Speaker Klyn Elsbury wants you to have her first chapter of I AM, at absolutely no charge.
I AM : THE UNTOLD STORY OF SUCCESS
Klyn, I came across one of your speeches on YouTube, and how you overcame the struggles of a chronic disease. When I heard your story, it reminded of mine, as 15 years ago I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, requiring me to inject insulin up to 5 times a day. It happened suddenly, and many adjustments needed to happen, to include my ambitions, but I am grateful for the life that I have and the life I can live. As Jimmy Dean said, “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” Great inspiration!”
-David Stryzheus; Director of Human Resources
Klyn is not only extremely inspiration but the way she is able to set up impactful moments in her keynote leave your goose bumps with goose bumps. I was completely riveted by her every word. Having stared death in the face and being able to overcome and live with what can be a debilitating disease like Cystic Fibrosis, has only pushed Klyn to do even greater things including becoming an entrepreneur. The more obstacles put in her life, the more determined she seems to be in overcoming and being a role model. If any of my clients are every looking for an extremely inspiring, well spoken, thought provoking game changer whose story will have the room on their feet, then I suggest booking Klyn ASAP! I am sure her schedule must be filling up quickly!
-Michael Dash CEO ParallelHR
We met briefly through Larry Kesslin, who nominated you and your amazing story for last year’s Lasting Legacy & Inspiration Awards event. The competition was greater than any year so far, but I was personally so touched by what you have to do every day just to breathe and live and how you touch others for good and inspire them to overcome. I have someone that I would like to have meet you, if you are willing. I just met his wife, Janet, last week. His name is Justin. He was enrolled in BUDS to become a Navy SEAL when he was injured to the point he had to drop out of the program. He was heart-broken for a number of reasons. He then had several other disappointments, not the least of which was having seizures begin in his mid-twenties. As he was studying to become an emergency room nurse at the time, they couldn’t allow him to continue, since there was no telling when he might have a seizure. He is struggling to put things together and choose a new career path to help support his terrific wife (Janet) and raise a family someday. I thought of you, and even though we barely know each other, I wanted to ask if I could introduce the two of you even if he just has the chance to hear you when you are presenting – read your book, etc. Would that be OK?
-R. J. Kelly
Klyn, your message to our Dimension Development team really hit home. We are building a culture around genuine care for each other. You were right on target!
– Matthew Schupbach, Assistant Chief Financial Officer at Dimension Development
I met Klyn several years ago and her personality just sparkled! Little did I know at the time she was living through such a life-threatening experience. Since then, I have followed her on social media and celebrated her amazing accomplishments! Her drive to be her personal best is motivating, it is inspirational and simply put, she lifts others up! She was the first person that came to my mind when our Women Leaders Forum group was looking for a motivational speaker. She energized our room with truth, heartbreak, determination and love! She got real! I’m so thankful she is a leader in the world of positive thinking!
-Kimberly Krause. Greater Coachella Valley Chamber of Commerce
Klyn’s message is so needed in this day and age. It brings one back to what and who is really important as we walk through life! She is so candid and down to earth as she walks the walk and inspires other to do the same!
-Mary Summers, Founder Locators LLC
“When you meet Klyn Elsbury you want to rally around her, join her fight, lift her up on your shoulders and protect her. Then she speaks, and you realize it’s not only Klyn that needs us, it’s us that need her. She is a captivating young woman who speaks with raw emotion and candor, as she takes you on a journey of fear, pain, forgiveness and hope and leads you to the one truth that we all share; tomorrow is not a sure thing. She inspires not only because of her enduring fight with her disease but because of her enduring fight to live life for every moment and to rally all of us to do the same. A truly remarkable experience.“
-Shannon Lawrence. Women Leaders Forum, Women Who Rule Event Chair
Klyn is so inspirational as a speaker as well as a writer! After she spoke with us after our meeting, I was motivated to start reading her book and I have begun to look at my life differently. Her positive attitude and belief that we have the power to control our life and to make our futures happen the way we want is infectious! I am going to encourage my daughter to read the book when she comes home for spring break in a few weeks. The power of positive thinking is real and we shouldn’t be afraid to fail and make mistakes – it is the only way to succeed! Thank you so much!
