"The Strength Coach," Greg Smith

New Web Site

Check out my new website at http://www.thestrengthcoach.com.  This one will be eliminated soon.

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New Web Site

New Web Site

Check out my new website at http://www.thestrengthcoach.com.  This one will be eliminated soon.

Remember the “Telephone Game?”  You know, the kids game where the first player whispers a phrase or sentence to the next player.  They, in turn, whisper it to the next and  each player successively whispers what that player believes he or she heard to the next.  At the end, the last player announces the phrase to the entire group.

What happens?  Usually the final sentence is significantly different than the original one!

My story has been told countless times in newspapers, magazines, books, television newscasts and even in a documentary film.  I feel very honored and privileged to be able to communicate the lessons I’ve learned from my unique life experience for the benefit of all who will listen.  While the essence of the story has remained intact, there are a few personal details that have become exaggerated to the point where I just want to set the record straight.  And I’ll be very brief:

1. My ex employers at the radio station in Phoenix were not monsters who refused to give a disabled guy a chance!  They were great people who taught me everything I know about broadcasting and who supported me as I transitioned from an employee to an entrepreneur with a destiny ahead.

and…

2. My ex wife is not an evil, heartless person.  We shared some of the most wonderful experiences of our lives together.  And she gave me the three best friends I’ll ever have in the world… my three children.  We didn’t work out, but we will always love each other.

The most recent article in Quest magazine is wonderfully written, and captures the essence of what “The Strength Coach” is all about.  While it touches on the two elements above, it does so mildly.  It just reminded me that I’ve wanted to address these two issues for a long time now, and it does feel good to finally express my thoughts and cross it off my list.

That said, enjoy the article in the Spring 2009 issue of Quest Magazine.  Be sure to click on the online version to see the entire spread as it appears in the magazine.  Go to page 78.  And check out my ad on page 90.

Are you a lazy “superhero?”

The last thing in the world I want is for anyone to feel sorry for me.  It really bothers me when people feel a sense of pity because I have muscular dystrophy, weigh only 68 pounds and sit strapped in a power wheelchair.  The truth is, if I were fully aware of all the difficulties and challenges in YOUR life, I might be tempted to feel sorry for YOU!   But I wouldn’t allow myself to do that.   I’d respect you for what you have to deal with, and I’d try to learn whatever lessons your situation could reveal about overcoming my own obstacles.  Everyone has difficulties.  My physical disability is one of mine.  There are others.

That said, sometimes I do imagine what life would be like if my difficulties were not so extreme.  Most people think “wheelchair” and they think the greatest miracle would be my ability to walk again.  From my perspective, walking is a mode of transportation.  If I remember to recharge my power chair at night, I get around just fine.

But I wonder how much more productive I would be if I could just sit upright!  Since age 13, my spine has been fused and supported by three metal rods.   My position is fixed: abdomen arched slightly forward, shoulders back, and the fixed angle of my neck forcing my head into a perpetual upward gaze.  To type this blog entry, the back of my skull is leaning against a padded headrest on my chair.  Because of the spinal fusion, I can’t point my head down.  It’s locked.  Won’t move.  I cannot move my chin down in the direction of my chest far enough to balance the weight of my head.  I’m looking at the screen down the bottom of my eyes and I actually can’t point my gaze down enough to focus on the lowest pixels on the screen.  So I keep scrolling to the top.

picture-28

From this position, I can’t answer the phone or make phone calls.  When the phone rings, I have to scoot my hips  back and lean my chest forward against the strap that supports me.  And when I do answer the phone, my arms are too weak to hold it very long, so I often use the speaker phone.

Sometimes, I think, “Wow, what would life be like if I could arch my back, hold my head upright and use my arms and hands to answer the phone?”

And then I snap out of it and get back to living my life.   As problems and difficulties arise, I solve them.   For example, I recently got this wireless mic/headset and I’m using the Internet to make calls.  I can now dial with my mouse and I don’t have to change position to make an outgoing call.  I haven’t figured out how to get my incoming calls on board with this system yet but I’m sure I will.

My point is this:  If you don’t have a disability, if you can sit upright and hold your head upright and look straight at your computer screen, and if you can answer the phone while you’re reading this blog, then wow!  You might as well be a superhero!  If you can do all those things and you aren’t using your special powers to make your world a better place, what’s the problem?

“Superman, why don’t you ever fly?”

“I don’t know, I just can’t seem to get motivated.”

Gimmie a break.

You have special powers.  Use them on the path to your dreams.  Don’t feel sorry for me because I don’t have the same powers and don’t worry.  I have other powers.  Instead, respect me for what I accomplish without your powers and put the lessons I teach to work in your life.

PS: No, the “W” banner behind me in the photograph does not stand for George “W” Bush.  Chicago Cubs fans know what it stands for!

