Macho Man!!

Three feet from gold.  That’s where I stood concerning Jose Espinosa from April 2018 until January 2021.  Jose and his wife Susie are realtors and Life Time Healthy Way of Life members in North Dallas.  As a fitness professional, I would see Jose almost daily in the early mornings.  He and Susie would frequent the group fitness classes and do a good bit of extra cardio, and yet, I never saw them doing any traditional strength training, and they didn’t seem to progress in losing weight.

January 2021


While I wasn’t sure precisely what Jose did for work, he appeared to be one busy guy with his cell phone almost permanently attached to his ear.  Between mostly Spanish and the occasional hint of English, I finally figured out that he was, in fact, a realtor.  Soon afterward, we introduced ourselves one day in the Life Café, and the conversation quickly shifted to the topic of nutrition.  Jose confessed to being lost.  He and Susie slaved away in the gym almost daily, yet they saw no results.

January 2021

I shared that proper nutrition is the most critical factor regardless of building muscle or dropping body fat.  You can kill yourself in the gym; however, you will never out-train a poor diet.  From that simple conversation, I offered to give Jose a complimentary consultation.  He accepted, and we agreed to meet the following week.

When I first looked at Jose’s nutrition, it was not pretty.  Can you say taquitos for breakfast during the week from Quik Trip or pancakes from IHOP on the weekends?  As busy real estate professionals, they worked 24/7 and ate out most meals.  Jose started his day with coffee and water and then hit the gym doing group fitness classes, running on a treadmill, or pounding away on a stair master.  Lunch and dinner were typically chicken and rice with a few veggies, followed by cereal and milk before bed. 

November 2021

Jose tipped the scales at 203.8 lbs from day one with a BMI of 33.9 and a body fat percentage of 39.4%.  I told him point-blank that his nutrition had to change if he wanted to see results.  He said he was ready and would do whatever I suggested.  Fast forward to the present, and Jose is now just under 160 lbs.  His BMI is down 7.3 points to 26.6, and his body fat is down to 24.4%, almost half where he started.

November 2021

The fantastic thing is that he’s only lost 2 pounds of muscle while dropping over 40 lbs of body fat.  Under the circumstances, we’re not worried about fractional muscle loss.  Once Jose reaches his desired body fat percentage, and we’re getting close, we will build back the lost muscle and much more.

November 2021

So, how did we do it?  The secret is that we took it one small step at a time, building in new and positive behaviors that are now primarily a habit.  Jose is running on autopilot based on the programming I’ve shared with him over the past ten months, and the best is yet to come. 

November 2021

On January 22nd, we started his bi-weekly nutrition coaching sessions, and the results came quickly.  Jose dropped 6.6 lbs in the first month, including a 2% drop in body fat and no muscle loss.  While he continued to attend group fitness classes almost daily, the positive changes in his nutrition kicked his body into gear.

Jose’s plan was based on roughly 35% protein, 35% carbs, and 30% fat for those interested in counting macros.  It was simple and very effective.  

Early Morning – coffee & water
Workout – followed by a protein shake
Mid-Morning – breakfast including protein & carbs
Mid-Day – lunch including protein, veggies, and carbs
Mid-Afternoon – 2 protein bars
Evening – dinner including protein, veggies, and carbs
Evening Snack – 1 protein bar

By the middle of March, I had gained Jose’s further trust, and he started training with me two days a week in addition to his nutrition coaching.  He continued doing some group fitness, although I encouraged him to scale back on the volume to allow his body to fully recover.  By April 16th, he dipped just under 190 lbs, with his muscle holding and body fat down 4% from the start.  He was down to 178 lbs by early July, with his body fat down another 3 %.  That’s when we switched his training to working with me exclusively, leaving the group fitness behind.

October 2021

Jose continued to train one-on-one with me two days per week; however, he also did three additional days a week based on the overall program I designed leveraging our virtual training app.  He loved the change in training, and his body continued to respond.  By mid-August, he hit 168 lbs, and then finally, on October 2nd, Jose dipped below 160 lbs.  Our ultimate weight loss goal is to hit roughly 150-155 lbs.  At that point, we will switch our focus to adding back quality muscle while minimizing any gains in fat.  

October 2021

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear, and when we first talked, Jose was ready for a change.  He knew he needed help and was willing to listen and take action for his sake.  I told him early on that if he could be successful as a realtor, he could learn to eat healthily.  When we first started, he and Susie ate out most meals.  Today, Jose meal preps weekly and eats mostly their food from home.  That’s not to say that they never eat out, but it’s now with a completely different mindset and perspective, which could be summed up as eating to live rather than living to eat.

A New Man!

Jose is a talented businessman and is exceptionally bright.  He is blessed to have his wife, Susie, expecting their second child and their first daughter Sophia supporting his efforts.  Jose has been a pleasure to coach over the past ten months, and I’m expecting only the very best as we continue to work together on his fitness journey.  

​Closing thoughts for my readers:

Jose is one of the most consistent and hard-working individuals I’ve ever known.  And while the program design I’ve given him is solid, the secret to his success has been his overall consistency in the gym and willingness to change his nutrition.  Small steps add up to massive change for the positive, and that’s Jose’s journey in a nutshell.

If you’re looking to change your body composition, by all means, you need to do strength training and cardio.  However, if you’re struggling with your food, be willing to get some help.  Change can occur quickly with the proper plan in place.  Life is too short to spin your wheels in frustration.  Jose is a different man today because he was willing to change, and you can do the same.

Best of luck in your journey.

“Working with Kelly Amidon is the best investment I’ve ever made.  I’m in my 40s as a Texas Realtor and have stayed somewhat active in my adult life like most of us try to.  I’ve had a consistent gym membership for years and thought I knew how to work out.  I thought I knew enough about food and eating healthy to have a decent physique if I did both regularly, but we know the mirror doesn’t lie.  I realized that if I wanted to make a change, I would need to work with a professional.

Kelly loves doing what he does, and it shows in his work.  His passion for bringing change to his clients’ lives, his dedication to his work, and his friendliness are only a few reasons you should choose him as your trainer.  He helped me lose over 40 pounds in less time than I believed possible, and it changed my life completely.”

Jose Espinosa

Posted in cardio training, Circuit Training, customer loyalty, Diet, Entrepreneur, fat loss, goal setting, Health & Fitness, increased focus, late night snacking, learning from mistakes, life path, living your dream, muscle preservation, Nutrition, personal development, real estate, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

28 Days Too Late…

On the morning of September 25, 2020, it hit me out of the blue, and like a ton of bricks, that I hadn’t seen any recent posts from my friend and former client, Damon Taylor.  And while the optimist in me said to check Facebook, my gut told me otherwise.  With my gut winning out, I slowly typed Damon Taylor’s obituary into Mother Google, and my worst fears were instantly confirmed.  My friend was gone, and I was 28 days too late.

Damon and I started working together in March of 2019. He had recently joined our club and had expressed interest in working with a trainer as he was trying to get back into shape after a traumatic event. Damon had gone to Oklahoma City to visit his daughter and her family, where he was brutally attacked by a group of thugs and left for dead outside of a restaurant. This was back in early 2019, and the night’s temperature was below freezing. The result was frostbite on his left foot, where he almost lost his toes. When we first met, he was still wearing a protective boot; however, thankfully on the road to recovery.

Damon had a unique background serving as a Marine from 1988 through 1995, fighting in both the Gulf War and Iraqi Freedom. After retiring from the military, he started his own financial planning business in the North Dallas area. When we met for the first time, he was super excited to begin his training and wanted my help with his nutrition.

While alcohol had been a part of his life during his time in the military, the experience in Oklahoma City pushed him to leave the bottle behind and further caused him to find his way back to God. There’s always a silver lining in every adversity, and Damon lived that philosophy to the max. We agreed to train one day a week, and he committed to doing 2-3 more workouts per week based on the program I created for him.

Beyond his training, we cleaned up his nutrition and added in the supplements needed to help his body recover and progress from his efforts. Damon was all in from day one and used to crack me up with his “pre-workout” drink. The product is “Hyde,” as in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He was already one of the most high-strung individuals I had ever met, and he was hilarious to train with the addition of the “Hyde” formula.

From March until early August, he made tremendous gains in strength and improvements in his body composition, adding muscle mass and dropping body fat. I love working with clients who take their training seriously, and Damon was in for the long term. That all changed on August 14th when he went to his eye doctor after struggling to read a simple bill at a restaurant.

His eye doctor directed him immediately to the emergency room, where he reached out to me, saying he would be missing his regular Saturday workout. This was a Friday evening, and I was proactive in following up on Saturday. At that point, an MRI hadn’t shown anything, and he was waiting for a CT Scan for further investigation. His last communication was a promise to let me know the results.

On Sunday morning, I received a text that took my breath away. It said terminal brain cancer…6-12 months. A few days later, he had emergency brain surgery to remove a significant portion of the stage 4 Glioblastoma. While the surgery was successful, there were still tumors in four other areas of his brain where the cancer was impossible to remove.

After 11 days in the hospital, Damon and I met in the café at our club to catch up. His doctors from UT Southwestern and Duke University determined to attack the remaining areas with chemo and radiation. The prognosis from his collective doctors from the beginning was that he would not survive. Without treatment, his life expectancy was projected at 3-6 months. The best he could hope for with treatment was maybe 12-15 months.

As Damon shared his story, I barely had words to communicate. Here was a man sharing what he had gone through and what he planned to do with his remaining time…Lord willing. So often in life, we can empathize with someone going through an extreme trial. In Damon’s case, I couldn’t even begin to imagine how he felt.

As a Christian, Damon shared that he had peace with God and that one of his final significant priorities was to make amends with various people with whom relationships had been strained over the years. Further, he had already taken all the necessary steps to transition his company to his partners and to ensure that his family would be well provided for.

Because of his lengthy service record, Damon was diagnosed with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), which qualified him for a 70% disability rating. This ensured that he would be well taken care of in terms of medical expenses. He explained that just because you fight in a war, you do not automatically receive the tag of PTSD, limiting your disability rating.

