Removing Excuses: 2020 Olympic Run
As an avid listener of the Joe Rogan Experience, I have developed an admiration for someone I have never met. This isn’t too odd for me. I often find myself proud of people I have never met and probably will never meet. I have listened to thousands of hours of Joe Rogan’s opinions, and have come to hold his opinion in high regard
Honestly, I was not a fan of “The Fear Factor Guy” at first. He had made some very insensitive jokes that just bothered me, so I wrote him off. A good friend knew this but still suggested I listen to the podcast episode with Lance Armstrong as a guest. I quickly realized that he wasn’t just some dumb jock with a microphone.
I decided to listen to a few more episodes. Something that struck and impressed me was how quickly and readily he admits to being wrong. This is one of the traits I admire most in a person. Muscles are usually meant to mask insecurities. Hell, it’s the primary reason why I began boxing. To see a meat-head be open minded and not hardheaded was a pleasant surprise.
As I continued to listen to episodes, I discovered one that really intrigued me. Rogan addressed being offended. I can’t remember the episode or the exact words, but he basically stated that people are usually offended when there is truth in criticism. I then realized that I was off put by his vegan jokes (I don’t even remember what the joke was) because there was truth in it. I’ve been hooked on JRE ever since.
Fast forward a few years later. I decided to transition, not “quit” mind you, from boxing to public speaking. I avoid the term “motivational speaker” because it has been watered down. “I’m a motivational speaker” is the new “I’m spiritual”. The value of it has completely been diminished.
When I began public speaking in 2016 I did it with the intention of becoming financially secure in order to chase my ultimate dream of boxing. Boxing was still the primary goal. I found great success in speaking. I became a member of the National Speakers Association and consumed my life with speaking. The more I spoke, the less I boxed.
My speaking topics centered on goal-setting and the resilience necessary to achieve said goals. I gave over 200 talks on this topic alone. I realized I had quite a knack for speaking. Somewhere along the line I completely dropped the idea of fighting and solely focused on speaking.
I knew that the Olympics were my goal and all…but financial stability was pretty nice. It’s possible to do both, but that seemed difficult and unnecessary.
Fast forward: It is now August 23rd, 2019 and I’m leaving Los Altos, CA to drive to Pasadena to watch some boxing matches. Conscious of my weight gain, I felt insecure about letting myself go. I was about 50 pounds over my fight weight, or so I estimated. I couldn’t be sure as I refused to step on a scale. Who needs the truth anyway?
During the drive, I was listening to episode #1338 of JRE with guest Roy Woods, Jr. Roy. He shared his incredible story of what he had to do to make a name for himself in the comedy world. This dude busted his ass for what he has and I respect it. I honestly began questioning if I was working hard enough.
Here I am visiting schools, preaching about hard work. Why am I not one of the biggest names in the speaking world? Probably because I’m not working hard enough. Soon enough, the conversation of “Motivational Speakers” came up. Roy Wood, Jr. asked Rogan, “Do you think people who aren’t as successful as you think should be are qualified to be motivational speakers?”
Rogan’s response, “Most people that are doing motivational speaking should stop.” Joe Rogan rambled on and claimed that most motivational speakers were “robbing people”. He said most motivational speakers weren’t even motivated themselves.
I felt personally attacked and my respect for him dissipated as my initial opinion of him began flooding back.
“Ha! I’m not motivated?” I would randomly say to my self in the days following the podcast. I was bothered, that I allowed the opinion of someone I don’t even know to bother me so deeply.
A couple days later, my brother Matt Mays, a fellow JRE enthusiast, brought it up to me walking along Venice Beach. I couldn’t help but ask the most honest person in my life, “You don’t think I fall under that category, do you?”. Matt reassured me that I don’t fall in that category because I’ve actually accomplished great things in the past. Joe Rogan opened my chest with his statement, and Matt, inadvertently, ripped my heart out of that opening.
I realized at that moment why I was so offended by Rogan’s original statement. He was spot on. I wasn’t doing anything but talking about the motivated person I USED to be. Yeah, I kinda did something. Actually, in retrospect, I didn’t do anything but fail consistently for a longer than average time.
I began to reevaluate my accomplishments and came to the realization, that I had put quite a lot of wind under my own sails.
I had a set a large goal of fighting in the Olympics. A goal that I had fallen short of on 3 occasions.
