Time and again, I have found myself surrounded by people. People who are negative, lazy, and who live in absolute contrast to the way I live. Being surrounded by these individuals sucks. But I have learned, and am learning, that through these individuals, I can gain knowledge. I can gain knowledge about others. What makes them tick. What makes them react. What makes them respond. What makes them angry. What seems to motivate them to be who they are. What causes them to take the easy road. I can gain knowledge about myself. How to control my feelings, my emotions, my responses, my reactions. I can gain knowledge about how to lead, how to encourage, and how to challenge others. I can gain knowledge about how I want to live my life. When you are constantly surrounded by people who are opposite of you, it truly can be draining. Mentally, emotionally, and physically draining. I get it. I understand it. But it is our choice in terms of how we are going to handle these negative people, these negative situations. We can allow these people and situations to effect us negatively or positively. We can have a fixed mindset, or we can choose to have a growth mindset. I personally, refuse to allow others to project their stupidity upon me. I refuse to allow another person’s negative energy, to alter my positive path I am walking down. I get to choose who I am going to be today. I get to choose what I will become tomorrow. No one chooses for me. No one’s negativity, laziness, or their way of living is going to hold me back. People are people. They are going to live how they are going to live. I am going to live the way I am going to live. I want to learn. I want to grow. I want to mature. I want to get better. I want to be a great leader. A great example. I want to be youthful in heart, passion, and service. I want to be an individual to follow. I want to help those who cannot help themselves. I am going to be, and become who God created me to be. Live life with a mindset of learning. Wherever you find yourself today, whatever situation you may be in, whoever is in your life at this point, positive or negative, be open to learning! Learn, apply, grow!
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No matter where life takes me, I will always remain young at heart. There are so many opportunities in life to allow yourself to become hard hearted. To allow your heart to become jaded, calloused, and cold. Life can be very difficult at times. There are so many unexpected twists and turns. There are a lot of negative, ruthless, and untrustworthy people in life. There are a lot of reasons within life to allow ourselves to become distant from the innocence of our youth. But at the end of the day, I want to experience the fullness of life, experience the fullness of my life. I want to enjoy the journey, the process, and the ups and downs of my life. I want to be youthful in all of my pursuits. I want to remain youthful, youthful in heart, youthful in my soul, youthful in my dreams, and youthful in my actions. I never want to grow up. I never want to lose my innocence of youth. I never want to become an old, mean, has-been. I will continue to wonder. I will continue to imagine. I will continue to dream. I will continue to wander. I will continue to roam. I will continue to question. I will continue to step into the uncomfortable. I will continue to step toward my fears. I will continue to put myself out there, into the unknown. I will continue to share. I will continue to serve. I will continue to learn. I will continue to train. I will continue to allow my spirit to dance freely. I will continue to run my race. I will continue to allow discipline to lead me. I will remain focused. I will continue to be me. I am young. Young at heart. Young in spirit. Today. Tomorrow. Forever.
It’s ok to admit that you are wrong. It’s ok to admit when you don’t know. It’s ok to admit when you mess up, make a mistake, or say something you shouldn’t have. We are all wrong at times. None of us knows absolutely everything. We all mess up, make mistakes, and say things we shouldn’t. All of us are imperfect beings. The troubling thing is though, many people don’t admit when they are wrong. They don’t recognize their lack of knowledge or understanding in areas in which they speak of or on. They don’t admit their mess ups, mistakes, or careless words. Our world is inundated with so many attention whores. People who are addicted to themselves, addicted to their ego, addicted to the reactions and responses they get from others when they say or do ridiculous things. We have a world where people say and do what they want with no repercussions nor consequences. There is little to no accountability. The result of these aforementioned addictions, along with the lack of accountability, is arrogance, self-centeredness, and reckless behavior. I have been around these people who cannot admit they are wrong. Their pride is so strong, they are so self-consumed, they cannot bring themselves to admit their shortcomings. They are blind to their wrong. They cannot see past their ego. We need humility. We need accountability. We need personal accountability. We need discomfort. We need to be tested. Without these, we become inflated. We become content. We become comfortable with our B.S. We only surround ourselves with people, who like us, who are addiction whores as we are. We become a wasted reality. A wasted breath. A wasted, unusable vessel. You are wrong. I am wrong. We are WRONG! We have so much to learn. There is so much to learn! We have so much growth ahead. So many opportunities to try, fail, try again, learn, fail, and continue on. There are so many opportunities for you and me that await. We need to let go of ourselves. Give up ourselves. We need to realize the world is waiting for us to overcome ourselves, so that we can be of service to others. The world is ours for the taking. Don’t be the one who ends up taken by the world. YOU. ARE. WRONG.
