2015: The Year of Emotional Fitness

Sunday morning, I woke up to hear the horrible news of longtime ESPN anchor, Stuart Scott’s passing due to cancer. My wife walked into the bedroom to see me in tears, not having any clue as to why I was crying over someone I never met.

The only thing I could tell her was that Stuart Scott was the reason we wake up and fall asleep to SportsCenter every morning. That has actually been my life for the past 15 years. He was such an influential pioneer to sports broadcasting, that we may not really know his impact until maybe 5-10 years from now.

Credit: New York Times / ESPN

Credit: New York Times / ESPN

But what was more amazing about him, his life, his legacy, was how emotionally fit he was — about everything he did. If you’re unfamiliar with him and his story, you can read about it here.

If you were to see how he lived, you’d just think he was just stubborn about doing it “his way,” but it was the complete opposite. It wasn’t his way — it was the only way because it was who he was.

I can’t imagine what it feels like to be diagnosed with cancer but I imagine it’s awful. But imagine the courage it must take to face it head-on — and beat it, not knowing if it’d actually turn out that way.

But what about hearing that the cancer came back? Imagine having to go through the whole process all over again? How can someone have that amount of courage and strength to pull through once again?

What’s your “cancer?”

There are a lot of “cancers” in our lives. The one’s that are widely acknowledged are the ones that are physical and serious. But the ones that aren’t as talked about but can be just as destructive to someone’s life are the psychological ones.

And believe me, we all have a cancer we’ve had to face — or are still facing. They all come from barriers that are seemingly impossible to overcome, such as getting into a healthy relationship, or sustaining one, for that matter; losing weight, creating more wealth, or having a better social life.

For many years, my psychological “cancer” was feeling undeserving of leading a great lifestyle. That included having a great job, great people in my life, being physically healthy, and in a great romantic relationship with someone who loved me.

That led me to many unfortunate things happening to me in my college years including, being cheated on or dumped constantly, losing my friends, getting out of shape, and being depressed, all of which were caused by my actions, or lack thereof.

For some reason, at each low moment of my life, I still felt as though I had a chance to be great and live greater. It wasn’t until May 2008 when my conviction pushed through to my actions and slowly but surely, I was able to create the kind of life I’ve always wanted, most importantly, based on who I truly am — not who I thought I should be.

Now, after working with thousands of clients from all over the world in the past 6 years, there is one thing that made myself, Stuart Scott, and many of my clients successful. We built emotional fitness.

Introducing the Year of Emotional Fitness

Stuart Scott’s approach to facing cancer all came together when he accepted his Jimmy V Award for Perseverance at the 2014 ESPYs. When it came to beating cancer, there was one thing he said that night that I’ll never forget — 

“When you die, it does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live.”
— Stuart Scott

The man never knew what stage of cancer he had. He didn’t want to know. And it was because it never mattered. All he desired was to live a normal life and be the best he he could be — to his friends, colleagues, and most importantly, his two daughters.

When it comes to experiencing any type of loss, it’s always hard to recover. When my girlfriend cheated on me my sophomore year, I thought there was no way I could have recovered, no matter what I did. But eventually I did.

Then when I was living the ideal college life come senior year and then lost it all in just a few months when I was dumped by my girlfriend at the time, I thought I could have never recovered from that. But I did.

I look back and realize that each situation required emotional fitness.

Emotional fitness is having the readiness to make something happen. Without emotional fitness, no amount of emotional intelligence will help you get — and keep what you truly want in life.

For some people, emotional fitness is something you have to build, which requires to go through many experiences toward that. For other people, it’s inherently there due to previous experiences. But for everyone, it’s something that needs to be constantly worked on.

For Stuart Scott, I’m sure part of his fitness came 21 years ago when dealing with harsh criticism while being a facilitator of change in sports broadcasting. I’m sure it also came through wanting to be there for his two daughters. 

For me, it was understanding what personal “loss” felt like and what was required to get to a better place. If I never went through those experiences, I can honestly say there would be no way I’d be able to help and relate to clients the way I do today.

This year, I’d like to help you build emotional fitness so that no matter what circumstance comes your way, you’ll be ready to take action. A few years ago, I declared a Year of Action. While it was awesome to know what action to take and how to do it, how many of you still didn’t do anything because you didn’t feel ready?

What are you expected to do?

Growing up, for so long, I was always looking to other people to determine what was expected from me. My parents expected me to be in politics. My friends expected me to fail in sports. While a career in politics isn’t out of the picture (I guess) and far from my mind, my friends were always surprised by my athletic ability in virtually any sport we played.

Today, all I look for is someone to tell me I can’t do something.

What do people expect from you? Is it less than what you’re capable of? What ends up happening when you surpass their expectations?

They’re surprised! But why? Why wouldn’t they think you were capable of this? Is it fear of disappointment? Maybe they genuinely didn’t think you could do it?

This year, other people’s expectations will no longer matter. The only expectations that do are yours. You’ll learn to become emotionally fit to tackle everything that comes your way — or better yet, what you want to go after.

A couple questions for you — 

Where is ONE place you’d like to become more emotionally fit?

What has kept you back this whole time?