Embracing positive people

Posted May 1, 2016 by davidgoad
Categories: General

janet2

“Can you hold the microphone? I’m not good with those things.” Janet Rainey adjusted her hat and peacock blue knit scarf as I pre-interviewed her about her story. She was volunteered to answer one of my questions in front of an audience of 125, who also happened to be cancer survivors.

Janet, a sweet and soft-spoken lady in her 70’s, has been through the proverbial ringer with two bouts of cancer. She lost her husband three years ago, but the ladies at her church rallied to take care of her. They brought her meals and nutritious smoothies every day for 3 months, drove her where she needed to go and helped her remain positive through even the darkest days.

I was invited to be the keynote speaker at this event, to share the story I’ve experienced with my brother Jeff. My speech was intended to wrap up a day of massages, manicures, workshops and other services, all delivered free to the survivors. The volunteers had already delivered a whole lot of giving that morning.

I accepted the challenge of delivering a message of hope after the closing lunch, but came away with receiving far more than I gave.

For example, in my hallway conversation with Donald, he looked me straight in the eye before he left and said “I don’t let nothin’ stop me. Nothin!”

A young mom, Tara shared with me, “Some of the people you thought would be there for you disappear, but you will be surprised by the overwhelming generosity of strangers.”

And Laura Muckey from Elk Grove, who has gone very public with her story (follow her on facebook), “I’m sharing my experience because I want to educate other women and save lives. I want my life to matter.”

So I delivered my speech, sharing lessons I’ve learned from my brother Jeff and holding him up as an example of someone living life with cancer in an amazingly positive way. Jeff and I have created a circle of giving that has changed both of our lives.

Which brings me back to Janet in the hat. I stepped off the stage and asked her to share what we talked about earlier, about the importance of surrounding yourself with positive people and dismissing the rest. She had emphasized she doesn’t have time for negative people in her life.

She delivered these words to the audience, “You need to cling to positive things and also remember that when you accept help from other people, you are actually doing something for them when you allow them to give to you. Try to give back to the best of your ability, even when you’re sick. I wrote birthday cards and anniversary cards because that’s something I could do, and it made me feel productive. With God’s help and the help of your friends and family, you can make it through.”

Wow.

Running a marathon or climbing a mountain may be amazing accomplishments when you are being treated for cancer, but what Janet does is no less of an epic effort. It’s the attitude that matters. It’s taking control of your life and not letting anyone or anything take you… from you.

P.S. I’ll close with a plug for Jim Linderman, who pulls together this act of love event every year in Stockton. If you’d like to donate your time to A Treat-Meant for You next year, please reach out to him. Thank you Jim, for allowing me to be a part of your circle.

I am not a speaker

Posted April 28, 2016 by davidgoad
Categories: General

microphone

The tears started before she even made it to the microphone. I was caught off guard by the outpouring of emotion from Tina, who had agreed to do a model speech and receive live coaching. It was part of a public speaking workshop for 60 administration professionals in Squaw Valley. She had warned me in her email, “I am a numbers person with an intense fear of public speaking. I am NOT a speaker.”

And yet… she said yes to the assignment.

She was the last of three speakers to do a 5-minute speech and receive feedback and tips for getting better. I was poised to take notes as she leaned forward. Nothing came out but tears. She held the microphone away from her face as if it was the source of pain.

I stepped up to rescue her by standing at her side and interviewing a bit, a trick I use in Toastmasters when a rookie speaker is struggling to get their words out. People in the front row began to share some love too. “You’ve got this, Tina. Come on Tina, we want to hear you.”

She began to read from her notes with a trembling lip. “Everyone has a story on how they got where they are today. And everyone has struggles along the…” She pulled the microphone away again and fanned her face with her left hand. This was followed by a full 30 seconds of tear-filled silence.

I have coached a lot of beginning speakers, but this level of meltdown was a first for me. I put a hand on her shoulder. “Tina, let’s set your notes aside. You said yes to coming here to tell a story. What message do you want to share with your friends here?”

