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!!!

Otis

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Believe!

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!!!

Otis

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!!!

Otis

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!!!

Otis

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.

http://k12farber.ning.com/
http://stevefarber.com/blog/?p=1248


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

Otis

Sunday, May 23, 2010

L.E.A.P. "The P"

"Life's challenges are not supposed to paralyze you; they're supposed to help you discover who you are."
-Bernice Johnson Reagon-

I recently received an email from a teacher at Darby about a group of amputees that play soccer in the country of Liberia, a story that was also featured on ESPN. It was in that email that I saw the quote from above. As I read the quote, I knew it would become one that I would refer to often, and more importantly I knew it was one that I've tried to embody, not just in my current journey, but throughout my entire life when any obstacle or hurdle has presented itself.

So, once again, I know it's been quite a while since I've last posted and let me tell you, A LOT has happened since my last update. First and foremost, I received my "official" leg last Wednesday minus the artwork, but trust it will soon appear on a leg near you! Secondly, in what was quite a surprise, I visited Steve Farber's, the author of The Radical Leap, website earlier this week to see a post about yours truly, which REALLY meant a lot to me. Finally, through Mr. Farber's help, I have been in touch with a very Extreme Leader, Glen Warren of the Orange County Department of Education. He, like me, believes wholeheartedly in the LEAP principles. His belief is so strong he has planned and developed the first education conference based on LEAP, The Orange County Extreme Leadership Conference to be held on June 2nd. Not only has he invited me to come out, but he has mentioned the possibility of me having the opportunity to speak there as well. How cool is that?!!!

Now, that brings me to the topic of today's post and the final quality that "Extreme Leaders" exemplify is represented by the P, in the acronym LEAP, Proof. As Farber states, on page 174 in A Daily Handbook for Extreme Leaders, this proof must occur on three levels:
1. Prove it to others.
2. Prove it yourself.
3. Prove to others that you're proving it to yourself.

Proving it to others, or putting your money where your mouth is, is easier said than done. We have all worked with someone that has that mastermind idea at the 11th hour, but you wonder where they've been up until that point. Throughout my life, I have always prided myself on working hard in everything I do, whether it's teaching, coaching, working out, etc. I have always aspired to be seen as a hard worker and very committed to the team or the task at hand, and I hope people have seen that in me.

When it comes to my leg, I've always tried to look at the positives. Often times, I have done this more for the benefit of others than for myself. Now, it was time to prove it to myself, which I took the first step in doing so back in February when I made the decision to go through with my amputation, and ultimately on March 15th when I had my surgery. Every day since then, I have proven it to myself that I can be strong enough to go through this journey and take on any challenge in the future. One of my favorite aspects of The Radical Leap is Farber's description of the OS!M, or as he puts it "Extreme Leaders are living in the pursuit of the OS!M." What is an OS!M? you ask, well I think it's defined by Edg when he explains it to Steve as he describes the street luge in the following excerpt on pages 21 and 22:
"Now, imagine you're lying flat on your back on a long, wheeled sled-kinda like a skateboard-perched on the top of a steep hill. This isn't your serene, pastoral, snow-covered hill; it's an asphalt slope lined on both sides by parked cars. At the bottom of the hill, a quarter of a mile away, is a major intersection, and the traffic light down there is your finish line. Get the picture?

Your friend pats you on the helmet, gives you a mighty thrust toward Main Street, and-whoosh!-you are gravity's love slave. The asphalt is blazing two inches under your back, parked cars are screaming past your head, and you can't stop, you can't turn back, and right there, in that moment, there are only two words on your mind. What are they?"

Now, at this point, I'm sure you know what Steve said, "Oh Shit!", and thus, an OS!M is an Oh Sh*t! Moment. My OS!M came a few weeks ago, in that video you see under the Testing 1, 2, 3 post. I think you can see that expression on my face as I took those first steps in that test leg. As I mentioned earlier, I got my "official" leg last Wednesday, and each time I get up to walk anywhere, and experience that walk without the pain that used to accompany my every movement, I continue to have those OS!M's. I can only hope that these moments continue to come more and more frequently as I get my active lifestyle back.

