*BONUS* – Profile Of A Champion: Resilience

I love reading about war and history. And because of that, I love reading about soldiers. To me soldiers represent the pinnacle of what it means to be a champion. And two weeks ago, when I was listening to an audio of the book “18 Platoon“, I was struck with the realization that I was missing the most critical component to what makes someone a champion.

Soldiers, throughout history, have experienced life’s most stressful tests of the human spirit. There is no other group whom work harder, face more adversity, and have made a bigger impact to the degree of freedom and security we experience today than soldiers. As I was listening to the Jocko Podcast, I understood that it would be foolish not to take the time to study and learn from a group of people who’re literally willing to die for what they believe in.

In “18 Platoon”, Sydney Jary, commander of 18 Platoon, shared his lessons learned about combat and life. I’ve been so inspired by what he wrote that I haven’t been able to get it off my mind for weeks. This bonus profile is a direct result of what Sydney wrote in his book,

“The personal characteristics which go to make a good infantry soldier… I would suggest firstly, sufferance, the ability to suffer. Without which, one could not survive.”

I had to pause the audio. In that moment I was instantly brought back to my thirteen year old self. At thirteen, I remember travelling across Canada competing at the National level of trampoline. In 2008, I faced off with athletes in an under seventeen category. Meaning, the majority of the competitors were fifteen or older. At thirteen, I managed to finish ninth in Canada! My parent’s were proud, my coach was proud, and my gym was proud.

I, was devastated.

I hated myself for what I thought represented a miserable personal failure. I quit trampoline because I believed I didn’t have what it took to win.

I, was right.

It’s easy to make the excuse that I was only thirteen and I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. But, without a critical eye on ourselves, how can we get better?  While listening to those words, I realized that at thirteen I really didn’t have what it took to win. I lacked the resilience, work ethic, and the ability to suffer like a soldier. My competitors were more mentally prepared, spent more time working on their skills, and suffered through more gruelling workouts than I did.

I, was soft.

This was a serious epiphany. Instantly, I understood that although I’m not a soldier, and I won’t lose or literally die on a battlefield, if I don’t develop sufferance I will lose on the battlefield of life.

Lacking resilience has been one of my biggest vulnerabilities. More resilience could have kept me training trampoline. More resilience could have prevented my depression. With more resilience you and I would both be exponentially more skillful and successful. And because of that I’ve become obsessed with developing more girt and mental fortitude. To be a champion, we need to be willing to suffer, face more adversity, and persevere longer and more intensely than anyone of our competitors. If we can do that, we’ll dominate the marketplace.

I then began to ask myself who I know that has grit and mental fortitude? Who do I know that’s willing to face more adversity and persevere longer than anyone of their competitors? Who do I know that’s dominating the marketplace of business and life? Who do I know that’s developed the ability to suffer?

Ah yes, Kevin.

Animalia - Portrait

Back in 2015, our Entrepreneurship class at Georgian College had a weekly speaker series. That year we had over a dozen speakers teach us about business and life. To this day, I’ve never seen any of those people again, except one, Kevin Rempel. As a 2013 World Champion and 2014 Sochi Paralympic bronze medalist in sledge hockey, Kevin is one of the greatest examples of overcoming adversity I’ve ever heard. He stood in front of that class in 2015, and I’ve never looked at adversity the same again.

In 2006, while pursuing his passion for Motorcross, Kevin crashed, hard.

Paralyzed, he started his journey to learn to walk again at age twenty three. Adding to this, Kevin had to deal with his father, Gerry, who also was living in a wheelchair. Gerry had become a paraplegic himself after falling from a tree in a deer hunting accident. Only one year into Kevin’s recovery, Gerry took his own life in July 2007.

While mourning the loss of his father, battling depression, and looking for inspiration in his life, Kevin found the sport of sledge hockey. He immediately set his sights on making team Canada and playing in the Paralympics. As you’re well aware, he did just that (you can find the video of his journey here).

When I heard Kevin’s story for the first time two years ago I was inspired. But, today, he’s become a model that we can all follow and strive towards. He’s since been featured around the world on TSN, BBC Sport, and CTV. He’s become an author, a keynote speaker on mental health and building resilience, an advocate for the sport of sledge hockey, and the entrepreneur behind an incredible business with a big mission the Sledge Hockey Experience. He’s become a champion.

As an entrepreneur who’s extremely busy building a business, I was excited to extract from Kevin’s stories a practical philosophy that we can implement immediately. His life has, and continues to serve, as an example of both why we need to develop resilience and how we can start, today.

Be The Hero Of Your Own Movie

Wouldn’t it be nice if everything we wanted in life came to us with no effort? Oh, how nice life would be if I didn’t have to struggle and put in effort to accomplish my goals!

Wrong.

On a surface level, that may sound appealing, but anyone that believes that is delusional.

Imagine you’re at the movie theatre. When the movie starts, the main character is born. He then proceeds to grows up in a rich family, meet the girl of his dreams, build a big business with no challenge or headaches, and then grows old and dies with the love of his life at his side. Do you think that would get many Oscar nominations? NO. If we didn’t fall asleep halfway in, we’d be asking, where’s the drama, where’s the adversity, where is the hero’s journey?

We all know that we’re not drawn to stories of overnight success! In fact, often we despise them. We’re drawn in to the story of the underdog. We’re excited to see someone come back from failure and from persist through adversity. And if that’s true for movies, and real life examples of individuals like Oprah, Hellen Keller, and Thomas Edison, why would that be any different for you?

As I’ve watched Kevin over the past few years, I’ve realized that he embraces the hero’s journey. He gets joy and pride out of being the underdog. He’s shown me that cultivating the mindset of becoming the hero of our own movie is the first mindset shift we need to make in order to embrace resilience. We need to not only embrace the fact that our story will and should have obstacles, but we need to start to appreciate that it’s the only thing that makes our story worth telling.

Kevin remembers the exact moment when he made this distinction for himself. He remembers that in extreme sports it was part of the culture to always get back up after they fell hard. When riders in Motorcross would fall, they would bounce back, and take pride in their grit and mental strength.

Kevins bruise.png

He shared that the moment he broke his back, he knew he wanted to make a comeback. He knew he wanted to be the hero of his own movie. Despite all of the pain, the screaming people, and the thoughts rushing through his head, one of the first things he said was,

“Chris, you better be filming this.”

Knowing that obstacles are what make stories great, it’s critical to ask yourself  are you avoiding obstacles, or are your embracing them? Are you forcing yourself into uncomfortable places, or are you shying away and holding yourself back? Are you becoming the hero of your own movie, or are you trying to live a tale of timid comfort?

Kevin believes that being the hero of your own movie is as simple as being the shy person who’s willing to speak up. Being the irresponsible spender who’s willing to invest and save. Or, being the overweight couch potato who says enough is enough and gets into the gym and starts working out. Whatever the trials and tribulations of your life, however small or large the adversity, embrace that test. In those moments, take the time to detach and step back. As you observe yourself confronting challenges, remind yourself that the hero of your movie would courageously step into the unknown, and step up as a champion.

Accept responsibility

Masters of their circumstances never blame or make excuses. The champion knows that everything they experience in life is a result of who they are and what they’ve done. They always take responsibility for the good and the bad. And if you want to cultivate resilience, moving yourself closer and closer towards what it takes to become a champion, you need to take ownership, too.

Late last year, Kevin experienced yet another devastating obstacle. In the first week of December, he was checking on his Sledge Hockey trailer parked at the Mastercard Centre in Etobicoke. It had only been a couple of weeks since he had last used the trailer, but as he drove up, he noticed the lock was broken. Stunned, he quickly got out of his car, threw open the door, and found all of his equipment gone. In a split second he went from working passionately on his dream of educating people about Sledge Hockey, to being burdened with over five thousand dollars of stolen equipment.

He was cheated.

It was unfair.

Arguably, it wasn’t his fault.

Or was it?

“You must own everything in your world. There is no one else to blame.” – Jocko Willink

For most, including myself, this degree of adversity, this early into the stages of any business, would have taken us right out of the game. It would have been easy to blame, make excuses, and believe that the world was conspiring against us. In times of crisis it’s natural for us to be overwhelmed by emotions. But, the difference between the champion and everyone else, isn’t that  they don’t feel anger, frustration, and heartbreak, they feel all of the same emotions to their fullest range, the difference is that they interpret them differently!

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Kevin accepted immediately that the trailer being broken into was his fault. He shouldn’t have left it there so long. He shouldn’t have parked it where there was no surveillance. It was his fault and he took ownership of that. Accepting responsibility allowed him to focus his energy on being a victor, rather than a victim.

Not only did he immediately start working on a solution, he was able to use the experience to bring massive awareness to sledge hockey. He documented the experience (the video is inspiring), showing his positive mental attitude and how people can be resilient in the face of adversity.

