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.

Tag Archives: motivational speaker

How to Completely Change the World with Your Ideas

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by Greg Smith

Hear Podcast Interview.

Begins at the 18:10 mark.


This changes everything!

I was in zombie mode last night, sitting back in my wheelchair, completely relaxed. The only voluntary muscles I was using were my eyeballs and my index finger scrolling up and down the newsfeed on Facebook.

How many hours and hours have I spent doing that over the years? And to what end? A business opportunity here or there. Getting suckered into a link to someone’s traffic building link trail?

And then I found it!

The most impactful link to a video I have ever seen! It was the story of 17-year-old Zachery Smith. He doesn’t know it yet, but this young man’s name will go down in history as a true change agent. He will kick Dr. Zachary Smith from Lost in Space to the curb! (“Oh, the pain… the pain!” Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

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Zach, like me, has muscular dystrophy. Like me, he has endured gradual weakening of all of the muscles in his body including his arms. Like me, doing every day tasks such as feeding himself, holding the phone up against his ear, turning on and off light switches, pointing the remote control toward the television, and a million other simple tasks are becoming more and more difficult.

When people like Zach, and me, lose the ability to do something, it is gone forever. For me, that includes putting a hat on top of my head, clapping my hands to make any noise at all, and everything else that requires me to lift my hands above chest level. Some tasks, like brushing my teeth, shaving and feeding myself, are done by supporting my elbows on a raised surface but if there’s nothing available for support, and I need to raise my hands higher than my chest, I can’t do it.

Zachery Smith has spent a lot of time scrolling in his young life. However instead of doing it mindlessly, he did it with the purpose of applying his idea… an exoskeletal arm that could assist his movements… to an already existing product.

And then he found it: Exoskeleton Arm!

Zach’s scrolling led him to the X-AR, an exoskeletal arm that had already been invented dating back to the ‘70s. Its original intent was to give videographers the ability to carry heavy cameras. The famous scene in Rocky, where Sylvester Stallone leaps up the stairs and the camera leaps with him, was a shot with a videographer wearing a primitive version of the X-AR.

The use of the X-AR expanded to industrial settings, enabling workers to lift heavier objects and to endure repetitive motions longer and perform better in various tasks.

The X-AR’s design consists of a cuff that cradles the arm, allowing a patented configuration of springs and tensioning hardware to provide the zero-gravity support necessary to reach farther and accomplish more.

I’ve had similar ideas since way before Sigourney Weaver stepped into her exoskeletal contraption in Aliens! But unlike me, Zach did his research and will go down in history as a spark that changed the world. He didn’t give up and accept the status quo. He found the solution and he is working with a company that will be developing and marketing the X-AR for use in healthcare!

This is a really big deal!

When I was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy at the age of 3, my parents were encouraged that a cure for the disease was 10 to 20 years away. 47 years later, we are more encouraged and excited about the development of this technology than anything happening in a biological laboratory today.

I predict Zach’s thinking has led to a breakthrough in rehabilitation technology! I predict that the X-AR will lead to a full body exoskeletal system that can support the entire body structure allowing individuals like myself to walk, lift, kneel, jump and do whatever we want.

It will take a combination of experience and expertise to make it happen. Technological minds need to collaborate with those of us are living the condition to effectively communicate the challenges and solutions.

I’ve often thought that the same technology used to guide my power wheelchair could also be used to interpret physical movements of exoskeletal limbs. For example, when I slightly press the joystick forward, my chair slightly moves forward. But when I push it all the way, the chair moves with full power and full speed.

Maybe in the future, the intent of muscle movements can be interpreted by a sensor that allows us to harness and control more physical force, increasing independence and allowing us to do what we’ve only dreamed of. That’s just one idea of millions that are in the minds of both people in need of this new technology and the people with the expertise to make it happen. Let’s work together!

Zach. I look forward to giving you a literal “HIGH FIVE!”