She slowly began to leak out the story… how she was labeled a slow learner in elementary school, and told she would not progress without special needs classes. One teacher saw potential in her and gave her the little extra attention she needed and she made it through with her friends.

I’ve changed Tina’s name to protect her privacy, and I won’t share all the details of her life. But the word “struggle” kept recurring in each chapter she revealed. There were also people along the way who had faith in her and gave her a shot at bettering her life and career, including her husband.

As she picked up steam, I inched slowly away from her, letting her stand alone and publicly speak out the pain she had been carrying her whole life. And when she finished her story of courage, she received an emotional standing ovation that I will not forget.

This woman was told throughout her life that she was not going to succeed.

She was also told throughout her life that she COULD succeed.

She eventually followed the positive advice, but the words she heard early in her life created deep wounds that affected her belief in herself. This burden came from so-called experts and authorities who ended up being dead wrong about her.

If you are in a leadership role in a child’s life, as a family member, teacher, coach or friend, your words are either building up or tearing down. There is no neutral.

Tina was OK, and we talked afterwards about her joining a Toastmasters club to continue working on her confidence. I personally left the conference with a keen interest in exploring what makes some people fear speaking more than a shark attack.

To those of you who fear it… I always thought it was caused by traumatic embarrassment or public humiliation at a young age, but perhaps it was really only a few destructive and unforgettable words spoken into your young impressionable mind.

How many positive experiences will it take to overwhelm those negatives? Are you willing to find out?

Got your back

Posted April 24, 2016 by davidgoad
Categories: General, Motivation

Paintball2

I have watched many gunfights in movies. I have played Halo with my son and his teenage friends. But nothing prepared me for what it would really feel like in a war zone. It was my first time playing paintball and I was asking a lot of questions.

“How many shots do I have in this gun?” I asked the girl at the counter. She replied with a routine and politically correct response, “It’s not a gun, it’s a marker.”

I smiled in disbelief. “What? We’re going to be throwing Sharpies at each other?”

She was not amused. She handed me my oversized goggles and a yellow bandana to tie around my neck. She said, “You’re a first timer aren’t you?”

“Yeah but I shot BB guns a lot when I was kid. I’ll be alright.” She stifled a laugh and moved on to the next player. I walked away singing “I’m a paint ball wizard, there has to be a twist. Paint ball wizard. Just. Will. Not. Get. Hit.”

As soon as the air horn sounded our team was on the move, up the hill through the rocky and tree-covered terrain. I was no dummy. I ran toward the tallest and widest boulder I could find and flattened my back against it. I learned this move watching movies. I got this.

I could hear every short breath inside my mask as I peeked around the massive rock. That’s when I saw the jawbreaker-sized yellow projectile hurling at high speed right at my face. I closed my eyes as I heard the smack of the impact… fortunately on the edge of the rock, not my face. Yellow paint sprayed into the air as I snapped back to my hiding place. 5 minutes ago I was singing and laughing. Now I was 100% focused.

It’s just like when life throws several challenges at you all at once. You get laser-focused on what you need to do to survive.

The soldiers on the other team had my full attention, and I peeked out again from the rock to scan the field of battle for threats. My pulse raced from the adrenaline surge, and then I got this very unsettling feeling. I was scanning 180 degrees of my field of vision to the front, but what if they were sneaking up behind me?

I quickly looked over my shoulder, and there with his back against the same rock was Philip, a veteran player who was covering the other 180 degrees behind me. He literally had my back. And just like that… I relaxed and returned my focus to what lied beyond the rocks in front.

An hour later I walked away from that field of battle with a few bruised ribs and a lot of leftover paint pellets. But more importantly, I had a new sense of appreciation for real soldiers on real battlefields, and a renewed sense of what it means to have someone watching your back. Someone who cares enough to cover you no matter what.

Whether it’s a weekend paint ball game, a challenge at work or a relationship struggle, I am so grateful for the inner circle of good friends who look out for me. And any time they are under fire, they can count on me to defend them without question as well.