His video got hundreds of shares and over 10,000 views. Again, he was being the hero of his own movie. He not only continued to help advocate for the sport he loved and find a way to get new equipment, but he further became an example for others on how to react when confronted with challenge.  He proved that the champion doesn’t blame or make excuses, they accept responsibility and leverage their resilience to keep growing.

Never Give Up

Who knows where I would be today if I would have persisted in Trampoline. I could be competing on the world stage, in the Olympics, and representing our country. But, unfortunately, I will never know. Can you relate to not knowing?

Do you ever wonder what could, should, and would have been if you never gave up? I think about it all the time. Candidly, I’m emotionally overwhelmed every four years when I see the Olympics on T.V. I experience so much regret knowing that I had the potential, I just didn’t have the heart.

To this day, lacking resilience, or the ability to suffer, has been the biggest vulnerability in my character. From Trampoline, to experiencing depression in high school, to quitting my first business after only two years, I’ve only scratched the surface of my potential because I was never willing to persevere. It’s a sobering thought looking back on our lives, knowing that we had so much more energy, effort, and passion to give. I never want to feel that way again.

I want to challenge you to never feel that way about yourself, either. I want to challenge you to remind yourself of Shakespeare every time you feel like giving up,

“Let me embrace thee, sour adversity, for wise men say it is the wisest course.”  – William Shakespeare

Now it’s one thing to know that conceptually, but it’s another thing to put it into practice. Kevin has taught me through his experience that Shakespeare’s dead on the money. In July of 2007, Kevin’s father gave up. He took his own life. Kevin wanted to give up, too. He experienced a debilitating depression that was almost too much to cope with. But, Kevin found his strength. He knew giving up was never the right answer. No matter the pain, no matter the darkness, no matter how much he missed his dad, he wasn’t willing to give up.

Because of that experience, Kevin became stronger. As he faced more trials and tribulations, they became easier to overcome. He was developing resilience through his hardships. He began to embrace adversity, because as Shakespeare said, it is the wisest course.

Throughout our conversation, Kevin repeated more than once,

“Resilience comes from accepting challenge and adversity as a part of life. You need to go through tough times, you can only build it through experience, there’s no other way.”

Whether it’s the tears and calluses you’ll develop on your hands in the gym, the blow to your ego you’ll experience embarrassing yourself in public, or the depression you can’t shake from all the stressors of life, remember that what you’re going through is the path to your greatest self. It’s the path to what you deserve to have, what you deserve to do, and who you deserve to become. It’s the path to becoming a champion.

Imagine if Kevin gave up.

He never would have been able to hug his friends and family again…

He never would have been able to help the sport of sledge hockey, or those suffering from mental health challenges and depression…

He would never have been a world champion or Paralympian…

Kevin for kevins blog 2

The message is simple, you have the strength to win on the battlefield of life. But, it’s only you that can decide to remain resilient. Only you can decide if you’re willing to suffer, face more adversity, and persevere longer and more intensely than anyone of your competitors. Only you can decide to never give up.

So, never give up.

Ever.

Do This:

  1. Educate– Kevin has developed a resource available for anyone to use for free. Inside his 10 Commandments of Resiliency e-book, he outlines the tools, strategies, and philosophies he uses to build resilience that go far above and beyond what I can explain in one post. If you want access to those resources, you can download it here.
  2. Practice– Don’t let a lack of mental fortitude stand in the way between you and your goals. Use this post and Kevin’s e-book as working documents for developing resilience in your life. Start by developing the philosophy that you can become the hero of your own movie. When you’ve mastered that, come back and take notes on what it means to take responsibility for all of the obstacles you’re going through. And finally, if you ever feel like quitting, we’re here to help remind you that giving up is not an option.
  3. Share– I’ve never asked any of my readers to share a post before. However, I feel so strongly that this message, and Kevin’s story, could be the catalyst for so many people to overcome their greatest adversity. If you feel that this post can help anyone you know, please share, it would mean the world to me.

Till next time, stay on the offensive. Aggressively pursue a better version of yourself. And remember what Jim Rohn said, “You cannot change the destination of your life overnight but you can change the direction.”

-J

Out.

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Profile Of A Champion: Sowing and Reaping

When I look back on my high school experience, Physics was disproportionately my least favourite class. I was completely disinterested and for that reason my grades suffered. I would be bored, I’d play on my phone, and I’d often fall asleep in class. I felt, like many students do, that Physics had no relevance in my life. If time is our most valuable asset, why was I wasting it learning about something I’d never use? What I failed to recognize at the time was that not only did the laws of Physics and the laws of nature matter, they were all that mattered.

Take Newton’s third law as an example. Newton’s third law describes the purpose of action and reaction in our experience. He said,

“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

He was able to demonstrate in Physics that the size of the force on one object would equal the size of the force on a second object. Therefore the greater force applied in the primary action, the greater force experienced as a reaction. On top of that, it’s implied that if no force is applied in the first place, there is no cause for any reaction or result of any kind.

Sitting in that Physics class I didn’t see the big picture. In fact, it wasn’t until I was introduced to Jim Rohn that I fully grasped what it meant to leverage this law. To me, Jim was world class at simplifying ideas. Jim said the exact same thing in a slightly different way. In this life changing video, he demonstrates the powerful operating system that all the champions and high performers live their lives through. To phrase Newton’s Law as Jim would,

“Whatever you sow, you shall reap.”

Now that made sense! If the farmer didn’t sow his seeds in the spring, he reaped no harvest in the fall. But, if the farmer sowed day and night throughout the spring and tended to the weeds through the summer, a full harvest would virtually always follow. When I looked at my life from the lens of sowing and reaping, instead of Physics, I understood why I wasn’t reaping good. Unlike the champions, I didn’t have the action habit. I wasn’t working hard.  I wasn’t consistently applying force towards the accomplishment of a goal. I wasn’t taking the action required to sow the seeds of my future success.

Candidly, I was an average student, an average athlete, and I felt very depressed. I tried to blame my teachers, my school, and I’m ashamed to say it, even my parents. I didn’t realize what was causing such dismal results until I started to meet people who were reaping good. Until, on a consistent basis, I was surrounded by winners. By people who were taking action, sowing seeds and as a result, were reaping the benefits that virtually always follow.

For example, many of the fellows in Venture for Canada have been leveraging this law to reap fantastic harvests in their lives for years! In the March 2017 selection day I was asked to help facilitate a room of finalists. In that room I met one of the most impressive young professionals I’d ever seen. She was sharp, witty, and gave off the impression she was a seasoned veteran in high-stakes environments. I had a gut feeling from our brief introduction that she would rock the day and that I would see her a few months later as a member of our cohort. I was right.

Sam Sproule Headshot

Highly influenced by her parents, Sam Sproule was born in Rockland, Ottawa. In 2016, she graduated from Acadia University with a Business Administration Degree, majoring in Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Unsatisfied with the impact she left at the school, she successfully ran for President of the Acadia Students’ union for the 2016-2017 year. While being responsible for the Unions $2.5 million operating budget, she also advocated for the needs of students to all three levels of government, as well as, to the University through the Board of Governors and Senate. If that wasn’t enough action already, Sam took on a honours research project that has now laid the foundation for a entrepreneurship-focused living space on campus at Acadia University. Impressive? Yes. Possible without the massive and dedicated action towards her goals? No.

As I got the opportunity to get to know Sam better, I learned two things.

  1. She is one of the most humble people I know. She has accomplished so much and yet I had to pry hard to get to the specifics of her wins.
  2. She is an impressive relationship builder. I could see in her story, woven together like beautiful poetry, the cause and effects of building deep and meaningful relationships.

Sam demonstrated to me that in the life of the champion, the 5 Laws of Sowing and reaping always play out. In this profile you’ll learn how to avoid the grips of regret while simultaneously squeezing as much as possible out of this short life.

Sowing and Reaping Applied

First: The law of sowing and reaping is negative. 

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If you sow bad, you reap bad. This is extremely basic, but it’s important to cover the basics. If you plant thistle seeds, you don’t get pumpkins. If you’re like me at sixteen and you plant mental seeds of insecurity, you don’t get confidence. If you plant seeds of deception through lies, you don’t get trust. Or if you plant no seeds through procrastination, you don’t get the results that come from taking action! Remember, the law is negative.

Second: The Law of sowing and reaping is positive.

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If you sow good, you reap good. If you plant pumpkin seeds, you won’t get thistles! And the more I learned about Sam, the more I realized she was planting pumpkin seeds. Her whole life she’s been sowing seeds of trust, generosity, and hard work. When she decided to return to Acadia in the 2016-2017 school year, she had already spent three years developing a broad network and deep relationships throughout campus.

Despite never been on the Students’ Representative Council and being considered an underdog in the race, Sam applied to run as president. Typically, having served as a member of the Council would be expected, especially for one applying to become President. However, Sam’s narrative emphasizes the importance of sowing good seeds of reputation.

