Inspired: Using the Lessons from IDEA World in the Real World

I was very prolific on my run this morning.

Whether it was the afterglow from Blogfest and the IDEA World Fitness Convention, or because I was on a rare run that didn’t involve a cross country runner or a dog, my mind got into inspiration mode this morning, and I had all these quotable thoughts running through my head for the entire six miles.


Of course I forgot most of them as soon as I stopped running.

As a cross country coach, I am expected to offer inspiring tidbits of information to my team, that will compel them to train harder, run faster, and push through the pain of their efforts to achieve success. I want to motivate them, challenge them, inspire them, to be better runners, better students, and hopefully, eventually, better human beings.

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No pressure.

Truthfully, even after 12 years of coaching this does not come naturally to me. My words flow much better on paper (or on my computer screen) than they ever do coming out of my mouth. So when I get thoughtful, and start writing inspirational speeches in my head (usually on a run), I try to at least jot down some notes when I’m done.

Today’s speech, motivational quotes aside (which I’m sure are not original), involved some of the things that I learned from a few of the speakers at IDEA. Diana Nyad talked about laser sharp focus. Augie Nieto talked about perseverance in the face of overwhelming challenges. Jillian Michaels asked, “Why not me?” Every single one of them talked about failure. Yes, about failure, because the only way to avoid failure is to give up. And the key words, from all three, were “Never Give Up.”

Just in case I was being thick headed instead of inspired by all those outstanding speakers, I was given a little additional kick in the pants reminder by the top that I receive courtesy of Lorna Jane Active at Blogfest.

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Inspired by Augie

Even if you’ve never heard of Augie’s Quest, almost everyone by now has heard of the Ice Bucket Challenge, which is still gaining steam (not the best word in this circumstance), and, according to a news report I just heard moments ago, has raised over $42 million for ALS research.

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Augie Nieto, the founder of Life Fitness, was diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, in 2005. With the support of his wife Lynne, as well as his family and friends, Augie founded Augie’s Quest to raise money to fund research and drug development to find a cure for ALS.

I was excited that Augie and Lynne were able to speak at IDEAWorld. Augie, who has already outlived the life expectancy for this disease, exemplifies perseverance. He still trains several hours a day, is the chairman of the board of the ALS TDI, and just this past July, was able to walk his daughter down the aisle at her wedding. Never give up.

 Inspired by Diana

The quote that I like best about Diana Nyad is from D.L. Stewart of the Dayton Daily News, “The toughest athlete in the world is a 62 year old woman.” Diana told us the story of her journey to complete the 100 mile swim from Cuba to Florida. And it was a journey. She first attempted it when she was not yet 30, and she failed at it. And she gave up for 30 years.

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When she turned 60 years old, she took a look at her life, and asked herself what she was doing with her “one precious life.” She decided to try the Cuba swim again. And she failed. Three times. But this time, she didn’t give up, she persevered, and in 2013, at age 63, she became the first human to swim, without a shark cage, from Cuba to Florida.

As she spoke about laser focus, Diana Nyad referred to a high school teammate, who asked her, “Do you think that Billy Jean (King) worries about the draw? Who she might be playing in the semi-finals?” “No,” she said, “She doesn’t care who the umpire is, who her opponent is, what the weather is. She’s not even playing the ball, she’s playing the fuzz on the ball.”

It is this laser focus that allowed her to forget about the sharks and the jellyfish, the pain in her shoulders, the exhaustion, and simply concentrate on her goal. Never, never give up.

Inspired by Jillian

I’ll be the first to admit that I was not a Jillian Michaels fan before seeing her give the keynote speech at Blogfest.  I assumed the Biggest Loser Jillian was representative of who she really was. Like many trainers, I felt that the extreme measures used by the trainers on the show were not only dangerous, but counterproductive in the long term.

Friends 17One of the things that I admired most about Jillian was she not only admitted her mistakes, she owned them. She admitted that the Biggest Loser was not a slice of reality, not the way a personal trainer should treat their client. It was a game show, with a huge prize on the line, with people that, while their weight problems were very real, also had bought into the concept and the method that was required to win.

Her real ideology is much more holistic, with a focus on balance and with no extreme measures for weight loss. In fact, she stated that, in general a personal training relationship should be long term (at least six months) before using the Biggest Loser type of motivation. And only if a trainer feels that it would be beneficial.

Jillian also acknowledged other mistakes in her career choices, and admitted to several failures. But she said that we should learn from our mistakes, that everyone fails as some point, and those who eventually succeed learn from those failures and use them to guide themselves toward success.

She also addressed the question of why she has been so successful, when there are plenty of other trainers, with more education, experience, and certifications out there. It’s simple, Jillian says. She tells herself, “Why not me?” Believe in yourself, because you deserve success.

I’ll admit that I did a 180 on my opinion of Jillian Michaels. Not only was she honest, she was funny, sometimes crude (which I always appreciate), and very inspiring.

It’s the People: Two more friends from Blogfest

I also want to add two people to my People I Met at Blogfest List. I didn’t really forget them, but apparently, since we didn’t take a selfie together, my brain shut down.

