Adopt this Lesson to be Resilient🥊

Hi Friend,

Living your best life requires flexibility. A willingness to adapt to the unexpected. The more rigid you are, the less resilient you will be. One of the best ways I learned to be adaptable was through a very unlikely source. 

 

When I was in high school I did improvisational comedy on the speech team. Me and 3 of my buddies were a part of this improv group. How it works is you randomly draw 3 scenarios out of a hat and you have 2 minutes to pick one of them, figure out characters, and the closing word that lets the entire group know to stop. Your skit can not go over 5 minutes. The goal is to entertain the judges. 

 

Possible scenario prompts might be: Chaperoning a school trip to an amusement park, school mascot on criminal trial, the first meeting of an unlikely fan club, or grand opening of a restaurant gone wrong.

 

As you can imagine everything is spontaneous in improv. The very first thing we learned about is the rule of “Yes and__” Basically, regardless of what the scenario is or what comes out of someone’s mouth you must not only accept it “yes” but also respond by adding more to it “and__”. This helps progress the flow of the scene and ideas. Saying “no” was forbidden as it stops momentum and creativity. 

 

For example, someone might say “Chris, wow you have wonderful eyes.”

A poor response would be: “Thank you!” Or “No, I do not”

A better response would be: “Thank you, after I was attacked by this wild herd of cats I thought my eyes would never look the same.”

 

It’s a pretty basic concept and it was fun to force yourself into some creative rebuttal. You never knew how the skit would unfold which made it exciting. 

 

Now, imagine adopting and applying the rule of “yes and__” to your life when the unexpected happens… Life is unscripted as much as we may try to plan for everything. We must be willing to embrace fate whether we want to or not because we simply can’t undo the past. Life will move forward with or without you.

You need to improvise, get creative, and devise a new way. The most resilient people are also the best at improvising life’s curveballs. They just keep going. Like the boxer in the ring taking hit after hit. 🥊 You get knocked down 👉 Yes and__  🥊 You get hit another time 👉 Yes and__! 

 

Marcus Aurelius sums this up in Meditations with this quote:

“You must build up your life action by action, and be content if each one achieves its goal as far as possible—and no one can keep you from this. But there will be some external obstacle! Perhaps, but no obstacle to acting with justice, self-control, and wisdom.
But what if some other area of my action is thwarted? Well, gladly accept the obstacle for what it is and shift your attention to what is given, and another action will immediately take its place, one that better fits the life you are building.” 

Take care,

Chris

How to Create More Urgency

“We all die. The goal isn’t to live forever, the goal is to create something that will” – Chuck Palahniuk

Hi Friend,

 

Imagine you are a soldier who will be deployed to the battlefront of a war in one month. While you don’t assume you are going to die, you understand there’s a real chance it could happen. I want you to think about how you might go about your day differently… 

 

How might you treat your family and loved ones?  

How would you view the minor annoyances of spilling coffee on your shirt, breaking your phone, getting cut off in traffic, or dealing with an upset child?  

How much time would you spend on your phone, computer, or watching tv? All of a sudden priorities change. 

 

This is how I’m creating more urgency and getting a broader perspective— I’m thinking about death… But not in a morbid or depressing kind of way. It’s a reminder to treat each day as a gift. Sometimes we forget we don’t live forever. 

 

A healthy reminder of having limited time helps keep what’s important or not important in its proper place. Understanding we have an end date prioritizes relationships, encourages being present in the moment, and creates urgency to utilize our time meaningfully. 

 

Stephen Covey’s 2nd habit of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is, “Begin with the end in mind.” You want to visualize the end so that you can live each day with purpose and clarity of who you are trying to be and what you are trying to accomplish. Think about what you want people to say about you at your visitation. The ancient Stoics also mediated on mortality with something they called Memento Mori. This reflection helped inspire them to make their words and actions matter. 

 

I hope you can see there is nothing wrong with thinking about death. In fact, there are some great benefits by reflecting on it. When you are on your deathbed ready to take your last breath you will think about two things: How’s my relationship with God? What’s my relationship with the people closest to me? Sometimes when we go about our routine we forget what’s most important. Use the reminder that our time on earth is scarce to inspire you to live life with urgency and meaning.



Take care,

Chris

This is how you endure the most challenging of times

“He who has a Why to live for can bear almost any How.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

Hi Friend,

Do you lack purpose, direction on how you can finish your goals or how to be your best self? Well what you need is something that’s bigger than yourself to push you through adverse times and get you to the finish line. A meaningful why when you feel like giving up or taking the easy way out. German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, said, “He who has a Why to live for can bear almost any How.” Because a powerful purpose trump’s potential. You can see this on the full display through the Ukrainian & Russian conflict. 