Sam had worked at the Union information desk and the school bar. She was on 24/7 attending events and meeting people. All the while showing up in life as sincere, hard working, and genuinely prepared to advocate for the students she would represent. In the end, against all odds, she sowed good and as a result was well deserving in her presidential election.

Third: You do not reap what you sow. But rather, you reap much more than you sow. 

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This is where the law of sowing and reaping gets exciting. The key here is more. You don’t get back what you put out, you get back much more than you put out. It’s important to remember that again, the law works both positive and negative. On the negative side it says, if you sow to the wind, you get the whirlwind. I found that to be true. A few years of negative thinking, an idle body, and being in the wrong environment, projected me into years of anxiety and depression. The darkest days of my life taught me profound lessons about protecting my mind and the criticality of sowing good seeds.

On the positive side, it’s clear that when the farmer plants his seeds of corn, kale, or apple trees he reaps an abundant harvest 10x what he planted. He doesn’t get back one apple, he experiences the joy of sharing generations of apples with his family. The same law proved true in Sam’s University life.

All of the hard work leading up to being President of the Student Union payed off.  But, becoming president was just the start. Sam was given more opportunities than she had ever imagined. She began to represent and advocate for over 20,000 students while working with Students Nova Scotia as well as over 250,000 Federally with the Canadian Alliance of Student Association. Here, Sam continued to build her reputation of working hard for student advocacy. Along with her team, she met with Members of the Legislative Assembly, Members of Parliament , and Senators to discuss priorities for students on accessibility, affordability, and affecting policy. This alone should be a fantastic motivator for all of us knowing that we do in fact reap more than we sow. But, there’s more.

Not only did those experiences themselves plant new seeds of skills and confidence, it continued to build upon the foundation and credibility she had started years prior. Still a student at the time, she was additionally dedicating her entire year to a seventy page research paper. Her paper would highlight entrepreneurship on campus and argue the benefits of creating a space for students to collaborate informally on projects of passions. Here we see the third law play out again!

If we only reaped what we sowed, having the entrepreneurial residence on campus come to fruition, because of her paper, would be the end of the story. But, again, there is much more. If it wasn’t for the reputation she had built and for the seeds she had sown while creating her honours paper, we never would have met! Her professor was so impressed by her work ethic that he introduced Sam to the Atlantic Program Director for Venture for Canada. Now a member of Venture for Canada she is set up to continue to receive an abundant harvest for years to come.

Fourth: You reap what you sow, but…

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One thing better than the truth is the whole truth… Here’s the whole truth. You could lose. There are times when no matter how many seeds you plant, no matter how many relationships you build, and no matter how hard you work it doesn’t pay off. Remember the farmer?

The farmer plants his seed in the spring, come summer he works ten-twelve hours a day, six-seven days a week. He has the character of a champion and come fall he’s got a beautiful crop. Not to mention, he deserves every bit of it. But, the day before he sends the combines into the field, a hail storm comes and beats all of his crop into the ground. Which means, he lost! He did nothing wrong. It’s just that kind of planet. Sometimes it will hail on your crop and rain on your parade. Sometimes you lose, that’s part of life. But…

Last: If you don’t sow, you don’t reap. 

empty wallet

The biggest mistake I made with the law of sowing and reaping is that I had lost so many times I gave up trying. Never give up sowing good seeds! If you don’t sow, you don’t reap. You don’t even have a chance! It’s a tough to come to grips with the fact that no matter how hard we work we could lose. But what a tragedy it would be to run through life never really giving yourself a shot? Imagine the regret knowing that at the end of your life you never sowed the seeds of the life you truly desired.

You never met the girl. You never did that one gig for free that could have blown up your career. You never learned that language that could have opened your life up to unlimited possibilities. Avoiding regret and living like a champion is simple, but not easy. Sam shared that no matter your path, hard work will always be respected and appreciated. Make a decision today that you will plant the seeds of the future you desire. Otherwise, you may not get another chance.

Do this. 

For many, including myself, the law of sowing and reaping may not be clear at first. Most people can understand that they’re not reaping extraordinary results, but it doesn’t mean they know why. If you’re still confused like I was for a long time about how this all applies, the answer could be in the same quote written a different way.

“Whatever you reap is what you’ve sown.”

Now the problem is clear, we can go to work on improving our lives right away! Whatever you reap is what you’ve sown. If you don’t like the results, who do you look up? Answer, whoever planted it! And where can you find who planted your crop? Answer, in the mirror!

  1. Go to the mirror– When fall comes around we need to go to the mirror. Who’s responsible for what’s showing up in our lives? Whether we like the harvest or not, we’re responsible for planting the seeds of our lives. We need to take ownership of everything we do, have, and become. If you’re ecstatic about an abundant harvest that you’ve reaped, good. Document what’s working and triple down! If you’re unimpressed with the few skinny carrots you’ve delivered at the end of the day, good. It’s an opportunity for you to be honest with yourself about your work ethic, commitment, and focus. Then, take ownership and make it happen.
  2. Know what you want- It’s critical to understand what you’re after. If you don’t know what you want and the direction you want to take, there’s a high probability you won’t plant enough seeds into one specific priority, to achieve anything of substance. The champion is willing to focus their energies into a specific goal for weeks, months, and even years. Getting clear on what you want will allow you to invest your energy wisely.
  3. Be like Sam- Sam is a champion. And with each champion that I’ve interviewed, it’s clear they’ve all sown and invested huge amounts of time and resources into building strong relationships. If you’re going to remember one thing from this post, it’s to intentionally plant, and cultivate, deep personal and professional relationships. Almost all of Sam’s results, from becoming President of the Student Union, working with Governments, being introduced to Venture for Canada, and even to her current employment, has been the direct result of a relationship she had developed. Be like Sam and start sowing today!

Till next time, stay on the offensive. Aggressively pursue a better version of yourself. And remember what Jim Rohn said, “You cannot change the destination of your life overnight but you can change the direction.”

-J 

Out.

Profile Of A Champion: Goals, The Mind, And Mastery Of Emotions

In my experience, goals, the mind, and emotions are like a three legged stool. If one leg is removed, the stool would inevitably fall. Without goals, we experience emotions of confusion, anxiety, and frustration. Without the right mindset, we see people without enough belief in themselves to even start or get close to accomplishing their goals. And last, without mastery over emotions, each obstacle, setback, and dip in the journey presents itself as an impossible challenge. Alas, it’s only through the presence of all three, their intimate and interdependent relationship, that allow the champion to live a life of achievement and fulfillment.

None more important than the others, when you see all three aligned with intention, the cumulative effects are powerful. It presents itself clearly in the way the champion shows up for life. It’s so obvious, that I had heard stories of this specific champion before I had even met her. I’d heard stories about her confidence, enthusiasm, and influence during Venture for Canada selection day. I was told that she dominated the challenges and unlike me, was unfazed by the tough questions and competition. Finally, in May of 2017, we met and I understood why.

Do you remember the last time you saw someone that walked with purpose? Who’s presence and energy was magnetic? Who, when you met them for the first time, your immediate impression was that they were different? I do. And when I met Sharita I knew I wanted to show up for life how she showed up. I knew I wanted to deconstruct what made her such a high performer so that you and I could do the same.

Sharitas headshot

Raised as a first generation Canadian, her parents, a Micro Biologist and a Chemist, helped Sharita cultivate a love for athletics and knowledge. Much the same as many of the champions I’ve come to know and admire, she is highly motivated and extremely competitive in all of her pursuits. A recent graduate from the Honours Environment and Business co-op program at the University of Waterloo, Sharita is a fellow with Venture for Canada, a dedicated pole dancer, has Shakespeare tattoos, and is crushing Sales at Georgette Packaging. Her unique philosophy on goal setting, and the mindset required to accomplish those goals, will prove incredibly useful on our continuous journey to embody the profile of a champion.

Goals

Goal setting for blog

Personally, I’ve never liked goals. In fact, I really resisted them up until the last 4 years. Even when I did try to write them down, it proved extremely challenging. Do you notice how heavy a pen feels when you try to write down your goals? Do you notice when we start writing how limited they get? I know I’m not alone. I never wrote down my goals for same reason most people don’t, because we know we aren’t going to keep our word.

The champion on the other hand, holds goals contextually in a completely different way! Sharita for one, has a personal philosophy on goal setting that I found inspiring. She believes,

“It’s okay to set impossible goals. But, every step to that goal has to be meticulously calculated and very real.”

All you need to do to know why it’s important to set goals is to observe someone who is up to something. Those like Sharita, who are out to achieve, have a different spark. They show up in life with a different demeanor about them. There’s something attractive about people who are intending to do something. Why? Because what you’re seeing is a human beings true self expression.

In one of my favourite posts everDr Maxwell Maltz demonstrated human beings are obviously like bicycles. If a bicycle isn’t headed towards something it loses it’s equilibrium and falls over. You and I are designed exactly like that emotionally! If we aren’t going towards something, if we have no goal, our life forces and energies are splintered and splattered. And it’s clear from the first eighteen years of my life, we cannot produce results like that.