Proving to others that you're providing proof to yourself basically consists of allowing others to participate in your own development as an Extreme Leader. Furthermore, allow others to be a part of your pursuit of these OS!M's. This is exactly what I have done throughout my recent journey, and I would be remissed if I did not mention all these individuals and express how much their participation has meant to me in this pursuit. First and foremost, my family has been with me every step of the way...literally. The look on my wife's face when I took those steps meant the world to me, and so too did the reaction my girls had when the saw me at the top of the stairs for the first time in my test leg, or the look on the faces of the folks at Darby as I've walked around the halls at school, and not to mention that overwhelming day in which they all wore the Stay Strong T-shirts in their support of me (yet another OS!M). Additionally, I must give major props to Dr. Lee and the great people at Orthopedic Foot & Ankle Center: Suzy; Katina; Lindsey; Mike; and everyone else at OFAC that has been there with me over the last 7 years. I must also acknowledge some of the great folks at American Orthopedics. In particular, Mike Hansen and all his work in making my prosthetic to fit my needs and lifestyle. Also, David Deluccia has proven to be a great source of support and information since the day I made the decision to have this surgery. Finally, there have been a great group of individuals that have "provided proof" to me that they are committed to me and my pursuit of the OS!M. People like Mark, Lou, Norma, Lidle, Napes, my parents, and MANY others that have been there for me every step of the way to lend a helping hand.

I apologize for such a long post, but a lot has happened to me since my last update. I promise to come back sooner with my next update. So, until we meet again, take care, remain positive, and stay strong!!!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

L.E.A.P. "The A"


It's been longer than I would like since my last update, and a lot has happened since then. This past Wednesday, I returned to my friends at American Orthopedics for another fitting of my prosthetic. After a few adjustments, I was out and about walking in the exam room, up and down steps, and up and down a ramp. Much to my surprise, I was allowed to take home my test leg to wear it around the house and note adjustments that I deem necessary when I return this upcoming Wednesday. As you can see above, I'm standing on my own two feet in my room, and let me tell you it feels great! Additionally, that evening I took my daughter Madelyn for a walk, hand in hand, around the block. Although the feeling of walking was great, the best part of my day was the pride I saw in my wife's face watching me take on the various tasks at American Orhopedics, and the excitement exhibited by my girls when they first saw me with my new leg. In fact, hearing Maya say "Daddy, you have two legs, did your leg grow back?" or seeing Madelyn jumping up and down for joy on the couch was priceless. With their support, and the support of my friends, I know I will overcome any adversity and soon become more active than I have been in a long time. This leads me to the topic of todays post.

The third essential quality of an Steve Farber utilizes to describe an "Extreme Leader" is represented by the A, in the acronym LEAP, Audacity. In fact, according to Edg:
"Audacity is 'a bold and blatant disregard for normal constraints.'"
I've always tried to lead my life by breaking through any constraints or overcoming adversities. However, doing these things myself is not what gives me the sense of being "audacious" in my leadership style. Instead, I feel more accomplished, a greater sense of pride, and much more productive when "my team" works together to complete the task at hand. Whether it's my family team, my work team, or a team of friends, I have always loved the feeling of team work. I mean there is no better feeling than forming a team; challenging the views of the naysayers, or those who say "that can't be done"; working together and reaching the goal or win. This is audacity, and this is what I hope to accomplish in all aspects of my life.

In my current journey, I will need the help of all those around me to challenge the norms and reach my goals. I have my first one set, The Outer Limits Triathlon, August 29th 2010 at 7:00am. I will compete in this traithlon in a relay format. I will swim the half mile course along the banks of the Anderson Concrete quarry, Mark Tremayne will bike the 16 mile course, and his wife Alicia will run the 5K. It is my hope that next year, the three of us can compete it this sprint triathlon again. Only this time, my goal is to complete the triathlon by myself, and I know they will be up to do the same.

Finally, I must give David Wess, the owner of Inkworkz Tattoo Studio, a big thank you. I met with him last night to discuss some tattoo designs I would like included in my first official prosthetic leg. He graciously accepted the challenge to incorporate a number of things that mean a lot to me in a tattoo format. I must say, it will be the easiest tattoo I will ever get (no sitting through the pain)...ha!!! As always, until we meet again, take care, remain positive, and stay strong!!!

