Why Resilience is Brilliance

July 9th, 2009

July 9th, 2009

Resilience is brilliance.  That is a fact.  Twenty three years ago I was laid off from a blue collar job two months before my daughter was born.  I started college at age 30 and graduated Magna Cum Laude four years later with a double major in accounting and finance.  I was divorced when I was 38 years old.  After that I dated a few women who would tell you they are beautiful. J I survived a life-threatening brain tumor operation when I was 40 years old.   After that I discovered my real personality and actually liked it.  I discovered I love public speaking.  I have placed in the top three at the state level in six different Toastmaster speech contests.  At age 53 (now) I was laid off again.  Shortly after being laid off, I had my book published.  Now, I am working part-time in my old career, while I am taking classes to become a certified trainer.  I will transition from being a commercial credit underwriter to a full-time speaker/trainer/author between now and the next few years. 

So, why is resilience brilliance?  When we are done with all of the blaming and feeling sorry for ourselves we are forced to concentrate on what we can control.  We give ourselves no choice but to put all of our energy into it.  The situation forces us to have a goal, have a plan and do our best to execute the plan (one-step at a time).  The situation gives us the freedom to do these things.  If I would have quit my job when my daughter was born to start going to college at age 30 people would have said I was crazy and they probably would have been right.  I had the freedom to set a goal, develop a plan and execute the plan because I was laid off, there were no jobs in the geographical area, and I had two years left on the GI bill.  The key word is freedom.  Resilience is brilliance because it gives us freedom over our own fears.  Resilience gives us freedom to take control of our own life and make the best of the situation.  When we are resilient we quit worrying and making excuses.  Resilient people set a goal, develop a plan to reach that goal, and live in the present to execute that goal. 

That is the brilliance of resilience.

So what’s your goal?  What’s your plan?  You’re just one step away from beginning your brilliant journey.

Life without the Fear Factor

July 8th, 2009

July 7, 2009

What are your biggest fears?  I am not talking about the fear of skydiving or the fear of eating bugs.  I am talking about day-to-day feelings that you don’t like and you alter your behavior and eventually your life to avoid these feelings. 

My two biggest fears are the fear of feeling disappointed and the fear of feeling embarrassed and criticized.  I don’t like to feel disappointed or embarrassed, and have spent a good part of my life trying to avoid these feelings.  What feelings don’t you like?

I spent the first 40 years of my life altering my behavior significantly to avoid the feelings of disappointment and embarrassment.  I was not aware I was doing this, but I was doing it. 

I did not have a life dream because I didn’t want to be disappointed if I didn’t attain it.  I did not let people see the real me and when they criticized me I got defensive.  Whether it is a curse or a talent, I happen to be a little on the quick-witted, smart-alecky side and this has caused some embarrassing moments and some criticism.  I tried to avoid this.  I was afraid if I showed my true self I would end up feeling embarrassed either because I said something that  would be perceived as not being smart or because I said something that might hurt someone else’s feelings.

Then a miracle happened to me.  Over thirteen years ago, four days after my 40th birthday, I was diagnosed with a large brain tumor.  A week later a benign tumor the size of a small peach was removed.  That isn’t all that was removed.  My fears of disappointment and embarrassment were also removed.  I didn’t know how long I would live because of the uncertainty involved after having such a traumatic operation.  I was extremely happy but I didn’t know why. 

Now I know why.

My fear of feeling disappointed disappeared because I didn’t have any expectations.  I had already surpassed my expectations by surviving the operation.  Without expectation of any future outcomes all I had was pure passion and enjoyment for whatever I was experiencing.  I was truly living in the present. 

My fear of embarrassment, which may be even stronger than my fear of disappointment, also disappeared.  Have you ever talked to a group of strangers and felt perfectly comfortable because you knew you would not see these people ever again?  That’s how I felt all of the time because I didn’t know if I was ever going to see anyone again, so there was no fear of repercussion.  I was happy to be alive, so the odds of me doing something to intentionally hurt my self or someone else were slim to none.  I was living in the present and I could be myself.  This is an unbelievably liberating feeling.

What feeling do you not like?  Have you been avoiding this feeling?  How are you altering your actions to avoid the feeling?  Do you even know?  What if you could eliminate this feeling without altering your behavior?  What if your true personality shined through you all of the time?  What if you changed your perspective? 

You could change your life.