When I met Sharita I could tell she was a goal setter. She sets goals because like me, and perhaps like you right now, she knows how it feels to be without a goal. In 2011, Sharita broke her shoulder playing soccer. Highly competitive and aggressive on the field, she fell battling for the ball with another player. With her arm stretched out, the other player landed on her shoulder shattering multiple bones. Ready to play varsity soccer in University, it was one of the first times Sharita was without a direction.

Can she be an athlete anymore? Should she continue to pursue science? Would she even go to University? Like many high school students today, she didn’t know what she wanted to do. Worse, she had no goal or direction motivating her to make a decision and move forward. It was one of the darkest and most mentally challenging times of her life.

I wish we could get all the high school students that are confused about their future to read this… There are consequences to having no direction! Remember, if we’re not moving towards something it’s easy for us to just fall right over. What shows up for those who have no goals is uncertainty, anxiety, confusion, and often times even depression. All these emotions are is a warning sign that we’re out of sync!

Why set goals like the champion? Because it is consistent with our nature. It’s consistent with the machinery of how we’re made as human beings. Not only does it garner your focus and energies to get things done, it compels us to reach out and achieve.

The Mind

The mind for the blog

On a biological level, the mind is extremely complex. On the other hand, on a practical level the mind is extremely simple. Further, the worlds most profound philosophical literature has preached the importance of positive thinking and the protection of our minds for thousands of years.

“Our life is what our thoughts make it.” – Marcus Aurelis

“Change your thoughts and you change your world.” – Norman Vincent Peale

“The more man meditates upon good thoughts, the better will be his world and the world at large.” – Confucius

To break it down, on a practical level, there are only two parts to the mind. The thinker and the prover. 

The thinker thinks.

The prover proves.

What does the prover prove? Simple, whatever the thinker thinks. Let’s explore two examples:

A) I can’t do it. That was my thought pattern for the first eighteen years of my life. With plenty of talent, work ethic, and ability, I lacked the belief in myself to think that I could win. Now, the proving part of my mind had to bring into my experience the actual events and criteria that say’s I’m right! You can’t do it… I manifested I can’t do it over and over and over again for eighteen years. I talked myself out of opportunities, I failed when I should have succeeded, and I gave up far too quickly on challenges where I should have persevered.

The thinker thinks and the prover proves.

B) I can do it. That was Sharita’s thought pattern her whole life. The thinker thinks, what must her prover prove? The prover must bring into her experience all of the events and criteria that say’s you’re right! You can do it… Sharita told me about a business pitch contest at Waterloo’s Social Incubator last year. Students had been working on business plans, financial projections, and scripts for months. With less than six hours before the start of the event she was asked to participate!

Most people including me would have backed off and said there wasn’t enough time to prepare. Sharita on the other hand didn’t question herself, the time, or if she had enough information. She read the description and immediately knew she could do it. In less than six hours, with one piece of paper and three powerpoint slides, Sharita pitched her idea with full confidence knowing that she had what it took to win. What do you think her prover did in those moments? Surprise, surprise, she showed up with conviction winning the entire competition and a fellowship with the Incubator.

The thinker thinks and the prover proves.

When you set a goal, and lay it on top of a foundation full of negative thoughts and self doubt, it’s a recipe for disaster. But, when you tackle your goals head on with the belief that you can do this. You deserve to be a winner. You were born to be a winner. And that you have all the confidence, all the skills, and all of the resources needed to accomplish your goals, your prover will bring into your life all of the experiences that are in exact agreement with the thinker.

Do not discount the simplicity of this process. The champion forces themselves to develop an empowering self-image. They force themselves to think positive thoughts. They understand what Marcus Aurelius said when he wrote that our life is what our thoughts make it. Think, and prove your way to embodying the champion.

Mastery of Emotions

emotions for the blog

From the moment we’re born, we’re fashioning our character out of our emotional responses to the world around us. I believe that emotions exist so that we can manipulate, dominate, and control everything in our experience. Think about this… When you were a baby, you’d cry and you’d get your mother or father’s response. You had a behaviour that elicited the response you wanted, so you continued that behaviour.

This is true for both the negative emotions we experienced in life as well as the positives. If we had a behaviour (public speaking, asking someone out, trying to make a joke, etc) that elicited an emotion or response we didn’t like, we cut off that behaviour all together. For the most part, this is done completely unconsciously. Therefore, for most people, they’ve unknowingly designed their life around the avoidance of the uncomfortable emotions they’ve decided are most uncomfortable for them. Sit with that for a second.

We have emotions that we’ve voted on to be so severe for us to experience that we have shaped our entire lives out of the avoidance of those emotions. Emotions like failure, undeserving, unlovable, not good enough. But the champion doesn’t do that. The champion understands that nobody attached meaning to those emotions except them. They’ve discovered that if you are unwilling to include those emotions and master their own response, they’re going to lose! There is no other reason on this planet that will make the average person lose other than their emotions.

I love Sharita’s story because she proved mastery over emotions at a very young age. When she was a teenager she played for the best soccer team in the Province. Her coach was well known for being disciplined and blunt. In fact, he was so harsh that many girls on their team would cry and quit after being given feedback on poor performance. Sharita recalls one terrible game specifically  where  her coach brought her aside after the game. He said that she could leave the team if she wanted to. That if she was going to stay she would need to step up and make a real contribution. He went on to say that her mediocre performance wasn’t going to cut it on that team.

This is where most people are slapped in the face with feelings of anger, disappointment, embarrassment and resentment. This is where most people quit. Sharita, however, displayed true mastery of her emotions. She immediately started practicing an extra three-five hours a day. She started going to camps where they taught high performance soccer skills. Unlike the runners up in life, when faced with difficult emotions instead of getting bitter, the champion decides to get better.

As you think about handling your emotions in your own life, remember that, just like you, Sharita had a choice. In those moments of adversity, challenge, and even disappointment, we get to decide the theme, or meaning that we attribute to the events in our lives. Nobody else get’s to decide the way you feel about what happens to you in life except for you. Don’t make yourself the victim of your own thinking. Rise up like the champion and attach new meaning to the emotions in life that make you feel uncomfortable.

Do This. 

  1. Write Down Your Goals– Ask yourself whether or not you have written down clearly defined goals for the second half of this year. If not, why not? Do you think you won’t keep your word? Are you afraid of success? Afraid of failure? Do you need an accountability partner to hold your ass to the fire? Whatever the reason, know that the excuses are only lies, do not rationalize. Take the evening to map out what you want and how you’re going to get there.
  2. Be honest about your thoughts- Because our thoughts are unconscious it’s challenging to pick up whether or not our thinker is helping to empower us. The easiest way to know is to check the fruit. If your thoughts are the seeds you’ve planted in your life, how are the results? Are you accomplishing the goals you set out to achieve? Did you lose that weight you wanted to? Did you hit that quota you set your sights on? Did you start that blog/business/video you wanted? Or have you procrastinated and made excuses as to why it’s a bad time to start. If the fruit is bad, there’s a good chance the seeds are bad too.
  3. Seek out discomfort- One of the quickest and most effective ways I’ve found to build mastery over emotions is to expose yourself to discomfort. My personal favourite are waking up early, taking ice cold showers every morning, and public speaking. Choose something small to start and slowly make your way to mastery over the emotions that make you feel uncomfortable.
  4. Re-read this post- Fundamentally, all of the other attributes of the champion, lay on top of your goals, the mind, and the mastery of your emotions. These three pillars are the foundation for your character and future success. Invest the time in yourself to understand where you have a weakness in one of these three areas and bring it up to par!

Leave a comment and let me know which of the three you’re going to start working on! I’m working with my accountability partner Ryan to have a clearer view of my goals and the steps and behaviours required to get them completed.

Till next time, stay on the offensive. Aggressively pursue a better version of yourself. And remember what Jim Rohn said, “You cannot change the destination of your life overnight, but you can change the direction.”

-J

Out.

Profile Of A Champion: The Giver

Five months ago, I got kicked out of my Nona’s house. New to the city and now homeless, I didn’t have a clue of where to go next. At the time I was stressed, anxious, and pissed off at my grandparents. But looking back, I’d never change the tough love I experienced. The entire situation forced me to look critically at myself. A couple nights of huddling in the freezing cold, in the backseat of my 2000 Jetta, really helped me see my shortcomings!

In those moments, I realized that I had always been on the receiving end of my relationships. I defaulted into being a taker, asking for more than I’d given. I lived with my Nona for 6 months, rarely, if ever, contributing. I was focused on writing, reading, speaking, and volunteering outside of our home. And it was through this experience I learned that the taker never wins long term. It’s the honest giver who earns your trust, confidence and admiration. Givers earn your respect. It is they who are valued and who embody the champion. It became clear to me that if I was going to become a champion, I needed to develop a giving mentality.

