Sunday, December 30, 2012

CAF San Diego Triathlon Challenge

Celebration of Abilities Dinner on Friday night!
Where do I begin? Well, the easy place to start would be with the swim, but there was so much more to this journey than just a 1 mile swim, a 44 mile bike, and a 10 mile run. So, I suppose I should look back to April, 1 2011, the day I received notification from the Challenged Athletes Foundation that I would be receiving a running leg through their grant process. To say I've been blessed would be an understatement. However, receiving the leg was only half the battle. It took me quite some time to not only get comfortable with how the leg felt, but more critical, I needed to get accustomed to running again. I had never been a runner, so overcoming the mental hurdles were just as difficult as the physical hurdles.

Fast forward to January 1, 2012, the day I registered for the 19th Annual CAF San Diego Triathlon Challenge. I knew this would be the most challenging athletic experience I had ever encountered, but at the same time, I knew how triumphant I would feel crossing that finish line on October 21, 2012. So began a nearly 10 month training journey to test my limits.  I wasn't sure what my training plan would entail, as this event was much longer than my previous sprint triathlon.  I soon found out (thanks to Coach McCoy), I was in for an intense spring, summer, and early fall of training.  I must admit there were points in my training in which I thought I would never get to where I needed to be.  However, thanks to the encouragement of my family and friends, I knew I couldn't stop short of my goal.

As the summer moved on, and my training plans seemed to get longer and longer, I found one of my biggest challenges was nutrition.  On longer rides, I found that my legs would cramp uncontrollably towards the end of the ride.  At first, I chalked this up to the heat and moved on to my next workout, but I soon realized, if I was going to be training for up 5-6 hours at a time, I needed to fuel my body.  I don't like to eat while I'm training, so I knew I would have to utilize liquid nutrition for my longer training rides, and ultimately on race day.  Luckily, I got everything dialed in perfectly and stuck my plan on race day.

The start of school this year seemed to coincide perfectly to when my workouts became the most grueling.  Often times, I was in the pool before work, only to come home for a run or a ride.  Saturdays in the fall entailed many "epic brick" workouts in which I would leave the house sometime around 7:00 a.m. and return sometime around 12:00 - 1:00 p.m.  Not only was this a huge time commitment on my end, it also required my wife Kristin to shuttle the girls around, entertain them, and attempt to explain to them why their dad was working out for so long.  Needless to say, I couldn't have taken on this challenge without the support of my wife and my girls, Maddie  and Maya.  Their cheers and good luck pictures meant the world to me!

Enough already, let's get to the big day...

The Swim

On the home stretch of the swim!
Going in to the event, I had some reservations about swimming in the Pacific Ocean.  I knew it would be much different then my training swims in Alum Creek.  First of all, you can see, its not the muddy, murky water that I was accustomed to which meant I would be able to see all the fish, seals, and seaweed that I would have navigate through.  Also, I wasn't super excited about swimming in salt water.  Although its supposed to make you more buoyant, it doesn't taste that good when you accidentally swallow a few mouthfuls.  To help calm my nerves, I decided to head out for a practice swim in La Jolla Cove the day before the event.  As I entered the water, I was amazed at how clear it really was, and how quickly it got deep.  Within a few moments, not only could i no longer touch, but I couldn't even see the bottom.  The water temperature proved to be much warmer (68 degrees) than some of my final training swims at Alum Creek (50 degrees).  As I swam out a bit further, I noticed something out of the corner of my eye that brought me in to full panic mode.  At first, I thought it was just another athlete going for a practice swim, however, when I looked up to see what it was, I was amazed that my swimming neighbor was a seal...yes, a seal.  I took a few deep breaths to collect myself and swam a bit further.  Looking back, this was the best thing that I could have done.  On race day, I wasn't worried at all about the swim.

