Thoughts on Wrestling, Business, and Life

Use What You’ve Got

One of the most humbling experiences that I had during my wrestling career was taking trips to the small island country of Cuba. From looking at the capital today, it is easy to see why it was such a vacation hotspot in it’s heyday. The effects of communism are clearly visible, and I couldn’t help but wonder what the country looked like 50 years prior to my visits there.

Taking a trip to the Olympic Training Center there, you won’t see a bunch of fancy training equipment. In fact, the toilets don’t even work, and you would be hard pressed to find a complete set of weights onsite. However, they consistently produce Olympic and World champions. Their athletes are always well prepared for competition, and I still regard the training camps that I participated in there very helpful in my personal development as an athlete.

The take away is that your current environment and resources doesn’t matter nearly as much as your will to train and your will to win. Even though you may feel limited in your current abilities, there is always a way to do the best that you can with what you have. These efforts help you to take steps forward in your personal journey, and progress ultimately leads to completion and attainment of the goals that you have for yourself.

So if today you feel you are at a disadvantage, re-evaluate your current situation. Perhaps what you see as your biggest handicap may be the thing that will actually help you to succeed in the end.

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Choose The Right Environment

When I was deciding where I wanted to go to college, I knew that wherever I went, it needed to be somewhere that would help me to achieve my goal of becoming an NCAA champion. I knew that a key factor in making that happen would be making sure that I chose the environment that would help me accomplish that. At the time there were some monster coaches and training partners there. I really liked the head coach, Tim Neuman, but it was the staff and training partners that really stood out to me. Mark Cody, now head coach at Oklahoma University, was there, and he was one of the best big guy coaches around. He was an NCAA All American and Olympic Alternate. He loved coaching and working with the athletes. Matt Lindland, Olympic and World Silver medalist was also there. He was also 36-1 his senior year at Nebraska. Tolly Thompson, NCAA Champion, 3x All American, and World Bronze medalist was there. Ryan Tobin, 3x All American was there. Brad Vering NCAA Champion, 3x All American, 2x Olympian, and World Silver medalist was there. Not to mention all of the other guys that were on the team that were tough as nails.

I knew that by being in that environment that I would have no choice but to improve. I felt it was the toughest room in the country for my weight class, and I was right. I took some severe beatings after I started training there, but those beatings served as important lessons when matches got tough. I knew that my competitors that I was facing in competition weren’t any tougher than what I was up against in the practice room every single day.

This principle applies to life. Who are you surrounding yourself with? What are your closest friends goals and dreams? Are they reaching for the clouds or are they reaching for the gutter? The people that you routinely surround yourself with will affect you more than you could ever imagine. If you want to succeed, then you need to go out and surround yourself with those people who are accomplishing what you want to accomplish. By doing this, you will be learning not only the skills that you need to succeed, you will also be learning the even more important mindset that you need in order to succeed.

Think about what you want to do, and go be around others who are making that happen. You will be glad that you did.


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You Get What You Earn

Have you ever had anyone tell you, “You deserve …….”? I know that I have heard that and even said that about other people. However, the truth is that you get what you earn. So I am not mistaken, I am not saying that when bad or unfortunate things happen to people that they have earned that. Sometimes misfortune falls upon us all. However, when we work hard for something, we get what we earn.

When I was competing, there were some big matches that I lost that I felt that I deserved to win. I had worked extremely hard and had been very diligent in my training. I felt like I had taken all of the steps necessary in order for me to be prepared to win those matches, nevertheless, I still lost. So did I deserve to win? Not really. I had prepared to win, but I didn’t execute enough to win those matches. My competitors were able to execute more than I did in those matches or execute in a way within the set of rules that we were operating under that allowed them to have higher value executions.