-Lisa Reynolds, Certified Residential Real Estate Appraiser
“You touched a lot of people and the conversations throughout the room were very vulnerable and powerful, thanks to you. At the steering committee afterwards the conversation continued and the consensus was, you knocked it out of the park!!”
-Michelle Saul, CEO of Possibilities Seminars
I am grateful that I had the opportunity to hear Klyn speak at EO Alchemy in San Diego. Her story and message were clear and extremely impactful. I was moved by her authenticity, passion, and overall zeal for life. I came away from her talk with a deeper appreciation for my life, my family and the everyday opportunity to be better and present in the moment. I would highly recommend Klyn as a keynote to supercharge an audience and put things in perspective quickly.”
-Joshua Volen, President of EO San Diego & President Cire Equity
My mom and I watched her video together last night, and we were both glued to the screen. Klyn, your talk is riveting!! Your story is inspiring beyond words (I’ve said “Happiness is now” like 20x today to help myself better live in the moment!). And kudos on your actual presentation style as well. You are a natural (and by natural I mean all the hard work you did to prepare really paid off!). Sending you lots of love from north of the border!
-Lesli Ferguson, Founder Creative Director at Lesli Ink
There is so much goodness wrapped up in here that I am not sure which aspect to comment on! Maybe that is part of the point. Sometimes her words inspire me to put action towards taking my career to the next level. Other times, I am inspired to go home, be present, and give my kids and partner hugs. I appreciate how Klyn is able to get me to tap into my sense of meaning and source of love no matter what is happening in my life.
-Cristina Trette, Entrepreneur / Marriage and Family Therapist
It was an evening that is changing the entire trajectory of my life
Inspired like never before
-Stephanie Hernandez, Primerica
you are the most inspirational lady I’ve ever met!
–Angie Pyles Fay, Fitness Expert
Wow, Klyn. At a quick, first-glance, this is quite inspiring to say the least. I am honored to be the “middleman” in this with you and Boomer. I know he is very much looking forward to chatting with you. I can only imagine how you feel now. I send you very positive, successful vibes…
-Natalie Stout Program Director, Boomer Esiason Foundation
Don’t forget, you have been given a gift and an opportunity to encourage and inspire other people who face obstacles in life. You inspire me and no doubt that’s why you wrote the book.
-JD Fronis, CEO Smart Money Startups
Thank you for opening up and telling Jim and I your story. I sincerely appreciate it and your help with getting me into this position at SBC. You stand as a true inspiration to all.
-Chris Villareal Research and Design Coordinator
I found Klyn Elsbury, to be incredibly inspirational. Her journey to a healthy life, her dedication to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and her success in publishing her book “I AM_” has me see Ms. Elsbury as not just an employer, but a role model.
Your story is so inspiring and I hope that your work will help make changes needed to provide better health care options for everyone in the future.
-Janis Sherwood, Founder/Fight ALD. Adrenoleukodystrophy
This is so incredible Klyn! You’ve always inspired me since the first moment we met
-Blake Cavignac CEO Young Pro Elite
p.s. I saw your post of Facebook the other day. As mentioned, you continue to inspire me and you’re always in my prayers. All I keep thinking about your story. I am over here thinking I am struggling, and then you come along and put me in my place.
Klyn, I was able to listen to your full talk. Wow, it was wonderful. So inspirational and gave me the chills. You are an inspiration to me and I’m so proud of you for how you made those changes in your life.
-Chris and Jessica P
Hi Klyn, Just read and watched your presentation on CF. Actually, I really enjoyed your presentation and how you included a personal experience in the talk. I am sure now are even better! Your own experience in CF is inspiring.