This message should inspire everyone. Feed your ideas. Find the right partners. What great ideas have you given up on that may have revolutionized the world? It’s not too late. An idea that can completely change the world is swimming around in your brain right now!  Start scrolling!

 

Podcast Debut – “Timeout with the Strength Coach”

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Photo credit: Amanda McCoy, Biloxi Sun Herald

By Greg Smith

I think the stars have finally aligned for me to maximize and fully utilize my best skill set. I am good at speaking, and pretty good at writing, but I am best at broadcasting, and we are now well into the era of the podcast!

My new podcast, Timeout with the Strength Coach will be ready for your download on Monday, November 3! Every week, I will be uploading an hour stuffed full of motivational knowledge, expert guests, my personal insights and lessons from some of the top personal development and personal growth thought leaders in in the world.

Back in the old days

When I first started broadcasting my radio show on disability issues in 1992, the Internet barely existed. We settled for weekend junk time on conservative news talk radio stations. “On a Roll” aired live on Sunday evenings and I was looking for a way to expand it beyond the limitations of our time-slots in terrestrial radio.

In ’94, I had a phone conversation with a fella named Mark about adding it to his new network, Broadcast.com. I enjoyed the talk. He was very persuasive and went on to enjoy some success in his venture! You know, Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks. The Shark Tank dude. Yeah that guy!

My success with the radio show wasn’t as marked as Mark’s with Broadcast.com, but I’m proud of what we did from 1992 to 2006. We grew the show from one single station in Phoenix to more than 70 across the country in that time span.

But it was hard to be a listener. You had to remember that the show came on a certain day and a certain time. You had to either tune into the station on your AM radio or find it on the Internet at that certain time. As a result, despite how polished and professionally produced it was, it never quite found the audience it deserved.

The new days of the podcast

Today, everyone has a radio in the palm of their hand!  Now you can listen to me anytime you want, wherever you want, on whatever device you want: your phone, your iPad, your Mac, your PC, or in your car!

You don’t have to worry about the signal fading in and out. You don’t have to worry about forgetting and missing the broadcast. All you have to do is subscribe, download and listen at your leisure.

Pew Research Center polling shows that the podcast user base continues to expand. A May 2013 survey found 27% of internet users ages 18 and older download or listen to podcasts, up from 21% three years ago in May 2010 and 7% of internet users in 2006. Those numbers are expected to rise.

My life’s mission is to take the lessons that I have learned overcoming the challenges of life with muscular dystrophy, and teach people how to apply those lessons to improve the quality of their lives and build their inner strength.  If you download my show weekly and take it with you while you’re out and about, I guarantee you will notice a difference in how you feel about yourself and what you are able to accomplish.

Here’s how you listen:

Go to webtalkradio. From there you can listen online or download the Podcast to the device of your choice. I am looking forward to interacting with you! In the kick-off broadcast, you’ll get to know me more personally and get a feel for my energy and my mission to empower you to build your inner strength.

You’ll also meet a few of my teammates… people who share my passion about living an inspired life. You’ll meet comedian Murv Seymour, my best friend and accountability partner, who will reveal the strength of humor and friendship.

You’ll meet Chad Hymas, a motivational speaking colleague for whom I has a lot of respect and admiration. (The Wall Street Journal called him the most inspirational person in the world!)

And you’ll meet Olympic athlete, author and legend John Carlos, famous for his silent protest at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City. John just happens to be my uncle. Download this show and you’ll find yourself inspired, and enjoying a super-productive day.

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Chad Hymas Video Inspires “Operation Rise & Shine”

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Gaining Strength from a “Roll Model,” Chad Hymas

by Greg Smith

Getting in and out of bed is something most people take for granted. Due to muscular dystrophy, I have slowly been losing the ability to do this independently. I’m not prepared to live with the lifestyle restrictions caused by the rigid scheduling of assistants to get me in bed. So I’ve established “Operation Rise and Shine: One Man’s Quest to Go to Bed and Get Up Whenever!”