What is my purpose? What is the reason for my existence? What motivates me? What drives me to go beyond my perceived limit? What causes me to remain disciplined, focused, and consistent within a world that is undisciplined, unfocused, and inconsistent? Being the example. The answer to all of the aforementioned questions is to be the example. I am alive today to be an example. A positive, strong, consistent, relentless example. I live my life to lead. I live my life to be someone to follow. I live my life each and every day to be someone that others, especially young people, can look to, look at, and model their life after. This world is full of beauty, but at the same time, this world is full of ugly as well. There is a lot of darkness, hate, hurt, pain, sorrow, and loneliness in this world. There are too many negative, self-focused, fake, hateful, weak people in this life. People who are unfortunately, in positions of leadership, authority, and instruction, who are pathetic examples. As human beings, we need examples. We need people to encourage us, inspire us, motivate us, challenge us, and hold us accountable. We need connection to and with, other human beings. So many people in this life are lost. They wander aimlessly throughout their life with no direction, no passion, and no one to give them solid advice. So many young people are being sucked into the mirage of fame, fortune, sex, happiness, and the fast life. So many people are hurting. I know that this life, my life, isn’t about me. It’s about others. My life is for others. I am alive today, tomorrow, and for however long God grants me breath to breathe, in order to serve others, help others, and love others. I am alive to be an example, to be the example. To show others there is another way. I am alive to encourage, inspire, motivate, challenge, and hold others accountable. I am alive to stoke the flame within the souls of others into a wildfire. I take this purpose for my existence extremely serious. I am my harshest, most severe critic, I MUST be. In order to be an example, the example, I have to be above and beyond, AT ALL TIMES. This is my life. This is my why. This is my existence. This is my fulfillment. This is who I am. Who are you?
When I was a young boy, I had the opportunity to learn how to lift weights from a former Mr. California and Natural Mr. Universe. I grew up in a town of 5,000 people in North West Iowa. Not exactly the bodybuilding capitol of the world, to say the least. Some way, some how, this Mr. Universe ended up moving to my hometown around the same time that my family did. Ralph Kroger, the man in whom I have been speaking of, ended up opening a pretty good sized gym in our town. Being the only gym in town, and with Ralph’s training pedigree, Victory gym became the place to be for those interested in health and fitness. My parents were business owners not too far from where Victory gym was located, and with the summer months off from school, my Mom decided it would be a good idea for my brother and I to fight off our boredom by learning to lift weights. And this, this moment in my life altered my journey forever. In a short amount of time, I fell in love with weight training. My brother didn’t take to the training as I did, and stopped going to the gym with me at some point, but for me, I couldn’t get enough of the gym life. Over my younger years, I literally spent hundreds and hundreds of hours at Victory Gym. Ralph took a liking to me and really poured his time and knowledge into me. Victory Gym and weight training literally became my life. When I wasn’t at school, I was at Victory Gym. After school, I would go straight to the gym and spend anywhere from 2.5-3 hours lifting. When I got older and had sports practices, I would go to the gym after the practices. At one point, when I was older, I would train two times a day during my summer off from school. I loved lifting weights. I loved being the “young kid” at the gym out working all of the adults. And I really loved and appreciated the time and attention Ralph gave me. Ralph gave me a gift. The gift of weight training. The gift of bodybuilding. The gift of the knowledge that hard work, always pays off. As I have grown older, I have gained a greater understanding, a greater appreciation for the gifts Ralph gave me. Ralph, for all he knew, was simply living his life at Victory Gym, doing what he loved, sharing his experience and knowledge of weight training, trying to encourage people, and of course, make a living. But for me, Ralph was a mentor. Ralph was a coach. Ralph was a friend. Ralph was a man I admired, and looked up to. Ralph passed his love of iron on to me. Recently, as I have gone through different fitness phases in my life, I have come to the realization and conclusion that Ralph Kroger did indeed give me a gift. This gift, needs to be passed on. The iron gift that he passed on to me, that altered my life journey, needs to be passed on to the next generation of young people. I need to take the gift given to me and use it. I need to embrace the bodybuilding training, I need to be an example through this training as Ralph was to me and for me. I need to share the iron gift with others. I have been given a gift to be given, that others might be impacted as I was. I am forever in debt to Ralph Kroger. I will forever be grateful and thankful for Ralph’s time and attention toward me. I will do my best to pass on the gift Ralph gave me for the rest of my years. Thank you Ralph.
I believe all of us have passions deep within our heart. Deep within our soul. I believe too often in life, we either neglect our passions by ignoring them, or we simply allow the business of life to drown them out. I personally have done both. But as I grow older, experience life more, and continue to mature as a young man, all I really want to do is follow and live out my passions. Is there more to life than this? If something excites you, challenges you, fires you up, is that not good? Is that not what life is about? Inside of me, the passions that are burning are training and youth. I love to train. I love to push myself, test myself, and do what others won’t. Physical training has been such an integral part of my life for so long, it is who I am and what I love. The physical training in my life has taken on many forms over the years. I have even stopped physical training for a four year period, but I always find myself back in the training game eventually. I have trained for sport, powerlifting, bodybuilding, distance running, and for life. At times, my training has been weights dominant. At other times, there have been little to no weights. Again, when I have set aside the weight training, I always find myself coming back to it. There is something about the iron game that is woven deep into my DNA. Youth. The next generation. There are so many youth in our world, in our country, who are hurting. Struggling. Desperate for help, encouragement, and love. As an educator, I see first hand how messed up our youth are, how messed up their families are, and how easily they are influenced by the world’s negativity. Our youth are the next leaders. The next CEO’s, doctors, nurses, business men and women, teachers, coaches, military personnel, firefighters, police officers, and entrepreneurs. Our youth are in trouble. They are being led astray. They need positive role models. They need real leaders, real examples, real men and women to show them the way. They need discipline and accountability. My heart yearns to help. My heart burns to be a part of raising up the next generation. Training and youth. Training has changed my life. Youth have changed my life. I want to give back. I must give back. I want to use training to teach youth. To show them the way. It won’t be for everyone. I get that. I’ve seen and experienced that within my own life. But it can definitely be for some. And it can definitely alter the destiny of those who buy in. I am waiting. Waiting for the door to be opened. The passion is there. The fire is burning intensely. Patience is the answer. Patience is the process. It will happen. The door will open. Lives will be changed. I can’t wait.