-Pablo Jimenez MD
Thank you for speaking to our group today. I look forward to seeing you continue to shine. You have a fire inside of you that is hard to ignore 🙂
-Larry Kesslin, Chief Connector, Purpose Driven San Diego
Thank you so much for your inspiring talk this morning! I am totally in awe of your courage, perseverance, enthusiasm, and confidence. I also appreciate you going deep with us…you are a genuinely, beautiful young woman and I have learned so much from your empowering talks. Please send me your address so I can mail you a check for your book (I can’t wait to delve in :)) Also, keep us posted on the movie, so we can see it. If you are having a movie premiere, I can spread the word to the Kiwanis Club and would love to attend. I totally love your message.
-John Rourke, CEO
When I listen to Klyn‘s story, I find myself with a renewed fire in my belly, while fending off tears from swelling in my eyes. She’s not afraid to be vulnerable, and her passion is so eloquently conveyed through her inspirational message. Her words really puts things into perspective and make you realize how precious our life and relationships really are. After listening to her speak, I found myself with the courage to face some of my own internal demons. We all think life is so unfair, but after learning what amazing things she has accomplished, with the deck life has dealt her, it makes you think… what’s my excuse? I can’t say enough good things about Klyn. I strongly recommend her, you will not be disappointed.
-Gene Swank, CEO & Serial Entrepreneur
You’ve motivated me to reach out to my wife and tell her the things I love about her and the things I should be telling her more often.
-Tim C, Managing Director
Thanks for your inspiration! Klyn We connected on Instagram and this message is too long to post.. I just finished watching your speech you sent me and I’m not sure where to begin. You mad me “laugh and cry and remember what life is all about” as you say on your website. As I mentioned I work as an emergency doctor for the past 24 years. I’m sure you’ve met plenty people in my profession. I also deal with life and death every day. I try to infuse my compassion, humbleness and humor in my job as well as my love of people. These days I enjoy finding out more about the people who are my patients-who they are, what they do, what they like because I am truly interested in them and also to try to relax them in a stressful situation. I truly hope that you have come across compassionate doctors. A few years ago I decided I wanted to spend more time with my family and discovered entrepreneurship. I recently found a company that is helping people with nutritional products. I was so excited when a high school friend who hadn’t slept in many months was helped with our product and says she’s feeling ‘normal’ again. I read my vision and do meditation and affirmations daily. I also read books on personal development daily and look for inspiration. I must say that you have inspired me in many ways. I know I will watch the video again and will review your website again. I love the way you approach life and I believe you have helped me more clearly define many things. Please let me know if there’s anything I can do for you. Thank you again!
-Steve, ER Physician
Your speech-What a powerful message…..wow!
-Kyle C, General Dynamics
Copyright Page of I AM by Klyn Elsbury
“A bird sitting on a branch is never afraid of it breaking because her trust isn’t in the branch, but her own wings” – unknownTweet
I dedicate this book to all of YOU.
Trust your own wings and soar to new places.
A special dedication;
To my editor, Ric Groeber, for the tireless devotion to this mission.
To Katie Malik, for holding my hand and helping make dreams reality.
To the cystic fibrosis community, for teaching me what true strength and fortitude is.
To all of the achievers featured, for the open and honest inquiry into the depths of their souls.
To my mother & father, Ann and Burdette Elsbury, for giving me a loving home and a supportive environment.
And to the love of my life, who reminds me every day that life isn’t always about how many breaths we take, but about living for the moments that take our breath away.
Foreword by Larry Linne
By former NFL wide receiver, author, and CEO of InCite Performance Group, Larry Linne
A troubled child is keeping you up at night.
Your job is frustrating and your clients are being unreasonable.
Your boss is threatening you and now you’re worried you may not be employed in the near future.
Your spouse tells you they are leaving you.
You are exhausted from the complexity of life and don’t know if things will ever change.
This list goes on…
Isn’t it amazing how life can throw so many things at us? Sometimes those things seem insurmountable. If we are fortunate, they eventually pass or become diluted issues in our life, and we are ok again. But then, just as we begin to move on, another thing comes upon us to bring us down again.
You might think to yourself, “Why does everyone else seem so together… so in charge of their life… so in control?” how are they getting the good luck and the good breaks?