When you think about it, things really are that simple. There are sets of rules and laws that we must abide by, and our rewards and results are determined within our ability to take action within those given sets or rules. Sometimes people make things a moral issue out of subjects that don’t even relate to morality. For example, there may be individuals who have extreme success in their industry because they are good at what they do, and they have developed those skill sets that allow them to be successful. However, these same individuals may not operate at a high level morally. Maybe they are compulsive liars and steal candy from babies and push old ladies over that walk down the street. Although they do some pretty crappy things, their expertise in the other skill sets that allow them to succeed in their industry is still there so they still succeed in that industry.

To sum up the idea of you get what you earn, if you want more, then you must do more. You must be intentional about working to get what you want, and you need to do it in a way that will provide the results that you are looking for. Also more does not always mean harder. Instead you can work more intelligently. In any case, if you want more, you need to do more.


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Get Smarter While Using The Bathroom

You’ve probably never thought of the bathroom as a place where you can get smarter, but it’s true. In the time that it takes you to go to the bathroom, you can learn the most extraordinary things. There are also plenty of other places that you can increase your brain power that you may be missing out on, but first let’s address the bathroom issue.

Every morning when I wake up, I have to go to the bathroom. For me it isn’t just the in and out in 30 seconds variety either. This is usually the 5 minutes or more variety. You may be wondering, “Why on earth would you even be talking about this? This is disgusting.” Although you may have a valid point, I want to share how you can use this time to get smarter. Almost everybody has a phone, and when people use the restroom, there is a very good chance that they are looking at their phone, probably browsing through some type of social media or other. If you were to have a book on let’s say the kindle app on your phone, you could be reading something that could improve your life or help you learn about a new interesting topic or develop a skill. The possibilities are endless. Let’s say you use the bathroom for 5 minutes a day. Over the course of a full week, you will have read at least 35 minutes. Compound that over a month and you have an extra 2 plus hours that you’ve read. Compound that over a year, and you’ve now spent a full 24 hours reading about a subject that can help you improve your life (or if you read fiction, entertain you at the least).

You see there are all sorts of opportunities that you may be missing out on. Here are some other places where you can use generally dead moments to improve yourself:

  • Listen to an audiobook or podcast while in the shower
  • Listen to an audiobook or podcast during your commute to work
  • Read a book during commercials if you’re watching TV
  • Listen to an audiobook or podcast while exercising
  • State your affirmations while you’re in the car to work
  • State your affirmations in the shower
  • Start a podcast from your car

There are many opportunities throughout the day that you can take advantage of throughout the day. With how technology has advanced, we are so fortunate to have all of the information in the world at our finger tips. So the next time that you are taking a seat on the porcelain, take a few minutes to get smarter 🙂

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How can I help my child stay confident and motivated when they are losing?

Winning and losing are a part of any sport. While I was wrestling, I was fortunate to have a lot of wins both big and small. However, in order to get to that point, I also had my fair share of losing with losses both big and small as well. Losing isn’t any fun, and I would be lying if I didn’t admit that it sucks. The key to being a champion is to not let your losses get you down to much to take you off track of what your ultimate goals and dreams are whether that is to be a varsity wrestler or a state champion. Your goals as a parent will probably vary from your wrestler’s goals are. I am sure that you would love to see your child succeed, but you also want them to learn from the experiences that they are going through as an athlete and find a way for them to use those lessons to become a better human being and contributing member of society. Here are some ideas on how you can help your wrestler when things get tough.

1. Help your child focus on the process more than the outcome. I had a coach who told me that if I focused on the process and constantly improving, that winning and losing would take care of itself. You know what? He was right. Some of the most successful times that I had in my wrestling career was when I was focused on the process of improving. It didn’t make losing any easier, but when I felt like I was constantly improving, I really enjoyed the sport. During times of my career when I didn’t feel like I was improving, I would feel discouraged. If you can help your child to see the ways that they are improving, more than likely they will still enjoy what they are doing.

2. Find examples of others who failed but ultimately succeeded. Everyone loves a winner, and sometimes we forget that we too can be winners. By reading biographies or learning about other people’s stories who have struggled but then succeeded, it becomes more evident that the people who succeed are just regular people who committed to their goals and worked like crazy to accomplish them. If your child can understand that every success has to overcome defeat, it can help them to keep pushing forward even when times get tough.

