Greg Smith Keynote Speaker

Leadership Expert on Resiliency and Inner Strength – Greg helps leaders and teams “Go Full-Strength!” for maximum productivity.

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Inner Strength insights from the world of sports, disability, entertainment, business, politics and everything else I’d like to share with you.

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Operation Rise & Shine!

One Man’s Quest to Go to Bed and Get Up Whenever!

Based on your amazing response (record-setting blog numbers) to my article yesterday about my quest to rise and shine independently, I thought I would give you an update today. The news is not good, however I persevere.

In case you missed it, I am a 50 year old man with muscular dystrophy (really!), who is finding it next to impossible to independently transfer from my wheelchair to bed and vice-versa without assistance.  This is putting a cramp on my lifestyle and this difficulty must stop.  I need to figure out a way to maintain that freedom.

Part of the problem is the bedding. A few months ago, we decided to turn the mattress over, because I found myself sinking into a whole when sleeping, making it impossible to turn over. But after flipping the mattress, I noticed that the elevation of the bed was a little higher and that made it more difficult to get in bed. It was decided that we needed to buy a new one.

Determination will have to wait a while

The new mattress was delivered yesterday. It is one of those combination mattresses that features both the springs and the foam. As soon as it was delivered and placed onto the box spring, I could tell that it was even higher. I immediately had them remove the box spring and then it was obviously too low.

So my quest is on-hold until I find a mattress that is not too high, not too low, not too hard, not too soft, but juuuuusssst right!

Also, my mom went to Walmart last night to buy me some satin sheets. The thinking is I’d be able to slide across the bed easier to turn over on slick sheets. When she got home, gave me a funny look and said “These were the only ones they had.”

Greg holding up leopard skin sheets!

“Mom, you should have got me the ‘Pink” pajamas while you were at it!”

Greg kissing his leopard skin sheets

Stay tuned for the next episode of “Operation Rise & Shine!”

 

Losing and Still Winning!

I now have enough doctors

            to form an offensive line.

large_830 OLINE

By Greg Smith

I’m protected by all-stars.  At left tackle is my primary care physician. The left guard is my optometrist. My center is my cardiologist. My right guard is my pulmonologist, and my right tackle is my gastroenterologist.

It is a winning team. With their protection, I have plenty of time “in the pocket.”

It is no secret that one of my strengths is the ability to find pleasure when I accomplish difficult obstacles and emerge victorious. I always say that we get stronger by lifting the weights of life’s challenges. If I indeed ultimately profit from misfortune, I’m going to be rich. I’m facing cataract surgery, an esophageal scope and (I’m now 50), a colonoscopy all in the next month!

It’s all good to me. I’m brave with the knowledge that after it all, I will be even stronger! I’ll be able to see better without needing glasses anymore! I’ll be able to swallow easier and nourish my body better. And I will learn (God willing) that I am cancer free!

Lost a few teammates

As you may know, my sons and daughter have moved 1500 miles away and relocated in Arizona. I am proud of their independence and very happy for them. That’s the most important thing. I am confident that they will do well and be successful.

But from my perspective, I have three less sets of arms and legs to help me function. As a result of their absence, I need to be more independent.

Muscular Dystrophy is a disease that gradually weakens the muscles in your body. It is the opposing defensive line, trying to “sack” me.  It doesn’t do it with speed.  It thrives on sheer power… gradual pressure.

The gradual change is so slow that you barely notice it. But when the moment arrives where you can no longer do something that you used to be able to do it can be quite shock. 30 years ago, I could walk from my bed to the bathroom sink. 20 years ago, I could stand up in front of the sink and brush my teeth. Now I have to lean my elbows on the sink to support my body. 10 years ago I could independently transfer from my wheelchair to the toilet. Those days are long gone.

Not yet ready to call it a night

Two years ago, I could, with some difficulty, transfer from my wheelchair to my bed and vice versa. About a year ago, I got sick and spent weeks in bed. Extended periods in bed drain your strength and force you to ask for help. Instead of transferring independently, I needed help getting in and out of my wheelchair daily.

As I recovered, I found the struggle of climbing into and out of the wheelchair to be unappealing, so I started asking for help most of the time. At first, I knew that I was being lazy and could do it myself, but as time progressed, I started to realize that getting in and out of the chair was no longer a sure thing. It got to the point where I would only take on the challenge if nobody was around.

And then one evening, several months ago, I started to question whether or not I COULD make the transfer. Imagine laying in your bed and thinking to yourself, “I wonder if I can get up from here?”