 

It’s been inspiring to see the valor of the Ukrainian people and their president as they defend their country against Russia’s invasion. 

 

Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, was actually a famous comedic actor in his country before being elected president in 2019.  During his presidential inauguration, Zelensky told his people that he doesn’t want to be celebrated or looked up to as a model. Saying, “I really do not want my picture in your offices, for the president is not an icon, an idol or a portrait. Hang your kids’ photos instead, and look at them each time you are making a decision.” 

 

Then at the beginning of the war Zelensky was offered to be rescued out of the country because everyone was certain of a quick defeat. Zelensky turned down being rescued. He said, “I need ammunition, not a ride.” 

 

So how are the Ukrainian people going toe to toe with an opponent that has way more resources and people? They are able to do so because their why is significant. They are fighting for their children’s future. It’s for the future of their country. Their motivation is bigger than their individual life, acquiring land, or because they were ordered to do so. 

 

The Russian military on the other hand doesn’t have that kind of purpose. It’s been reported their morale is extremely low as they try to understand what exactly they are fighting for. Because Ukraine knows what they are trying to achieve and why they are fighting they have figured out how to do it. 

 

While your country may (hopefully) not be getting invaded you can still harness a powerful purpose that will propel you through adversity. Figure out What you are working towards and why? If you don’t know what you want to accomplish or why then I promise you will never figure out How to get it. As a result, you will never live up to your potential. That’s why talent isn’t the most important thing in gauging future success. Discover what’s going to inform difficult decisions. Is it your children, spouse, parents, or those you want to serve? Don’t get hung up on the how, first discover a powerful why


Take care,

Chris

Character Really Counts

I’m so pumped!!! My documentary film 7 Yards now has an entire lesson plan built around it by Character Counts to develop character skills! 

 

I remember as a student going to monthly Character Counts assemblies where speakers would discuss one of the 6 Pillars of character: Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring, and Citizenship. However, if the lesson wasn’t anchored to a compelling story or presented by an entertaining speaker, I can remember my eyes glazing over. You don’t even have to be a kid to tune out a boring session from a presenter or have your mind wandering during some continued education opportunity. 

 

Topics like character are too important to miss out on. It is more valuable than science or math in my opinion. It’s my hope to raise kids with great integrity, morals, and values; not just to have high test scores (which I would love that too). That’s why it’s important to keep learning opportunities as fun and engaging as possible. 

 

With these new resources based off my film 7 Yards, students will now have access to a curriculum that is compelling and advances student character skills. Students will be able to watch the film in class then have the lessons of what helped get me through my toughest times.This guided lesson plan will unpack how I was able to remain resilient, achieve my goals, and overcome my challenges. 

 

Be sure to let teachers, school administrators, and your kid’s school district know about this resource!

 

Best,

 

Chris

 

Formula for Human Greatness

German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, said the formula for human greatness is Amor Fati, which in Latin means “love of fate”. It is a mindset that he stated, “That one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backwards, not in all eternity. Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it….but love it.” In other words, loving your circumstances even if it’s not what you had hoped for.

 

Another way Nietzsche defines it, “I am in a mood of fatalistic ‘surrender to God’ ⎯ I call it amor fati, so much so, that I would be willing to rush into a lion’s jaws’.

 

What an incredibly difficult task to love fate. To not wish things happened differently but accept and embrace exactly how things have unfolded. To not regret and lament on past errors. To Hope things would’ve happened differently is a huge waste of time and causes mental anguish.  

 

With the adversity and problems all of us face in our lives, at times it is hard to accept. I believe Nietzsche challenges us to love fate in order for us to see the positives, the benefits not expected as a result of those challenges, and to not dwell on past mistakes. It’s not always clear, evident, or easy but if you can extract every possible benefit you can from any life event you will be as resilient as they come. You will discover peace despite difficult circumstances. To do this you need an attitude of amor fati. 

 

Amor fati is a mindset to help you make the most out of any situation. It will help you direct your focus away from the loss, pain and suffering towards the areas that can have a real impact or purpose. As challenging as this attitude may seem, just think of the opposite attitude, a hate of fate. You are guaranteed a life of misery with that attitude. 

 

I have seen amor fati play out in my life in many different ways. Instead of spending my time wishing things were different I created a foundation to try to make a difference. It has given me a purpose. Our annual fundraiser is February 12th so better buy your ticket quickly! Also, when most people focus on what I have lost as a result of my injury I choose to see my fantastic wheelchair perks!