First, you have to become aware of the unwanted feeling.  Be honest with your self.  You don’t have to tell anyone else. 

Next, change your perspective to change your mind.  Your perspective determines your thoughts, your thoughts control your feelings, and your feelings dictate your behavior.  If you change your perspective, you change your feeling and your behavior.  Whatever feeling you do not like, look at the situation from a different perspective and the feeling will change. 

What if your goal was to be alive today and you had already achieved that goal?  What if you had already exceeded your expectations, but you didn’t tell anyone?  What if you were so appreciative of being here that the outcome of any future event was not important?   

What if there was no pressure about the future?  What if there were no repercussions for your actions?  What if there was only now and you were free to do what you know is right?    

1.      I am thankful for everything.

2.      I have already exceeded my expectations.

3.      I am free from the outcome.

The fear is eliminated and my spirit is free.

What Do You Want To Do?

April 3rd, 2009

April 3, 2009

What is it that you know in your heart you will do, but you haven’t done it yet?   

Thirteen years ago I had a brain tumor operation.  From the moment I received the diagnosis I started journaling.  I began journaling for three reasons:

1.  I didn’t want to forget anything that was happening to me,

2.  I didn’t want to repeat what was happening to me over and over to people,

3.  If I survived, I knew someday I was going to write a book about my experience.


Afterwards, I took a writing class and the instructor helped me begin to transform the journal entries into a real story.  I worked on it.  Then I let it sit.  Then I worked on it.  Then I let it sit.  I joined Toastmasters, a communication and leadership organization and surprisingly, I fell in love with speaking and communicating my ideas in my own way.  Then the time came when I knew that everything had come together.  It was time for me to finish the book, so I worked on it for a whole year.   


Have you ever promised yourself that you would visit an old friend or relative, but you never got around to it and then they passed away?  You silently said to yourself, “I always thought I would see him or her again.”


I didn’t want my dream of finishing my book to pass away and end up saying to my self, “I always thought I would finish that book.” 


What is it that you want to do?  What is it that you know you are going to do someday?  Here is the revelation.  You have to go to that day.  It doesn’t come to you.  Start now.  Climb a mountain.  Run a marathon.  Write a book.


 “Internal Vision – A Ten-Day Journey to True Happiness” will be out April 10, 2009.  Yeah!

The Power and Brilliance of Resilience

March 17th, 2009

March 17, 2009

What exactly is resilience?  Resilience is the ability to bounce back from hardship or traumatic change and make the best of the situation.  Resilience is the ability to make a negative situation into a positive situation.  The power and brilliance of resilience comes from being forced to live in the present.  Before facing the traumatic change we might be inclined to tell ourselves that we cannot do something because it is too risky.  When we experience the traumatic change that mindset must disappear and be replaced by concentrating on what it takes to survive.  The fear is replaced with concentration on the present task. 

I didn’t go to college after high school because I didn’t think I was smart enough.  When I was thirty-years old I was laid off from a blue-collar job the same time my daughter was born.  I started college at age thirty and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a double major in accounting and finance.  When I was forty, I survived a life-threatening brain tumor operation.  Afterwards, I joined Toastmasters and won several speech contests before getting even more speech coaching and becoming a part-time professional speaker.  After eighteen years in banking, I was laid off again.  I used this time to finish my book, “Internal Vision – A Ten-Day Journey to True Happiness” which is about my transformation during the brain tumor experience.  Here is one of my quotes from the book.


The Brilliance of Resilience


Adversity is directly related to living in the present.

Adversity forces you to focus all of your energy on what you can control.

You concentrate on little steps and you take one day at a time.

What if you had to be happy and there was no time for anything else?

What if you focused all of your energy on being happy right now?

What if you said the following two sentences?

“Someday, I will be happy, and I’ll be darned if today isn’t some day.”

“I promise myself and God I will be happy today.”

What then?


The power and brilliance of resilience is simply the ability to turn a negative situation into a positive one.  Sometimes it involves taking what you think is a negative characteristic and finding a place where it is considered to be a positive attribute.  Sometimes it involves finding opportunity in your current situation and taking that opportunity.  You simply have to start looking for how you can turn a negative into a positive and you will get better and better at it because you have to get better at it.  You can’t afford to let your mind get in the way.