My experience tells me that they are not so lucky. Most people have adversity in their lives, for the majority of their lives. Unfortunately, many people succumb to their adversities which causes them to stop progressing and stop reaching for exciting and high-level dreams. Their challenges cause them to quit… to give up… to accept lesser outcomes, or even give up completely.
When Klyn Elsbury first called me and asked if she could interview me, I didn’t know why. She quickly described her intentions of “interviewing successful business people and athletes to find out what made each person so successful”. Of course, I was flattered and immediately let my ego think of all the big things I could brag about. I was a highly accomplished professional athlete, successful CEO, award-winning author, and have made a very good income. On top of that, I have an amazing marriage and have raised beautiful kids.
But my mind quickly shot to the problems I have experienced in my life as well, including the difficulties I’ve had with my kids, marriage, work, and all the times I have failed. Why was I worthy? So many others have much greater stories. My mind became very scattered as I spoke with her. As we continued to converse, I started to realize that success is very difficult to define. It means something different to every person. I finally came to my own conclusion that success is our ability to avoid and overcome adversity.
It’s not about a certain dollar amount, a specific award or prize, or a cool job title. Success is doing what most aren’t willing to do. It is to overcome adversity and move on to the next challenge. The ladder of success is a constant challenge of taking on each oncoming hurdle and punching it in the mouth. As terrible as this may sound, it has rewards and satisfaction that is much greater than dropping back into the lower steps of the ladder and accepting defeat. When people give in to difficulty and challenge, they drop into a pool of depression and dissatisfaction in life.
These realizations were reinforced to me as I continued to collaborate with Klyn. She took on the certainty of the end of her life and emerged as a dominant victor. She has incredible stories of overcoming both the pain and sicknesses she was battling, along with the overwhelming financial cost of her illness.
As I spoke with Klyn, I went online to learn a bit more about her and what she has gone through. She was a fitness trainer? What? How could this be? She had been on multiple national media interviews! What? How did a “sick girl” who was in the hospital more than anyone I have ever known become so healthy, famous, and successful?
Everything came into perspective as I continued to hear her story and hear about how she has never accepted failure, or let it be the end of her story. She never let “No” stop her from anything that mattered, or in her potential to meet her goals.
I granted her the interview. I told her reasons why I was successful as an athlete, business executive, father, husband, and a few other things. The strategies, beliefs, discipline, and passion that allowed me to be so lucky to have a few things to brag about flowed off my tongue.
Klyn was so genuinely interested and excited about every item I shared. She told me how so many people she had interviewed said very similar, or even the exact same things I had shared. She was finding some magic keys to why some people are successful and why others may not have such good luck. She asked great questions and extracted things that I was proud to share.
The entire time we spoke, I couldn’t get out of my mind what an incredible young woman she was. I felt like a high school basketball player being interviewed by Michael Jordan! Klyn had accomplished things nobody else had ever done. Nobody! And the challenges she faced were things people said were impossible! The NFL is difficult to reach, but not impossible. Great wealth is only accomplished by a few, but it is also not impossible. Titles, victories, and all the things you will read in this book are things that can be achieved. None of them should ever be considered impossible.
Klyn herself is perhaps the greatest story of this book because she accomplished the impossible… twice. My bet is that she will accomplish more impossible things in her life because she fears nothing and is always learning. She changed the rules for battling cystic fibrosis. She beat insurance companies and big pharma. She looks at life as a gift and lives it fuller than anyone I had ever seen. Klyn is learning everything she can from others so she can find her next success. She is bold and willing to call and interview successful people so she can continue her quest for success, and to share her strategy with the world.
Reading about ex NFL athletes and successful business executives certainly will give insights into what it takes to be great. Obtaining the view from Klyn Elsbury is a priceless strategy for reaching your highest potential.
Read this book and redefine who you are and who you will be. “I Am ___: The Untold Story of Success”.
A Letter from Klyn Elsbury to YOU
To the Achievers of Our World,
The following story was all started by one disease, the genetic killer, Cystic fibrosis. It’s partially my battle between loving to laugh and my fear of the coughing fit that ensues when I do. It’s my battle in searching for moments that take my breath away, while my lungs struggle to fill with air.