As a part of my registration to the SDTC, I requested a handler for the swim.  I simply thought this meant there would be someone there to help me in and out of the water when I had my leg off.  However, as I headed toward the steps to the swim start, I was surprised to see someone in a wetsuit holding a sign with my name on it.  I approached him and introduced myself, and Andy told me that he would be joining me on the swim to provide any support that I may need.  This was reassuring to say the least.  Just prior to the swim start, I told Andy that I thought I would finish the mile swim in about 50 minutes.  He told me to take my time and just let him know if I needed anything.  As the gun went off, I started the time on my watch and took off.  Normally, it takes me quite a bit to get comfortable in open water, but not on this day, I felt great.  As I swam to that first buoy, I was beginning to think we were going to swim all the way across La Jolla Cove.  I made the left hand turn around the buoy, and headed to my next landmark.  The turn allowed me to gauge where I was amongst the other swimmers in the first wave (all fellow challenged athletes).  I was surprised to see that I was towards the front of the pack.  I made it to the next buoy much quicker that the first portion of the swim, made the left hand turn around the buoy and headed back to shore.  I remember looking at Andy, and him saying we're in the home stretch.  The most challenging part of this part of the swim was navigating through all the seaweed that seemed to be extending beyond the surface of the water.  As I got to shore, I began to crawl towards my prosthetic and paused the time on my watch.  Andy asked me if I was timing that swim, and if so, how fast was it.  I looked down in amazement and responded just over 34 minutes.  He said "I thought so, I was having trouble keeping up with you."  I crawled to my leg, put it on, and headed back up the steps to the transition area.  As I got to the top of the steps, I was surprised to see an old college friend, Brian Putnam, who now lives in the San Diego area.  I heard him say "you killed that swim, keep it up!"  I entered the transition area and began my prep for the bike.  My wife made her way near me and as always cheered me on as got ready for the bike.  My official time for the swim was 38 minutes: 2 seconds, which included getting to my leg, putting it on, and heading up the stairs to the transition area.  My official time for transition 1 was 17 minutes: 13 seconds, which was due to the amount of sand that had made its way in to my prosthetic did not want to cooperate.

The Bike

Riding along the coast with one of those hills I climbed in the background
Unlike the swim, checking out the bike course the day prior to the race did not ease my mind.  When I registered for the SDTC I knew there were some changes in elevation, according to the website there was approximately 400 feet in elevation change throughout the 44 mile bike course.  I'm not sure who measured the change in elevation, but I think they left a 0 off the end.  It definitely looked and felt more like 4000 feet in elevation change.  As Kristin and I drove the bike course, some serious doubt began to settle in.  The bike is normally my strength, but I tend to struggle with steep climbs as its hard for me to get out of the saddle.  This course had four steep climbs, one of which was longer than a mile in duration.  I remember looking at my wife and saying "there's no way I can complete this bike course with these climbs."  She quickly brought me back to reality saying "you've spent all this time training to prepare for this day, you got this." She enlisted many of our friends back home to send me texts of encouragement as well.  As much as I appreciated all this support, I was still extremely nervous about the bike.  I had a goal time (2:45) for the bike portion in my mind coming in to race day, however, after seeing the course, I changed my goal considerably.  I didn't put a time on my new goal, rather, I was determined to own the hills, no getting off my bike and working my ass off to the top of every one of them.

As I left transition 1 and started to mount my bike, one of my biggest fears came true.  To get my bike out to San Diego I had to break it down and pack it in a bike box, which meant I had to put it back together once we were out in San Diego.  I thought I had done this perfectly, in fact I had even taken it for a practice spin once I had it together.  Unfortunately, as I mounted my bike, something felt wrong right away.  I looked down and realized my handlebars were turned at a 30 degree angle.  I have no idea how this happened, all I knew was I had to get it fixed pronto.  I quickly got off my bike and looked for my allen wrench set.  This is were my temper got the best of me, I couldn't find it at first.  As each person mounted there bike and sped past me, the more frustrated I got.  My wife ran over to help me find the tool and more importantly calm me down.  Lets just say my vernacular was not the most pleasant at the time.  Fortunately, I found what I was looking for and within a few minutes was able to get my bike ready to go.  It was now time to tackle those hills...

The hardest part about the start of the bike course is that you are immediately welcomed with the first climb.  There is nothing worse than getting on your bike at the bottom of a hill to start your ride.  Thankfully, it was a short hill, but don't worry, we were only on a flat roll for about a half of a mile until we hit our next climb.  This climb was never ending, just when you thought you reached the top, the road winded around to reveal more climbing.  Needless to say, within the first few miles of the bike course, my heart rate was up.  At this point we made our way to North Torrey Pines Road which took us right along the coast for some of the most beautiful scenery ever.  Although it looked like we were facing a ride through the mountains, I was relieved to see we would first be going downhill.  The downhill didn't last as long as I had hoped as I was going in excess of 40mph.  As much as I enjoyed going down this hill, I knew I would have to head back up it towards the end of the bike course.  The next challenge was to make my way back up North Torrey Pines Road.  I knew once I ascended to the top, I would have earned a much needed break from the climbs.  However, climbing up each side of North Torrey Pines Road was easier said than done.  Its truly humbling to be peddling as hard and as fast as you can only to look down at your speedometer to see you're moving at the rapid pace of 4 mph.  It almost feels as if you're riding in place, but I conquered both of these monumental climbs without getting off and even passing a few people along the way.