Friends 21Erin, third from the right, is also a member of Team Eleven by Venus. We hung out with a group at lunch and at the IDEA Opening Party.

And Angie! How could I forget her? On Friday, Angie posted on Facebook that she was going to run 15 miles on Saturday (she’s training for the NY Marathon), and did anybody want to run with her. She was planning to run loops, and her pace sounded about right, so I met her on Saturday morning. We ran six miles together, including a tour of Downtown Disney. She continued on (with another friend, yay!), and got in her 15 miles. Unbelievable as this sounds, considering we are both bloggers, we did not take a single picture of our run. I know!

So now I have prepared my inspirational talk for my cross country team, that I will use as we prepare for competition this season. I plan to tell a little bit of Diana’s story, telling them about focusing on their goal. And I’ll ask them, Why not you? You should be the winners at the end of the season. And finally, talk about perseverance, and that the most important thing is that they never, never, never give up.

Did you have an inspiring coach when you were young? Or now, as an adult? Who inspires you do push yourself to your limits. What are your thoughts on Jillian Michaels?

#IDEAWorld Recap, Part 1: Bo Eason

Just in case you missed my first #IDEAWorld update post, The People, you can find it here.

You know that a speaker made an impression when they become the standard by which all other speakers are judged. It is a rare occurrence, and when it happens, you want to hold on to the experience, relive it if possible, so that you can draw out every bit of inspiration and knowledge.

Such was the case when I saw Bo Eason, first as the Keynote Speaker at IDEA World Fitness Convention, then in a session entitled Why Your Personal Story is Your Most Valuable Asset.

Sessions - IDEA World Fitness Convention

Bo Eason was one of the best, if not the best, speakers I have ever seen. His keynote speech was simple, yet powerful: Bo telling his story. He is never still as he shares his childhood hopes and dreams of becoming an NFL safety, no, not just a safety, the best NFL safety. He moves constantly, striding, jumping, even running on stage, as he tells the story of his plan for achieving his goals, the obstacles he had to overcome, and finally his success. He uses his body, his voice, and his connection with his audience to motivate them to learn to tell their own story. He was mesmerizing.

Session - IDEA World

I was so inspired by Bo’s speech that I decided to go to his session and learn how to tell my own story. Bo says that the information age is over, and for the rest of our lives (and probably our children’s lives too), the power and the influence will belong to the Storyteller. We are all striving to connect with each other, and the ones who can tell their story, can share themselves, will be the leaders. He encouraged us to learn how to move with power and confidence, and to connect with our audience, one person at a time.

This was a workshop, so, after a story or two, Bo had us spend some time writing our own story. He said that our story should be from a time when we were challenged, embarrassed, or hurt so deeply that it changed our lives and helped to make us the person we are today. These things frequently happen when we’re young, between nine and 12 years old, and leave a lasting impression.

As I wrote out my story, I had a revelation. When I write my blog, I tell you all a lot. You know about my dogs, and my grandsons. I shared my experience with my excisional biopsy, my first colonoscopy, and exercise induced asthma. You know my feelings on animal rights and being vegan, and I have even talked about my husband and his health (a little anyway, that’s really his story to tell). But have I really been generous (as Bo would put it) with my story? Or have I been a little stingy?

I think I tend to hold back a little on expressing my feelings. Not just in my writing either, though that’s what counts here. I have this little reserved part of me that holds back, keeps my emotions in check, and I have a difficult time opening up and sharing myself. After hearing Bo speak, and starting to learn how to tell my story, I realize that I want to open up more. It is something that I intend to work on. I think it will not only improve my writing and my blog, it will make me a better wife, leader, and maybe even a better person.

Anyway, after spending several minutes writing out our stories, Bo had us find a partner and take turns telling each other our story. Fortunately, I was with Tiffany, and it was a little easier speaking to someone I already knew, if only for a few hours.  But then Bo tricked us and had us tell our story two more times, to two different people, each time paring it down a little to be as concise as possible. One thing I learned is that while I can write my story pretty well, actually telling it, out loud, will take some practice.

Sessions - IDEA World Fitness Convention

As you can see, Bo Eason has had quite an effect on me. After seeing him speak, I told Alan all about it, both because I was excited and because Alan is a huge San Francisco 49er fan (Bo finished his career with the 49ers). Of course, I told my husband all about Bo’s Jerry Rice story, both because Alan’s a fan and because the story is such a demonstration of the power of commitment, dedication and hard work. Then, as I was preparing to write this, I googled Bo to gather some information, and found an old YouTube video where Bo was telling the story. Not only did I get Alan to watch it with me, we both sat through the entire 40 minute video, once again entranced listening to Bo Eason.

I’ll leave you with one tip from Bo that will help you write your own story. The more personal you make it, the more universal it becomes. Don’t be afraid to dig out that most intimate story, even if it is embarrassing, or humiliating, or revealing, because when you share that story, your audience will relate to it. Your story is the most powerful thing that you have.

I am working on my story, and I will share it when I’m ready. It is part of my commitment to becoming a more generous person.

Are you a storyteller? Have you ever seen or listened to a speaker who changed your life?

Stayed tuned this week for more recaps from IDEA: The (Other) Sessions, The Expo, and The Food.