Here’s a short list of seemingly unsurmountable challenges Kevin Rempel has struggled through:
- During a hunting trip with Kevin, Gary, Kevin’s father, fell from a tree and became paralyzed
- Years later in 2006, Kevin crashed hard in a Motocross accident and became an incomplete Paraplegic
- It took 6 weeks for Kevin to wiggle his first toe, 10 months in a wheelchair before walking (Doctor’s said he’d never walk again) and a full year after his injury before Kevin rode his dirt bike again
- In July of 2007, Kevin’s father took his own life after years of battling with depression and addiction
- Carrying the personal burden of depression on multiple occasions, hitting him particularly hard after the 2014 Sochi Paralympics
With that background of suffering, you’d think Kevin would be a broken man. But in fact, that couldn’t be further from his reality.
I call Kevin the resilience ninja as he blows me away time and time again with his ability to not only deal with, but absorb life’s challenges and turn them into fuel. Through his incredible journey to the Olympic podium, winning Bronze medal at the 2014 Paralympics in Sochi, Russia, Kevin now brings his powerful message of hope and resilience to audiences through his speaking and writing. His personal story inspires others that even when you have every reason to quit, you must keep moving forward. It’s up to you to rise above it all and become the hero of your own movie.
I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity to share Kevin’s unique personal philosophies with you here.
Kevin’s 3 Breakthroughs in Resilience
His first step is to take personal responsibility of your situation. When you’re in the mud and it feels like nothing is going your way, it’s so easy for us to point fingers and look for someone to blame. Kevin believes strongly that although we’re not always responsible for what happens to us, we are responsible for what we do about it. As one of my personal hero’s, retired Navy Seal Jocko Willink puts it, “You must own everything in your world. There is no one else to blame.”
Once we detach ourselves emotionally from our position, taking responsibility allows us to focus forward. We can then, and only then, become pragmatic and realize potential paths out of the mud.
Now that we’ve taken personal responsibility, it’s time to take things one step at a time. Kevin says that,
“Ordinary actions taken consistently lead to extraordinary results long term.”
In his own life he tries to focus on the small things that make a big difference. For example, after the Sochi Paralympics in 2014, Kevin fell into a deep depression that was virtually unbearable. He stopped working out, was going out late and partying with the wrong circle, he had no goals and was spiralling downward. When he looks back at how he overcame those circumstances he recalls a single grocery trip where he chose a bag of apples over chips.
He often needs to reminder himself not to overcomplicate resilience and happiness. Often, it’s as simple as the opposite of whatever got you knee deep in the mud in the first place. For Kevin, his glorious journey from depression to progression all started with a bag of damn apples. The same is true for us. It doesn’t need to be drastic or something profound. As Kevin says, take things one step at a time. Establish some new disciplines. Be the hero, pick your ass up and take the first step.
Finally, never give up. To Kevin, this was clearly never an option. Seeing his father take his own life was the only example he ever needed of what he wouldn’t tolerate for himself. That mentality has translated into his career as an athlete and now today as an entrepreneur. And he wants the same for you. Be the hero of your own movie. The ending of your story is yet to be written and every day is an opportunity to write a new chapter.
Because of my association with Kevin, I’ve changed my belief system around obstacles. I used to hate problems and found the roadblocks of life to be draining, painful and unfair. Now, I realize it’s the journey of going through the trenches and getting yourself to the other side where your resilience is built and your character is developed.
Practical Tips of Starting Your First Business
Kevin is a huge advocate for testing your market before diving in head first. Throughout my formal education in entrepreneurship we’d call this developing product market fit through a minimum viable product.
In the early stages of the Sledge Hockey Experience, Kevin tested his business model with a paying customer. He got great feedback, testimonials, and knew in his gut that he had something great. He went on to test the experience with two other events before going all in. It was only after three paying customers that he sold his own rental properties and Harley Davidson to infuse the company with cash and get it off the ground.
He encourages budding entrepreneurs to test their markets and focus on delighting people. He’s created a product and service that provides more value than what you pay for. And because he loves what he does, he’s always willing to go the extra mile. His personal commitment to delighting customers reminds me of a Seth Godin quote,
There are two paths, really:
“I will serve just enough to make the maximum profit” or “I will profit just enough to provide the maximum service.”
The Sledge Hockey Experience is a shining example of profiting just enough to deliver the maximum level of service. A commitment to excellence worth striving for.
Kevin’s 2 Cents on Life Long Leaning
At the time of this interview Kevin was reading a book about Public Speaking to help him grow that segment of his business. Out of personal curiosity, knowing how many plates he’s spinning and how well he’s already doing, I asked Kevin why. Here’s his response,
“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”
He expressed that if he, or anyone else, wants to get to the point where we can double our speaking fee year over year, we need to take deliberate action, invest in ourselves and surround ourselves with quality mentors and coaches. He reads books to shed light on his blind sides or things he’s never thought about implementing in his businesses before. Getting from where you’re at to where you want to go is a process of growth through learning, the application of those new ideals, and iteration along the path to our goals.
You and I better be willing to work hard too, because whether we see it or not, there’s hustlers like Kevin Rempel out there putting in the reps, reading the books, and working hard behind closed doors.
- Do the opposite of what got you in the mud in the first place and focus on the little steps that can point you in the right direction. For example, go buy a bag of damn apples and eat them!
- Test your assumptions before diving in head first. Kevin did 3 events before he went all in on the sledge hockey experience. Avoid throwing caution to the wind and look before you leap.
- Buy Still Standing. If you want to get to know Kevin Rempel in-depth and be inspired like never before, his book will speak to your heart and remind you of the beauty of this day. When I’m having a tough day and can’t keep my challenges in perspective I lean on Kevin’s story to never give up.
Audio show notes:
- : 00 who is Kevin repel
- 1:50 what is the sledge hockey experience
- 3:30 how to give an elevator pitch
- 5:50 Kevin’s personal story of overcoming obstacles
- 8:20 being the hero of your own movie.
- 8:55 Kevin 3 major tenants of resilience
- 10:50 transparent reflection about leadership from team canada
- 15:00 Self talk during dark times
- 17:00 Blueprint to depression
- 20:00 how to get the first couple sales as an entrepreneur
- 22:00 document rather than create on social
- 28 writing the book still standing
- 31:30 lifelong learning
Till next time stay on offence. Aggressively pursue a better version of yourself. And remember what Jim Rohn said, “You can’t change the destination of your life overnight, but you can change the direction.”