The majority of the remainder of the bike course was relatively flat with some rolling hills.  It took us through some beautiful residential communities and provided me the time to reflect on the journey I had taken to get here.  Overcoming all the pain and surgeries, enduring all the grueling training sessions, and realizing how many people supported me along the way.  It was great to see Kristin at different points through the ride.  It was symbolic of how much she's been there for me over the years, and this was no exception.  It was hard not to get emotional throughout the ride thinking about all of this, but the competitor in me knew I had to finish strong as I knew I had a 10 mile run to look forward to.  My official time on the bike was 3 hours: 26 minutes: 46 seconds and my transition 2 time was 14 minutes: 2 seconds.

The Run

Enduring the run, slow and steady finishes the race!
As I left transition 2, I knew the most challenging phase of the triathlon awaited me.  As I said earlier, I've never been much of a runner and after completing the bike course my hips and lower back were already feeling the effects of those hellacious climbs.  At this point, it was more about my mental toughness than my physical toughness.  The run was a 5 mile out and back, which sounds ok until you see that the first 2 miles were a climb up some of those same hills I faced on the bike.  This proved to be the hardest part of my day.  I knew that once I got to the top of this hill, the rest of the run would be flat and down hill.  I didn't think I'd ever make it up this hill, but after what seemed like hours, I finally reached the top.  I had a plan coming in to the run, but it quickly went out the window and became about finishing the run.

Fortunately, as I reached the top of that hill, I linked up with a few people and we decided to finish the race as a group.  Jorge was a fellow amputee, and seemed to be feeling the effects of the course just as I was.  His wife was competing alongside him as well.  Sam was an Army vet, who saw many of his friends lose limbs in battle and has since become a strong supporter of CAF and the Wounded Warrior Project.  He could of easily finished the race much faster than Jorge or myself, but wanted to be there for our journey and encourage us along the way.

Me, Sam, Jorge and his wife.
Over the course of the next 8 miles, we alternated short spurts of running with some much needed walking.  It was encouraging to see people give us high 5's as they made their way to the finish, telling us how inspired they were by us; seeing cars slow down and yell words of encouragement to us.  We talked about our journey to this day, and encouraged one another to finish strong.  Once again, it was great to see Kristin at the turn around.  She cheered us all on and let us know how proud of all of us she was.  Somehow, at about the 7 mile mark, I got my second wind.  I told Jorge I was going to finish out strong, he told me to go for it, and with that Sam and I took off.  I ran the next mile without any breaks and looked forward to making my way to the finish line.  The atmosphere all weekend was amazing, but nothing compared to that feeling of crossing the finish line and having that medal placed around my neck.
Sam and I crossing the finish line!
My official run time was 3 hours: 7 minutes: 24 seconds which brought my official time for the day to 7 hours: 43 minutes: 28 seconds.


I would be remised if I didn't thank all of the supporters I had along the way.  Many of you contributed money towards my fundraising efforts, but more importantly you contributed words of encouragement, support and belief in me that I would conquer this challenge.  Without the support of my family, friends, JustTri teammates, and coworkers, this journey would never have been possible.

Final Thoughts

The weekend was filled with many events and inspiring stories of overcoming adversity.  None of which would be possible without The Challenged Athletes Foundation and their mission to provide opportunities and support to people with physical disabilities so that they can pursue active lifestyles through physical fitness and competitive athletics.  From toddlers to seasoned veterans, I was continually amazed and inspired by everyone I met and competed alongside with.  

Krisin and I at the finish line!
I finished as the 69th male overall, out of 81 men that competed and 103rd overall out of 121 total competitors.  There were 750 total competitors between the open triathlon athletes and the relay team athletes, but Jorge and I were two of the few amputees that completed all three phases.  It was never about competing for a title, rather about completing a journey.  With that said, I will be back in San Diego on Sunday, October 20, 2013 to compete in the 20th annual San Diego Triathlon Challenge.  You better believe that I will better those times and improve upon my standings.

Until we meet again, take care, remain positive, and stay strong!!!


