Sunday, June 14, 2009

What Inpires You; Who Are Your Influences?

I'm dedicating today's blog to Father's Day.
All of us have had to overcome difficulties in life. At some point we have all needed to dig deep and find that inner strength to help us survive tough times. Can you think of an example of one of these instances? Do you remember what inspired you or motivated you to stay strong and make it through? With the current recession, perhaps you are experiencing this challenge right now.

I've found the last few months quite challenging, myself. It's difficult to balance being a new father, working on a growing business, training more clients, studying, attending seminars, and still finding time to train and compete. Spending time with my wife and daughter still needs to be a priority. Considering the time I spend working on related projects (my upcoming ebooks and DVD's), that leaves little time for sleep at present.

Being busy can be exhausting, but if I take a step back I realize how blessed I am to be "busy" with things I love: my daughter, my wife, my business, my education, training, fitness, etc. I understand that the time and energy invested now is building a strong foundation for our future.

In contrast, I can remember some truly tough experiences in my past. When I was 17 years old I was a passenger in a major car accident - as the vehicle was traveling over 100km per hour on the highway, a tire blew out and it rolled three times into the median ditch. I was catapulted through the window and thrown about 20 feet into the ditch (thankfully not into traffic!).

When I landed I felt a sharp pain in my lower back and knew instantly it wasn't good. The paramedics boarded me up and brought me to the nearest hospital for X-rays. I was told soon after that I had suffered 3 fractured lumbar vertebrae (spinal compression fractures). The doctor said it was likely because I had been lifting weights regularly that I had not suffered any serious nerve damage.

After several days on my back on morphine, and a couple weeks of bed-rest at the hospital I was permitted to walk again wearing a supportive corset around my midsection. I was told not to lift heavy weights again, especially not deadlifts. To me it did not make sense that the same training which had protected me from serious injury was now considered "bad". So I learned as much as I could about strength training and post-injury fitness, and as soon as I was able I began lifting even heavier!

Years later, in 2003, I completely tore my ACL in Judo and had reconstructive knee surgery. Post surgery recovery was MUCH more painful than the actual injury was! This took much longer to heal than I had expected and kept me away from serious training for a few months, although I still did what I could to stay in shape.

At this point I had already started my personal training business and was self employed. At the time I had quite a significant debt, and being unable to work for several weeks without any "vacation pay", was pretty stressful. However, I took advantage of the down-time to study and improve my knowledge base, and as soon as I was able I started training clients again. (FYI, today my knee and back are stronger than ever!).

During every challenge I've encountered or whenever I feel overwhelmed, I think about those people in my life who have inspired me. I find that this motivates me to meet the tough times head on and come out on top. For me, the most influential person in my life was my father.

My dad, Edward, was a giant of a man, standing 6'5" tall, with broad shoulders and sporting a full beard! He was a leader, an activist, a philosopher, and a family man. It's no exaggeration when I say he was the greatest man I ever personally knew. When he passed away from cancer at the young age of 46 it turned my world upside down. But even while he was fighting cancer, I never heard him complain. There are two things he said that I will always remember:

  • "Everything happens for a reason; that doesn't mean you're going to like it."
  • "The way to become immortal is to positively influence the lives of other people. Your actions will live on in the memories of others."
He taught me that there is a lesson or an opportunity for growth in everything that happens to you, both good and bad. I also learned that to lead a fulfilling life one needs to have a purpose that includes helping others.

Another person who has been an inspiration to me is my wife. She is a beautiful, patient, caring human being, and an amazing mother. She grew up in Russia during the collapse of the Soviet Union, and experienced first hand the extreme poverty and struggles that affected the entire country.

She moved to the United States in her teens, where she got her University Degree, while working full time. Within a couple of years of moving to Canada, she became the Creative Director of an internet marketing company, managing the entire web design department.

My wife taught me to be ambitious and set bigger goals for myself, rather than just "coast" through life. I owe my business success and the strength of our relationship to her motivation and strength of character.

I don't often discuss these events / memories from my past, because they carry with them a strong emotional charge. But they also helped to shape who I am today, and it's useful to realize that the inner strength that carried me through then is even stronger now. I hope reading this has been useful to you as well, to help you reflect on what inspires and motivates you to overcome obstacles you face. You can draw on that inner quality whenever you need it, and use it to drive to you success!

Check out this video, where Rocky shares a little of his philosophy of life with his son. I found this incredibly inspiring as well.

I'd love to hear your story... feel free to comment below.
Happy Father's Day!


Anonymous said...

What an inspiring story Josh! I have always known you as an upbeat, hopeful, hardworking person, and now I understand you a little bit more. Happy Father's Day!

Anonymous said...

Josh, this is a great story! Carry on my friend. Happy Father's day!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful story. There's a lot people out there who could hear your story. They just don't realize how good they have it.
thank you for sharing.