I used this justification… I’m just so overwhelmed with speeches that I couldn’t find time to box. I’m living in a van on the road and its next to impossible to maintain a healthy weight. And I’m 31 years old. And I couldn’t fight for Team USA because it is mandatory that I train full time at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. I would be unable to continue my speaking business.
I do standup comedy (as a hobby, not so much a career) and I had a joke I wrote when I first began public speaking and was still actively boxing. A joke which I hadn’t realized had come to fruition.
“I couldn’t make a career out of boxing so I decided to make a career out of talking about not being able to make a career.”
Ouch, as if Imposter Syndrome wasn’t crippling enough for me. How do I mitigate this problem? I felt like a fraud, how do I reverse that feeling?
This is a challenge many of us face. Unfortunately, it’s significantly easier to sweep this question under the rug and refuse to acknowledge it. If you’re creating a successful speaking career and others don’t see you as a fraud, who cares if you occasionally look at yourself as a fraud?
I could no longer pursue boxing because my speaking career was flourishing. I mean, I could have…but it would be easier not to. I became guilty of being what I despised… an excuse maker.
I must admit, I’ve become one of those ‘self-help people’ I used to be so annoyed with. Motivational/Self-help books serve more as a tool for self-guilt than it does for motivation.I blame my Catholic upbringing. I recently read You Are A Badass Everyday, by Jen Sincero. The first page of this book was spot on in addressing my issue:
“An excuse is simply a challenge you’ve decided has power over you. If you’re serious about changing your life, you’ll find a way past all of your obstacles; if you’re kinda sorta serious about changing your life, you’ll find an excuse.
We get extremely defensive about our excuses, because excuses free us from taking responsibility for our lives.”
How honest was I being with myself? Why haven’t I set that big goal? Why haven’t I taken the first step to that goal? Why haven’t I accomplished that goal?
I’m serious about changing my goals, so I dedicated myself to finding a way past all of my obstacles!
I did some research and realized that I can easily gain citizenship to Trinidad since my father was a birth citizen. I wouldn’t have to be locked in Colorado Springs for months at a time to train.
The downside, I would have to fund my own Olympic run. This would be difficult, but an obstacle that could be overcome. I couldn’t and wouldn’t allow myself to make excuses.
I ripped the YouTube video down and made a 53 second clip of Joe Rogan statement about motivational speakers to make it more accessible. I kept it on my phone and listened to it over and over as fuel. It became my version of The Rocky song.
“I want to wake you up 3 o’clock in the morning to go running. I want to see what you do when you’re tired. I want to see how you push yourself. Come on, man. Get up. Get up again tomorrow. Get up again tomorrow. Get up again tomorrow. The next day. Get up. Get up. Get up. Get up. Keep going. How long can you maintain a positive attitude? Where’s all this teaching? You’re teaching people? You can’t do s--- yourself.”
First, I needed to lose the weight I had gained. And I also needed to find a way to fund my Olympic run. I began booking more and more speaking engagements. I’m scheduling my speaking engagements, arranging my travel, driving city to city, creating content, editing videos, etc. I was burning the candle at both ends and really starting to feel it.
I began waking up 2 hours earlier than normal to do cardio. I also began the habit of reading for 30 minutes each day. I would lift weights every evening and stopped eating junk. I committed to living what I was preaching so I could return to boxing. In the last 2 months I’ve dropped nearly 50 pounds.
I created an online course called “Mission: AU79” to teach athletes how to supplement their income to allow financial freedom while pursuing their goals the same way I did. Selling this course will help fund me Olympic run.
Enter coupon code "AWESOME" at checkout to receive $100 off. (Coupon code expires November 12th, 2019.)
Removing my excuses has been the mantra, the motivation behind my 2020 run.
I was curious to how I will be welcomed, an American fighting for one of the few spots on the team. I’ll be competing against the boxers, the crowd, and likely the judges. Not an excuse, just another obstacle to overcome.
After winning by 2nd round KO in the finals of the Trinidad & Tobago Olympic Trials, I came back to The States to continue my training, maintaining my weight, and booking speaking engagements to continue to fund my training. Again, no excuses, just overcoming obstacles!
I will be setting aside much of the month of January to lead assemblies. Ideally, I would like to visit multiple schools within a district during a trip to make the best out of my limited time and to make the most out of the opportunities afforded me.
The mantra continues, No excuses. Overcome all obstacles!
For schools that would like to schedule me for an assembly, please reach out at Booking@CelebritySportsSpeaker.com
Trinidad & Tobago 2020 Olympic Team
Edited by: Missy Fitzwater