For his friends who fought in only Desert Storm, who were subjected to all the same toxins that Damon was, they, in many cases did not receive the tag of PTSD because of the nature of their service. After leaving the service, it is standard procedure for the government to provide medical coverage for five years. However, without the 70% disability rating, the coverage runs out after five years. Unfortunately, many veterans come up with cases of cancer and other issues directly attributed to Desert Storm. Yet, they are left to take care of themselves without our government’s support.

In mid-November, Damon took his family to Washington, including a White House tour, to share a piece of American history that means so much to him. He met with Secretary of Defense, James Madison, to ask for help for his fellow veterans. Outside of time with family and friends, the effort to seek further support for all veterans struggling with their health would be Damon’s final and most important legacy.

When 2020 hit and the nation was put in quarantine, everything changed.  Damon and I stayed connected via Facebook and phone; however, we stopped spending time in person for obvious reasons.  While no one had any idea how last year would play out, I kept thinking things would get better and that I would be able to visit Damon again before the end.

Quarantine was like Groundhog Day, and the time just seemed to creep.  Then when our gym reopened in late May, it was as if someone hit the fast forward button on life.  Working as a fitness professional during the pandemic was the most challenging time of my professional career, and the summer months were really a struggle.  I didn’t forget about Damon. However, I was in my own career survival mode, and I’m ashamed that I didn’t keep the most essential things in life in their proper perspective.

This brings us back to the moment I discovered that he had passed away.  I thought back to the last time we were together.  I certainly didn’t leave that meeting thinking it would be our last time to see each other. 

Time is the most precious commodity in life. You can always make more money or replace material things, but the sands of time can never be regained. Leadership expert John Maxwell offers some unique insight into the value of time in the following:

“Given the choice, would you rather save time or money?  Most people focus on dollars. But how you spend your time is much more important than how you spend your money. Money mistakes can often be corrected, but when you lose time, it’s gone forever.  Your priorities determine how you spend your time, and time is precious.  

The following statements may help you put time in perspective:

To know the value of one year… Ask the student who failed the final exam.
To know the value of one month… Ask the mother of a premature baby.
To know the value of one week… Ask the editor of a weekly news magazine.
To know the value of one day… Ask the wage earner who has six children.
To know the value of one hour… Ask the lovers who are waiting to meet.
To know the value of one minute… Ask the person who missed the plane.
To know the value of one second… Ask the person who survived the accident.
To know the value of one millisecond… Ask the Olympic silver medalist.

Your time is priceless.”

As for my relationship with Damon, the 28 days that passed before I realized he had gone to be with the Lord might as well be an eternity because I can never get them back. However, as a fellow follower of Christ, I believe with all my heart that I will see my friend again one day.

Closing thoughts for my readers:

Dream big dreams and, by all means, make plans for your future; however, at the same time, live each day as if it were your last. I encourage you to act now if you have relationships that need attention. If not now, then when? We are not guaranteed the next five minutes, so make the most of your time.

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”

James 4:13-15

God bless you Damon for your service to our country.

Posted in Christian, Faith, Follower of Christ, forgiveness, Health & Fitness, Heaven, John Maxwell, learning from mistakes, life path, love, Nutrition, personality styles, recovery from injury, Salvation in Christ, success, the power of associations, trials & tribulations, Uncategorized, weight training | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Time Proved Me Right

The golf bug bit me at age 11, and I’ve loved the game all my life. As a freshman in high school, I found myself on the golf team, desperate to hit the ball further. At 5’7″ and 130 lbs., I needed to put on some weight and get stronger for golf. Oddly enough, one of the seniors who had befriended me was in a similar position. While Bill was a bit taller, he was just as skinny as me and needed as much help.

So one day, out of the blue, Bill hit me with a question that would lead to a decision that would ultimately shape and define my life. He asked, “Would you like to join the local gym to get stronger for golf?” Can you say hook, line, and sinker? I was all in and only in a huge way.

And that was my humble start with lifting weights. I still remember joining The Gym and our first time being shown around by Wayne, the owner. He was an old-time bodybuilder and was nice enough to give us a general demonstration of mainly using the machines. There were free weights as well, and in time we would learn how to perform more advanced exercises as we carefully mimicked the experienced lifters who frequented the gym.

To say we were fired up would be the ultimate understatement. With visions of 300-yard drives dancing in our heads, we dutifully made our way to workout three days a week in addition to our golf practice. Unfortunately, the rest of our team was not so enthusiastic about our new strength training pursuits. “Don’t you know you’re going to ruin your golf swing,” they would say.

And it didn’t stop there. One father was particularly negative. His son Greg, a senior, was the best player on the team and a natural athlete. He was stocky and powerful, built like a running back with lots of speed, and had never touched weights. Greg had been physically blessed, which gave him an incredible advantage in golf. Unfortunately, Bill and I had to earn our extra distance with good old-fashioned persistence and hard work.

Soon after Bill and I started lifting, I had the good fortune to play at Crown Colony in Lufkin, TX. Over the years, Crown has been ranked among the best country club courses in Texas and is a true treasure located in the heart of The Pineywoods. The head pro had been there for many years and was the consummate professional. His golf shop was immaculate, and he was known for being a great teacher and player.

Now being young and a little naïve, I thought surely he would be able to give me some good advice on the best way to exercise for golf. You see, in the late ’80s to early ’90s, the bulk of the training information was largely influenced by the bodybuilding community. And while there’s nothing wrong with the sport or its training methods, training to gain maximum muscle mass is not what’s needed to nail 300-yard drives.

Crown Colony Country Club in Lufkin, TX

So when the opportunity presented itself, I walked up and introduced myself. I then asked my question about how to best exercise to support my game. Unfortunately, I also mentioned that I had been lifting weights and his response almost startled me. He said, “Son, lifting weights will ruin your golf swing! The only thing you should be doing is running to strengthen your legs and squeezing a tennis ball to strengthen your grip.”

At first, I allowed his negative comments to cause me to doubt my efforts in the gym. But after a few days, my gut told me otherwise. It seemed that a stronger and faster athlete would be better able to excel in any sport, including golf. And so I flushed the whole experience and never quit lifting.

In the months to follow, a tug of war emerged between my two athletic pursuits. While performance in golf initially drove me to the gym, the iron bug bit me as well once I started to see my body change. Unfortunately, my golf game suffered as I grew to love the changes I saw in my body. Remember, I had the best intentions, but my training was largely bodybuilder-based. And golf is a highly jealous game, as the following quote from the late great Ben Hogan attests.

“If I miss one day’s practice, I notice it. If I miss two days’ practice, the critics notice it.
If I miss three days’ practice, the world notices it.”

Ben Hogan

The moment I slacked off on my practice to get in more time at the gym, my game started to deteriorate. From there, it was a quick fall to disaster. After my sophomore year, I left the golf team and poured all my heart into the gym. One year later, in August of 1987, I entered my first bodybuilding contest and placed third in the teenage division. It was a great experience, and I will cherish the memories tied to this event for the rest of my life.

As it turned out, the Lone Star Classic in Fort Worth was my one and only show. In the years to follow, with no particular plans to compete, my first priority was school and study, followed by my part-time job at the country club. I still trained 4-5 days a week in the gym, but my sticks sat in my closet, gathering dust until my junior year in college. It was a long season of drought from playing or practicing, but I never forgot my first love.

1987 Lone Star Classic

And then, due to an odd sequence of events, I found myself working inside the clubhouse as the head bartender after six years of working on the golf course. I already missed the game; working on the course every day and moving inside only worsened matters as I had the opportunity to mingle with the golfers. But it would take new hires, Mark and Kyle, who would go on to become two of my best friends in the world, to get me back playing the game. Once they discovered that I used to play on the high school team, they wouldn’t take no for an answer, and we set out for our first round together at a little public course in Diboll, TX, called Neches Pines.

1990 Neches Pines Diboll, TX

I still, to this day, after all these years, remember walking down the fairway together on the first hole. Needless to say, the golf bug took hold once again. Two years later, I graduated from college with a degree in business and joined the PGA of America’s apprentice program. That summer, I moved to The Woodlands and found myself working in the golf shop of the Tournament Players Course, where at that time, they hosted the annual Houston Open.

18th Hole – TPC The Woodlands

It was one of the best times of my life. I lifted early mornings and spent my days at TPC, either working in the golf shop or on my game. Unfortunately, my training was still not suited to support my game, so I struggled back and forth between wanting to be a great player and excel with my bodybuilding.

Ultimately, and for all the wrong reasons, I left golf in 1995 to go into sales. I continued playing and practicing and lifting, but these pursuits were now more in the background of my life. Then in the early 2000s, my lower back started failing. It was so bad at times that I could barely walk. Finally, after an MRI, the doctor said I had a herniated disc between my L4 and L5. He said surgery was probably not necessary and recommended physical therapy.

While I only did PT for a few weeks, it helped tremendously. It opened my eyes to core training more for stabilization and nudged me toward my future career path as a fitness professional. The one drawback of PT was that I was recommended to give up golf for a period to help my back heal. You see, the rotational forces of the golf swing can put tremendous pressure on your lumbar spine. I compounded this stress from my years of whaling away in the gym.

Given the extreme nature of my pain, I took their advice to heart, and my sticks went back into the closet for the next thirteen years. And that’s when I found TPI. Actually, that’s not entirely accurate. I had known about the Titleist Performance Institute because there was a TPI-certified instructor at one of the facilities where I used to practice. However, I never investigated to see what they were all about.

They say when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. Well, that’s where I found myself in early 2021. Starting with my back injury in the mid-2000s, I had managed to progressively tear my body apart, all in the pursuit of muscle. To quickly recap, the following are my significant injuries:

February 2010 – Torn left meniscus resulting in knee surgery

September 2014 – Torn left biceps, which wasn’t repaired due to a lack of insurance as I was just starting a new job and my insurance had not kicked in

March 2016 – Right rotator cuff and biceps reattachment surgery

Fall 2016 – An MRI showed multiple tears in my left rotator cuff. After the painful surgery and lengthy recovery on my right shoulder, I decided to put off further surgery as long as possible.

May 2020 through February 2021 – Increasing pain in my left shoulder and biceps due to the existing tears and the trauma I had experienced back in 2014

The great business philosopher, Jim Rohn, used to teach that you should embrace all of life’s experiences as you never know what you might learn. Well, the last spike of pain that shot through my left biceps and shoulder was the experience that pushed me towards change. It actually happened on a Monday during my leg workout. The pain wasn’t apparent while I was training; however, it definitely kicked in later in the day.