It’s a long story and at times, not a pretty one. It’s raw. It’s emotional. In order to tell it, I had to put myself in my parent’s heads to imagine what it must be like to sit down and plan my funeral while they are bedside watching a machine breathe for me.
In my darkest days, I packed my suitcase for the emergency room full of clothes, nail polish, makeup, a homemade blanket from high school, and books. When I didn’t have friends visiting, I had mentors coaching me, although they never knew it. Whenever a doctor told me that I lost a large portion of my lung function due to infection, I turned to my books where coaches like Darren Hardy, Napoleon Hill, Rick Pitino, Malcolm Gladwell, Robert Kiyosaki, and Sharon Lechter all kept me company. Through their lessons, I came to realize that if I was going to leave any impact on this world, especially if statistically I only had a few years left, I needed to condition myself to think as they thought.
After years of this conditioning, I noticed common threads throughout the mindsets of today’s household names. I began to see how entrepreneurs, athletes, and high achievers view the world around them, and that was how I started viewing my life in the hospital. Those “vacations at Club Med” became a spiritual awakening for me. I had two weeks of uninterrupted meditation time every two months. I packed my suitcase with countless books and highlighters and became a student and their secret groupie.
I have such a love for entrepreneurs and athletes and how they play life’s game. The way achievers view the world, the process and habits they form to pursue what they want, and the “why” behind their ambition even when things aren’t going so smoothly. I love their constant paradigm shifts, their unpredictability, and the endless sports analogies relating to business (that embarrassingly, I had to go home and google). I know out of their darkest days, came the brightest sunrises. I firmly believe that when they lose everything (and a surprisingly high number have), they will win it all back.
Then came my opportunity. In the summer of 2015, I authored a blog that went viral. The success of this blog ultimately took me on a journey that included appearances on several national news reports and winning a battle against insurance companies for the entire state of California. This led to fan mail… fan mail from parents who now truly believe they can see their kids graduate high school…fan mail from teenage girls who believe they now will live long enough to meet prince charming and get married…fan mail from parents who know their child now has the possibility to outlive them. All of my wishes came true because of the philosophy and mindset I learned along the way.
When I was first approached about writing a book, I was encouraged to create a memoir on dying with a terminal illness. However, my life is far from over and “terminal” does not describe my mindset. Cystic fibrosis will not kill me in a year. I’m no longer actively planning out the last few years of my life. I have not updated my will. We all pass, but it’s just not my time. What the world needs is not a gut-wrenching story about the negative aspects of living in a hospital for months out of the year. What the world needs is a better place to wake up every morning. As Senator Brian Nieves said, “this is a story that needs to be told”, but instead of it being about me…it’s about the way we all win the game.
Much love from your biggest fan,
Ch. 1 The Power of Failure
One night back in the summer of 2015 I was wrapped in a blanket, lying on top of an RV off of a scenic overlook in Utah staring up at a sky full of endless, scintillating stars. The air was cool and crisp, delightfully tickling my lungs as they adjusted to the altitude. A handsome man with a beautiful soul was holding my hand and pointing out Venus to the south. Together, we were dreaming about the future. Something that until recently, I had all but given up on.
A few years earlier I had dropped out of college because I was being hospitalized several times a year. I believed I would never live long enough to pay off my student loan debt. After my stint at college, I moved to Florida, and then to California for a career in biotech/pharmaceutical recruiting so I could be closer to the companies that were developing the very drugs that would keep me alive. Working in that industry gave me hope. When I started getting hospitalized every 4 months, I made the choice to leave my corporate career and preserve my lung function via exercise, diet, and adherence to prescriptions that managed the symptoms. I tried to get accepted for every clinical trial for a new drug now called Orkambi, before it was even called Orkambi, but time and time again I was denied because my lung function was too unstable.
He squeezed my hand excitedly, “did you see that?” referring to a shooting star that emblazoned an almost pitch-black night. My heart skipped a beat. I shut my eyes and made a wish that someday soon, I would be on this drug. I opened my eyes and saw him smiling back at me. For the first time in a long time, I believed I would have a future again.