If you'd like to join me in my efforts to support the Challenged Athletes Foundation, please go to the following link: Mike McDonough's Donation Page for 2013 SDTC

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Staying Strong!

It's hard to believe how much a difference a year really can make, but it so true. On this day a year ago, March 15, 2010, I had my right leg amputated below the knee, a surgery that has drastically changed my life for the better. In fact, this morning, I posted the following statement as my Facebook status:
A year ago today, I arrived at the hospital at 5:30am to have a surgery that has changed my life for the better. Today, I arrived at the gym at 5:30am to do a spinning class. Thanks to everyone who has supported me through this journey...what a ride it's been and we're just getting started! Stay Strong and LEAP!!!

The responses I received to that statement were overwhelming, and I truly do appreciate everyone's kind words. This is just another example of how much support I've had through this journey.

Recently, I have seen quite a few quotes that resonate with me and best sum up my outlook on where I've, where I'm at, and most importantly, where I'm going:

"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." - Winston Churchill

"Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed." - Booker T. Washington

"It is good to have an end to journey toward: but it is the journey that matters, in the end."

"Without dreams there is no reason to work hard. Without hard work, there is no reason to dream."

Above all these quotes, the words my doctor, Dr. Thomas Lee, relayed to me and my wife prior to surgery best sum up the transformation in my life over the past year:
"Today, you are losing nothing. You are just gaining your life back!"

He was right, I've gained my life back, but it's truly been a team effort to do so. I want to thank Dr. Lee and the great staff at OFAC; Mike Hansen and the fine people of American Orthopedis; my friends and family, especially my three ladies at home; the Darby community; and anyone else that has supported me through this journey!

Until we meet again, take care, remain positive, and stay strong!!!


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Your "Attitude" Determines Your Success!

So, I know it's been a while since my last post, and trust me, I have a lot that I want to share with you. But first things first, I recently read a blog entry from Jon Gordon, the author of The Energy Bus, The Shark and the Goldfish, and Soup amongst others. In that entry he told a story that resonated with me. Albeit different circumstances, I feel my "Attitude" towards life is very similar to Leonard's. Take a look:

Your Purpose Must Be Greater Than Your Challenges

I met Leonard on a plane to somewhere when he told me about a time when his life was going nowhere

He told me how six months earlier, at the age of fifty-four, he lost his job at a Fortune 500 company. He thought his life and business career were finished. No one is going to hire a fifty-four year old sales professional, he frequently told himself. Each day he grew more fearful, pessimistic and depressed.

Then one day while taking a walk of sadness along the beach he thought of his twenty year old son and it occurred to him…

If I give up now, what lesson am I teaching my son?

If I don’t overcome my challenges, my son will learn to let his challenges overcome him.

I need to show my son that even though Dad was knocked down, that he can get back up… so when life knocks him down he’ll know that he can get back up too.

Fueled with a bigger purpose to show his son that he could get back up after being knocked down, Leonard dusted off his resume, called friends and colleagues in his industry and reached out to various companies letting them know he was back in the game.

His positive beliefs lead to powerful actions. Instead of waiting to be fed like a goldfish, he became a shark and went in search of food.

Over a three month period, Leonard’s actions lead to a number of interview opportunities and four job offers. Yes, four offers!!

Now he is with a company that appreciates his knowledge, experience, and talents. He reports directly to the President, and his future is brighter than ever.

Leonard is a testament that if you think your best days are behind you, they are… and if you think your best days are ahead of you, they are.

Positive beliefs lead to powerful actions.

After telling the story, he goes on to ask a few questions. Two of which stood out to me when looking back at all that I have been through with my legs. The first of which was "Have you been knocked down?" My immediate response is, haven't we all been knocked down at some point in life? Much like Leonard's response in the story above, I have always felt, the adversity I've faced in my life has made me stronger, more driven, and more passionate in my pursuit of my personal and professional goals. I will be the first to admit, that at times, it is extremely difficult to pick yourself up after being knocked down, but the althernative is no way to live your life. I've come to realize that "getting knocked down" or facing adversity doesn't have to be seen as a challenge, but instead, it can be seen as an opportunity to show your character, your determination, and your will to succeed. I have chosen to lead my life with this positive outlook/attitude, and I challenge you do so so as well.