It was so bad that I trained at home the rest of that week and most of the following using resistance bands and blending in some cardio at my apartment gym. I just didn’t feel like being in my regular gym environment and needed some quiet time at home. It was during that time that I started watching TPI videos on YouTube. I still can’t tell you the single thought that made me do a search for TPI; however, once I started watching, I couldn’t stop. The more I learned about what TPI offered, the more intrigued I became.

After roughly two weeks of watching TPI videos, one thing was clear. They were the gold standard for fitness in professional golf as they had been working with the best players in the world for years. Seeing videos featuring the likes of Adam Scott, Roy Mcllroy, and John Rahm gave me a tremendous feeling of confidence. And so, on March 7, 2021, I pulled the trigger on TPI’s Level 1 certification and was able to complete the course a few weeks later.

From the introduction of my studies, the story about TPI’s humble beginnings gave me an overwhelming sense of peace about my decision. When Dr. Greg Rose, co-founder of TPI, started his practice around working with golfers, his friends thought he was crazy. It reminded me of my beginnings with weight training so many years ago, and like me, despite his lack of support, he stayed the course, and time proved him right.

Timing is everything, and when Dr. Rose started his original practice in 1996, it was largely unnoticed by the general public. There was, however, one other event that occurred in 1996 that would turn the golfing world upside down…Tiger Woods turned pro and joined the PGA Tour. They say a rising tide raises all ships. Tiger’s success and impact on the tour benefitted all the players as well as TPI, which was later launched in 2003 by Dr. Rose and PGA teaching professional Dave Phillips.

From day one, Tiger stood out like a giant among his peers regarding his ability. He walked onto the tour as an athlete, unlike anything the game of golf had ever seen. And in time, he would further push his body to the limits of his physical abilities as he strived to maximize his potential while systematically dismantling the record books.

Tiger Woods, 1996 Las Vegas Invitational

Before Tiger, the “Triangle of Instruction” described by Dr. Rose consisted of a swing coach, a mental coach, and an equipment representative. Well, Tiger changed that old paradigm completely. Today, players still work with a swing coach; however, they will often also work with a specialty coach, for example, with their short game, shot-making, or course management.

As a singular sport, players will often still seek the help of a sports psychologist, and having a trusted equipment rep is vital. However, the one area where Tiger changed the game is physical preparation. Today, every player on the PGA tour and worldwide works out regularly. The players are bigger, faster, stronger, and FAR MORE ATHLETIC than ever in the sport’s history. If you want to play on any professional tour today, paying your dues in the weight room is table stakes, and the Titleist Performance Institute is the gold standard.

18 of the last 20 Major Championships were won by players advised by a TPI Certified Expert

25 of the Top 30 Players in the World, according to the Official World Golf Rankings, are advised by a TPI Certified Expert

47 of Golf Digest’s Top 50 Golf Fitness Professionals are TPI Certified or TPI Advisory Board Members

TPI Golf Performance Center

TPI has given me a second chance to train both for longevity and performance and to share my new skill set with all my clients and our overall member base who play the great game of golf.

Today, I feel like a kid again with a new and powerful set of toys to serve my clients and take better care of myself. My favorite is the TPI screening app developed to test a player’s ability to swing the golf club efficiently. This is the same tool they use with tour players; it was created by studying the best players in the world. Essentially, they’ve identified fifteen micro moves the body needs to perform to efficiently and safely swing a golf club.

Golf Performance Screen

The process takes under an hour, and the app produces a detailed report based on how the player scores. It gives a handicap where players can work to reduce their scores by applying corrective strength training and mobility exercises. The science that TPI has thrown at the game of golf over the past 18+ years is truly unique, and the impact has forever changed how the game will be played.

Closing thoughts for my readers:

On Sunday, May 23rd, Phil Mickelson made history by becoming the oldest player at 50 to win a major championship. Phil’s 2021 PGA Championship victory eclipsed the previous best set by Julius Boros some 53 years earlier at the age of 48. When asked during his post-round press conference how he could pull this off, he attributed much of his success to long and hard work on his game, made possible by better nutrition and time spent in the gym.

Phil Michelson 2021 PGA Championship

“There’s no reason why the game of golf can’t be a game for a lifetime. If you take care of your body and do it the right way, and now with the exercise and physiology and technology that’s out there, like with TPI, you can work out the right way to get your body to function right and play golf for a lifetime. I’m very appreciative of that.”

Phil Michelson

A proud champion

As I reflect on my journey, it’s been an exciting trip with its fair share of ups and downs. And yet, as I remember, everything I’ve gone through has brought me to this present moment better prepared to serve my clients. The knowledge I’ve gained from TPI has quite literally changed my life, and thanks to their overall success and influence in the world of golf, time has ultimately proved me right.

Posted in Ben Hogan, Golf fitness, Health & Fitness, learning from mistakes, life path, living your dream, personal development, Phil Mickelson, recovery from injury, rotator cuff injury, seeking wisdom, shoulder injury, Tiger Woods, Titleist Performance Institute, torn bicep tendon, TPC The Woodlands, Uncategorized, weight training, wise choices | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How Are You Shaping Your Path?

How are you shaping your path?  You may not know what I’m referring to if you’ve not read the book, Switch by Chip and Dan Heath.  You see, you have two brains which the authors represent with the analogy of an elephant and a rider.  The rider represents your logical “thinky” brain which typically runs the show and is responsible for most of your daily decisions.  On the other hand, the elephant is your more powerful and primal emotional brain that will take over when the rider tires or is threatened.

I often share an example with my clients of an elephant and rider at the circus under the big top with thousands of fans watching in amazement and wonder.  Under normal circumstances, the elephant dutifully follows the rider’s every instruction.  However, if you set the tent on fire and the tigers escape from their cages, the elephant will cease following the rider and look for the nearest exit in a state of sheer panic.

That’s how it can be to implement change in your life.  Of course, you can have the best intentions, but if your environment works against you, your logical brain will get lost in chaos.  So, what’s the solution?  First, you must shape your path and control the influences that impact your life as much as possible.

The four areas of concern are as follows:

1 – Social environment – The people you spend the most time with at work and at play.

2 – Cultural background – This is tricky because you may go up against beliefs that have been in place for many years and quite possibly your entire life.

3 – Intellectual environment – This is the information you take from all sources, including TV, social media, books & magazines, podcast, music, movies, etc.

4 – Physical environment – This includes your homes, workplace, and places where you gather and socialize.

According to my mentor, Darren Hardy, these environments influence your life, yet they don’t shove you in a direction; they merely nudge you.  And still, over some time of being just a little off daily, you can wake up one day and find your life completely out of control.

Social Environment

One of my favorite quotes from the late, great Charlie “Tremendous” Jones is as follows:

“You’re the same today as you’ll be in five years except for the people you meet and the books you read.”

Your mothers repeatedly told you to carefully select your friends as children.  Charlie and your Mothers were on the same page, and they got it right because your associations will make or break you.  So, by all means, choose wisely.

To expand on the first half of his quote, the people you spend time with will influence your thinking, which drives your choices.   Therefore, the association of the top 5-10 people you spend the most time with will essentially drive your results in life.  To whatever degree this is true, I defer back to the Good Book: 

“He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed!”
Proverbs 13:20

Every experience in your life with other people will leave its mark for better or worse.  So, be careful with your associations.  You will find situations where you have little control over the people you’re surrounded by, such as at your place of work.  However, you still have a choice in how you conduct yourself and how much you choose to interact beyond what is professionally required to excel in your job and career.

It will be highly beneficial for many to take a hard look at all your associations and evaluate whether these relationships align with your priorities and goals.  You may have some difficult choices to make in either spending less time or potentially cutting ties with various people should you determine that they are not a good influence in your life.

On the flip side, you may need to add more quality associations with people who already have the knowledge, wisdom, and success you seek.  These expanded associations can make a tremendous and positive impact on your life.  And with today’s technology and tools such as LinkedIn, building these expanded associations has never been easier.

Cultural Environment

For the influence of your native culture, I will tread very lightly.  All cultures have unique attributes, and some can be challenging to achieve and maintain optimal health and body composition.  For example, Italian cuisine is known for its pizza and pasta.  In addition, cheese and wine make up a large portion of the cooking with wide varieties.  These are all calorically dense foods that could make it challenging to maintain a healthy weight without a substantial degree of restraint and self-discipline.

The staple foods of Indian cuisine include pearl millet (bājra), rice, whole-wheat flour (aṭṭa), and a variety of lentils, such as masoor (most often red lentils), tuer (pigeon peas), urad (black gram), and moong (mung beans).  Most Indian meals (depending on whether your host is vegetarian) are comprised of rice, Chapati (flatbread), meat, vegetable, lentil dishes, salad, yogurt, and pickles.

I have worked with many clients who have followed numerous variations of a plant-based diet, and the most significant challenge always seems to be getting enough protein.  Unfortunately, the more they go in the plant-based direction, restricting other foods, the more difficult it becomes to get enough protein. 

Please, don’t blow up my post; all plant-based nutrition followers are out there.  Plant-based eating can be very healthy when done right.  For example, my boss is 5′ 9″, 190 lbs, has less than 10% body fat, and is built like a Mack truck.  He gets plenty of protein following a primarily plant-based diet.  And based on his impressive resultshe is extremely healthy.

Brad Siegel, Senior PT Dpt Mgr Life Time Healthy Way of Life

My most significant point is that regardless of your culture and its particular traditions around food, you can maintain very healthy body weight and composition if you know what you’re doing.  Regardless of your heritage, eating healthy requires knowledge and discipline.

Intellectual Environment

For your intellectual environment, I’m going to break it down into two parts, “feed” and “protect.”


Information from all sources will affect you for better or worse   Every source of media you consume will influence your thinking which drives your decision-making and, ultimately, your life.  My mentor Andy Andrews teaches that there’s no such thing as treading water.  Every experience in your life moves you closer or takes you further from your goals, and the choice is yours as to how you spend your time.   