About a month ago, when Orkambi was first approved, I was the first person in the clinic. However, the doctors couldn’t write a prescription because I needed to go on IV antibiotics first. My lung function was around 50%. This was my 3rd round of IVs this year alone. Meanwhile, one of my girlfriends locally who got approved for the drug posted on Facebook that for the first time in years, she woke up without coughing. I can’t imagine a morning where an alarm clock wakes me up instead of a violent core-shaking, gut-busting cough.
“Wow!” We both said in unison at yet another shooting star. Who is lucky enough to see two of them in the night sky just moments apart? Surely this means there are good things to come. Waking up without a cough became my second wish.
A week before taking off on this road trip, I finished my final round of IV treatment. As soon as it was complete, I went to my clinic for an evaluation. After three weeks of intense IV’s, my blood tests revealed my kidneys and liver were strong enough to start Orkambi. I just had to fill out two simple forms, then they would fax it in for me. Simple.
The first fax was never received. I called the clinic. They sent it again. This back and forth continued 7 times. Finally, my form went through. I had my initial phone call with Orkambi’s maker, Vertex, somewhere between the drive from Vegas to Utah. Vertex assigned me a case manager and promised they would send the information to my insurance.
He squeezed my hand, bringing me back to reality. “What are you thinking?” he asked, with his goofy smile and wide, bright eyes. We heard an animal off in the distance and turned our faces to the right, just in time for the third shooting star.
“I once heard that a shooting star is bad to wish on,” I started, “because we are wishing on something that is already dead”.
He immediately interrupted with an enthusiastic tone, “Actually, that dead star carries in it all sorts of bacteria, cells, and other organic material that is the perfect combination to create new life, it just needs to land in the right environment.”
I thought back to the day my dad had to rent a wheelchair and push me around Six Flags on a family vacation. It hurt my lungs too much to walk. I hated inconveniencing everybody just to stop and take “breathing breaks”. Maybe soon I will be in the right environment. Maybe my lungs are that perfect combination of bacteria, cells, and scientific stuff waiting for the right environment to thrive. My third wish was that he was right.
He kissed my forehead. Marilyn Monroe once said, “The real lover is a man who can thrill you by kissing your forehead or smiling into your eyes or just staring into space.” I smiled and turned towards him as shooting star number 4 lit up our little world. My fourth wish was for my heart, not my lungs.
It was just after 3 am and we decided to climb off the roof and go inside. Just as I stood up, I saw the final shooting star streak across the Northwest, joyously dancing, as if it was a message from the heavens sent to tell me that my life is worth living and everything I could possibly imagine would come true. Now I’m not sure on how this whole wishing on a shooting star thing actually works. But I’ve had 4 amazing wishes already, so I decided to save my final wish for the future in case I ever needed it.
When I returned from my week-long road trip, a local San Diego news station (KPBS) interviewed me about athleticism, Cystic fibrosis, and the hope Vertex and their new drug, Orkambi, gave me. The reporter asked, “Have you thought about what happens if you are denied the drug because of the cost?”
The answer was “Yes”. In fact, I had thought about being denied several times. But I have spent a lifetime overcoming obstacles. Each time, I have found my greatest strength in the midst of insurmountable weakness. However, what I haven’t thought about was how I would tell my daddy that some pharmaceutical company just denied me the lifesaving drug that I mentioned two years ago while he was pushing me around Six Flags in a wheelchair. But then again, a drug company can’t really do that. An insurance company can’t really put a price on my life. Can they? Will they?
I left the interview and checked my voicemails. “Hi Klyn, this is Chris, from Vertex…” the message began. What followed was a 42-second scripted speech.
I was denied. Somewhere an executive decided my life is not worth the cost of Orkambi. Little do they know, I still have my 5th wish. And I know this great spot in Utah if I need more…
“Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all the time thing. You don’t win once in a while; you don’t do things right once in a while; you do them right all of the time. Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.