Fortunately, there have been more champions in my life today than ever before! When I was at Venture for Canada training camp in May, I observed individual after individual that demonstrated this invaluable trait. The more champions I met, the more generosity, selflessness, and giving continued to show up as a theme in their character. One fellow in particular caught my attention. They went out of their way to compliment others, to share all of their best strategies and tools, and to made sure to contribute to the positive experience of every single fellow.

During the morning session of my third day, she sat in front of forty people, completely vulnerable, and shared her mind map. The map consisted of all her goals, ambitions, and plans for the year ahead. Meant for her eyes only, she shared the essence of who she was with a group she had met only a couple of days ago. As the map was passed around, eventually landing on my lap, I read one of the most profound mission statements I’d ever seen. It wrote,

“My purpose lies in living a life that creates social good, both personally and professionally. I will live a life that embodies generosity, kindness, strength and compassion. I prioritize balance and well-being. I will make time to discover the world. And I will seize every opportunity to learn and I will be present for those I love and who love me.”

I immediately knew she was the model I sought out. She was the missing link that could open me up to a world of giving and social good. Her name, is Lucia.

Lucia profile of a champion headshot

Lucia has been by far one of the most interesting people I’ve ever met. As her mission statement suggests, Lucia is engrossed in multiple ventures to help leave a positive impact in this world. One, accessible to support by the public, is an initiative to build libraries in needy schools and communities throughout her home country, Honduras. This year she is hoping to launch two more ventures, one to promote gender parity in STREAM fields through play, and one to champion innovation in emerging markets. On top of that, she wakes up between 4:30 and 5am everyday, is Trilingual, and is working on her first belt in Krav Maga (I wouldn’t mess with her if I was you). During the day, she works full-time as the Marketing Coordinator for the National Angel Capital Organization.

If that wasn’t impressive enough, the more I get to know her, the more I realize that she embodies all eight of the qualities making up the profile of a champion. And because of that she’s paved a path for what it means to be a giver. If we model that path, we too can live a life of abundance and fulfillment.

Now, before you can live that life, it’s important to know what to avoid. Let me help you with that.

The Taker

The taker

Both Lucia and Adam Grant, Author of “Give and Take“, would characterize the behaviour while living at my Nona’s as that of a taker. The taker views interactions as a way of extracting value from other people. They approach people with the mindset of, “How can  get as much as possible from this exchange?” They tend to believe that by taking, it’s the shortest and most direct path to achieving their own goals.

Admittedly, and unfortunately, that was true for me. I was too frugal to contribute in rent. And even if I couldn’t afford to pitch in with money, I didn’t try to help out in other ways. I took advantage of the food in the house instead of helping out with the groceries or cooking for my grandparents. I didn’t care for the house or try to help maintain it. I didn’t clean up after myself enough. I didn’t even contribute to the laundry…

Looking back, I recognize my selfishness. I’m surprised they didn’t kick me out sooner! And I’m lucky that’s all that happened. If you’re a taker, more often than not, you’ll burn bridges in your relationships and start to be known as someone who is selfish, narcissistic, and cancerous to teams. So let me be clear, the taker never wins long term. They may get lucky and avoid being noticed at first, but in the long run, they will be exposed and lose.

While most people will never be exclusively  givers or takers, the champion is, by and large, a giver. So if you recognize yourself in the description of the taker and want to work towards becoming a champion as I do, it’s time to audit your behaviour and at least be a matcher.

The Matcher

The matcher

If you’re thinking I’m being pretty hard on myself, I am. It’s by being critical of my behaviour that I’ve been able to transition to being at least a matcher. In most of our interactions, our instinct is to maintain and even balance of give-and take in life. We try to keep fairness and a sense of quid pro quo in our dealings with others. If we do someone a favour, we virtually always expect an equal one in return.

This is where I see myself today. As a salesman, one of my favourite books is Robert Cialdini’s, “Influence“. In that book, the first rule of influence is reciprocity. Robert shares that in society, we’ve grown up in a culture where I’m obligated to give back to you the same form of behaviour that you give to me. For example, if you invite me to one of your parties, I should invite you to one of mine. If you remember my birthday with a gift, I should bring one to yours. And if you do me a favour, I owe you a favour.

I loved that concept! It’s better than a taker right? Well, it turns out, only slightly. After diving into purpose, giving, and what it means to be generous with Lucia, I found out the huge difference intention makes in the giving process. When writing Ryan Cobb‘s post on doing more than expected, Lucia was literally the first one to message me privately and give me feedback for where I stumbled in his write up.

Much like Lucia, Ryan isn’t a matcher, he’s a giver. He doesn’t approach situations knowing that by doing and giving more than expected, he’ll in turn, get more because of reciprocity. No. Both Ryan and Lucia’s intentions when giving, are to give. End of story. It’s not about economics, it’s not about reciprocation, it’s about doing the right thing and how it makes them feel to be a giver. Lucia shared that,

“As soon as you start adding, ‘what am I getting out of this?’ your giving becomes disingenuous. You need to be willing to put others before yourself. The whole point of being a generous human being is that it comes from a place of helping others. Selflessness is key.”

Matchers, as Lucia pointed out, aren’t being generous. Further, in my experience with matching, I’ve even been seen as manipulative or that I was only doing a favour because I expected one in return. I don’t want to come from that place anymore. Do you? As a matcher, I do understand that I’m making better decisions than when I was a taker. But, I know I have the capacity to do better. Generosity is about intentions. I want to challenge you, as I have myself, that if your intentions are to take, or to give solely because we expect reciprocity, it’s time to start modelling a giver, immediately.

The Giver

Lucia Profile of a champion Screenshot

Every week on my Facebook wall I can expect to see this post by Lucia. Selflessly, she opens up her time, energy, and resources, to contribute to lives of her community in one way or another. Just as Adam Grant describes, the champion comes into an interaction trying to figure out, “What can I contribute here? How Can I add value here?” The champion is looking for ways to be helpful, without strings attached. 

Now that it’s clear what the giver looks like, there’s only one final question to ask: why is the champion a giver, rather than a matcher or taker?

As discussed, the taker will lose long term. Wether that is due to poor relationships or reputation, they aren’t able to build enough trust to open them up for opportunity in the future.

The matcher, although better, can still be perceived as having dishonourable intentions. On top of that, you will always have to give a matcher more if you want to receive more. Not only does this have diminishing returns, the matcher is less likely to take on a leadership role in tough times. When the situation has less to give, so does the matcher.

The giver however, should be our default mode. Have you ever wondered how you could feel more passion and zest for life? The answer is help other people. I’m a huge Tony Robbins fan. He’s famous for saying that one, of the only two paths to fulfillment, is through contribution.

The givers and the champions in your life find more meaning and purpose in their work and experience because they’re contributing. They know that what they do daily, truly makes a difference. They make it clear that their colleagues, friends, and family are really important to them, and as a result, they end up building many and deep relationships with people who often become sources of creative ideas and open doors to new opportunities.

According to Lucia, givers can look forward to more opportunities, responsibility, and respect. Over time, the more she gives, the more her professional results are dramatically amplified. Her coworkers and friends recognize this character trait, and know that if given a task or added responsibility, she will be generous with the effort she puts in. That is what builds her reputation. The possibilities for someone who is a problem solver, resourceful, and giving are endless.

She warns however that as much as it’s important to come from a place of selflessness, it’s equally important to be generous with one’s self.  Avoid becoming a doormat. Lucia stressed to me that being a giver is not always easy. It’s easy to take a beating because some people will take advantage of you. So remember, just like on an airplane, we need to put our own oxygen mask on first, to make sure we can support and give to those around us. In the end, the quality and quantity of what we give is improved when it’s coming from a happier, balanced, and nurtured place.

I don’t know about you, but I want endless possibilities. I want more respect, trust, and deeper relationships in my life. I want to be a giver. Fortunately for me, and for anyone on the path to becoming a champion, we have examples like Lucia, Ryan, and others we can turn to and model.

Do This. 

  1. Learn from Lucia- Lucia’s Facebook post is only one of many examples of how she gives. One of the most humble people I know, Lucia described all of her initiatives to give as simply part of her values and purpose. She want’s to show others that there is more than one way to give. Today, she’s engaged in two socially conscious businesses. Volunteers with many charitable organizations and with her local MP. She contributes to building homes and even though she’s always wanted a tattoo, she’s never gone through with it because it would interrupt her blood donation schedule! The key is that Lucia is intentional with her giving. She regularly schedules time out of her busy life (trust me, I thought I was busy) to make a contribution. I personally plan on spending more time volunteering, how about you?
  2. Focus on the little things- If you can’t do that she said, simply focus on the small things you can do every single day. Where can you be more generous at work? With your family? With your friends? Can you hold doors? Share an insight of something you recently learned? Make an introduction? There are unlimited ways to be generous. Unlike the taker, Lucia says that the giver asks themselves daily, “Am I making the world better, yes or no?” “Am I making this persons life better, yes or no?” If you can’t go big, start small. You’ll feel so good, that small wins will grow into big ones over time!
  3. Start Now– Let’s go on this journey of giving together. Lucia has been generous even to provide her email for anyone that has further questions about generosity or her story (mgallardo115@gmail.com). Take her up on the offer because she’s the type of champion you want in your life!