Little Steps -> Interesting Life -> Big Dreams Come True

February 22nd, 2009

February 21, 2009

We have all heard that you should dream big.  We have also heard that we need to believe in our self to make those big dreams come true.  There is one problem with those two concepts:  there is no action.  Without little steps all of the dreaming and all of the believing in the world won’t get us anywhere.

We have to take little steps outside of our comfort zone to grow.   In September 2005 I decided that I wanted to be a professional speaker and I was going to do what it takes to make that happen.  I joined four Toastmasters clubs and received hundreds of speech evaluations over the next three years.  I also spent about ten thousand dollars to get some high-quality speech training from some truly great speech coaches.  I had someone videotape me and build a quality website.  I joined the National Speaker Association - Minnesota apprenticeship, graduate, and mentorship programs.  I spent a little over a year writing my book, “Internal Vision – A Ten-Day Journey to True Happiness”.  I took an improvisation class and then an advanced improvisation class.  One day I received an e-mail for an audition . . .  I first ignored it.  Then I re-read it, visited the Crisis Company’s website (www.crisiscompany.com) and decided to give it a try.  I didn’t get the part, but wow, was it ever an experience.  The actors play the roles of real life people who police officers have to deal with.  Sometimes the scene called for the actor to play the part of a drug addict.  Other scenes called for the actor to play the part of a rape victim who is considering suicide.  It was very, very interesting.  See what happens when you open yourself up to stretching your limits and trying new things?  Your life becomes interesting.  Is that what your life is missing?  You’re just one little (action) step away from making your life a whole lot more interesting.  You’re just one little (action) step away from getting closer to your big dream.    

Do you have an example of a little step that took you in a positive direction and made your life more interesting?

Bad Economy – Good Opportunity

February 19th, 2009

A down turn in the economy gives each of us an opportunity to do something we never dreamed of before being faced with an adverse situation.  I was laid off from a blue-collar job twenty-three years ago.  I started college at age thirty and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a double major in Accounting and Finance.  I never dreamed of going to college until I was laid off.  Four years after I graduated from college I was divorced.  I dated some beautiful women that earlier I would have never dreamed would go out with me.   I also survived a life-threatening brain tumor operation.     After I recovered, I joined Toastmasters and won several speech contests.  Before my operation, I was literally scared to death to speak in front of people.  I never dreamed that I would like public speaking and that I would be good at it.  Then twenty-three years after getting laid off from my blue collar job, I got laid off again, this time from the banking industry.  This time I had a dream even though it was a bit pre-mature for a conservative soul like my self.  I took the time to finish and market my book “Internal Vision- A Ten-Day Journey to True Happiness.”   When we are forced into transition it gives us a chance to do whatever we want without the fear of failure because we have no choice.  When I started college years ago, my friends said, “You can’t do that.  Your grades were awful in high school.  Four years is a long time, you’ll never make it.”  But I told them I was only going to go for one quarter.  After all, I had the G I bill and I had to do something.  My friends accepted that.   I took one quarter at a time.  That’s what adverse situation do for us.  They make us concentrate on the present and what we can control.  I just kept getting A’s, one quarter after another, and pretty soon I was done.  How about you?  What do you really want to do?  If you had no choice but to do it, what would you put your whole heart and love into?  Do you have what it takes to develop a plan?  Do you have the discipline and fortitude to carry out the plan, one small step at a time?  Can you to turn a bad economy into a good opportunity for you?  

Show me. 

And e-mail me about your success.  

Honesty is Strength

February 11th, 2009

February 10, 2009

Honesty is not only the best policy, honesty is strength.

I was recently laid off from my job after eighteen years in the banking industry and four years with my most recent employer.  Someone told me not to tell anyone I was laid off, but rather I should tell people I decided to jump ship and become a full-time professional speaker.  The truth is I have been a part-time professional speaker for three years and have been taking steps to become a full-time professional speaker including investing ten thousand dollars into speech coaching over the last three years and writing my own book, “Internal Vision – A Ten-Day Journey to True Happiness”, which will be out in mid-March 2009.

Perhaps, it is perceived as a position of weakness because it was not my choice to become a full-time professional speaker this soon.  I definitely disagree.  You operate from a position of weakness when you cover up the truth.  The longer you live the lie, the weaker you become.  Are the professional baseball players who have been taking steroids for years and posing as society’s role models strong because they lied about taking steroids?  No, these people are weak.  They were afraid of trusting in their own abilities and they were afraid to admit it to the American public by telling the truth.  