Due to some early positive and wise influences in my life, I have been a student of personal development since my days in college.  I’ve never been in the habit of watching the news any more than the bare minimum required to stay abreast of what’s happening in the world, and I’ve always been proactive in feeding my mind with positive, growth-oriented information.  In today’s world, that’s countercultural to the masses for the most part.  If you want to be successful, look at what the majority is doing and go in the opposite direction. 

Brian Tracy teaches the E to E ratio, the ratio of time you spend entertaining yourself versus educating yourself.  For example, the highest achievers in the world intentionally invest time in furthering their growth, especially in the areas of their passions and strengths.  In contrast, the average person spends far more time entertaining themselves, and as a result, they stay a part of the masses achieving far less in life than they could if they only challenged themselves to grow.

If you’re not investing in your personal growth, I encourage you to start.  Most people underestimate the value of small blocks of time.  For example, if you commute 20 minutes to and from work daily, that short time investment equates to over four forty-hour work weeks annually.  Now, you can spend this time listening to music or sports talk radio which is bubblegum for your mind, or listening to an educational podcast or audiobook, which can change your life over time.  The choice is yours.

Look for the small spaces in your day where you can layer in listening to something positive while doing another activity.  For example, I listen to a couple of hours’ worth of growth-oriented audio every morning before and after the gym and while getting ready for my workday.  My mentor, Darren Hardy, calls this “net time.” You’re already doing the other activity, so make the most of it by feeding your mind wherever it makes sense.


Negative news media will beat a path to your door in our technologically hyper-connected world.  The news machine is in an all-out battle to get and maintain your attention and trust me, it’s not by sharing messages of hope and inspiration, as these will go unnoticed.  You respond far more to shock and awe, and the news media knows this.  They know you in some cases better than you know yourself, and they are maximizing this knowledge to monetize their message through advertising $’s. 

You have to build a fortress to guard your heart and mind.  And despite your best efforts, the world’s negative news will find its way in.  That’s why it’s critical to continue flushing your mind with positive information daily.     

Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.
Proverbs 4:23

Physical environment

Where do you do life?  Beyond your homes, you work, play, travel, worship, and serve in many different environments.  For most, your homes are the one place where you have total control, and I will come back to this in a moment.  For the rest, consider the suggestion I gave above regarding your associations.  Be very careful with the different places you “do life.”  You may determine that you need to make some changes if you identify an area you frequent that negatively influences your life.

And this includes your job   Life is too short to spend the bulk of your waking hours doing something that doesn’t make you happy   A career change is typically not easy and can seem daunting; however if you’re not satisfied, be willing to seek a positive difference.

Leadership expert John Maxwell gives some great counsel on changing your career path.  First, figure out what you want to do and what you need to do to get there.  Even if it involves a process like acquiring further education, determine if the price is worth it and if it is, get to work paying the price.  Be very careful to dismiss an opportunity because the process takes time.  The time will pass regardless, and you can look back with a sense of accomplishment or the dreadful feeling of regret for having been unwilling to change.

Once you’ve pruned your life of harmful environments, you still need to have a game plan for how to thrive in what’s left.  For example, if you work in an office where people routinely eat fast food for lunch or indulge in highly processed snacks, you have to be prepared with your own healthy choices.  If you go to work each day unprepared, you are all the more likely to be influenced by your associates and join in with their unhealthy practices.

Your gold-standard solution is to meal prep on the weekends so you can always be prepared with healthy meals and snacks throughout the day.  If eating out is a part of your routine, then have a game plan for that as well.  Your choice of restaurant is the first big decision that can make or break you.  The better the restaurant, the easier it will be to make healthy choices.  And better does not necessarily mean more expensive.  Shoot for a place where you can get a good portion of clean protein, veggies, smart carbs, and healthy fats, and you will be good.

As I mentioned above, there is one environment where you have total control, and you must make the most of it.  So, if your home is your castle, treat it as such.  And this includes both the environment in your home and the things you bring into your home, namely food.

Please be clear; discipline is to be exhibited at the grocery store, not when staring at the Ben & Jerry’s tub in your freezer.  Whatever your choice of indulgence, you will eventually eat it if you bring it home.  The better your preferences when shopping for groceries, the easier it will be to stay on track once you’re back home.

And please don’t think I’m suggesting that you never have ice cream or any other treat.  Instead, I address the idea of thoroughly treating yourself in “No Cheat Meals Required.”  Still, it would help if you were smart about the quality and quantity of “treat” foods you bring into your home.  For example, if you struggle with occasionally losing control when eating ice cream, consider only bringing home a pint-sized container rather than a gallon.  Another consideration is to opt for lower-calorie options such as Halo Top or make your healthy treats. 

You have to understand that food manufacturers know how to combine sugar, fat, and salt in a way that makes some foods almost irresistible   Ever taken a bite and found yourself wanting the rest of the tub?  That’s how full-sugar and full-fat foods, in particular, impact your brain.  So the old saying, “you can’t just eat one,” can be true.  In contrast, you can make some amazingly good-tasting healthy treats that will not impact your brain similarly.  This is a much better way to go where you can treat yourself regularly without running so much of a risk of overindulging.

Protein Oatmeal & Raisin Cookies

I have one more thought on your home not related to food.  If you’re motivated by inspirational sayings and artwork, take advantage of this and decorate your home accordingly.  I constantly teach my clients the importance of identifying your “why” and then having examples of it strategically posted around your home.  It could be as simple as post-it notes on your bathroom mirror, fridge, microwave, pantry, laptop, etc.

Your “why” should be your guiding beacon; trust me, there will be days when you need it to stay on track.  Remember, if your “why” is big enough, the facts don’t matter.  You will never always feel like doing the things necessary to succeed, which doesn’t matter.  Do them anyway because they’re the right things to do, and your “why” is worth it.

Closing thoughts for my readers: 

In closing, I will ask my opening question again   How are you shaping your path?  After years of working with clients and doing countless consultations geared around helping people improve their physical and emotional health, the information I’ve shared in this post strikes the heart of where and why people struggle.  

If you’re unhappy with where you are in life in any capacity, then be willing to change.  You know the definition of insanity, don’t you?  It’s doing the same thing repeatedly, expecting different results.  So if you want something to be different in your life, you have to be willing to change.

An excellent method for goal achievement is to determine your ultimate destination, break it down to what you have to do each month, break it down to each week, and then down to what you need to do this very day.

And then act.  A journey of a thousand miles truly starts with a single step.

Best of luck in your journey.



Posted in Andy Andrews, Brian Tracy, career change, Christian, Darren Hardy, Diet, Faith, goal setting, Health & Fitness, John Maxwell, life path, living your dream, Nutrition, personal development, success, the power of associations, Uncategorized, weight training, wise choices | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Where the Nutritional Rubber Meets the Road

Name your diet.  I don’t care whether it’s Keto, South Beach, Atkins, Whole 30, or any other program.  Unless you’re willing to follow the simple steps below, you will struggle to achieve success.

What do I mean?  Well, it’s pretty simple.  Three steps must occur to have a healthy meal or snack during the day, not including eating out or purchasing a pre-made product like an Icon meal.

1 – You must plan what you will eat for the next week.  For most people, one week at a time is enough.

2Your plan will drive your shopping list, and you must purchase the food.  This has never been easier with grocery pick-up and delivery services in today’s world.

3Finally, meal prepping and cooking will be required.  A strategic meal prepping routine will generally make things easier once you get into your workweek, where time can be precious and life schedules crazy.  Then it can be as simple as warming up one of your prepped meals, and you’re good to go.  There are endless strategies that can be utilized.  The bottom line is that you’re not starting each meal from scratch.


Now, these steps might seem totally obvious, and yet this is where I see people struggle the most.  It doesn’t matter what nutrition plan you’re following; if you’re unwilling to do the last steps and become proficient at them, you will find consistently eating healthy challenging.  A classic example is poor planning, which results in not purchasing enough food for the week.  Then later in the week, when the healthy food runs out, many will take the path of least resistance and head for McDonald’s or whatever their quick fix preference may be.

Don’t believe me?  The two biggest excuses I get from my clients are that they ran out of food or didn’t have time to cook.  Running out of food should not happen if you carefully plan for the week ahead.  And running out of time is a poor excuse.  The truth is that they failed to prioritize the time for meal prep which streamlines the cooking process significantly.  Seriously, if you have the time to run through a fast-food drive-through window on your way home, you have the time to warm up a prepped meal that should be waiting in your fridge.

For example, I cook all my lunch and dinner protein portions on the weekend, which saves me a ton of time during the workweek when the bullets are flying.  Then, I steam my veggies and starchy carbs daily by microwave.  Then after warming a portion of protein, I have a hot, great-tasting meal.

The Continuum – Home Cooked Meals Versus Eating Out

Above, I mentioned not eating out or using pre-made meals.  Eating out socially and professionally is a normal part of life, so please don’t think I’m suggesting you never eat out.  And pre-made meals can be an excellent source of clean nutrition whether you’re on the go or using them regularly as a part of your weekly game plan.

The Challenges with Eating Out That Can Be Problematic

1 – Quick and Easy:  When you’re looking for something quick and easy, it generally means fast food.  While you can make healthy choices, the unhealthy landmines you must dodge can often take you out in a fleeting moment of rationalization.  For example, justifying ordering the French fries because it’s been a long and hard day at work.

2 – Peer Pressure:  When you’re out with a group that’s not into eating healthy, you being the odd one out can be difficult.  And unless your discipline is extraordinary, peer pressure can often cause you to rationalize choices you shouldn’t be making.

3 – Too Many Choices:  Restaurants today like The Cheesecake Factory or its equally impressive sibling, Grand Lux, have menus like old-fashioned encyclopedias.  And while you can successfully navigate the abundance of indulgent options to make healthy choices, your willpower had better be fully charged.

Unfortunately, many people stumble into these restaurants unprepared, lose their minds, and, as my Dad used to say, end up with eyes bigger than their stomachs and ultimately eat way too much.  And you know, occasionally, there’s nothing wrong with that; however, if you’re trying to make a significant change in your body composition and hitting your favorite spot regularly, the odds are stacked against you.