Otis

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Testing 1, 2, 3

I wanted to send out a quick update on my progress. Today, I had the opportunity to go test my prosthetic leg and I've attached the video of the very first steps I took. You may be able to hear the voice of my wife and the gentleman who is making my prosthetic telling me to keep my hands on the bars. I just wanted to be free at last...ha! I will be returning to test my leg again next week after a few minor tweaks are made, and I should be able to take my leg home with me in 2 weeks. I will return to my LEAP posts with "The A" explanation very soon. Thanks for all your support! As always, take care, remain positive, and stay strong!!!

Otis

video

Sunday, April 18, 2010

L.E.A.P. "The E"


Before I delve deep into the second phase of the LEAP, "The E," and what it means to me, I must first give a few shout outs and explanations. First, in my last post I talked about "The L," Love, in LEAP, and I mistakenly forgot to mention the three people that I love the most, my wife Kristin, and my two beautiful daughters, Maddie and Maya. Secondly, I would like to explain the logo pictured at the top of this post. Last Friday, as I wheeled myself in to work, I had no idea what I was in for. As I got in to my office, people from work started showing up in bunches with one thing in common. Everyone, and I mean everyone (teachers, administrators, secretaries) had on a gray t-shirt with that logo on the front. This was orchestrated by two of my great friends, Mark Tremayne and Lou Vazquez. The m squared represents my initials, and the Stay Strong has been my mantra throughout my journey. Thus, I would be remissed if I did not give a great big thanks to the staff at Darby High School, so I thank you from the bottom of my heart! If that is not a real life example of LOVE, I don't know what is. Additionally, the ENERGY that was generated in the building last Friday was intense. Which leads me to the subject of today's post.

As I mentioned in my last post, Steve Farber uses the acronym LEAP to describe the essential qualities in becoming an "Extreme Leader." Today, I would like to discuss the E, ENERGY, and what it means to me in my daily approach to life. As Farber states, it more than just energy that the extreme leader possesses, it's the ability to generate energy in those around them. In the A Daily Handbook for Extreme Leaders, on page 169 to be exact, there is a quote that resonated within me, and one that I have often asked myself throughout my life, especially in times when facing adversity:
"What effect does my action have on the energy of the people around me?"
As I've mentioned before, I have experienced a great deal of adversity as a result of the numerous ankle surgeries I've had. At a young age, I learned that my reaction or approach to these directly effect how those around me respond.

Whether it was returning to play football, returning to teaching and coaching, or most recently returning from the amputation of my right leg, I have found jumping back in to whatever I'm doing head first with focus and a great work ethic has enabled me to overcome any obstacle or adversity that stands in my way. Additionally, this has approach has made me feel successful in whatever challenge I have faced. I want to make it clear that when I say successful, I am not defining that by being named all league or coach of the year. I simply mean, I did not let my legs determine my future, and I'd like to think that along the way, I may have inspired some around me to work hard and take on the same approach as they face a difficult time in their lives.

Although I do not wish bad luck or injury to any of you, I do hope that when an obstacle or any type of adversity presents it self, you take it on and conquer it with hard work and a positive energy. Trust me, others will notice and feed off that energy. If you've never been presented with any type of adversity, I apologize to you and hope you will begin to challenge yourself and set your goals higher. There is no better feeling than coming back stronger and defeating something that's in your way.

Finally, just recently I started reading another business parable, The Energy Bus, by Jon Gordon and there is a line early in the book that exemplifies my approach to life, or ENERGY:
"Every problem has a gift for you in its hands as my man Richard Bach says. You can choose to see the curse or gift."
I have chosen to find the gift, and I challenge you to do the same!!! Sorry for such a long post, but as you may be able to tell, I am a firm believer in the power of positive energy. I will return soon with my thoughts on the A and the P. Tomorrow I get to test my leg at 3:30 pm tomorrow afternoon, and I hope to have pictures and video to share. So, until we meet again, take care, remain positive, and stay strong!!!