It takes guts to be vulnerable.  And when you have guts, you do your best.

Of course, you might say it’s easy for me not to be embarrassed about being laid off because I have been laid off before.   I’ve also been divorced and had a brain tumor.  Once you tell people you’ve had a brain tumor, it’s pretty easy to tell them anything   J.  The truth is that none of these situations are worth covering up.  I know from my personal life experience that when someone hires me as a speaker they are going to get the best possible me they can get.  I will go the extra mile(s) to make my presentations exceed my customer’s expectations.   I won’t do this because I am coming from a position of weakness or desperation, but rather because I am coming from a position of honesty and passion.

How about you?  Are you living a lie and content to take that lie to your grave, or is it time to live the truth?  Are you giving your honest all to something without the fear of failure?  If you are, please pat yourself on your back for me.  J 

If not, it’s time to look fear in the eye, laugh at it and take the steps you need to become the best you who you can be.  That’s what life is all about.

What Would You Do If It Was Your Last Chance?

February 4th, 2009

What do Kurt Warner, football quarterback from the Arizona Cardinals, linebacker James Harrison for the Pittsburg Steelers, I (and you) have in common? 

Kurt Warner graduated from a small college (the University of Northern Iowa), where he didn’t get a chance to start at quarterback until his senior year.  He attended the Green Bay Packers training camp in 1994 and was released before the season began.  It was during this time that Warner stocked shelves at a Hy-Vee grocery store for $5.50 an hour.  Warner went on to start as quarterback in three Super Bowls, winning one.

Linebacker James Harrison began his pro career in 2002 and was cut from the Pittsburg Steelers twice, then he was cut again from the Baltimore Ravens in 2004.   Harrison signed with the Steelers for the third time in 2004.   Harrison decided 2004 with the Steelers would be his last chance to be a real NFL player, or he’d give up on his dream and get a regular job, perhaps driving a bus, or flipping burgers in a fast food joint.  Instead Harrison ended up making an interception in the 2009 Super Bowl, propelling his team to victory.

Both of these NFL stars, Warner and Harrison, performed when they needed to.  I am not talking about during the super bowl, but years earlier when their backs were to the wall.  Both of them made their dreams come true when they viewed it as being their last chance to make it.  How about you?  Are you ready to give it your all and make your dreams come true? 

As I commented in my first blog, I have been laid off, divorced, had a life threatening brain tumor operation and laid off again.  I will be 53 years old tomorrow, February 4th, 2009.  I have been a part-time professional speaker for three years, now full-time, and my book “Internal Vision – A Ten-Day Journey to True Happiness” will be out in mid-March.   I view this opportunity as my last chance to do what I really want to do, which is to be a speaker and a writer.  Will I make it?  Only time will tell, but I know I will never give up.

If I have to work in a Hy-Vee store, drive a bus, or flip burgers on my way to making my dream come true, I will.  The most important thing is that I am in the game.  I am in the game of life and I am not sitting on the sidelines watching others play like I was for so many years of my life.  How about you?  What is your passion?  What if this was your last chance to experience that passion to the fullest?  This is your last chance to get into the game.

Never, Never Ever Give Up

January 21st, 2009

January 20, 2009

“Never, never ever give up,” Winston Churchill

The most empowering words you can say to yourself are simply, “I will never, ever quit.  I may bend, I may take a break, I may choose another direction, or I may leave to go get some help, but I will never, ever quit.” 

Never, never ever give up.

On this historic day, the inauguration of our first African American President, the words of Winston Churchill were never more appropriate.  We can all personally learn the lesson of perseverance which has been experienced by African Americans, as a whole. 

Never, never ever give up.

Personally, I was laid off when I was thirty years old.  I started college at age thirty and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a double major in accounting and finance.  I relocated my family, and was divorced shortly afterwards.  Two years after that, at age forty,  I underwent a life-threatening brain tumor operation.  After that, I made several friends and eventually joined Toastmasters (a communication and leadership organization) where I won a few awards and discovered that speaking was my passion and purpose.  I was a part-time speaker for three years, and a soon to be author, when I was laid off from my job due to the current economic downturn.  I worked in the banking industry for eighteen years. 


Is this the end for me?  I truly believe it is the beginning.  What I do know for sure is this:     

I will never, ever quit.  I may bend, I may take a break, I may choose another direction, or I may leave to go get some help, but I will never, ever quit.

Never, never ever give up.

How about you?