3. Discover the power of affirmations and positive thinking. Affirmations and positive thinking are a great way to stay confident even when faced with defeat. Your attitude will definitely determine your altitude in life. If your child can get into the habit of repeating their affirmations to themselves on a regular basis, they will be able to gain the confidence and belief that they need to succeed. I can’t expound on the science behind it, but I can tell you that it works. Try to find the positives from difficult situations. By asking better questions, we will find better answers. A great question to ask from a loss is “What can I learn from this, and how can I use this experience to get better?” Your life will go where you focus it. Do your best to focus on the positive, and your child will see that and follow suit. It is amazing what good observers they are.

To summarize here is what you can do to help your child stay motivated and confident even when they are losing: focus on the process, find successful examples, and keep a positive mental attitude. If you are able to help your child implement these action steps, they may still find disappointment in losses and temporary setbacks, but they will learn to develop the skill of overcoming hardship and succeeding in the long run. That lesson is one that is much needed in life, and life is much more important to win at than a wrestling match.

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5 Ways To Improve Your Life

Everybody wants a better life. Rarely is there an individual, at least in our American culture, that is completely content and satisfied with everything in their life. We always want more. More money, money recognition, more things, more freedom, more love, more time, and the list goes on. Our ego is what drives us to want more and more, and that’s not a bad thing. Just think of how life would be if our predecessors just settled for what was available to them instead of trying to grow and improve. Let’s take housing for example. I would much rather stay in a nice climate controlled home than sleeping under a tree any day. I don’t even like tent camping, and even a tent provides more shelter than what our ancestors had to work with. I like camping in a cabin with all of the comforts of home. Many outdoor enthusiasts don’t really even consider staying in a cabin camping, but my view is, if you stay overnight in a forest, you are pretty much camping.

Anyway all of this talk of contentedness and camping and ego, where does it all lead to? Here is my point: we want better lives, but we don’t always know how to improve our situation. Here are five ideas of what you can do today to improve your life:

1. Wake up early in the morning. Have you ever heard the saying, “Early to bed, early to rise, make a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”? I get up early every morning, and have a set of routines that I go through that help to empower me throughout the day. I haven’t always done this, but the time that I have been doing it has helped me to feel more productive, alive, and focused than ever before. By waking up early and getting to work on yourself and improving, you can get very important activities accomplished before the rest of the world wakes up and starts placing demands on your time.

2. Exercise. I have been a competitive athlete for most of my life, and because of that physical training and exercise have been a huge part of my life. I haven’t competed in any sports now for a few years, but I continue to exercise daily. There is something about getting your heart pumping and blood flowing that helps your mind to be sharper, and your body to feel energized. The key here is to pick something you like doing and take breaks when you need to. It doesn’t do you any good to push so hard your first day at the gym that you never go back.

3. Read a book. I love reading. I remember as a child that I loved reading fiction. Some of my favorites were the Beverly Cleary series, How To Eat Fried Worms, and the stories about Bunnicula. Reading was how I would fall asleep at night. I wake up early every morning and read a book. In fact, right now I am actually reading several books at once. Some of them have shorter chapters so I read a chapter from those books and then have a main book that I am learning from. If you want to be successful in your field, you should definitely read. Learn all that you can. Think about what a great advantage it is to be able to take a lifetime of someone else’s learning and condense it into the few hours that it takes to read a book.

4. Take time to meditate. For a lot of people, they have this idea that if someone meditates that they are some crazy hippie granola type. This is not the case. Meditation is for everybody, and I think that all of the great spiritual leaders have practiced meditation in some form or another. Meditating allows your mind to come down from the stress and anxiety of the world and expand beyond what it currently is. Is there a perfect or a correct way of meditating? I don’t believe so. Meditation for me is just trying to relax and give my mind a chance to experience peacefulness. I have had amazing ideas and inspiration come to me when I quiet my mind and meditate. I do it for 10 mins a day. It’s not long, but it helps me to feel just a little bit better.