That night I tried but after about a 30 minute exhaustive effort, I could not do it. I tried every possible strategic use of leverage, momentum and strength but I could not overcome the force of gravity. I realized that night that I was truly bedridden.

For a while I accepted it. Having the kids around to help me at all hours of the night made my lifestyle relatively unchanged. I could call Greg Jr. at 2 AM to put me in bed. But now that they are gone, my parents have to do it, and they like to go to bed early.

I believe in all of that “early to bed early to rise” stuff, but on the other hand, the silence of the evening offers me a great opportunity to strategize, write, and record my material which helps people build their inner strength. Sometimes I feel like I just need to be up at the computer typing or recording, but I am unable to because I have to take the help getting in bed when it’s offered.

Enough is enough!

I have decided that I am not going to give up without a fight. I’m going to hit the “weight room.” I have obtained the services of an occupational therapist, and I am determined to try to help myself more in order to maintain my freedom.

I am happy to tell you today that this morning I was able to get myself in the chair. It was agonizing. It was time-consuming (took about 20 minutes). It was physically draining and by the time I was in the chair I was exhausted. But I made it into the chair! That is the victory. That is what has energized me and given me the drive to have a very productive day.

Now that the kids are raised, it is time for me to move on to the next opponent on my schedule, moving out of my parents home and into a new life of independence. That’s the sport I play. I have a must-win attitude. Building inner strength for victory in the game of life is what I help others do. Its time for me to get back into game shape and do what I’ve been telling others to do.

Welcome to the game I play.  I hope you enjoy the battle. Consider this blog your online source for updates.  Bring me in to speak to your group to see the action live from your luxury skybox seats!  It’s gonna be a helluva ballgame.

Here’s video of an independent transfer from over three years ago.  It is much more difficult now.

 

At 50: Shooting for Happiness

Here is My 50th Birthday Wish:  To Change Lives on a Mass Scale!

cool the big 50

By Greg Smith

My sister,  Tonya, just came in the room to wish me a happy birthday and asked me a question.

“Are you happy?”

I answered honestly, immediately, and with a smile.

“No.  I don’t have abundance,” I responded.  “I don’t have prosperity.  As a result, I can’t give enough of my gift to the world because of lack of resources.  I live paycheck to paycheck.  I don’t have a romantic soulmate.  And the Cubs are gonna suck again!”

“Are you unhappy?”

“No.  I have a wonderful family.  I have a few good friends and an army of supporters and ‘fans.’  I have a God-given talent for helping people discover an incredible feeling of self-empowerment and inner strength.  I think I still look pretty good for a 50-year-old dude.  I can still sit upright in my power chair and drive my modified van and fly in airplanes.  And the Bears offense looks Super Bowl ready next year!”

In my 50th year, I plan to go for true happiness!  True happiness means abundance.  I want to be financially secure enough to make decisions without money being the deciding factor.  I want to be able to afford to do things to elevate the impact of my message so I can exponentially help more people discover their inner strength.

To not have prosperity and abundance in my life would be a true waste of the gift which I have been bestowed.  I believe I’m destined to help a great mass of people from all walks of life.  It is my responsibility to figure it out.  I’m proud of what I have accomplished and grateful for being blessed to have such an impact.  But I believe what I have done so far is a mere drop in the bucket of what I’m capable of.

Here’s my plan.  Starting today, my 50th birthday, I have taken on the liberating belief that my gift to society is extremely valuable!  If I focus exclusively on delivering that gift, the abundance will come as a byproduct.  No longer will I be “selling” speaking engagements.  From now on, I will be “offering” the incredible feeling a person experiences when he or she discovers their inner strength!

I was supposed to be dead at 15.  There has to be a reason why I’m still around.

Why are you still around?  What is your destiny?  What do you believe about your prosperity, abundance and true happiness?

Today, my 50th birthday, I appreciate all your “happy birthday” messages.  I appreciate you for believing in me.  My request for you today is to tell someone about “The Strength Coach.”  Share me with someone who can introduce my work to hundreds, thousands or millions, and move it forward in the direction of prosperity and abundance.

You could also give me the “hookup” on a lady you think might enjoy meeting me!  Maybe I can one day take her to a Cubs World Series game!  A Bears Super Bowl is more realistic.

 

Earn Your Standing O!

Are you performing well enough to earn a standing ovation?

This is about you, not me.  But I need to use myself as an example to make this point.  When I’m in front of an audience, my goal is to connect on a personal level with everyone in the room.  I want to offer them the gift of my expertise and I strive to do so in a way that it is well received.  So I do my absolute best.