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Inspirational Speaker Chad Hymas

“Operation Rise and Shine” is constantly fueled by the inner strength, determination, and relentlessness that is built into my psyche. But finding even more motivation to persevere is something I always strive to do. I was extremely inspired by a video posted by my National Speakers Association colleague Chad Hymas. As C-4 quadriplegic, Chad travels the world alone as an inspirational speaker and gets undressed and dressed daily by himself. It took him 2 1/2 years to learn the entire process. In this video, he shares his process and reveals the potential of focused, relentless determination.

If you watch the whole video, please go ahead and admit it in the “comments” section below.  Were you inspired?

My “Operation Rise & Shine” has taken major strides forward over the past few days. Saturday, a new mattress was delivered to the house. This mattress is firm enough to support my body without my weight pushing me down into a hole. This allows me to much more easily turn from side to side. Adding silk sheets makes the process a lot easier too. In addition, the new mattress is about 3 inches lower to the ground than the previous one which makes transferring easier.

The next phase of the Operation is to make the process easier. Now, I am able to make the transfer from bed to wheelchair and vice versa, but is it is extremely difficult. I will be working with my occupational therapist, Danielle Johnson, to come up with little tricks that eliminate the grueling maneuvers. I look forward to sharing our progress as we try to shave the time for transfers down from 20 minutes to under one minute.

Stay tuned for more updates and video proof of the success of “Operation Rise & Shine.”  And a special ‘thank you’ to my speaker colleague, Chad Hymas.

 

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.

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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!

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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!

Connecting the Divide between Motivational Speakers and People who Need Them Most!

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Conference Attendees are Usually Already Motivated.

Most speakers are hired by professional associations or companies.  The people in these audiences, for the most part, are attending because they want to strengthen their position in an already existing, often thriving career.

Employees sent on the company’s dime to improve their skills and gain knowledge are usually doing pretty well to justify such a big corporate investment.  And if the attendee is a professional entrepreneur, he or she is doing well enough to afford to pay hundreds of dollars (if not thousands) for registration, travel and purchases at these events on their own.

I’m not knocking the conferences at all.  I love them!  I want to be chosen to “rock the house” at all of them!  There is a need for them.  Wonderful information is shared.  Strong connections are made.  I love conferences!

I can’t ignore, however, the fact that for every person who attends a conference, there are thousands of people who can’t afford a hotel room, much less afford airfare and a registration fee.  And these people really need the expertise, encouragement and “life skills” training that we provide.

Announcing the Weekly Power Lunch!

I’m excited to announce that I’ve teamed up with radio host and speaker Sugar Stallings to introduce the “Power Lunch Series” to the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  Sugar is one of the most dynamic young speakers I have met in recent years who just happened to move into my own back yard on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Each Thursday at noon (if we are in town), we will present strategies in personal development, career growth and self development.  For $5, anyone can show up and get the same level of empowerment and expertise that conference attendees get.  The $5.00 is for pizza and soft drinks.  The presentation is one hour.

The first “Power Lunch” is this Thursday, March 13 at Demiller Hall, 610 Water Street, Biloxi, MS 39530.

I’m doing this for a few reasons.  First, I want to give the opportunity for people in my community who really need the information, expertise and encouragement.  Another reason is that I love to speak.  I love seeing the look on people’s faces when I say something that registers in their mind as “good stuff.”  The more I speak, the better I will get.  And I am looking forward to working more closely with, and learning from the amazing Sugar Stallings!

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About Sugar Stallings, Esq.