5. Focus on serving others. I think that we are all our number one fan. For most people we are definitely who we focus on the most. Even when tragedy strikes, it is easy to think more about how it affects your own life and schedule than others. For example, say that you are stuck in a traffic jam, and you’re late to an important meeting. What are some of the negative scripts and thoughts that run through your head? I know that there have been times when I finally get to see the wreck that caused the traffic jam I think, “Why are people slowing down just to look how bad this is?” I didn’t even take time to consider that five minutes from then I would be down the road and thinking about my appointment again and not thinking about how that accident may have changed people’s live significantly ranging from the financial cost to repair or replace their vehicle, not to mention the physical and emotional trauma that it could have caused as well. They will be thinking about that wreck for weeks or years, and I didn’t have time to think about it for 5 minutes.

However on the flip side, when you are able to serve people, and you see how appreciative they are or how happy they are to have received the help, it is one of the best feelings in the world. One of the reasons that I loved coaching wrestling was because you would see athletes train so hard, and by helping to guide and direct them and share strategies that work, it was great to see their hard work pay off. If you are going to pick just one of these things, serving others would definitely be the one to go with.

So there you have it. Hopefully you are able to apply any or all of these activities in your life and see the positive impact that it makes. These practices have made a huge difference in my life, and I guarantee that if you are able to do them as well that you will be happier. And really, I think when it all comes down to it, we all want to be happy.


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Small Changes Make A Big Difference

I ran 4.5 miles this morning for my workout. I have never loved running although I did quite a bit of it during my wrestling career, especially in college. I always saw running as a necessary evil that allowed me to cross train and stay in shape while I was getting ready for a wrestling competition or just trying to maintain my fitness level in the off season. However, my wife recently started training for a half marathon, and she has inspired me to give running a try. The beauty of it is the method that she is using to prepare for her race. She is using the Galloway method.

Most everybody has heard about Prefontaine, but Galloway was also a world class runner who was very competitive, often times finishing second to Prefontaine in various competitions. Prefontaine’s method and strategy was to go harder and longer than everybody else. He was unique, and his method worked for him. That is why he was one of the great ones. However, Galloway had a different strategy of slowly building up your base over time. It wasn’t about being the fastest out of the chute, it was about sustained effort over time with breaks for recovery.

By applying the run walk method, it has changed how I feel about running. Before I would run and huff and puff until I was exhausted. Now, I run a little and walk a little and over time the mileage adds up. I still get a great workout, but I don’t feel so wiped out that I won’t be able to do anything for the rest of the day. This one simple change has made all of the difference in the world.

Also while you’re walking you don’t have to walk at a snails pace to recover. You can still keep up a fairly brisk pace and get the recovery that you need. For example, I was walking at a 3.5 mile pace to recover, and it was very easy. I picked it up to 4.0, and although it is slightly faster, it is still very manageable to recover at this speed. I am think about even upping it to 4.1 and increasing my working pace by .1 as well. These small changes make a difference in the overall mileage after running for 45 minutes.

Small changes can provide big results in all areas of life. My challenge to you is to find areas in your life where you can make small and simple changes that will provide big returns over time. It can and will make all of the difference in the world.

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The Miracle Morning

I am a firm believer in developing positive habits to improve your life. I also believe that there are miracles all around us, if you are willing to look for them. I believe that there are certain things that come into our lives that aren’t just isolated coincidences.

I have had a pretty stead routine of waking up early, reading, and exercising in the mornings. However, I felt like it was missing something. I always felt invigorated and empowered when I would do those activities early in the morning, but there were days when I was tired and would justify sleeping in or just having an off day. Recently, however, I was at lunch with a friend talking about some business items, and he mentioned that he had recently read the book The Miracle Morning and began following the prescribed routine of S.A.V.E.R.S that is outlined in the book. He told me he wakes up at 4 am everyday, meditates, says affirmations, visualizes, exercises, reads, and scribes (writes/journals). He was telling me about how he had been doing it for weeks and how it was changing his life for the better. I love to read, and I was curious about the book. “How could a book be so life changing?”, I thought. I decided to investigate it for myself.