Otis

p.s. Many people have expressed an interest in buying a shirt. I'm trying to coordinate this, and sell them for $10. I would like to donate all profits to kids that need prosthetics.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

L.E.A.P. "The L"

On June 25, 2007 I had my right ankle fused at a 90 degree angle. The days following that surgery were extremely painful due to the fracture blisters that I had developed. Additionally, for the first time in a very long time, I felt somewhat sorry for myself for a number of reasons. First, as a result of the severity of my surgery, I was in a tremendous amount of pain for quite some time (really until about 3 weeks ago). Secondly, as I laid on the couch in my "man cave" watching Big Brother and various other reality shoes on my DVR, I felt as though the lives of my family and friends were going on without me. Finally, it was during this summer that I interviewed for, and missed out on a job that I really wanted. Fortunately for me, I took a gamble on a job that gave me an opportunity to work with a great group of people and thankfully it helped lead to where I'm at today. The other positive that I will take from the summer of 2007 came in the form of a short read that I continue to reference to this day, and brings me to the topic of today's blog post.

Those of you that know me well, know that one of my favorite books, if not my favorite book, is The Radical Leap by Steve Farber. The book is a business parable and speaks to how to become an "Extreme Leader." The story is told through the eyes of Steve, and it chronicles his interactions with two very interesting individuals, Edg and Pops. The word LEAP serves as an acronym, and today I would like to discuss the L, LOVE, and what it means to me in my daily life.

At this point, I know what many of you may be thinking, "I thought this blog was meant to chronicle Otis's road to recovery, and this is beginning to look more like a book review." I hope you bear with me for just another moment. I want to share a line from the book, to be exact it is on page 165 in my copy, on the first page of the A Daily Handbook for Extreme Leaders, found at the end of the book:
"Without the calling and commitment of your heart, there's no good reason for you to take a stand, to take a risk, to do what it takes to change your world for the better."
This brings me to today and where I'm at in my recovery. As I've mentioned before, for the better part of the last six and half years I've struggled with my right leg/ankle. This struggle only seemed to get worse as each surgery passed, and since that ankle fusion in June of 2007, the pain that I experienced was constant. Between the lack of mobility and function, and the increasing pain, I desperately needed to take a stance, a risk, and do something to change my life for the better, which I did on March 15, 2010.

Today, I stand before you (or crutch, or sit in my wheelchair) feeling much better. My spirits are up, my head is clear, and for the first time in a long time I'm truly excited about what the future holds with my leg. This is especially true after my appointment yesterday with Mike at American Orthopedics. I was blown away by the care and attention he provided me with in beginning the making of my prosthetic. Additionally, I was blown away by the technology, I mean seeing Mike scan my leg with what appeared to be 2 video cameras and a bar code scanner, and watching an exact 3-dimensional replica of my leg appear on the screen of the computer was amazing. I can't wait to go back next week and test it out.

I'd like to wrap up today's post with some tattoo talk. I mentioned in my first post that I have a passion for tattoos, and I want to get my prosthetic tattooed much the same way that was shown recently on LA Ink. I would also like to add a little ink to one of my current tattoos. On my right arm I have a tribal sun with the phrase "CARPE DIEM" written in old english script underneath it. As you probably know, this is Latin for "seize the day." This motto is something that I have always tried to live by. I've always tried to have this positive outlook on life, in fact, I can easily say that I LOVE life and I thirst for more out of my life. Thus, I would like to add the phrase "SITIS PRO VITA" above the sun, which, in Latin, means "thirst for life."

I will return very soon with the rest of the Extreme Leadership qualities found in LEAP. So, until we meet again, take care, remain positive, and stay strong!!!

Otis

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Next Step

Today was a great day on my road to recovery. I had a follow-up appointment with my doctor and received the word that I am cleared to move on to "the next step" in the process. Next Wednesday morning I will be casted or have a digital image taken of my right leg that will allow them to begin making my prosthetic leg. I will return a week later to try on a test socket and leg. As long as that appointment progresses without a hitch, I will return again in another week and be in possession of my prosthetic leg. Think about that for a moment. On March 15th, I had surgery to amputate my right leg about 8 inches below the knee, and there is a great possibility that I will take possession of my new leg, and new life for that matter on April 28th. Has that sunk into you yet? I know it hasn't truly hit me yet. To think, in 44 days I will have gone from chronic pain and limited mobility to literally being back on my own two feet again. To say that I'm excited is an understatement.