My Client Gio

When I first shared the “plan, shop, meal prep/cook” concept above with my long-time client Gio, he replied, “Kelly, there’s no way I can rely solely on eating my own food from home.”  Further, he said, “I have to take clients to lunch almost every day of the week as that’s the nature of my business.”

Now I never intended to make him feel like he had to eat only his own home-cooked meals, yet that’s how he took it.  That was an ah-ha moment for me, and now I always share my little concept, carefully explaining that eating out and utilizing pre-made meals can undoubtedly be a part of anyone’s success plan.  That’s also why I don’t do “cookie-cutter” programs.  I always design my client’s nutrition plans around their individual needs, including their lifestyle.

That was a relief to Gio, who used to eat out practically every meal, and he was not always making healthy choices.  Our custom plan is to cook his own breakfast, eat out for lunch most days of the week (making healthy choices), have his own shake in the afternoon, and hit about 50/50 on eating out or cooking at home for dinner.  Gio’s plan works because he believes in what he’s doing and because it’s a sound strategy where I hold him accountable weekly.

My Client Mark  

Mark walked into our club in May of 2020.  He said he was looking for a trainer who knew nutrition, and my boss pointed him to me.  Mark, from day one, did zero cooking.  He had a shake for breakfast, ate out for lunch, a shake post-workout in the afternoon, and ate out for dinner.

Since he was not ready to start cooking, I encouraged him that we would make the best of his eating out.  I did give him guidance for portion control and tweaked his shakes to maximize his nutrition.  When we started working together, Mark weighed about 208 lbs.  His muscle mass and strength consistently increased throughout the summer while his body fat trended down.  His body changed and looked better, yet he still weighed over 200 lbs.

When September hit, he was emotionally ready to embrace the shift to start cooking at home.  We didn’t go 100%. However, he made a strong move in that direction, cutting his restaurant meals dramatically.  By November, Mark was down to 192 lbs., which lined up perfectly with LifeTime’s Holiday 60-Day Challenge.  I encouraged Mark to enter, and he did.

Two grueling months later, Mark finished the contest at 174 lbs. and placed in the top 20 finalists for the nation.  I was thrilled for him, considering how far he had come, especially with the struggles he had endured in his personal life in the years before our meeting.  He had endured numerous trials that no one his age should ever have to take.  And yet, he survived and ultimately thrived to become the man he is today.

To me, both Gio and Mark are successful with their respective plans.  For Gio’s current lifestyle and goals, his blended cooking approach at home and eating out is working well.  He doesn’t have the same goals as Mark, who had to push the continuum much further towards relying on home-cooked meals to reach his goals.  And now, he’s pushing himself even further as we prepare for him to enter his first physique competition in early 2022.

I share these stories to show what success looks like to two completely unrelated clients.  And let me be clear, neither is following a plan superior to the other.  Gio is a much better representation of the average fitness enthusiast and is making progress.  Mark is pursuing a goal that few ever consider, and there will be a higher price for the leanness and overall condition that he seeks.  The important thing is that each has a plan for achieving his goals, including the plan, shop, meal prep/cook concept I’ve shared.

For Mark’s goals, eating out has become more of a luxury and a treat to reward himself for his hard work and discipline.  For Gio, eating out is much more a part of his daily life, and it works.  In either case, when they eat out, they have a plan for portion control.  Now please don’t get me wrong.  I’m not a total control freak and allow all my clients to enjoy themselves regarding food.  In fact, one of the first blogs I ever published is titled “You Don’t Have to Be Perfect.”  Life is too short to live on grilled chicken, steamed broccoli, and dry baked potato.  You can have your proverbial “cake” and eat it too.

Closing thoughts for my readers:

Last October of 2020, I wrapped up Precision Nutrition’s Level II Certification.  It was a year-long course that completely changed how I approach nutrition coaching.  Towards the end of the program, I had clarity of thoughts regarding the process I spelled out above, and I’ve shared it with countless people over the past few months.

My message always resonates, and they agree that eating good-tasting healthy meals is not a challenge.  It’s doing the work to plan, shop, and prep/cook that produces healthy meals where people struggle.  If you had the good fortune of having a professional chef running behind you daily, providing gourmet-level healthy meals designed for your specific needs, achieving optimal health would be easier.  Unfortunately, most do not have that luxury.

I teach my clients and encourage them to take things one step at a time.  With few exceptions, any positive new behavior is going to yield results.  So depending on where you fall on the continuum of eating out versus eating home-cooked meals, figure out what works best for you and then stick to your plan.  And then, consider implementing what I’ve shared for the meals you’re cooking at home.  It may be intimidating at first; however, it will get easier and easier with time.  And I promise that the better you get at planning, shopping, and meal prepping, the easier your life will be to reach and maintain optimal health.

Best of luck in your journey.

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The Top 10 Lessons I’ve Learned From Darren Hardy – Part 2

This post is part two of a follow-up to the background story for how I met Darren Hardy. The following is the second half of the top lessons I’ve learned over the past eight years from the man who has become one of my most influential mentors.  

From Darren’s book, “The Entrepreneur Roller Coaster”:

6 – Habituating to Fear

One of my favorite stories is from Darren’s early days of playing baseball and learning to bat from his Dad.  His challenge was staying in the batter’s box due to a fear of being hit by the ball.  The further challenge was that Darren’s Dad was a hardcore,  man’s man football coach, who could have doubled for Gunnery Sergent Hartman from “Full Metal Jacket”.  So, for Darren to be afraid of being hit by the ball was completely unacceptable. 

The solution to conquering his fear was to remove the need for fear in the first place.  Darren’s Dad started their batting practice with Wiffle balls to help him learn to stay in the batter’s box.  Initially, Mr. Hardy threw right at Darren over and over teaching him not to flinch at the sight of the approaching ball.  Being hit by a Wiffle ball was essentially painless, and yet the repetition of the drill taught him to stay rock-solid versus jumping out of the way.

Gradually Mr. Hardy started throwing over the plate so Darren could actually swing at the ball.  Occasionally, he would still beam Darren just to remind him that being hit was okay.  Once he conquered Wiffle balls, they moved up to tennis balls repeating the same process.
Now being hit by the tennis balls did sting a little, however, with his strengthened resolve, they moved on to actual baseballs.

Now Mr. Hardy was not going to intentionally hit Darren with a baseball and yet the potential for being accidentally hit was still intimidating.  To sweeten the deal, the agreement was that if he was hit three times, he earned a trip to get pizza.  Now Darren LOVED pizza, and while the baseballs did hurt a bit, he quickly learned that a few moments of pain were well worth the payoff of a large pepperoni & sausage.  

Ultimately Darren’s weakness became a tremendous strength as he became quite accomplished at getting on base because he learned to conquer his fear.  And you can do the same with whatever fear is holding you back.  Simply break it down to the smallest possible step…and then take the step.  If appropriate, build in a reward system like Darren’s trip to the local pizza parlor.  One small step at a time with the right mindset will allow you to conquer any fear you may have.

Image from

7 – Failing Your Way to Success 

Michael Jordan ranks in the all-time top ten for the most shots missed and yet he is arguably considered the greatest player in NBA history.  Thomas J. Watson of IBM had a philosophy of embracing failure.  In fact, he believed that ultimate success was found on the far side of failure.  And Jeff Bezos of has burned 100’s of millions of dollars in the process of building the most successful company on the planet.  Amazon has built a culture of failure that drives their universe denting success.  

Darren learned this valuable lesson during his early days of selling real estate.  In a down market, where most of the veterans in his office waited for the phone to ring, Darren forced success by stacking up failures.  He would go door to door approaching homes listed as For Sale By Owner and then spent hours on the phone in the evenings calling on expired listings.  He went from being the rookie to the top agent in his office by pushing the pendulum so far to the side of failure, that it catapulted him to the extreme opposite side of success.  

It was a numbers game much like a lesson I learned from my first sales manager.  In a deck of cards, you have 52 cards with 12 face cards.  With the deck face down, drawing one card at a time, it is impossible to not eventually draw a face card.  You know they’re in there…you just have to trust the process and run the numbers until the numbers prove you right.  When applied to life, the challenge is to simply have the intestinal fortitude to go through the struggles needed to ultimately reach success.       

From Darren’s digital program, “Insane Productivity:

8 – Digital Addiction 

The single biggest threat to our productivity in today’s world is distractions.  Between our phones, tablets, computers, social media, and the seemingly endless number of apps, our attention is constantly being pulled into a multitude of different directions.  And the problem is that for the most part, we’ve done it to ourselves…and we love it. 

I say we love it because according to, “For many people, social interaction stimulates the release of dopamine. Because so many people use their phones as tools of social interaction, they become accustomed to constantly checking them for that hit of dopamine that’s released when they connect with others on social media or some other app.”  So, digital addiction is a real thing and it can be extremely hard to break.

Image from Kern Valley Sun

The challenge with phones has become so pervasive that to see someone in public, alone, without their face in their phone is almost an anomaly.  In the gym environment where I earn my living, it is rare to see someone training without their phone.  The challenge is that more and more, people tie up equipment between sets with their faces buried in their phones…texting, emailing, surfing, or whatever.  The bottom line is that it’s becoming a nuisance.    

And for all the warnings about not using your phone while driving, you still see people every day with one hand on the wheel and their phone in the other.  It’s time to stop the insanity.  Thankfully Darren made me aware of my personal challenge and with awareness, there comes the possibility of change.

Image from Safewise

My particular struggle is not so much with social media or staying connected with the news.  My kryptonite is email & text messages and they’re the monsters I’m still working to tame.  The problem is that they’re the primary tools that I use to communicate with my clients.  And being a people person who loves to serve, I feel compelled to constantly check my phone for the sake of running my business.  The solution was simple enough and now I only check for messages at specific times of the day.  This keeps me in control and has reduced my stress level substantially.

My favorite strategy from Darren, especially concerning not using your phone while driving, is to leave it out of reach in the backseat…or if needed in your trunk.  Now, if the very thought of not having your phone “handy” in the car gives you the shakes, you may have a problem.  And it’s not just confined to your car.

Nomophobia—an abbreviation of “no-mobilephone-phobia”—is also called “cell phone addiction.” Symptoms include: Experiencing anxiety or panic over losing your phone. Obsessively checking for missed calls, emails, and texts.

