Adam: Thanks again for taking the time to share your story and your advice. First things first, though, I am sure readers would love to learn more about you. What is something about you that would surprise people?
Brian: Well, Adam, I’m a pretty transparent person…what you see is what you get! I love people, and believe we have so much more inside of us than we often think. One thing that may be a bit surprising is that in my professional life I have made all my big decisions based upon my faith that when we do what we love, great things will follow. I have had three wonderful careers…first as a United States Swimming coach… then as a corporate vice president … and finally for the past 29 years as a professional speaker and author. When I moved into each of those three major life-changes I did so with a complete leap of faith. I jumped off the diving board and hoped there was water down below! So rather than gradually and perhaps more prudently stepped from one career into the next, I went ALL IN! My core belief was simply that though I didn’t know exactly into what form these changes would take shape, I believed that by fully engaging, great things would happen and I would find my way!
Adam: How did you get here? What failures, setbacks or challenges have been most instrumental to your growth?
Brian: When my daughters were eight and three years old, they taught me the greatest lesson of my life. I was so caught up in my work and career that I was rarely ever fully present for them. Only when you are fully present do you impart to others that they are important, that they matter, and that they are significant. One evening they ran to me as I sat at my desk just before they were going to bed. Jenna, my youngest, crawled up into my lap and Kelsey, the oldest reached her arms around me as they both looked into my eyes with their honest, simple love. They asked me, “Daddy, do you love your phone more than you love us?” They shook me to my core.
From that day forward my greatest life goal has been to be fully present with each person I meet. I arranged my life so that I never missed one of my daughters’ dance recitals or school events. When I wasn’t on the road speaking, I was the one to make the girls’ breakfast, to pack their lunches, and to take them to school.
The decision and commitment to be more fully present elevated every single aspect of my life. I actually accomplished far more professionally because I was more present with clients and teammates as well. I believe that being fully present is the secret behind the secret when it comes to fulfillment, joy, trust, and peace of mind.
Adam: In your experience, what are the defining qualities of an effective leader? How can leaders and aspiring leaders take their leadership skills to the next level? Adam: What are your three best tips applicable to entrepreneurs, executives and civic leaders?
Brian: We’ve definitely already covered one… that is to be fully present. That means that when you’re with people, be with them with 100% of your mind, body, and spirit. That’s the only way to convey that they are truly important to you.
Second, is to understand that to everyone you touch, your ENERGY is your example. People won’t remember that much of what you say, no matter how you say it. But they’ll never forget your energy. You control the controllable called your energy in two fundamental ways. First, your energy is created by the way that you MOVE. So, add movement to your life and your life will begin to MOVE! And even more importantly, your energy is directly connected to your PURPOSE! Ask yourself each and every morning, “What am I truly grateful about in my life?” This will focus you on your priorities. And your priorities will lead you to your purpose.
Third, remember that what you focus on is what you CREATE! Most people focus more on what they don’t want than what they do. Ask yourself if you spend more time worrying about what could go wrong than developing what could go right. Do you focus more on the obstacles and barriers than the breakthroughs? Again, your vision and focus are controllable. Focus more on what you want and like magic more will come your way. And, you’ll lift others as you lift yourself.
Adam: What is the single best piece of advice you have ever received?
Brian: John Wooden, my mentor and the writer of the forward to my book Beyond Success told me: “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation. For your character is who you ARE. Your reputation is only what others think you are.” This great wisdom has led me to a recipe for a tremendous life and empowering impact on others: Become easy to impress, but very hard to offend!
Adam: What is one thing everyone should be doing to pay it forward?
Brian: The single most important way to pay it forward in life is to be a world-class ‘Buddy Thanker!” Express your appreciation whenever you have the chance. The love you fail to share is the only pain you live with.
Adam: What are your hobbies and how have they shaped you?
Brian: Two hobbies have had tremendous impact on my life. First is reading biographies. I have read dozens and dozens of great biographies and have learned simple, powerful principles that have become important parts of my belief system. For example, every great person I have read about was optimistic rather than pessimistic. All of my greatest heroes were humble. This did not mean they weren’t confident. Being humble doesn’t mean thinking less of yourself. It simply means you think of yourself LESS! And only when you’re humble are you a life-long learner because you always know there is more to learn!
The second hobby that has greatly impacted my life has been running. It is my ‘percolator’ time! I never try to figure things out as I run… I simply allow my thoughts to percolate. And invariably, great ideas result.
Adam: Is there anything else you would like to share?
Brian: Thank you, Adam. Yes, there is one last thing I’d like to share. That is to live each day from a “want to, choose to, love to” perspective rather than a “have to.” The truth is that everything in our life is a choice except dying! And, it’s time to choose kindness, gratitude, and humility in our daily lives.