 

  1. No standing in long lines. My legs will never get tired. 🤷‍♂️
  2. I always have a seat for every ballgame or picnic. 🦽
  3. I’m less likely to be kidnapped. Good luck getting me in a vehicle or basement. 🙅‍♂️
  4. Front row parking. There’s a lot of competition in Florida though. ♿️
  5. Can never lose a game of musical chairs. 🧑‍🦽

 

We can always find something to appreciate about our life as long as we have the will to see it. Hardships will happen and while the good may never outweigh the bad we can do our best to not simply embrace it but love it. Use amor fati to protect you from the many casualties of life. 

 

Best,

Chris

 

My 4 Tips to Finish Your Resolutions

What I love about New Year’s is that it feels like the start of a new chapter in your life. Out with the old and in with the new. With all new beginnings there’s excitement and plenty of motivation. I think of it like the start of the outdoor 10K I ran as a kid. Thousands of people are tightly packed as close to the starting line as possible. Heart is pumping, you’re full of adrenaline. The 1st mile you feel great but as the race continues the excitement disappears as you fatigue. You start thinking Why did I sign up for this? 

 

It’s the same when you set out to accomplish a goal. The trick is continuing on that same pursuit as the excitement dwindles and your motivation fatigues. Here are 4 tips to help you continue on your race to accomplish your goals for 2022. 

 

  1. Avoid perfection. If you wanted to workout 4X a week but next week you only get 2 workouts in then so be it! Go for 4X the following week. Don’t quit on your goal just because you came up short or gave into temptation on an off day. I think too many people make goals to be all or nothing. Give yourself wiggle room for failing. Get back on the horse and keep moving forward. 

 

  1. Boost your willpower by eliminating temptation. It’s so much easier to say no to something that’s not there or visible. I think I have a pretty good amount of willpower but when there’s junk food or unhealthy snacks in the house I’m eating them at some point. If a social media app is on my home screen of my phone I’m going to click on it. Therefore, I don’t buy junk food for the house and have moved Twitter off my home screen. It has helped! 

 

  1. Break your goal down to daily tasks. You have a vision of where you want to go like losing weight or making more money but think through how you can inch closer each day. Create a daily process. What are the individual tasks you can check off the box today? At what time will this be done? 

 

  1. Share your goal with a few close friends or family. It will help you stick with the goal to avoid the feeling of shame when they check on your progress later on. Better yet, make it a competition with one of them who also has a goal. Put some money on the line to create an incentive and consequence for not following through.  

 

I hope that helps! Let me know your favorite advice for sticking with goals. 

 

Take care,

 

Chris

3 Holiday Survival Tips

It’s the most wonderful time of the year🎄 fueled by overspending, hanging out with people perhaps you don’t want to hang out with 😆, and receiving gifts you don’t want or need. Regardless, the holidays should be such a fun and exciting season. Let’s not just survive the holidays but thrive through it!

I’m sure you will be spending extra time with family and friends that you may not see very often. Anytime you get a group of people together you will certainly have varying opinions and beliefs, and perhaps big personalities. If you’re not careful, the time spent together can be frustrating and toxic 🤮 instead of enjoyable. Don’t let this time go to waste. Here are 3 things I always do to maintain my peace, and especially over the holidays🎁.
 

  1. Avoid controversial topics like politics. If a topic with lots of tension is brought up, change subjects. If you can’t change it then discuss with curiosity and not conviction. Avoid absolutes like always or never. Strive to be indifferent. I remind myself I don’t know everything, I could be wrong, we all have different experiences and perspectives, and that’s OK. I don’t need to know everything. I certainly don’t need or expect everyone to agree with my opinion either. I will agree to disagree. I try to listen to understand and not to argue. The mistake I see people make is fighting so hard not to be wrong or for everyone to agree to their opinion. Don’t be that person. This is a great way to lose your peace of mind. 

 

  1. Attitude of Gratitude. Be grateful and appreciative of everything you have and who you have. You can still love and appreciate people who may annoy you. It’s easy to go down a path of wishing for things to be better or comparing to what others have. Get off your phone and off social media. Enjoy the moment and be grateful for this time together. 

 

  1. Manage expectations. Don’t over plan. If you go into the holidays expecting everything to go perfectly well you’ll be disappointed. I hate to say it but something will go wrong. Be flexible and open minded. We want it to be the most wonderful time of the year and this idea can cause unrealistic expectations and pressure to do extravagant things. There are too many forces out of our control. Kids will be crying, someone will be grumpy, and the weather will ruin plans. Nothing wrong with a lazy day full of movies and games.

 

These things are all what I try to do, emphasis on the try. What are some ways that you do to protect your peace? 