Who’s got your back?

A call for help

Posted April 9, 2016 by davidgoad
Categories: General

Rich2

Driving through Reno and out of the corner of my eye I see a crumpled heap of laundry on the sidewalk. Oh wait, that’s a human being. He was flat on his back with legs askew, not the position for someone who decided to just take a nap. I had to pull over to take a closer look and help if I could.

He was 30 something with a scruffy beard, but dressed like a frat boy in long shorts, hoody, polo shirt and black tennis shoes. His baseball cap was turned around backward and he was completely unconscious. I took a step closer, not even sure if he was alive.

“Hey buddy, can you hear me? Can you hear me? Are you OK?”

His eyes blinked open, dazed and confused. I kneeled down to talk to him and held his shoulder to keep him from trying to stand. I asked if he’d been drinking and he was able to mutter “Yeah a little bit.” The whiff of alcohol told me it was way more than a little. I asked him if he had ID or a cell phone and he reached into his front pocket and pulled out a half-empty pint of vodka. I threw it into the bush, looked him straight in the eye and said “You don’t need that, it’s not going to help you.” He was too drunk to argue.

He tried to stand up and walk and nearly tipped over into the street. I couldn’t just leave him there, so I grabbed one arm and helped him down the sidewalk. He said he lived “right over there” as he pointed to a Bank of America. That was enough.  I sat him down on a stair and called 911. The operator asked a few questions and then transferred me to the paramedic dispatcher.

I hung out with him until they arrived 10 minutes later. Fire and paramedic trucks with a total of 6 people attended to him. I told them his name was Rich and that he was in really bad shape. They didn’t need anything else from me. I snapped this picture and I was on my way, believing he was in good hands

Now for the truly disturbing part… I drove down the road and 3 minutes later realized I needed to make a u-turn to get back onto the freeway. I passed by the scene again and saw the unbelievable… Rich stumbling down the sidewalk. No, it couldn’t be him. Yes. It was.

The firetruck was gone but the paramedics hadn’t left yet. I pulled up broadside and rolled down my window. “Hey, why did you let that guy go?!”

Apologetically, the paramedic said “There’s nothing we could do. He answered all the questions and we can’t force him to go to the hospital. It’s legally like kidnapping if we do that.” I could not believe my ears. Is this really true? Could any of you paramedics out there enlighten me on the policy for situations like this?

Maybe I should have asked for the police to take him to a cell to sleep it off. Maybe I should have poured him into my car and drove him to the emergency room instead. All of us letting him stumble back out onto the street to fall and crack his head or get hit by a bus does not seem like the right thing to do. Does it?

I don’t know if I’m more disturbed by how drunk this guy was at 3:00 in the afternoon, or by the rescue workers inability to do anything about it. Please pray for Rich. Pray that he gets help and that he gets sober before he dies way too young.

If you found someone who was a danger to himself and others and unable to tell you where he lived, what would you do?

 

Promises, promises

Posted December 7, 2015 by davidgoad
Categories: General, Motivation

2016bWho wants to join me in getting a one month jump on the new year by posting your goals now? This approach helps me focus, and making it public holds me accountable. I also publicly celebrate wins and rededicate my efforts to complete goals I fell short on.

In no particular order, here are my top personal goals for 2016:

  • Help my brother Jeff achieve his goal of raising $20,000 for MMRF as he and wife Ramona climb Mount Kilimanjaro on January 24. You can be part of helping him complete this dream by giving $25 or more at this link. There will be a short film created on their trek and I will share it first with all donors.
  • Complete the Death Ride. Last year I finished 80 of the 129 miles and 3 of the 5 mountain passes. I did not train enough or start early enough in the morning to finish it all. I can overcome both of these setbacks in 2016, and I’m looking for training buddies for high altitude training trips in May/June.
  • Achieve excellence in my job. This IS a measurable goal… my manager can give me an “Excellent” rating on my annual review. More than that I’m going to broaden the scope of the internal talk show I produce and host; learn how to edit video with Premiere and After Effects; and leave a positive and memorable impression with all the executives, engineers and communications professionals I serve.
  • Return to regular blogging. Short Stories with a Point has continued to be an outlet for stories that matter in my life and I really appreciate the dialogue with those of you who comment. I’m shifting the direction a bit to include “business” stories that will be included in my next book. Please let me know what you think!