Sound familiar?  In Darren’s “Insane Productivity” course, he provides a “Digital Addiction Assessment” to determine your true level of digital struggle.  Once you take the test, your roadmap for change will be clearly spelled out and with one step at a time, you can take back your life.

9 – No Multi-tasking Required 

So how many of you know someone who prides themself on being good at multitasking?
You do understand that there’s no such thing as multitasking.  Right?  It’s impossible to run two cognitive processes in your brain at the same time.  What you’re doing is actually switching and switching makes you dumber than if you were smoking dope.  When you’re smoking dope, your IQ drops by about five points.  When you’re switching between two different and yet like cognitive tasks, it drops by about ten.

One thing at a time is best.

Look, you can walk on a treadmill, chew gum, and watch a video on your phone, all at the same time and do great because you’re using different parts of your brain.  But when you’re driving with your phone, you’re either driving or you’re looking at your phone.  You can’t do both at the same time which is why driving while using your phone is so incredibly dangerous.  Add a cup of coffee to the mix and you’re a wreck waiting to happen.

Don’t believe me?  Try this.  Count from 1-10 as fast as you can.  Now name the letters of the alphabet from A-J as fast as you can.  No sweat, right?  Now try 1A, 2B, 3C…all the way to 10J and see how you do.  I bet you slowed down quite a bit.  And why?  Because you’re running two like cognitive tasks in switching back and forth between the numbers and letters which comes close to locking up your brain.

This one was hard for me to accept however I promise you will get far more done doing one thing at a time.  And remember, it’s not a matter of getting it all done anyway.  You will never get it all done.  Your inbox will never be empty and your to-do list will never end.  The key to high productivity is to get the right things done.  Focus on priority management, not time management.  You will never control time, but you can maximize it by focusing on your highest producing activities.

10 – Design Your Life…Then Your Business

Many people get this backward.  They choose a job without careful consideration for the life that career path will give them.  How do you define success?  How do you want to live your life when you’re not working?  Do you want a long commute or a short one?  Or none?  Do you want to travel?  Do you want to have your nights and weekends free?
These questions could go on and on and they should.  

Some people spend more time planning their vacations than they do planning for their life.  The key is to design the life you want to live in the most vivid detail and then select the career path that supports your dreams.  Or if you have an entrepreneurial spirit, build a business to support the life of your dreams.  This concept is not complicated and yet again, many people get it backward.  These are some of the same people who live for the weekend, and life is too short to live for only two days out of seven.      

Closing thoughts for my readers:

Outside of his Dad, Jim Rohn was Darren’s most significant mentor.  Personally, I discovered Mr. Rohn back in the ’90s and I’ve studied his teachings over the years as well.  Jim was simply brilliant and considered America’s Foremost Business Philosopher.  He touched the hearts of people literally around the world and he certainly touched mine. 

Image from

To wrap up, I want to share the two dominant principles that are burned in my mind compliments of Jim:

1 – Leave the world better than you find it.
2 – If a book or song or movie or any experience touches your heart and life, you have a responsibility to share it with others.

It is in the spirit of Jim that I’ve shared Darren’s impact on my life.  

Best of luck in your journey.

For more information on the resources Darren offers, go to


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The Top 10 Lessons I’ve Learned From Darren Hardy – Part 1

This post is part one of a follow-up to the background story for how I met Darren Hardy.  The following is the first half of the top lessons I’ve learned over the past eight years from the man who has become one of my most influential mentors.  

From Darren’s book, “The Compound Effect”:

1 – Long-term Perspective & Consistency:

The compound effect is a powerful force in your life for positive or negative and many people fail to realize it.  Do you know what happens when you double a penny every day for 31 days?  You start with $.01 on day one, and then $.02 on day two, and then $.04, $.08, $.16, $.32, $.64, $1.28, $2.56 and so on.

After nine days and a total of $2.56, there’s not much to be excited about.  And yet, when you jump ahead to day thirty, you have $5,368,709.12 and on day thirty-one, you have $10,737,418.24.  Now here’s the catch.  The math never changes from day one to day thirty-one.  It’s just simple duplication.  The power is in the consistency.  Miss any one day and you don’t get anywhere near the same total.


This simple concept has taught me to have a long-term perspective while maintaining absolute consistency in the present moment.  Many are tripped up in two ways.  With negative habits, you don’t see the damage being done at the moment.  And yet, like in the penny example above, a negative habit compounded over time can destroy your health, relationships, career, and ultimately your life.  For this reason, you have to remain vigilant and aware of every area of your life.


Even when trying to build in new and positive habits, it can work the same way.  People don’t see the benefits in the short run because the positive effects are too small to be noticed.  Exercise, nutrition, and weight loss are great examples where people try again and again to change, only to give up too soon because of a lack of apparent results.  The key is to be patient in the short run and to trust the process until the power of the compound effect kicks in.  Then the positive results will be so compelling that there’s no way you will stop.

2 – Taking Responsibility

This is a big one, and while I have to give credit to Darren’s mentor, the great Jim Rohn, for first sharing this concept with me, it’s been Darren in recent years who has hammered this principal deep into my consciousness.  It’s really simple…accept 100% responsibility for every area of your life.  This means the good and the bad.  You are where you are in life because of the choices and decisions that you’ve made.  If you don’t like where you are, make different choices.

Image by Heather Parady

Now you might say, that it’s not your fault that you’re dealing with a certain negative situation.  And that may be true and yet you always have a choice in how you respond to any situation.  When you place blame on outside circumstances, you give away your power to create change for the positive in your life.  So regardless of what happens to you, choose to respond in a positive way.  Be solution-oriented rather than problem-oriented and your life will be all the better for it.


3 – Associations

Your associations in life will make or break you so choose wisely.  It’s been said that you’re the combined average of the people you spend the most time with.  This principle is nothing new as you’ve heard it all your life…starting most likely with your mother.  The challenge is that it’s not easy.  

I encourage you to take a serious inventory of your life including faith, family & friends, finances, and fitness.  Now, look at the people you spend time with and consider how they’re doing in these areas.  Depending on what you find, you may have some hard choices to make.  Life is too short to allow negative people to drag you down.  And remember, there’s no such thing as treading water…you’re either growing for the positive or you’re slipping back for the negative.

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And for an added emphasis, it’s not just people that you have to be careful with.  News in any format, social media, television, movies, and music all carry a message and it’s either positive or negative.  You seriously have to guard your heart and mind daily because, in our over-tech-stimulated world, you are being bombarded day and night.  To paraphrase Darren, you have to be hyper-vigilant in feeding your mind with the positive and in shielding your mind from the negative because trust me…the negative will beat a path to your door.

4 – Momentum

Momentum is an awesome force.  When properly harnessed, it can propel you to the pinnacle of success, regardless of your pursuit.  According to Darren, a train traveling 55 mph on a railroad track can crash through a 5-foot thick steel-reinforced concrete wall without stopping. That same train, starting from a stationary position, won’t be able to go through an inch-thick block in front of the driving wheel.

Image from YouTube

The trick then is to get momentum working for you so that like the train above, you become essentially unstoppable.  The biggest secret I’ve learned from Darren regarding momentum is that it takes time and patience to build.  A great example is Apple’s introduction of the iPod.  For the record, Apple was the eighth company to introduce an MP3 player…four years behind the original from South Korea’s SaeHan Information Systems. 

In 2000, Apple’s revenue growth was 30%.  In 2001, the year they launched the iPod, their revenue growth dropped to – 33%.  In 2002, it improved to only -2%.  In 2003, it improved to 18%, and in 2004, they hit 33%.  From there, Apple skyrocketed up to controlling over 70% of the MP3 player market.  And today, according to Mother Google, Apple as a brand is worth in excess of $100 billion dollars.

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This story has always been such an encouragement to me.  Remember, the iPod entered the MP3 race four years behind the leaders with a technically inferior product, and yet due to Steve Job’s dogged persistence and brilliant marketing mind, Apple caught momentum and rode the wave all the way to market dominance.  

5 – Thanks Giving Journal

Of all the lessons I’ve learned from Darren over the years, my favorite is on the power of gratitude.  His favorite holiday is Thanksgiving where he puts more emphasis on showing his love and affection for the special people in his life versus any other time of the year.   

One year, in particular, Darren gave his wife Georgia a very special gift…a Thanks Giving journal.  For the entire previous year, Darren journaled daily one positive thought regarding his wife.  It could be anything from the way she styled her hair to the meal she prepared for dinner or the way she cared for their dogs.

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This is a classic case of manifesting what you give focus and attention to, and Darren will say that one year of constantly looking for the good in his wife dramatically impacted their relationship for the positive.  The benefit he discovered was that by proactively focusing on the positive in Georgia, he found himself compelled to show up differently and ultimately to love her all the more.  Needless to say, she loved the journal expressing that it was the best gift he had ever given her.

Stay tuned for part 2…




Posted in Darren Hardy, Entrepreneur, Jim Rohn, personal development, seeking wisdom, social media, the power of associations, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

How I Met Darren Hardy

It’s often been said that thin threads of circumstance bring people into our lives, and my introduction to Darren Hardy is a great example.  I was living in Broomfield, CO, in the Spring of 2012 when a member at the gym where I was working gave me a CD called “Making the Shift.”  The author was Darren Hardy, and the content he shared was on the mental shift needed to go from being an employee to being an entrepreneur. 

The info on the CD was excellent; however, the member was using it specifically to recruit for a business he was involved in.  While I had no interest in his company, I was so grateful for the connection to Darren because the lessons I’ve learned from him over the past eight years and counting have been life-changing.  Ultimately, my time in Colorado was short, and I moved back to Dallas in August 2012.

The following is a brief timeline of the investments I’ve made in my education with resources from Darren…leading up to the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet him in person:

  • 2012 – Received the CD “Making the Shift.”

  • 2013 – Purchased Darren’s book, “The Compound Effect.”

  • 2014 – Joined Darren’s DarrenDaily community
  • 2015 – Purchased Darren’s book, “The Entrepreneur Roller Coaster.”