I bought the book and read it over the course of a few days. It was a very easy read, and the author, Hal Elrod, is very inspiring. He has a writing style that makes you feel like he is your friend right there encouraging you to do, be, and have more than you ever thought possible in your life. I decided to take the challenge myself, and I have to say that I wake up every morning excited to go through the routine. Everyone has to adjust the routine to their own circumstances and schedules, but this is how mine looks: 4:30 am wake up, 20 minutes of reading, 10 minutes of meditation, 5 minutes of visualization, 5 minutes of affirmations, 10 minutes of journaling, 20 minutes or other writing or planning, and 45 minutes of exercising. This has been such a blessing in my life, and it feels great! Now instead of rolling out of bed tired, I feel energized as soon as my feet hit the floor because I am excited to get going to work on myself and improving.

One of the biggest benefits of doing these activities early in the morning is that there are minimal distractions. Everyone else is asleep so it allows me some time to be surrounded by peace and quiet. There typically isn’t anything urgent happening at 4:30 am so I am free to do what I would like to do. Another benefit of doing these items early in the morning is that they are done! I don’t have to worry about whether or not I will have the energy to workout later in the day because it is already done. I don’t have to worry about whether or not I will get a few minutes of peace to write in my journal because I’ve done it early in the morning.

I highly recommend the book The Miracle Morning to anyone who would like to improve their life and get more done. I know that waking up that early sounds intimidating, but I promise you that it is worth it! For anyone who takes the challenge, please let me know how it goes. I would love to hear about it!

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Hotdogs For Christmas

Several years ago, I lived and worked in Wyoming. I lived in a small town called Evanston. The people there were awesome. I really felt like the people that I worked with and went to church with were good people who were hard working and wanted to live good lives. I can’t say much for the actual town and natural beauty of the place. Maybe I wasn’t trying hard enough, but it was hard to find fun things to do. I remember before I lived in Evanston that I used to think it was odd that my wife would go to Walmart as a place to hang out while she was in high school in a small town known as Alamosa, Colorado. I teased her that they couldn’t find anything better to do than to go roam around Walmart. However, I distinctly remember one night on a weekend (because I usually worked too late to do anything during the week) that we wanted to go out and do something, but we had no good ideas of what to do. I remember sheepishly asking her, “Do you want to go hang out at Walmart?”.

Even though I liked the people, I hated having to drive to Lyman everyday which was about 40 mins away. Then I would get in the hyrdrovac and drive another 2 hours or so to a job site. Now that I think of it, it was a dangerous job. I worked on oil rigs and at compressor stations and myriad of other construction sites, but the real danger was in the drive. There is no telling how many sleep deprived individuals were out on the roads at any given time, not to mention how the danger compounded when the roads were icy with 50 mph winds. It’s a miracle I survived.

I worked crazy hours. There were weeks that I worked 100 hours, and that doesn’t even include the other 20 hours + a week that I spent driving. I hardly slept, and I had to be awake at 3:30 am just to make sure that I was where I needed to be on time. It wasn’t like I was taking a whole lot of time to get ready either. I mean it took me all of 2 seconds to throw on a hat and head out the door. There were nights when I literally fell asleep mid sentence while talking with my wife because I was so exhausted. Every single day I wanted to quit. The only days that I didn’t want to quit were on pay day, and we were paid weekly. I am sure that management had figured out that if they didn’t pay every body once a week that it would be impossible to keep employees for very long. The weekly reward helped me to put my head down and keep working. If I would have had to wait for 2 weeks, I am sure that I would have quit sooner.