Our families deserve our contribution. Our work deserves our contribution. Our Country deserves our contribution. And most importantly, we deserve the feelings of fulfillment and joy that will inevitably follow us on our path to endless possibilities!

Till next time, stay on the offensive. Aggressively pursue a better version of yourself. And remember what Jim Rohn said, “you cannot change the destination of your life overnight, but you can change your direction”

-J

Out. 

The Profile Of A Champion: Winning Circle

The secrets to life are often hidden behind the word cliché.

One in particular, get’s a lot of attention, yet, is rarely put into practice. Jim Rohn, one of the worlds all time greatest business philosophers, famously said,

“You become the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

Commonly referred to as a cliché, this profound truth is common sense, yet uncommon in practice. In fact, it’s validity is so clear, the maxim has been communicated throughout history.

“Birds of a feather flock together.”

“The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

“If you lay down with dogs, you’ll wake up with fleas.”

If it’s sheer restatement and repetition in literature wasn’t enough to get your attention, maybe a few definite examples will.

Think about Michael Jackson. Michael had talent. Michael was born with greatness. Up until, twelve he was seen as just a cute kid. It wasn’t until he met Quincey Jones, when he upgraded his circle of influence, that things started to explode for him! He went to a whole other level. Together they released “Off The Wall”, “Thriller”, Beat It”. Michael went from a cute little kid to a musical icon. He went to a whole other stratosphere by connecting with just one person!

Think about the 07-08 Boston Celtics. Prior to that season, the Celtics hadn’t won an NBA championship since 1986. In 2007 however, the Celtics traded for both Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. With Paul Pierce already in the Celtics lineup, Boston now had three all-star players on the floor. Individually, Paul Pierce was doing it, Ray Allen was doing it, and Kevin Garnett was doing it. But when they came together, they became champions. When they came together, they were unstoppable.

I could go on and on because I’ve researched it. When I was sixteen and depressed, the first thing I needed to do was change was my circle. That’s why I’m so proud to be part of the 2017 Cohort for Venture For Canada. I’m constantly being exposed to young professionals that are like minded. Who are focused on growth, focused on making an impact, and most importantly continue to stretch me to be a better version of myself.

One fellow in particular, is an obvious by-product of a winning environment. Every conversation we have is filled with wisdom far beyond his years. He’s someone that, wether he knows it or not, I look up to as a mentor. He reminds me everyday of the importance of having a Winning Circle. And I know his story will inspire you to start to create a Winning Circle of your own!

John Connell headshot for blog

A proud Nova Scotian, John Connell, is a fellow with Venture for Canada, SDR at Fiix, Volunteer at TechTo, Freelance Guitarist (he’s incredible), and recent graduate from York University. This eclectic background is a result of endless curiosity, paired with the exposure to a winning network of friends and family. Today John has experience the influence, and the corresponding effects, that come with both a Winning and a Toxic Circle. Here’s how you can identify both.

Growing up in Middleton, Nova Scotia, John was exposed to a tightly knit network of people that were connected through deep and encouraging relationships. Whether it was in his backyard, across the street, or at school, Middleton had a team mentality that left an impact on John to this day. He recalled that when you were feeling down, there was always someone there to pick you up. Everyone in the community was expressive, supportive and accountable.

That environment, the Winning Circle, was the perfect playing ground for developing leaders. In High School, John was challenged to be constantly moving, to always have a goal he was striving for, and to push beyond what seemed reasonable or comfortable at the time. This is an indicator of a true Winning Circle. You won’t always accomplish your goals and you won’t always win in your pursuits, but, when you fall, you will always be supported. You’ll always have your community to lean on in times of difficulty.

With the support of his friends, family, and community, John went on to become the captain of both his schools Rugby and Hockey teams. Again, John was exposed to the attitudes, attributes and aspirations that make up the Profile of a Champion. In his three years playing for his school John skated alongside teammates who went on to compete at the Jr. A and QMJHL level of hockey. John was amongst winners. And in the presence of winners John was forced to step up. Sitting on the porch of his apartment, he told me that he was never the best player. He didn’t skate the fastest, he didn’t shoot the hardest, he didn’t have skills people were awestruck by. But, because of his circle, he was forced to work harder. He was stretched. He was pushed and forced to grow. By skating with players that were better than him he had to step up and go from average to great.

That’s how you know if you’re in a winning circle! Do the family, friends, teams, or colleagues that you surround yourself with force you to grow? Do they demand a higher level of execution you’ve ever been exposed to? Do they accept average? Or, are they striving for greatness? In my experience it’s worth auditing the quality of your circles. Do they remind you of the Winning Circle we’ve described above? Or does it look more like this…

John and I have similar stories. From eight to thirteen I was competing for Canada in Gymnastics and Trampoline. I was exposed to greatness. I was exposed to the work ethic, attitudes, and execution of world class athletes. However, when I graduated elementary school and transitioned to High School I quit training twenty-five hours a week in order to have a social life. I lost the ever present  example of greatness in my life. In fact, like most people I see today battling depression and mental illness, I went on to choose the wrong circle. I chose a circle that had no direction, abused drugs, and skipped class. Looking back I’m not surprised at the negative, downward spiral my life took. And after speaking to John, I’m not surprised in the direction his life took either.

John shared with me that when he went to university, he lost his mojo. He lost the zest for life he felt when he was surrounded by winners. Without clear intention, John walked into his new school, new town, and new network. Unfortunately, more often than not, when you’re not intentional about your environment and who you decide to surround yourself with, you connect with the wrong group. You miss out on the circle that is aspiring towards big goals and accomplishing their dreams. You miss out on those that are intentional about their time on this planet. The group that by being in their presence you too will become more clear with your own direction.

That feeling of lack of purpose, or when you can’t quite put your finger on why you’re not feeling 100%, I attribute to being engaged in the wrong environment. John’s challenge is that he wasn’t necessarily in a toxic circle, he was in an average circle. They weren’t all negative, they weren’t all doing drugs, and they weren’t all directionless. They were average. Average is such a monstrous contrast from greatness. You get different feelings when you’re surrounded by winners. You hear different language when you’re surrounded by winners. You see different actions when you’re surrounded by winners.

Being surrounded by average can be even more dangerous than being surrounded by toxicity. With toxicity you can see, feel, and taste it. You’re conscious about it’s effects on you! With average… It’s effects are subtle. You find yourself wondering why you’re not feeling passionate and why you’re not winning. John didn’t know why he lost his mojo until he once again was exposed to greatness.

He didn’t find a way to feel positive, enthusiastic, and at the top of his game consistently until he met his now girlfriend, who helped him rebound from a difficult time. It was through their association and teamwork that they were able to pull the best out of each other. This close connection with a supportive and encouraging partner brought the winner back out of John. Her support helped pick him back up to the point where he started to get his mojo back. John was always a winner, he always had the attitude of a champion, but as John said better than I ever could,

“The champion needs desire, with the right support. You need to drive the ship, but  you can’t always pick yourself up on the grace of your own strength.” – John Connell

The more I get to know John, the more I’m proud to call him a mentor and a friend. In my opinion he epitomizes the Profile of a Champion. He has the attitude of a champion, the curiosity of a champion, the work ethic of a champion and most importantly he understands the criticality of surrounding himself with other champions.

As you reflect on your circle of influence, no matter where you are today, I know that you could be just like John, you could be one person away from becoming the best version of yourself. Or maybe you’re like me. Maybe you need two, three, or a whole community of people to support you. What really matters is that you can identify what type of community you’re being influenced by. Wether they’re winners or average, both will impact you through expectations and exposure.

In winning circles you’re expected to be a winner. The expectation is greatness. The expectation is that you’ll be a champion. The challenge with average circles is that when you’re good, you’re okay with being just good. When your environment is average, you start to believe you’re great. You can quickly become delusional because the expectations are low.

When you’re in a winning circle, all you’ve been exposed to is winning. All you see is great, so all you know is great. Exposure to greatness, winners, and champions will give you no choice but to step into your own greatness. Your environment is everything!

You don’t need a new brain or a new heat to change your life. The day your circle of influence changes, everything will change. You can only go so far by yourself and you can only get so far with the people you’re hanging with. If you surround yourself with winners, you’ll become a winner. If you surround yourself with losers you’ll become a loser. If you can change your circle of influence, you can change your money, your attitude, and your destiny. I dare you to take your life to the next level. I dare you to manifest the greatest circle you could possibly imagine!

Do This.