As I mentioned in my last post, I'm constantly searching for a book, a quote, a saying, a video, or anything that I can hold on to and utilize in my life for motivation or inspiration. I do this not just for myself, but for those around me as well. Tonight, I return to you with 2 such nuggets. The first is a quote by one of my favorite authors, Mark Sanborn:
“Use your past as a springboard instead of an anchor. Deal with the issues that are holding you back.”
This is something that I feel I've always been fairly good at doing, having gone through 3 surgeries on my left foot/ankle/Achilles and 11 surgeries on my right foot/ankle/Achilles (9 of which have occurred in the last six and a half years). However, I will be the first to admit that it is not always easy to look adversity in the eye and fight back. I have always tried using these setbacks as motivation to move my life forward or having them serve as inspiration to those around me. This has proven to be far better than sitting around and feeling sorry for myself, and welcoming pity from those around me.

I want to leave you with a video of man who embodies the quote above, and he has truly overcome the obstacles he has been presented with. Please take a few minutes to take a look at it, it starts with a short commercial. I think you will find it inspiring. Until we meet again, take care, remain positive, and stay strong!!!

Otis

Meet Butch Lumpkin - Golf Video | Golf Channel

Friday, April 2, 2010

My New Beginning

As many of you know, I recently made a decision to change the course of my future life for the better. On March 15th, I went under the knife to have a below the knee amputation on my right leg. I know what you may be thinking, "how can an amputation change the course of my life for the better?", but those of you that have been in my life in the last 6 and a half years know the struggles I have been dealing with having had 8 surgeries on my right leg during that time span, and a total of 10 throughout the course of my life. At this point in my recovery, I can honestly say that the chronic pain I had been experiencing is gone, my spirits are up, and I feel as though a giant weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Additionally, I'm extremely excited for what the future holds, getting my prosthetic leg and becoming much more mobile and active for my lovely ladies (Kristin, Maddie, & Maya), which brings me to the title of today's post, "My New Beginning."

Ok, enough about my medical history. I would like to talk about the "Outlook from Otis," my nickname and sometimes alter ego (I will explain how I got the name at a later time). I've always been considered a positive and passionate person, and I would like to think that I do a relatively good job of helping those around me achieve their goals and serve as a good friend to them. One of my many passions is my ongoing search for some quote, saying, or book that I can utilize in my life. I have always found myself doing this throughout my entire life, whether was when I was younger playing sports and going to school; in college to prepare myself for my career; when I was teaching and coaching; in my current position as an administrator; in my family life; or as I've been dealing with the many adversities my leg has presented me. I often reference these books suchs at The Radical Leap, The Radical Edge, Greater than Yourself, You Don't Need a Title to be a Leader, and many others. I try to pull something from each one to help shape and mold my "Outlook" and aproach to life.

Ironically, I heard a quote today that I could truly identify with while watching a favorite show of mine, LA Ink (tattoos happen to be one of my passions as well). Coincidentally, it was an amputee who was in the shop looking for a tattoo on his prosthetic leg. He said
"The pleasure you get in life is equal to the attitude you put into it!"
His words resonated with me, as I could truly identify with this quote. I've always tried to see the positive in everything in my life, whether it appears to be an obstacle or not. As crazy as it sounds, I truly feel blessed with everything that has happened to me in my life, even what has happened to my leg since it has made me realize the value of hard work and appreciate what I do have.

So, it is the goal of mine through this blog to provide everyone with "something" they can hold on to and hopefully put to use in their lives. I would be remissed if I did not tell everyone a giant THANK YOU for all you have done for me and my family throughout my recovery!!! We can not say how much it has meant to us to receive the support we have had. It has truly been overwhelming and we can't thank you enough for your support as we enter "our new beginning."

Sorry for such a long 1st post, but I felt the need to let it all out! I hope to you find this useful and come back again. Until we meet again, take care, remain positive, and stay strong!!!

Otis