I tried to work as much as possible because I wanted the overtime. I worked most every Saturday and some holidays. I remember working until 2 am the night before Thanksgiving, and I remember working on Christmas Eve of that year. My wife and I had a plan that I would get home early around 7pm and then we would have time to pack up and drive down to my parent’s house for Christmas Eve and spend Christmas day with them. We were so busy at the last minute that we hadn’t made anything for dinner that night. We shrugged it off thinking that we would just grab something quick on our way out of town. What we didn’t realize was that everything would be closed on Christmas Eve. I don’t know why we hadn’t thought about that because obviously it wasn’t our first Christmas. I mean even Walmart shuts down for Christmas right? We did find a gas station that was open. It was a Maverick. We did our best to find a Christmas Eve dinner there in that gas station. After looking around at the variety of frozen foods and snacks, my wife settled on a ham and cheese hot pocket, and I ended up eating a Bahama Mama Hot Dog. When you eat a hot dog on the 4th of July, you don’t feel strange about it because you know that across the country there are millions of people eating hot dogs too. But, when you eat a hot dog on Christmas Eve, you feel like you have somehow missed the boat. I was a little sad that I was eating a hot dog that night, but I was happy too, because I was with someone I loved who didn’t mind being with someone that ate hot dogs  on Christmas Eve.

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5 Places I’d Love To Visit Again

While I was wrestling, I was able to travel the world, experience new places and cultures, and meet some amazing people. It was a great time of my life. While I was in the middle of it, I always thought that the lifestyle I was living was normal. I never realized how unique it was. I always thought that I would return to those places again. However, now that I am a few years removed from all of that traveling, I have a deeper appreciation for the opportunities that I had to travel the globe. I also realize that it may be more of a challenge to get back to some of those places that I loved seeing.

1. Greece

I loved visiting Greece. The food was always delicious and plentiful, and there was never a time that I was in Greece that I didn’t make it to the beach at least once. It was so much fun swimming in the mediterranean and riding scooters around some of the smaller islands. The open air cafes and clubs they had were impressive as well.

2. Cuba

Maybe I am just a sucker for the beach and riding scooters around. The people in Cuba were so friendly. They loved Americans despite the US trade embargo. It was hard to see how some of the people struggled there. I was always amazed at how the people could do so much with so little. I swear there were musicians that would play a guitar on the beach with only 3 strings that sounded better than some of the most experienced musicians here in the US.

3. Chile

I served a two year LDS mission in Chile. It was truly an amazing time, and I was fortunate to get a chance to take in some of the beautiful landscapes on my days off. There were beaches, mountains, volcanos, glacial lakes, and waterfalls. The food was great to which my expanded waistline could attest to after I had spent a couple years eating empanadas and pastel de choclo.

4. Romania

I didn’t get to see a whole lot of the country while I was there, but we stayed at this ski resort up in the mountains. The times that I was there was always in the summer so it was nice to be up in the cool of the mountains. The training was great there, and it was a lot of fun to spend time with the guys on the team. We even ate a bear there one time. It was crazy. They brought this big old bear leg flaming on a silver platter. When I had finished my bear, our hosts came by and offered all of us more. I tried to decline, but they wouldn’t have it. I ate so much bear that I was ready to hibernate for a couple days afterwards.

5. France

There are plenty cool things to see and do in France. Some of my favorites were sightseeing in Paris or sitting at a cafe and people watching. Visiting the Louvre museum was one of the coolest experiences that I have had in my life. The art there was unbelievable! I was so impressed at how gifted the artists were that had left masterpieces for so many to enjoy.

I may make it back to all of the places on the list, but even if I don’t, I am very glad that I had the chance to visit them at least once in my lifetime. There were plenty of other places that I saw that were noteworthy: the Egyptian pyramids, Berlin, the Red Square in Moscow, Budapest, Prague, London… I’ve never been to Canada though, which is kind of silly. It’s like going to all of your friends houses on the block while growing up, but never visiting your neighbor that lives next door. Maybe I will make it there someday too.

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