As one of 22 children, native Ethiopian and Trinidadian speaker Sugar Stallings had to speak up loud to be heard.  Her powerful voice has projected her to the realization of many dreams.  Dreams like coming to the U.S. on a full scholarship, earning a law degree from the University of Maryland, working with mayors, governors, political organizations, lobbying on Capitol Hill and working at the White House on the Health Care bill.  As host of “A Call to Action Talk Show,” she blends politics, economic news, community events and a motivational message Saturdays at 10 am on WQFX – 1130 AM.  Her “Power Lunch” presentation will give you actionable advice to improve your current situation.  Her email is sugarstallingsradioshow@gmail.com

Friends on the Gulf Coast: Come out and support us and bring friends and family members who need encouragement.  You will be glad you did.  Here’s a map.  See you at noon on Thursday!


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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.

Making Good Grades in the “University of Life”

It is not too late to get straight A’s!

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By Greg Smith

I always talk to my kids about the importance of their grades.  And they always ask me what kind of grades I got.  It’s one of those, “Don’t do as I do… do as I say” scenarios.  Parents feel me…

Do you ever wish you could go back and “re-do” your education?  If that possibility magically emerged, I would take on a whole new attitude about my grades.  I would be a 4.0 guy instead of 2.5 guy.

Life is filled with “If I knew then what I know now” impossibilities.  Unfortunately, we only get one shot at life’s experiences.  I was too busy worrying about my popularity, my level of “coolness,” my delight in seeking out a good time to be a 4.0 guy.  Most people can relate to sacrificing grades for other interests.

But what if I told you that it is not too late to change your grades?

Despite the fact that your formal education ended with your graduation (hopefully), as long as you’re living, you are still learning.  If you’re not learning, then you’ve begun the process of dying.  How’s that for a “stay in school” message?  You are enrolled as a full-time student in the “University of Life.”

You are majoring in whatever your goals and dreams are.  The classes you are taking are the categories of knowledge and skills that you need to master to reach those dreams.  Your daily activities in these categories and your level of success or lack thereof are your grades.  The more you master the material, the more likely you are to get good grades which will lead to the attainment of your goals.

For example, one of my dreams is to become a world-renowned, top-level motivational speaker, author and broadcaster.  The classes I’m taking in pursuit of that dream include the following:

  • Presentation Skills
  • Creative Writing
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Broadcasting and New Media Concepts
  • Advanced Marketing and Promotion
  • Sales

That is a full schedule.  I need to master all of those skills to be successful.  I’ve decided to grade myself on a daily basis.  I’m keeping track of my performance.  What have I learned?  Did I apply that knowledge to my work day?

What about you?  What are you dreams?  What “classes” do you need to take in order to reach those dreams?  What areas do you need to master with A’s so you have the knowledge and insight to be successful?  I urge you to list your schedule of classes and to pay attention to your daily progress so that you can get all A’s, which will result your success.

Lesson Applied:

While preaching to my kids about grades, I was inspired to create the following graphic which illustrates my definition of each letter.

Grades

I posted it on Facebook and then looked at my wall.  First of all, I should have capitalized the word “mean” to be consistent with the rest of the headline.  Beyond that, after spending about an hour trying to figure out how to work my new graphics program, I decided that it was “good enough.”  I wasn’t thrilled with the layout.  The graphic came out a little “blurry” and I didn’t know why.  But what the heck, I thought.  And I posted it.

When I looked at it, I immediately decided that if I were to give it a grade, I would give it a B.  I rushed it.  I didn’t take the time to study the graphics program long enough.  The graphic is a classic B: “Because I didn’t study hard enough or long enough.”

But the beauty of the “University of Life” is that the professor will always allow you to take the test again if you’re not happy with your grade.  There will be no averaging of your first and second test results.  No penalty for turning it in late.  No limit to the number of times you get to take the test.  When you master it, you get an A.

I decided to spend more time and use more resources to improve my graphic.  I consulted with an expert and turned it in again.

grades3

I think this time, I earned an A.  If you agree, feel free to copy it, share it and spread the word about the importance of getting good grades in the “University of Life.”

I’m excited about also sharing the graphic with students who are currently in school.  I’m looking forward to bringing my message to middle schools, high schools and college campuses in 2014.