There is no room for second place. There is only one place in my game, and that’s first place. I have finished second twice in my time at Green Bay, and I don’t ever want to finish second again. There is a second place bowl game, but it is a game for losers played by losers. It is and always has been an American zeal to be first in anything we do, and to win, and to win, and to win.” – Coach Vincent T. Lombardi
The Myth of Failure
There are a lot of myths today about what failure is. The thing is, there is no such thing as failure, it’s only feedback.
- What does it look like?
- How do you decide when to quit a failing endeavor and move on versus stick the course?
In today’s fast-paced, instant-gratification society, we are preconditioned to believe everything happens immediately. It’s easy to think that success is easy to obtain, fairly straight-forward, with limited setbacks. We think that the people worth billions today were born into a life of luxury with silver spoons in their mouths and if we weren’t born into the same life, we can’t be uber-wealthy too.
In reality, many of today’s most successful and recognizable people have had to endure failure. For example, one famous NBA star once said, “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I’ve been entrusted to take the game winning shot and missed.” If you were looking at these particular statistics on this player, you might agree with most people and expect this athlete had a very short career. You may even begin to wonder what team could ever possibly want him. However, Michael Jordan goes on to say, “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life, and that is why I succeed.”
Living with her grandmother in a home without electricity, running water, or plumbing, Oprah was taught to recite the bible at an early age. The people closest to her dreamt that one day, she would grow up to be a maid for a white family that might “treat her with respect”. She was sexually abused, physically abused, and raped repeatedly. As if that wasn’t traumatic enough, she gave birth to a boy when she was only 14 years old. The boy died as an infant.
When she moved in with her father, he taught her the importance of reading books; making it a requirement to read weekly and create a book report based off that week’s reading. After high school, Oprah received a scholarship to Tennessee State University.
When she was 22 years old, her life finally looked like it was going to change for the better. She landed a job as a news anchor and her dreams were coming true. Unfortunately, soon after that, she was fired for being too “dull”.
“Rock bottom became the solid foundation for which I built my life.” J.K. Rowling was rejected 12 times by publishers for her work, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. In fact, she used to refer to herself as the biggest failure she knew.
What makes some people rise up against adversity to eventually be a 5 Time NBA MVP instead of quitting the sport? How does Oprah create the OWN television network when she should have had a mile-long list of excuses? What mindset did J.K. Rowling have when she sent her work off to yet another uninterested publisher, but eventually led her to a net worth just over $1 billion?
The truth is every highly successful entrepreneur and athlete failed their way to success. Read that again. Every successful person you have ever met, read about, watched a documentary on, strived to emulate…failed their way to success. Failure needs to be seen as an event, not a person. When you fail, and you will, emotionally distance yourself from the situation. Take a logical look at the events that unfolded and what hidden golden nuggets can come from them. There is always a silver lining. There is always something that can be learned and then, can be reapplied in another variation towards your end goal. Failure is not definite. Winston Churchill famously said, “Success is going from failure to failure without the loss of enthusiasm”.
Andre’ Phillipe van den Broeck was a great kid in high school. He was the poster child for how right things could go. He received straight A’s and was captain of the soccer team. “I wanted to play professionally, so after graduation, I started training with a Dallas professional team. Then I went to Virginia for one year to play D1 Soccer. Unfortunately, I had to leave mid-season to be with my mom during my parent’s divorce.”
“I used to be a really good kid, but for 3-4 years I completely lashed out. I hung out with the wrong crowd, did drugs, sold drugs, and got into a lot of fights. I lived a very charmed life up until that point. Growing up, we weren’t wealthy, we did okay. However, seeing my parents’ 25 years of marriage end made me change from the guy everybody liked to the guy nobody knew.”
“I was really ashamed of that story because my parents raised me better than that, and I’m a believer. I am a Christian and I realized that it’s just part of my testimony now. Instead of being ashamed and fearful of it, I want people to understand you have to learn to live with consequences of your decisions, but you don’t have to let it define you (if you don’t want to). I was getting back on track. I grew a lot from it and it was a time of the most growth that I’ve ever experienced. “
“Now I’m thankful for it. At my most pivotal point, I was either going to spend my life in jail or end up dead. It’s not about what happened, but more about where I came from. I certainly don’t deserve what I have now.”