 

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays, 

 

Chris

Be Like Georgia 👉 Why It’s Important

Hi Friend,

I just released some new merchandise for a limited time only. Some of the gear says Be Like Georgia. Some have asked what does that mean? For those who don’t know or to refresh those who haven’t heard the story for awhile here is why it’s important 👉

 

It was the middle of the fourth night in the ICU after my spinal cord injury playing football. I’m motionless from the neck down, scared, and wide awake. It’s not just worry that keeps me up. Every two hours a nurse enters my room to make sure my vitals are in check.  Their interaction with me is all very routine and clinical. But on this night, someone enters the room and makes a different choice from every nurse before her. She decides she is going to try to make an impact. 

 

She kneels down next to my bed and says, “Chris, look me in the eyes.” She was kind of mean about it. She’s a slender woman, in her 60s with short red hair, glasses, and she spoke like she walked straight out of a John Wayne western movie. Our eyes lock.  

 

She says, “My name is Georgia. I’m from Wyoming. Do you know anyone from Wyoming?” I say “no” and I’m thinking…Where is this going?

 

She continues, “Well, people from Wyoming don’t tell lies. I’m here to tell you—you will beat this. You will beat this.” She delivers these words with so much conviction I instantly start crying. 

 

Up to this point I questioned whether all the time and effort I was putting towards my recovery would ever pay off. I believed Georgia and in that moment my faith felt restored. The next day, when I started physical therapy, I heard her 4 words echoing in my head,  “You will beat this!” Day by day, I got stronger.

 

Georgia could have easily done what every nurse has done before her and choose to leave the room after checking my vitals but she didn’t. She decided she was going to try to make an impact. To be kind and encouraging. It’s because of Georgia I discovered how much impact our words and actions can make. Understand you don’t have to be a nurse to make a difference. 

 

This is why I have gear that has Be Like Georgia on it. Because what if we all tried to be like Georgia this Holiday season? Looking for ways to uplift people. Going above and beyond what’s expected of you. Leading with kindness, patience, and love. It’s easy to do these things when you can see or know of someone who is struggling. But let’s be honest, we all have our days and deal with our own demons and obstacles. I challenge you to be like Georgia to everyone, even if you can’t see their challenge. 


Take care & Be Like Georgia 👍

One of the Highest Forms of Resilience

Hi Friend,

Can you accept what you don’t like? I’m not talking about accepting things you can change but accepting things that you CAN’T change. Like accepting where you live, how tall or short you are, genetics, the family you were born into, the life events that have happened to you, failures, mistakes, or circumstances you can’t change. 

It’s not easy but acceptance is a skill you should develop. Doing so will not only improve your well being but also your resilience. In my opinion, acceptance is one of the highest forms of resiliency

 

Don’t get it twisted, acceptance is not giving up or a passive task but quite the opposite. It’s the action of embracing strong emotions and then channeling your focus on things that can be influenced. It’s a difficult task to not dwell on something you wish could be different! 

 

For example, I love vacationing. I mean who doesn’t? However, vacationing is a painful reminder of what I can’t do. There’s no other time I feel the loss of my physical strength more than when I see my family playing in the pool, splashing in the ocean, horseback riding, snorkeling around the reef, playing catch with the football, jetskiing, or building a sandcastle. I often feel like a spectator on the sidelines when all I want is to be in the action. 

 

(FYI I don’t want pity. I certainly don’t want someone to miss out on something fun just because I can’t do it. I share this experience to demonstrate how I use acceptance in my life.)

 

I’ve come to realize the more I focus on what I wish I could do, the more hurt I feel. Leading me down a rabbit hole of frustration and what if’s. How to stop this is by not burying it but embracing it. Remind yourself you can’t change it. So why focus on something that brings you down and can’t be undone? Then turn your focus to what you can do. Appreciate what you do have. Celebrate the joy & accomplishments of others. 

 

By doing this I discovered the more I accept the more peace I find. The more I cherish what my family is experiencing and the less I worry about what I wish I could do. I know I am blessed. So letting thoughts that tell me otherwise is only detrimental to my well-being. 

 

Acceptance allows you to see everything as it is without judgment. It gives you more mental space to be grateful for what you have. It allows you to focus on what you can do. Clarity to understand it could be worse. 

 

Acceptance is a strength and not a weakness. It’s a difficult skill that can be developed. It takes time and patience but it’s worth the work. To add more acceptance into your life, start by embracing & processing your feelings. Questioning your thoughts. Is this thought helping or hurting me? Can this be changed or is it out of my control? Become present with where you are and appreciate it.

Take care 👍

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