Focus brings consistency, and consistency leads to results. Every big goal I have achieved in the last seven years began with a public promise. What will you promise yourself to do in 2016?

Jeff and Ramona’s donation page

Mountain moving

Posted October 25, 2015 by davidgoad
Categories: Motivation

Jeff_Ramona_KilimanjaroYou’ve seen mountains moved for mining, railroads and building houses with a view, but when is the last time a mountain moved you? My brother Jeff had a childhood dream to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and see the sweeping herds on the Serengeti plains. Now he’s going to live that dream, but it’s NOT as a thrill seeker. He’s joining a team of 3 other survivors living with multiple myeloma, oncologists and supporters taking on the highest free-standing mountain in the world at 19,341 feet.

On January 18th, 2016, the 15 member team will embark on an 11 day journey to Uhuru Peak in Tanzania, Africa. The team will travel through 5 different ecosystems, face high elevations, low temperatures, and high winds, all in the name of finding a cure! The members of Team Living Proof have each committed to raising $10,000 each to support the life-changing work done by the MMRF, accelerating innovative treatment approaches to extend the lives of patients and find a cure.

You can be part of this adventure too by giving to the cause.

Every dollar helps motivate Jeff and his wife Ramona to conquer this mountain in Africa, as well as the mountain called Multiple Myeloma. As you’ll read in Jeff’s brief story, his cancer has returned. After 5 years of relative remission, he is back on therapeutic doses of chemo, which will make it even harder to get his mind and body ready for this adventure.

The trek will be documented with video interviews, but I already know in my heart what Jeff will say. He will exhibit the same courage and fortitude you have already witnessed in the marathons we have run together. This guy does not quit. The researchers are moving mountains to find a cure, and Jeff moves me… sometimes to tears and sometimes to get my ass in gear to raise money.

Thanks for following our story and helping as much as you can. Just passing along this story online may help bring the specific dollar that finally funds the cure. Wouldn’t that be a moving moment?

Telling it like it is

Posted July 25, 2015 by davidgoad
Categories: General

george_sartor2The circle of cyclists was gathered in the Raley’s parking lot. I was answering questions about my ironman training and describing my favorite equipment, like my Garmin heart strap and black compression sleeves supporting my calves. Various friends were offering encouraging words of support until this one guy piped up with a curiously sarcastic…

“Hmm… nice socks.”

That was the day I met George Sartor. He was a very active cyclist in the club and I got to know him over the years as someone who always seemed a little cranky. He pushed people on rides to go faster and didn’t mind a little trash talking.

After the Death Ride a couple of weeks ago, we were all gathered around a campfire sharing stories. George started in with his teasing, and I gave it right back to him with my own brand of humor. When it was time for me to go, he shook my hand and told me he really enjoyed my comedy shows in the past.

It’s funny… I hadn’t seen this warm side of George until I matched his level of trash talking. It’s like he was testing me and I finally earned his respect.

Five days later, George died in a tragic cycling accident.

I attended his memorial service on Tuesday, where several tough guys got up and told tearful stories about George being a bit rough on the outside, but a teddy bear on the inside. He could be abrasive, but he pushed people to perform at their best. He could be blunt, but you always knew where you stood with him. He could be antagonistic, but he was an extremely loyal friend once you got to know him.

My heart goes out to his family, and a college fund has been started for his kids. Please give a few dollars if you can. It will really make a difference.

http://www.gofundme.com/georgesartorkids

I’ll take away this lesson from George…  Everyone has something to offer if you give them a chance, and a rough exterior often masks a heart of gold.

We’ll miss you, George. May the wind be forever at your back.


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