  1. Audit – What are you being exposed to? Do you need to add one person or a dozen people to your Winning Circle? Or perhaps you need to take one person or a dozen people out of your circle… Regardless of where you’re at, you need to be candid with where you’re starting. If you truly become the average of the five people you spend the most time with, do a gut check on whether or not you would be proud to be an amalgamation of those five people.
  2. Affirm – Affirm that you will no longer accept average. Affirm that you will no longer settle for good and that you will find a great community. Know that no matter your talent, no man is an island. Affirm that you will no longer fear being around great. That you will no longer be intimidated by being in circles of influence where you will be stretched, pushed, and forced to grow. Affirm that in your one and only life you will intentionally and deliberately change your circle of influence for the better.
  3. Act– Start today! Message John on LinkedIn. Download Shapr. Join a new group on Meetup. Cold email someone you look up to and ask for a meeting. There are countless ways to start developing your new Winning Circle. We’re stronger together as long as you’re deliberate that your new group embodies the Profile of a Champion and forces you to grow.

Till next time, stay on the offensive. Aggressively pursue a better version of yourself. And remember what Jim Rohn said, “you cannot change the destination of your life overnight, but you can change your direction.”

-J

Out.

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The Profile Of A Champion: Empowering Self-Image

I listened to one of George Zalucki’s audio programs when I was 18 and it changed my life. As an educator for sociology and psychology, he shared an experience of how our minds and our self-image are easily influenced by outside forces. He said that in education, if you take a sample of students and tell them that great things are expected from the, that they’re capable, they’re marvellous, then that group of students would perform that way. However, if you took a different group of students with the same basic IQ and told them that you were concerned about their learning capabilities, that there are indications they’re not going to cut it, then that group of students would deliver exactly what you suggested to them.

“Most people absolutely destroy themselves with their self-image.” – George Zalucki

I had an incredible epiphany in that moment! I realized that at a larger scale, that is you and I… I recognized that my entire self-image was formed in my youth. The thoughts that I have about myself today are a reflection of  my experiences, the influencers in my life, and what I’ve exposed my mind to in the past. George shares that more often than not, the self-image we develop is a negative one. It’s often shaped when a parent, or a teacher, or an older sibling tells us we can’t do something. You don’t have the talent. You’re not smart enough. You’re a boy. You’re a girl. You’re black. You’re a minority. You’re overweight. Or any other number of ridiculous reasons as to why what you’re working to accomplish is wrong.

That was true for me.  And that was true for my good friend Megan, too. I met Megan this year through my fellowship with Venture for Canada. I was blown away by Megan’s confidence! She’s one of the most transparent, authentic, and open minded people I’ve ever met.  Yet, candidly, I was surprised when I heard her story.

Knowing how paramount our youth is to building one’s self-image, I imagined Megan would be reserved and quiet. But that description couldn’t be further from the truth! This sparked my curiosity. Why was Megan able to face tremendous adversity and oppression, and still manage to see herself today with confidence, poise, and power? And how can others who’ve been through similar crisis’ of identity, who’ve been told they’re not good enough, and grew up believing they’re worthless and unlovable,  take responsibility for their self-image and thrive?

Fortunately, Megan was generous enough to share with me just that. We discussed that no matter where you start, everyone has the ability to build an empowering self-image and become the champion of their lives.

Megan VFC for blog

“Everyone goes through different struggles. And it’s those struggles that make up who you are. Until you own that about you, you can never reach self-confidence.” -Megan Heesaker

We live in a world obsessed with symmetry. And in that world of symmetry, Megan doesn’t match. Self-identified as cis-gendered and a lady-lover with masculine gender expression, our world has thrown it’s unfair share of oppression and adversity her way. When she was six years old, rocking her bowl cut, she was confronted in a restaurant bathroom by another girl. The girl demanded that she leave the bathroom immediately because she was obviously a boy in a female bathroom. To this girl, Megan didn’t match and wasn’t accepted. She represented many others who also believed that what Megan was doing wasn’t right, and she shouldn’t be herself. 

This is an incident that may seem inconsequential to some. Yet, at the tender age of six, at a time where our minds are open like a sponge, ready to accept any ideas that come our way, this example of oppression is significant. As George Zalucki demonstrated, Megan was in the midst of building her self-image. However, when she accepted these ideas as being true, she built a prison, not a paradise, to play in. Megan’s traumatic experience forced her to submit to social norms. She grew her hair, wore tighter shirts, and started to make the fact that she was a girl explicitly clear.

It wasn’t until sixteen years later, when she was twenty-two, that she finally once again accepted herself for who she truly is. Sixteen years! Sixteen years of living in a disempowering state. Of thinking that she didn’t belong. And of holding herself back from true self-expression. I’m writing this post because I was so inspired when I learned that it ONLY took sixteen years. Too many people will allow the experience they had when they were six, ten, fourteen or any age, shape their self-image for the rest of their lives. Those people never experience true self-confidence, never believe in themselves, and as a result will never live up to their full potential.

How We Shape Our Self-Image

Firstly, notice that I wrote, “how we shape our self-image” not, “how others shape our self-image.” You and I are responsible for shaping our self-image. Our thoughts about ourselves are based upon our belief system. And our belief system is based on the patterns of our minds, our definitions, and the interpretations of the events that happen to us. We develop these patterns and definitions by ascribing themes to those events and we make them mean something. No one else can make anything mean anything, except for us. As much as it’s easy to blame and make excuses, that little girl didn’t shape Megan’s self-image at six years old, she only influenced it. Megan was responsible for ascribing meaning to the event. As a result, her thoughts that she had about herself in that moment became habitual thoughts over time. Those habitual thoughts created her beliefs, which in turn formed her self-image.

I want you to see yourself in Megan’s example. Personally, I can see how I shaped a disempowering self-image image in my youth because of one or two main events. Can you see that for yourself? Can you identify the events that you mistakenly attributed the wrong meaning to? Take the time now to think about it. Because if you don’t, you won’t be able to attribute new meaning, forgive those people, and begin the process of developing an empowering self-image.

How We Can Reshape Our Self-Image

Why was Megan able to build back up her confidence when so many others will give up hope and live their entire lives in a box? How did she go from oppressed, to empowered? The answers are in the application of these two concepts, forgiving those who influenced your self-image and engaging in new activities.

Nobody had the right to do what they did or say what they said when they influenced your self-image. They had no authority or any right to do it to you. But, they didn’t create the meaning, we created the meaning! When we realize that, we’ll be able to forgive all those people who suggested we were limited in any way. Until you do that, you’ll be engaged in something that is incomplete and you’ll have a real challenge wiping your slate clean.

Megan described that by not accepting the event, and forgiving those who influenced your thoughts and beliefs, you’ll get caught up in a negative feedback loop. I know men and women in their fifty’s and sixty’s, that to this day, continue to play the toxic tapes of their youth over and over again! They never forgave themselves, and they never forgave those who participated in the event. For decades, these people have been stuck in their disempowering beliefs. Don’t let that be you. Forgive and move on to engaging in new activities.

Once you’ve forgiven, you can now spend your mental energy focusing on what’s right about you and who you want to be. Get a vision of where you’re headed and stay focused on the person you can become. When you do that, you’ll start to get engaged in new activities. This is the real substance of changing your self-image. 

In order to build an empowering self-image, you must be willing to get out of your comfort zone. Which incidentally, if we truly knew what a comfort zone was, we’d be all to eager to jump out! The comfort zone is so inconsistent with our capabilities as a human being. Our true nature is to achieve, to excel, to stretch, and to reach! This is exactly what Megan did and what I want to challenge you to do.

In the summer of 2013, Megan cut her hair. Up to this point she had built her entire self-image around fitting in, looking like someone else, and submitting to social norms. This action (a new activity), changed her life. She felt more like herself than ever before. And was reminded of that spunky and confident kid she used to be. Her story inspired me with this truth that I now want to share with you,

“It takes time to figure out who you are. But I think it takes even more time to be comfortable with who you are.” – Megan Heesaker

If you focus on a new event, possibility or activity, your old disempowering self-image will sort of dissipate in the process. When you engage in new activities you’ve now extended your domain of possibilities in direct proportion to your willingness to venture out!

I want you to notice how you feel inside when you read about your comfort zone. Do you feel excited to jump out? Or, do you feel anxious, scared, or straight up disgusted by me for even bringing it up? If you’re feeling the latter, it’s OK. Know that I, and most of the world, feels the same way. Getting out of our comfort zone scares us! That’s why I want to encourage you to find the right support network. Often, before we can empower ourselves, we need to find others who will empower us, first. That’s what I did, what Megan did, and what I recommend to you.

“Support is critical when you’re in the midst of a crisis and especially when you’re ready to emerge from one.” – Megan Heesaker

Instead of pushing people away when you’re shaping your new and empowering self-image, Megan encourages folks to bring people in. Finding a community that will support you (your “Winning Circle” also my next post 😉 ), whether that’s friends, family or other, is critical in getting started and progressing longterm in your new activities.