The second question that struck a chord with me was "Have you been feeling sorry for yourself?" I'd be lying if I said I never had moments where I felt sorry for myself or asked "why me?" Again, I think this is something that happens to all of us, but it's how soon you can change this mentality that will reveal the fight you have within. I can look back to two moments, that at the time, were very hard for me to get through, both of which I've talked about before in earlier posts. However, I feel the need to briefly mention them again. The first occurred in the summer of 1988 when I had surgery on both legs at the same time. As an 11 year old, I thought being in casts on both legs up to my hips during a time when I should be running around with my friends and having a host of doctors tell me I should never play football again was a death sentence. At first, this was difficult to overcome, but through the support of my family, friends and teammates I made it through these experiences. Additionally, seeing other kids my age in Children's Hospital dealing with situations way more intense than my own was a true eye opener. I can specifically remember a boy dealing with cancer, coming over to cheer me up by challenging me to some video games. At that moment, I challenged myself to share his positive attitude in my life, and thus, I began to realize how blessed I was to learn the values of hard work and having a positive outlook on life at such an early age. The next big moment in my life where I was at a low point and felt sorry for myself, occurred just prior to my amputation in March. It wasn't the fact that I was going to have an amputation that had me down, it was all the pain I had been experiencing, and the effect that pain had on my positive attitude. I stand before you today thankful to everyone that has supported me through this journey; relieved that my positive outlook on life is stronger then ever; and proud to have the opportunity to pay it forward through establishing The StayStrong Foundation (which I plan to explain in my next post).

I want to finish this post with two last pieces of encouragement. The first of which, goes back to the story above and how Jon Gordon concluded his blog entry:

I want to encourage you to think of Leonard and remind yourself that regardless of the adversity you face, your purpose must be greater than your challenges. Instead of focusing on your problems, focus on your purpose. Instead of seeing yourself as a victim, see yourself as a hero. Heroes and victims both get knocked down but heroes get back up, and armed with optimism and a greater purpose they create a positive future.

Finally, I want to take you back to the title of this post, Your "Attitude" Determines Your Success! In fact, I feel your "Attitude" determines 100% of your success, and I can prove this with my mathematical background. If you assign each letter of the word ATTITUDE its numerical equivalent (i.e A=1, T=20, I=9, etc.), then the sum of your ATTITUDE = 100. This is why I have chosen to approach my life and the adversity I encounter with a POSITIVE ATTITUDE!

Until we meet again, take care, remain positive, and stay strong!!!


Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Recently I had the opportunity to speak to our Football team at Darby High School. I told them the following story:

Dick Vermeil kept a wheelbarrow on the sidelines the entire year of the Rams remarkable run to the Super Bowl. When asked why, he told this story:

A man came into a small farm town and declared that in one week he was going to walk a highwire across the canyon while pushing a wheelbarrow. Everyone scoffed except one farmer who went out to the edge of town to watch him practice. The farmer saw the man walking on a wire about five feet off the ground, and sure enough, he was pushing that wheelbarrow with ease.

One week went by and the big day was at hand. The farmer tried telling all his friends that this guy might be for real. He said, "I've been watching him and I BELIEVE he can do it." They continued to scoff so he said, "I believe so strongly that he can do it, that I will bet $20 with anyone who thinks he can't."

Just before the feat began, the stranger came down to talk to the crowd. The farmer told him he believed he could do it. The man replied, "Do you REALLY think I can do it?" "Yep," said the farmer. The man continued to press, "I mean are you CONVINCED I can do it?" The farmer said, "Look, I'm so sure that I even bet $20 with anyone who would listen to me. THAT's how sure I am." The performer looked him in the eye and said, "If you really believe, then get in the wheelbarrow!"

Coach Vermeil's point was that it is easy to sit on the sidelines and say "I believe" in something. If you really believe, get in the wheelbarrow. The 1999 St. Louis Rams did.

As it was stated above, the message I delivered to the team through the "wheelbarrow" story was centered around belief. More specifically for them, they must believe in themselves, their teammates, and their coaches. If their belief in any of these three areas is lacking, then no matter how much talent they may possess, success will be hard to come by. Just as the farmer watched man in the story put in countless hours of practice to perfect this daunting feat, I've had the privilege to witness the amount of blood, sweat, and tears these young men have put in to reach the goals they have set for themselves both on and off the football field.

I chose to share this story with you because no matter what arena you may be in, the power of belief, determination, and hard work is bound to take you far!

Until we meet again, take care, remain positive, and stay strong!!!


