much attention, and even though he is 15 months younger than I am, he has taught me so much more than the things we know him for. He recently published his first book and even though it is mostly pictures, the few words he uses are magical and powerful.

Justin Timberlake

For instance, I took the following words quite literally (as I do with most things)…”I love the silence. I love being alone in my car, holding the wheel. I drive with the windows up, and I rarely play music. I crave stillness. It began as a need, and then it became a practice.”

I set out to do this for the past 60 days (I was tired of hearing about 30 day challenges). But driving around Waco, Texas, where there really isn’t much excitement, is challenging enough. I kept the radio off and I allowed myself to think and reflect, over and over again. It was quite liberating.

Or how about this…”I understand that I don’t have to conquer my fears. I just have to learn to live with them. Instead of looking for sunlight to erase that shadow, I know that it’s always going to be there. Everything you’re doing as an adult is to try to heal whatever you’ve built up from your childhood. It’s your shadow that follows you around, and the only time a shadow disappears is when you step into the darkness. And then you learn to step back out.”

This one has been particularly challenging for me. I have carried a few demons forward from my childhood. I have done many things to try and overcome my insecurities from the past, but a few continue to persist. But I understand the process and I know that I should continue to step in and out of the darkness to let my shadow do its thing.

I took copious notes while reading JT’s self-help guide. And I could keep writing about all the things I learned about myself, but that would not help you. You need to first think about the challenges you have had. The insecurities you possess. The childhood that might not have been perfect. The first few formative years as an adult that may have gone awry. And when you do so focus on one thing…focus on where you are right now. Decide if it is the right place, and if it’s not then make a decision to do something different. Don’t put up with excuses. Don’t put up with yourself, if “yourself” is not the person you want to be. I dare you to change one thing that just isn’t right in your life, and when you do please share it in the comments below. We are here to help one another. No judgment. No critique. A simple mechanism to help us all grow to be the people we want to be.

Something to think about as you enjoy your weekend.

Whether you have ever traveled on Southwest Airlines (I have met people in Texas that have never left the state, let alone been on an airplane) or not, I am about to tell you a little bit about one of the men responsible for starting the company and keeping it airborne.

Mr. Herb Kelleher was a CEO unlike many others, as he actually took care of his people and put them before his own agenda. I recently learned a great deal about him and I only wish I could have been his friend. I could have learned so much and I would have been a better human had I been so fortunate. But even though I never knew him, those that did have been sharing what it was that made him special.

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I thought I would share those things with you because I truly believe that if you, and I, and those around us begin to harness these traits in our lives this world will in fact get better one person at a time.

Herb believed in leading with love and not fear and if you have been around long enough, you have likely seen both aspects of leadership (if you can even refer to fear as a type of leadership!). Herb could carry on a conversation with anyone. He looked at building a company as ‘human’ as the human beings within it.

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What can we do to be better? I will leave the challenge up to you to fill in the empty space after each phrase below…start doing these things in the interactions that are about to come your way…especially the very next one after you get done reading this because the only way to build a healthy habit is to start.

  1. Be interested
  2. Be approachable
  3. Be yourself, and allow others to do the same
  4. Be trustworthy
  5. Leave your ego at the door
  6. Be tough, but not mean (‘mean’ is dehumanizing, shaming, belittling, whereas ‘tough’ means that you hold others accountable)
  7. Don’t take yourself too seriously
  8. It’s okay to say I love you

I look forward to hearing about how this works out for you…and thanks again for reading this blog and for taking a look at my new book. Stay blessed!

The journey has begun

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