You’ve now set yourself up for a phenomena. You can now become successful in some new things you’re trying. That is how you restructure your self-image! Self-image is based upon what you believe and you cannot lie on top of a fundamental belief. So if we believe ourselves incapable because of our past events, then who we are is incapable, until I have some new experiences I can succeed at. Then I can have some new input and some new data to help me form new beliefs.

Finally, when you’re in the process of building new beliefs, and you catch yourself thinking your new self is beyond your reach, remember Megan’s story! Today, I’d describe Megan as raw. Completely authentic. With all pretense stripped away, her confidence allows her to deeply connect with others. She’s vulnerable, which allows you to be vulnerable. She’s doesn’t need to moderate her behaviour, which allows you to be yourself. But it was only through developing an empowering self-image that Megan was able to experiencing this state of full self-expression. And it’s only through full self-expression that Megan is able to continuously touch the lives of those lucky enough to know her.

If Megan can do it, you can too!

Do This. 

An empowering self-image is fundamental to giving the champion enough confidence to solve big challenges. Without it, you’ll never have the belief in yourself to persist past obstacles or even give yourself the space to try.

  1. Identify the 1-3 events and people from your youth that influenced your self-image. Write it out. Understand that you gave those events meaning and take full responsibility for your beliefs about yourself. Now, forgive those people and prepare to move on.
  2. Get an accountability buddy, buddies, or whole community! There’s no better feeling than knowing someone’s got your back. They will get you started, keep you going, and cheer you on as you make progress on your new activities.
  3. Get engaged in new activities! If you have a disempowering self-image be like Megan, decide today what new hobby you’ll practice, or skill you’ll learn. Will you become successful at guitar, Spanish, salsa? The possibilities are endless! Decide today and take the first step right now towards building your new and improved empowering self-image.

Till next time, stay on the offensive. Aggressively pursue a better version of yourself. And what remember what Jim Rohn said, “you cannot change the destination of your life overnight, but you can change your direction.”

-J

Out. 

The Profile Of A Champion: Doing More Than Expected

One of the most important rules of personal economics I ever learned was from Jim Rohn. Jim’s unique philosophy is this,

“we get paid for bringing value to the marketplace. It takes time to bring value marketplace, but we get paid for the value, not the time.”

My whole life I learned about hourly wages. About punching a clock and getting paid x dollars for the time I put in. I quickly learned that thinking was wrong. Jim challenged me and in this post I want to do the same for you.

Why is it that one person can make only $20 an hour, when another person can make $100 an hour? Why is it that with the same background, the same ethnicity, living in the same country and with everything the same, one person can make two times, three times or five times the money that someone else makes? The answer, value. Value makes the difference in economic results. And when I observe the champions of our world, they’re focused on providing more value than their being paid for. They go above and beyond their peers through work ethic, thoughtfulness and generosity. They do more than is expected. 

At Venture for Canada training camp I met a lot of champions. One in particular, caught my eye quite literally. Camp was a casual setting with most people dressed relaxed. We wore jeans, t-shirts and sneakers. Ryan however, was always dressed professionally. He wore a clean button down with dress pants and shoes. He was sharp, respectful, and walked with an air of confidence. He immediately stood out as someone who respected himself and how he was perceived by others. I knew I wanted to get to know him.

Ryan Cobb headshot

As I got to know Ryan better, I quickly understood that dressing professionally was only one of many ways he did more than expected. From being the first member of his family to go to University, all the way to running for Fredericton City Council in a municipal election, Ryan consistently goes above and beyond what is expected. Born and raised in Riverview New Brunswick, Ryan’s first exposure to the profile of a champion was through his father. Owner of a local funeral home, Ryan’s father instilled in him the importance of giving time, energy and respect to others no matter their background.

Clearly those early lessons paid off. Today, Ryan’s willingness to do more than expected has shown up in his value to the marketplace.

In my opinion there are three reasons to do more than expected.

Your Example Empowers Others

In both his social and professional life, Ryan has become a servant leader. He believes the first responsibility he has as a leader is to those surrounding him. Anyone reading this that aspires towards getting promoted, making more money, and feeling more joy and fulfillment can benefit from embodying this thought,

You can be a champion in your own life, but you can always be a champion in someone else’s life.” – Ryan Cobb

It wasn’t until Ryan became a servant leader that his true value was realized. In his second year of University, he decided to become a residence assistant. An RA is tasked to facilitate the social, academic, and personal adjustments of first year students coming into University. A role that already presented a myriad of responsibilities, Ryan became a pillar for his students to lean on. He took it upon himself to be the best role model possible.

Ryan intentionally dressed sharp. Was always smiling. Was respectful with every student. He Showed up early for class. And was cheerful and enthusiastic everyday. He believes that no matter the personable stresses and troubles we’re dealing with, we can always choose to have the right mindset. Ryan shared a story with me about a young man in his first year who was skipping classes and had a poor attitude. After a few months of watching Ryan’s example, greeting people in the halls, attending every class, and being excited about his time as a student, the young man approached him. He said, he had been skipping class all semester. But after seeing Ryan’s example, hadn’t missed a class since the Christmas holidays a few months before.

What type of example are you setting for the people around you?

Are you giving your best self today?

Do you showing up with a contagious enthusiasm that will empower others to feel the same way? 

The champion does. The champion leads from the front. They set the tone. They’re always willing to sacrifice whats easy for whats right. The champion does not forget the “small things” like thanking those around them, working for others, and always lending a hand. They know there’s great impact in the small things.

You Will Be Valued

If you want to quickly add more value (making you more money), get promoted into a leadership role. Leaders with the habit of doing more than expected virtually always cultivate the most respect, admiration, and work ethic from their teams.

Completely unqualified, Ryan told me about his job working for a truck driving company. Put in charge of a team of twenty truck drivers double his age, most people would expect to be discounted for being young and inexperienced. Not Ryan. His habit of doing more than expected meant that he took time and energy to get to know each and every driver personally. He had empathy for them. He knew how hard it must have been for them to put in ridiculous hours on the road. To live in their trucks and be away from their family for weeks.

“If you want to be valued, value other people first” – Ryan Cobb

The personal relationships that he built payed huge dividends. It meant that his team felt comfortable with his leadership. They were able to have difficult conversations. And ultimately, when Ryan left the company, eight of the drivers came into the office to wish him well on his next journey. Completely unheard of in that line of work.

Do you want to be truly valuable to your company? To your family? To your friends? 

Than take heed on Ryan’s advice as I am, value others more than expected. The champion gives people they care about their time, energy, and patience. At the end of the day you will be valued and respected.

You’ll Begin To Think Big

Just like a young child, the champion is a big thinker. They believe in possibilities for themselves and society most people can’t imagine.But, if you’re not a big thinker today, it’s okay. Neither was Ryan.

Ryan shared that he didn’t always do more than expected. He didn’t always believe in himself. As he was growing up, he learned to be afraid of being wrong. That fear crippled his thinking.

He had thought for a long time about running for the Municipal Government. Yet, like most people, he was afraid of what people would think of him. Afraid of embarrassing himself. Afraid of rejection and a potential loss that would crush his confidence. He wasn’t thinking big. He was focused on the obstacles instead of the possibilities. 

I asked Ryan what had changed. Why did he finally decide to run for office, despite the feelings he had recently experienced? Here’s what Ryan said,

The accumulation of my experiences from my Undergraduate degree, being an RA, living alone, and managing many teams made me realize that I’d be better off losing, than living with the regret of never trying.”

All of Ryan’s experiences of doing more than expected lead to a clear boost in his confidence. When you empower others, you empower yourself. When you value others, you value yourself. As Ryan developed as a leader, he built the belief necessary to think big. Without big thoughts, you will never be willing to venture out, take action and execute on your ideas. 

I know that Ryan has an incredible future ahead of him. He’s demonstrated the willingness to be and do more than expected. He’s dedicated to adding value to his peers, community, and his companies. I know without a shadow of a doubt, this young man is a champion.

Do This. 

The purpose of this series is to help you recognize some of the traits necessary to become a champion. It’s important to remember that each trait of the champion is a learnable skill. As an example, right now I’m focused on doing more than expected by being hyper diligent with my follow up with people. I’m adding new people I meet on LinkedIn. I’m sending them an email. I’m thanking them for the opportunity to connect. I’m asking them if there’s anything I can do to help them. And I’m going out of my way to make sure that I add more value in the relationship than I’m taking in return.

Ask yourself what one area of your life can you do more than expected. Is it in your homework? Is it taking out the garbage for your partner? Is it by dressing sharply by Ryan? What’s it going to be?

Choose right now what one thing you will do to add more value to your peers, community, and company that you weren’t doing prior to reading this. Even the slightest shift in value, can give you tremendous upside in return. 

Till next time, stay on the offensive. Aggressively pursue a better version of yourself. And remember what Jim Rohn said, “You cannot change the destination of your life overnight, but you can change the direction”.

– J

Out.