  • 2016 – Purchased the online program, Insane Productivity

In the Spring of 2016, I received an email from Tom Ziglar, son of the late great Zig Ziglar.  As a long-time follower of Zig, I was on their email list, so this wasn’t a personal message.  However, it promoted an upcoming special event that was intriguing at first glance.  Best-selling author and speaker Brian Tracy was planning to hold a three-day “success” training weekend in May, and it was practically going to be in my backyard.  I live in North Dallas, and the event was just minutes from home.

I quickly scanned through the details especially looking for the price, when I came across one particular point that caught my attention.  Darren Hardy, who I had been following for four years, was named as one of the featured keynote speakers.  After searching frantically, I finally found the cost of the event.  The base package was $1,000 with a VIP upgrade for an extra $497, giving you access to the guest speakers during a private banquet-style lunch on Friday and Saturday.

In all fairness, I think a lot of Brian Tracy, who is a brilliant man.  I purchased my first of several Brian Tracy books in the ’90s; however, there’s no way I would have paid $1,497 to see him.  But to see Darren Hardy live, it was a done deal.  I immediately clicked on the link provided in the email to register, and then the countdown began.

From that day on April 6 to the actual event, May 13th-15th may have been one of the longest waits of my life…but well worth it.  The lineup of speakers on Friday was solid, and the opportunity to meet Brian Tracy during the VIP lunch was extraordinary; however, my sights were still set on Saturday with Darren.

He was scheduled to speak mid-morning, so I didn’t have to wait very long, and yet the time seemed to drag on and on from speaker to speaker I had never heard of for the most part.  And then, finally, after a warm introduction from the host, and a short video featured on two massive screens, Darren emerged from behind the curtains and walked out on the stage.

Image from

The whole experience was surreal, and he seemed much larger than life.  It was very much like a chance to meet with a celebrity that maybe you’ve seen hundreds of times on TV or in the movies.  Between listening to Darren on audio and watching his videos on YouTube, I had heard his voice hundreds of times.  So when he finally spoke, it was like listening to a friend because of the overwhelming familiarity.

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His topic was on productivity, and the content was terrific.  Darren was as polished as I expected and clearly the standout speaker for the entire weekend.  I took pages of notes, and as he started wrapping up, my mind began racing, anticipating hopefully meeting him at the upcoming VIP lunch.  With his talk complete, he made a unique offer good for the weekend to enroll in his world-class online productivity training program called Insane Productivity.

Darren’s first car.

I had intended to invest only the price of attending the event; however, Darren made a unique and appealing offer for the attendees.  With little hesitation, I jumped on the opportunity to further my education from the man who had become a mentor through his training resources.

My first car. What are the odds?

A couple of other speakers followed Darren, and then it was off to the VIP lunch.  When I walked into the room, quite a few people were in a long line waiting to have their picture with Darren.  While I was hungry, food was not my priority, and after leaving my journal at one of the place settings, I jumped in line.  After what seemed like forever, it was finally my turn.  

As I walked up with my hand extended to introduce myself, Darren graciously shook my hand, and we took our places for the photo.  It was short and sweet due to the many people still waiting in line; however, it was very special to me.  I thanked Darren for being there and then went to the buffet line.  

I wanted to have the opportunity to do some Q & A with Darren before the afternoon session, and fortunately, that was the case.  Once he wrapped up the photos,  he positioned himself centrally in the room, allowing us to ask questions.  I was one of the few lucky ones who was called on, which only added to an already fantastic experience.  Given the number of people, it wasn’t practical to spend one-on-one time with Darren, although I still thought my VIP upgrade was well worth it and will treasure the memory forever.

To wrap up this post, I want to share a humorous experience after lunch.  Darren sat in the crowd along with the rest of the attendees for the afternoon session.  He was only twenty feet away from me in clear view, making what happened next hilarious.

If you’ve gone through Insane Productivity, you know that Darren is not into high-fiving, messaging your neighbor, childhood regressions, or walking on burning coals.  He’s way more all-business, so give him the goods so he can go back and kick butt with the lessons learned.  Well, much to his, I’m guessing, displeasure, Darren’s polar opposite was the first prominent speaker after lunch.

He had the audience on their feet, clapping their hands, doing backflips and hoorahs, and shouting phrases of affirmation.  It was quite the scene, and I could tell Darren was not enjoying it.  I can only imagine what he was thinking.  Darren is one of the most accomplished speakers you will ever see but is quite introverted, so this was not his kind of scene.  I’m with him and prefer a more professional environment, for what it’s worth. 

Closing thoughts for my readers:

This post is the first of two, as I will soon publish the top lessons I’ve learned from Darren.  To wrap up, I want to leave you with the following: the embodiment of everything Darren and his A-Team stand for.  For more information on the resources and programs they offer, go to


You Were Called Here For A Reason
To fulfill a particular purpose.  A mission.

To contribute something unique.
Something that wouldn’t have existed without you.
It’s your Hero’s Journey.    



Posted in Brian Tracy, Darren Hardy, personal development, success, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

My Secrets for Working Out at Home

On March 16, 2020, my company along with many others across our nation closed its doors.  When our boss gave the word, my mind immediately began racing with all the mostly negative ramifications.  Beyond the obvious health and financial implications for our country, I wondered how in the world I would be able to train at home. 

Since I’ve always trained at a gym, I had very little exercise equipment at home.  I had my trap bar and two 25 lbs kettlebells and that was about it.  That evening, I ordered a resistance band set from Amazon which thankfully arrived a couple of days later.  The next day I purchased a stability ball and ab wheel from Walmart, and a small number of free weights for my trap bar along with some extra resistance bands from Busy Body Fitness.

I would have purchased more weight however they were out.  As crazy as the rush on toilet tissue has been, the rush on fitness equipment has been almost equally crazy.  Even as of this morning, it’s still difficult to find fitness equipment locally or online.  My one other purchase was a trip to Home Depot for a metal pipe, chain, and a couple of spring links to build my homemade chin-up bar.

10′ chain – $10, 3′ galvanized pipe – $20, 2 spring links – $7, being able to do chins at home – priceless!

Now I will admit that while training at home is not the same as going to the gym, it’s still doable and it certainly beats the alternative of not doing anything.  I had never used resistance bands before as one of my primary tools and I’m still figuring out little tricks almost daily in better utilizing them.  Actually, in some ways, I like them more than some of the equipment I was using before, and will definitely be integrating them into my training in the future once I’m back in my gym.

With that short background, I want to shift to my biggest reason for this post.  As I’ve reached out to a number of my clients over the past few weeks, the most common feedback I’ve received is that they’re not motivated to workout at home.  This is even coming from a few clients who actually have some decent home equipment…certainly more than my little hodgepodge.

So here’s the same tuff love that I’ve given to my clients regarding their lack of motivation.  Motivation is a trap…based on your emotions.  If you live your life based only on how you feel, good luck.  You will live your life on a freakin’ roller coaster as your emotions go up, down, and all around.  Live your life based on your commitments to yourself, your family, your friends, your coworkers, and your fellow man…do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do. 

Question?  Do you always feel like going to work?  The answer is “no” for most.  So why do you go?  Because of your commitments to take care of yourself and your family.  Obviously, there’s more, but this really cuts to the core reasons for why you go.  Feeling like it generally has little to do with it.  

So, when it comes to your exercise, it doesn’t matter if you’re motivated or not.  Do it because it’s the right thing to do…for you.  Further, do it because you’re no good to your family or anyone else if you physically break down.  And this will be the end result of not taking care of your self.  World renown physician, Dr. Ken Cooper teaches that you can proactively invest time to build and fortify your health…or you will reactively be forced to take time to put yourself back together once your body breaks down.  

As a morning person, I’ve trained in the early mornings for most of my life.  Since I’ve been training at home the past few weeks, my schedule has not changed at all.  I get up at the same time and do my morning bible study along with coffee and a small protein shake before getting dressed to train.  The only difference is that instead of driving to the gym, I’m simply training in my apartment.

So, depending on your circumstances, figure out first of all when you’re going to train and then schedule the time.  Then when you actually do your workout, go through the same warm-up process as much as possible as when you were going to the gym.  It will be different on the one hand because you’re at home, however, I promise that your body will start to kick in once you take action.  If you usually wear head-phones, wear your head-phones…if appropriate.  The more you can simulate the feel of the gym, the better.  

Once you get your first workout in, I promise the second will be easier and so on.  To add a little gamification to the process, add your training to your calendar.  The calendar in your phone or computer will do however an old fashioned wall calendar is the best…because of the visual element.  Commit to your next week of training and then focus strictly on the first workout.  Once it’s done, mark it off your calendar and then focus on the next.  There is power in seeing your progress as evidenced by the check marks on your calendar.  One workout at a time, one week at a time, and you can do this.

Closing thoughts for my readers:

In my previous life as a manufacturer rep, I used to travel quite a bit and trained in a lot of different gyms.  I learned what I shared regarding your training at home from my time training on the road.  At first, it was difficult because of the different environments, the variations in equipment, and the fact that I was coming from my hotel instead of the comforts of my home.

Once I learned, however, to follow the same routine as my home town gym in terms of my warm-up, the differences seemed to fade away.  Further, after a few trips, I got used to the variation to the point that it wasn’t a big deal.  In fact, I had some great workouts over that three and half year period and value now all the more the lessons I learned.

As I’ve said to my clients many times, I will never ask them to do anything I’m not willing to do myself.  So, in that same spirit, the following are screen-shots from my Fitbit starting back on March the 17th right up to this morning.  My rotation is four days of weights followed by an off/cardio day.  As of this morning, I haven’t missed and you can do the same with whatever your personal schedule is.  Set your goal for how many days you’re going to train this next week and get it done.  Just turn your brain off and do the work.  You will be so glad you did.

Best of luck in your journey.




Posted in attitude, better mood, Christian, Faith, Follower of Christ, goal setting, Health & Fitness, home training, learning from mistakes, Nutrition, personal development, success, Uncategorized, weight training, wise choices | 2 Comments

Simple Wisdom for Life

Recently when going into the notes app on my iPhone, I made an unexpected discovery.  Please understand that I’m not in the habit of using this feature and will typically shoot myself an email or text when I need any sort of reminder.  But for some reason, I opened the app and was surprised to find an entry from October of 2016.