The Power of Your Story

Many professional speakers have what’s called a “signature story.”   I’ve told mine literally hundreds of times to audiences across the country and around the world.  You might think I’d  get tired of telling it over and over again.  Or perhaps I’d lose my enthusiasm for the story because it might become stale and “used up.” 

You know what?  I’ve found the opposite to be true.  Every single time I tell the story, I cast my thoughts and my feelings inward and I imagine myself actually living the experience again!  It was an experience of triumph and self satisfaction, and I actually earn a living, reliving one of the most empowering moments of my life! 

I told the story yet again today to a group of Kiwanis Club members in Biloxi, Mississippi.  As I shared the story, I could look at the faces of the people listening and see that they were captivated and inspired by what they were hearing.  And that appreciation made me feel great!  From that talk, I went on too have one of the most productive, successful days in a while. 

You don’t need to be a professional speaker to benefit from this insight.   I believe we all need a daily diet of positive mental nourishment to build our inner strength.  One great way to get that nourishment is to talk about your greatest moments and share the lessons you learned with others. 

Think of something you accomplished that you are extremely proud of.  Maybe it was something very challenging or seemingly impossible. Yet through determination and perseverance, you got it done! 

Today, make it a point to tell your story sometime in the morning.  And at the end of the day, reflect back and see if it gave you a boost towards a productive fulfilling day. 

Let me know!

Didn’t get it done?

“When times were good, we didn’t get it done.  When we had mild recessions, we didn’t get it done.  When we were in peacetime, we did not get it done.  When we were at war, we didn’t get it done.   There is always a reason not to do it.   It strikes me that now is exactly the time to deal with this problem.”    

— President Barack Obama

He was referring to health care reform, but when I heard those words just uttered from the President’s mouth, he spoke directly to me about my own personal and professional goals. 

We have to always be aware of the fact that we are programmed to be adequate.  When our survival is at stake, we will stop at nothing to achive our goals.  But when we have food, clothing, shelter, companionship and other basic human needs met, we often get complacent to the point where we don’t “get it done.” 

If the greatest feeling in the world is feeling great about yourself, imagine how great it will feel when you “get it done!”   Whatever it is that you want to do, think about that feeling and use your imagination to make it clear and vivid.  

How great will you feel when you get it done? Go do it and find out for yourself.  As the President said, “Now is exactly the time to deal with this problem!”

The greatest feeling in the world!

There is no better feeling in the world than the feeling of consistently feeling GREAT about yourself!   Wow, a lot of “feeling” went into that sentence, and I hope I didn’t confuse you, but if you analyze it, you’ll find it to be true.  Everything we do is for the purpose experiencing that greatest feeling in the world!

Too often, we confuse the boundaries between feeling GREAT about ourselves and feeling adequate.  For example maybe you have a good job and earn a decent living.  You have good credit.  You go to work every day.  Your job is secure.  You’re doing good.  You’re living an adequate life.  You feel GOOD about yourself.  Deep within, you’re satisfied with yourself and you know you are functioning well. 

If I’ve just described you, congratulations because in these difficult times, if you’re stable and feeling good about yourself, you are within striking distance of that feeling of greatness.  Many people are seldom experiencing even a good feeling about themselves.  We’ve all experienced despair, hopelessness, and a feeling that we are not special, and in our current environment the group of people with those feelings is growing.  Hopefully, after reading this post, you’ll be inspired to jump off that bandwagon now!

I challenge you to consider this queston: Are you really living?  Where’s the excitement? Where’s the passion?  Where’s the purpose and meaning?  Why are you here?  What are you supposed to be doing? 

Answering those questions will reveal the secret to finding that ultimate feel-GREAT lifestyle.  Unfortunately, those questions are some of the most difficult known to mankind.  I don’t think I’d find pleasure in learning the precise statistical information about the percentage of people who go through their entire lives and never find their purpose.  As a result, they can never feel truly GREAT about themselves for any extended period of time. 

I think life is too precious.  The consensus of physicians was that my life would be a very short one.  So I’ve given this thought of purpose some careful consideration and can pass along some insight to you.   My purpose is to experience life with the unique characteristics I have been assigned (black, skinny, in a wheelchair, physically weak, yet insightful, vocal, stubborn articulate, observant, patient) and to communicate about what I’ve learned from this perspective in a way that can be of assistance to all.  I’m doing that and it feels GREAT!

If you continue to merely exist, satisfied with the good feeling about your adequate lifestyle, you are selling yourself short.  Your destiny awaits.  Here’s how:

The first step to discovering that purpose is to put yourself in a feel-great state consistently.  Do something for someone else without expecting anything in return.  Do something difficult that you’ve been putting off because you’ve been dreading the process of doing it.  Instead of fearing the pain involved in the process, focus on the great feeling you will experience when the goal is reached.  The more you can give yourself hints of that feeling of greatness, the more you’ll discover what makes you feel great, and in the process you’ll find your answers.  What did you do that made you feel GREAT today?  Have an answer every day and you’ll be on your way!

Comment below:  What did YOU do that made you feel GREAT today?