The years after high school weren’t the only tough times of his life, he had a considerable amount of adversity with his first company too. After getting his life back on track, by 2008 he was 27 and owned a real estate company. Times were lucrative for him. “It was a unique business model and I was practically printing money…I started doing most of the work from my boat and it was really the first time I’d ever pulled in a few hundred thousand a year. I had a partner, and we were expanding to 4 offices.” They knew it was time to take their business to next level and multiply their revenue. However, then came the real estate crash. “The market tanked, and me along with it, as foolish as I was with money. I came home to an eviction notice on my door, my cars repossessed, my dog was out of food, and I had no idea how I was going to feed him. My lights were turned off.” However, Andre’ didn’t give up. After closing up his real estate company, he started over and eventually formed his highly successful menswear company, Andre’ Phillipe Inc.
Blake Cavignac, founder of YoungPro Elite stated, “Never let other people’s perceptions of failures or rejections keep you down. It comes down to conditioning your mind. The most successful people have a different view of failure vs. success. They do the right things and when they know they have a great idea, they don’t let anything, anyone stop them from achieving it. It may not happen as originally planned, but that’s okay. Successful people keep going, keep tweaking, and they keep figuring it out. They have an outcome in mind and at some point, success versus failure it isn’t even up for the conversation. The success part is inevitable. Success will happen.”
Growing up, motivational speaker and author, Cameron Morrissey, was taught that in order to be successful, he needed to join a business program in a major university after high school. “You’re supposed to be hired by some Fortune 500 company right out of the gate, yet nobody tells you that only 15-20% of the students get that opportunity. My initial failure was realizing I didn’t have a job lined up, nor was I going to because of the competitive nature. I wasn’t in the top 5% of my class, so I had to move back in with my parents and tell them that my part-time college job was now going to be my full-time career.” It was a rough start for somebody who now communicates daily with over a million social media subscribers, is the author of three books that have been published in 30 countries, and is a highly sought-after business speaker.
Don Langmo, the founder of Healthcare Support and Healthcare Scouts, opens up about his biggest failure, “I was kind of implored about the idea of creating a recruiting firm based on placing a niche type of physician. When we place nurses, we make $8000; when we place physicians it’s around $20,000. So I thought I had a great idea. Since the money was good, let’s create a company revolved around exclusively placing a certain type of physician in their perfectly suited job. I picked MD psychiatrists because they are fun people and it would be a great business. But we never had a single placement. Not one. This was as big of a failure as you could ever imagine. At the time, I put $200,000 into it, which was 6 months’ profit from my other company. It was a big deal. I was certain it would work so I kept working harder and harder. Even though it eventually failed, I still keep that business card framed near my desk as a reminder that you’re never as smart as you think you are. Even with all of these brilliant ideas that you can conjure up, things don’t always work the way you choose. But it’s not the end of the world. It taught me that healthcare was a good industry, and now we’re doing really well because of the lessons I learned.”
“Success is about believing in yourself. If you keep working hard, you’ll eventually find a way.” Langmo, studies biographies and history in his spare time and shares, “In my mind, business is the only exciting adventure that’s left. You can’t explore new places anymore. Business is the last frontier where you can create something from nothing. There are no boundaries. You can build something new and different, that the world hasn’t discovered yet.” His company is growing quickly and is currently valued over $75 million.
“Your past is meant to guide you, not define you.” – Anonymous
“Go and do it, try to learn from it. You’ll fail at something but that’s a learning experience. You need to take that on to the next experience.” – Pierre Omidyar, Founder of eBay
“You’re going to make tons of mistakes, there are things every year in Facebook’s existence that could have killed us, but you bounce back and you learn. ” – Mark Zuckerberg, Founder of Facebook
In every decision you make, define the worst-case scenario you can imagine happening. Take a hard look at what you could learn from that failure, should it come to pass. After you have come to terms with what you’ve discovered, you can start to make your decision. Find what you can use about the event to help you in your future. As the examples above clearly demonstrate, you can bounce back from anything.
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