I prepare myself and develop content that is customized for each specific audience.  I rehearse to the point where I am comfortable with the message.  I get plenty of rest the night before.  I visualize the successful outcome.  I’m introduced and I roll out into the bright lights!

When I am done, the crowd reacts.  The standing ovation never surprises me.  I know whether I am connecting during the presentation.  Are heads nodding?  Are there interruptions for applause at the right moments?  Are all eyes on me?  There’s always that one guy in every crowd who seems to care only about sending me vibes that he doesn’t care.  For a split second, he distracts me, but I block him out and proceed.

When I am finished, the crowd rises to their feet.  They clap, whistle and yell, “Wooooh!”  I nod my head, smile and wave.  This extended moment is when I get my charge.  The thrill continues when I am escorted to a table to sell and autograph my books and a line of enthusiastic new friends develops.  And the first one in line is “that one guy” I thought wasn’t listening!

The energy I get from the standing ovation is a thrilling sensation.  I’d like to experience that feeling every day.  As much as I’d like to, I’m not speaking every day but I’ve figured out a way to use the concept to propel myself forward.

I look at my objectives for each day as a performance.  If I’ve prepared myself, concentrated on doing my best and complete the goals for the day, I present that to my imaginary audience.  And in my silence, I listen for the imaginary roar of the crowd.

You can go through your day and achieve just enough to get a round of applause.  Or you can seize the day and earn the exciting thrill of a standing ovation for your performance.  Prepare yourself for tomorrow.  Plan your activities.  Plan the words you will say in key conversations.  Rehearse.  Get a good night’s sleep.  Visualize a triumphant day.  Roll (or walk) out onto the stage of life and earn the roar of the crowd!

Celebrating 50 Years of Living and Laughing!

 

Laughing

Laughter is my first lesson in longevity!

Well, it’s not my birthday yet (March 25), but I’m going to go ahead and start the celebration. It is a special one this year. 50! Time to rejoice. I made it. As a matter of fact, I’m going to celebrate it for a whole year. From March 2014 though March 2015, I will be having my own personal “Year of the Greg” right here on this blog.

I think I deserve it. When I was three years old and still not able to walk, my parents were told by doctors that I had Muscular Dystrophy and would not live much more than another decade.

As it turns out, to those doctors credit, they were right about the length of time my spine would hold up. But medical advances in orthopedic surgery gave me a lifeline at age 13 when I had spinal fusion surgery to straighten and support my back. This meant that I could take deep, full breaths and live without the chronic pain of a twisted spine. It also meant that I could no longer walk. That’s when I got the power wheelchair, right before high school. Right before the adventure began.

As I celebrate the “Year of the Greg,” I will be giving credit to people who have been pillars of support my whole life. I will also be passing along tidbits of knowledge that you may find useful in your own life.

Losing it in Laughter!

The first piece of knowledge that leads to longevity is understanding the power of a good laugh.  Laughter strengthens us by giving us energy. It removes our focus from physical and psychological pain and takes us away to a place of bliss. Laughter removes us from negative effects of stress. It gives us immediate energy.

Think back to the moments of the single greatest laugh in your life. You remember it. What was so funny? As you remember it, I bet you’ll laugh again.

For me, I was a senior in college at ASU. My cousin, Ron Pope was visiting. We, along with a couple of my frat brothers, went to the mall to try to find some new shirts for me to wear. Finding fashionable clothes that fit me has always been a problem. Because I am so small, I have to always look in the boys section. We went from store to store and found nothing. It became frustrating. Every time someone found something that might fit me, I rejected it because it didn’t look good.

“How about this Smitty?”

dinosaur tee shirt

My frat brother, Darrin Bumpus, held up a shirt for us to see. He had this stupid look on his face while presenting us a toddler sized t-shirt featuring a little dinosaur wearing a baseball cap swinging a bat!!

And then it started.

We all lost it! Ron started laughing so hard he fell to his knees, started rolling on the floor, slapping the ground with the palm of his hand! I was cracking up, having difficulty sitting upright in my chair!  Darren kept trying to get up but would start laughing again he would fall back down to the department store floor. Security came and they smirked too at the sight of the hysterical scene. We managed to regroup and then Darren grabbed another shirt and it all happened again.  We just couldn’t stop laughing.

Thinking about that as I write this puts me in a great mood. As I think about it, I feel no frustration. No pressure from my problems. No stress. It feels good to remember that brief moment in 50 years of life. And feeling good is good for your health.

What was the single greatest laugh you’ve ever had. Share it here. Write about it. You’ll feel great as you live those moments again through reflection. Use the “comments” section below.