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

"The List"

A few years ago a movie came out, The Bucket List, and although I've never seen it, nor had I'd heard the term prior to the movie, I've been amazed at how many people now refer to their lists of goals as a "bucket list." I know some may argue that a "bucket list" differs from their career or personal goals, but to me, they all fall under the same umbrella. So, without further ado, here are a few items from "my list:"

1. Be a great father and husband - if this isn't #1 on a guys list, they're mistaken!

2. Get healthy - been trying to eat healthy and lose all the "sympathy" weight from my latest surgery. I'm down a total of 16 since the start of summer. I'm getting there, just not quite as fast as I would like.

3. Go skydiving - I got a small taste of this while on vacation in Gatlinburg this summer. Mark Tremayne and I went indoor skydiving. It was a blast, but left me wanting the read deal even more. Here is a pic from that experience:

4. Complete a triathlon - This goes hand in had with #2. I made this a goal when I had surgery. I've been training for quite some time now under the guidance of Carrie McCoy and the JustTri team. I recently competed in the bike portion of a sprint relay triathlon. I averaged 17mph for 16 miles. I had the help of Jacque Christian, who happens to be competing in an Ironman Triathlon this Sunday, for the swim, and Gregg Ryder for the run. We had a blast and finished 2nd in the mixed relay...out of two teams...ha. I will be teaming up with Mark Tremayne in a duathlon relay on the 26th. Here is a pic of me right after I finished my ride in the Outer Limits Triathlon:

5. Go to the Super Bowl - hopefully on February 6th watching the Bengals take home their first Super Bowl Championship.

6. Go to the World Series - hopefully this October cheering on the Red legs.

7. Work for The Ohio State University - I worked for the football team during my college days, I have 2 degrees from there, and would love to work there in some capacity some day.

8. Write a book - those of you that have followed my journey, know how much I would love to write a book that could somehow impact people in some way.

9. Start my own charity/foundation - once you become an amputee, you realize just how screwed up health care really is, and how limitations set by insurance companies have an adverse effect on us. If I can simply raise enough money to help one person receive the prosthetic they desire, then my foundation would be a huge success.

10. Go to the Olympics - I don't think this item needs any explanation!

11. Inspire others to live their passion and chase their dreams/become a motivational speaker - I love talking to people about my outlook on life and prove to others that no matter how hard things may first appear, it is imperative to keep fighting and you will succeed!!!

12. Love life - this has been something I have set out to do for as long as I can remember. We only get one of them, so we may as well make the best out of it!!!

13. STAY STRONG!!! - enough said!

As I said, these are just a few things I would like to accomplish during my remaining days. I'm sure I will continue to add, delete, and modify items from this list. "My list" will always be a work in progress and serve as a reflection of my current life. So, for once, a rough draft will suffice for my final paper.

Until we meet again, take care, remain positive, and stay strong!!!


Sunday, August 1, 2010

Deep Thoughts...

Those of you that are familiar with SNL, may have read the title of this post and been reminded of those off the wall quotes scrolling over the top of some scenic backdrop, appearing between skits. Thus, I couldn't resist including one that I recently saw. As simple as it appears, it does have a great message that we can all learn from.
"I hope that someday we will be able to put away our fears and prejudices and just laugh at people."
-Jack Handy-

As many of you know, and as I have mentioned before, I enjoy reading motivational/inspirational books on leadership in the quest to find one little nugget or quote that I can utilize in my daily life. I recently found a few that I would like to share, along with how I've identified with them.

The first of these quotes is one that I heard way back during my Freshman year of High School, from my head football coach:
"Winners find ways, losers find excuses."
-Dale Mueller-

I can remember getting in my Dad's car after practice and sharing this quote with him, and saying it would be something that I would always try to embody. Although, I may not have won a lot races or a lot of football games, I can tell you, I never made an excuse for not being able to do something, given the issues I had with my legs. Instead, I would bust my ass on a daily basis just to be able to complete each drill, each practice, each game, each season, etc. Even after my "illustrious" football career was over, I've continued to try and uphold the meaning of this quote.

The next quote that I would like to bring to your attention came from an unlikely source in the form of a "tweet" I read on Twitter:
"People that tell you that you CAN'T do something, are only judging by what THEY CAN'T DO"
-Rev Run-

As soon as I read this quote, I had a rush of memories come to me from my childhood, and for that matter, my entire life anytime someone told me I wouldn't be able to do something as a result of the condition in my legs. I can remember sitting in one of the doctors offices at Children's Hospital back in 1988, and a number of doctors, specialists, and therapists told me I should never play football again or any contact/physical sports any more. Thankfully, my parents allowed me to do so and I was able to continue my "illustrious" football career through my senior year in high school. Now, I was never the best, in fact, I was far from it, but I can honestly say no one outworked me, and any time I hear someone say I can't do something, it turns into motivation for me to prove them wrong.