First of all, I don’t remember ever adding the notes, to begin with.  More interesting is the fact that I just purchased my current phone last Summer of 2019.  In October of 2016, I was using an iPhone, however, it was issued to me by my employer at the time and I’m no longer with that company.  So how did a note I made on another phone show up in my current?

Yes, I am a morning person.

Being the curious sort, I reached out to my local Verizon store and they had no idea.  Who knows, it must have been stuck in the cloud.  Anyway, the crazy thing is that I still don’t remember making the notes.  Further, in writing this post, it’s clear that these insights came to me over the broad course of my life starting in early childhood right up to recent years.  Ultimately, I am grateful and now compelled to share what I found, and hope this in at least some small way adds value to your life.

  1. Having a Spirit of Gratitude – From Andy Andrews

    Andy Andrews has been a mentor to me for over twenty years through his books and other resources.  I’ve seen him speak on several occasions and he’s truly one of the most brilliant men I’ve ever known.  One of my favorite quotes from his book, The Traveler’s Gift, is “It’s impossible for the seeds of depression to take root in a thankful heart.”  

    This is a powerful statement.  Whatever you give focus and energy to in life will be manifested.  If you choose to place your focus on your doubts, fears, or any other negative situation, you will only make these things worse.  But if you will have a spirit of gratitude and focus your thoughts and energy on the positive, you will inevitably live a happier, more hopeful, and fulfilled life.

    And it’s a choice you make every day.  You can choose to be happy with what you have or you can whine and complain about what you don’t have.  You all know which is the better way to go.  Be a glass half full person…not half empty.   
    The last thing I do before turning out the lights at night is to list the handful of things I’m most grateful for that occurred over the course of the day.  It is a fact that we don’t think our way into action…we act our way into feeling.  And I promise, if you will take a moment to list just a few things that you’re grateful for, you will go to bed with more peace in your mind, heart, and spirit.

  2. Accept 100% Responsibility for Your LifeFrom Andy Andrews 

    This is a big one and while I have to give credit to the late great Jim Rohn for first sharing this concept with me, it was Andy whose teachings had the greatest impact.  It’s really simple…accept 100% responsibility for every area of your life.  This means the good and the bad.  You are where you are in life for the most part because of the choices and decisions that you’ve made.  If you don’t like where you are, make different choices.

    Now you might say, that it’s not your fault that you’re dealing with a certain negative situation.  And that may be true and yet you always have a choice as to how you respond to any situation.  When you place blame on some outside circumstances, you give away your power to affect change for the positive in your life.  So regardless of what happens to you, choose to respond in a positive way.  Be solution-oriented rather than problem-oriented and you will be all the better for it.

  3. Saying “Yes Ma’am and No Ma’am” – From Mom and Dad

    Call it old fashioned, call it Southern, call it whatever you like.  This is how I was raised from my earliest memories.  Obviously Yes Sir and No Sir were equally expected.  It is a sign of respect and giving honor to adults and it was drummed into my consciousness to the point that it will be forever an automatic response.  Whether you agree or disagree, you can never go wrong in showing respect and honor to your elders.

  4. Saying “Thank You” and not just “Thanks” – From Jeffrey Gitomer

    This may seem trivial and yet semantics are powerful.  One of my favorite verses from the bible is:

    Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.”  Proverbs 18:21

    You literally speak your world into existence and taking the time and courtesy to say a complete thank you rather than just thanks will be appreciated.  It may be a small detail, but I promise the little things do matter and really add up. 

  5. Sending Thank You Cards – From Mom and Dad

    In our current age of ever-advancing technology and instant communication, sending a handwritten thank you card is a timeless and lost art.  There’s nothing wrong with sending a thank you text or email, however, if you really want to separate yourself from the masses, send a handwritten card or letter.

    My parents taught me as a little boy that whenever I received a gift of any kind or was the recipient of some kind gesture, a thank you note was an automatic.  It doesn’t have to be fancy.  In fact, if you really think about it, it only takes a moment to craft a few well thought out and meaningful lines expressing your feelings of gratitude, and yet its impacts can be both powerful and priceless. 

  6. Doing Right v Doing Wrong – From Dr. Jack Graham 

    Dr. Graham has been my pastor now for almost 20 years and he’s fond of saying “It’s always right to do right and it’s never right to do wrong.”  In good faith, Mom and Dad did a great job of teaching me right versus wrong as a child however in my adult years, Dr. Graham has been my moral compass.  He is a bible scholar who teaches God’s word and he pulls no punches.

    One habit that I’ve developed thanks to Dr. Graham is a daily bible study including a chapter from the book of Proverbs.  For many years now, I’ve read a chapter a day which means I read the entire book once a month.  I can’t tell you the difference this has made in my life.  Proverbs is the book of wisdom and in particular, it teaches how important it is, to be honest, and ethical in every respect.  It is a high standard and yet it’s my goal to strive to be above reproach in every area of life. 

  7. Always Tell the Truth – From Mom and Dad

    Trust is the foundation for any relationship and honesty is an absolute building block for creating trust.  If there’s no trust, then there’s not much of a relationship.  It’s interesting how the lessons we learn as children stick with us all our lives and telling the truth is certainly one of the most critical.

    From the early influence of my parents to my daily study of God’s word, I do my best with this one and it’s always on my mind.  Telling the truth is not always easy but it’s definitely always right.  One lesson that I’ve learned the hard way is that telling a lie at the moment only seems to compound over time so that if you’re ever caught, the consequences seem inevitably worse than if you would have told the truth in the first place.

  8. Be Careful in Choosing Your Friends – From Mom

    This is a saying we all remember as kids however some adults seem to forget the wisdom of Mom in choosing their friends.  Your associations in life will make or break you so choose wisely.  The late great Jim Rohn and John Wooden, both brilliant men, used to teach at great lengths about the importance of choosing your friends and associates.  

    If you’re up to the challenge, make of list of the top ten people you spend the most time with and remember that there’s no such thing as neutral or treading water in life.  You’re either growing and moving forward in a positive direction or you’re regressing.  Now carefully look over and consider whether the people you’ve listed are lifting you up or dragging you down.  

    Depending on what you find, you may have some hard choices to make.  If it’s a negative work associate, do what you need to do to be loyal to your employer and fulfill your job.  Outside of that, be very careful with how you spend your time.  If it’s a family member that’s creating negative in your life, you may have to love them from a distance for the sake of your personal well being.  Family situations can be tricky so proceed cautiously.

    In any case, whether it be a friend, work associate, or family member, you really do need to guard your heart and mind by setting the appropriate boundaries.  Life is too short to allow negative relationships to drag you down.

  9. Play Nice With Your Friends – From Mom

    Getting along with people is a priceless asset and there’s definitely some skill involved.  Dr. Gary Chapman in his book, The Five Love Languages, teaches that we’re all uniquely wired to feel appreciation and love through gift-giving, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, and touch.

    While the book is written for couples, the principles apply to all relationships in this way.  If you don’t understand how another person is wired to feel appreciation, then you might as well be speaking a different language.  That’s how far off our efforts can be to show appreciation if we’re speaking in a way that fails to connect with the other person.  People tend to show appreciation in the way they want to receive it and unfortunately, this can fall on deaf ears.

    If you want to be a better communicator and raise the quality of all the relationships in your life, study Chapman’s work.  Learn how you’re wired and how to identify how other people are wired so you can target your communication in the most effective way for your mutual benefit.

  10. If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say, Don’t Say Anything at All –
    From Roxanne Parks

    You’ve all probably heard at least a version of this from your Mom as I certainly did.  However, it was Roxanne Parks, a business associate, and friend from many years ago who did a talk that I will never forget.  It was based on Philippians 4:8 which is another one of my favorite bible verses:

    “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

    One point that really hit home for me was the importance of focusing on the positive.  Roxanne said to be very careful when making a negative statement…even if it’s true.  In the spirit of Phil 4:8, if it’s not a positive statement in general or lifts someone up, why make the statement?  She said you never know how your words may affect someone else in an adverse way.

    Now it’s not a big deal, however, I still remember a co-worker in a team meeting of about 20 people speak very negatively about the game of golf in general and especially regarding watching it on TV.  Now I love golf and I’ve spent my fair share of time watching it on TV…especially the majors.  And again, this is trivial at best and yet here we are, roughly 15 years later, and I still remember her comments like it was yesterday.  Imagine the damage that could potentially be done if it was something actually significant and important.

    The second point Roxanne made that really stuck with me is that you can’t have a quality relationship with someone when you speak negatively about them behind their back.  It will poison your attitude toward them and there’s no way you will be able to hide your body language when you’re in their presence.  Plus you always run the risk of your words getting back to them.  Can you say fraught with danger?

  11. Have a Spirit of Forgiveness – From Dr. Graham

    Having a spirit of forgiveness is one of the hardest character traits to obtain and yet one of the most beneficial.  Dr. Graham will often say that a root of bitterness is an acid that will eat its container…or your soul.  That’s why when forgiving someone of some grievance, the person often most likely to benefit is…you.

    From personal experience, I will say that the sooner you take action in asking for forgiveness, the better.  The longer you wait, the more the Law of Diminishing Intent is going to work against you.  Basically the longer you wait, the harder it will be to do what you know you need to do.  You will be way better off to hold your breath, rip off the band-aid, and get it done.  

Closing thoughts for my readers:

We are living in strange times, to say the least.  I’m writing this at the start of my third week off due to the virus.  When one of my best clients shared with me just a few short weeks ago that it had been declared a pandemic, I would have never imagined how much could change and how fast.

The best advice I can give is to trust that we’re going to get through this.  Our government has the brightest minds in our country focused on figuring out how to best deal with the situation.  One of my favorite quotes from Napoleon Hill is: 

It’s the reason why my first point above is on gratitude which is directly tied to your attitude.  This situation is beyond anything we’ve ever experienced, and yet there’s still a silver lining if you’re willing to look for it.  For those who are with your family, value and cherish the extra time you’re getting to spend together.  If you’re single with extra time, take advantage of the opportunity to reconnect with old friends.

The worst thing you can do is overdose on all the negative.  Stay up with the news as needed but don’t binge watch it all day.  That will only bring you down further and make an already horrific situation all the worse.  Focus on the positive and expect only the best outcome from this and we as a nation and world will survive and ultimately thrive again.

Best of luck in your journey.


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