The first time I gave a speech it was to a small group at the oil company I had worked for when I first got out of college. By this point I had quit the job but I had built a relationship with the employee wellness coordinator at the site. I wanted to share my story of weight loss with others and I figured the wellness coordinator would be a good place to start. Once he heard my story he agreed to let me present.
It was about 2006 and, by all external accounts, I was at a bottom point in life. However, I was determined to go down the road of building my own health and wellness business. I had gotten a cheap personal trainer’s license and set up an LLC. I was moving forward. I was also in debt and part of that debt was a car I had voluntary surrendered for repossession. Car-less, I was going to be riding the bus to the presentation that day. As fate would have it, the bus was late that day. In order to save time I began walking towards the next stop on the bus line. It was probably 9 a.m. The presentation was at noon. It was a big opportunity and I didn’t want to blow it by being late. I also didn’t want to admit that I didn’t have a car (or that I had given it up for repossession).
I kept walking and looking back for the bus and eventually I decided that I had enough time to just walk there. I didn’t have any second thoughts about it. Do what it takes to make it happen. It was the summer time in Houston, TX. It was hot. I got sweaty in my nice ‘presentation’ clothes. I got there early enough to clean up a bit in the bathroom. I was ready.
I had prepared a great power point presentation. ’10 Tips for Health’ or something of that nature. Basically, I collected the ten strategies that seemed to correlate to me losing weight. Things like: Eat smaller meals and more vegetables, drink water instead of soda and juice, strength train, etc… Earth shattering information, I know… As I was walking I had an epiphany,
“Travis, this walking that you’re doing with your car repossessed and your finances in ruin. This walking 8 miles in the summer time to give a presentation at your former employer when anyone else would duck and hide their ‘fall from grace’… This is why you lost weight! It’s your resolve that made the difference. That’s what you need to talk about today!”
My willingness to fail in front of people, my determination to adapt to and overcome all obstacles, my ability to be optimistic when it seems as though all hope is lost… that’s what lead to the weight loss and every other major accomplishment in my life. It’s not that those 10 tips weren’t important. They were… But without the right mindset, your long standing habits will remain the same. We see this all the time in environments where a group needs to change to be successful.
Managers say, “If we implement these 10 strategies we’ll break records in profits and everyone will get a huge bonus!!!”
Eyes start to roll back because people know that the prevailing mindset in that company culture is going to resist change.
Employees say, “Yeah it works but no one around here is going to do that…”
That day I gave a 1 hour speech to about 12 people and had everyone’s total attention. I didn’t bother to pull out my laptop. I didn’t need it. Completely off the cuff, I did my best to convey the culture of my mind. My mind perceives adversity in a totally different way than most people. I see it coming and knowing that it will involve pain, I embrace it as a means to grow.
Recently, a friend told me that it takes an average of about 8 attempts for someone to quit smoking. That’s 7 failures for one life-altering success. I would argue that life’s odds are usually steeper than that… That makes me smile.