Now, it's no secret that my favorite book is The Radical Leap, so, I can't write a post about meaningful quotes without including one from this book:
"Do what u love in the service of people who love what u do."
-Steve Farber-

As you all know, this book has made a major impact on all aspects of my life, and it has been especially important to me throughout my "New Beginning." I feel this quote embodies how I try to approach my family, my job, my recovery, and so on. I am very fortunate to have had the opportunity to not only read this quote in Steve's books and his tweets on Twitter, but to have also had the opportunity to hear him speak to a group of educators and converse with him myself as well. The more I read/hear it, the more I believe it how important it is to have this burning passion, that he's referring too, inside you, in each and every single act you set out to complete. If you are lacking this passion, then I would argue you are wasting your time.

The last two quotes I would like to share within this post come from Jon Gordon, the author of many great leadership books addressing the topic of Positive Energy. The first of these quotes comes from The Energy Bus:
"The best legacy you could leave is not some building that is named after you or a piece of jewelry, but rather a world that has been impacted and touched by your presence, your joy, and your positive actions."
-Jon Gordon-

I firmly believe this quote speaks for itself, and when my time is up, I can only hope this can be said about me. I've always tried to maintain a positive energy, no matter what may be going on with my legs or anything for that matter. Dwelling on the negative will get me no where, and more importantly it will get my team of people that I surround myself with anywhere either.

The second quote I would like to mention from Jon Gordon comes from his latest book, Soup:
"When your folks talk about the challenges, then you talk about the opportunities"
-Jon Gordon-

As I read this quote, I couldn't help but think about myself and the many challenges I've faced over the last few years. It would be easy for me to use these challenges as an excuse, but I've always believed fighting to overcome these challenges provides me with "great opportunities."

It's unfortunate that in today's society, so many people are quick to point out the things that may hold us back, rather then lending a hand to support someone in doing what they have set out to do in accomplishing their goals. All of the previously mentioned quotes speak to this theme, thus, this is why I felt compelled to bring them to your attention. There are so many more quotes that I could continue to share within this post, but I'm sure I've exceeded your attention span. So, until we meet again, take care, remain positive, and stay strong!!!


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

California Dreaming!!!

Well, once again it has been a long a while since I've last posted, and for that I apologize. I know, I know, I've started out my last few entries with a very similar statement, but I promise I will give you some more bathroom reading more frequently now that the school year is coming to an end. I have a lot that I want to say, so I will re-visit more often to keep the posts shorter.

Ok, now to the title of this post, California Dreaming. Two weeks ago yesterday, I boarded a flight to Orange County, California to meet with a fantastic group of people (Steve Farber, Glen Warren, and David Pinter to name a few). However, the coolest part of my trip happened exactly two weeks ago today. As most of you that are familiar with my blog know that I'm a huge fan of Steve Farber and his books, but more importantly, I am a bigger fan of of what his books stand for. After my visit to Orange County, I quickly saw that I was not the only person in education that has been inspired by his books. In fact it was exactly two weeks today that I was extremely fortunate to attend and take part of the First Annual Extreme Leadership Conference for schools.

The morning session was based upon the LEAP philosophy found in Steve Farber's first book, the Radical LEAP. While the afternoon session was based upon his third book, Greater Than Yourself, and was held for staff from the Orange County Department of Education. In either case, both sessions provided myself and our administrative team at Darby a great deal of insight in how to utilize these themes within our school. To say this was an amazing experiene with a great deal of information to our team in implementing these principles in our school would be a major understatement. Additionally, I was provided the opportunity to briefly speak at each session.

I was surrounded by some unbelievable educational leaders and had the opportunity to discuss how we've used these ideas in our schools. The best part of the day was having the opportunity to hear stories from the principals that have had utilized these ideas and how they, their students, teachers, and the schools themselves have improved every aspect that a student may be involved with in their academic pursuits. I have a few links that will provide you with some additional information explaining this Extreme Leadership conference/movement for you to check out if you have a moment.

So, until we meet again, take care, remain positive, and stay strong!!!